“The power of the encounters comes from acknowledging your helplessness and keeping the whole matter in question, because the deeper the question goes, the more you attempt to come to some kind of resolution.
“If you keep asking them [the beings] questions, they keep reforming the thing in such a way that the questions get more provocative but can’t quite be answered. . . . If you start saying, “Well, they are aliens and they’re from this planet,” you’re lost. . . . I’ve often been in situations where the question has been impossible to live with. You can’t not answer it, and you can’t answer it either. And there you have it.
“You sit in a situation where you can’t bear to be—and you grow.”
~ Whitley Strieber, Interview with author
Wagner, South Dakota June 16, 1996.
In the years since the publication of Abduction (Mack 1994), I have worked with more than one hundred additional people in the United States and other countries who report encounters with strange beings.
These individuals are called “abductees,” “experiencers” or “anomalous experiencers”—finding appropriate language, as we shall see, has become an increasingly difficult problem.
The alien abduction phenomenon can be defined as the experience of being taken by humanoid beings, usually but not always against the person’s will, into some sort of enclosure where a variety of procedures and communications occur. Not all of the encounters described in this book are typical or classical in the sense of being intrusive and/or traumatic. As you will see, the experiences of Carlos Diaz, Jean, Sequoyah and Gary, for example, are not typical, and I do not have evidence that Bernardo or the children at the Ariel School were actually abducted by the beings they saw, although their encounters affected them profoundly. I believe that including a somewhat wider range of experiences is likely to add to our understanding.
In this book I will tell what I have learned from my further explorations. My understanding of the meaning and power of this extraordinary phenomenon, especially its relationship to the planet’s ecological crisis, is continuously evolving. I will set forth the consistent patterns that seem to be emerging as well as the contradictions and paradoxes that persist. The implications of these experiences for our under standing of ourselves in this universe will, I think, be reflected in each chapter of the book.
Before telling of the findings that have led me to my present viewpoint, I thought it might be useful to share with the reader where I have arrived, or have been taken, philosophically speaking, by my immersion in this fascinating and compelling work. There has been a continuing evolution of my perspective regarding the data itself, the most effective method of bringing it forth, and the most useful way of interpreting the material. I have tried to be scrupulous in my observations and analysis, but I recognize that in the end what I have done will always to some degree remain idiosyncratic; that is, it is the product of the interplay of my own psyche or consciousness with the experiences of others.
I was raised in a secular American family of German Jewish heritage. The idea of a great bearded figure suspended somehow in the heavens was the only representation of God I remember being taught, and my logical, rational mind rejected this notion as impossible and absurd. Spirituality was a vaguely pleasant but unrealistic concept. My father, a professor of English at New York’s City College, read the Bible to my sister and me as culture and literature. In medical school any thought that the complex life-forms we were studying were created by purpose or intelligent design rather than simply through Darwinian selection was disparagingly labeled “teleology,” a kind of academic expletive. The experiences of native peoples with spirits, and the religious beliefs of the faithful, I looked upon, with Freud (another secular Jewish rationalist), as animism, primitivism, and illusion. Psychoanalysis and psychiatry, while expressly addressing the inner life, at the same time fit well into my materialist worldview, offering mechanistic explanations for human behavior, feelings, and experiences.
When I first heard of the alien abduction phenomenon, I tried to fit it into my knowledge of psychopathology. But no consistent psychiatric disturbance has been found that could account for these reports, nor has a major psychological study of this population demonstrated more psychopathology than a matched comparison group (McLeod et al. forthcoming).
I soon realized, therefore, that no plausible fit was emerging. A purely intrapsychic or psychosocial explanation—that is, one that did not include the possibility of another intelligence or force entering the experiencers’ lives, as if from outside—was not consistent with my diagnostic assessment of what these clients were presenting.
I was then faced with the choice of either trying to fit these individuals’ reports into a framework that fit my worldview—they were having fantasies, strange dreams, delusions, or some other distortion of reality—or of modifying my worldview to include the possibility that entities, beings, energies—something—could be reaching my clients from another realm. The first choice was compatible with my worldview but did not fit the clinical data. The second was inconsistent with my philosophical grounding, and with conventional assumptions about reality, but appeared to fit better what I was finding. It seemed to me to be more logical, and intellectually more honest, to modify my cosmology than to continue trying to force my clients into molds that clearly did not suit them.
