Throughout the years there have been many organizations, some might even say cults, that have based their whole belief systems around a leader who has claimed to be getting messages from beyond our understanding. These cults, religions, organizations, whatever you want to call them, often draw huge followings and become very controversial to the public, and some, such as the Heaven's Gate Cult, can even get downright dangerous. Here we will look at a particularly odd group of such people, who formed around a guy who claimed to be in contact with alien intelligences from the far fringe of the weird.
Born in 1904 the American engineer Ernest Leland Norman was a bit of a jack of all trades, dabbling in a wide variety of subjects including philosophy, poetry, scientific research, and math. Described as a child prodigy, he excelled in engineering from a very early age, allegedly making his first microscope when he was just 7 years old, and he would claim in later years that it was he who had invented the television tube but that the invention had been stolen from him. It was not until in later years that he would begin to gain an interest in the paranormal, experimenting with clairvoyance, palmistry, and fortune telling, and he had a bit of a side business reading palms for women during World War II, giving them supposed information on their husbands off at war. He also attended numerous Spiritualist conferences and gave psychic readings at Spiritualist churches, and this was how he would meet his wife and the next chapter of his strange tale would begin.
Ernest would meet his future wife Ruth in 1954 at a Spiritualist convention in Los Angeles, California. It was there where a clairvoyant claimed that she had noticed three white bearded men following around Ernest Norman with massive books in their hands. After getting the usual getting to know you chit chat out of the way, Ernest and Ruth came to the obvious conclusion that the mysterious three bearded men were in fact the spirits of Elisha, Ezra, and Enoch, and that those books were the ones he was destined to eventually write. In short, they believed that this was a message about his great future. Shortly after this, Ruth and him married, and Ernest got big into channeling messages from a supposed higher consciousness and things would get very weird, very fast from there.
One of the first things Ernest claimed to have channeled was a vision of a trip to the planet Venus, where he claimed he had seen a great city where many "great teachers" and “ascended masters” lived. He would claim that he had been taken on this spiritual journey by a higher being called Mal-Var, who had explained to him that Venusians were beings of pure energy and existed in a higher vibratory plane that was invisible to normal humans. Mal Var also explained that the planet was one of healing, and that troubled souls could journey to Venus to recover from spiritually traumatic experiences. He would describe at great length the technology and civilization of the Venusians, as well as their capital city of Azure, and all of this would be compiled into a book called The Voice of Venus, published in 1956.
This was to be only the first of these supposed astral excursions throughout the solar system, and The Voice of Venus was only the beginning of a series of similar books he would call the Pulse of Creation series, all of which were supposedly channeled to him by extraterrestrial intelligences. He would claim that Mars and Venus in particular were important wellsprings of wisdom, with the inhabitants of those planets on a very advanced plane of existence. Not all of his ideas at the time have aged well. For instance, Ernest claimed that all Chinese people evolved from interstellar beings who had colonized Mars a million years ago, where they lived in subterranean cities, and that a group of these beings travelled to Earth to form the Chinese and after that all Asian genotypes. Indeed, there was a lot of racist rhetoric baked into his ideas, as well as many not so subtle jabs at other religions.
At around the time he was working on the first of these books, Ernest and Ruth Norman also formed the Unarius organization, which stands for “Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science” and which they claimed was devoted to “a new interdimensional science of life based upon fourth-dimensional physics principles," as well as various past-life relivings and spiritual healing. As soon as they set up their headquarters in Los Angeles, California, they immediately began gathering about them followers and their mythology would expand. The main gist of their teaching was that the people of planet Earth are being guided and watched over by a large intergalactic brotherhood called Unarius, which was formerly known as Shamballah or the White Brotherhood on Earth, and they claimed that any human being could make contact with these "Higher Beings" if they knew how to do it. Another tenet of their philosophy was that everything is made of energy that "vibrates in frequencies and wave forms.” They also promoted the idea that human beings were supposed to live through many lifetimes in order to accumulate the knowledge necessary to ascend to a higher plane of existence and join their Space Brothers and thereby become a "master." Past lives were extremely fundamental to their belief system, and one of their stated goals was to “to awaken the individual to previous life encounters, the clairvoyant aptitude of the mind, and the reality of one's spiritual connection.” They believed that through these accumulated lives they would be able to control the material world and eventually move completely beyond it, and Ernest would say of the process:
Mastery over the material worlds is a gradual, long drawn-out process, taking hundreds of thousands of lifetimes lived in these material worlds and the equally gradual assimilation of knowledge which is obtained in the gradual working-out process of the various infinite experiences contained in these lives. When any person so relives this constant experience sequence and begins to obtain personal mastery over each experience by connecting it with reason and purpose in regard to this experience as being a personal outlet of expression for this great Infinite Intelligence, this then is quite different than the reactionary way which demands a robot-like existence and which, in turn, engenders subconscious escape mechanisms. Almost needless to say, when any person reaches this far-off position in his future where he has completely emancipated himself from the material worlds, he is what one would call a master.
