New Religious UFO Movements
Extraterrestrial Salvation in Contemporary America
California State University, Fresno
Directed Reading Assignment, Spring Semester 2000
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Table of Contents
This paper could not have been completed without the help offered by the following people to whom I am very grateful:
For the Raelian Religion - Donna
Grabow, Marc Letourneau, and Kevin McGowan.
For the Aetherius Society - Paul Nugent.
For the Unarius Academy of Science - Celeste Appel and David Reynolds.
Dr. Mary Ludwig, PhD, my professor
Dr. Eddie Bullard, PhD, expert in folkloristic aspects of the UFO phenomena.
Dr. Diana Tumminia, PhD, for sending me material on Unarius.
Jerome Clark, editor of International UFO Reporter.
Clas Svahn, chairman of UFO Sweden and respected ufologist.
And for being the best of friends, always:
Everyone is looking for something
Bad Religion, "No Direction"
Throughout the history of mankind, strange and sometimes frightening aerial phenomena have been observed all over the globe and interpreted in different ways, depending on during what time and within what culture the observations have taken place. The heavens have been the realm of the gods and the supernatural, and mythologies all over the world, both oral and written, contain stories of gods and deities that live in the heavenly realms and sometimes descend to earth and interfere with mankind.
On the 24th of June 1947, a new chapter in the continuing story of anomalous sightings in the skies was added, and man's view of the skies was forever changed. This was the day when Kenneth Arnold, a pilot out looking for a crashed plane, spotted nine unidentified flying objects flying in formation near Mount Rainier in the state of Washington. During an interview with reporter Bill Bequette of the Pendleton East Oregonian that took place shortly after his sighting, Arnold described the objects to have been moving "like a saucer if you skipped it across the water"(1). An anonymous headline writer then coined the world famous term flying saucer to describe what Arnold had seen, even if the object spotted had been crescent, not saucer, shaped.
Numerous sightings followed, many of them describing circular objects traveling the skies in incredible speeds. The notion that UFOs represented extraterrestrial spacecraft was still not the dominating idea, even if the so-called Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH) in the years to come would be dominating the public opinion. Jerome Clark (1998a) defines ETH the following way:
"(1) Extraterrestrial Intelligences (ETI) have arisen elsewhere in the universe, probably many times in many places in our galaxy alone. (2) Some form of technological civilization has advanced to the point at which interstellar travel is possible (again, probably many times). (3) Such travelers, or at least their contrivances, have arrived here and are pursuing their mission in a somewhat covert fashion".(2)
Many writers, scholars and non-scholars alike, use the terms UFO, flying saucers, and extraterrestrials interchangeably when discussing the UFO phenomena, which unfortunately leads to confusion and/or misunderstanding. UFO is short for Unidentified Flying Object and was coined in the 1950's by the U.S. Air Force. The standard definition of UFO is the one formulated by the late Dr. Allen Hynek in his book The UFO Experience (1972):
"We can define UFO simply as the reported perception of an object or light seen in the sky or upon the land the appearance, trajectory, and general dynamic and luminescent behavior of which do not suggest a logical, conventional explanation and which is not only mystifying to the original percipients but remains unidentified after close scrutiny of all available evidence by persons who are technically capable of making a common sense identification, if one is possible".(3)
Clearly UFO and extraterrestrial spacecraft is not, and never has been, the same thing.
Just as it is important to differ between UFO and ETs/flying saucers, it is also important to separate between ufologists and saucerians. When discussing ufologists, J. Gordon Melton refers to a group of researchers who in the 1950s held a relatively conservative view towards the UFO phenomenon. Their interpretation was [and still is] that UFOs were unexplained occurrences that thus merited for conscientious study. They were convinced that scientific procedures and logical analysis of the evidence would sooner or later yield a solution, which probably would validate the ETH. The ufologists thought that communication with UFO intelligences might occur in the future, but they rejected that such contacts were already taking place.(4) Many ufologists today approach the subject of UFOs from a scientific viewpoint, even if some are more positive to the ETH than others. Being an ufologist does not equal acceptance of the ETH; it is more the way one chooses to approach the subject that matters.
The second camp of the UFO interested consisted of individuals that Melton refers to as saucerians. Saucerians typically had a background in occultism and the paranormal. Many had been active Theosophists, Spiritualists, or followers of other esoteric doctrines. Even before the Arnold sighting in 1947 made flying saucers the number one topic for discussion, some of the later saucerians believed that contact with some sort of otherworldly beings not only was possible, but already accomplished. These beings, who lived on distant planets, dwelled in the spirit realm, or in the astral world (or in all three), were much more spiritually and technologically advanced than humans, and they were concerned about the future of humankind. These beings from time to time engaged in efforts to guide our spiritual evolution in the right directions, and furthermore, various evil space or spirit entities operated secretly with terrestrial allies with intentions to influence humankind the wrong way, the evil way.(5) So ufologists can be defined as scientists that use a more secular and scientifically based approach based on empirical data, while the saucerians use a metaphysically based approach(6), and are hence quite different from one another.
On July 8th 1947, the Roswell Daily Record's headline read: RAAF CAPTURES FLYING SAUCER ON RANCH IN ROSWELL REGION. NO DETAILS OF FLYING DISK IS REVEALED. This was what later came to be known as the Roswell Incident, a story of sinister cover-ups, crashed alien spacecrafts, and terrifying conspiracies. Although well-known within the UFO community, this (in)famous incident gained worldwide attention when it was immortalized in the movie Independence Day, where the crashed saucer, ironically, was used to defeat the evil extraterrestrials.
Then in the 1950s, even more complex chapters were added to the unfolding UFO saga. During this decade, a number of people came forward and claimed to have had contact with the occupants of the flying saucers, and these occupants were indeed extraterrestrial in nature. Some even claimed to have been taken on interstellar road-trips, visiting planets both known and unknown to the science of the day. The contactees, as these people came to be known, were regarded as new spiritual leaders by some bringing as they did new hopes of salvation by Space Brothers, or as kooks by others who tried to approach the UFO phenomena in general and the ETH in particular from a scientific perspective.
Some of the contactees managed to gather several followers, and some founded contactee organizations, such as the George Adamski Foundation, Daniel Fry's Understanding, and also those under study in this paper; the Raelian Religion, the Aetherius Society, and Unarius Academy of Science. Interesting to note is that some of these organizations that based their belief system on extraterrestrial visitations were founded as the result of a close encounter, while Unarius and Aetherius were founded after non-physical contacts. The latter technique, called channeling, has been used by psychics and mediums who mentally receive messages from spirits, angels, and various other entities, and in these cases extraterrestrials.
However, stories about contacts with beings and spirits from outer space did by no means start with the introduction of the flying saucer. It started much earlier.
J. Gordon Melton, famous scholar of new and alternative religions, has written an extensive summary of pre-1947 contacts in his paper "The Contactees: A Survey" from James R. Lewis' The Gods Have Landed (1995). Melton starts his survey by describing the life of Emanuel Swedenborg, the famous Swedish scientist and seer. In 1758, Swedenborg published his treatise Concerning Earths in the Solar World. In this work, he tells of how he traveled to various planets in our solar system and beyond. Swedenborg did not travel physically, but made so-called astral travels, used by individuals who sense their bodies and consciousnesses separately. While one's body remains in one place, one's consciousness is free to travel around.(7)
In 1997, Swedenborg's work was translated again, this time with the new title The Worlds in Space. In both versions he tells what Martian clothing looks like and that Venus' population consists of two groups of beings: one is made up of humble and humanoid beings, while the other consists of obnoxious giants. Judging from Swedenborg's stories, life on Mars seemed to be much happier than in every-day Sweden and the rest of 18th century Europe at the time of his travels. He tells that "Each individual there lives content with his own property, and with his own good name, a reputation for being fair and loving his neighbour [sic]"(8). Swedenborg was, much like his 20th century successors, interested in the occult before he started his writings. His descriptions of spiritual truths learned from dreams, visions, and communications with spirits and extraterrestrials repudiate most beliefs of traditional Christianity. Behind his work lay a conviction that science and the growth of rational thought were responsible for a religious crisis, and Swedenborg sought to overcome this crisis through direct revelations from God.
On the 5th of December 1783, a meeting took place in London made up by a group of Swedenborg's followers. The New Church was born from this group, originally called the Theosophical Society, a term Helena Blavatsky (below) adopted a little more than one hundred years later. Others influenced by Swedenborg include Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism; Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science and the New Thought movement; and Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church. Furthermore, terms like New Age and theosophy, that were later to be used in different new religions, were popularized by Swedenborg and his followers.(9)
Returning now to Melton's contactee survey, another outstanding claim before Kenneth Arnold and George Adamski brought flying saucers and Space Brothers to the world, was made by French medium Helen Smith. She told psychologist Theodore Flournoy that she experienced astral travel to Mars in 1890. Upon returning to earth she was able to fully discuss the Martian language, Martians themselves, and different animal and plant life. Flournoy, however, discovered that the Martian language was merely "an infantile travesty of French"(10). Both Swedenborg's and Smith's claims, and as will become apparent, even contactees' and saucer prophets' respectively, revolved around the troubled relationship that occult and New Age sciences have with traditional mainstream science, namely that they claim to offer objective and scientific theories in order to prove the validity of their metaphysical claims. Smith reported enthusiastically of the canals "discovered" by G.V. Schiaparelli in the late nineteenth century, and Swedenborg, while traveling to unknown realms in the universe, visited each planet known to science in the 1750s but failed to notice Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.(11)
About two decades before Smith described her interactions with Martians, the Russian Helena Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society together with Henry Olcot. Her first major work, Isis Unveiled, first published in 1877, a work she claimed to have been the result of spirit channeling, was based on the novels of Robert Bulwer-Lytton whose writing was clearly influenced by Swedenborg.
After a visit to India where Blavatsky and her colleague were heavily influenced by Hindu religion, she returned to publish The Secret Doctrine (1888) which includes stories of telepathic contact with ancient spiritual teachers.(12) Blavatsky, an ex-spiritualist, created a new occult system that included a hierarchy of "ascended masters" who formed a structure between humanity and the Divine. The core belief of spiritualism is that certain people; mediums, are able to make contact with entities from the spirit world. Spiritualists believe that they frequently contact other entities along with the spirits of the dead, and these highly evolved spirits could teach the medium the true nature of life, and also of the life to come.(13)
Among Blavatsky's hierarchy were masters dwelling on Venus and with whom she claimed to be in contact with. However, the first to actually build a religion on contact with extraterrestrial beings (as opposed to incorporating extraterrestrial data into another already existing religion as Blavatsky did) was Guy Ballard after he was able to make contact with the extraterrestrial masters, including the Venusian Lords of the Flame. Bullard's own version of occult religion was emphasized upon frequent contact with the masters from whom he received regular messages.(14) But, "the Theosophical movement of the nineteenth century was instrumental in the development of a cosmology that included the notion that benevolent beings from other planets were highly evolved adepts who periodically visit the Earth and who continue to be interested in human welfare"(15).
The 1950s is generally regarded as the era of the contactees, but before that Ballard apparently encountered 12 Venusians inside a vast cavern in northern California and Williard M. Magoon was taken to Mars by some "unseen force" where he saw highly developed technology together with forests, parks, and gardens. The Marsians themselves were invisible, but he could anyhow "sense" their presence.(16)
Then in early 1952 George van Tassel started to channel messages from an extraterrestrial named Ashtar, and on November 20th the same year the most famous contactee of them all, George Adamski, reported a face-to-face encounter with the Venusian Orthon in the Californian desert.(17)
The years that followed would bring several other contactees, some more successful in spreading their messages than others. Unarius Academy of Science and the Aetherius Society, both founded in the 1950s, and the Raelian Religion, which came into existence two decades later, are three of the most long-lived so-called flying saucer cults that started as a result of the contactee movement. These new religions can be considered the result of a spiritual and occult ideology that emerged more than 200 years ago.
Religious groups that differ from the contemporary religious culture, be that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc., are defined in various ways, some more accurate than others. This paper deals exclusively with New Religious Movements (NRMs) that originated in the 20th century, and it is therefore appropriate to give a short overview of the history behind the NRMs. NRMs have, according to Hexham and Poewe, been used many times to describe religious movements, cults, and sects that developed in the past 200 years as a reaction to modernity. Even though these groups choose to embrace the new while they at the same time reject a single ongoing tradition, they do tend to borrow their ideas, doctrines, and practices from religious traditions that existed before them.(18)
All movements in this paper originated after World War II, and the definition offered by Eileen Baker is therefore appropriate since she says that a NRM "is new in so far as it has become visible in its present form since the Second World War, and that it is religious in so far as it offers not merely narrow theological statements about the existence and nature of supernatural beings, but that it proposes answers to at least some of the ultimate questions that have traditionally been addressed by mainstream religions"(19).
As described above, Swedenborg managed to influence several people that eventually founded new religions. However, Europe has a long history of so-called revitalization movements stretching all the way back to Roman times. A revitalization movement is "a deliberate, organized, conscious effort by members of society to construct a more satisfying culture"(20). The Protestant Reformation is one example. It started out as a cult movement proclaiming a novel interpretation of Scripture, developed into a sect, only to become a church throughout most of northern Europe.(21)
Before proceeding further, cult, sect, and church need to be defined. This is not an easy task, though. They have all been used in anthropology and the sociology of religion to describe particular types of religious organizations. But what do they actually mean? Sect and church are generally more easily defined. The latter refers to the larger community's view of the acceptable type of religious organization, whereas sect often is used to refer to some sort of protest group. Usually sect members are strict believers and experience some sort of conversion before becoming members.(22) However, different types of sects have different names.
One type of sect that is discussed in this paper is the other-worldly sect, "a utopian communal group which subscribes to a set of beliefs based on an apocalyptic interpretation of current history"(23). Sects like these can be seen as a new religions since they believe that society at large is nothing but evil, and that in the last days, i.e. end of our history, society will be replaced by a community of the elect - the chosen ones that have swallowed the prophet's messages hook, line, and sinker. New members must abandon any previous understandings of the meaning of life and openheartedly embrace the new worldview, a worldview that will explain the individual's earlier life, actions of the sect's opponents, and the harsh and sometimes dehumanizing demands by the leader. Typical for this sect is a withdrawal from society into a timeless paradise on earth, where the ones closest to God; the members of the sect, will come to rule. A prophet or Messiah, legitimated by great charisma, usually rules the sect.(24)
The definition of cult is a rather tricky business, though. My purpose for this paper, described in more detail below, is to argue that flying saucer cult is not an appropriate term for all religious movements influenced by the ETH. Cults are "groups that follow an unorthodox religion, or are centered on a single person or principle, often associated with curing or salvation"(25). This is the anthropological definition referred to when the concept of cults is discussed in this paper. The sociological definition, that "a cult is a deviant religious organization with novel beliefs and practices"(26), is also very useful to this study. The advantage of this definition is that it allows for change over time so that what may be a novelty today can become a tradition tomorrow.(27)
The movements that originated in the late eighteenth century no longer sought to revive the Christian tradition, but rather to create new traditions by blending old Christian themes with new and exotic elements. It is in these movements, argues Hexham and Poewe, that the origins of today's new religions can be found. Swedenborg's writings influenced what later became a well-established tradition of occult writing, which in turn gave birth to new religions.(28)
So what, then, does occult and occultism mean? Sociologist Edward A. Tiryakian (1972) understands it to be:
"…intentional practices, techniques, or procedures which (a) draw upon hidden and concealed forces in nature or the cosmos than cannot be measured or recognized by the instruments of modern science, and (b) which have as their desired or intended consequences empirical results, such as obtaining knowledge of the empirical course of events or altering them from what they would have been without this intervention".(29)
Derived from the Latin occulere which means to conceal, the term(s) are generally used for magical and mystical knowledge and practices; a sort of esoteric knowledge available only for those within the circle of accepted believers. Lehman and Myers use the work of Marcello Truzzi in their introduction to their chapter "The Occult: Paths to the Unknown" (1997, 376). Truzzi divides practicing occultists into three categories:
The first category consists of people whose involvement in the occult is minimal. They do not regard themselves as occultists per se, but are concerned and intrigued in explaining phenomena such as flying saucers, land and sea monsters, and parapsychological phenomena. This category lacks mysticism and anti-scientific thoughts.
The second category consists of people who seek to understand mysterious relationships between paranormal events, and they show interest, for instance, in numerology, sun-sign astrology, and palmistry.
Truzzi's third category consists of people concerned with complex belief systems, such as witchcraft, Satanism, ritual magic, and other mystical traditions - that manage to combine elements from categories one and two. They often question or even contradict scientific validation, and thus see themselves as competitors to science. Truzzi's conclusion is that most occult believers are a combination of the three categories, though some obviously belong to only one or two.
Another term in need of a definition, dealing as I am with alternative religious groups, is New Age. It is hard, if not impossible, to study NRMs without ever stumbling upon the concept of New Age. There have been literally hundreds of books written about the different aspects of New Age, and it is well beyond the scope of this paper to thoroughly discuss all the elements within it. However, the definition that suits the purpose of this paper the best is the one offered in New Age Almanac (1991) by J. Gordon Melton, Jerome Clark, and Aidan A. Kelly:
"The New Age Movement can be defined by its primal experience of transformation. New Agers have either experienced or are diligently seeking a profound personal transformation from an old, unacceptable life to a new, exciting future".(30)
The movement, though it is definitely not a movement or cult-like organization to which one subscribes or adheres, started out in the early 1970s. At that time, a new generation of psychic/occult/spiritual seekers started rejecting the spiritualistic emphasis upon spirits and mediums while refusing the rather negative title of occult. Simultaneously, these seekers strongly identified with the new wave of Eastern teachers who started to emerge in the late 1960s. They saw themselves as the harbingers of a new age of peace and spirituality(31), and today the movement includes numerous more or less occult sciences such as astrology, divination, Wicca and witchcraft, tarot reading, channeling, walk-ins (departed souls, extraterrestrial or not, that have entered an earthly body), and reincarnation, to name just a few.
I want to point out that this is not the first scholarly analysis of the UFO phenomena in general and the ETH in particular. Several dissertations on different aspects of UFO phenomena have been produced during the last decades. Ed Bullard's PhD dissertation Mysteries in the Eye of the Beholder for Indiana University, which discusses folkloric elements within the alien abduction phenomenon (1982), is an outstanding piece of scholarly work. The Journal for UFO Studies and International UFO Reporter, published by the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies in Chicago, investigates the phenomena through academic methodology. Numerous articles and papers about the phenomena in disciplines such as folklore, anthropology, and psychology have been written and debated.
Anthropologists Benson Saler, Charles B. Ziegler, and Charles B. Moore (1997) analyzed the (in)famous Roswell Incident as a contemporary myth involving sinister government cover-ups of extraterrestrial visitations, and Curtis Peebles also wrote about the mythic themes in his Watch the Skies (1994). Another important book was written by psychoanalyst Carl Jung; his classic 1959 book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky.
Religious elements of UFOs were described as early as 1956 by Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken, and Stanley Schachter in When Prophecy Fails. Roy Wallis did an extensive sociological study of Aetherius in 1975 where he among other things distinguished between a prophet and a mystagogue. The 1995 anthology The Gods Have Landed edited by James R. Lewis is a collection of papers that mostly deal with the contactee movement. In it, Diana Tumminia and R. George Kirkpatrick thoroughly describe Unarius, and Robert W. Balch describes his fieldwork with The Two (later Heaven's Gate). Ted Peters, in his paper "Exo-Theology" argues that the concept of intelligent extraterrestrial life is compatible with traditional Christian doctrine. Finally, Jerome Clark's massive UFO-encyclopedia (1998a, 1998b) is by far the best encyclopedia on the subject to date.
My discussion on the Raelian Religion is mostly based on my own fieldwork. Both the Unarian and Aetherian mythology is extremely complicated, and I have chosen to not go into too great detail when describing their belief systems. The section on Unarius is almost exclusively based on Dr. Tumminia's and Dr. Kirkpatrick's studies, since they are the most prominent scholars on this group. I have not been able to collect all of Aetherius literature, simply because they have published an immense amount, but I do have some literature that has proven to be very useful.
My intent with this paper is to show that labeling all religious movements that use the ETH as a basis for their ideology, mixed with both traditional and non-traditional religious elements, is both invalid and unjust. As the comparative analysis show, many flying saucer "cults" differ from each other, even though they up until now have all been labeled the same. For instance, in her brilliant paper about women in the Raelian Religion, Susan J. Palmer (1995) refers to the Raelians as members of a NRM. If we are to accept some scholars' opinion that it actually is a cult, and not a NRM, then Palmer's labeling is incorrect. Many scholars do not bother to separate NRM and cult, and when they do they often have different definitions. Furthermore, cults grow out of established traditions to which they remain attached, while new religions, on the contrary, break with existing traditions in order to create something that did not previously exist.(32) Therefore, New Religious UFO Movement (NRUM), is a more suitable term.
But how do I justify my intent to place all so-called flying-saucer cults in one category, while I at the same time oppose the notion to place all under the category of cults? And are all the people that join theses groups nothing but disillusioned seekers who accept all sorts of teachings without bothering to think twice about what they are doing? Or are they just like anyone else, with the exception that their version of Heaven is outer space and their God is piloting an interstellar spaceship instead of a Chariot of Fire?
The main reason for introducing this new term is that one NRUM may, for instance, show signs of a traditional revitalization movement. Some groups may display elements found in many different categorizations, and not exclusively cult-like tendencies. Melton calls the NRUMs "Flying Saucer Groups", and places them in the spiritualist, psychic, and New Age family in his Encyclopedia of American Religions.(33) Yet groups is not suitable either since I believe that it is important to show that there are religious elements within them, something that I believe NRUMs expresses more accurately than groups. There are elements that the NRUMs have in common, but they also differ in important aspects, and thus using the term flying saucer cults will not do them justice. Furthermore, individuals who seek out NRUMs may do so for different reasons. Anthropologist Benson Saler, when discussing people who join flying-saucer cults, explains how studies show that individuals who choose to join usually do not experience sudden, dramatic conversions. On the contrary, they are often on some sort of spiritual or life-fulfilling quest and sometimes they only stay with the group for a limited time, only to drift to another group where they gradually pick up vocabulary and beliefs.(34)
In an article discussing various occult beliefs, Barry Singer and Victor A. Benassi use an article by Bainbridge and Stark (1980) to argue that occultisms such as "Scientology, Theosophy, Satanism, and UFO cults"(35) more closely resemble religion rather than every-day superstition. So far so good. But then they go on to say that belief systems like these "often demand total commitment, monetary and otherwise, from their members"(36). This is, I will argue, not accurate, and it becomes apparent after the comparative analysis. "Total commitment" is only one of many terms that have made cult a negative word which have resulted in numerous attacks by media and self-acclaimed cult "experts" against harmless groups that differ from the mainstream and accepted religion.