In 1995 a close friend, a psychologist who is herself a pioneer in working with nonordinary states of consciousness, challenged me with the question, “John, where do you think you are on the weakest ground in this work?” I assumed correctly that what she had in mind was my crediting the possibility that beings, spirits, or anything at all could “cross over” from the unseen or “other” world into our material reality. This crossover seems to be regarded as a regular occurrence in many if not most indigenous cultures, but in our Western or scientific/materialist society, the domains of spirit and matter have been kept separate and distinct, and the possibility of traffic between them is looked upon as doubtful if not altogether impossible. When I pointed out to her that in other cultures in which I have tried to investigate the abduction phenomenon, such inter change is “no big deal,” she replied that in our culture it is indeed a big deal.
Worldviews and Other Cultures
Just how deeply held is the worldview that separates radically the material world from the realms of spirit, unseen agency, “daimonic reality” in the words of English writer Patrick Harpur (1994, p. 37), or what are called the subtle realms in Eastern spiritual traditions, was brought home to me a few weeks after the publication of my book in the spring of 1994, when one of the deans at the Harvard Medical School handed me a letter that called for the establishment of a small committee to investigate my work.
After explaining vaguely that “concerns” had been expressed to the university about what I was doing (although he told of no specific complaint, nor was any offered in the letter), he added pleasantly—for he had been a friend and colleague—that I would not have gotten into trouble if I had not suggested in the book that my findings might require a change in our view of reality rather than saying that I had found a new psychiatric syndrome whose cause had not yet been established.
Some of the subjects of my recent interviews have come from indigenous cultures in the United States and other countries. Frequently these informants will tell me that, according to tribal legends, their people came from the sky and that their cultures were founded by “star people,” arriving sometimes in what they call UFOs or something like them. I have found it difficult to interpret such communications, primarily because of the different relationship between the spirit or unseen and the material worlds in native cultures. For example, according to Bernardo Peixoto, a shaman who was raised by the Ipixuma tribe of the Brazilian rain forest, “our legends say that a long time ago a flying saucer landed in the Amazon basin” and that men emerged from this spaceship. He said there were even cave drawings, made hundreds if not thousands of years ago, that showed some kind of craft. These beings were makuras, or spirits that “came from high up in the sky.” When I asked him if among his people this legend was to be regarded literally as referring to the material world, or should be seen rather as metaphoric, or a crossing over from the unseen or spirit realms into the material world, he replied succinctly that among his people “this makes no difference.”1 Similarly, Malidoma Som., a shaman of the Dagara people of Burkina Faso in West Africa, with advanced degrees from the Sorbonne and Brandeis University, has written, “In Western reality, there is a clear split between the spiritual and the material, between religious life and secular life.
This concept is alien to the Dagara. For us, as for many indigenous cultures, the supernatural is part of our everyday lives. To a Dagara man or woman, the material is just the spiritual taking on form” (Som. 1995, p. 8). I have heard similar statements frequently from native people in North America.
Sequoyah Trueblood (see Chapter 9), for example, says that for him whether the physical body is taken during an abduction is not important, for “we are spirit.” Native people, he adds, live in a world of “spirit and meaning,” while whites live in a world of “science and facts” (personal communication to author, May 6, 1998).
Among native peoples, at least those who have maintained a connection with the traditional ways, direct communication with the Creator may be part of everyday life, and UFOs, or something like them, seem to play a part in this contact. Wallace Black Elk, an esteemed Lakota elder and shaman, has said, “We don’t need a piece of paper” to contact the spirits. “... We send a voice to the Creator—‘Yo-ho’—and somebody responds and comes in.” Someone might say, “‘Yo-ho, I’m lost. I need help.’ Then a spirit comes and takes me some place. They’ll fly you there. They’ll take you any place. If you want to visit the moon, they’ll take you up there. They’ll put you in one of those little flying saucers, and they’ll zoom you up there in no time. Then, they’ll bring you back” (Black Elk and Lyon 1991, p. 32).
