There’s a joke about a guy standing out on the street at night looking down at the pavement under a lamp-post. His neighbor walks up and asks what he’s doing, and he says, “I lost my keys.” The neighbor asks if this is where he lost them, and the guy points to a tangle of thorny bushes off in the darkness, and says, “Oh no, I lost them over there, but this is a much easier place to look.”
In many ways, this is the challenge of the UFO mystery. The pragmatic investigator might want to stay under that brightly lit lamp-post, yet the core of the mystery is somewhere off in the darkness. Yes, it’s easier to frame the inquiry within the clarity of what we can comfortably wrap our minds around, and maybe that’s a good starting point. But looking into what a UFO might actually be, or what it might mean, is peering through a doorway into madness.
I recognize that there’s a need to cling to what can easily be understood. There is a belief that UFO abduction reports can be explained away as little scientists in metal spaceships visiting us to conduct experiments.
We get in metal helicopters and abduct grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park; we tranquilize them, subject them to medical exams, take samples and then release them—so this analogy is perfect, right? The pilots of those flying saucers are essentially us, just a bit further along their own timeline. This idea, that the UFO occupants are visiting from some other planet, star system or galaxy has been dubbed the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH), and it has permeated the UFO community to the point that most researchers treat it as certainty.
The problem is that this tidy metaphor falls apart when you really start to examine the accounts. It seems the only way to adhere to that simplistic view is purposely to ignore a lot of what gets reported. It would seem that we are dealing with something much more bizarre than can be explained by the ETH.
Of all UFO sightings reported each year, over half can’t be described as anything like a metal craft. Instead, the majority of reports are of ethereal glowing orbs, most often orange in color. People are seeing something that might not be physical at all, at least in the way we understand it, yet seemingly under intelligent control. The orbs might glow brightly, but won’t illuminate the things around them, as if incapable of projecting that light. This is just one point in a long list of things that just don’t make sense.
Granted, visitors from far off planets may play some part in what is happening, but there are weird details that make this seem too simplistic.
One reader of my blog wrote this, and I agree: “I think the reality of what is going on is far stranger than the theories we’ve come up with. I think the idea of extraterrestrials is nowhere near as strange as what actually is.” This from someone who awoke to a giant praying mantis standing at the foot of her bed.
There are aspects of this phenomenon that challenge everything. The web of little strings seems to go everywhere. Everything is on the table—life, death, sex, dreams, spirituality, psychic visions, genetics, expanded consciousness, mind-control, channelling, mysticism, miraculous healings, out-of-body experiences, hybrid children, personal transformation, powerful synchronicity, portals in the backyard, distorted time, telepathy, prophetic visions, trauma, ecstasy, and magic. It’s as if our brains just aren’t big enough to deal with the overload of so much weirdness.
If we talk about little lights in the sky, it shouldn’t take long before we start talking about God. There is something about this mystery that forces us to confront the really big questions. Who are we? Why are we here? What does it all mean? These are the same questions that have followed us through the ages, and they well up again when wrestling with the UFO enigma. I’m always disappointed when a researcher avoids these deeper thoughts, never straying from the safety of that brightly lit lamp-post.
The focus of my obsessive research has been the issues surrounding abduction. There is a reason for this; it’s because I’m an abductee. This is no easy thing to say, and I’m terribly conflicted by what that even means. It’s something that evades easy answers. What I can say with complete sincerity is that something has intersected with my life, and these extremely difficult events point to some form of UFO contact. Coming to terms with this has been a profound challenge and it has altered the direction of my life.
My problem with “ufology” is my own personal experiences. I’ve been at the receiving end of enough weird shit that nobody needs to tell me this stuff is real. For this essay, I am going to mostly ignore all the sighting accounts and focus on what is pertinent to me—the so-called abduction phenomenon.
My other focus is owls, and how they seem to show up, either literally or symbolically, in relation to UFO contact. This traces back to my own first-hand experiences with owls, lots of them. When I first started seeing owls it coincided with a booming voice in my head that said, “This has something to do with UFOs!” Their arrival and that message consumed my life. I started collecting stories with both owls and UFOs and it culminated in a nearly-400-page book. This essay will steer clear of owls—there is plenty to be said without opening that can of worms.