The anti-cult movement has tried its best to fight the NRUMs and other so-called New Age movements. Hexham and Poewe (1997a, 7) quite humorously liken modern-day anti-cult crusaders, who are mostly Christians, to medieval crusaders. Like their counterparts in the Crusades, they began by defending what they believed to be the "true" Christianity against any external threat of loss of membership to any rival religious movement. But they soon wanted to feel the adrenaline rush through their veins again as they went to battle, and so they took the offensive and started to criticize any religious movement they deemed heretical. Later, like the knights attacking Jerusalem, these attacks turned into orgies of destruction. But then as public interests in cults started to decrease, their targets changed, and just as the Christian warriors in the Fourth Crusade in 1204 favored a sacking of Constantinople instead of engaging a powerful enemy in the Holy Land, the Christian anti-cult fighters began attacking fellow Christians with different belief systems. "The New Age movement", Christian freedom fighters Hunt and McMahon (1985) informs us, "is the 'great delusion' that the Bible warns will sweep the world in the 'last days' and cause humanity to worship the Antichrist"(37).
The ETH has on numerous occasions been connected to the works by demons, evil spirits, and Satan himself. Steven Hassan, who claims to be America's leading "exit-counselor", another word for "deprogrammer", says that channelers who contact Space Brothers are just as "suspect" as more conventional channelers, and have the potential for developing into new UFO activities (whatever that is). So, Hassan reminds us, "A word of warning is in order"(38) when dealing with "UFO cults".
This paper is, to my knowledge, the first to, by a comparative analysis of the Raelian Religion, the Aetherius Society, and Unarius Academy of Science replace flying-saucer cult with NRUM by showing that all groups display elements found within other religious groups that have been labeled differently, thus showing that the single label cult is not sufficient to cover all the religious elements that one can find within them.
Still, the three NRUMs under study in this paper are not the only ones in America today. In the Encyclopedia of American Religions, Melton includes the following groups under the heading Flying Saucer Groups: George Adamski Foundation, Aetherius Society, Association of Sananda and Sonat Kumara, Brotherhood of the Seven Rays, Cosmic Circle of Fellowship, Cosmic Star Temple, Delval UFO Inc., Last Day Messengers, Mark-Age Inc., Semjase Silver Star Center, Solar Light Retreat, Star Light Fellowship, Unarius-Science of Life (Unarius Academy of Science), United States Raelian Movement (Raelian Religion), Universariun Foundation, Universe Society Church, White Star, and World Understanding.(39) I have chosen the three NRUMs because they are the most influential and long-lived, though a similar analysis of the other groups may be an interesting research topic for the future.
Sociologist Emile Durkheim, in his classic Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1995), defines religion in the following way:
"A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden - beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them".(40)
It is very important to point out that even if some UFO witnesses, alien abductees, contactees, and hard-core believers in the ETH choose to interpret what they have experienced from a religious point of view, this does not mean that people in general choose religious interpretations. (But for the purpose of this paper, it sure is fortunate that at least some do!).
However, "The UFO faith", Bullard points out in an unpublished paper, "has established a church, in Durkheim's sense of a moral community, only here and there, and for small groups at the time"(41). He continues his discussion by adding that "UFO religious movements amount a colorful but marginal [my emphasis] effort to full the modern spiritual vacuum, and occupy a mere corner of the extensive UFO presence in popular imagination"(42).
I use these two quotes from Bullard because, again, I do not claim that all UFOs and extraterrestrials represent religious phenomena, but rather that some aspects of them can be analyzed this way. The ETH is too important a topic in the contemporary culture to be ignored and/or misunderstood, and people who have chosen to interpret them as religious phenomena are a minority and "only here and there" have made their voices heard. But, as anthropologist Philip Salzman so strikingly has pointed out: "Nothing human is alien in anthropology"(43).
It is safe to say that the word cult makes most people think of religious fanatics and sinister leaders who do whatever they can to exploit their poor followers, and it is my intention to light a candle of reason and understanding in this darkness that ignorance and misunderstandings have brought along.
Unfortunately, I have only had the opportunity to do fieldwork through participant observation among one of the NRUMs under study. Though I was doing it for a limited time, only 4 days, I did manage to gain some good insights in what their religion is like.
And, by using the works of other scholars and data that I have been able to gather through correspondence with each NRUM I am still able to present each of them in a fair and objective way, though I only visited one of them in person. The conclusions at the end of this paper will hopefully be more complete through additional fieldwork that, I hope, will take place in a not too distant future.
After much confusion and wrong turns I finally managed to park my rental car outside the house in western Las Vegas where I had been told the Raelian seminar was taking place. I arrived late in the afternoon on the 1st of April 1999, and I knew that the seminar had been going on for a while already. A Raelian named Kevin McGowan had invited me to the seminar, and I was very fortunate that the seminar was taking place during Spring Break, because before I started writing about the Raelian Religion I was determined to try to visit some members in order to experience the religion myself. Participant observation is a prerequisite for doing fieldwork, and I knew that this would enable me to get a unique perspective on what the religion really was all about.(44)
Little less than a month before the seminar was to take place I received a letter of invitation from Kevin. The letter with the heading "The Las Vegas Seminar", started out by telling me that:
"Through the Elohim's messages and their Messenger, we learn more and more how to find pleasure in everything we do. To let our genetic code sing and resonate unfettered by being happy in our endless search for pleasure is one of the best ways to respect our creators. After all they created us to be happy, and the purpose of life is so simple - to be happy. Being conscious of this fact, when we are not happy, we betray our Creators".(45)
The "Messenger" mentioned in above quotation is also known as Claude Vorilhon, or Rael, the name given to him by the extraterrestrials; the Elohim. He is the founder of the Raelian Religion, a NRUM that was started after he had had a close encounter with an extraterrestrial during a walking tour of the volcanic mountains of Clermont-Ferrand in central southern France on the 13th December 1973. While standing in the old volcano, Rael saw a light approaching, and soon realized that it was a extraterrestrial spaceship, a discovery that filled him with both excitement and joy because he "had always believed in their existence, but [he] had never dreamed [he] would actually see one"(46).
Rael then saw a humanoid approaching him from inside the ship. He was about four feet tall, had slightly almond shaped eyes, long, black hair, and a small, black beard. The creature was wearing a green one-piece suit, covering his entire body. Around his head, Rael could see some sort of halo; not really a halo but as if the air around his face was shining slightly and shimmered. The two then started talking to each other, and the extraterrestrial eventually said:
you come here often?'
'In the summer yes, but almost never in this season.'
'So why did you come today? Had you planned this walk for a long time?'
'No. I don't really know. When I woke up this morning I suddenly had an urge to come her.'
'You came because I wanted to see you. Do you believe in telepathy?'
'Yes, of course, it's something I've always been interested in - as well as the subject of "flying saucers". But I never thought I'd see one myself.'
'Well, I used telepathy to get you to come here because I have many things to tell you. Have you read the Bible?'
'Yes, but why do you ask?'
'Have you been reading it for a long time?'
'No, as a matter of fact, I bought it only a few days ago.'
'I really don't know. Suddenly I had an urge to read it…'
'Again I used telepathy to make you decide to buy it. I have chosen you for a very difficult mission, and I have many things to tell you. So come into my craft where we can talk more comfortably.'(47)
The message that the Elohim entrusted Rael concerns our true identity. The human species is not the result of Darwinian evolution, but rather an experiment. We were implanted on earth by extraterrestrial scientists, the Elohim, who successfully created humankind from their own DNA. When The Bible speaks of man being created in God's image, it actually refers to these experiments. Rael's mission, being as he is the last of the forty prophets (other prophets include Jesus, Mohammad, and Buddha, and are all, including Rael, results from sexual intercourse between Elohim and women on earth), is to warn humankind that since 1945 and the nuclear attack against Hiroshima, humans have entered the Age of Apocalypse. This is an age where we can choose either to destroy ourselves in the ultimate nuclear war, or make the leap into planetary consciousness. We are, however, not yet ready for the latter, and the Raelians' mission in life is to make humans qualified to inherit the scientific knowledge of our founders from outer space.(48)
The second encounter with Elohim took place on October 7th 1975. This time Rael was taken (physically) to a planet "relatively close to the Earth"(49). On this planet he had the opportunity to meet Jesus, Moses, Elijah, Buddha, and Mohammad; all extraterrestrials. He was also taught that the Elohim were served by robots, perfectly human looking, that are incapable of feelings or suffering. The only thing these robots know is to obey people from earth and the Elohim, and they are also incapable of violence.(50) The machine creating these servants also created an exact replica of Rael and his mother, and before the night was over Rael had been awarded six beautiful young women for his own pleasure, and finally he "went to bed and spent the most extravagant night of [his] life with [his] marvelous female companions"(51).
At first I was not sure that I was at the right address, but after a close inspection of some of the cars in the parking lot I knew this was the place. Some of the cars had plates and bumperstickers saying "UFOs - The TRUTH At LAST", "UFO's ARE REAL - ASK ME", "Rael1", "Raelian", etc. I walked up to the Clubhouse, the name of the building where the seminar was supposed to take place. On the front door I spotted a sign saying "Private Meeting", and from inside I could hear laughter and applause. It was late in the afternoon, and the air was a little chilly, not at all like the desert I had experienced that same morning when I paid a visit to the notorious Area 51 (Well, I never actually visited the base but rather drove through the desert as far as I could until the signs that said "Use of Deadly Force Authorized" stopped me). For a moment I hesitated to go in, but then I remembered a paragraph from the invitation Kevin had sent me:
"Our mighty Creators have reminded us TWICE within the 13 months that their return is near. We all need the seminars' tools so as to prepare ourselves for their return. The Embassy must first be built in our hearts before we lay 1 single brick. The seminars warm our hearts, making them a strong foundation for this. Very soon, all Raelians will be Guides for humanity when the Elohim return, and the techniques we learn at the seminars will prove to be as necessary as the oxygen we breathe for guiding humanity into the most religious millennium it has ever experienced".
"There's no way I'm gonna miss out on an opportunity like this" I thought for myself. Without further a due I opened the door and stepped inside.
A group of about twenty people, most of them dressed in long, white robes, all turned silent and looked at me as if I was an unwanted outsider entering a sacred realm. They were all dead silent. I felt somewhat embarrassed and said nervously "Excuse me for interrupting, but I'm looking for Mr. McGowan". A young man in his mid-twenties came up to me and took me to the back of the room while the long-haired speaker continued his speech. I introduced myself to Kevin and apologized for interrupting the speech. Smilingly he told me not to worry about it, and he seated me next to an attractive woman with long black hair. She gave me a big smile and continued listening to the speech. Since I had arrived late in the afternoon, the day was nearly over. But before the last lecture was finished I had been told that in the Raelian Religion, every individual is "special and unique" in his or her own way, and even if one has a special way of handling things, they still need to do things together. A human cell has all the necessary information that is needed to make up a person (i.e. every human cell has a nucleus containing the entire genetic make-up), but at the same time, one single cell is "not enough to make a whole person".
While listening and at the same time taking notes, I could not help but to reflect over the strangeness of the situation. Here I was, in a room filled with strangers dressed in white robes while I was wearing a pair of dust-covered jeans and t-shirt. However, no one seemed to be bothered about me being there, so I decided not to worry about not being welcome; at least not for now. I was not sure whether I was allowed to tape the speech or not, so I continued taking notes like a madman in order not to miss any data.
The speech now turned to the issue of fasting. Fasting is an important part of the Raelian Religion. It helps to clear out various toxins present in the human body. When fasting is successful, Raelians are able to "take the energy that is normally used for digestion" and use it for healing. The longer they are fasting, the more the poisonous level in the body will sink and thus resulting in greater probability that the healing will work. Besides the healing of the body, fasting also works as some sort of spiritual healing; a way to learn more about one's inner strength. It is not dangerous to go through a period of fasting. However, it might be harmful when the fasting ends. But fasting and medicine is not the same, and the former does not mean stop taking the latter. Fasting is nonetheless a very important part of the Raelian philosophy. It is every Raelian's responsibility to be as healthy as possible, because if they get sick they "waste too much time" being so, time that they could have spent finding new Raelians and/or spreading the message of the Elohim.
The last event of the day was the, among the members, much appreciated singing of the song "Elohim". They all stood up and held hands while singing along to the chorus "Elohim Elohim Elohim Elohim". Not many of them knew the lyrics for the verses, but during the chorus they all sang along and got very excited. It did not differ very much from what I have seen in Christian churches, though.
When the seminar ended for the day, several members approached me and asked in a friendly manner what had brought me to them. I told them that I had been invited by Kevin to do research. Apparently, they all had thought that I was a future member, and I made it clear that I was there as an observer. This had worried me: what if they rejected me being there just as a observer and not a member? After all, it was a members-only seminar, and I was not sure whether Kevin had told the other Raelians that I was going to join them. I was therefore relieved to hear that they were all very excited about me writing and doing research about their religion. From the start I felt welcome and realized that I had some interesting days ahead.
One problem remained, though. Where was I going to spend the night? My budget did not allow me to get a hotel room, and besides, Kevin had promised me that he would take care of it. I brought this to his attention, and he told me he would get right on it. After a while he came back and said that he had arranged for me to stay with an older Raelian couple, Mr. and Mrs. Philips, together with some other members. While driving over to the Philips' house, I got a chance to discuss human evolution with a young Raelian who was a PhD student in biology. This struck me as odd, considering the fact that the Raelian Religion believe that the Elohim created humans, and that there is no such a thing as Darwinian evolution. I asked him about what he thought of all the fossils that have been found, and he said that the methods used today for dating archaeological finds, such as C-14, is not accurate enough. The reason that he will not believe in human evolution is that if that was accurate, then we should be able to find fossils and skeletons from all different phases. And we do not, he said. As it turns out, he believed in microevolution; short-term evolutionary change, or changes in allele frequencies from one generation to the next. He did not, however, believe in macroevolution; long-term evolutionary change, or theories focusing on evolution over many generations and on the origin of higher taxonomic categories. Unfortunately, talking about biology and similar is sort of like talking about politics: if you do not have lots of knowledge a discussion is pointless. Since this was the case for me at the moment, the discussion died out quite quickly.
When we arrived at the Philips' house, I had some of the best hot chocolate I had had in a long time. I certainly felt like a beer or a cup of strong coffee, but acting according to their religious beliefs they only had decaffeinated coffee and non-alcoholic beer to offer, so chocolate would have to do. They all went to bed early, but I stayed up for a long time going over my notes and making plans for the next day. I was very excited about what I was doing, being as it was my first real fieldwork, and I tried my best to stay awake, but after I while I fell asleep on a couch in the living-room. It had been a long day.
The Raelian Religion divides its members into two levels of commitment: ordinary Raelians and members of the Structure. Only members who have attended a guide seminar can become a part of the Raelian structure and have a level assigned. There are seven levels, all levels of different responsibilities(52):
0 - Trainees
Level 1 - Assistant Animator
Level 2 - Animator
Level 3 - Assistant Guide
Level 4 - Guide
Level 5 - Bishop Guide
Level 6 - Guide of Guides, elected every seven years, and so far Rael has always had this position.
Rael denies the existence of God or soul, and the only hope of immortality is regeneration through science. Therefore, members participate in initiation rituals, the so-called "transmission of the cellular plan", during which the Elohim are said to fly overhead in their spaceships and register the Raelians' DNA codes on their machines. The participation promises immortality through cloning, because new initiates, besides sending a letter of apostasy to the church where they were once baptized in, also sign a contract which will permit a mortician to cut out a piece of bone in their forehead. This "third eye" is then stored in ice until the descent of the Elohim.(53)
The Raelian Religion in itself is divided into two structures, National Raelian Religion and the International Raelian Religion. Less devoted members join the former which is open to anyone, regardless of beliefs or lifestyle. Upon joining one is entitled to attend all the courses of awakening for free, and every member is also entitled a copy of Apocalypse, which is a quarterly magazine containing articles written by Raelians from all over the world.
The International Raelian Religion, on the other hand, in only open to those who wish to actively represent the Raelian Religion. Being a non-profit organization, all work is done on a voluntary basis. These members are entitled to join the more in-depth seminars called Course for Guides (which I did). The members work more actively to accomplish the movement's goals, and:
"When the embassy is built and our parents from space land, the International Raleian,s [sic] role will be to represent the Elohim to humanity, help diffuse their science, teach their wisdom and act as spiritual guides for humanity. Thus we need to start preparing our organization right now to be able to handle the huge demands it will have soon".(54)
Originally the symbol of the Raelian Religion was a swastika inside the Star of David. This Symbol of Infinity representing infinity in time was changed by Rael in 1991 as a result of the Elohims' feelings towards the people of Israel. The central swastika was replaced with a galaxy-shaped swirl, also representing infinity in time. The change came about "as an effort to help the negotiations for building the embassy of the Elohim in Israel and also out of respect for the sensitivities of the victims who suffered and died under the Nazi swastika during the Second World War"(55). Interesting to note is that the original symbol only was changed in the West while remaining the same in Asia, where the swastika often can be found in Buddhist temples and thus does not cause any problems.(56) The Raelians have, unjustly, been portrayed as racists, Satanists, child sex abusers, and anti-semites (as pointed out by Melton 1993, 1125 and Palmer 1998, 398), and it is probably safe to say that the effort to change the original symbol was a welcome change for many of the Raelians.
I woke up early my second day with the Raelians from hearing Mrs. Philips cheerfully singing that we had to get up. The seminar was about to start and we could not be late. Various thoughts, some definitely not suitable for print, that you have early in the morning when the only thing you want to do is go back to sleep went through my head. But after a cold shower I felt somewhat better, and I took off with the others to the Clubhouse.
The first thing of the day was meditation. They all lay down on the floor and started the meditation while I sat in a chair observing and taking notes. In the background a stereo played a CD with sounds from the ocean, and a female guide with a very soft and pleasant voice used a microphone to lead the meditation. The members were told to breathe "very deep and relaxed at the same time". The purpose of the meditation was to feel every part of one's body, starting with the toes and gradually advancing up to the head. They were told to light up the cells in their genitals like "the lights in a Christmas tree". The guide talked about how the earth has a pulse; that it is alive, and how important it is to remember that. They were asked to send all their love to all the people on earth, and also to other life in the universe and especially the Elohim.
The early hour combined with the pleasant female voice and the calming sounds from the stereo made everyone very relaxed, yours truly included. I had not gotten many hours of sleep the night before, and I repeatedly caught myself nodding off in the chair. I realized that it would be quite embarrassing if I fell asleep, so I decided to observe the interior of the room in greater detail while the others meditated.
The walls were covered with various pictures of a smiling Rael, either alone or with followers. Candles and plants were to be seen everywhere, and incense helped spreading a pleasant smell in the room. In a corner I spotted a model of the embassy that is to be built in Israel for the Elohim. The curtains were drawn, and the candles, plants, and incense helped creating a warm and relaxed atmosphere. The robes that most members wore functioned, I was told, to bring out the inner beauty in people and the robes are only worn at seminars such as this one.
The first speech of the day was by Jean Gary, the man who I so unfortunately had interrupted the day before. He is a guide at level 5 and he was the first person with whom Rael shared his wilderness encounter in 1976. It was quite obvious that the attending members had a lot of respect for him.(57) The focus of Jean Gary's speech was the important factor that Raelian's must not have a "vision that's too narrow". The body is linked with the mind, and through the use of meditation one's consciousness will open up to new dimensions. There seemed to be no limit to how positive Jean Gary was about his role in the Raelian Religion and of the importance of the religion itself, saying that "the vibration [between the members] is so strong and positive". He pointed out that the vibration can be very bad if a Raelian is together with a non-Raelian (i.e. negative) individual, but when they come together then there is nothing that they cannot do since the bonds between them are as strong as they are. I found this statement somewhat confusing, mostly due to the open-minded and friendly attitude I had experienced so far. I remember thinking that if I did not knew better, then I would have been offended by this statement. However, I later realized that the way to interpret it was that the Raelians somehow are "better" in feelings and love when it comes to one's relationship with other people.
Next speech was by a guide named Felix. He talked about religiosity and Sensual Meditation. It is only by mastering the latter that the Raelian Religion, in Felix' own words, "can be the teachers of the Third Millenium". The Raelians look upon themselves as the saviors of a world that has lost the capacity to love and understand other people and they are determined that their religion and their philosophy are the tools necessary to save the creation of the Elohim, e.g. the human race. As all the other people at the seminar, Felix spoke with a soft and tender voice and there was constantly a smile on his face. After he had quoted Rael saying "the more you refine your actions, the more refined your mind becomes", his speech was over and there was a short break during which the members walked around and talked and laughed, and I managed to make some small-talk with some of them.
Next there was an exercise of sensuality where participating members were blindfolded; the purpose being to explore by touch. Since I was a non-member I was not allowed to observe it, and I had to step outside during the exercise. It would have been most interesting to observe the exercise, but I had no choice but to respect their wishes. After all, this was a members-only meeting, and I was fortunate to be here in the first place. Even if the Nevada desert was around the corner it was still quite cold and it was therefore a great relief to be let back in again.
The exercise seemed to have been a very pleasant experience for the participants. This exercise, and even the whole 4-day seminar, were all part of the preparation for the arrival of the Elohim, and by learning how to rely on touch and smell their consciousness will evolve even further and they will eventually be ready to receive the masters from outer space. The Raelians constantly emphasize that they are "the Chosen Ones"; the group of people that will be among the first to greet the coming masters. Their ambition during the exercise was to "set mind, brain, and powers free". All human senses rely in one way or another on touch, so it is extremely important to develop great skills in recognizing one's ability to touch others.
During lunch break I drove off to the local sub-store for some food and then headed to a nearby Starbucks. It was nice to spend some time by myself going over my notes and thinking about what to do next. I still remembered the hard time I had to find the way to the seminar, so I left for the Clubhouse early since I was certain I would get lost. I was therefore surprised that I did not have any problems on the way back, and this gave me an opportunity to talk to some of the Raelians before the seminar continued.
Chris, the French guide who also had spent the night at the Philips' residence, was the next speaker. He described himself as somewhat of a world traveler; always on the move to spread the word of the Elohim. He had arrived in the U.S. only two days before and seemed to be more than ready to spread his teachings. He read a passage from The True face of God written by Rael, describing his first encounter with the Elohim. When he was finished, all the Raelians sat for a long period of time with their eyes closed and tried to visualize Rael's close encounter.
