Simon’s Necronomicon arrived on the wave of a renewed interest in the occult that washed over the Western world in the 1960s and ’70s. Interestingly, it was a French journal of science fiction that helped spark the revival, and it did so by publishing the works of H. P. Lovecraft for a new audience. Planète was launched in the early ’60s by Louis Pauwles and Jacques Bergier, and their magazine brought a new legion of admirers to the “bent genius.” More significantly for our study here, however, was the book Pauwles and Bergier coauthored in 1960, Les matins des magiciens (Morning of the Magicians), which was translated into English in 1963 as Dawn of Magic.[i]
The book covered everything from pyramidology (the belief that the Egyptian pyramids held ancient secrets) to supposed advanced technology in the ancient world. Likewise, the authors praised Arthur Machen, the Irish author of horror fiction, about surviving Celtic mythological creatures, and they discussed the genius of H. P. Lovecraft in the same breath as the scientist Albert Einstein and psychoanalyst Carl Jung. From Lovecraft, Bergier and Pauwles borrowed the one thought that would be of more importance than any other in their book. As we have seen, Morning of the Magicians speculates that extraterrestrial beings may be responsible for the rise of the human race and the development of its culture, a theme Lovecraft invented.[ii] (emphasis added)
The success of Pauwles and Bergier inspired others to run with the concepts they’d developed from the writings of Lovecraft. The most successful of these, without question, was Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods, the best-selling English language archaeology book of all time.[iii]
You can say one thing at least for von Däniken: He wasn’t shy about challenging accepted history:
I claim that our forefathers received visits from the universe in the remote past, even though I do not yet know who these extraterrestrial intelligences were or from which planet they came. I nevertheless proclaim that these “strangers” annihilated part of mankind existing at the time and produced a new, perhaps the first, homo sapiens.[iv]
The book had the good fortune of being published in 1968, the same year Stanley Kubrick’s epic adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey hit theaters. The film, based on the idea that advanced alien technology had guided human evolution, was the top-grossing film of the year, and was named the “greatest sci-fi film of all time” in 2002 by the Online Film Critics Society.[v] By 1971, when Chariots of the Gods finally appeared in American bookstores, NASA had put men on the moon three times (including Edgar Mitchell in Apollo 14, whom we’ll discuss later for his efforts to meet with President Obama to discuss ETIs from a “contiguous universe”), and the public was fully primed for what von Däniken was selling.
It’s hard to overstate the impact Chariots of the Gods has had on the UFO research community and the worldviews of millions of people around the world over the last half century. In 1973, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling built a documentary around Chariots titled In Search of Ancient Astronauts, which featured astronomer Carl Sagan and Wernher von Braun, architect of the Saturn V rocket.[vi] The following year, a feature film with the same title as the book was released to theaters. By the turn of the twenty-first century, von Däniken had sold more than sixty million copies of his twenty-six books, all promoting the idea that our creators came from the stars.[vii]
This, in spite of the fact that von Däniken told National Enquirer in a 1974 interview that his information came not through archaeological fieldwork, but through out-of-body travel to a place called Point Aleph, “a sort of fourth dimension” outside of space and time.[viii]
Riiiight. Might that be the same cosmic place Kenneth Grant found the ethereal Necronomicon?
In 1976, a Russian-American economist and journalist dumped gasoline on the ancient astronaut blaze with his book The 12th Planet. To Zecharia Sitchin, Sumerian texts, the world’s oldest known writing, their stories of gods and demigods were historic records of aliens from a planet called Nibiru who created mankind from apes to serve as cheap labor.
Despite being universally rejected by credentialed scholars, Sitchin has had a profound influence on the ancient astronaut movement and on the culture at large. Dr. Michael Heiser, author of the http://www.SitchinIsWrong.com website, has called him “arguably the most important proponent of the ancient astronaut hypothesis over the last several decades.”[ix] Since The 12th Planet was published, Sitchin’s books have sold millions of copies in more than two dozen languages.[x] His ideas have inspired popular science-fiction movies and television programs, especially the Stargate franchise, and a 2017 survey by Chapman University found that 35 percent of Americans believe extraterrestrials visited Earth in our distant past—up from 20.3 percent in 2015![xi]
You may think the idea is weird, but when one in three people buy in, it’s not fringe anymore. The appeal of the concept is easy enough to understand. If the only thing separating you from godhood is the sophistication of our technology, then the old lie the serpent told Eve doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
MUFON Jumps Aboard
The claims of von Däniken and Sitchin, to be kind, don’t hold water. Their theories have been debunked and von Däniken has even admitted to making stuff up,[xii] but lack of evidence has never stopped crazy ideas for long. And now, thanks to a new generation of true believers, Ancient Aliens and its imitators are still mining von Däniken gold five decades after his first book hit the shelves.
Ancient alien evangelists have effectively proselytized the American public since Chariots of the Gods went viral nearly fifty years ago. As we noted earlier, more adults in the U.S. believe in ETI than in the God of the Bible. Interestingly, serious UFO researchers are disturbed by the impact of the ancient alien meme on their work.
MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network, which calls itself “the world’s oldest and largest UFO phenomenon investigative body,”[xiii] has gone all in with ancient aliens in recent years. The group now openly supports pseudoscientific and New Age (in other words, occultic) interpretations of the UFO phenomenon instead of sticking to what can be supported by evidence. For example, the theme of MUFON’s 2017 national convention was “The Case for a Secret Space Program,” which was described by one critic as “blatantly unscientific and irrational.”[xiv]
The conference featured among its speakers a man who claims he was recruited for “a ’20 & Back’ assignment which involved age regression (via Pharmaceutical means) as well as time regressed to the point of beginning service.” In plain English, he claims he served twenty years in an off-planet research project, and then was sent back in time to a few minutes after he left and “age-regressed” so no one would notice that he’s twenty years older than the rest of us.[xv]
Another speaker claimed he was pre-identified as a future president of the United States in a CIA/DARPA program called Project Pegasus, which purportedly gathered intel on past and future events, such as the identities of future presidents. He also claimed Barack Obama was his roommate in 1980 in a CIA project called Mars Jump Room,[xvi] a teleportation program that sent trainees to a secret base on the red planet.[xvii]
The content of MUFON’s 2017 symposium was so over the top that Richard Dolan, a long-time advocate for ETI disclosure, felt it was necessary to publicly explain why he’d sit on a MUFON-sanctioned discussion panel with men who claimed, without any corroboration whatsoever, that they’d been part of a “secret space program.”
[W]hen I learned I would be on a panel with Corey [Goode], Andy [Basiago], Bill [Tompkins], and Michael [Salla], I phoned Jan [Harzan, MUFON’s Executive Director] and politely asked him what was he thinking. I mentioned my concern about MUFON’s decision to bring in individuals with claims that are inherently impossible to verify. MUFON, after all, is supposed to have evidence-based standards.[xviii]
Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that MUFON has morphed from an “evidence-based” organization to one that promotes unverifiable claims at its national convention. As the controversy grew over the theme of MUFON’s 2017 convention, it was revealed that MUFON’s “Inner Circle” included New Age teacher J. Z. Knight.[xix]
According to MUFON’s website, the Inner Circle provides “advisory guidance” to the organization because its thirteen members—a curiously coincidental number—have “shown unparalleled generosity towards MUFON by donating in excess of $5,000 in a single donation.”
Hmm. So the only qualification to advise and guide America’s premier UFO investigating collective is an extra five large in your pocket. And one of MUFON’s Inner Circle makes her living by packaging and selling rehashed teachings of Madame Helena Blavatsky.
Z. Knight, born in Roswell, New Mexico (!), in March of 1946, just about the time Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard were wrapping up their magickal ritual, the Babylon [sic] Working, claims to channel the spirit of Ramtha the Enlightened One, a warrior who lived thirty-five thousand years ago in the mythical land of Lemuria.
Ramtha, Knight says, led Lemurian forces against the tyrannical Atlanteans before eventually bidding his troops farewell and ascending to heaven in a flash of light.[xx] Ten years after he first appeared, Knight founded Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, through which she has become a very wealthy woman by selling counseling sessions based on the wisdom of the ancient Lemurian warrior.
While Ramtha has no need for creature comforts, Ms. Knight apparently likes nice things.
As of 2017, the school employs eighty full-time staff,[xxi] and annual profits from book and audio sales run into the millions.[xxii] According to Knight, Ramtha’s teachings can be boiled down to mind over matter: “Ramtha tells people that if they learn what to do, the art of creating your own reality is really a divine act. There’s no guru here. You are creating your day. You do it yourself.”[xxiii]
That said, your authors assume Ms. Knight still looks both ways before crossing the street.
Three students of RSE produced the 2004 film What the Bleep Do We Know?, a low-budget movie that twisted quantum physics into pseudoscientific New Age propaganda. Of course, Ramtha’s doctrine of changing the physical world through proper spiritual discipline was the heart of the film.[xxiv] In spite of the criticism of actual physicists, Bleep has grossed nearly $16 million worldwide to date.[xxv]
Z. Knight may be MUFON’s wealthiest benefactor.[xxvi] This begs at least three questions: First, how much “advisory guidance” do the thirteen members of MUFON’s Inner Circle give? Second, how much does Knight donate above and beyond the $5,000 Inner Circle threshold? And third, how does her wealth and worldview influence MUFON’s approach to the subject of ETI disclosure?
For the record, your authors are not the only ones asking these questions. Former MUFON state director James E. Clarkson, a thirty-year member, publicly resigned July 22, 2017, citing Knight’s position of influence within the group: “I will not have my reputation in this field compromised by affiliating with a rich and powerful cult leader who is now a member of the MUFON Inner Circle.”[xxvii]
You know, it sounds bizarre when we step back and summarize things, but there is no way to make this sound rational. The horror fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, which was inspired by the spirits behind nineteenth-century occultists like Helena Blavatsky (and possibly the same spirit that communicated with Aleister Crowley), was filtered through the French science-fiction scene in the 1960s, adapted by a Swiss hotelier and a Russian-American shipping company executive, and recycled back to the United States at the time of the first moon landings, where it’s grown into a scientistic religion that replaces God with aliens.
