Thursday, January 07, 2021

Beware of Flying Saucer Cults

Beware of Flying Saucer Cults

by Dr. Raymond A. Keller, II, a.k.a. “Cosmic Ray,” author of the internationally acclaimed Venus Rising series of books (Terra Alta, WV:  Headline Books, 2015-2020), available on amazon.com, while supplies last.

 Venus Rising: A Concise History of the Second Planet

Final Countdown: Rockets to Venus

Cosmic Ray's Excellent Venus Adventure

The Vast Venus Conspiracy

Lady Columba Venus Revelations


Exclusive from Dr. Raymond A. Keller’s Venus Files:  Original artwork for cover of UFO Education Center’s Cosmic Newsletter, Issue #13, February 1973, as prepared by Charlotte Blob, the Center Director, on 31 January 1973.  Dr. Keller has a complete set of the Cosmic Newsletter in addition to much of the correspondence from the Appleton, Wisconsin, headquarters of the UFO Education Center in his vast archives which are stored in a temperature-controlled storage area in the backwoods of West Virginia.

“Mythology in Embryo”

When the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung finished his groundbreaking work on the UFO enigma, Flying Saucers:  A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky (Brooklyn, New York:  Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1959), he did not totally discount the physical realities of the phenomenon but emphasized the psychological and religious factors inherent in the sightings and alleged contacts with extraterrestrial occupants, especially those manifesting “angelic” qualities.  As a psychologist, Jung was not so concerned about the interplanetary significance of UFOs.  He would leave that type of investigation up to the astronomers, or the officers in charge of the United States Air Force Project Bluebook.  Jung came to see the arrival of the flying saucers in our skies in the context of “visionary rumors.”  His book was one of the first in the frontier field of ufology to grasp some of the religious and spiritual aspects of the UFO phenomenon, that up until the late 1950s, had gone largely ignored in the world’s scientific community. 

Dr. Christopher Riche Evans (29 May 1931 – 10 October 1979) was a British psychologist, computer scientist, and author who warned in 1973 that the George Adamski contact case set a bad precedent for cult activities in the field of ufology.  

Of Jung’s unique take on the UFO phenomenon, Christian apologists Mark Albrecht and Brooks Alexander issued the following statement in an article appearing in the August 1977 issue of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project Journal (Berkeley, California), “UFOs:  Is Science Fiction Coming True?”: “In fact, the actual emergence of ufology as a ‘mythology in embryo’ rather than semi-serious science fiction first occurred some years prior to Jung’s book with the publication in 1953 of Flying Saucers Have Landed (New York, New York:  British Book Centre) by Desmond Leslie and George Adamski.”  This is quite a controversial proclamation, for it equates Adamski’s claims to have encountered the crew of a landed Venusian flying saucer in the Colorado Desert in Riverside County, California, with the conversion of ufology into a cultic movement.  

Apparently, Albrecht and Alexander were not alone in their assessment of Adamski as the spark for the cult of ufology.  British pioneer computer scientist and secular authority on the influence of science in affecting mass culture, Christopher Riche Evans, included a section on Adamski in his now classic book, Cults of Unreason (London, United Kingdom:  George G. Harrap and Company, 1973).  On page 146, Evans admits that the California contactee’s tale has its ludicrous aspects, and then continues:  “Adamski’s account of his encounter with a long-haired Venusian wearing ski-pants with whom he engaged in telepathic contact reads like a desperate travesty of the most simple-minded science fiction;” yet despite these shortcomings, Evans takes note that Adamski’s “experience” was the one that set the stage for what would become an increasing number of alleged “contact cases.”  

These cases generally follow the pattern of contact established by Adamski in his book, Flying Saucers Have Landed.  There is an unexpected meeting with, or abduction by, the ufonauts.  This usually takes place in some isolated location.  Most likely, the communication that occurs between the contactee and the alien(s) is carried out on a telepathic level, rather than verbally.  The message imparted by the extraterrestrials to the contactee generally consists of a warning that needs to be delivered to the people of Earth.  It seems that quite a few of the more familiar science fiction memes come to the fore, i.e. that the inhabitants of the Earth are in danger of ending all life on the planet with weapons of mass destruction and that they (the extraterrestrials) have come to help those of good will from behind the scenes, but are somehow prohibited from intervening directly.  It’s much like the “non-interference directive” imposed on representatives of the Federation of Planets on the Star Trek television series.  Its creator, Gene Roddenberry, probably got the idea from reading contactee literature.  Of particular concern to Christian apologists like Albrecht and Alexander, however, are the “less easily identifiable elements of occult mysticism in the contactees’ accounts.”  In this regard, the apologists point to such subtle underlying themes as the “oneness of all,” “cosmic evolution,” usually by reincarnation, and “psychic manifestations.”  