Jean Gary was next, and he was greeted the same way as before, with laughter and applause. He said that even though Rael was not present physically, his thought and spirit was present. He then took out a taped interview with Rael made by the Raelian Religion where he talked about his first close encounter. Apparently it had all started with him being "dragged" out in the wilderness by some, at least at the moment, unknown force. After a while he found himself in a deserted volcano and after observing a bright flash in the sky he had his first meeting with the Elohim. He had at first gotten very scared, but soon his curiosity had taken overhand. The message from the Elohim was to bring people hope, much like Christianity works for Christians. The extraterrestrial message is, according to Rael, to prefer instead of traditional, scientific teachings of evolution. Rael furthermore referred to Darwin as "one of the false prophets". Teaching Darwinian evolution is among the worst of crimes, simply because evolution as we think of it today is completely and utterly incorrect. Darwinism and evolution does not give people hope, which ultimately results in drug-abuse and suicide. The young generation of today is reluctant to believing in religious beliefs dating from the Middle Ages or that the human race are descendants "from a monkey", so instead they choose the Raelian Religion. The extraterrestrial religion gives people a reason to be happy to be alive. Sensual Meditation is, says Rael, comparable to a "universal Internet working as a way of communicating with every sort of life; humans, animals, plants, and extraterrestrials". The message is love, real love, meaning loving somebody else but oneself.
When the interview was over, Jean Gary talked about religiosity. He said that a Pope's prayer is not as real as a prayer that a child does when looking for flowers. So a healthy, curious child has more religiosity than the Pope. (This did not really make sense to me but I never addressed the issue with any of the Raelians). Once again, I was told that religiosity is "feeling everything through our senses". All humans are part of the same species and therefore should love and respect one another since we are all brothers and sisters.
Next up was Marc Letourneau, a guide and another guest with the Philips'. He talked about the various risks that that Raelians have to face in their everyday life from being Raelians. He said that for the active members (the Structure), there was always a risk of being classified as a crazy person. Raelians have to ask themselves whether or not they would wear a Raelian medallion at work, and also worry about how their parents would react upon hearing that their child was a member of a NRUM. But no pain, no gain, and the members have no choice but to face embarrassment and/or harassment in order to accomplish something worthwhile. Spreading the message is risky but it is worth it since it is the only way to "become heroes of the next millennium". Raelians need to stand up for what they believe in, but if they choose not to, then that is OK too. Individuality is, as I was told over and over again all throughout the seminar, one of the most important elements in the Raelian Religion.
Jean Gary continued where Marc had stopped and talked about the importance of being prepared to take professional, sentimental, and philosophical risks to spread the message. A person can learn to love something (or someone) that he or she is not used to loving, if one only has the courage to love it. The Raelians were instructed to "dedicate each word and thought to Elohim" in the morning because prayers like that will help increase the love on earth. The human race is from a scientific point of view ready to welcome the masters from space, but there is still a lack of love and spirituality on earth. Prayers will not work if they are selfish; only universal understanding and friendship will do.
Then it was time for another exercise. This time I was not asked to leave the room, but still I have chosen not to describe it in order not to offend anyone. However, the purpose of the exercise was to "be able to see Elohim in all the creation", which they did in their own special way.
The second day ended just as the day before had, with a relaxation/meditation exercise. And repeatedly, the purpose was to become part of the universe. The song "Elohim" ended my second day with the Raelians.
Later in the evening I went out for some Asian food with Chris and the PhD student at a restaurant located in one of Las Vegas' many malls. Back at the Philips' house the others went to bed while I spent a couple of hours going over my notes. But before I fell asleep on the couch I managed to get an interesting interview with Marc Letourneau. The tape recorder that I used for this interview turned out to be of a not so good quality, and there are parts of the interview where Marc's voice could not be heard on tape. The following is therefore a short version of what he said:
So how come you decided to join the Raelian Religion?
Marc: I first realized that the UFO phenomenon was a real one. It was logical for me. It explained a lot of things. Why not choose [the ETH] instead of all the other that does not explain everything? Why would primitive people believe that people would come from the sky? That would be crazy! The one who'd invent would be laughed at.
Stefan: So you mean that there has to be some kind of extraterrestrial activity behind ancient sightings of God?
Marc: Yeah, they would have to had seen that themselves to make them believe in it, because it's too incredible. It's not natural, you know? When you read The Bible and stuff like that, the descriptions [of the spaceships] are so close.
Marc: And they're so united, all the description in the different religions. A new theory will emerge, and because it makes sense, more and more people will go with it, and the finest [of the believers] are the one's that's gonna make it interesting. And I want to be around them. I found out that the UFO phenomenon was a real thing and that it was linked with religion. So then I asked myself: Why don't they come here?
Stefan: And you never doubted Rael's words?
Marc: The thing with Rael is that he was bringing a theory with him. We don't believe in Rael. People think we do. People think we kinda blindly believe. It has nothing to do with that. But people don't know, they say their things, you know? I used to believe in God when I was young, and I went to school and I still believed in traditional religion. But when I read Rael's book I started to question my belief in evolution. I said "Why am I so sure of that?" "Why do I believe in that?" "What is the certainty?" and then when I started digging I didn't find anything. It was empty!
Marc then had a long discussion where he questioned the theory of natural selection, how improbable it is that nature alone could be able to create such diversity and beauty in nature.
I mean, when you know what's going on in a cell…
Stefan: I do, I just had an anthropology test about that a couple of weeks ago.
Marc: Think about it. I mean, the probability that the first cell, that first organism, would appear by chance. I mean, it's more complex than the most complicated computer here.
Marc continued by explaining that he worked as a statistician and that he had done an experiment where he calculated the probability that evolution could produce life. The result was, he claimed, "one in one followed by forty thousand zeros".
So I prefer to believe that engineers made life here. It was a logical choice
for me. That was it.
Stefan: That was it?
Marc: That was it. At the same time, this explained God, UFOs, and evolution.
By now it was getting late, and when Mrs. Philips walked by and said "good night fellas" I knew it was time to wrap it up. But before we said good night Marc explained that when he realized that Rael was telling the truth he decided to join the organization to try to help preparing for the arrival of the Elohim, and he had been doing that for the last twenty-two years. Rael is, to Marc, not a prophet or a god but simply a guide who helps people make the right choices. A Raelian is not forced to believe in him, but he is "beyond a normal teacher". One can be a Raelian and still not agree with all the teachings, but if you are part of the Structure you have to follow directions.
We trust his judgment. It doesn't mean we're blind, but it works better
that way. In companies you have a boss, and you follow the boss. He has been
put there because he has the best judgment. It doesn't mean he's perfect, he's
gonna make mistakes, but we better follow him and do what he does, and if he
turns, turn with him. Don't try any other way, because that's not gonna go very
well. But if Rael would say something that would go against your consciousness,
then don't do it. No other organization would say something like that.
Stefan: It's interesting that you have a choice in what you wanna believe.
I was now running out of tape, so I had no choice but to end the interview.
So what are the aims of the Raelian Religion? What are they trying to accomplish? On their website one can read that their aims are:
"A] To inform without convincing: The Raelian religion values open and honest dialogue. It wishes to inform people, not convince them about the Messages of the Elohim.
B] To build an embassy: The Elohim have asked Rael to establish an embassy where they will meet with our political and scientific leaders and give us the benefit of their wisdom and technology. This embassy will be in internationally recognized neutral territory with the protection and diplomatic immunity that all states are entitled to.
C] To catalyze a society adapted to the future, not the past, based on the values of love, peace, freedom, individuality, pleasure, and fulfillment [sic]".(58)
Once man has adopted the Raelian values, become tolerant to new ideas and thus to new people (and the Elohim), less dependent on weapons, and more rational and friendly, "then our parents from space can come down openly in the embassy built for them by the Raelian religion, without danger of provoking fear, hostility, or renewed religious fanaticism"(59).
The third day started with the now-so-familiar meditation, and its purpose of the day was "to feel the message of the Elohim in every cell of the body".
Jean Gary then grabbed the microphone. He talked about how every moment of the seminar was programmed to "perform magic", meaning that it was important to be present every day of the seminar, The first day of the seminar, April 1st, was the date when the first humans were created, a result from science and art, a copy of the Elohim themselves. Then he showed some scenes from the motion picture Dead Poets' Society, among one was the scene where some of the students stand on their desks to show their sympathy for their controversial professor, brilliantly played by Robin Williams. Jean Gary explained that the Raelians are just like the Robin Williams character in the movie, and one day the people on earth will stand up in the same manner as the students do. The members are in the beginning of the movie, meaning that they are provocative and humankind has not yet realized and understood the message. (However, I could not help but reflect over the tragic results; the teacher being fired and one of the students committing suicide as a result of his awakening. Unfortunately, I never addressed the issue to any of the Raelians, though).
Then one of the female guides held a short speech about the importance of serving one's fellow humans. Serving others, she claimed, means that one is intelligent enough to understand and recognize other people's abilities.
During the five-minute break that followed I talked to some members before Felix took some time to talk about Rael, him being the last and most important prophet and how his and his follower's goal is to save the world.
The last speech of the day was by a female guide who talked about how the spiritual level is the most important thing of being a Raelian. Every human is born to be a Raelian. Raelian's purpose of life is to help welcoming Elohim and showing everyone not being Raelians that they deep inside actually are Raelians. If one can follow the 13 sentences in the Raelian prayer the message will be clear. Raelians are the most important people on earth, since they are the chosen ones in that they have realized that they actually are Raelians and therefore are the ones with the ability to save the world.
The Raelian prayer is outlined in The True Face of God, but in the book it is not referred to as a prayer, but rather a "Technique for Attempting Telepathic Contact with the Elohim":
|Elohim, you are there somewhere near those stars.
Elohim, you are there, and I know you are watching us.
Elohim, you are there, and I would so much like to meet you.
Elohim, you are there, and who am I to hope to deserve a contact?
Elohim, I recognize you as our creators, and I place myself humbly at your service.
Elohim, I recognize Claude Rael, your messenger, as my guide, and I believe in him and in the message you gave him.
Elohim, I will do my best to make the message known to those around me, because I know I have not done enough.
Elohim, I love all human beings as my brothers and sisters because they are made in your image.
Elohim, I am trying to bring them happiness by opening their minds to infinity and revealing to them what was revealed to me.
Elohim, I am trying to stop their suffering by placing my whole being at the service of humankind, of which I am a part.
Elohim, I am trying the to use to the utmost the mind you have given me, to help humankind emerge from darkness and suffering.
Elohim, I hope that you will judge the little I have done by the end of my life to be sufficient to grant me the right to eternal life on the planet of the wise.
I love you, as you must have loved human beings to admit the best of them among your eternals.(60)
In the afternoon, most of the members went out on the streets of Las Vegas trying to hand out flyers informing about the public seminar that was to take place later in the evening. Since the seminar was not supposed to start until later, I took the opportunity to drive over to Glenn Campbell, Webmaster of UFOMind. Also known as the Desert Rat, Glenn is one of the world's leading experts in the secret base known as Area 51 (featured in Independence Day and X-Files) where crashed spaceships and captured extraterrestrials, according to modern UFOlore, are supposedly hidden. But before I drove off I made a short interview with Chris in a nearby burger joint where he basically told me the same things that Marc had; that Rael was merely a guide and teacher rather than a god and that consciousness was the key to right living.
The public seminar was quite well attended, but I was not told anything I had not heard before. I once again spent the night at the Phillip's house, and for a long time I lay awake thinking of how much work I had to do when I got back to Fresno.
On the last day of the seminar a big lunch had been arranged for all the Raelians. I did not participate even though I was starved. I felt it was a private get-together, and I also could not afford it, so I took off to Starbucks for coffee instead. I spent a couple of hours drinking (too much) coffee and reading a book I had bought from Glenn Campbell.
Then I went back to the seminar. The dinner was over, and I tried my best to thank them all. They were just as friendly as they had been all through the seminar, and all over the place people were kissing and hugging. Kevin handed me a free copy of The True Face of God, and I took some extra time thanking Mr. and Mrs. Philips for their hospitality. Then I started the long drive home. Spring Break was almost over and I had to get back to school.
It had been an interesting visit in Las Vegas. I had learned much more than I would have done had I only read, and not experienced, the Raelian Religion. When I finally got home I went straight to bed and fell asleep almost instantly. Tomorrow was another day in school.
The year 1954 was not like any other year in the life of George King, a 35 year old London taxidriver. This was the year that he founded the Aetherius Society, today the most long-lived of the NRUMs, and became the Primary Terrestrial Mental Channel for the Cosmic Masters. From starting out as an obscure fan club for King and his channeled messages, Aetherius is today a large and well-organized organization with thousands of members, owner of an exclusive website, and publisher of numerous publications.
Born in 1919 in England, King came from a family with strong occult interests. His mother was a self-acclaimed psychic, clairvoyant, and healer, and encouraged King to develop these skills also. Before founding the Aetherius Society, King had been interested in practicing yoga and exploring various metaphysical matters. Following the typical seeker profile as outlined by Saler (1997), King went through numerous metaphysical and alternative religious groups in London, exploring and writing about Theosophy and similar groups. In 1954, King started to give public speeches, at a time when two concerns, according to Wallis, were on the public's mind: Sightings of alleged spacecraft and possible interaction with their extraterrestrial crew, and the frequent testing of nuclear weapon.(61)
Different sources tell of different dates for the founding of the Aetherius Society. Wallis (1975b, 20), Story (1980a, 5), and Pope (1997, 80), all say that it was founded in 1976. Saliba (1995b, 222) plainly states it to have happened in "the mid-1950s", only to (1998, 29) say that it started 1954. This is the year when Ellwood (1988, 717) and Melton (1993, 728) believe it was founded, and perhaps most importantly, the Aetherius Society itself.(62)
However, the publication Contacts With the Gods From Space (1996, 12), published by Aetherius, say that the group was formed in 1955. The disagreement is probably due to different interpretations of the Aetherian history. Wallis says that King founded it in August 1956 after he had "…made contact with other space notables - Saint Goo-Ling, a member of the Great White Brotherhood living on Earth [and when King] began to receive invitations to lecture to other groups"(63). However, King had been chosen to found Aetherius two years earlier by the Cosmic Masters. He had previously dedicated himself completely to practicing yoga; ten years of eight to twelve hours every day.
It is not a very easy task to give a complete description of the religious structure of the Aetherius, something that Ellwood (1973) pointed out when he discovered that the "writings are oceanic and its concepts and undertakings elaborate"(64). This description therefore focuses on the group's history, its concept of extraterrestrials, two of its major religious and philosophical works, and various rituals and practices. The Aetherius Society has moved away from simply being an explanatory tool for the flying saucers and become a complex religious belief system that includes an extraterrestrial hierarchy of various spiritual masters and such concepts as universal karma and religious healing.
According to the ideology of Aetherius, ancient religious scriptures that mention Chariots of Fire and flying Vimanas, are in fact describing interstellar spacecraft. The people who once wrote down these stories were unable to give an accurate description of what they were in fact witnessing, and the extraterrestrial technology was so overwhelming that it could only be the work of the divine. So religious myths about aerial phenomena are actually telling the truth, although the language is inaccurate.
From time to time there are, they say, archaeological finds that completely contradict what mainstream science is saying about human evolution. Aetherius recognizes the great contribution that Charles Darwin made to popular scientific theories, but they also say that there are still many unresolved questions, such as the controversial "missing link". The only true information on the issue is what King teaches. The messages that he has channeled from space tell the one true story of our origin. Earth has been populated for many millions of years, and if we do not change our ways and live according to the Aetherian teachings we are sure to end up like the civilizations that were here before us: we will face death and annihilation through devastating atomic wars.
The Fire of God that rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah as described in The Bible was nothing less than a nuclear attack, and the following excerpt from the Indian Mahabharata describes, according to King, the so-called Agneya weapon, which was a nuclear weapon:
"A blazing missile possessed of the radiance of smokeless fire was discharged. A thick gloom suddenly encompassed the hosts. All points of the compass were suddenly enveloped in darkness. Evil bearing winds began to blow. Clouds reared into the higher air, showering blood. The very elements seemed confused. The Sun appeared to spin around. The world, scorched by the heat of that weapon, seemed to be in a fever".(65)
This is reminiscent of what happened at Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War, and Aetherius argue that this is good evidence of pre-historic nuclear warfare. The following quote is from an eyewitness account by Akira Kohchi, who survived the American attack on Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945. After having wandered around the destroyed city all day, he finally comes to a stop where his old house used to be and is surprised to find another survivor who also is in shock of what has happened. It is not an exact duplication of the story from the Mahabharata, but the eerie and gloomy atmosphere that the story creates is very reminiscent:
"The long summer day was finally waning. Though the sun never emerged from the turbulent smoky fog true darkness came. Neither of us had anything urgent to do now. We had come from different places to locate specific persons, but our search was clearly fruitless in that vast hot wasteland. With nothing more to say, he and I stood in the dusk, midst that hot fire-swept human habitat where no one remained alive. Life, shelter, property, food, the very need to eat: all were burned and buried beneath the ashes and cinders. I had seen local fires, but till then I had never truly realized how complete and final the destruction by conflagration could be. Destruction by fire is ultimate; it leaves no room for living things".(66)
The 19th century teachings of Blavatsky that mention Atlantis and Lemuria, two ancient civilizations popular in occult and New Age groups, are confirmed by King in his role as the Primary Terrestrial Mental Channel. "The Cosmic Transmissions delivered through Sir George King", which are the only way to get to know the real truth, "have gone further than any other writings on Earth to explain the true history of mankind"(67).
So here, then, is a shortened version of mankind's history as outlined by King (1996, 69-74):
Many millions of years ago, another planet the size of earth called Maldek was present in our solar system, orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. The people who lived there had reached a higher level of technology than present-day man has achieved, and they were thus free to study philosophy and science while robots were in charge of all work-demanding tasks. By controlling the weather, drought and famine were no longer problems. They also had discovered space travel, although their rather crude technology (compared to other, more highly evolved beings in the universe) would not allow them to make longer journeys into deep space. The lack of work eventually turned the happy people into lazy and selfish people, who just like "the majority of terrestrials" only sought after their own pleasure without caring about others.
Then one day a few evil scientists started to crave power and material goods, and this "mental disease" manifested itself as a lust for greater power, and by detonating a hydrogen bomb they completely destroyed Maldek and murdered all the people living there. This weapon was ten thousand times stronger than the one we have today, and the detonation turned the planet into the asteroid belt that astronomers today are able to observe.
Even if only a few inhabitants had been sick with this "mental disease" which made them materialistic and hungry for power, all the inhabitants were in fact guilty of this "horrible Cosmic crime", because in their laziness and lack of responsibility they had allowed this to happen.
According to the perfect Law of Karma that governs the entire universe, the millions of lives that had been annihilated on Maldek had to be reincarnated on a new planet in the solar system. But they could not choose Jupiter, because already back then this planet was inhabited by highly evolved spiritual beings who used it as a "reception center for the Interplanetary Confederation". The massive size of Jupiter could well accommodate the thousands of representatives coming from worlds both within and outside our solar system to the seat of learning - Saturn. Uranus and Venus could not be chosen either because the inhabitants of these worlds had evolved so much that the lifeforms from Maldek would have been unable to learn the lessons essential to their further progress, and Mercury was already functioning as "the major communications center for the Solar System", while Mars was inhabited by a "race who were the engineers and builders in the Solar System". So they had to choose earth.
The Cosmic Hierarchy decided to first make an appeal to the earth as an Intelligence, and "being a great Interplanetary Lord", she allowed the people of Maldek to be reincarnated. The Hierarchy then approached the inhabitants of earth, a race known as Adamic man. He also agreed to let "those too lazy to stop the shocking Cosmic crime of the destruction of Maldek and those who had actually brought it about" to be reincarnated. After humankind had started over again, Adamic man left the planet to man's own devices.
Soon the civilization of Lemuria rose. During its peak it was a much greater culture than that of our present one, and its people frequently communicated with Venus and Mars. Eventually this civilization split into two camps, the White Magicians who learned from extraterrestrials and advanced in metaphysical sciences, and the Black Magicians who for the second time detonated a hydrogen bomb which destroyed Lemuria in a devastating attack. Before detonation, however, spaceships landed and evacuated "the people who were ready". The evil forces, despite repeated warnings, chose to stay and thus perished.
Thousands of years passed, and eventually the civilization of Atlantis rose. Again high technology was developed, and again the population was split, this time into three camps; the few who worked to conquer the universe, representing the evil forces; the majority, representing the greater masses who did not care much about anything and were content with their lives; and the other few (who today are being represented by Aetherius) who knew the right spiritual paths. Again the "evil practioners of the black arts" invented atomic weapons. But now the Martians, who had been in contact with the White Magicians, landed five spacecrafts and evacuated them while the two remaining groups, both evil in their lust for materialistic power and conquest, destroyed each other and also the civilization of Atlantis.
And today the cycle is repeated. The situation is now similar to those before the destructions of Maldek, Lemuria, and Atlantis. We have the choice to destroy ourselves or accept the teachings of the Great Ones, and if we are not doing the latter the cycle of death and destruction will continue. We still have hope, because "Mankind, even in his darkest hour, has never been left alone"(68).
