Saturday, October 4th
This was probably the most UFOlogical day of the symposium, with two UFO researchers giving presentations, along with a round-table discussing the phenomenon. But before things properly started, Scotty announced that my pals the Grimericans were going to carry out a Moneybomb sweepstake. The moneybomb, in case you don’t know, is a method of crowdfunding originally devised by Greg Carlwood to fund his podcast The Higherside Chats; of all the money Greg manages to raise during the month through donations, he splits the sum in half and gives it to one of the contributors chosen randomly, as a way to return the favor among those who decided to help him. Darren and Graham really liked the concept, and adopted it for their own The Grimerica Show; they wanted to try a Moneybomb exercise with the Paradigm attendees, and at the end of the day a happy winner left with a 100 extra bucks-worth of new books bought at the vendors table.
After the announcement was made, it was time for the 1st speaker of the day, Chase Kloetzke
I met Chase last year, when she was still doing a radio show with KGRA. Before that she was involved with MUFON, and was even a member of their “Star team”, which let her have some pretty hair-raising experiences –she has told about those experiences and the reasons why she abandoned MUFON in a number of interviews, like this one.
I really appreciate Chase, not only because of her lively personality and friendly disposition –not to mention her courage to have her own opinions about the UFO phenomenon, even if they contradict the ‘party line’ of the traditional ETH scenario supported by most of the big UFO groups– but also because it is a sad reality that this along with many other Fortean fields of study, tends to be too male-centered, and female researchers like Chase, Leslie Kean, Kathleen Marden and others, bring a much-needed counterbalance. I tend to agree with researcher Grant Cameron when he says that male UFOlogists tend to be more interested in the ‘hardware’ aspects of the phenomenon –they want to “kick the tires” of the flying saucers so to speak– whereas female researchers tend to be more focused in the ‘software’, i.e., the psychological ramifications on those who have a direct experience with UFOs, and how the phenomenon itself may be intertwined with the deeper mysteries of human consciousness.
As I grow older, I see myself finding the ‘feminine side of UFOlogy’ much more interesting.
But getting back to Chase’s presentation, which was given with the enthusiasm of an A+ high school student, the theme of it was actually not about UFOlogy per se, but about the field research Chase conducted when she joined LA Marzulli in his trip to Peru, to investigate the famous elongated skulls of Paracas. Marzulli had in fact been a speaker on last year’s symposium, and his Christian background paints his research and conclusions with a certain Evangelical brush that, to be honest, is not to my liking –he thinks the elongated skulls is proof of the carnal intercourse between fallen angels and the daughters of Men. Chase is not a fundamentalist either, but she accepted Marzulli’s invitation to join his Peru trip as a way to have a second perspective on the things they would find, which I believe is a very good idea, that should perhaps be emulated more often by Fortean investigators.
Chase showed us slides of Tiwanaku, while mentioning the legend of Viracocha, the white god who created a race of giants to help him move the massive stone blocks; but then the god grew displeased with the giants, and sent a giant flood to finish them all. Such legends are highly suggestive, but often Chase disagreed with Marzulli because she wasn’t willing to jump to conclusions. I was also pleased that Chase showed many examples of the artwork of these cultures that highlighted their violent nature; these were certainly NOT love and light, peaceful people!
After showing us images from a region of Paracas called Chongos, which thanks to the looting of huaqueros (grave diggers) now looks like a discarded set of Terminator –with skulls and bones everywhere– she finally showed images of the small, privately-owned Paracas museum, and the things they discovered while they conducted analysis on some of the elongated skulls which were part of its collection. For example, they discovered “blonde” hair on a Peruvian mummy, and a two month-old infant with a full set of teeth (!). They took DNA samples from the most anomalous-looking specimens, which were taken to the United States for study. Unfortunately, Chase was running out of time, so she really didn’t show anything about the conclusions already reached by her team, other than offering her personal opinion that these are not ‘alien’ skulls. Finally, she concluded by mentioning her latest book, Admissible, which is intended to be a sort of field guide for investigators, in order for them to conduct research and gather evidence which, as the title suggests, would be admissible in a court of law; I’m sure many skeptics would be quick to point out though, that science demands a much higher standard for evidence than what would be admitted in a legal proceeding, in which the testimony of a witness is still considered enough evidence to convict a person –unless that person happens to be a police officer in Ferguson– but those critics would miss Chase’s point of needing to raise the standards in the field. Perhaps after reaching the point of having evidence admissible in court, we could then proceed to having evidence admissible in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
It was, in the end, a very interesting presentation full of great visuals and personal anecdotes. I’d sure love to be part of that kind of field trip with Chase in the future.