However, in that position, he does not call himself a master; by that time he has worked out his subconscious psychisms which he created in the material worlds. He no longer needs or feels a desire to overcome and master the material worlds which engendered them; instead, he is confronted with a new aspect of his progression. In visualizing the future, he is again confronted with a whole new dimension of unknown and seemingly intangible elements….a new part of this great Infinity. This, again, is a new challenge and in proportion to his knowledge and attainment, he again proceeds to progress into this Infinity.
So let us be practical. If I can give you one single bit of worthwhile advice, it would be simply this: Quit indulging yourself in your past in the negative way, which has, up until this time, been your chief source of personal satisfaction. The past should be looked upon objectively as a series of stepping stones in attaining comparative and constructive knowledge of your evolution — not as a system of self-justifications whereby you can deify yourself. The future should also be so viewed, not with ambitions to obtain mastery over the material worlds but rather, obtaining knowledge to enable you to live in Higher Worlds beyond these material worlds with the complete understanding that you are gradually becoming a more unified, constructive entity in the infinite prospectus.
Whoa. They also claimed that the Solar System was once inhabited by ancient interplanetary civilizations and that we were working towards a prophecy in which these extraterrestrials would arrive on Earth in a vast fleet of spaceships. Basically, it’s all a hodgepodge of various metaphysical concepts that were already popular among New Agers at the time, covering such wide-ranging themes as “harmonic frequencies,” karma, past lives, reincarnation, past-life memories, channeling, spirits from a higher planes of existence, vibrational forces, different planes of existence, other worlds, prophecies, and elaborate cosmologies, with a bit of a UFO cult vibe mixed in for good measure. Interestingly, for all of their New Age ideas and interest in channeling and past lives, Ernest eschewed the occult, seeing it as nothing but an “escape mechanism” that distracted from the real path into our infinite future, and he incidentally thought that prayer, certain forms of meditation, and indeed religion and its practices in general were just as bad, and he would once say of all of this.
I might also advise you to stop practicing or using various so-called occult devices such as trying to make the eyes of a person's picture open. Within the dimension of your own mind you can construct whatever you wish. In the realm of occultism, countless thousands of poor souls have constructed for themselves terrible demons which have, in turn, like a Frankenstein monster, obsessed their entire lives. Occultism is only a system of devices invented as a system of escapes, the father of which is that old malformed subconscious.
There is only one way: through the doorway of knowledge and its correct usage, you will gradually progress into a higher state of consciousness, correctly placing your particular position in Infinity, and which is being expressed through your personal day by day experiences. All of the so-called mental sciences, occultisms, mind sciences, religions, etc., which use devices to circumvent or escape the realities of personal existence and position to the Infinite are only expressionary forms of escape mechanisms. These malpractices include prayer, concentration, affirmations, certain kinds of meditation, various other forms of self-hypnosis and are highly destructive to moral and mental integrity. They prohibit what should be a constant, constructive evaluation of experience and your position to the Infinite through this experience.
As the organization grew and raised its public profile, the Normans would move their base of operations to several cities in California before settling in Escondido, all while heavily promoting themselves and making ever grander claims, such as that they had lived past lives as Jesus and Mary Magdalene and other major figures in Earth's history, and that they were overshadowed by an Archangel named Raphiel who supposedly resides on a celestial super planet with other Archangels. When Ernest died in 1971, the mission was continued by Ruth, who continued to author numerous books and promote the organization on radio and TV shows, newspaper and magazine articles, and through her own video production company, really launching it into the public consciousness and spurring exponential growth. Uranian programs were regularly shown on public-access television cable TV, bringing their philosophy to the masses in a major way. She also purchased 67 acres in Jamul, California, for a proposed landing site for the inevitable arrival of the Space Brothers, and she got increasingly woo-woo as the years went by, guiding the organization in a direction focused more on the arrival of aliens and less on what many felt were Ernest’s original teachings. This drew quite a bit of ridicule and mockery from the public and made them increasingly seen as a UFO cult and group of flying saucer nutjobs.
After Ruth's death in 1993, a man named Charles Louis Spiegel became director and continued guiding the organization, as well as predicating that the space fleet would land in 2001, with the failed prediction hurting his credibility. There would be a schism within the organization at around that time, with the faction that held more to Ernest’s traditional teachings and the more "scientific" aspects of Unarius breaking away from the others. It didn’t help that Speigel would constantly make prophecies involving Ruth returning to Earth on a spaceship, which many saw as contradicting the original teaching that her soul was fated to be reborn in a new body to continue her spiritual evolution. With Spiegel's passing in late 1999, the organization formed a system in which a small board of directors shares leadership and management responsibilities rather than one individual and Unarius still continues on today, with its headquarters in El Cajon, California chapters around the United States and in Canada, New Zealand, Nigeria, the United Kingdom. They continue to publish books of various channelings from extraterrestrial beings, and channel the spirits of Ruth Norman and Speigel, who they claim are now among the Space Brothers, and although they deny that they are a religion or cult, there are many who believe them to be. It is all a pretty wild ride, and a pretty kooky story on the evolution of a fringe belief system based on some pretty strange stuff, indeed.