Nov 16, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Paranormal, the Occult and the Supernatural: Sometimes They Combine With Government Agencies

While many people – billions, in fact – hold deeply cherished beliefs when it comes to the issues of life after death and an all-powerful god or gods, there is no doubt at all that religion can be used as a tool of control – and it very often does via two particular issues: fear and guilt. The fear angle revolves around what you may personally think will happen to you if you don’t go to church, or if you do not recognize the existence of an all-powerful creator. The guilt is prompted by doing those that you own religious book of choice tells you that you shouldn’t do. There are other ways in which religion has been used as a tool of manipulation; albeit in very novel, strange, disturbing and even dangerous fashion. We’ll begin with a classified program that was born out of the heart of the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA. The program was known as Operation Often and was created in the 1960s. It still exists to this day, albeit under a still-classified, new name. The idea was to try and use certain aspects of religion to disrupt or even destroy the enemy. In the sixties, that enemy would have been the Russians. Today, it still would be – and with North Korea thrown into the mix too, no doubt. The process was, to say the least, alarming. Operation Often plans involved trying to utilize the supernatural powers of demons (yes, real demons) to attack the enemy. Sounds unbelievable? It almost is.

The one person – more than any other – who sought to bring Operation Often to life was a man named Sidney Gottlieb. Interestingly, Gottlieb was someone who was a major player in the CIA’s mind-control-themed project, MK-Ultra – about which we have seen a great deal.  Gottlieb was a brilliant man, someone who recognized the importance of thinking outside of the box, and particularly so when it came to matters relative to control and manipulation. Gottlieb was the perfect person to get Operation Often off the ground. But, let’s first back up a bit and take a look at the earlier years of Gottlieb’s life. Sidney Gottlieb possessed a brilliant mind – that much is obvious, as in the 1940s he obtained a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. As the 1940s became the 1950s, Gottlieb was given one of those offers that it’s very hard to refuse – and particularly so when that same offer comes from the highest levels of the CIA. It was a position that saw Gottlieb take on the lofty and powerful job of the head of the Chemical Division of the CIA’s Technical Services Staff. It was from within this particular office that Gottlieb oversaw numerous, controversial programs. They included research into hypnosis, mind-manipulation and mind-control, fabricating alien encounters by dosing people with hallucinogenic substances, and even creating slave-like assassins – people skilled in killing people and making it look like a suicide or an accident, and who, as a result of having been programmed by MK-Ultra, would follow every order and dirty  and deadly deed given to them. 

(Nick Redfern) Deadly creatures combining with government agencies...not good

It was a direct result of the successes Gottlieb had in the field of manipulating the human mind which led him to run Operation Often, more than a decade after he began working for the CIA. The offer was put to Gottlieb by Richard Helms. At the time, Helms was the director of the CIA – which was one of the most powerful jobs within the U.S. Government. It still is. Far more than satisfied with Gottlieb’s work in mind-control, Helms arranged for a behind closed doors meeting with Gottlieb to discuss a very different program – but which still had the issues of control and manipulation very much in evidence. Gottlieb sat and listened, as Helms outlined the plan. Having worked on the fabrication of certain UFO events, Gottlieb was fully aware that the CIA was willing to go to some very weird lengths to achieve its goals, even Gottlieb found this new program almost unbelievable. The idea was to take the worst parts of the domains of the afterlife and religion – demons, curses, and supernatural powers – and use them against America’s biggest threats. Although astounded, Gottlieb eagerly took on the challenge. Financing to the amount of $150,000 was immediately given to the program and Operation Often was up and running. 

As amazing as it may sound, although the program was definitively the creation of the CIA, not all of its members were in the employ of the agency. In fact, many of them weren’t even part of the U.S. Intelligence community. Drafted into the program – and required to sign release forms and take secrecy oaths – were priests, experts in the field of demonology, Satanists, psychics and even tarot readers. The plan was for any and all of these people, when needed, to offer their secret services to Uncle Sam – and they certainly did that. There is no doubt that the most disturbingly sinister aspect of the work undertaken by Operation Often was that which dealt with ways to cause death, but by making it look like something far more innocent in nature. On several occasions, attempts were made to try and summon up ancient Babylonian demons – even to the point of trying to engage in what can only be termed Faustian pacts. Of course, it was not a case of such demonic things literally materializing in the offices of the CIA. Rather, the demonologists brought on-board would try and contact such paranormal monsters in a mind-to-mind fashion. In some cases, they claimed it worked. The demonologists said that they had successfully got the message across. Needless to say, such pacts scarcely ever turn out to have positive results – and that was the same for Operation Often: there were deaths on the program – deaths that couldn’t be explained. At least, they couldn’t be explained in conventional terms. 

(Nick Redfern) Parasitic demons: familiar to governments

There were even more controversial rumors – all suggesting that there had been some sorts of success: the supernatural entities that Operation Often’s team successfully called forth agreed to taking the lives of whoever it was the team wanted gone: Russian officials, spies of the KGB, Chinese officials – the list went on and on. But, there was always a cost to Operation Often too – which is why, eventually, this aspect of the project was shut down: the cost was seen as being just too great. Clearly, the demonic things had no love for either side: they just maliciously and evilly enjoyed taking out both. Of the many and varied people who agreed to come on-board with Operation Often, one was an English woman named Sybil Leek. She was a witch who penned many books, including The Sybil Leek Book of Fortune Telling; Sybil Leek’s Book of Curses; Star Speak; and Moon Signs. Before being drafted into Operation Often in the late 1960s, Leek had a long and intriguing life in England – most of which was based around her fascination for witchcraft. Leek was brought into the witchy, old-religion-driven fold by her father, when she was just a child. She was immediately drawn to the supernatural allure that beckoned and was taught in the ways of the witch by a second family member: Leek’s grandmother, who had a lifelong exposure to the black arts.  