It is hard to know how the scientifically raised mind could regard this passage. I have since spoken with Black Elk, and he appears to mean it quite literally (among other meanings), in spite of the fact that what he describes is absurd from a materialist point of view. I am sometimes told that my interviewees tend to tell me this sort of thing because they know I am with them to talk of UFOs, abductions, and such matters. So this pas sage from the story of Black Elk’s life is interesting, as it records words told—rather casually, it would appear—in the 1980s to anthropologist William Lyon several years before I was studying these things. Lyon seems to have had no particular interest in UFOs.
If one is to communicate effectively about something so controversial and complex as the alien abduction phenomenon, then it is important to be as clear and specific as possible about one’s own worldview and how it may have changed. Failing to do so can result in leaving the reader at the post, philosophically speaking, wondering just how the author is regarding the reality of what is being described. For example, a reader who is generally open-minded but whose worldview cannot accept literally the possibility of alien abductions in a purely material sense might say some thing like “Well, something is going on here. The question is what?” A less ontologically— “ontology” refers in philosophy to the nature of being, reality or existence— open-minded person might reject the whole matter out of hand. I cannot, of course, ask anyone to share the philosophical perspective at which I have arrived, but I believe the chance of having my observations and arguments taken seriously is greater if this point of view is made clear.
In the world in which I was raised and schooled, the idea of life, beings, energy—really anything at all—emanating from an unseen reality and manifesting materially was just not possible. Yet something precisely like this seems to be what is occurring in the case of the alien abduction phenomenon.
I have been repeatedly reminded of the story Patrick Harpur tells of the British scientist Sir William Crookes, who was sent by his colleagues to debunk the nineteenth-century star spiritualist D. D. Home. When instead he was himself “converted” and reported this to his colleagues, they were outraged and told him that what Home was doing was impossible. Crookes said, “I never said it was possible. I said it was true” (Harpur 1994, p. 64).
What I have been finding has been, according to my own background, not “possible.” Yet from the standpoint of my clinical experience and judgment, it does indeed appear in some way to be true. In that sense the phenomenon might be described as an anomaly—that is, an occurrence that is—as the bizarre reports of rocks we now call meteorites falling from the sky seemed in the eighteenth century (Westrum 1978)— not possible according to the science of the times but may nevertheless turn out to be real in some way that we do not yet understand.2
What Kind of Phenomenon Is This, and What Can It Tell Us?
It will be apparent by now that my purpose in this book is not to establish that alien abductions are real purely in a literal, physical sense, although there may be physical manifestations. Whether or not alien beings and the phenomena associated with them exist in a form that can be observed, measured, and replicated may have great interest for science and our view of the world. But marshaling the sorts of evidence that might conceivably satisfy the requirements of the physical sciences on their “own turf ” has proved to be a formidable and elusive task. I will document experiencers’ reports with physical evidence where applicable, but my principal interest is in the experiences themselves, their pattern, meaning, and potential implications for our understanding of reality and our knowledge of our selves in the universe.
I have come to regard the alien abduction phenomenon as one among a number of occurrences currently confronting human consciousness, like near-death and out-of-body experiences (Ring 1984; Ring and Valarino 1998; Monroe 1971 and 1996; Buhlman 1996), strange animal mutilations, the complex crop formations that appear mysteriously in a few seconds in fields of rape and other grains, apparitions of the Virgin Mary, and spontaneous shamanic experiences, which might be described as crossover phenomena (events of various sorts that appear to manifest in the material world but seem not to be of it). These phenomena seem to violate that barrier, so sacred to the rationalist mind, between the forces of the unseen world and the material realm, giving us “glimpses,” in researcher Linda Howe’s words, “of other realities” (Howe 1993 and 1998).
In a certain sense, any cosmic mystery might at least theoretically be thought of as simply a reflection of laws of the universe or subtler energies that we do not yet comprehend or know how to measure, rather than as “paranormal” or “supernatural.” But the alien abduction phenomenon and the other anomalies named above seem to operate so far outside of the laws of physics (as traditionally understood) that they may require a new paradigm of reality to include them as real and an expansion of our ways of knowing to explore them (see chapter 2).
It seems to me possible that the matters under consideration here will not yield their secrets to the methodologies of science that were evolved to explore phenomena that were accepted as existing entirely within the material world.