The Aetherius Society has several aims and object that the members try to accomplish, but the main goals are as follows:
Aetherius have different degrees of membership: Associate, Full, and Member Initiates. Any full member of three years standing who has been awarded at least two certificates of merit (for good attendance, financial support, time volunteered to help out) can apply to become a Member Initiate. They need to pass a Temple Degree study course examining them on metaphysical matters in order to qualify. Their leadership structure, however, is divided into both full-time and volunteer employees:
"The management of the organization is carried out by a full-time and volunteer staff, and it is these people who hold the main positions of responsibility within the church. People are elected based upon their longevity within the church and their suitability for the position, either as a minister or a director, or an administrator".(70)
One of the central beliefs of the Aetherius Society is the existence of a pantheon of beings from other planets in the solar system and beyond. Theses beings are, scientifically as well as spiritually, millions of years ahead of the human race.(71) According to King, the initial voice of Aetherius that he received in 1954 left him "in a state of turmoil and bewilderment"(72), and it was only by mastering yoga that he was able to remain sane. Eight days after he first had heard the extraterrestrial voice, King was once again "shaken to the core by an amazing happening"(73). While meditating, King witnessed how an Eastern guru walked straight through his closed front door and sat down in front of him. King's "unworthiness for what was obviously a great task had troubled [him] all the week"(74), but as if the guru could sense King's troubled mind, the guru started to speak:
"The real necessities of the Age - brought about by the unfeeling march of science into the realms of the atom, and the wrong thought and action of the masses - can be met only by those few who are ready to tune in to those emanations now being sent to this Earth, and become the servants of the Cosmic Masters. You are one of the many called upon to prepare yourself for the coming conflict between the materialistic scientist - who has arrived at his conclusions by the cold application of mathematics - and the occult 'scientist,' who has arrived at his conclusions through the recognition that God is All. Pray, be still, meditate, and open the door of your heart and mind to the precious waters of Truth".(75)
The guru then instructed King in certain practices, said that the people that could help him (King) the best would be brought into his "orbit", stood up and gently bowed his head, and then left the room the same way that he had entered it.(76) After he eventually became a master of yoga, King was taught the technique to obtain telepathic rapport with the Cosmic Masters, the highly evolved extraterrestrials who direct the Great White Brotherhood, also known as The Spiritual Hierarchy of Earth.(77)
Only later did it become clear to King that the voice he had heard while washing the dishes the day of the first contact had been that of a being called Aetherius who dwelled on Venus in a non-physical existence. When King was later "overshadowed" by Master Aetherius shortly after the visit of the guru he was told that the Interplanetary Parliament, of which Master Aetherius was a spokesman, had agreed on allowing King to be their channel. From time to time King would have to surrender his brain and body in order to act as the link between the ignorant people on earth and the spiritually advanced beings elsewhere in the universe. The words that he was to give to man would be the words of the Cosmic Masters, and by realizing that he was not alone in the universe man could avoid extinction.(78)
In January 1955, King gave his first public performance at Caxton Hall in London when he went into a trance and relayed a message from the Master Aetherius. In the beginning he did not have very much success, but as the messages grew longer and more regular he developed a small following. Soon a small newsletter started to circulate, and in 1956 he, according to Wallis, officially founded the Aetherius Society, but this date is, as I have shown, open to different interpretations. By now he had managed to make contact with other beings as well, including Saint Goo-Ling who apparently was a member of the Great White Brotherhood, and the extraterrestrials mars Sector 6, Mars Sector 8, and Jupiter Sector 92. As Kings' fame grew he started to receive invitations to more lectures, and around this time he began to devote himself full-time to his mission.(79)
The teachings have remained the same until this day. Throughout history, interplanetary beings have come to earth in order to teach mankind the right way of living. Krishna, the Lord Buddha, the Master Jesus, and Lao-tzu were all from outer space, but their teachings on earth got misinterpreted and evolved into Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Taoism respectively. The Great White Brotherhood (also known as "the Spiritual Hierarchy of Earth"(80)) as introduced by Blavatsky and her Theosophical Society, is made up of Masters from all races and function to preserve and develop spirituality upon this planet.(81) These Masters have mastered Ascension, which is the state of freedom from rebirth, and they have chosen to remain on earth and hide inside certain mountains from where they help to guarantee the right evolution of mankind. Many locations are secret, but some of the ones that are known include the Himalayas, the Andes, Mount Shasta, Ben MacDhui in Scotland, and Mt. Kilimanjaro.(82)
However, the teachings of the Aetherius Society are not a complete copy of the views held by the Theosophical Society. Some of the Cosmic Masters have chosen to travel to earth in different spacecrafts. The reason why mainstream science has been unable to detect these life forms is due to their capability of maintaining on a spiritual level or at a higher "vibratory rate". Spiritualism taught that there were other forms of life in existence besides the physical form, and this is similar to the view of the many astral planes. King lectured that when a human being dies she leaves her physical body and continue to exist in her astral body. Her existence on the astral planes will continue until the time comes to reincarnate into a new physical body. People who report near-death experiences have for a short period of time managed to get a glimpse of the astral planes. The Cosmic Masters have chosen to exist on the "higher vibratory realms" permanently. However, there are still evidence to be found by mainstream science of their earlier physical existence. The notorious Face on Mars in the Cydonia region on the planet Mars, which is a rock formation that was photographed by Nasa in the 1970s and which according to pro-extraterrestrial views resembles a human face, is seen as evidence by Aetherians of the Masters' previous habitat.(83)
Members of Aetherius perform different rituals in order to help themselves and their fellow man. A very common theme that one regularly encounters while reading their literature is Spiritual Service. The ritual of the Aetherius Society is carried out weekly and on special commemorative occasions. The room where the service is held is usually decorated with images of King and the Master Jesus. The following services are held every week: (1) a prayer meeting that besides the recitation of The Twelve Blessings also includes meditation and distance healing for anyone who has requested to be included on the healing list; (2) a service that is dedicated to Operation Prayer Power; (3) private healing sessions; and (4) a regular Sunday service which includes taped messages from King and/or various extraterrestrials. Members also commemorate the start or completion, or both, of several missions or operations that the most devoted members carry out by their repeated pilgrimages to sacred mountains.
Prayer is everywhere in the Aetherius Society. "Dynamic prayer is a wonderful expression". King explains, since "it is a song of the soul and the soul wants to sing" (Aetherius Newsletter June 1999, p. 3). The Aetherius Society has developed quite an elaborate explanation to why prayer indeed works. The world we live in is made up of energy vibrations that are inter-related, one with another. The Law of Karma governs this inter-relationship, and this law can also be seen as the law that makes all action and reaction opposite and equal. Thoughts and actions by man take place within the frame of this law, and what we send out (in actions, thought, speech and so on) eventually comes back to us. So, if we choose to transmit highly elevating Spiritual Energies, then we will receive inspirational energies back from the never-ending universal supply. Dynamic prayer is one of the simplest ways to receive such powerful forces.
On a part of the Aetherian website called "Dynamic Prayer as taught by the Aetherius Society"(84), one can learn that it is crucial to the Aetherian prayer (and one can assume that they refer to other religious prayers also) that one does not simply repeat the same old words without actually reflecting over what is done.
"Prayer, to be effective, should be said with real feeling (…) Every vestige of our love and feeling should be transmitted into each prayer [and] after our prayer, we should have such faith that we will be able to detach ourselves completely from what we have just said and let the results come. That is the secret of dynamic prayer".(85)
Pray Like an Aetherian
The Aetherius Society teaches that in the palm of each hand there is a psychic center, or "floodgate", through which prana (a lifeforce radiated from the sun) flows. This is an ancient secret that helped develop the different mudras, or hand-signs, that one can see in for instance Buddhist sculpture and painting.
The Christian church also uses a mudra, but the Christian way is incorrect for obtaining the best possible result. Christian prayer includes placing the hands together, an act that, according to the Aetherius Society, originally was devised as the correct mudra for greeting people. It was not designed for transmission of energy over distance, and with the psychic centers of the hands sealed together the spiritual energy that comes from prayers will merely flow around the individual's aura with no means of escape.
The Aetherian way of prayer is therefore the only way to pray, since they leave the psychic centers uninhibited. They stand with their feet slightly apart, hands raised with palms facing outward, fingers closed together, and mentally or orally repeating any of the Aetherian prayers. They visualize the spiritual energy as a radiant white light streaming from the heart center and palms of the hands as the prayer is said. "Some of the most beautiful and holy prayers [that] everyone on Earth can use"(86) are contained in The Twelve Blessings.
The Twelve Blessings
The Twelve Blessings (1995) is the major religious work of Aetherius. Like The Nine Freedoms it is designed to introduce a "cosmic concept" for the New Age. The book was delivered by Master Jesus through King between July 27th and October 12th 1958. Rather than being a work designed for study alone, The Twelve Blessings functions as a guide for rituals performed by members all over the world. This is not to say that a prayer ritual cannot be performed individually, but Aetherians seem to prefer the company of others when sending their spiritual energy to their Masters and fellow man. By following the prayers outlined in the book, members improve their individual karma and thus help in changing the world for the better.
The Twelve Blessings was originally planned to be delivered to earth in 2010, but it was decided by the Cosmic Masters that it had to be delivered earlier due to the dangerous times that humankind live in. If performed correctly and sufficiently, the prayers outlined in the book will manipulate the universal karma enough to bring about the spiritual change that we humans so desperately need in order not to repeat our ancestors' mistake of destroying ourselves.
A few months after King had successfully channeled the words of Master Jesus, Mary King, George's mother, was picked up by a spacecraft commanded by an extraterrestrial named Mars Sector 8. After entering a so-called mothership, Master Jesus himself approached Ms. King and blessed her copy of the book while saying:
"Blessed is he, who reading this Book doth understand. But exalted is he, even among the Angels, Who, reading this Book, doth take it to his heart And follow its precepts. Tell my Son, that this Book is now and forever - Holy".(87)
The book, which among members also is known as a New Age Bible, contains, besides instructions of how to use it correctly, twelve blessings to the following sources: They who work for peace, the Wise Ones, they who love, the Planetary Ones, the Thanksgivers, they Who heal, the Mother Earth, the mighty Sun, the Supreme Lords of Karma, the Great Being known as the Galaxy, the Supreme Lords of Creation, and the Absolute. According to Aetherian teachings, the religion that Christianity developed from Jesus' time on this earth is incorrect; it is a misinterpretation of the one true message. The being known as Mars Sector 6 delivered on October 18th 1958 a message where he (it) confirmed this, and thus inspired the followers of Aetherius to put right the true teachings of Jesus(88). The members continue to do so until this day by using the wisdom of The Twelve Blessings to heal the world.
The Nine Freedoms
One of the most important Masters that aids our spiritual evolution is undoubtedly the being known as Mars Sector 6, the pilot of the interstellar spacecraft known as Satellite No. 3. Different quotes from this being can be found everywhere in Aetherian literature, and Mars Sector 6 also has delivered the motto of the Aetherius Society. Taken form the Third Freedom, delivered on February 22nd 1961, it consists of the following nine words: Service is the Jewel in the Rock of Attainment.(89)
The Nine Freedoms is considered to be Aetherius major philosophical work. Mars Sector 6 delivered this "treatise of New Age philosophy"(90) through King between February 12th and March 15th 1961. The work consists of nine different texts, and each text marks a phase in man's evolutionary process, the steps necessary to take in order to experience enlightenment. What was so revolutionary about this treatise, according to the Aetherius Society, was that it produced a concept that was beyond the Eastern Nirvana and Western Heaven. The Aetherius Society claim not to replace any of the existing world religions, but rather "to enhance them all by introducing a Cosmic Concept for the New Age"(91).
The different Operations that started in 1958 with Operation Starlight and have been performed up to this day, are ways for the members to try to restore karma and give something back to the goddess Mother Earth that most people (read: non-Aetherians) have chosen to fight, instead of co-operate, with.
Different mountains have a very special importance in the Aetherian worldview. However, not only specific mountains per se are sacred, but also the entire earth itself, referred to as Terra, Goddess, or Mother Earth. When man explodes nuclear devices or exploit earth's resources, not only does he threaten his own existence, but he also endangers the many beings that live elsewhere in the universe.
So not only cannot he be allowed to upset his own Karma as an earthling, but also the many other planetary karmas. We must learn to "manipulate Karma" in order to avoid destruction. Traditional ecology is concerned about the preservation of the human race and its successors, but the ecology as carried out by Aetherians goes further than that. They refer to earth as a Living Being, and ecology in their view has to be practiced not only for the sake of the human race, but also for the sake of the planet herself. "Spiritual ecology is not primarily a concern for the continuance of the human race (…) it is more a concern for the Planet Herself Who is more important even than the race which inhabits Her"(92).
The Seventh Blessing in The Twelve Blessings is called "Blessed is The Mother Earth", and a part of it goes as follows:
"Blessed is She, Who, in sacrifice, has made a Space Refuge for you all. Blessed is She, Who, instead of taking the unlimited gowns allowed to this Goddess, did accept material limitation, so that you - the lower Aspects of God - could walk through experience back to God again."(93)
What this means is that earth has chosen to preserve her material existence for the benefit of mankind. She does not have to exist this way, but out of goodwill to man does so anyway. If she chose to be a "more radiant Being" the atmospheric belt around the earth would change on a physical level, and man would not be able to inhabit it. Earth has to withhold her true spiritual stature so that man will be able to exist, something that planets like Venus and Mars do not have to go through since the Masters who dwell there deliberately have left their physical existence.
Thus, Mother Earth is a much more advanced entity than "those great Avatars" who in earlier times visited earth and went through great suffering in order to help mankind. King is one of the very few people who has realized the true stature of Mother Earth, and since the great majority of mankind "are not cooperating with Her, Who has made our material existence possible at great cost of herself"(94), spiritual ecology is a crucial part of the Aetherius Society.
Operation Prayer Power
The most devoted members of the Aetherius Society gather every week to undertake Operation Prayer Power charging sessions. They join together for two hours during which they use Dynamic Prayer, Eastern mantras, and various mudras in order to store invoked energy in a so-called Radionic Battery.(95)
This battery, designed by King, is similar in size to an ordinary car battery. It is made of "radionic" materials, which are materials that conduct Spiritual Energies, namely high quality gold and quartz crystals. Thousands of prayer energy hours are stored in these batteries, and by the time of crisis such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or wars, a Spiritual Energy Radiator is used to send out the energy. Thus the desired motive is mass - instead of individual - healing. The prayers used are taken from The Twelve Blessings, and the mantras are ancient Sanskrit sound systems.(96)
The storage of the energy enables the Aetherians to, at any time, release thousands of Prayer Hours exactly when it is needed. They take credit, among many other things, for stopping the Soviet Union from invading Poland in 1981 and saving numerous lives in Turkey from the great earthquakes in 1983.(97) Lately they have been working to aid the human suffering in former Yugoslavia. The unexpected peace talks of the war in Kosovo after 72 days were probably a result of Aetherian members in England, America, New Zealand, and Africa coming together "several times a week for this great humanitarian purpose", as the cover of the Aetherius Newsletter informs us in its June 1999 issue. At the end of the article, one can read that:
"We will possibly never find out how, but this series of 'prayer strikes' in conjunction with power radiated through (…) Operation Prayer Power (…) undoubtedly had a definite and, who knows, even decisive influence. Prayer works."
This mission is considered to be one of the most important missions that Aetherians are currently undertaking. In this, the "Worlds greatest ecological Mission"(98), high frequency Spiritual Energies are radiated by members into psychic centers of the earth. In order to perform Operation Sunbeam, two essential attributes are required; a) advanced occult knowledge to identify the location of the psychic centers, and b) a source of the energy to be compatible and acceptable for the Mother Earth.(99) The energy that the Cosmic Masters placed in the 19 Holy Mountains in Operation Starlight (below) was put there for humanity, and thus it is available for us to use. Mother Earth, however, is unable to reach it.
On the 24th of September 1966 the first units were given to Mother Earth, and since the initial ritual there have been numerous improvements and over 500 successful phases. The energy given is very small compared to what Mother Earth actually uses, but in this case "it's the thought that counts" so to speak. Operation Sunbeam has in time become an essential harmonic manipulation on behalf of mankind and managed to balance humanity's karma to a great extent.(100) As with the other missions carried out by The Aetherius Society, Operation Sunbeam is in fact "a combination of the highest possible religious devotion with practical scientific technological apparatus"(101).
The Aetherius Society does not in any way claim to be the only religious group to send prayers to the earth. On the contrary, they recognize a number of other religious devotions of this kind. Still, Aetherius is unique, they themselves assure, because of the source of the energy and the direction of it into psychic centers. This way energy is uniquely offered to earth in a way that is acceptable to her. Earlier rites have not been able to direct the energy to her, because of its poor quality and lack of direction. The nature spirits have been able to benefit from it, but not the planet herself, and this is why Operation Sunbeam is considered to be the highest form of spiritual expression.(102)
Between July 23rd 1958 and August 23rd 1961, King, acting as a "Karmic representative" for the whole human race, helped in charging 19 mountains around the world with tremendous amounts of Spiritual Energy. While on the top of these mountains, King entered an elevated state and an initial Charge was sent to the inside of the mountain through him.
After the initial Charge the Cosmic Masters were then able to fully charge each mountain with Spiritual Energy. The energy stored is thereafter available to any one who make the effort to climb it in order to send out prayers and healings. Saint Goo-Ling, one of the Ascended Masters of The Great White Brotherhood allegedly has claimed that the most potent Spiritual practice today is to perform The Twelve Blessings on any of the 19 Holy Mountains during a Spiritual Push.(103)
In the New Age that soon will be upon us, people will move out from the many temples, churches, and other sacred building in order to worship in nature. The holy mountains are batteries of power that anyone can use, regardless of their religious beliefs. Any believer, even an atheist, will gain the benefit of climbing any of them, but only if one's motive is to send out Spiritual Power and prayers for the benefit of others.
The Aetherius Society has, realizing that not everyone have the ability to visit these Power Centers, manufactured Holy Shapes that contain stones from these mountains so that Aetherians can use them in Spiritual exercises and yoga practices in the privacy of their own home. And in three temples, specially manufactured Holy Crosses can be found, and each contains 19 stones, one from each mountain.(104)
In 1964, a 15-page pamphlet was published by Aetherius entitled The Flying Saucers with the subtitle A Report on The Flying Saucers, Their Crews and Their Mission to Earth. It contains descriptions on the different spacecrafts that sometimes are observed by earthlings, and by reading the pamphlet one learns how the crew dress, their education, food, monetary system, and politics.
The two major types of spacecraft is the mothership and scout patrol vessel. The former is shaped like a cigar and varies in size from 1000 yards to 5000 miles in length. Anyone who has ever done more or less serious studies of the UFO phenomena will recognize the cigar shape as a shape that has been reported by UFO witnesses all over the world numerous times. "They are propelled by a magnetic device which exerts an equal thrust upon every atom of substance within the ship"(105), and the force field that surrounds the craft reflects and refracts light, and also makes photography of the craft difficult, something that Adamski also mentioned when explaining why his photographs always turned out very fuzzy.
The scout patrol vessel comes in many different types, and the one most often witnessed by earthlings is the circular one with a dome on top, made famous by Adamski's alleged photographs of such a craft. They are protected by a smaller version of the force field that the mothership has, and the incredible flight pattern that some UFO witnesses report are being made possible by a complete control and understanding of the gravitational laws. The often-reported "blinking in and out" by UFOs is a result of the Cosmic Master's ability to lower the vibration of both themselves and their spacecraft. The fact that people have sometimes managed to see an actual spacecraft is because the Masters have chosen to be seen occasionally in order to indicate to man that life exists on other planets in the universe. Furthermore, certain missions on earth require a physical presence by the Masters(106).
A third type of vessel is the one used by the beings known as the Ancient Ones, and the Star of Bethlehem was one of these vessels which came to earth after the Venusian known as Jesus Christ had decided to be reincarnated on earth. In fact, the existence of all life owes its continuance to the "spiritualizing" divine intervention that these vessels, (which mainly originate on Saturn, but also Jupiter and Uranus), perform.
The fourth spacecraft is referred to as Satellite No. 3, and is controlled by the often referred-to Martian, Mars Sector 6. Totally invisible and always undetected by earthly radars, this craft is responsible for the so-called Spiritual Pushes.
The Aetherius Society sees their prayers to be a very important sacred act that they perform for the benefit of all mankind. However, the sum total of their prayer hours are limited, but fortunately for man the Cosmic Masters have come up with a way to "speed up" this process. These processes are known as Spiritual Pushes.
During several periods each year, Satellite No. 3 enters earth's orbit and halts at 1550 miles above the surface. Onboard are several radionic instruments, and the spacecraft uses these under the guidance of the Cosmic Masters, "to beam exactly the right energy to each person helping humanity in some spiritual way"(107), or in other words, energy from the spacecraft enhances the spiritual power of the actions of mankind.(108)
The spiritual energy in the universe is also known as prana. All life force are motivated by, and may also if they so chooses, utilize this vital power. This non-physical energy is in itself neutral and can be used for both good and evil, depending completely on the skills, knowledge, and motivation of those who are employing it. Since man has largely lost his capacity to use prana, except in anentirely automatic way, Aetherians believe that our planet is particularly weak. This makes us especially vulnerable to assault from evil forces in the universe, and thus the spiritual pushes offered by the Cosmic Masters come in extra handy.(109)
Satellite No. 3 enters and leaves earth's orbit at exactly 12:00 midnight G.M.T. during these dates:
18th - May 23rd
July 5th - August 5th
September 3rd - October 9th
November 4th - December 10th
The spacecraft also comes into orbit during so-called "emergency periods", and these times are not set and change from year to year. While it is not certain when the emergency periods occur, it is certain that the fixed periods will continue for at least one thousand years.(110)
Satellite No. 3 started orbiting earth on May 28th 1955. The Spiritual Pushes result in that all selfless and humanitarian actions, no matter who is performing them, will be, from a Karmaic point of view, 3000 times greater. Not only those who know that Satellite No. 3 is actually there, but Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and so on will all benefit from it. Aetherians join together to cooperate with the first and last days of all Spiritual Pushes. On December 10th 1988 it was announced that satellite No. 3 would be replaced with a new and more advanced vehicle 12000 feet in length. It still goes under the same name, though.(111)
The massive contribution of energy in both the quantity and quality (of the "vibrational" rate) is "the greatest possible contribution the Gods from Space could possibly make to our world"(112).
Another proof of how great the Aetherian prayers are was delivered on December 30th 1979. At a public meeting, King requested by Mars Sector 8, Special Adviser S2 a comparison between the overall help to mankind in 1979 by the Aetherius Society, Buddhism, and Christianity. On 20th January 1980, it was reported that Operations Sunbeam and Space Power:
"…were 945 times more valuable to the physical realms of life, and 9,233 times more valuable to all higher levels in terms of karmic manipulation, than the Buddhist and Christian religions combined, and 8,547 times the value of the combined efforts of the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Moslem religions to the higher realms".(113)
"The preparation for the landing of starships on Earth is the first stage in the alignment of 33 planets, of which planet Earth is to be the thirty-third and final linking member, forming an Interplanetary Confederation for the Spiritual Renaissance of Humankind on Earth! (…) The Pleiadeans are Space Brothers who are working for the benefit of humankind by preparing to leave their home and remain on Earth during the development of a new age of logic and reason that will initiate a spiritual renaissance".(114)
This is the famous prophecy of the Unarius Academy of Science (originally named the Unarius Science of Life), headquartered in El Cajon, California. Like the Aetherius Society, this NRUM has been around since the 1950s, and over the years a very complex mythology has evolved, including many fascinating tales about past lives and great spiritual teachers.
The prominent scholars of this NRUM are Diana Tumminia and George Kirkpatrick, having written many fascinating articles and papers since their initial research started in the mid 1980s. In an e-mail from Dr. Tumminia she said that "I don't want to discourage you, but in my own research I found I could not understand Unarian books without learning a lot from them in person"(115). I have not been able (yet) to do fieldwork among the Unarians, and since my aim is to give an introductory description of the world according to the Unarians, this description only touches the basic beliefs and practices. A more in-depth study of the Unarius Academy of Science will be an interesting research project for the future.
The story of the Unarius is really the story of Ernest Norman and his wife Ruth. They are the founders of the movement; a movement which "attracted the attention of the world at large because of the charismatic reputation of its recently deceased leader Uriel, 'Archangel and Cosmic Visionary'"(116). This is not to say that Ernest did not play his part in shaping the Unarian cosmology, but it was Ruth (or Uriel as she is referred to by her followers) who, after Ernest passed away, or "made his transition to the higher planes of light world in 1971"(117) really brought Unarius to the attention of the outside world, and it is probably safe to say that Unarius had not been where they are today without the work of Ruth.
