Sunday, June 13, 2010

UFOs and Marian Apparitions

DIMENSIONS: A Casebook of Alien ContactREVELATIONS: Alien Contact and Human DeceptionMessengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults

When I was small child, I had a recurring nightmare that should not have been a nightmare at all:

In my dream, I'm standing on our neighbor's front porch. (I used to walk to grade school every day with two kids who lived in that house--a boy my age and his younger sister. I also spent a lot of time on that porch playing with those kids and with other kids on our block.)

So in the dream I'm standing on this large porch which spans the whole front of the house. The front door is positioned in the center with two knee-to-ceiling windows on either side. One pair of windows looks into the living/dining area of the home, and the other pair looks into a small bedroom. 

As I look through these windows (it's hard not to peek into them, because of the way the porch is set up) I see, standing there, either in the bedroom or the living room--it doesn't matter, it's the same no matter which set of windows I look through--the Blessed Virgin Mary, just kind of looking back at me. 

Immediately I am struck through and through with a paralyzing, overwhelming terror. It is as if something wholly and completely 'other' is wearing a full-body Virgin Mary mask, and a lame one at that--kind of like one of those Richard Nixon masks, only the BVM. This 'other' thing is looking right at me, and I cannot move.

The reason this should not have been a nightmare is that the BVM is supposedly a beloved, merciful figure and a special favorite of Catholic children, especially Catholic girls--kind of like the best Mom a kid could ever want.

This characterization (which is still very much a part of being a Catholic kid) is in itself kind of weird. Whenever the BVM puts in an appearance anywhere around the world (as she did at Lourdes, Fatima, and Medjugorje, to name a few of her most recent visits) she almost always appears to children, tells them God loves them and blah blah blah, but too bad, humankind is about to die, fry, starve, kill each other, wreck the planet [fill in your own catastrophic future event about to occur as a consequence of our innate sinfulness].

She usually brings scary, scary news. To little kids. So why do they adore her? I can't answer that. 

It always goes down like this:

"You kids are great. Too bad my Son has to fry your little carcasses on account of the horrible things the grown ups are doing. Don't take it personally. Oh yeah, and tell your folks and the rest of the village about the warning. Gotta run, but I'll back so keep your eyes peeled."

The BVM always comes armed with prophecy, usually dire prophecy. This is interpreted as merciful by the Catholic Church. Presumably the BVM could just not tell us at all and leave us to the natural consequences of our sins, but because she's the BVM and she cares, she intercedes for us on her Son's behalf and advises, "Clean up your act. Do it now."

Marian apparitions have much in common with UFO sightings and close encounters, so much so that some of the most prominent and credible UFO researchers have written about the connection extensively.

The Marian Apparition

The typical Marian apparition begins when a group of small children unexpectedly encounters a very bright light. As their eyes adjust, 'a beautiful lady' emerges from this light. Interestingly, the beautiful lady never claims to be the Virgin Mary--this is assumed by the witnesses.

(The Catholic Church does not approve all BVM apparitions as official miracles and has its own concerns about them.)

If the religious interpretation is dropped out of the eyewitness and percipient descriptions of Marian apparitions, what is left strongly resembles a standard UFO encounter.

Here is Jacques Vallee talking about Fatima:

"The crowd that stood in a field
in Fatima, a small village in the district of Leiria, some sixty-two
miles north of Lisbon, on October 13, 1917, was waiting there for a
miracle, because three children had been assured such an event would
take place after a number of meetings with an 'entity' that came from
the sky in a globe of light. The witnesses were three shepherds:
Lucia, aged ten, and her cousins Francisco Mario and Jacinto Marto,
aged nine and seven. Today, Fatima is one of the most celebrated
places of pilgrimage in the entire world. 

"...According to the very words of the Reverend General Vicar of
Leiria, who was one of the witnesses, the lady came in an 'aeroplane
of light,' an 'immense globe, flying westwards, at moderate speed. It
irradiated a very bright light.' Some other witnesses saw a white
being coming out of the globe, which several minutes later took off,
disappearing in the direction of the sun. 