This is not to say that careful methods of observation and analysis should not be applied to the physical aspects of the alien abduction phenomenon. Yet the investigations of UFO photographs, radar records, missing persons and pregnancies following abductions, reported observations of strange beings, burned earth patches where UFOs presumably landed, bodily lesions and so-called implants removed from experiencers’ bodies after abductions, and all the other physical signs associated with the phenomenon, have been relentlessly accompanied by such discrepancies and difficulties in finding certainty or proof that even the most committed explorers have frequently turned against each other with revelations or accusations of insufficient or bogus credentials and cries of hoax, while the doubtful have tended to dismiss the whole matter as hallucination or the paranoid delusion of true believers.
It is as if the agent or intelligence at work here were parodying, mocking, tricking, and deceiving the investigators, providing just enough physical evidence to win over those who are prepared to believe in the phenomenon but not enough to convince the skeptic. In this apparently frustrating situation, there may lie a deeper truth and possibility. It is as if the phenomenon were inviting us to change our ways, to expand our consciousness and ways of learning, to use, in addition to our conventional ways of knowing and observing, methodologies more appropriate to its own complex, subtle, and perhaps ultimately unknowable nature.
Wallace Black Elk, who, like many native American elders, has had experiences with “disks,” “these little people,” and telepathic communication with them, mocks the literalness and limited knowing power of scientific materialism. “The scientists call that a UFO,” he told Lyon, “but that’s a joke, see? Because they are not trained; they lost contact with the wisdom, knowledge, power, and gift. So they have to see everything first with their naked eye. They have to catch one first. They have to shoot it down and see what all it is made of, how it was shaped and formed. But their intention is wrong, so somebody is misleading those scientists that way. . . . But the biggest joke is on those scientists, because they lost con tact with those star-nation people” (Black Elk and Lyon 1991, p. 91, emphasis mine).
We are just beginning to learn how to understand and explore phenomena that might be called intrusions from the unseen or “subtle” realms (Mack 1996). What appears to yield the best results, as measured by a steady emergence of information or knowledge, falling short of conventional demands for proof, is a combination of meticulous empirical observation together with carefully recorded narratives of firsthand experiences, matching, sorting, and comparing accounts from many individuals from different locations and cultures. An attitude of not knowing, a kind of Buddhist-like “empty mind,” is essential, a willingness to hear and record observations and reports that “do not fit” established schemes or frameworks.
In the case of the alien abduction phenomenon—and perhaps this is true of all “daimonic realities”—the source is unseen. The encounters penetrate into the material world, but these manifestations are elusive, sporadic, and difficult to document convincingly. The greatest source of information is the reports of the experiencers themselves. Here the investigator, if not a mental health professional by training, must become in some sense a clinician, opening himself or herself to information that may threaten intensely any established worldview. Much can be learned just from listening to consciously recollected experience. The use of a nonordinary state of consciousness, however—a relaxation exercise or modified hypnosis—can penetrate more deeply into the mystery of the experiences and help therapeutically to release the powerful emotions held within that seem almost always to be left in the wake of the experiences. The method of investigation process used will be discussed in more detail in the next chapter.
The Primacy of Experience
In doing this work, I am reminded of the dilemma facing the astronomer Ellie Arroway in the film Contact upon her return from her “flight” into space. Strapped into her shaking interstellar pod, she has presumably been launched into the heavens, hurtling toward the star Vega. In what seems like hours to her, Ellie passes through vortices of spectacular power and beauty, opening into cosmic vistas of such transcendent glory that she is overwhelmed with awe and reverence, feeling as if she were in the presence of the magnificence of God. She lands on a luminescent seashore, where the fabric of divine nature seems virtually palpable. In this spirit-realm-made-real, Ellie meets her long dead father. Then she abruptly finds her self back at the launch site, where she is told that the system malfunctioned, that she and her space pod did not go anywhere, and that only a few minutes of time on Earth have passed.
Scientists try to tell her that her belief in her experiences represents delusion or hallucination, as she has no artifacts from space or other evidence to back up her story. But everything about her as a sane and, heretofore at least, rational person tells her that what occurred was altogether real.
Her little spaceship’s videotape shows that, in “its” time perspective, eighteen hours have passed, tending to corroborate Ellie’s story, while opening a new mystery of differential time perception. But that is not the most important point. She has had an experience that is unequivocally real and of transcendent power and meaning to her, challenging, if not shattering, her secular worldview.