She was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1900. As is characteristic of charismatic figures in many religious movements, most accounts of her life are rather sketchy and there is a lack of an accurate chronology, a deliberate move by Unarians since it is Ruth's messages, not her life details, that are of importance. She had a hard upbringing as the oldest of six children. Her father allegedly abused her physically, and when she turned eighteen she told her father off, got married and had a daughter. She soon got divorced, however, and left her husband with custody of the child. She supported herself with various jobs, and in 1949 attended her first lecture by a psychic where she experienced a healing. Around 1953 she married for a second time, and then in early 1954 met Ernest Norman at a psychic convention in a Spiritualist church. During their first meeting Ernest gave Ruth a psychic reading, which revealed that she had been a pharaoh's daughter in one of many past lives. It was Ruth, in an earlier reincarnation, who had found and saved Moses.(118)
They soon married and many revelations allegedly followed. A medium told them that Ernest had been pharaoh Akhenaton in a past life, and later Ruth had a "two thousand year flashback" after observing some rocky hillsides outside San Diego, California, which apparently reminded her of Jerusalem. She passed out for several days, and after regaining consciousness claimed to have recalled her earlier life with Jesus, who presently was reincarnated as Ernest.(119)
Later in 1959 the couple, now husband and wife, initiated the Unarius Educational Foundation and devoted themselves completely to teach man about his true spiritual consciousness. During the following seventeen years, many books were published, and Unarius likens the Normans' great determination to be "an effort equal to that of many Gandhi's"(120). In 1971 Ernest passed away, and now Unarius changed into a group that was held together thanks to the personality and charisma of Ruth, who also started to refer to herself as Uriel by this time, a name that is short for Universal Radiant Infinite Eternal Light. Unarius now claimed, and continued doing so until her passing in 1992, that she was the bearer of the Christ Consciousness, carrying the Mission of Jesus to a successful conclusion initiating the New Age of Logic and Reason for the 21st Century"(121).
Unarius works today as a non-profit, educational and scientific institution and a membership organization. The most important part of the Unarian philosophy and way of life is, according to themselves:
"The Unarius concept of life is to reawaken the individuals to their inner spiritual higher self. Each person is a reflection of an Infinite Creative Intelligence whose purpose is to evoke positively. The expansion of one's consciousness is to become awake to the interdimensional reality of life lived on thousands, if not millions of extraterrestrial earth planets in millions of galaxies in the universe. But the most important factor of the Unarius teaching is that it provides information which makes possible the attainment of peace of mind and immortality of the soul".(122)
Since 1975, Unarius has been headquartered in a storefront center in El Cajon, CA, which opened under the leadership of Ruth and the advanced student (Unarians refer to themselves as students and not members) Charles Spaegal, also known as Antares. An exact sum of the total number of members is not available, though:
"One does not have to be a member to be a Unarius student, and it would be impossible to physically count the students worldwide. We estimate that 300,000 to 500,000 people have had some contact with the Unarius teachings. Many people are home study students and do not attend classes or activities at a physical location, although there are Unarius centers in several locations other than the New World Teaching Center in El Cajon, California, including North Carolina, Florida, Canada, Africa, Australia, and Austria".(123)
In their worldview, we have all had past lives and people choose to interact with them because this gives them "the spiritual opportunity to clear their karma"(124). Unarius are heavily focused on two things: evidence of past lives (both on earth and elsewhere in the universe) and contact with the Space Brothers. Both these claims are verified in dreams, visions, memories or "flashbacks", bodily sensations, psychic readings, and different narratives that over time have evolved into myths. These experiences, which are everyday occurrences in the life of a devoted Unarian, present incontrovertible proof of the authenticity of their "scientific" logic.(125) Unarius is a non-profit membership organization, and members receive the Unarius Light Journal, which is published quarterly. Admission to seminars, lectures, and special events are also available at a reduced cost. Furthermore, many books and videos are available at a reduced cost, and many of these videos are aired on public access cable, both nationally and internationally.
After both Ruth and prominent student Charles Spaegel (Antares) had passed away, Unarians realized that they had to reorganize their structure:
"…the board members intuitively became aware that there was not to be one person 'in charge' as a president or director. They realized the importance of working together in a harmonious manner to make decisions, relying on their inner attunement to the true directors of the Foundation - the advanced intelligent spiritual beings who reside in the higher dimensions of the nonatomic planes".(126)
Unarius, according to Unarians, stands apart from traditional metaphysical schools and is truly unique in itself:
"Unarius is an Interdimensional Science teaching the basis of a fourth-dimensional physics [original emphasis] and of the existence of Advanced Intelligent Beings [original emphasis] expressing from higher frequency planes (…) The Unarius curriculum is a 'Science of Life,' which when applied by the student, places the individual on a higher frequency position in his spiritual evolution".(127)
A cornerstone of the Unarian curriculum is the practice of lifting an individual's consciousness so one may attain "psychic liberation". This may be done through the rituals of past lives. Unarius claims to be similar to a university "in every which way"(128), because a postgraduate course is taught "which expands the individuals [sic] understanding of himself or herself in the universe"(129). The following are subjects that are covered in the Unarian teachings according to Pathway to Light (29), a list larger than many academic graduate programs:
the Phenomenon of Dreams and Visions
How to Attain Cosmic Consciousness
How Life is Lived in the Higher Dimensions
The Subconscious and the Superconscious Self
Psychic Therapeutic Science and Healing
Atoms, Man, and the Universal Harmony of Life
Obsessions and the Dark Forces
The Existence of Extraterrestrial Civilizations
Karma and the Principle of Cause and Effect
The Grand Plan of Creative Evolution
Psychodynamics of the Mind and the Brain
Visible and the Invisible: The Psychics of Light
The Paranormal Nature of Consciousness
Past Lives and Future Growth: A New Psychiatry
Lost and Ancient Civilizations: Atlantis, Lemuria
The Continuity of Consciousness After Death
Reincarnation and Consciousness
The Angelic Forces of Light: Our Spiritual Guides
The Non-atomic Worlds of Light
Interdimensional Physics - The Spirit and the Mind
The Psychic Anatomy, the Architect of the Soul
Unarius gives credence to reincarnation, karma, progressive evolution, lost continents, The Great White Brotherhood, messages from various ascended Masters, and scientific rationalism, to mention a few of many beliefs. Over the years the philosophy has been elaborated upon and sometimes altered in order for older notions to synthesize with new revelations.(130) Still the notion of past lives remains one of the most important parts of the Unarian philosophy.
The belief in reincarnation gets reflected by the practice of past-life readings, and also the process of acting out past lives in videotaped psychodramas about extraterrestrial life and civilizations on other planets. Three times a week Unarians meet at the Center in order to go through past-life therapy. The basic notion of past life therapy is as follows: Problems and troubles in this life is the result of negative actions in previous lives. Much like the Hindu Karma, one's actions will determine the outcome of one's next life. The therapy, or Psychology of Consciousness, helps students to remove the many misconceptions and negative deeds that have been experienced "for perhaps hundreds of thousands of years"(131).
Like the Aetherius Society, Unarius has published a small pamphlet about their view of the ETH. But while the Aetherian The Flying saucers is a more nuts-and-bolts approach to what exactly the UFO phenomenon represents, the Unarian The Extraterrestrial Phenomenon, with subtitle The Truth About UFOs, is a channeled philosophical 16-page message from an extraterrestrial known as Alta of Planet Vixall.
Alta lets it be known that "over the number of years that records exist"(132), there have been sightings of anomalous aerial phenomena, from the time of Ezekiel through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Industrial Age. These days there are, and this is certainly true, thousands of documented cases of individual and group sightings. The reason for labeling them UFO is because "they are unidentifiable within the language and experience of scientists and the greater public"(133).
But what mainstream society labels "UFO phenomenon" is in reality not a UFO phenomenon. Mankind who presently inhabits the earth has traveled here from other inhabited planets in the solar system and from other galaxies. Earth is but one of hundreds of billions of earth planets. Man is not, and has never been, alone. The extraterrestrials that visit our planet are in fact not extraterrestrials at all but rather Space Brothers who also have been created by the same Creative Infinite Intelligence that created us. The reason they come here in the first place is because what we humans do always affect other people in the universe.
Man has managed to learn the secret of the atom, which resulted in the nuclear attacks at the end of the Second World War, and this knowledge has caused worries in this and other galaxies. Since we "are disrupting the regular isochronal pulse beat"(134) of the atom, we are "generating an out-of-phase beat frequency, resulting in disease, affecting worlds which are distant from [ours], worlds of great numbers of people"(135). UFOs, or extraterrestrial spacecrafts, are therefore sent to earth to monitor our destructive tendencies. Some of these spacecrafts are controlled by Space Brothers, and some by robots. All visitors to planet earth are members of an interplanetary society; a confederation of planets. They are able to function on a higher mental level, and thus have contact with a higher order of man known as the Hierarchy of Spiritual Beings. These beings are part of an administration that is responsible for the evolutionary progression of man on hundreds of thousands of galaxies. As life to these beings is a science they are also known as a Universal Brotherhood of the Science of Life, but the mostly used name for this universal Life Force (in the 20th century, anyway) is Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science - Unarius.
Throughout history, earth has been known by many different names to the Space Brothers, for instance the Dark Planets and the Insane Planet of the Robots due to our destructive behavior. Man has gone blind to his true spiritual potential, and our only hope now is that the members of the Interplanetary Confederation will save us from annihilating ourselves. When the spaceships land in 2001, man will realize that there is no such thing as a UFO phenomenon when he acknowledges his brothers from the stars.
However, earth is not that unique. The great plan of awakening, carried out by the higher evolved life forms in the universe, is currently "taking place on the hundred thousand galaxies that are spread throughout the universe!"(136). But since we are a part of the Milky Way galaxy it is up to the 32 planets in our solar system who are part of the Interplanetary Confederation to help us, and that is why UFO sightings continue to occur to this day. By making their presence known this way, man is slowly but steadily realizing that he is not alone in the universe.
During our "quiet hours", which is when we are asleep, man is contacted and receives various mental proofs of higher life forms. This has been called by many names - astral projection, psychokinesis, levitation, and inspiration. Still, many require physical evidence and regard UFO sightings as this. However, many sightings of spacecraft have been on a purely psychic nature, despite that the witness could swear under oath that he indeed had physical contact with the Space Brothers and their craft.
The Space Brothers are aware that even though they will indeed land and appear in their physical forms, many people will still not believe. Still, most people will be willing to accept the reality of their existence, and this is because the Unarians will have helped raising man's spiritual cosmic consciousness to where it should be at the time of their arrival:
"…in 2001 A.D., those individuals who have been working for many, many years to wake up man; those individuals who have functioned in the communities in the space societies and who have been working silently, behind the scenes, will have helped to change the psychological current, the atmosphere of planet Earth, as to the reality of space being occupied by other human beings on other terrestrial planets."(137)
The landing of starships in the year of 2001 is the most central theme in the Unarian teachings. The story behind this prophecy is a very long and complex one, not easily understood by an outsider. As it turns out, the year 2001 is not the original date set for the landing of the Space Brothers. To fully understand the development of the prophecy one would have to dive deep into numerous books and articles by Unarius. Fortunately, Dr. Tumminia, in her article "How Prophecy Never Fails: Interpretive Reason in a Flying-Saucer Group" from the summer 1998 issue of Sociology of Religion (1998a, 157-171), attempts to demonstrate how the prophecy has evolved and changed over the years.
One thing soon becomes clear: the prophecy took shape over a large time span and was not a distinct event: "…the prophecy was not a singular act, but the outgrowth of a multiplicity of improvised stories and unfulfilled predictions"(138). Ruth started to, as mentioned earlier, channel messages on a regular basis from the Space Brothers after her husband's passing in the early 1970s. The transcriptions of these channelings, or "transmissions", came to be published in the Unarian book series entitles Tesla Speaks.
The seventh volume of this series, entitled Countdown!!! To Space Fleet Landing, contains a revelation from outer space dated March 17, 1974, where one is told that a spacefleet landing is about to take place on earth before December the same year. This did not occur, and the reason for this was that the Space Brothers was trying to quell the fears of the earthlings, and the landing thus had to be postponed. Not cancelled, but rather delayed. In subsequent years the initial passage with the revelation was concealed with a strip of paper.
During the early part of September the next year, Ruth was overcome by a strong feeling that the spacefleet landing was to occur any day. Unarians engaged in intense planning of the great event, and Ruth made arrangements to give away her worldly goods. She began signing over her bank accounts and property to Unarius, and she even gave her Space Cadillac with a model of a traditional flying saucer attached to the roof to her close student and friend Antares.
Then, "Finally on Monday, the 22nd, the great psychic bubble exploded"(139), as the Unarians describe it. Ruth's close friend Cosmon called her with a message from the Space Brothers. They wanted her to know that she was not going through a real event, but instead was experiencing a past-life, namely that of Isis, Queen of Egypt some 14000 years ago. In that life, she and her husband Osiris (Ernest) had been murdered by a crowd of people as they ran towards the landing site as a spaceship had come to pick them up, and the murderers had now been reincarnated as Unarian students.
In March 1976, Ruth and some of her students decided to wager $4000 with Ladbrokes, a British bookmaker, that the Space Brothers would arrive on earth within one year. This information was released to the press and Unarius again became news in the tabloid press, and Tom Snyder interviewed Ruth on the television show Tomorrow. Many people contacted Unarius as a result of this, and in mid-September Ruth and Cosmon traveled to Canada to make personal appearances and engage in a small-scale media campaign. However, Ruth eventually lost her bet because the Space Brothers were nowhere to be seen, so the date was pushed back to where it is now, 2001.
"Humankind entered the space age with the explosion of atom bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. With the founding of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration and the European Space Agency, the launching of space vehicles and satellites to research distant planets such as Mercury, Venus, mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto, we are being readied for the next great step - accepting the reality of extraterrestrial civilizations and preparing ourselves for the landing of starships on Earth in 2001".(140)
Unarius has purchased sixty-seven acres of land in the mountains of San Diego, California, for the landing of the starships. Taking place on Ruth's one-hundredth birthday, the extremely large starships (sometimes five miles in diameter) will each bring one thousand scientists who all are devoted to work exclusively for the advancement of humankind.
The ships will first land in the so-called Bermuda Triangle outside the coast of Florida, where the lost libraries of Atlantis and Lemuria will be recovered and returned to the people on earth. Developments of wondrous technology, such as crystal and gold computers, will soon be developed.
The university and medical center set up by the Space Brothers will be open, free of charge, to all. With the help of the "psychic anatomy viewer", people's mental as well as physical diseases will be cured. This machine scans an individual's "electronic body", the past-life karma held in the electro-magnetic memory of the body, and since the machine will reveal any "malformations" and the exact time they occurred in the past, the individual will be able to release his or her problem.
The psychic anatomy viewer will empty all hospitals, prisons, and asylums, and drug abuse and alcoholism will be a thing of the past. Non-polluting energy will be fueling all transportation and communication systems, and overall all social problems will be unheard of in the age of "logic and reason".(141)
"The planet, as a family of children, is arriving at a new destination, where mankind will depart from the old ways, from material concern, and be able, in a concerted fashion, to develop the higher intelligence that lies within the higher mental circuitry within his psychic body."(142)
Still, the most important gift to humankind will be the Space Brothers themselves. They are very powerful healers, eager to train man in changing his society. We will, under their guidance, be saved from every thinkable problem, being as they are true humanitarians with genuine concern for mankind.
Said to be emanating the energy of "complete love and peace", any individual who comes in contact with a Space Brother will have his or her consciousness raised to a higher frequency when the love of the Space Brothers is immediately experienced. One of the crafts with these saviors from outer space is described the following way:
"Throughout the entire craft, more than 500.000 square feet, was heard the sublime music. It was the electromagnetic harmony of the consciousness of 1.000 individuals who had been carefully selected to make this trip from their home planet; individuals who gained that development whereby their mentality was integrated with a higher spiritual nature of themselves. These persons were especially selected who had mastered the lower nature of their physical consciousness, an advanced race of Homo Sapiens with no blemishes on their bodies, reflecting their inner spiritual development."(143)
Not only the Space Brothers will enlighten the world. Ruth is also expected to return with the spaceships. By the time of her passing on August 12, 1993, she had been informed by the Space Brothers that her mission on earth was accomplished and that she was free to leave her body. However, she is believed to be closer than ever now since she is now freed from the bonds of earthly energy.(144)
A most sacred event to the devoted Unarian is the one called Interplanetary Conclave of Light, previously called Interplanetary Confederation Day, a two-day symposium that takes place every year during the second weekend in October and is "dedicated to the reality that we are not alone in the universe"(145). Last year's symposium, Opening the Cosmic Window, "focused on the reawakening of planet Earth to the awareness of extraterrestrial civilizations, the new millennium, and the renaissance of spirit that is each soul's cosmic design"(146).
Every year this celebration commemorates the union of the planets under Ruth's guidance. It was begun in the mid-eighties and features a parade of colorful banners of the spiritual planets held by costumed Unarians. Included in the festivities are harp and piano music, choral singing, an art show, various intergalactic proclamations, and also the release of white doves symbolizing peace from a spaceship replica. In the evening there is usually a lesson in the Unarian science, a film about the imminent arrival of the spaceships, various testimonials by students, and also the highlight of the symposium: an interplanetary contact with a Space Brother through channeling.
Last years' speech was by the late Antares, and the following is an extract from his speech, where he talked about the soon-to-be physical contact with Space Brothers from the planet Myton:
"The people of the Pleiadean planet Myton, who call themselves Muons, have been preparing for this millennial voyage for many centuries of time; it is a great undertaking. They are part of the Unarius Brotherhood, but they are functioning on the physical side of life. They know of their spiritual nature."(147)
He then went on to say how much they are reminiscent of Unarian students:
"…they have taken responsibility for their lives. They are students of past-life therapy. The curriculum in their schools is a universal teaching expressed on this earth world by great luminaries of old and articulated to a greater degree by Jesus of Nazareth."(148)
It goes without saying, obviously, that all three NRUMs acknowledge the existence of extraterrestrial life in the universe. This is the central belief on which the movements are founded, and they all acknowledge that the extraterrestrials, who go under the names Elohim, Cosmic Masters, and Space Brothers, have wandered the earth through the millennia both physically (actual extraterrestrials have walked among us and patrolled the skies with their spacecrafts), or spiritually (they have aided us on a mental level in trying to make us realize and accept our true spiritual potential).
When the first contactees started spreading their revelations in the 1950s, the extraterrestrials usually came from planets within the solar system that were known to science, such as Mars and Venus. The messages of those days were much like the ones the NRUMs teach today; warnings nuclear experiments and a serious lack of love and understanding among mankind. And like today, the time was "almost" here for an extraterrestrial landing but we had yet to climb a little further on our ladder of spiritual evolution before that could happen. The Theosophical Society of the 19th century had also confirmed the existence of highly evolved masters in space, but unlike Blavatsky's extraterrestrials the ones that the NRUM leaders refer to actively participate in human life, physically and/or mentally traveling to earth in order to help us.
The spiritual element is given much more emphasis by Unarius and Aetherius, while the Raelians are more focused on technological theories, referring to physical entities, nuts-and-bolts spaceships, and scientific cloning experiments. That is not to say, however, that they do not have spiritual practices such as healing and Sensual Meditation. But, Raelians deny the existence of a God or soul, and overall their attitudes towards the ETH emphasize actual physical technology instead of the spiritual essence in every man and throughout the universe. As a result of this nuts-and-bolts approach, the Elohim are physical beings just like you and me (remember that we, as The Bible affirms, are made in their divine image). Unarius and Aetherius more closely resemble spiritualistic movements since they believe that the extraterrestrials have an ability to live on a plane of "higher existence", and thus leave their physical bodies behind. Aetherius is probably the NRUM that is most heavily influenced by Theosophy, and they use many names and concepts that Blavatsky and her followers used. Indeed, Aetherius' close resemblance to this 19th century group has led Ellwood to conclude that Aetherius can be thought of as apocalyptic theosophy.(149)
So why not just refer to the NRUMs as New Age movements? First of all, the concept of New Age is not used to refer to a certain movement or even less so a cult. The elements that nowadays are classified as New Age are stunning in their sheer quantity, and it is probably safe to argue that some people who are classified as seekers do not believe in every single one of these elements, while they at the same time believe in others. My point is that extraterrestrials and UFOs may by some be regarded as "typical New Age beliefs", while the believer in these phenomena may choose to completely disregard other such "traditional" beliefs, such as tarot cards and the healing power of certain crystals. Another aspect is that the teachings of the NRUMs are esoteric in nature, while some New Age beliefs such as astrology have found their way into mainstream life. This does not imply that the NRUMs want to be esoteric, but it is more likely that one will find a "normal" New Age book dealing with the beneficial aspects of aromatherapy if one walks into a New Age bookstore instead of books written by the NRUMs.
In the introduction I used Hall's definition of an other-worldly sect, "a utopian communal group which subscribes to a set of beliefs based on an apocalyptic interpretation of current history"(150). All NRUMs truly show signs of an other-worldly sect, that is very obvious. The world is destined to be destroyed unless we choose to do as the extraterrestrials tell us. Still, none of the NRUMs have chosen a withdrawal from society, at least not a complete one like People's Temple or Heaven's Gate did. King, Ernest, and Ruth all showed, and Rael still does, great charisma, and their respective worldview makes it possible to explain the irrational actions of the outsiders.
Wallace's 1956 definition of a revitalization movement, "a deliberate, organized, conscious effort by members of society to construct a more satisfying culture"(151), can be applicable to this study and all NRUMs can be considered to various degrees to be revitalization movements: "[Raelian Religion, Unarius, and Aetherius] represent[s] a deliberate, organized conscious effort by [the members] to construct a more satisfying culture [by building the embassy and prepare for the arrival of the Elohim/prepare for the 2001 landing of the Space Brothers accompanied by Uriel and bring back spirituality and love to mankind/bring back karma to man and Mother Earth and make people aware of the Cosmic Masters]".