Before going any further, I need to state something as clearly as possible—I am not an objective researcher. I am immersed in these dark waters and there is no way to separate myself from the tangled knot of emotions that come with what has happened in my life, things that go way beyond seeing little lights in the night-time sky. So, just know, whatever I say is coming from a place of obsessive self-examination, and how it ties into what I’ve heard from others. This would be true for any researcher who has had the direct experience. I don’t know if it’s possible to stay unbiased and detached in a field as highly charged as UFOs.
There has been a series of events peppered throughout my life that seem to imply some sort of otherworldly contact. As a boy I saw a weird orange flash in the sky while walking home from school and arrived home nearly two hours later than I should have. That same year I had a close-up sighting of a coffee-can-shaped UFO that vanished in the blink of an eye. As a young man, I awoke to see five skinny big-eyed “aliens” out my bedroom window. I could talk about any of these memories around the dinner table, but they were all framed as just a funny little anecdote. I have more stories like these, and they all implied the same thing, but I wasn’t going there.
All that changed on Sunday, March 10, 2013. I call this my Confirmation Event.
That night, I was on a lonely road in southern Utah driving home from a UFO conference. Rather than getting a hotel room I simply pulled off and slept out under the stars. It was cold and beautiful, and at some point I awoke to see a giant round structure positioned on the top of a nearby hill. It had a ring of lights around its outer surface and my first thought was, “That looks just like a landed flying saucer.”
I lay there probably for an hour, staring at it. I figured it was nothing more than a big house, and I eventually rolled over and went to sleep. This was the opening salvo in a long set of weird events.
As an aside, I went back to that same spot a year later to see if there really was a big round house on that hill spot. There was nothing.
The day after arriving home from the UFO conference, while standing next to my desk, I had what I can only call a psychic flash. I clearly saw a map of southern Utah with a straight yellow line running west to east with three points along its length. The image lasted no more than a second, and I immediately sat at my computer and began to create a map to match what I had seen.
I knew the easternmost point was the event from the previous day. I also knew the westernmost point—it was the sight of a terrifying experience in a tent from the spring of 2010. I was camping with a close friend, Natascha, just outside of Dolores, Colorado, and both of us woke up screaming. The next thing I remember was floating up, passing through the top of the tent and arriving in an endless white realm. The next morning I awoke with an eleven-inch scratch across my chest. It looked as if it could have been made by a single rose thorn dragged across my skin. But when examined closely, it wasn’t a scratch at all. Instead, it was a row of tiny fluid-filled blisters all bunched together. I have no memory of how this could’ve happened.
The site along the center of the yellow line was an event from 2011, again with Natascha. We slept in a secluded spot in the glorious red rock desert of southern Utah; no tent, just lying out on the sand. It was a cold, clear moonless night with amazing stars, and Natascha decided to go for a walk along the dirt road. She hadn’t gone very far when she saw something odd. Her first thought was there was someone with a very bright flashlight out in the sagebrush, but it was moving along too smoothly and too low. After a few moments, she realized she was looking at a glowing orb of light, maybe two-feet wide. She watched in amazement as it floated towards her, then suddenly exploded in a bright flash, and vanished.
Natascha was scared and ran back to our campsite. I’d been lying there awake the entire time she had been gone and I was listening to the loud hooting of a great horned owl, seemingly in the bushes right near my head.
While sitting at my computer creating this map, I was stunned when these three separate events all lined up exactly along a perfectly straight line, 231 miles long. You could zoom in to view the line at one-pixel thick, and it crossed right over the spot in the sand where I had been listening to the owl. Seeing the exactness of those three sites along that line changed everything. My old life had ended. From that moment on, I could no longer deny what had been happening to me. Continued ...
“THE EXPERIENCE IS IMPORTANT” by Mike Clelland is an extract from his contribution to UFOs: Reframing the Debate edited by Robbie Graham.