Ellie’s dilemma is similar to the one that I and the abduction experiencers with whom I work must face. It is the experiences themselves, and our—the experiencers’ and my—estimate of their reality that is our principal source of data in determining the truth of what has taken place. It is, for example, the conviction of the children about their experiences that gives the 1994 incident at the Ariel School in Zimbabwe (see page 42) such credibility. “It’s definitely reality,” twelve-year-old Emily said, “and anybody can think that it’s not true or that we’re making things up. But we know what we’ve seen, and we believe it.” I asked eleven-year-old Nathaniel what he would say to someone who suggested the children imagined or dreamed the incident. “I would say that most of the other kids in my class saw it as well,” he replied a little indignantly.
Physical evidence, if it is present, may seem to confirm the material or objective fact of the experience. But the most powerful evidence is subjective, or intersubjective (see page 25), insofar as the experience is told to an interviewer who must be willing to enter to a degree into the narrative to learn of it. We must make what is, in effect, a clinical as well as an ontological judgment. We need a certain courage, a willingness to say that from what we know of this person, at this time and in this context what they are telling or reliving appears to be real (or not, as the case may be), however much it may violate our beliefs about what is possible. The validity of our findings is reinforced when other observers discover the same or similar things.
As Whitley Strieber expresses in the epigraph to this chapter, part of the power of the abduction experiences to bring about personal change derives from the essentially unanswerable nature of the questions the encounters pose. The matter of whether we are “alone” in the universe or are accompanied by other beings, even in this world, carries a lot of weight for those of us who have been raised in the scientifically oriented Western culture. Possible evidence of bacteria from Mars or of the former existence of water on that planet’s surface is communicated excitedly in the national media.
For the native peoples I have interviewed, including many who are close-encounter experiencers themselves, the universe is filled with life, or entities of various sorts, and some of them have the capacity to show up on the material plane. But for abductees with a Western scientific back ground, it is often the mind-shattering terror of these encounters that forces them to acknowledge the reality of the beings. As one young woman wrote, after she was forced by the terror of her abduction experiences to realize their actuality, she became aware that “such a profound and beautiful existence is this world we live in, and how much more wondrous to truly know that not only are we not alone, we’re really not alone” (letter from Karin to author, August 14, 1996).
Basic Elements of the Abduction Phenomenon
Overview Having set forth the framework in which I approach the abduction phenomenon, I wish now to set down what seem to me to be its fundamental elements. The orientation and ideology of the investigator, and the questions he or she asks or does not ask, will determine to some degree what data can be enabled or allowed to come forth and will affect profoundly the interpretation of the experiences. Furthermore, abductees select consciously and unconsciously to whom they turn to tell their stories. And to make matters still more complex, the phenomenon itself seems to change and evolve according to the stage or level of consciousness of the experiencer and the facilitator with whom he or she is working. But allowing for these variabilities, it does nevertheless seem possible to distinguish certain essential elements. For me, a more or less consistent picture is emerging, which I will summarize here and elaborate further in later chapters. The emphasis will be more upon the informational and transformative aspects than in my 1994 book Abduction. Whether this is because the phenomenon itself has changed or my orientation toward it has evolved—or both—is not altogether clear to me.
Medical- and Surgical-like Aspects and the Hybrid “Project”
First are the now-familiar elements of the abduction experience itself. A person of virtually any age (though the concentration appears to be in young adulthood) is in bed at home, in a car, or out of doors, when his or her consciousness is disturbed by a bright light, a humming sound, strange bodily vibrations or paralysis, the close-up sighting of an odd craft, or the appearance of one or more humanoid or even human-appearing strange beings in their environment. Experiencing varying degrees of anxiety, depending on the status of their relationship to the phenomenon, the experiencers describe being taken, usually against their will, to be floated through walls, doors, or windows into a curved enclosure that appears to contain computerlike and other technical equipment. There may be several rooms in the craft, or whatever it is, and more strange beings are seen busily moving around doing tasks the experiencers do not really understand.
In one or another room, the experiencers undergo a variety of medicalor surgical-like examinations and procedures, which are more or less traumatic, depending on what is done, the experiencer’s current relationship to what they have been undergoing, and other incompletely understood factors.