"The last episode was the miracle itself. It was seen by seventy
thousand persons, among whom were pious individuals and atheists,
clergymen and reporters from a socialist newspaper. As promised, it
happened on October 13 at noon. Among the crowd was Professor Almeida
Garrett, of Coimbra University, a scientist, who described the
phenomena in the following terms: 'It was raining hard, and the rain
trickled down everyone's clothes. Suddenly, the sun shone through the
dense cloud which covered it: everybody looked in its direction. IT
I don't think that it could be compared to a dull silver disk, as
someone said later in Fatima. No. It rather possessed a clear,
changing brightness, which one could compare to a pearl. It looked
like a polished wheel. This is not poetry. My eyes have seen it. This
clear-shaped disk suddenly began turning. It rotated with increasing
speed. Suddenly, the crowd began crying with anguish. The sun
(disk?), revolving all the time, began falling toward the earth,
reddish and bloody, threatening to crush everyone under its fiery
Ultraterrestrial Messengers of Deception
Jacques Vallee, John A. Keel, J. Allen Hynek, and many others abandoned the ET hypothesis fairly early on in their UFO investigations, noting that encounters with UFOs and the beings associated with them resemble encounters with angels, fairies, ghosts, demons, and other paranormal phenomena, and that significant psychological elements also appear to be at play--not psychopathology necessarily, but elements of mind control and deliberate manipulation of human consciousness.

John A. Keel, an amateur hypnotist and professional magician, believed that the bright lights at the beginning of a UFO/alien encounter represented the material aspect of the experience, but that once attention was captured with the bright light, a hypnotic state was induced such that much of the rest of the experience was hallucinatory or psychic. This psychic dream-like experience or vision was then interpreted according to the belief system of the percipient. This analysis fits Marian apparitions very well.

What is actually seen by the  children initially is a very bright, often pulsating light that descends from the sky. The lady is seen after that, emerging from the light itself, and she is seen only by thc children.

Keel used to use the word 'demonic' when talking about UFO phenomena, but he did not mean the word in the way Christians would use it. Though he did see a dark side to UFO phenomena, when he called himself 'a demonologist',  he was referring in a value-neutral way to the duplicitous nature of the supposed aliens--they were like the 'daimons' of ancient Greece and earlier, like 'spirits of place' or nature spirits.

Keel, a Fortean with a unique background and perspective, observed that absurd elements were often a part of these alien encounters and that the absurdist element was edited out by ufologists as often as skeptics. He noted that although genuine and correct prophecies were made with unsettling frequency, once belief was established in a human subject these accurate prophecies were often followed by catastrophic false prophecies. Aliens (and Mary) are especially fond of gathering believers in fields and on hillsides to await the end of the world, which then does not come.

The spiritual content of Marian apparitions is also very similar in tone to the generic, bland, New Age-y sort of content channeled by UFO contactees. Vallee also noted this similarity as well. These prophetic apparitions/aliens don't tell us much spiritually that we don't already know, and they tend to prey on the fear of the day. At the time of Fatima, the Soviet Union and nuclear build up was a hot topic so they talked about that. Today, the aliens are worried about the environment.

Vallee and Keel both suspected that a genuine 'other' intelligence was at work in Marian apparitions and UFO contact/abduction experiences, they just didn't believe it was extraterrestrial. They both felt that the materialistic emphasis was wrongheaded and that more could be learned by taking detailed accurate accounts and doing information science on the results--analyzing patterns and taking everything into account, not just the bits that fit preconceived pet theories or beliefs.

Vallee, an esteemed information scientist who currently runs a venture capital firm in France, eventually got very disgusted with the circus that surrounds ufology and backed away from the subject almost entirely.

Vallee still thinks the phenomena are real and deserve serious attention, but he became sick of all the drama and duplicity surrounding both the topic and the community pretending to 'study' the topic. Vallee feels that ufology has devolved into cultish religion at this point and is part of the problem, actively making things worse rather than shedding much light on anything.

Keel believed that the aliens (disguised sometimes as the Blessed Virgin) are actually from earth, that they have always been here, and that they inhabit a dimension of time and space we do not fully understand. He often called them 'Ultraterrestrials'. Keel saw the aliens as another race of beings that share this planet with humans and for their own reasons enjoy messing with us sometimes.

Both men (and many others) see mechanisms of social and psychic control in the human interventions initiated by these ancient Ultraterrestrials. In other words, these beings, whatever they are--angels, demons, ultraterrestrials, aliens, fairies--intervene in human affairs by choosing susceptible people, changing their consciousness in very specific ways, and messing with the culture of the day through magic and hypnotic mind control tricks.

The alien agenda is opaque. Their intentions may be positive, negative, both, neither, or they may have reasons for messing with us that we can't begin to understand.

One thing is certain:

Just like the Catholic Church, they know how to put on a hell of a show.


  1. This is fascinating, especially considering that there have been recent sightings of UFO's over Vatican City--hmmmmmmmm. Whatever the truth, this is one hell of a screenplay and I think it is a lot more imaginative than the BVM appearing on a garage door in New Jersey or in a grilled cheese sandwich that gets auctioned off on ebay. Thanks

  2. You're welcome!

    It would make a good screenplay, wouldn't it? (Although I wish I had the $$$ from that cheese sandwich Ebay BVM!)