One of those Leek got to know well was the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley, who died in 1947. In fact, it was Crowley who suggested that then young Sybil should take up writing. Clearly, she followed his suggestions. Although she was born in the central part of England, Leek soon got the travel book: while still in her teens she joined a French witch-coven – after which she put down roots in the New Forest, a vast area of woodland in the south of England. In fact, her home was in the forest. Indeed, she lived a definitively wild life. While living and lurking in the heart of those enchanting woods, Leek achieved the position of High-Priestess of what was called the Nine Covens Council and also got to know a man named Gerald Gardner. It’s interesting to note that Gardner, who was one of the most influential people in the field of Wicca, was secretly hired by British Intelligence at the height of the Second World War – chiefly to see if the supernatural power of the witch might go some way towards defeating Adolf Hitler. It became known as Operation Cone of Power. Gardner informed his intelligence contacts of Leek’s skills – and as a result she was clandestinely hired to create faked horoscopes to try and affect the morale of the Nazis – who were, to a large degree, deeply driven by horoscopes. That Aleister Crowley also worked for British Intelligence – in the First World War – and that he was friends with Leek almost certainly led to the government’s decision to bring Leek on-board. In all probability, too, it was Leek’s quite significant ties to the British Government, to top secret programs, and to the religions of old, which led her to become a candidate for Operation Often – her area of expertise being the creation and sending of curses.

Operation Often’s work from the latter part of the 1960s to the early 1970s is known to a small degree – the data above amounting just about all that is known outside of official, secret circles. Post-approximately 1971-1972, though, the picture becomes murkier still. To the extent that, aside from a few whispered conformations that the program is still around, very little is known of its work in the field of religion – old and new. There is, however, another group that is performing an almost identical task. It goes by the nickname of the Collins Elite – its official title completely unknown outside of the U.S. Government. Unlike Operation Often, we don’t know for how long the Collins Elite has been in existence. In some form, at least, it appears to have been around since the 1950s – but at a time when very little work was undertaken: back then it was very much a think-tank-type organization which ad the occasions meeting, here and there. It appears, though, that the program upped its work and status in the 1970s, when the project became much more ambitious in its activities and goals. We would very likely not know of the Collins Elite, were it not for one man. That man is Ray Boeche. He has what may well be a unique background. Not only is Boeche a practicing priest, he is also a dedicated UFO researcher – indeed, back in the 1980s Boeche was the State-Director for MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network, the largest UFO research group in the United States. 

In November 1991, Boeche was secretly approached by a pair of physicists working on a highly classified project U.S. Department of Defense project that – just like Operation Often in the late 1960s and certainly through to at least the early 1970s – was focused around trying to contact demonic beings and attempting to understand and replicate their powers, all for military gain. Yes, it was another deranged program that promised not much but danger and disaster. It was on November 25 that a meeting took place, in a hotel in Boeche’s home city of Lincoln, Nebraska. As Boeche sat and listened, his two DoD Deep-Throats revealed the full the story: elements of the U.S. Government were providing significant funding to contact what, in official terms, were known as Non-Human Entities, or NHEs. Regardless of the fancy name, they were demons - and nothing more and nothing less. Interestingly, the Collins Elite believed that the entire UFO phenomenon is demonic; that demonic entities try and convince us that they are really extraterrestrials, that there is no God, and that the world’s history of religion is a ruse. In that sense, it’s the NHEs which are controlling and manipulating the domain of religion. Boeche’s informants that there had been some very weird – and incredibly violent – deaths on the program, including the death of one technician whose skull was inexplicably crushed to pieces by unseen, supernatural forces. 

(Nick Redfern) The late Rosemary Ellen Guiley was someone who knew the connections between Ufology and Demonology

Such was the concern over these deaths, which reportedly occurred in the latter part of 1990, at a facility in Virginia, that the work of the Collins Elite increased dramatically – hence why Boeche was visited in 1991 – to try and help thwart whatever it was that the group had recklessly unleashed. The highest-ranking figures in the military were informed of what was afoot, as were the most senior officials within the world of American Intelligence. Intriguingly, and for the most part, the White House was left out of the loops. It may have been a case of what the President doesn’t know won’t hurt him. So, if the president was out of the loop, why was Boeche in the loop? Almost certainly because of his links to both the church and UFOs – something which put him in an undeniably unique position. As the group expanded its work it began to look back in time, even to the point of its staff immersing themselves into ancient books and manuscripts, all in efforts to try and understand the nature of the demonic phenomenon and how to harness it – if such a thing was possible. Those books included Reginald C. Thompson’s Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia; Edward Langton’s Essentials of Demonology; and John Deacon and John Walker’s 1601 publication, Dialogical Discourses of Spirits and Devils.

Most disturbing is where the Collins Elite is today. At least up until the early 1990s, the groups was doing its best to understand and utilize demonic phenomena and powers. Since then, however, they appear to have taken a very different approach. Today, they are of the belief that no good whatsoever can come from trying to deals with supernatural, dangerous entities that want all of us dead, not just the enemies of the United States. The Collins Elite’s approach today is not just different, but it’s downright dangerous, too. They are now of the opinion that the only thing which can prevent what they believe is a potentially looming Armageddon of nuclear proportions, is to influence the public – “indoctrinate” would be a better and far more accurate term to use – to come around to the idea that belief in God is the only weapon that will work. Most controversial of all, the Collins Elite is not against the idea of forcibly indoctrinating people with Old Testament-type teachings all across the United States. In the eyes of the Collins Elite, controlling the mindset of the American public and having the entire population living in a “fear of God” situation is the only way to save them. Not a positive idea, at all.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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