The origin of the extraterrestrials may differ from NRUM to NRUM, but they are all our saviors and they have looked down on us from their heavenly realms ever since our creation. The Raelian Religion is the only NRUM that explicitly states that they created us, still the cosmic life force that created all life, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial, is present in every corner of the universe. Historical figures like Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammad did indeed exist, but all NRUMs challenge traditional religious beliefs by saying that all these legendary figures were extraterrestrials. There are, however, many different categories of revitalization movements. In the same 1956 article where Wallace defines the term, he also outlines several major types, all clearly religious in nature (outlined by Lehmann and Myers 1997, 333). This is no to say that each type may only exist when no other is present:
"It is important to recognize that these kinds of cultural phenomena are not mutually exclusive; several may be at work within a single society at any one time, all simultaneously contributing to change in the cultural gestalt. (…) All revitalization movements have in common a reactionary character; all are the result of real or imagined conditions that create a demand for change".(152)
A revitalization movement works "to provide immediate personal salvation to the presently afflicted and to reorganize the culture in such a manner that a better way of life is brought into being to take the place of the old"(153). Some of the major types of revitalization movements are cargo cults, millenarian movements, and messianic movements:
Cargo cults - These groups emphasize an importation of alien (not necessarily referring to alien as extraterrestrial) values, customs, and material into the contemporary society, these being expected to arrive metaphorically as a ships cargo.(154) Though we have reached a technological level that is truly breathtaking if one takes the time to think what we are able to accomplish, we are still far beyond the technology that the extraterrestrials have and according to the Raelian Religion and Unarius soon will bring to earth and which will solve all social problems in our society.
Millenarian movements - These movements emphasize changes through a transformation engineered by the supernatural.(155) The world as we have come to know it will never be the same when man eventually starts living according to the way that the NRUMs preach. The greedy, materialistic society will disappear and a New Age of love and understanding will emerge when the supernatural saviors from the skies eventually choose to descend, even if, of course, the extraterrestrials are not supernatural to the NRUMs.
Messianic movements - Here an active participation of a divine savior in human flesh in bringing about desired changes in society is emphasized(156), and the NRUMs continually describe their extraterrestrials as being humanoid, humans just like you and me but with different abilities such as the capability to exist on different levels of existence.
All founders were interested, or actively participated in, various occult and metaphysical practices before the encounter took place. Rael had been interested in flying saucers and telepathy, something he explained to Elohim. Still, being a racecar driver and a journalist, he was not as "prepared" as King and the Normans. Indeed, Stark and Bainbridge (1985) points out that leaders of any social movement - sects, cults, or political rebellions alike - often have been considerably prepared for their roles; they have had past experience that turn out to be relevant when leading the movement and the resources to dominate it.(157)
Besides the various occult interests he had pursued before founding Aetherius, King had apparently been a fanatic devotee of yoga, as an early description of his life that Wallis quotes informs us of:
"For ten years previous to [his first contact], he had been a keen student of spiritual philosophies of East and west. He had practiced the ancient mystic science of Yoga for as long as nine hours per day. Many times through this ten-year period, sleep, spare time, and vacations were given up to the practice of the greatest forms of spiritual development and Yoga known to mankind".(158)
In the autumn/winter issue of Cosmic Voice (1999, 25) we are told that King from the beginning of his "metaphysical career had been keenly interested in Spiritual Healing, and at the time of the 'Contact' he was working on the development of a cure for cancer". And Ernest Norman was, according to Pathway to Light, "a scientist, electronic engineer, and poet, as well as an advanced clairvoyant"(159). Unarian philosophy teaches that the actual founding of Unarius does not come as a surprise. Both Ernest and Ruth had had (just as you and me) numerous past lives that all added up to their 20th century existence. Their previous lives were all a preparation for what was to come. Rael, on the other hand, teaches of no such thing as past-lives, and so his existence, which resulted from an abduction of his mother by the Elohim during which they impregnated her, was his first life. That does not make him less important though, being as he is the last of the 40 prophets. The only reincarnation offered to a Raelian is by cloning experiments by the Elohim, and the notion of astral bodies is absent in their teachings, contrary to King who teaches that when a human being dies his existence continues in his astral body.
As mentioned earlier, the extraterrestrials according to Unarius and Aetherius can, like sufficiently evolved humans, exist on a higher plane of existence. The Elohim are physical entities just like humans, but unlike the Space Brothers and the Cosmic Masters they are not able to change their level of existence and thus manage to live on planets where our science teaches that no life is able to exist. The emphasis on spirituality of Unarius and Aetherius sheds new light to the initial contact.
When comparing the different awakenings that led to the founding of the NRUM, an interesting pattern soon emerges. Again, Raelian philosophy is less influenced by Spiritualism then Unarius or Aetherius, and Rael is additionally the only founder who has had an actual physical close encounter with an extraterrestrial. Ernest Norman, Ruth, and King all claimed to have met extraterrestrials, but those meetings were never physical like Rael's. During Rael's second encounter with the Elohim in 1975 he was taken on a journey to a base "close" to earth where he met Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammad, among others, and spent an extravagant night with some female robots. Rael experienced, in his initial contact with the Elohim, a traditional close encounter after Elohim had channeled messages to him, which subconsciously made him go out to the wilderness. George King and Ernest and Ruth Norman, on the contrary, received channelings only, and did not have a close encounter, at least not by the time of the first contact. Ruth did report to once have witnessed some strange manifestations of psychic energy, and George King was visited by a guru, who walked right through King's front door as if it was not there. Whether this guru was of extraterrestrial nature or not can be debated, but he surely was not your every-day visitor.
The NRUMs have one thing in common; extraterrestrials exist, though under different names, and they will, if we are willing to accept them, help us in our spiritual and technological evolution. Arnold's sighting changed man's view of his place in the universe forever, and the extraterrestrial ideology of the NRUMs answer this ultimate question of the space age. They all borrow ideas, doctrines, and practices from religious traditions that existed before them. They also originated after the Second World War, making them truly NRMs as described by Hexham and Poewe (1997a, 23) and Baker (1999, 16). Their message has not changed much since the first contactees emerged, and just like they reacted against nuclear warfare the NRUMs all see the American raids on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a turning point in man's history. The Raelian Religion is more influenced by contemporary society's technological advancements compared to Unarius and Aetherius which emphasize Eastern mysticism and Spiritualistic concepts, and this is obvious in the nature of the first contact; a contact that all founders were more or less prepared for; typical for traditional founders of NRMs (Stark and Bainbridge 1985). While they should not simply be regarded as New Age movements, all NRUMs display elements of a typical revitalization movement and its major types cargo cults, millenarian movements, and messianic movements as outlined by Wallace (1956), and also of other-worldly sects (Hall 1997).
The NRUMs have a very elaborate mythology, including origin stories and contacts with extraterrestrial entities. Even if they all serve the same purpose as mythology traditionally do, they do differ in content. Mythologically speaking, Kenneth Arnold's 1947 sighting can be seen as the start of a whole new mythology for the space age. Carl Jung himself once wrote that "We have here a golden opportunity of seeing how a legend is formed"(160), and Thompson (1991) rewrites the Arnold story the following way, was it be considered as a new creation story:
"In the beginning were nine bright objects, and Kenneth Arnold looked upon them, and he saw that their speed was enormous, and he was amazed, for he knew not what they were nor how to name them. Soon he spoke forth what he saw, and through the inexhaustible darkness there echoed two words, flying saucer [original emphasis]. In this moment the world was born".(161)
One of the ultimate questions that man have asked himself for millennia, and especially after Kenneth Arnold's UFO sighting in 1947, is whether or not we are alone in the universe. The three creation stories answer that question also: we are not, and we never have been (and we never will be). Whether or not it is the Elohim, Space Brothers, or Cosmic Masters, someone or something has always watched over us. Furthermore, the creation stories explain why we act the way we do (lack of spirituality) and how we came into existence (cloning or cosmic cyclical life).
Rael teaches that contrary to modern day scientific theories, the human species is not the product of Darwinian evolution. Rather, we are a somewhat successful experiment. I say "somewhat" because we have not turned out exactly the way that the Elohim had intended us to do. They implanted us on this earth after they successfully had managed to create us "in their image" using their own DNA. During the second encounter Rael was told that "There is an infinite number of worlds inhabited by beings of the humanoid type whose scientific level is lower than ours [the Elohim], although much superior to yours [humans]"(162). Ever since our creation they have watched over us, and now they have decided to return, but not until the Raelians have succeeded in preparing us for their coming.
Aetherius speaks of human existence in the universe as millions of years old. The planet of Maldek, which nowadays only is present as an asteroid belt, once hosted a race of humans who managed to destroy themselves through atomic warfare. The great entity referred to as earth, or Interplanetary Lord, allowed the people of Maldek to be reincarnated here. Life is cyclical and the Law of Karma says that life will never end. More civilizations, Lemuria and Atlantis, arose, but they all suffered the same tragic fate. Today we face the same dilemma that has been played out many times before, and if we do not follow the teachings of King and the Cosmic Masters we are doomed.
Unarius teaches that all humans, and extraterrestrials (who ultimately also are humans but have managed to evolved spiritually into an existence as Space Brothers) are all created by the same Creative Infinite Intelligence. All people on earth have experienced numerous past lives, either on this very planet or elsewhere, in the universe. Both Ernest and Ruth belong to some of the Lemurians who arrived on earth in a spaceship some 156,000 years ago(163), and they have ever since existed in many different life forms, and even if their lives on earth have ended they continue living in a different world. Life is never ending.
Creation stories not only offer an explanation of how universe was constructed but also give an explanation to how we humans are supposed to act and how we relate to the creation. Unarius and Aetherius, being more spiritual emphatically hold that life has "always" existed and/or is never ending, and the key to survival is spiritual advancement by generating beneficial karma. Raelians, being less spiritual in nature (yet not totally lacking spiritual teachings) are more focused on contemporary scientific knowledge.
By using The Bible, which was written in a totally different social climate than our own and by many writers who undoubtedly contributed their own personal attitudes, the Raelians are able to relate to God's creation just like any other Christian, but God in their eyes are the Elohim, even though they prefer not to refer to them as gods. In other words, they use a widely accepted ideology and manipulate it to fit their own beliefs; our contemporary social climate. Stories of how we came into existence are both practical and philosophical, and theories of how extraterrestrials in interstellar spacecrafts (a 20th century idea) used DNA (again 20th century) to clone humans (20th century) are truly ideas that may seem appealing to a modern human who feels that mainstream religion no longer can offer satisfactory answers. And by using The Bible, the Raelian can still feel that it makes sense since the authority of it in the Western world is very influential, whether or not one considers oneself to be Christian or not. So it comes as no surprise that the Raelian religion places more emphasis on modern technology when one considers that this particular NRUM is also the youngest of the three, a movement that sprung into existence during a time when some of the scientific accomplishments made possible would have seemed truly miraculous had they been performed in the 1950s when the other two NRUM were founded. To the Raelian, God is indeed Dead.
Unarius and Aetherius offer creation stories much influenced by Eastern mysticism. What is interesting about the NRUMs under study is that they are very young compared to traditional religions, and their creation stories go all the way up till their founding. The differences aside, all three see the atomic explosions of the Second World War as the turning point in the history of mankind. Up till then things were somewhat OK, but now we are on the edge of destroying mankind, and action must be taken unless we all wish to go extinct.
Myths are an important element for every country, culture, and society; something that Eliade is keen to point out:
"Every myth shows how a reality came into existence, whether it be the total reality, the cosmos, or only a fragment - an island, a species of plant, a human institution. To tell how things came into existence is to explain them and at the same time indirectly to answer another question: Why [original emphasis] did they come into existence? This why is always implied in the how - for the simple reason that to tell how [original emphasis] a thing was born is to reveal an irruption of the sacred into the world, and the sacred is the ultimate cause of all real existence"(164).
With this quote in mind, let us discuss the relevance of myth as outlined by Hexham and Poewe in their chapter "Myth and Mythological Fragments" (1997a, 79-98).
In the Western industrialized society, people rarely have no body of shared beliefs; no common mythology. Its members are instead somewhat familiar with fragments of many different myths. Therefore, the mythologies of many NRMs are created out of many myths found in society generally, and by weaving these unrelated myths into wholes NRMs succeed in creating a sense of continuity with the past. NRUMs are no exceptions, using as they do many different elements in their myths of origin and extraterrestrial contact.
Some scholars choose to simply regard myths as stories that have no truth to them, therefore they are worthless from a historical perspective. It is all lies and misunderstandings. But this dismissal prevents them to see their function; the ways that myths can influence people's thoughts and actions. Hexham and Poewe choose to define myth as "a story with culturally formative power"(165). The advantage that this definition has compared to definitions that emphasize that it is a story that does not tell the literal truth is that it says that it is merely a story that may (or may not) affect the way some people live their lives, or in other words, the story in itself is not as important as the function it serves in the life of an individual, group, or society. As anthropologist John Middleton has written: "A myth is a statement about society and man's place in it and the surrounding universe. … Myths and cosmological notions are concerned with the relationship of a people with other peoples, with nature and with the supernatural"(166).
Contrary to what the truth-seeking rationalist may think, it is not its content that makes a certain story a myth, but rather the use to which the story is put. Once it has been accepted, the past can be ennobled, the present explained, and hope held out for the future. Individual and social life is given meaning and direction. Not until a story begins to act upon the imagination of an individual or collectivity in a way that shapes their lives, molds their thoughts, and direct their lives can the story be seen as a myth, and it is this ability to guide someone's actions that distinguishes myth from legend and folktales and other such stories.
So, then, what about the NRUMs? Most people who have, for different reasons, chosen not to join them furthermore do not believe in their flamboyant stories of ancient warfare, super technology, and extraterrestrial activity (which is not to say that one cannot believe in extraterrestrials and lost civilizations and still not belong to a NRUM). But for the members they offer explanations to why the world look the way it does, and they give the members a reason for working towards their common goal: make man aware of his extraterrestrial origin and increase his spirituality. Regardless of which NRUM one chooses to belong to and what country one happens to live in, followers of the extraterrestrial ideology feel at home with others who share their beliefs and a sense of community is present, even if one Aetherian lives in Nigeria and another in Los Angeles. They all live their lives not according to the "accepted" mainstream mythology (in the Western society most often the Christian stories), but according to the one their NRUM offers. They have not stopped believing in mythology, but they have stopped believing in a mythology. The one described in the Exodus has been replaced with ancient cloning experiments, warfare on Maldek and rise of extraterrestrial civilizations on earth.
This comes as no surprise though, considering that since the end of the eighteenth century, biblical stories no longer provide the central mythology of our Western society, despite what many Christians say. It is no longer punishable by death to choose not to believe in the Christian teachings. "Owing to the skepticism of the Enlightenment and nineteenth-century freethinking", Hexham and Poewe explains, "most Westerners no longer find in Christianity the basic imaginative and mythological framework by which they understand their place in the world"(167). The Constitution says that men are created equally under God, but the NRUMs are not the only ones that have observed that that is not true in today's society. Biblical stories no longer manage to provide people in the contemporary space age society with the comfort and security they did when they first were written, but that does not mean that man has stopped looking towards the skies for salvation; it is merely the means of transportation that has changed, not the purpose.
In the eye of the NRUM, despite the fact that we all come from space like our extraterrestrial saviors, mankind repeatedly does evil deeds. When our history comes to an end (which will either be atomic warfare or landing of extraterrestrials), the extraterrestrials will come to rule and our lives will forever be enjoyed in love and peace, unless, of course, the mad scientists beat them to it and destroy us. The heaven on earth that the Unarius promises (and to a certain degree Raelians, considering that the Elohim have robots that do all the work for them) is, however, the exact thing that led to the destruction of the people of Maldek.
After Arnold's 1947 sighting, a sighting that very well can be seen as the starting point of a new mythological era, the NRUMs came into existence and created elaborate creation stories. These stories give, the members, concrete fact of how the world and all its life forms came into existence, and also how we should (and should not) relate to this divine creation. The plot differs but they all serve the same purposes. The Raelian emphasis on contemporary technological advancements is once again apparent; their creation story includes physical space travels and high-tech cloning experiments. In the same manner, Unarius and Aetherius different stories are less technological and more spiritual. The myths all function positively in the chosen society and fulfill the individual's needs the ways Eliade (1959) and Hexham and Poewe (1997a) ascribes them. The NRUMs main goal; making people aware of extraterrestrial life and their ability to interfere with our spiritual evolution, may seem a very difficult task for the members, but their mythologies give them strength and reason to carry on. The decline in popularity for traditional Christian mythology has opened new doors for more rational, up-to-date explanations, and what better time than the Space Age to spread a Space Religion that includes intergalactic travels and extraterrestrial involvement that will make us all "live long and prosperous", as a certain fictional alien is known to say. For the individual who cannot believe in the stories from The Bible, yet still cannot fully accept Darwinian evolution and the Big Bang, the space mythologies of the NRUMs serves the same purposes as religious myths have always done. Still, it is not only stories of creation that are important. The literature also tells of their leaders' fantastical adventures and the fact that there was no one around to independently witness when A/ Rael had his close encounter, B/ George King did his dishes and had his prophetic call, and C/ the Normans did channelings, all increases the mythological atmosphere that surrounds them.
Webster's (1988, 562) define leader as "someone who acts as a guide, a directing head or chief (…) someone or something that holds first place". But if they are all considered to be the leaders of the NRUMs, then how do they relate to their members (and their members to them), and are they really cult-leaders in the traditional use of the term (which unfortunately is mostly negative)? One definition of flying saucer cults, by Stark and Bainbridge (1985), describes them as being "based on the hope of contacts with spiritually advanced races from outer space (…) [and] some prominent cult leaders in this tradition claim actually to have gone on trips to other planets and to have gained mystical wisdom in the company of 'brothers' from outer space"(168). This definition could absolutely be used to describe all three NRUMs under study. Another definition of an "UFO-cult" is offered by Hexham and Poewe (1997b):
"Behind all these movements and beliefs lie a mythology of creation which rejects evolution as a scientific concept but which, except in the case of the fundamentalist, cannot accept a biblical view of creation. UFOs are regarded as the vehicles of creation, providence and final salvation. This spiritualized universe resembles early gnosticism and its emphasis on escaping from earthly existence into lost worlds and other civilizations that provide a higher (nonmaterial) realm of existence".(169)
So why do I keep insisting on using NRUM instead of cult? To see that, we first have to discuss some other definitions, namely those of religious leaders, which will enable us to gain a better understanding of the necessity of this new term.
First of all, leader is a term that contains many different traits. In religions all over the world, terms such as priest, prophet, shaman, and medium, among many others, can be found. As it turns out, the roles just mentioned can be included under the umbrella of the term leader. In order to separate and compare the various types of religious specialists, Victor Turner, in his paper "Religious Specialists" (1997), drew heavily on the works of Weber.
A priest, who is associated with "the functioning of a regularly organized and permanent [my emphasis] enterprise concerned with influencing the gods"(170), claims a religious authority derived from his service in a sacred tradition. "Regularly organized and permanent" in this sense refers to what Durkheim called a Church, "beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden - beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them".(171) Furtehrmore, Hexham and Poewe, using the work of Stark and Bainbridge, define church as "a conventional religious organization"(172). Even though the NRUMs cannot be considered to be churches in a traditional sense, their leaders did construct special days for worship and the founders also have a unique religious authority in their respective groups. Rael is, and Ruth and King were, true leaders, even if their members do not always refer to them as such.
Their authority is easily distinguishable when compared to ordinary members. Rael is the only one who has visited the home planet of the Elohim, and he is referred to as "the last of the 40 prophets". However, while talking to members at the seminar I often heard him referred to as a guide or teacher.
Ruth (as Uriel) and King, quite the contrary, are referred to by more extravagant titles. Remember that Uriel is short for "Universal Radiant Infinite Eternal Light"(173) and when explaining her mission she said: "I am the One who has the mandate to protect the evolving development of people who are not yet fully complete in their awareness of the presence of life"(174). When reading about King in various publications from the Aetherius he is often referred to "His Eminence", "Our Beloved Master", and so on. Bear in mind that the first extraterrestrial message he received said that he was to be the Primary Terrestrial Mental Channel for the Cosmic Masters. King was the supreme channeler until he passed away in July 1997, or in the words of the Aetherius, "a great soul, a cosmic avatar who had graced this Earth with his presence for 78 long years, drew his last breath to return to his true spiritual home among the great ones, who must surely have welcomed his long-awaited return with joy and celebration"(175). Ernest and his wife Ruth were the only ones to channel up until Ernest's passing, which resulted in Antares taking his place.
If we are to accept the anthropological definition mentioned in the introduction, that cults "…are centered on a single person…"(176), then the NRUMs are indeed cults, since they all definitely are centered round a certain individual and her teachings, except for Unarius, which was the result of two individuals' channelings and revelations. Still, Ruth, in her role as Uriel, was so dominant and important for the Unarians that Kirkpatrick and Tumminia conclude that: "Unarius truly is the cult of Uriel"(177). The NRUMs came into existence after the contactee received the confirmation that he was the Chosen One, the human that will teach humankind the way of the extraterrestrials, which, of course, is the only way if we are to avoid total annihilation of the world. If it was not for this specific individual, the NRUM would not have started out, since all teachings are a result of the original message.
Nowadays, Rael is the only founder who is still alive. Being still in charge of the organization, there is no reason to why he should not remain the supreme leader for a long time. Ernest, Ruth, and King have all passed away, and today Unarius and Aetherius are structured differently compared to when their leaders were still alive. They have both established a Board of Directors in charge of management. Unarius is the only NRUM that sees its members as equal, "'there is no moving up the ladder' as all members are equal in terms of their function as board members"(178). The Raelians, on the other hand, have several levels that a member can advance upon and Aetherius also has various degrees of membership; Associate, Full, and Member Initiates.
It is also Aetherius that has the least members, claiming to be "in the low thousands" with members in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana.(179) The Raelians claim to have many more; 45000 members in 84 countries and "There are regular activities in Japan, France, Quebec, Switzerland Africa [sic], Australia, US [sic] and other places where there are plenty of members"(180). However, Unarius is the one NRUM that claim, in their own special way, to have the most members:
"One does not have to be a member to be a Unarius student, and it would be impossible to physically count the students worldwide. We estimate that 300,000 to 500,000 people have had some contact with the Unarius teachings. Many people are home study students and do not attend classes or activities at a physical location, although there are Unarius centers in several locations other than the New World Teaching Center in El Cajon, California, including North Carolina, Florida, Canada, Africa, Australia, and Austria".(181)
A prophet has had a "prophetic call", and the authority is founded on revelation and personal charisma. This may lead to a formal position in which he is held to manifest extraordinary powers, which according to Weber, include "the capacity to achieve the ecstatic states which are viewed, in accordance with primitive experience, as the preconditions for producing certain effects in meteorology, healing divination and telepathy"(182).
All leaders received a prophetic call: Rael in the volcano, King while doing his dishes, and the Normans through channeling sessions. The truth of our extraterrestrial origin was suddenly revealed to them through telepathic messages from beings in outer space. By continuous channeling of the masters' messages they then founded their organizations in order to spread the cosmic teachings of otherworldly salvation. They also show great charisma, especially Ruth who in her flamboyant outfits impressively incorporated her role as Uriel; Universal Radiant Infinite Eternal Light.