To paraphrase our friend, Christian researcher and author L. A. Marzulli: As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Chariots of the Gods, the ancient alien meme is real, burgeoning, and not going away.
And the old gods are using it to set the stage for their return.
UP NEXT: Science Fiction and the Gospel of ET
[i] Colavito, Jason (2005). The Cult of Alien Gods: H.P. Lovecraft And Extraterrestial Pop Culture. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. Kindle Edition (Kindle location 1227).
[ii] Ibid (Kindle locations 1296–1300).
[iii] Ibid (Kindle location 1338).
[iv] Von Däniken, Erich (1968). Chariots of the Gods: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past. New York: Berkley Books, p. viii.
[v] “2001: A Space Odyssey Named the Greatest Sci-Fi Film of All Time By the Online Film Critics Society” (June 12, 2002). https://web.archive.org/web/20061126071451/http://ofcs.rottentomatoes.com/pages/pr/top100scifi, retrieved 8/27/17.
[vi] Von Braun was one of the 1,600 or so Nazi scientists, engineers, and technicians secretly brought to the U.S. after the war during Operation Paperclip.
[vii] Colavito, op. cit. (Kindle location 1346).
[viii] Sheaffer, Robert (1974). “Erich von Däniken’s ‘Chariots of the Gods’: Science or Charlatanism?” Originally published in NICAP UFO Investigator. https://www.debunker.com/texts/vondanik.html, retrieved 8/27/17.
[ix] Heiser, Dr. Michael S. (September 3, 2009). “Zecharia Sitchin: Why You Can Safely Ignore Him.” UFO Digest. http://www.ufodigest.com/news/0909/ignore-him.php, retrieved 10/17/17.
[x] Kilgannon, Corey (January 8, 2010). “Origin of the Species, From an Alien View.” The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/nyregion/10alone.html, retrieved 10/17/17.
[xi] “Paranormal America 2017 Chapman University Survey of American Fears 2017” (October 11, 2017). https://blogs.chapman.edu/wilkinson/2017/10/11/paranormal-america-2017/, retrieved 10/17/17.
[xii] “Erich von Daniken: Fraud, Lies and Bananas.” Forgetomori (April 8, 2012). http://forgetomori.com/2012/aliens/erich-von-daniken-fraud-lies-and-bananas/, retrieved 8/27/17.
[xiii] http://www.mufon.com, retrieved 8/23/17.
[xiv] Sheaffer, Robert (August 1, 2017). “MUFON Unravels.” Bad UFOs. http://badufos.blogspot.com/2017/08/mufon-unravels.html, retrieved 8/26/17.
[xv] https://www.mufonsymposium.com/corey-goode, retrieved 8/26/17.
[xvi] https://www.mufonsymposium.com/andrew-bassagio, retrieved 8/26/17.
[xvii] Salla, Dr. Michael E. (December 26, 2015). “Jump Room to Mars: Did CIA Groom Obama & Basiago as future Presidents?” Exopolitics.org. http://exopolitics.org/jump-room-to-mars-did-cia-groom-obama-basiago-as-future-presidents/, retrieved 8/26/17.
[xviii] Dolan, Richard (July 18, 2017). “On Corey, Andrew, and the Whistleblowers.” https://www.facebook.com/notes/richard-dolan/on-corey-andrew-and-the-whistleblowers/1394366947350897/, retrieved 8/26/17.
[xix] http://www.mufon.com/the-inner-circle.html, retrieved 8/26/17.
[xx] Knight, Judy Zebra (2005). Ramtha, the White Book. Yelm, WA: JZK Publishing.
[xxi] Iwasaki, John (February 10, 1997). “JZ Knight Not Faking It, Say Scholars—But They Bristle at the Idea She’s Buying Them.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. B1.
[xxii] Brenner, Keri (January 27, 2008). “Disillusioned Former Students Target Ramtha.” The Olympian. Via the Cult Education Institute. https://www.culteducation.com/group/1113-ramtha-school-of-enlightenment/17846-disillusioned-former-students-target-ramtha-.html, retrieved 8/26/17.
[xxiv] Gorenfeld, John (September 16, 2004). “‘Bleep’ of faith.” Salon. http://www.salon.com/2004/09/16/bleep_2/, retrieved 8/26/17.
[xxv] Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=whatthe.htm, retrieved 8/26/17.
[xxvi] Meyers, Royce J., III (July 24, 2017). “Former MUFON State Director Resigns, Cites Cult Leader Involvement.” UFO Watchdog. http://ufowatchdog.blogspot.com/2017/07/former-mufon-state-director-resigns.html, retrieved 8/28/17.