A central feature of the experience appears to be a complex sexual/reproductive “project” that, after a sequence of experiences, may result in the apparent creation of hybrid beings, toward whom the experiencers, especially young women, feel a poignantly troubled relationship. On the one hand, they feel that the creatures, which look like a cross between the aliens and humans, need their love and nurturance and that they themselves are part of some life-creating evolutionary venture. On the other hand, they realize that they have no control over when, if ever, they can see the hybrid “baby” or “child” again, and they may resent being used as “breeders.” To the abductees themselves, as well as to some investigators, these hybrids exist quite materially and literally. The experiences may be altogether real from the standpoint of consciousness, but the hybrid offspring might not exist in material reality as we know it, especially as no clear physical evidence for their literal existence in this dimension has been found (see chapter 6). Although the beings may communicate to the experiencers that the hybrid creatures are to be the future inheritors of the Earth after we have completed our destruction of its capacity to support advanced life-forms, this also does not mean that they exist in a literal, physical sense, however certain the experiencers may be that they do.
But the hybrid “project” is by no means all that happens in the craft.
According to the experiencers’ reports, they may be gazed at closely by the compelling large eyes of the beings and otherwise examined, probed, and monitored. Sometimes the experiencers feel that their health is being followed, especially through ano-rectal and colonic examinations (“checkups”), and they even report healings of a vast array of minor and some times major conditions (Dennett 1996). They may gain a sense that they have been selected and are being protected for some sort of important cosmic enterprise or mission, though this is not talked of in an egoistic way. On other occasions the experiencers report probes being inserted into their brains through the nose, ears, and eyes, and they may feel that their psyche has been transformed, primarily in the sense that they have become more humanly tolerant and intuitively connected with others and the Earth itself.
Clearly these experiences have a physical as well as a psychological dimension. The probes abductees experience appear to be correlated with nosebleeds, and the examinations with skin lesions (sometimes, as in the case of multiple abductions, in symmetrical patterns on more than one experiencer at the same time). The abductee may be witnessed to be actually missing for varying periods of time, although this is not common.
Independent corroboration, in my experience, especially on the part of someone not directly involved in the encounter, is quite rare. The experiencers sometimes report that during the abduction implants are inserted under the skin or into one or another orifice, and they may feel certain that these represent some sort of tracking or monitoring devices. Several of these have been recovered surgically and analyzed. But the evidence regarding the composition of the implants—whether or not they have bizarre physical or chemical characteristics suggesting nonearthly origins— has been inconsistent (David Pritchard 1994, pp. 279–95; Strieber 1998; Leir 1998).
The fact that the abduction experiences are accompanied by physical manifestations should not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the phenomenon itself exists entirely in the material world. In fact, as previously noted, this penetration into the material world may be thought of as a kind of small iceberg-tip of a phenomenon of great depth, breadth, and meaning that extends far beyond the literal, physical realm. That this might indeed be the case is evidenced by the fact that the abductees themselves may report great variation in the degree to which they are literally physically “taken.” It may range from the apparent physical removal of their bodies into space, through out-of-body-like experiences where the physical body is witnessed to be still in place, to encounters where there is little or nothing more than the appearance of strange lights or a vague sense that “they” are present in the abductee’s environment.
Information: Protecting the Earth
The second important dimension of the abduction phenomenon is the transmission of information from the beings to the experiencers (see chapter 5). The communication occurs through telepathic transmission, by images shown on televisionlike monitors, by contact with the large compelling eyes of the beings, and through the beings “taking” the experiencers to earthly environments that demonstrate one or another aspect of the Earth’s beauty and threatened ecology. Scenes of apocalyptic destruction may be juxtaposed with images of beauty so exquisite that it seems at times as if a cosmic teacher were trying to reach the experiencers in the depths of their soul.
The information conveyed can cover a wide range, including skills of all sorts; spiritual truths; and knowledge of healing, art, science, technology, and ecology. Above all the information concerns the status of the Earth and our relationship to it. The experiencers may be unclear as to just what they are to do with this knowledge but feel that it is of profound, even sacred, meaning and importance, that they are privileged to be receiving it, and that they must act in some way to bring about change. Taken together, this communication, which may have a powerful impact on the experiencers, constitutes a confrontation with their own sense of themselves, raising questions of individual and collective identity.