Next it was the time for the D-man, and the title of his presentation was UFOs & Our World: The Big Picture. Here Richard made use of his training as a professional historian as well as his story-telling chops, to weave an all-encompassing view of the phenomenon since the beginnings what he calls “official secrecy” of the UFO problem. James Forrestal, the FBI memorandum of 1949 to Hoover, Dr. Lincoln LaPaz and the ‘green fireballs’ over Los Alamos, and several other classic chapters in the UFO mythos were mentioned, in order to present his case that the powers that be would have taken this phenomenon very, very seriously, and if they had happened to come across some piece of alien technology –as Richard still believes– they would have kept it secret before disclosing it to the public, thus creating a conundrum: The longer you keep the secret, the harder it is to reveal it.
In truth, what he discussed was nothing particularly ground-breaking or novel –at least not for someone like yours truly, who has kept his ears to the ground in the UFO field for several decades– yet the novelty comes from someone with the intelligent sobriety and balanced with the open-mindedness Richard possesses, who attempts to piece together all the weird aspects of this confounding phenomenon in a coherent (albeit incomplete) perspective. Whether you happen to agree with him or not in his conclusions –and I for one I’m a bit more skeptical of the whole Roswell and MJ-12 scenario– there’s no denying Dolan’s contribution to the field have been plenty, and overall positive ones.
One of the most interesting cases Richard mentioned is one he investigated himself, which occurred at the CFS Alert (Canadian Forces Station Alert). CFS Alert is a strategic facility built at the height of the Cold War to spy the Soviets, and constitutes the northernmost human habitation in the planet. In 2008 a glowing cylindrical object of enormous dimensions hovered over the station, displaying a technology and capabilities far beyond conventional avionics –this wasn’t swamp gas, vatos!
In the second part of his presentation, Richard introduced The Why & How of the Cover-Up, which referred to the term he himself coined, the ‘breakaway civilization,’ which is rather fascinating, since it can branch out into a plethora of different scenarios; from the idea of ancient secret societies holding up arcane knowledge that might grant them almost supernatural capabilities (e.g., telepathy) to the suggestion that reverse-engineering of alien tech might have spurred a secret space program of incalculable scope. But once again, Richard is clearly shifting into a less ‘nuts and bolts-ish’ view of UFOs, and beginning to include things like synchronicities and numerology into his personal perspective. He is starting to entertain the possibility that UFOs may be more than metal ships from other galaxies; it will be interesting to see if this will end up getting into conflict with some of his previous ideas regarding MJ-12 and the recovery of alien craft.
Once again, time ran against the scope of what Richard wanted to present to the audience, so he was forced to rush his final points, concluding that a real change in our view of UFOs will come from the bottom-up, instead of the top-down; this is certainly in sync with my own ideas that whatever we’re witnessing, seems to be more interested in a ‘grass-roots’ type of Contact, than the archetypal landing of a flying saucer on the White House lawn, and if you think about it, such approach would allow the intelligence behind the UFOs to have the strongest impact on our culture, with the least amount of disruptive effects.
But with that in mind, shouldn’t we move beyond Stephen Bassett’s Disclosure initiatives, like the Citizens Hearing conducted last year, of which Richard Dolan was one of the major participants? Isn’t it time to declare the Disclosure movement dead, as my friend Robbie Graham (and others) proposed in this brilliantly written manifesto?
UFOlogy & Ancient Alien Panel
After Richard ended it was time for the lunch break, and I took the time off to chat with Adnan Ademovic, who runs the UFO Hub website and YouTube channel. I met Adnan on the previous night at the hotel’s lounge, and the next morning he sent me an e-mail to ask if I was interested in conversing with him. I was more than happy to oblige and so he, my friend Carol and I went down to the nearby coffee shop while discussing the wacky world of flying saucers, and my evolving perspective on the phenomenon. I found Adnan to be a very bright individual, and talking to him about my favorite Fortean topic was a delight.