“Silent Contactees”

It would be a big mistake to dismiss this basic contactee scenario as an isolated, unusual occurrence.  Since the early 1950s, there has been an increasing number of semi-religious and even outright religious cults that have managed to spring up and crystallize around supposed communications originating from the extraterrestrial occupants of flying saucers.  Some of the more well-known include the Aetherius Society, “Billy” Eduard Albert Meier’s Freie Interessengemeinschaft für Grenz- und Geisteswissenschaften und Ufologiestudien (FIGU)/ Free Community of Interests for the Border Sciences and Ufological Studies, Bo and Peep, Eckankar, the Raelians, the School of Thought, the Solar Cross Foundation, Steven Greer’s Disclosure Project, the Urantia Group, etc.  But above and beyond these public organizations, the Australian Christian theologian Clifford Wilson has pointed out in his book, UFOs and Their Mission Impossible (Mount Waverly, Victoria, Australia:  Word of Truth Productions, 1974), page 168, that, “There is a growing army of those who claim to have actual contact with UFO occupants.  An authoritative, and possibly conservative estimate, is that there are 50,000 silent contactees in the United States alone.”  

 

George Adamski (1891-1965) is rolling over in his grave.  Adamski never wanted to see cults form around him or his “cosmic philosophy.” He claimed that thousands were in contact with the friendly extraterrestrials and that he was not the only channel.  The contactee would have been especially disappointed to see one of his former research associates heading up such a dangerous cult, besmirching his legacy.   Photo source:  Real magazine Flying Saucers Pictorial (special edition), Studio City, California, 1966, original in Keller Venus Files.

Misappropriation of Adamski Legacy

Because of the notoriety that George Adamski gained through the publication of his flying saucer books, to include some of his accurate and prophetic pronouncements about the conditions in outer space that our astronauts would discover once they ventured out beyond the Earth’s atmospheric boundary, in addition to some of the multiple witnesses attesting in writing to the reality of his initial encounter with an extraterrestrial out in the Southern California desert, it comes as no surprise that his status as the preeminent contactee would continue long after his death on 23 April 1965.  After having returned from a book tour of the Northeastern United States, Adamski was lodging in the Silver Springs, Maryland, home of two of his closest friends and research associates, Nelson and Madeleine Rodeffer.  The tour had apparently taken a toll on Adamski’s health, whence he was transported by ambulance to the Washington Sanatorium. It was there where he passed away due to congestive heart failure brought on as a result of respiratory problems.  George Adamski lived to the age of 74; but his profound legacy continues to this day, stronger than ever.  

While Adamski was alive he never established anything in the line of a cult of personality.  With the help of Hans C. Petersen, a retired Danish Royal Air Force major, however, he did manage to create an informal organization to bring those interested in the message of the space people in contact with one another to share reports of flying saucer sightings and occupant encounters in local newsletters the world over.  Adamski and Petersen referred to their friendship association as the International Get Acquainted Program (IGAP).  After Adamski’s transition to the “other side,” so to speak, others not satisfied with the casual nature of IGAP formed more cultish groups, among them Charlotte Blob of Appleton, Wisconsin and her UFO Education Center.

Following the death of George Adamski, one of his research associates, Charlotte Blob, became quite a well-known lecturer on the UFO circuit and even made a short appearance, talking about the space people, in the 1971 movie Rainbow Bridge, filmed on the island of Maui, Hawaii. It is a documentary about New Agers and hippies and the positive impact the youth movement was making on the contemporary cultural scene.

UFO Education Center Criticized as Flying Saucer Cult

Jon Funabiki, an industrious correspondent for the Copley News Service, looked into the various activities and reports of cultish practices alleged to be occurring in the UFO Education Center.  From his thorough article published in the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch of Sunday, 15 April 1979, we learn about the travails of Center member Susan Kolb, who almost divorced her husband Thomas for the prospect of talking to people from outer space.  In January 1974, the couple began attending meetings of the UFO Education Center to learn more about the UFO phenomenon.  It seems that the two had recently spotted an unusual, flashing orange light in the night sky passing over their home in Kiel, Wisconsin.  Neither of the pair had any idea what they were looking at.