Some abduction researchers argue that this information is given by the beings to test the experiencers’ reactions. Indeed, the beings may be seen to be gazing intently to observe the response to what the experiencers have been shown. Furthermore, the argument goes, if the aliens are so concerned with the environment, why don’t they help us fix things.3 The impact, however, upon the consciousness and lives of the experiencers is sometimes so profound and transformative that something more purposeful and vital than testing or deception seems to be at work. Many experiencers develop a deep, heartbreaking relationship to the Earth’s plight and subsequently strive intensely to fulfill a sense of mission, although having at times to fight a sense of despair.
Credo Mutwa, a leading African sanusi or high medicine man, who told me of his own abduction experiences (see chapter 10), said urgently, “I am shown that the world is dying. . .. These creatures are trying to warn us about danger. . . . The thing that you are looking into is real. It is not a figment of anybody’s imagination. . . .” It would appear that no direct intervention or “problem solving” is offered by the beings or whatever intelligence lies behind this phenomenon; it seems to operate through changing the consciousness of the experiencers and others who may open themselves to its meaning.
Transformation and Spirituality
The third dimension of the abduction phenomenon might variously be defined as “consciousness expanding,” “growth engendering,” or “spiritual.” One of the most intense debates in this field occurs around the question of whether these changes in the psyche of the experiencers—no researchers seem to deny that such change, even transformation, does in fact occur in some cases—is an intrinsic aspect of the phenomenon, even its “purpose” or “intention,” or is instead a kind of by-product, reflecting human creativity, resilience, and adaptability in the face of traumatic challenge, or is even the result of alien trickery or deception.
There is a good deal of confusion in the abduction research field surrounding the word spiritual. How, some argue, can a phenomenon that is so clearly traumatic for many people, one that seems to disregard human wishes, feelings, and morality, be spiritual in the sense of coming from a higher source? Some experiencers are even left with external and possibly internal organ scarring, as well as lasting conscious and unconscious fears and phobias. Should not spiritual experiences be benign, largely uplifting, or directly enlightening? Yet we know that some experiences, such as life threatening illnesses, tragic losses, and other personal crises, are often catalysts for profound personal growth and transformation.
Furthermore, many spiritual disciplines, such as Zen Buddhism and shamanic initiations, include harsh practices that confront the student with disturbing aspects of internal and external reality. Some abduction experiencers describe openings and connections to what they variously describe as the other world, Divine Light, Home, Source, or God, that leave little doubt in the minds of the people who talk with them that something important has occurred. Whitley Strieber had been on a path of transformation through the Gurdjieff Foundation before he became aware of his encounters with the “visitors,” as he calls them. When he told his Gurdjieff teacher about his experiences with the beings, which had initially been intensely terrifying, the teacher said, “Fifteen seconds with those people; fifteen years of meditation. You’re very lucky” (Strieber 1987 and 1996b).
The apparent expansion of psychic or intuitive abilities, a heightened reverence for nature with the feeling of having a life-preserving mission, the collapse of space/time perception, a sense of entering other dimensions of reality or universes, the conviction of possessing a dual human/ alien identity, a feeling of connection with all of creation, and related transpersonal experiences—all are such frequent features of the abduction phenomenon that I have come to feel that they are, at least potentially, basic elements of the process. Indeed, the experiences of abductees may bring them to something very much akin to shamanic or mystical states of mind (see chapter 7), although for the most part the experiencers remain deeply rooted in everyday “three-dimensional” life, a dilemma that sometimes causes them a good deal of pain.
Even when abductees initially experience the beings themselves, especially the now well-known small gray figures with huge black eyes, as instigators of great fear and trauma, over time they may come to see them as odd spirit guides, closer to the ultimate creative principle or Source than humans, even as emissaries from the Divine. Abductees also commonly experience a poignant sense that they have themselves become too separated from Home, Source, or God and will cry and rage against the fact that they have been incarnated or reincarnated back on Earth. As one man said, crying, “I just want to go Home. They will get me there. It’s a gate, and I will go through it.” Reluctantly, experiencers will accept that they have made some sort of agreement with the beings or the Creator itself to fulfill a human mission.
“Abduction: The Next Generation” is a extract from Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters by John E. Mack, MD., published by White Crow Books.