Dec 17, 2022 I Nick Redfern

A 1950s Love Story of Aliens From the Stars...Maybe...

Truman Bethurum was a Californian, born in 1898, who spent much of his early years working jobs that never seemed to last. His first marriage both began and crumbled during the Second World War. He entered into a second marriage only several months after the war ended, and ultimately wound up working out in the harsh, hot deserts of Nevada – specifically in the highway construction game. It was while Bethurum was out in the desert, in 1952, and while his second wife, Mary, was stuck at home in Santa Barbara, that Bethurum claimed he had an extremely close encounter with extraterrestrials on Mormon Mesa, a near-2000-foot-high foot high mount in Nevada’s Moapa Valley. On the fateful night in question, and after the working day was over, Bethurum climbed the mountain, primarily to search for shells, something that Mary particularly enjoyed collecting. The story goes that Bethurum was rendered into a strange, altered state of mind, during which aliens from another world suddenly manifested before him; having arrived in a huge, gleaming, flying saucer that quietly descended to the desert floor. Although only around four-feet-five to five-feet in height, the aliens were eerily human-looking and claimed to come from a faraway planet called Clarion. Not only that, their leader was one Captain Aura Rhanes, a shapely woman that the near-salivating Bethurum described as being “tops in shapeliness and beauty.” All thoughts of Mary – back in Santa Barbara – were suddenly gone from Bethurum’s mind.

(Nick Redfern) Truman Bethurum spent a lot of time at George Van Tassel's Integratron

Bethurum’s odd story continued and grew at a steady and controversial pace, as did his relationship to the flirty Captain Rhanes. For months, Bethurum and Rhanes had clandestine meetings; usually, late at night. They generally occurred in isolated desert locations in Nevada, where, after Rhanes’ huge ship landed, the pair had long and deep conversations about the state of the Earth, the Cold War, and the captain’s home world - to which she promised to take Bethurum, one day. While Bethurum did not explicitly say so, there are more than a few nuggets of data in Bethurum’s collective work that suggests on a couple of occasions the pair had just about the closest and most intimate encounters, of all. It’s hardly surprising, then, that many students of Ufology outright dismiss Bethurum’s story as either a hoax, or a fantasy born out of Bethurum’s unhappiness with both wife number one and two (eventually, there would be wife number three). There is, however, one particularly fascinating aspect of Bethurum’s claimed experiences that has a significant bearing upon the matter of the Women in Black.

On two occasions, Bethurum said, he encountered Aura Rhanes under circumstances very different to those which occurred out in the desert, with Rhanes’ huge flying saucer and her crew of little men in view. These additional encounters saw Rhanes operating in what can only be termed disguise. In fact, in definitive Woman in Black mode. There was nothing flirty or friendly about these close encounters, however: they were downright hostile. The first occurred around 3:00 a.m. – a time when a wealth of supernatural activity typically occurs - one August 1952 morning. Bethurum and a work friend, Whitey, had just finished their shift and decided to head off in Whitey’s pick-up truck to a favorite, all-night diner in Glendale, Nevada. Whitey was someone who Bethurum had quietly confided in about his experiences with Aura Rhanes. He was also someone who, although fascinated by Bethurum’s claims, was somewhat skeptical of the story. That is, until they entered the diner. Any skepticism Whitey had was very soon to be wiped out.

(Nick Redfern) Aura Rhanes had two sides: one a Contactee-style alien and the other a Woman in Black

As the pair sat and drank coffee and ate pie, a noticeably quiet Whitey elbowed Bethurum in the ribs and motioned him to take a look at the end of the counter. Bethurum looked up. He was amazed and shocked to see Aura Rhanes, and an equally small male individual, standing there. “It’s her, isn’t it?” asked Whitey. Bethurum nodded, pretty much in a state of near-shock. Both men watched carefully as Rhanes and her colleague took seats at a window table. In stark contrast to everyone else in the diner, Rhanes was dressed in black: black beret, wraparound black sunglasses, black velvet blouse, and black boots. The only thing that wasn’t black: a “glaring red” skirt. A worried Whitey asked: “What are you going to do?” Bethurum knew exactly what he was going to do. He composed himself, and walk over and talk to them. Whitey, however, was having none of it. He quickly exited the diner, preferring to sit in his truck, in the overwhelming darkness of the desert, rather than confront creatures from another world. 

(Nick Redfern) The 1950s: the age of the Contactee

Perhaps trying to be a gentleman and tactful at the same time, Bethurum asked: “I beg your pardon, lady, but haven’t we met before?” Rhanes slowly looked up, glared at Bethurum with a wide-eyed and hostile stare, and uttered just one word: “No.” In private correspondence with fellow contactee, George Hunt Williamson, Bethurum said that Rhanes’ “no” was uttered in a chilling, demonic tone. Almost like a “deadly hiss,” to use Bethurum’s own words. Bethurum wasn’t taking that for an answer: “You very closely resemble a lady I met some time ago out on Mormon Mesa.”  The only response was another “No” of a very threatening style. Bethurum evidently didn’t get the message. He blundered on with his line of questions. The answer was the same again and again. All the time, the weird little man with Rhanes – who also sported dark sunglasses - said not even a single word. Bethurum clearly recognized this odd behavior (or, rather, non-behavior) on the part of Rhanes’ comrade: “The man did not give a hint that he either heard me or was even aware of my presence. He could have passed as a blind [and] deaf mute.”