And in case I needed to take something else out of my chest with regards to UFOs, my friend Micah Hanks had a surprise for me hidden under his Southern sleeve. When we returned he asked me point-blank if I would be willing to participate in a UFOlogical panel comprised of himself, our buddy Nick Redfern, Dolan, Chase, and Thomas Fusco, which would be moderated once again by Jim Harold. Under different circumstances I would’ve chickened out, but a lot of things have happened in the last 3 years I’ve been attending Paradigm; I’ve grown more confident and of my capacity to make myself be understood while speaking in English –although I wished my conversational skills were on par with my writing skills– and also the family-like atmosphere in the symposium didn’t feel the idea of stepping up to the stage that threatening; besides, I’ve already faced tougher crowds when in high school I played the part of Satan himself in a Christmas nativity –though that is something best left for another time…
I therefore said “Yes” and Micah sent me to prepare for my time in the Paradigm spotlight.
While we were waiting for the rest of the panelists to show up, and since blogging is the reason why I gained entrance to the Fortean field, Jim told me he would ask me something pertaining how the new media and social networks have made an impact on UFOlogy, and I was very thankful on how he’d go easy with this Red Pill Rookie.
And so we went on stage, took our seat and the session began, with each panelist giving an answer to the questions asked by Harold. Surely enough my time came, and I wish I could remember exactly what I said in reply to his question about the role of new media in the UFO field; I know I mentioned the radio interview we in Grimerica had had with Richard Dolan on the previous day, and how I agreed with him that if the so-called alien abductions were not as prominent in the mainstream media as they were 20 years ago, it wasn’t due to a scarcity of resources; rather, what had happened after the days when Budd Hopkins’ Missing Time was published, is that abductees were now sharing their experiences through personal blogs, without a ‘middle man’ that may filter their accounts to any particular lens. Mike Clelland’s blog Hidden Experience is an excellent example of this shift, and I for one welcome this direct access to the ‘raw data’ of fringe encounters with The Other, that are chock-full of elements which, taken as a whole, paint a much more complex and dynamic scenario than the simplistic model proposed by Hopkins, Jacobs, and the other early abduction researchers.
Which is why I also jumped at the chance to interject at one time during the rest of the panel session, to express my personal suspicion that Human Consciousness may be the key which might unlock the mystery of UFOs, and possibly the rest of the Fortean cornucopia. For years some researchers have wondered if there may be some ‘missing link’ connecting ET encounters, ghostly apparitions and Bigfoot sightings; and I believe the answer has been sitting right in our faces the whole time –or rather, the answer has been OUR FACES: The single common denominator in all those phenomena, is that they were ALL experienced by a human being! So maaaaybe we should start paying attention on how our consciousness tries to make sense of the cacophony of sensory input bombarding us at all times; and also how some individuals may be more sensitive than others, and capable of perceiving things that would remain unnoticed by most.
All in all, this was a very satisfactory experience for yours truly. Who knows, maybe someday I might take my chances and give a presentation of my own in a future Paradigm symposium, or other event like it.
Graham Hancock (Part 2)
Next in the itinerary was the second presentation of Graham Hancock, and lemme tell you: If there had been a few minor hiccups the last time due to “the fucking clickah” (See part 2 of this review) he really hit it out of the park this time. This was Graham as his ‘Gnostic-est’, delivering his opinion about those other realms existing just beyond the periphery of ordinary awareness, and how the veil separating them from our world can be pierced through –among other things– the aid of entheogens.
So what exactly put Graham on the path of exploring the greatest mystery of them all: That of our own consciousness? He related to the audience a personal NDE he had at the young age of 16, after having what he called “the mother of all parties.” After everyone left and young, drunk Graham was getting a hold of the mess in front of him, he suffered a reckless accident caused by the kitchen’s refrigerator and a puddle of… something he was standing on, which caused him to suffer a tremendous electric shock and to go into cardiac arrest. He says that in that moment he left his body and could observe ‘himself’ lying on the kitchen’s floor, all while thinking “Oh shit, I’m dead!”.
Graham didn’t have a ‘full’ NDE –no tunnel of light, no life review or encounter with dead relatives– and soon after he was back at his physical body, more startled than in pain. From then on, he says, he became convinced that “we’re not our brains, we’re our consciousness,” and it completely changed his perspective on things.