The leaders also have abilities to manipulate their surroundings in ways usually attributed to shamans. Ellwood (1973) says that the contactees had "many elements in common"(183) with traditional shamans who also function to bring messages back from other worlds. Both the contactee and the shaman, Tumminia (n/d, 10) explains, produce messages that emphasize the narrative knowledge as relayed from a supernatural being.
Shaman is a term usually referred to when describing religious specialists of oral religions, even though he (or she) is known to exist in both industrialized and non-industrialized societies. The shaman is able to communicate with various spirits and entities, but also the earth itself and its many organisms. The shaman, by using different techniques such as ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs or repeated drumming or dancing, is able to enter a trance state where he in different ways communicates with his spirit guides who help him in his task, which often is to heal a patient. Several scholars have likened the abduction phenomenon to traditional shamanistic journeys, but even if there are several similarities there are also many differences, and no evidence exists that prove them to be the same thing. The shaman, like the prophet, experience a revelation where he is told his true calling, and that is as a leader who uses sprits to perform healing ceremonies. Healing is a common theme in the NRUMs. They all see as one of their obligations to mankind to heal the people of earth who have fallen victim to the many non-spiritual cravings and desires. King and the Normans were known to enter a trance-like state when receiving their messages, while Rael claims to have traveled physically to Elohim's home, the "Planet of the Eternals".
However, a medium is not the exact same thing as a shaman. Indeed, both communicate with spirits and both use their knowledge to guide and heal people around them, but still their relationships to the spirits differ. "Shamanism denotes that particular form of spirit mediumship in which a specialist (…) normally himself a medium, is deemed to exercise developed techniques of control over spirits, sometimes including mastery of spirits"(184). On the other hand, a medium who is "being possessed by a spirit (or closely controlled by a spirit) can serve as a means of communication between other human beings and the spirit world"(185). When possessed, the spirit enters the body of a human "so that the actions of the person affected are thought to be either those of the spirit, or to be immediately dictated by the spirit"(186). So the medium per se does not necessarily have to be the master, since he is merely the vehicle or tool through which the spirit speaks. Most of Unarius' and Aetherius' literature is written through the channeling of the words from the extraterrestrials. Even though it is not the extraterrestrial himself (or itself) who writes down the words, the channeler, acting like a medium does it for him (it).
Through the use of divination, religious specialists can gain knowledge "about future events or matters, hidden or obscure, directed to a deity who, it is believed, will reply through significant tokens (…) [and it is] a process which may or may not include invoking the aid of non-empirical (transhuman) persons or powers but does not include the empirical methods of science"(187). One of the most important missions of the Raelian Religion, the construction of the embassy where the world leaders will meet the Elohim when they arrive on earth, is predicted by Rael to occur in 2025. The famous prophecy of Unarius, which says that spaceships will land in the mountains outside of San Diego, has been prophesized by Ruth to take place in 2001. Aetherius has no prophecy or future event such as the Unarian landing. Instead they tend to focus on everyday life, an indication that they are the ones mostly devoted to service humankind.
In his 1975 paper "The Aetherius Society: A Case Study in the Formation of a Mystagogic Congregation". Wallis ascribes King the role of a mystagogue, and so did Kirkpatrick and Tumminia in their 1992 paper "California Space Goddess: The Mystagogue in a Flying Saucer Cult". The term was first developed by Max Weber who described the mystagogue part magician part prophet and as one who dispersed "magical actions that contain the boons of salvation"(188). Both Ruth and King inspired a magico-religious congregation by using the imagery of flying saucers and spiritual masters from outer space(189), and, according to Wallis: "The primary criterion that Weber had in mind in distinguishing the prophet [original emphasis] from the mystagogue [original emphasis] was that the latter offers a largely magical means of salvation rather than proclaiming a radical religious ethic or an example to be followed"(190). Both Ruth and King fit the description of a mystagogue because they offered salvation through magical means rather than through religious ethic, which does not mean that their messages were entirely non-ethical. The distinct salvation as offered by extraterrestrials is called space magic and techno-animism by Kirkpatrick and Tumminia:
"Space magic is a magico-religious practice based upon belief in spiritual and pseudoscientific guidance from beings from outer space. This includes the channeling of messages from these beings, the building of landing facilities for them, and the performance of rituals to communicate with and to prepare for the advent of such beings. Other practices associated with space magic include psychic readings and social control by charismatic individuals believed to be empowered by beings from outer space. (…) Its pseudoscientific idioms and imagery are an attempt to legitimize a nonrational practice in a postindustrial world. Space magic includes a new form of animism, techno-animism [original emphasis], that replaces nature spirits with space beings and creates a fusion of science fiction imagery with animistic beliefs".(191)
Wallis (1975b, 26) noticed that there were few moral constraints for Aetherians, something that they themselves agree with: "…member's rights are in no way limited or restricted, they can chose [sic] to terminate their membership at any time (though very few do), and we do not impinge on their personal or private lives"(192). Unarians have a similar philosophy, and a member "does not withdraw from the world, but takes a positive position in society, living as all people do by adding spiritual values which he or she has learned"(193), and Kirkpatrick and Tumminia notes that "an explicit moral code [in Unarius] is curiously absent"(194). So what about Rael? Is he also a mystagogue?
No. His teachings should furthermore not be classified as space magic, which makes him a different leader than Ruth and King. He does not claim to offer magical salvation dressed in spirituality, but rather emphasizes scientific advancements and a denial of a god and soul. True, elements of space magic, as defined above, can be found in the planned construction of an embassy, but the main emphasis is, again, physical contacts. The only way to salvation and an afterlife is through the good will of the Elohim; the ones deemed worthy will be recreated through cloning.
During my stay with the Raelians I talked to members with such diverse occupations as musicians, exotic dancers, and statisticians. Even though some were highly educated there was not much skepticism present, and I definitely got the impression that most people were willing to believe in "pretty much everything".
Tumminia and Kirkpatrick encountered many Unarians that described themselves as seekers who had finally found their true home:
"I saw Ruth Norman's (Uriel's) picture in the paper with the painting of the Spacefleet Landing. For me it was an immediate inner response of recognition within the oscillations of energy I felt from this One before me on the printed page. My childhood search had ended and my contact with Unarius began".(195)
They furthermore state that a large percentage of the members of Unarius suffered both physical and emotional problems before joining the NRUM. Their reason for joining was to be blessed by Ruth and also to "become part of her reincarnated family as the bond with others in a primary group experience"(196).
Unfortunately I have been unable to gather ethnographic data about the members of Aetherius the way I have used my own field experience of the Raelians and Kirkpatrick's and Tumminia's interactions with Unarians, but it is obvious that the people who choose to join any of the three NRUMs do so because they are deeply troubled, either by their own personal condition or the future of all of mankind. The latter dilemma is probably most apparent in the beliefs of the Aetherians. They regularly perform pilgrimages to different sacred mountains all over the world, and this echoes the ancient belief in nature worshipping. In Contacts With the Gods From Space (1996), we are told that:
"If you wish to help your fellowman, you will do so through The Aetherius Society. If you wish to help the ecological balance of the Planet on which you live, you will do so through The Aetherius Society. If you wish to progress and advance into higher consciousness and greater enlightenment, you will do so through The Aetherius Society. If you wish to cooperate directly with the Gods from Space, you will do so now and in the future through The Aetherius Society".(197)
All founders were (and is) true leaders as defined as Webster's. The NRUMs can be defined as outlined by both Stark and Bainbridge (1985) and Hexham and Poewe (1997b), but it not enough to simply say that the founders are leaders. They are way beyond the normal member; they are all referred to by various titles, and especially Ruth has many flamboyant names and attributes. Aetherius has the least members but is still the movement that allegedly works the hardest for the benefit of all mankind. Unarius claims to have hundred of thousands of members but the exact sum is questionable. They have all had prophetic calls, but King and Uriel also resemble shamans in that they can contact the spirit world, and acting as mediums they channel extraterrestrial messages that "contains the boons of salvation". They can also be defined as mystagogues, and again Rael can not. True, the Raelians plan to build an Embassy where the Elohim will land, but he is not concerned with channelings or discussions about God or soul. The space magic and techno-animism is reserved to Unarius and Aetherius. Rael is a more contemporary leader who emphasizes scientific achievements as the way to an afterlife. Still personal experiences shows that many Raelians are willing to believe numerous New Age beliefs. People join the NRUMs because they are concerned about their own, or humankinds, welfare, but while the Unarians and Raelians prime concern is individual well-being, Aetherians allegedly devote much time to heal the world, which is not to say that Unarians and Raelians are ignorant, but rather that this mission is not as emphasized in these NRUMs.
Not surprisingly, all NRUMs perform some sort of ritual, either for personal benefits or for the benefit of mankind. But just as their creation stories differ, so do their rituals. Like myths, rituals and ceremonies are crucial elements to all human societies. Without an understanding of these, the specific religion cannot be fully understood. Durkheim argued that ritualistic behavior was a way for people to uphold the social equilibrium of a society, and religious rites can be seen as a cohesive force unifying members of a society.(198) Religion, Durkheim thought, was primarily a social thing:
"Religious representation are collective representation that express collective realities; rites are ways of acting that are born only in the midst of assembled groups and whose purpose is to evoke, maintain, or recreate certain mental states of those groups".(199)
A different, less functional, view of ritual by Turner, in a widely quoted definition, is that: "A ritual is a stereotyped sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place and designed to influence preternatural [that is, magical] entities or forces on behalf of the actor's goals and interests"(200).
The Raelian initiation ritual, the "transmission of the cellular plan", is, according to their beliefs, the true origin of baptism. However, when a Raelian does it, it is an act of choice: "Transmitting their cellular code means that this conscious and responsible individual has now freely chosen to acknowledge the existence of the Elohim as our parents from space and has chosen that to be their belief"(201). The transmission is truly a ritual according to Turner's definition. It is always performed by a Guide, who places his hands on the person's forehead. By doing so the person's "personal frequency" is picked up and emitted to the Elohim. The Guide's hands are moistened and always placed on the forehead. The person is linked more intimately with the Elohim who later will decide whether or not the person will be recreated scientifically on the Elohim's planet.
The transmission is a highly person-centered ritual since the lone person is the only one that benefits from it. Aetherius and Unarius also have rituals that are designed for the individual's benefit (The Twelve Blessings and past-life therapy). The Raelians believe more in taking direct action instead of relying on prayer. Still, during meditation I witnessed how they sent their love to all the people on earth and also to life elsewhere in the universe, and especially the Elohim, though this should be seen more of a symbolical act rather than a true ritual. This is not to say that they are selfish, though. By doing the transmission ritual and performing Sensual Meditation they become better persons and believe that they can help mankind even better. After all, they do see themselves, as do the other two NRUMs also, as the chosen ones.
Unarian past-life therapy and videotaped psychodramas help the individual to understand his or her troubles better, and by becoming a healthier individual he or she can help preparing humankind for the arrival of the Space Brothers. Tumminia and Kirkpatrick (1989) have constructed an interesting analysis of Unarian ritual practices. The videotaped psychodramas, where Unarians make elaborate costumes and film their lives in a past civilization, has a therapeutic function. Basically every Unarian is believed to have had a past life on Atlantis, the ancient civilization established with the help of the Space Brothers. Normally members are encouraged to speak spontaneously, although some of these films (films which I unfortunately have not been able to watch) are loosely scripted. The plot is usually as follows: Ruth, in her role as Uriel, is an enlightened spiritual leader who has arrived from outer space in a spaceship. Trying to create a spiritually based scientific society, her followers ultimately fail her as they let evil scientists take over by using the negative side of her wondrous technology. She is usually murdered in the end.(202)
The most devoted members repeatedly act in these movies, and when not making them, the movies' emotional impacts are carefully examined in past-life therapy classes where Unarians view them as real experiences:
"Acting out these mythic biographies are done with intersubjective cooperation as members cry, scream, fall on the ground, or give cathartic speeches when they are emotionally moved to do so. It is speculated that the deep involvement in acting out the myths as lived experiences facilitates strong totemic pseudokinship bonds which define the origins and the future of members as being collectively linked forever".(203)
Before more closely examining Aetherian rituals, another definition, this time by Wallace, should be offered:
"Ritual is religion in action, it is the cutting edge of the tool. Belief, although its recitation may be part of the ritual, or a ritual in its own right, serves to explain to rationalize, to interpret and direct the energy of the ritual performance [my emphasis] (…) It is ritual which accomplishes what religion sets out to do."(204)
The sentence in italics could very well have been written about the Aetherius exclusively. This is not to say, of course, that the other two NRUMs are not working for the benefit of mankind, but fact remains that it is difficult not to find any Aetherian writings that does not mention Spiritual Service (for all). The Raelians, though they deny the existence of a god or soul, still have a prayer to the Elohim outlined in The True Face of God. But, no NRUM has a view of prayer power that will benefit all mankind quite as elaborate as Aetherius: "…after our prayer, we should have such faith that we will be able to detach ourselves completely from what we have just said and let the results come [because] that is the secret of dynamic prayer"(205).
The Twelve Blessings improve the individual karma, which ultimately helps change the world for the better, and The Nine Freedoms, when introduced to the world's religions, will introduce a new way of thinking for the New Age.
Still, it is the pilgrimages and Prayer Operations that makes Aetherius stand out as the one NRUM that allegedly devotes the most time to help save mankind. The thousands of prayer hours that Aetherius continue to store in the Radionic Batteries are believed to help man when he needs it the most, and thus Aetherius takes credit in having helped saving thousands of human lives throughout the years. The different pilgrimages that are performed on a regular basis to the sacred mountains around the world are methods of unifying the Aetherians in their beliefs, just like Durkhiem would have wanted it, and not only we, but earth, this "Radiant Being", benefits from these. Obviously, it is only the Aetherians that believe that their countless prayer hours benefit mankind; they do not "go mainstream" but rather perform their own rituals which they are convinced will benefit us all, Aetherians and non-Aetherians alike.
As we have seen, ritualistic behavior plays a very important part in all three NRUMs. Rituals are carried out either solitary or in a group setting, though all NRUMs prefer the latter. Not only the individual, but also the entire world and also other worlds in the universe may benefit from the rituals. The Raelian Religion focuses more on the individual, most likely because of the less Spiritualistic and Theosophical nature of their teachings. Aetherius and Unarius, on the other hand, borrow heavily from these. Unarius does, however perform individual healing through past-life therapy and psychodramas, and Aetherius has rituals that benefit the individual karma. Still, it is the latter NRUM that puts the most effort into helping mankind, even if all claim to do that. However, all members of the NRUMs when participating in the rituals are able to experience group solidarity and loyalty, exemplifying Durkheim's notion of ritual participation as the true nature of religion, and this regardless of how or for what purpose the ritual is performed.
The extraterrestrial religion as practiced by the three NRUMs is today, just as Bullard makes clear in his quote from the introduction, not widely practiced and still very marginal compared to mainstream religion: "The UFO faith has established a church, in Durkheim's sense of a moral community, only here and there, and for small groups at the time [and the] UFO religious movements amount a colorful but marginal effort to full the modern spiritual vacuum, and occupy a mere corner of the extensive UFO presence in popular imagination"(206). The small influence nonetheless, the followers of this particular ideology get as much spiritual and religious satisfaction as members of a mainstream religion do.
However, many of the followers do not see their movement as a traditional religion. Rael is not portrayed as a God or Messiah, although he is referred to as a "prophet" and "guide" interchangeably. Interesting to note is that while Raelians deny the existence of God or soul, they still refer to their movement as the Raelian Religion, and they do have prayer, although not as elaborately outlined as the Aetherius, whose members put great emphasis on dynamic prayer for the welfare of mankind and the planet he lives on. King was "a true Master of Yoga", far more advanced than ordinary humans, and Ruth (as Uriel), is more a divine being than Rael and King. She is even referred to by Kirkpatrick and Tumminia as a Space Goddess. Members will, by following the teachings of the three leaders, be guaranteed a better existence, both in this life and in the next.
All three NRUMs recognize the founders of the leading world religions; Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, etc., but the original messages have been distorted. Jesus, for instance, was an Elohim from the Planet of the Eternals (Realians), a Venusian (Aetherius), and Ernest Norman in a past life (Unarius). Overall the attitude against Christianity is not hostile. Rather the NRUMs offer a supplement to traditional values. When the true identity of the Christian Lord is eventually revealed, the NRUMs are certain that all Christians will accept the extraterrestrial worldview openheartedly.
Christians, on the other hand, have a more difficult time accepting this ideology, and the ETH is interpreted quite differently compared to the NRUMs. Also, self-appointed cult-experts like Steven Hassan issue warnings of UFO cults. They are just like any other cult, not to be trusted since "everybody" knows that cult-leaders are sinister individuals who brainwashes their victims, steal all their possessions, and isolates them from their family and friends.
Not so. Members of extraterrestrial religions go on with their everyday lives quite unlike the stereotype cult member, and all NRUMs oppose being labeled as a cult. Unarius even opposes to be labeled a religion:
Unarius is not a religious organization - it is a true science, but much more than a material science - a science by which man will live thousands of years from now, just as people are presently doing in other planetary systems. (…) We are not a cult. (…) [That is] a term used by close-minded people".(207)
Aetherius does not approve with being labeled as a cult, either. Instead they prefer a different term:
"We are small, we are relatively new, our beliefs are non-orthodox. To some people this may make us qualify as a cult. (…) We have never been referred to or stigmatized as a 'bad' organization. We do not recruit members, members' rights are in no way limited or restricted, the can chose [sic] to terminate their membership at any time (though) very few do, and we do not impinge on their personal or private lives. We are simply their 'church' and this may be a better word".(208)
And third, Raelians also dislike the notion of them as a cult:
"…our religion is not a cult, for members are main-stream oin society, and are taught not to follow anybody or anything, if ti goes against their consciouness [sic]. Instead of identifying ourselves with the term 'cult', we think of ourselves as a minority religion, as the Raelian Religion is relatively new, and not 'established' yet, like the traditional religions. Because of the term cult and other negative terms, Raelians have been discriminated against…".(209)
A strong Christian response to UFO phenomena in general and extraterrestrials in particular is offered by Timothy Dailey, author of the pro-Christian book The Millennial Deception (1997). The book is not devoted to the demonic attributes of extraterrestrials exclusively, but he does devote several chapters to the issue. In the introduction the reader is informed that the book was written because there is a "…demonic subterfuge of a previously unimaginable magnitude waiting to be unleashed on the planet"(210).
Angels and extraterrestrials, especially those that are responsible for alleged abductions of humans, are most likely demons in disguise; summoned by the biblical Satan to distort traditional Christian values and make way for the coming of Antichrist. Close encounters with friendly extraterrestrials are not what they seem:
"We know that Satan and his demons are capable of disguising themselves as angels of light, as well as appearing in more unpleasant forms. They have the ability to manipulate the minds and senses of men and women so as to convince them that they are seeing and experiencing utterly and fantastic creatures and their 'spacecrafts' in other-dimensional places. (…) The purpose of these apparitions is to support the overarching deception that humankind is being visited by intelligent beings from elsewhere in the universe".(211)
So, the benevolent extraterrestrials as described by the three NRUMs are in actuality agents of the Evil One who is planning His imminent return by letting demons make way for Him by posing as false extraterrestrial saviors. But it is not only the NRUMs that are being misled and/or pose a threat to Christianity:
"Many Christians have little or no idea that the massive and growing amalgam of New Age organizations has one primary objective: the suppression of Christianity. Forget about ecology, saving the whales, holistic thinking, eliminating world hunger, raising consciousness levels and a myriad other purported causes. The same underlying philosophy drives all these groups: a worldview unremittingly hostile to Christianity. (…) There is indeed someone behind the large and growing number of New Age and occult groups in the world today - none other than the evil one, whom the Bible calls Satan, and the demonic forces under his command".(212)
Obviously one must remember that Dailey does not represent all people who belong to the Christian faith. At the same time, he is certainly not unique in his ideas that associate the UFO phenomenon with the Biblical Satan.
So what lies ahead in the future of the NRUMs? That is difficult tell, of course, but at present there is no reason to why any of the three groups should be dissolved. The Unarian prophecy that assures that there will be a mass landing of starships next year will, whether it is fulfilled or not, affect the group in an interesting way. There have been failed prophecies before and that did not mean the end of the group. However, it will not remain unaffected. The Raelians have to wait another twenty-five years before they will be welcoming their saviors from space, and Aetherians will probably continue their work for a better world for all. Dr. Tumminia has assured me in an e-mail (received 030700) that "more flying-saucer groups/religions [are] emerging all the time", so even if one group is dissolved, another one will probably take its place.
The NRUMs make up a small, yet interesting, group in the religious landscape of our contemporary society. They all refuse to be labeled as cults, and Unarius even does not see itself as a religion at all but rather an exact science. Among the founders, Ruth is the one that most closely resembles a divine entity, living as she had numerous times in this and other worlds. Rael is half human, half extraterrestrial but is still not seen as a divine figure but is rather, as was King, a spiritual leader. While the NRUMs do not see Christianity as a threat, some Christians, like Timothy Dailey, regard close encounters as manifestations of satanic activities. It is difficult to foretell what will happen in the future for the NRUMs. Unarius is expecting the landing of extraterrestrial spacecraft next year, while the Raelians still have a quarter of a century to go. Aetherius do not expect an imminent landing. Instead they believe that extraterrestrials are continuously interacting and helping mankind.
This paper has shown that the traditional labeling of UFO religions as "flying-saucer cults" is an invalid classification and should be replaced with "New Religious UFO Movements". This is because while they all can be classified as New Religious Movements, they A) all show elements of different religious movements such as millenarian and messianic movements, B) are structured quite unlike the (unfair) picture of a traditional cult, C) actively work for the benefit of all, not just the members of the group, D) have leaders and/or founders who function as not merely leaders but also as mediums and mystagogues, and E) are clearly religious with complex mythologies, rituals, and other attributes usually attributed to religious movements. But perhaps ultimately, the main reason for not referring to the NRUMs as cults is simply because of the negative and derogatory attributes that this term implies; (Introvigne 1999, 194, note 18) something that Bainbridge has recently pointed out when mentioning his and Stark's 1985 treatise on the subject.
As secularization continues to influence society, Christianity loses more and more adherents, and science continues to enter previously unknown territories, the NRUMs may attract an increasing number of religious seekers who have not given up their spiritual thirst but rather slightly modified it. The extraterrestrial is everywhere in today's world, and everybody "knows" what a typical alien looks like. Media and Internet help spreading the awareness that maybe we are not alone in the universe, and never has there been a time like right now for people to start questioning ancient religious dogmas and ideologies. Like I.M. Lewis puts it in his article "The Anthropologist's Encounter with the Supernatural": "Our traditional God having withered away, the stage is cleared for the appearance of novel, exotic supernatural forces. (…) The God you don't know is much more attractive than the one you do"(213).