As Bethurum walked away, and back to his table, the waitress came over – she just happened to be someone else that Bethurum had told of his otherworldly experiences. She said to him: “They are surely the saucer people you told us about.” He replied: “I thought so, too. But it may not be. The lady has on dark glasses and the man had a scar on his face.” The waitress gave a strange response: “I noticed that too, but it is not a scar. It is only penciled on.” With that, the odd little man motioned for the check. In a few moments, it was paid and the pair headed for the door. The waitress raced over to Bethurum and said: “The lady told me to tell you that she knows you, and that she was sorry and ‘yes’ is the answer to some of your questions.” It was then that something very strange happened, as Bethurum noted: “I saw them only a step from the door, before I turned to pay my check. When I turned back they were gone. I rushed outside, and there stood Whitey puffing nonchalantly on his cigarette.”

When a dumbfounded Bethurum asked where the pair was, Whitey replied: “They never came out. Honest, Tru; not a blessed soul passed through that door until you came out.” Things were not over, however.  Just a couple of weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon, Bethurum was having his hair trimmed at a barber’s shop in Las Vegas, when he caught sight of Aura Rhanes, yet again. This time, she was walking along the sidewalk outside the barber’s – wearing her same outfit of black sunglasses, black beret, black blouse, and red skirt. Bethurum practically threw his dollars and coins at the astonished barber and raced out of the door. 

"Lady! Lady!” cried Bethurum, as he caught sight of Rhanes, about sixty feet ahead of him. She quickly turned, looked directly at him – despite the fact that the street was crowded and the shout could have come from any number of dozens of people on the sidewalk. She slowly shook her head. The stone-cold look on her face was one of pure evil. Bethurum got the message, as Rhanes vanished into the crowd. Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before the nighttime liaisons in the desert were renewed – something which continued until November 2, 1952, when the little people of Clarion finally said their goodbyes. A crushed Bethurum was never to see his beautiful woman from the stars again. Maybe, as we’ve seen, that should be sometimes beautiful, but other times nothing but hostile. “Little people” is a very appropriate term to use, since there are clear and undeniable parallels between Aura Rhanes and the legendary female “fairy-folk” who would enchant men in Middle Ages-era Britain. The sexual aspects of such encounters, combined with notable amounts of missing time, make them the centuries-old mirror-images of today’s alien abductions. Was Aura Rhanes a 20th century equivalent of a fairy-like “elemental?” Perhaps, yes. The fairy angle is intriguing. Let's dig deeper into that angle.

There is a fascinating story that came from Whitley Strieber. His 1987 best-selling book, Communion, brought the world of alien abductions to a massive, mainstream audience. During the course of investigating his experiences that prompted him to write Communion, Strieber discovered something intriguing: that the name “Aura Rhanes" - an alleged human-like alien encountered by a man named Truman Bethurum in 1952 - was extremely similar to “Aerach Reann,” a Gaelic term that translates approximately to “heavenly body of air.” It must be said that the fashion by which Bethurum became entranced by Aura Rhanes ("tops in shapeliness and beauty" was how smitten Bethurum described her) mirrors those centuries-old cases of hapless and helpless men falling under the spell of the fairy queen. Strieber pursued this Gaelic issue.

In the same time-frame that Truman Bethurum was under the hypnotic spell of Aura Rhanes, a controversial man named George Adamski claimed encounters with human-like extraterrestrials in the deserts of California. There’s no doubt that Adamski was, and still is, the ultimate Contactee – regardless of what one might make of his claimed experiences with the long-haired, human-looking “Space Brothers,” as he termed them. What is particularly interesting is that one of Adamski’s alleged brothers from the stars was named Firkon. Strieber says of this: “Fir or fear when used as a prefix means ‘man,’ and Conn, meaning ‘Head,’ is the name of a seventh-century Irish king whose son, tradition tells us, was abducted by a beautiful lady in a flying craft. Firkon means, in Gaelic, ‘man of Conn.’” Then there are the experiences of a young man named Bob Renaud. On one particular night in July 1961, Renaud picked up an extraordinary message while “browsing around the shortwave bands” in his small, Massachusetts town. It began with a series of bleeps but was soon replaced by a female voice, which later identified herself as Linn-Erri from the planet Korendor. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that this could all have been provoked by nothing stranger than the late night, hormone-driven fantasies of a young man run wild. But, as with the equally controversial saga of Truman Bethurum, there is something that makes Bob Renaud’s story intriguing, as Strieber states in his work. Strieber notes that the aliens’ alleged home planet, Korendor, is very similar to a Gaelic term that Strieber described as “a place of oracle.”

Betty Andreasson is someone who has had a lifetime of profound interaction with other-world entities and whose encounters caught the attention of Strieber. On one occasion in the 1960s, when Andreasson was deep in channeling-style conversation with a small, large-headed alien being named Quaazga, a curious statement was made to Andreasson in a language that she could not understand. One person did understand it, however: a man named Leonard Keane. Listening to audio-recordings of Andreasson relating the statement word for word, he concluded the alien was speaking in a form of ancient Gaelic, which translated to the following: “The living descendants of the Northern Peoples are groping in universal darkness. Their mother mourns. A dark occasion forebodes when weakness in high places will revive a high cost of living, an interval of mistakes in high places, an interval fit for distressing events.” Perhaps, someone should look deeper into this angle of Gaelic/Contactee/Alien connections.

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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