Graham continued his exposition by mentioning the Gnostics, and the Nag Hammadi library. He made the point that these early Christians “didn’t hate matter,” even though they professed that the material world had been created by a ‘Demiurge’ instead of the true God –here my contrarian self would probably argue that if a ‘demon’ was let to create our world, perhaps it was all according to God’s greater plan?– and how from the Gnostic perspective the ‘serpent’ in the Genesis story is “the good guy,” because humans need to know the difference between Good and Evil in order to grow.
He then expressed his belief that the rise of institutionalized religions and subsequently the State was the result of this ‘demonic guidance’ –which, for a person who grew up reading Castañeda and later turned into a red pill junkie thanks to the Matrix, didn’t sound so far-fetched at all!– and how from this perspective, social systems of control like Monsanto (“No food shall be grown that we don’t own”) and mainstream media (“Flooding your minds with bullshit 24/7!”) make sense.
This is not the typical ‘conspiranoid’ mindset, and Graham is not a believer of secret cabals playing the strings of the world like puppeteers; this is a return to the ancient belief that there are forces beyond our comprehension which are subtly influencing the course of history behind the scenes. It is these influences which have brought about the current materialistic mindset predominant in modern Science, and which has also proscribed “dangerous” drugs like Marijuana and LSD, while at the same time sanctioning other drugs like coffee, tobacco and alcohol; the kind of substances (with the exception of booze) which induce an alert/proving-solving state of consciousness, and improve productivity.
When asked about the state of our culture, the Amazonian shamans have answered: “You have severed your connection to Spirit.” The solution? To reconnect that connection through the “vine of the dead” (Ayahuasca).
So Graham now discussed his own personal experiences with Ayahuasca, and the incredible benefits that it’s brought into his life. Much like in an NDE he says, Ayahuasca let’s you experience all the pain and suffering you’ve inflicted unto others from their perspective. It also helped him cut back from his deleterious Cannabis addiction, as he has mentioned on a number of times –he did mention however that on his last interview on the Joe Rogan Experience, he “gave in” to Joe’s insistence, and smoked a bit; but he feels certain he will no longer fall into the need to stay into that “foggy place” all day long, and that perhaps he can welcome Cannabis back into his life, although in a more ‘sacramental’ fashion.
Next was second part of his presentation: Encounters with intelligent supernatural entities. He showed the audience a few examples of Pablo Amaringo‘s artwork. Amaringo was a self-taught Amazonian artist whose paintings were inspired by Ayahuasca visions; when asked about why he included ‘flying saucers’ in his paintings, he’d say they “are vehicles to enter and leaving the Spirit world.” Hancock is convinced UFOs exist, he’s just not convinced they are hi-tech vehicles coming from other planets –and neither am I!
He then presented a whole group of similarities between the (so-called) ET encounters and shamanistic experiences –e.g. both shamans and abductees report sexual intercourse with spirits/aliens– and mentioned Rick Strassman’s DMT studies, in which many test subjects reported meeting intelligent beings that showed great delight in the fact that we humans had ‘discovered’ “this technology.”
“Now we can communicate with you more easily!”
Hancock even mentioned that during one of his own entheogenic experiences he encounterd beings with “bug-like”, faceted eyes, but he became too frightened to engage them.
So how do we bring all this back to the Ancient Mysteries/Ancient Aliens discussion? There might just be avenues in which non-human intervention had occurred, which would be much more radical than what traditional Ancient Aliens proponents have put on the table. One of such avenues is the idea of Directed Panspermia, which was even supported by the late Francis Crick, co-discovered of the DNA double-helix molecule. The idea that 97-98% of our non-coding DNA is just “junk” is just a ludicrous idea, and many people –even biological scientists– have seriously proposed the possibility that hidden in our very genes may reside a message, written by some alien civilization; it is we –their orphan children– who have only started to wake up to our own true identity, and maybe the only way we can tap into our hidden legacy is through altered states of consciousness.
This is a somewhat different idea from the more ‘classical’ Gnostic viewpoint Hancock professes, but he’s more than willing to entertain such possibilities. As for myself, my involvement with Forteana has made me aware than, more often than not, the answer to these types of questions is not “either/or”, but “all of the above.”