People may have lost their beliefs in established religions, but they have not lost their spiritual and religious needs. In our contemporary space age, several space religions have emerged and the benevolent extraterrestrial has become the new God of worship.
I started this paper with an excerpt from a song by punk-rock veterans Bad Religion, and I will end it the same way:
Hey brother Christian with your high and mighty
Hey man of science with your perfect rules of
I want to conquer the world,
Bad Religion, "I Want to Conquer the World"
On March 31st 2000, I send out a questionnaire to each NRUM under study since I had some questions that I either could not find an answer to or needed further clarification of. The following are the questions that I asked; slightly modified to fit each individual group.
1. Who took the role of leader when Uriel/King passed away [not asked to the Raelian religion], and how is the hierarchy within the group structured (what levels are there, what are the different titles called, how is one initiated, how do one move up the ladder etc.)?
2. During the course of my research I have encountered two other groups which both have beliefs that remind me of yours. What is your opinion on these other two movements, and how much of their belief-system do you regard as accurate?
3. While reading other scholar's works I have frequently encountered the phrase "flying saucer cult". That seems to be the most common term used by other scholars when referring to groups such as yours. What is your reaction to that? What do you like it, or why do you not like it? What would be a more accurate term if you could choose?
4. How many members do you have, in what countries are your group represented, and what are some of the activities that members regularly engage in? Does your movement provide any activities for your members outside of the religious context?
5. What sort of publications do you have, how often are they issued, and what are some of their contents?
6. What lies ahead in the future of your group? Do you have any new publications being published or new activities being initiated?
These are the answers I got from the Raelian Religion through e-mail on April 7th 2000, quoted in full; including typos:
1. There are 6 levels with level 6 being the guide of guide, who is elected every 7 years. Rael has been re-elected 3 times. Only members who have attended a guide seminar (International Raelian religion) can become a part of the Raelian structure, and can have a level assigned. The levels are elected from levels 0(trainee) to 6, and they are levels of responsibility. They are called trainees (#0), assistant animator for level 1), animator for #2, assistant guide for #3, guides for #4, bishop guides for #5, and guides of guides for #6. They move up the ladder by election which takes place every year at seminars in different continents. The determination of levels 1, 2, 3 are made by the regional guide helped by the other guides. The level 4 are proposed by level 4 and 5 from the level 3 and determined by the level 6 (Rael). The level 5 are proposed by level 5 among the level 4 group and determined by Rael.
2. I'm not familiar with Aetherius, but I read some of the Urantia book. It mentions a celestial hierachry of the universe having angels, archangels, etc. But it is mystical, and is based around the belief of a divine, supernatural diety. The Raelian Religion doesn't share those beliefs. The message of the Elohim is based on science, human geneius, infinity in time and space, compassion and love.
The Raelian Religion is explaining God. God becomes a misconception of our ancesters about human that came here to create life and human in their image. The other don't explain God. For them he still exists. So no progress is made on this issue.
In regard to the philosophie of life and meditation, the Raelian Religion compares very well with Buddhism as Rael has already said. Buddhism, stripped of it's Eastern mysticism, teaches the concept of infinity, and instructs techniques used in self-development which fit perfectly with the Raelism.
3. In Rael's second book, called "Welcome Our Fathers in Space", it explains that 'cult' is Latin for a system of religious observances. However, the contemporary definition of cult means a group which isolates its members from their family or society and brainwashes them. In that case, our religion is not a cult, for members are main-stream in society, and are taught not to follow anybody or anything, if it goes against their consciouness. Instead of identifying ourselves with the term 'cult', we think of ourselves as a minority religion, as the Raelian Religion is relatively new, and not 'established' yet, like the traditional religions.
Because of the term cult and other negative terms, Raelians have been discriminated against, just like scientologists and other minority religions that have been discriminated against recently in Germany and France. False allegations are most likely to be believed because of that.
4. There are 45,000 members in 84 countries. There are regular activities in Japan, France, Quebec, Switzerland Africa, Australia, US, and other places where there are plenty of members. Informally, friends like to get together and have fun, like going to the movies, eating out, and stuff like that. We like to laugh and have lots of fun.
5. In the past few years, most of the publications are received over the internet because it's quicker, cheaper, and saves trees. We still have a glossy quarterly magazine in translated into different languages called "The Apocalypse". Through email, members receive a montly "Contact" publication. In our local regions, we receive another publication. For Americans, it's called "The U.S. Raelian". In Canada, new sympatisers receive the "Laser".
6. Things are always dynamic and changing in the Religion Religion. Some new activities are posted in the local pages of www.rael.org. Also, I suggest that you get a copy of Rael's second book, "Wlelcome Our Fathers From Space" because it answers popular questions to things that seem unclear or contradictory in the first book. It also contains some interesting revelation about Rael's real origin and the test his has successfullt pass when he went on the planet of the eternals. He explains also the difference and the mystery surrounding "Satan", "Lucifer", "Yahvah" who live on the planet of the eternals. There is also a specific message from "Yahvah" to the people of earth.
Thank you for taking an interest in researching the Raelian Religion, Stefan. Our 2 goals are to tell people about the messages, and to build the embassy. So, whenever someone writes about our religion in a responsible, non-biased manner, it helps our cause to spread this inofrmation about the Elohim, so that people can understand who they are, and what they mean to humanity. Please feel free to write or call me anytime.
Regional Guide, Central Region, USA
These are the answers I got from the Aetherius Society through e-mail on March 31st 2000, quoted in full; including typos:
1. No single individual took the role of leader when Dr. King passed away. He was a true Master of Yoga, none of us are, we are students so to speak. However, the socity is run by an international Board of Directors, whilst all matters relating strictly to the eccessiastical side of the organization are dealt with by a Synod made up of senior members of our church.
We have various degrees of membership: Associate, Full, and Member Initiates. Any Full Member of three years standing who has been awarded at least two certificates of merit (for good attendance, financial support, time volunteered to help out) can apply to become a Member Initiate. They need to pass a Temple Degree study course examining them on metaphysical matters in order to qualify.
The management of the organization is carried out by a full-time and volunteer staff, and it is these people who hold the main positions of responsibility within the church. People are elected based upon their longevity within the church and their suitability for the position, either as a minister or a director, or an administrator.
2. I know little about these organizations. What I do know about the Raelian's is not very good but I may be out of date. The key to any group, in my opinion, is how much emphasis are they putting on the traditional spiritual values of being of service to humanity.
3. Christianity in the time of Christ was a cult. It has developed a negative connotation. We are small, we are relatively new, our beliefs are non-orthodox. To some people this may make us qualify as a cult. Again, the word does not matter so much as what the organization is doing. We have never been referred to or stigmatized as a "bad" organization. We do not recruit members, members' rights are in no way limited or restricted, they can chose to terminate their membership at any time (though very few do), and we do not impinge on their personal or private lives. We are simply their "church" and this may be a better word.
4. We are in the low thousands. We have members in America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana. Basically, we have groups in the English speaking countries. Like a church, members regularly engage in religious services. We also hold lectures, classes and workshops in a wide variety of New AGe subjects.
5. We have two publications: "Cosmic Voice" which deals with the cosmic aspect of our organization, and a Newsletter which deals with activities, events, social commentary etc. Each are published four times per year.
6. Growth and expansion. We have just published a new book entitled "Operation Earth Light - A Glimpse into the World of the Ascended Masters." We constantly have new activities being initiated.
I hope these answers offer you some help.
These are the answers I got from the Unarius Academy of Science through e-mail on May 22nd 2000, quoted in full; including typos:
Before answering your questions, we need to clarify that the Unarius Science of Life is not a religion. It is a Universal Interdimensional Understanding of Science - an exact science that encompasses all aspects of life, both terrestrial and interdimensional.
Following are our answers to your questions:
1. Ruth Norman, cofounder of Unarius, set up the Unarius Educational Foundation as a nonprofit corporation in 1974. The bylaws established a Board of Directors to manage the business and affairs of the foundation, particularly the teaching and promotion of the concepts of the Unarius Science of Life. Since Ruth Norman's transition in 1993, Charles Spiegel had served as the President of the Board of Directors. After his transition to the spiritual worlds in December 1999, the board members intuitively became aware that there was not to be one person 'in charge' as a president or director. They realized the importance of working together in a harmonious manner to make decisions, relying on their inner attunement to the true directors of the Foundation - the advanced intelligent spiritual beings who reside in the higher dimensions of the nonatomic planes.
Each board member is responsible for carrying out one or more functions of the Foundation - the management of day-to-day affairs and the New World Teaching Center in El Cajon, the publication of books and materials, the production of videos, the development of the Unarius web site, etc. There are no initiation ceremonies to become a board member - it is more a matter of development and dedication as a student of Unarius, and obviously, there is "no moving up the ladder" as all members are equal in terms of their function as board members.
2. We are not very familiar with the Aetherius Society or the Raelian Religion. We therefore cannot comment on them due to our lack of knowledge.
3. Unarius is not a religious organization - it is a true science, but much more than a material science - a science by which man will live thousands of years from now, just as people are presently doing in other planetary systems. This is true simply because Unarius comprises untold thousands of more highly-developed spiritual personalities and of numerous professions (scientists, doctors, artists, philosophers, etc.) all working from higher dimensions of life which we call Unarius (formerly known as Shamballa). The Unarius Brotherhood, being a scientific organization, teaches true Creation based on the Infinite Concept of Cosmic Creation. Therefore, knowledge of other planes and other planets in other solar systems are a part of many texts of the Unarius library.
Some UFOs are spaceships, which are simply interstellar vehicles used by other civilizations to travel throughout the universe - from planet to planet. We have information that a spaceship will be landing soon on planet Earth, and the precious cargo they carry is knowledge - this wonderful healing science of Unarius, which will be taught in our future school systems and thus transform this backward-evolving world, to a progressive, peace-filled world.
We are not a cult. Our texts are fully available to the entire world. Cult is a term used by close-minded people. To grasp the Unariun perspective, it does require one to be open-minded - open to new truths, new awarenesses of his very small place in the Grand Universe.
4. One does not have to be a member to be a Unarius student, and it would be impossible to physically count the students worldwide. We estimate that 300,000 to 500,000 people have had some contact with the Unarius teachings. Many people are home study students and do not attend classes or activities at a physical location, although there are Unarius centers in several locations other than the New World Teaching Center in El Cajon, California, including North Carolina, Florida, Canada, Africa, Australia, and Austria.
The Academy is not a social organization but an educational and scientific organization. Ongoing classes and workshops focusing on the interdimensional principles of energy, the psychology of consciousness, and the principles and practice of past-life therapy are offered at Unarius centers, and for those unable to attend classes, a home study course is available. Other activities include a choral group and art classes as an opportunity to express creative inspiration. Additionally, there are many opportunities for students to volunteer in helping to carry out the work of the Foundation. An annual event, the Interplanetary Conclave of Light, is held each October to enlighten and prepare people for the landing of a starship from the Pleiades and the future changes that will take place in the 21st century.
5. The Academy has published over one hundred twenty-five books and monographs since 1955 ion the interdimensional science of life. The content of these publications covers such subjects as interdimensional physics; the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations; the psychodynamics of the mind; lost and ancient civilizations; the continuity of consciousness; past-life therapy, a psychic therapeutic science; how life is lived in the nonatomic higher dimensions of life; and how to obtain cosmic consciousness. Additionally, many of the books are available on audiotape.
Over one hundred video documentaries have been produced since 1978, which are aired weekly on twenty-seven public access channels nationwide. These video programs explain the nature of consciousness as a paranormal evolutionary process, the reality of extraterrestrial intelligences, and the healing process of past-life therapy. The Unarius Light, A Journal of Logic and Reason is a semiannual publication that features factual and insightful articles on the new science of consciousness. And last month the first issue of the monthly Unarius E-News was sent to subscribers. A hard copy will be mailed out upon request to those who do not have access to e-mail.
6. Since Unariuns rely on their inner inspirations as to what new ventures to undertake, we do not always know what the future will bring for the Academy. However, we do have at least fifteen manuscripts that still need to be published, and there will undoubtedly be new information published as it is received. We will be developing a speaker's bureau, media releases about current events from a Unarius perspective, cds of audiotapes, and new video programs, just to name a few projects.
Stephan, if you have further questions, feel free to contact us.
For the Academy,
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1. Clark 1998a, 15
2. Clark 1998a, 189
3. Hynek 1972, 10
4. Melton 1996, 1348
5. Ibid., 1348
6. E-mail from Jerome Clark, received 031299.
7. Melton 1995, 4
8. Swedenborg 1997, 63
9. Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 47-48
10. Melton 1995, 3
11. Ibid., 4
12. Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 50
13. Melton & Moore 1982, 129
14. Melton 1995, 6-7
15. Saliba 1995a, 26
16. Melton 1995, 1
17. Clark 1995, 26
18. Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 23
19. Baker 1999, 16
20. Wallace 1956, 265. Quoted by Lehmann and Myers 1997, 333.
21. Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 47
22. Lehman and Myers 1997, 333
23. Hall 1997, 355
24. Ibid., 355
25. Luhrmann 1997, 92
26. Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 36
27. Ibid., 36
28. Ibid., 47-48
29. Tiryakian 1972, 498. Quoted by Faivre 1987, 36.
30. Melton, Clark, and Kelly 1991, 3. Quoted by Saliba 1999, 18.
31. Melton 1993, 161
32. Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 36
33. Melton 1993, 727-736
34. Saler 1997, 125
35. Singer and Benassi 1997, 390
36. Ibid., 390
37. Hunt and McMahon 1985, 7. Quoted by Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 7.
38. Hassan 1990, 196
39. Melton 1993, 727-736
40. Durkheim 1995, xxxiv
41. Bullard n/d, 16
42. Ibid., 17
43. Salzman 1994, 30
44. All information about the Raelian Religion in this chapter is taken from speeches and discussions with Raelians at the seminar except from where otherwise noted.
45. Letter from Kevin McGowan, postmarked 030599.
46. Rael 1998, 14
47. Ibid., 15-16
48. Palmer 1998, 397
49. Rael 1998, 147
50. Ibid., 150-152
51. Ibid. 158
52. E-mail from Donna Grabow and Marc Letourneau, received 040700.
53. Palmer 1995, 107
54. "Becoming a member of the Raelian Religion: Structure". http://www.rael.org/int/english/organization/structure/structure2.html. Downloaded 032800.
55. Rael 1998, 208
56. Ibid., 208
57. Some members, whose names will remain anonymous, swore to me that they could see a golden halo hanging above his head. I did not see anything unusual, though.
58. "Becoming a member of the Raelian Religion: History". http://www.rael.org.int/english/organization.aims/aims.html. Downloaded 032800.
60. Rael 1998, 184
61. Wallis 1975b, 17-18
62. "Frequently Asked Questions about The Aetherius Society". http://www.aetherius.org/faq.htm. Downloaded 090399.
63. Wallis, 1975b, 20
64. Ellwood 1973, 150
65. King and Lawrence 1996, 61-62
66. Kohchi 1989, 115
67. Ibid., 64
68. King and Lawrence 1996, 74
69. "Frequently Asked Questions about The Aetherius Society". http://www.aetherius.org/faq.htm. Downloaded 090399.
70. E-mail from Paul Nugent, received 033100.
71. Saliba 1998, 30
72. Evans 1974, 151
73. King and Lawrence 1996, 50
74. Ibid., 51
75. Ibid., 51
76. Ibid., 52
77. "The Aetherius Society - An Introduction". http://www.aetherius.org/intro.htm. Downloaded 090399.
78. Evans 1974, 152
79. Wallis 1975b, 20
80. King and Lawrence 1996, 58
81. Saliba 1998, 30
82. King and Lawrence 1996, 92
83. "The Aetherius Society - An Introduction". http://www.aetherius.org/intro.htm. Downloaded 090399.
84. "Dynamic Prayer as taught by the Aetherius Society". http://www.aetherius.org/spiritualenergy/dynamicprayer.htm. Downloaded 032600.
87. King 1995, 13
88. Ibid., 62-63
89. King and Lawrence 1996, 148
90. Ibid., 90
91. Ibid., 91
92. Ibid., 117-118
93. King 1995, 37
94. King and Lawrence 1996, 119
95. "Spiritual WORLD MISSIONS performed by The Aetherius Society". http://www.aetherius.org/cosmicdestiny/worldmissions.htm. Downloaded 032600.
96. King and Lawrence 1996, 107
97. Ibid., 108-110
98. Ibid., 124
99. Ibid., 125
100. "Spiritual WORLD MISSIONS performed by The Aetherius Society". http://www.aetherius.org/cosmicdestiny/worldmissions.htm. Downloaded 032600.
101. King and Lawrence 1996, 125
102. Ibid., 126
103. "The Holy Mountains of the World charged in Operation Starlight". http://www.aetherius.org/spiritualenergy/holymountains.htm. Downloaded 032600.
104. King and Lawrence 1996, 122-123
105. King 1964, 4
106. "The Aetherius Society - An Introduction". http://www.aetherius.org/intro.htm. Downloaded 090399.
107. "SPIRITUAL PUSHES - Direct Spiritual Help from The Cosmic Masters". http://www.aetherius.org/spiritualenergy/spiritualpushes.htm. Downloaded 032600.
108. Ellwood 1973, 154
109. Evans 1973, 157
110. "SPIRITUAL PUSHES - Direct Spiritual Help from The Cosmic Masters". http://www.aetherius.org/spiritualenergy/spiritualpushes.htm. Downloaded 032600. Ellwood (1973, 151) points out that July 8th is the greatest Holy Day of the Aetherians. On July 8th 1964 (also known as the Cosmic Initiation of Earth), according to Aetherian mythology, "three great adepts" descended to earth in order to defeat the Black Magicians. This feat was endured through extreme sacrifice, and Master Jesus himself has acknowledged their action to be greater than his own earlier mission to earth.
111. King and Lawrence 1996, 100-101 & 104
112. Ibid., 104
113. The Aetherius Society Newsletter, November 1999, 15
114. "The Extraterrestrial Connection". http://www.unarius.org/et.html. Downloaded 020899.
115. E-mail from Dr. Tumminia, received 030700.
116. Tumminia and Kirkpatrick 1995, 85
117. Pathway to Light n/d, 6
118. Kirkpatrick and Tumminia 1992, 302
119. Ibid. 1992, 302-303
120. Pathway to Light n/d, 6
121. Kirkpatrick and Tumminia 1992, 303
122. "Thinking". http://www.unarius.org/thinking.html. Downloaded 040100.
123. E-mail from Celeste Appel and David Reynolds, received 052200.
124. Tumminia 2000, 3
125. Ibid., 1
126. E-mail from Celeste Appel and David Reynolds, received 052200.
127. "Introduction to UNARIUS". http://www.unarius.org/resume.html. Downloaded 040100.
128. "Thinking". http://www.unarius.org/thinking.html. Downloaded 040100.
130. Tumminia 1998b, 497
131. Pathway to Light n/d, 13
132. The Extraterrestrial Phenomenon n/d, 1
133. Ibid., 1
134. Ibid., 3
135. Ibid., 3
136. Ibid., 10
137. Ibid., 11-12
138. Tumminia 1998a, 158
139. Norman 1985a, 231. Quoted by Tumminia 1998a, 159.
140. Pathway to Light n/d, 26
141. Tumminia and Kirkpatrick 1995, 90-92
142. "The ET Phenomenon - 2001. The Landing". http://www.uanrius.org/et_phenom/et-7.html. Downloaded 040100.
143. Norman and Spaegel 1987, 3. Quoted by Tumminia and Kirkpatrick 1989, 7.
144. Tumminia 1998b, 496-497
145. "16th_annual". http://www.unarius.org/ipc_16/16/16th.html. Downloaded 040100.
147. "16th_annual". http://www.unarius.org/ipc_16/16/16th.html. Downloaded 040100.
149. Saliba 1998, 30
150. Hall 1997, 355
151. Wallace 1956, 265
152. Lehmann and Myers 1997, 333
153. Wallace 1966, 164
154. Lehmann and Myers 1997, 333
155. Ibid., 333
156. Wallace 1956, 267
157. Stark & Bainbridge 1985, 104-105
158. Wallis 1975b, 19
159. Unarius, n/d, 6
160. Thompson 1991, xii
161. Ibid., 11-12
162. Rael 1998, 96
163. Pathway to Light n/d, 24
164. Eliade 1959, 97
165. Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 81
166. Middleton 1967, x. Quoted by Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 81.
167. Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 83
168. Stark and Bainbridge 1985, 197-199
169. Hexham and Poewe 1997b, 440
170. Turner 1997, 78
171. Durkheim 1995, xxxiv
172. Hexham and Poewe 1997a, 36
173. Saliba 1995b, 46
174. Norman and Spaegel 1987, 10. Quoted by Kirkpatrick and Tumminia 1992, 304.
175. "Dr. George King - in memoriam". http://www.aetherius.org/GeorgeKing/inmemoriam.htm. Downloaded 021500.
176. Luhrmann 1997, 92
177. Kirkpatrick and Tumminia 1992, 311
178. E-mail from Celeste Appel and David Reynolds, received 052200.
179. E-mail from Paul Nugent, received 033100.
180. E-mail from Donna Grabow and Marc Letourneau, received 040700.
181. E-mail from Celeste Appel and David Reynolds, received 052200.
182. Turner 1997, 79
183. Ellwood 1973, 132
184. Firth 1964a, 638-639
185. Firth 1964b, 689
186. Firth 1964c, 689
187. Turner 1997, 81
188. Kirkpatrick and Tumminia 1992, 300
189. Ibid., 300
190. Wallis 1975b, 25
191. Kirkpatrick and Tumminia 1992, 304-305
192. E-mail from Paul Nugent, received 033100.
193. "Thinking", http://www.unarius.org/thinking.html. Downloaded 040100.
194. Kirkpatrick and Tumminia 1992, 304
195. Tumminia and Kirkpatrick 1995, 101
196. Tumminia and Kirkpatrick 1989, 11
197. King and Lawrence 1996, 151-152
198. Morris 1998, 70
199. Durkheim 1995, 9
200. Lehmann and Myers 1997, 32
201. Raelian Information Pack, received 030800.
202. Tumminia and Kirkpatrick 1989, 6-7
203. Ibid., 7
204. Wallace 1966, 102
205. "Dynamic Prayer as taught by the Aetherius Society". http://www.aetherius.org/spiritualenergy/dynamicprayer.htm. Downloaded 032600.
206. Bullard n/d, 16-17
207. E-mail from Celeste Appel and David Reynolds, received 052200.
208. E-mail from Paul Nugent, received 033100.
209. E-mail from Donna Grabow and Marc Letourneau, received 040700.
210. Dailey 1997, 10
211. Ibid., 192-193
212. Ibid., 208 & 226
213. Lewis 1997, 18