Dr. John Ward and Scotty Roberts
The last presentation of the day was delivered by Scotty and John, the tweed-clad dynamic duo who put together the symposium. They started by showing the audience a sizzle reel of a TV show they’re trying to pitch to the TV networks, called History Trippers.
I’d love to see a quality-content show presented by those two, because their personal quirks paired with their ‘bromance‘ would make for an entertaining program; yet at the same time, I’m not sure I’d like them to pursue what is a dying medium (Television) full of sclerotic rules of what can be shown and not shown to the audience. I’d rather see them approach Amazon, Netflix or Vimeo, because to me the rise of original content delivered directly through online distribution is the way of the future, and going with the flow of History –rather than against it– is the surest way to elicit a true Paradigm change.
Next they discussed their next book project, “The Lost Armies of Cambyses,” which deals with a 1500-year-old mystery pertaining to the loss of a 50,000-strong army in the middle of the Western desert of Egypt. As it was with their last cooperative effort “The Exodus Reality,” I’m sure that once again we’ll see the both of them giving their own separate opinion with what happened with the army of Cambyses II, and let the reader reach his own conclusions.
Lastly, John gave a little recap of the archeological work he and his wife Maria Nilsson have been conducted at their site of Gebel el Silsila, and he mentioned the Friends of Silsila organization, which would accept both donations and subscriptions, which means getting a chance to work on site with them. This would work as a way to show people that Archeology is NOT an exclusive club reserved for academics only, and that ANYONE can make a significant contribution in helping us understand more about our past –unlike what some skeptics would have you believe, who seem to be overtly obsessed that people in the alternative history community possess “the right credentials,” before bothering to listen to what they have to say…
Those same skeptics are also the ones who think events like Paradigm are just money-making schemes intended to con those gullible enough to pay for a ticket, and that attendants go to these conferences ONLY to reinforce their pre-existing BS (belief system). The perfect proof that this is not the case is a young girl named Shelby: Shelby has attended along with her dad all three symposia, and John announced that she is going to fly to Egypt and work with John and Maria for 12 weeks. Who knows? Maybe Shelby will grow up to become the next Linda Schele! –who didn’t had a previous academic background before she started her work in deciphering the Maya hieroglyphs…
Banquet Dinner & VIP Panel
Next in the schedule was the banquet dinner, which was to be celebrated right at the Woman’s Club. After we enjoyed our supper and a few glasses of wine, the VIP panel commenced. Jim Harold was once again the moderator, and he asked each of the speakers to relate one of their most interesting or hilarious anecdotes. I remember that Nick Redfern share with us how in his search for the Chupacabras in Puerto Rico in the 1990s he literally had to run for his life from dangerous drug-dealers –I dunno, I guess the bald head and dressing all in black kinda gave them the wrong impression?– and how Andrew Collins got lost in the desert with his newlywed wife, because he thought traveling to Area 51 was a more romantic idea for their honeymoon than spending their time in a Vegas casino –unsurprisingly, he ended up getting a divorce. Graham Hancock told us how when he was still a press correspondent he had a hair-raising experience flying on a dinky airplane right in the middle of an African war zone –I guess after something like it, drinking Ayahuasca wouldn’t sound THAT scary!
Not all the anecdotes involved life-or-death situations of course. Richard Dolan for instance regaled the banquet audience with his comical interpretation of an odd encounter with a British dude who called himself “Jaguar” or “Tricky Dicky” and his mimicking of the Cockney accent convinced us that whenever Richard gets tired of the whole UFO scene, he could still have a future in the show business. But if we thought THAT was funny, Chase Kloetske’s story of how she was once mistaken as a hooker by a police officer, right when she was conducting an interview on her car –all while Race Hobbs was listening to the whole thing at his KGRA studio and laughing his guts off– had us floored!
This and many other great anecdotes were shared in what was the penultimate night of Paradigm symposium. We returned to the hotel for another night of drinks and laughter, but before that I took a few minutes to go to Adnan’s room so he could interview me for the UFO Hub channel. This was my first time I was in front of a camera, and all things considered, I didn’t suck as much as I thought I would.
Thus concludes the 3rd part of the PS2014. Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out!