But after two years of attending lectures at the Center, viewing slide shows and participating in intimate discussion sessions with other members and leaders of the group, Susan’s obsession with UFOs had certainly intensified.  Thomas found the programs at the Center interesting, but wasn’t particularly concerned about his wife’s growing attachment to the subject of UFOs and the group until one day she suddenly left him.  “It just happened overnight,” Thomas informed Funabiki, further explaining that Susan had not only shut him out of her life, but the rest of her family as well.  Susan had moved into the Center, where she worked as a volunteer, along with other members, in answering telephones, writing back to people mailing in letters and even scheduling lectures about flying saucers.  Susan even took up three jobs in order to make hefty weekly contributions to the group, ranging anywhere from $25 to $100, which was a lot of money back in the mid-1970s.  She said that she felt guilty if she let a week go by without making a financial donation to the Center.  Susan was so dedicated to the Center that she went for months with only a few hours of sleep each night.  

Susan was so committed to the group because she wanted to educate the world to “our friends, the human beings from other planets.”

Charlotte Blob (1936-2009), Director of UFO Education Center.  Many came to later see her as the leader of a dangerous “religious cult.”

Center Headquarters Moves to California

The Appleton headquarters of the UFO Education Center was located in a three-bedroom home owned by Charlotte Blob.  She also rented a home in Guadalajara, Mexico, where one day she hoped to move the entire group, where it would be untouchable by law enforcement authorities in the United States.  

Susan described the group’s membership as consisting of both adults and their children, all dedicated to studying mental telepathy, recording their thoughts in notebooks and hoping to one day speak with the “space brothers,” provided, of course, that the leaders of their commune deemed them worthy enough to do so.

The kind of lifestyle being led by these hermit-like UFO aficionados was certainly not winning the hearts and minds of the rock-ribbed conservative residents of Appleton, Wisconsin, so sometime during the last quarter of 1977, Charlotte Blob made the unilateral but interim decision to move the headquarters to Valley Center, California, where she registered it as a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation.  

By Halloween of 1977, Susan’s family could see the “writing on the wall,” so to speak, and realized that if they didn’t do something soon to liberate her from the clutches of this UFO cult, all would be lost.  Susan’s mother, Elaine Utecht, felt that the UFO Education Center was nothing but a “religious cult” that had abducted Susan one night after she was leaving her good-paying night job at the local bank.  Once in the clutches of the group, Utecht opined that her daughter was brainwashed; and she was convinced that if she didn’t do something soon, Susan would be lost to her forever once the cultists moved out to California.  

Elaine Utecht realized that she was going to need a lot of firepower to liberate Susan, and to this end, she contacted the controversial religious cult deprogrammer, Ted Patrick, to free her daughter’s mind of this sinister group’s influence.  Although she had to pay Patrick the hefty some of $5,000 for his unique services, Utecht declared, “It didn’t make any difference what it cost.  You don’t put a price on your daughter’s life.  I just wanted her to be able to sit down and think for herself.”

Elaine Utecht was happy to report that Patrick’s intervention was successful and that Susan has been reunited with her family.  “It was a rescue, not a kidnapping,” is how Susan’s mother described Patrick’s liberating operation.  At the time of the interview with Funabiki of the Copley News Service in April 1979, Susan was 25 years of age, reunited with her husband, and the mother of a four-year-old daughter; and quite pleased that her parents hired the deprogrammer. 

Reminiscing of her time in the cult, Susan declared, “It gets to the point where the Center takes over your whole existence. It’s like being addicted to a drug.  You have to keep going back.”

Cult Receives National Scrutiny 

Following all of the local attention focused on the Susan Kolb deprogramming case, most of the Wisconsin membership moved out to Valley Center, California, lock, stock and barrel, where they occupied a large white house rented by Blob.  As it was back in Wisconsin, they weren’t getting much sleep at night, being busy with UFO Education Center work; and during the hours of daylight, the members donated their labor to a printshop that published the Palomar Press in nearby San Marcos, which was the main source of the group’s collective income.  Between Blob’s home in Wisconsin and the rented houses in California and Mexico, by April 1979, it was estimated that there were 35 adults and children residing in them.  The departure of Susan Kolb led to the sporadic defection of yet more members, some by deprogramming and others simply becoming soured by the whole experience.  

The UFO Education Center seemed to be a runaway train.  The corporation’s directors appointed Catherine Reid, one of their own, to be the group’s spokesperson.  Hopefully Reid would be able to stem the tide of adverse publicity.  In a public statement, Reid declared, “We are not a mystical, occult group.”

Reid, at first, was hesitant to discuss the activities in-depth of the UFO Education Center with representatives from the media; and Charlotte Blob, the group’s founder, remained unavailable for comment, even over the telephone.  Reid explained that “Charlotte Blob doesn’t generally telephone people she hasn’t met.”  

Reid explained that the Center’s roots are found in the writings of the late George Adamski, a controversial figure in the UFO community in the 1950s and 1960s who claimed to have made friends of extraterrestrials from Venus, Mars and Saturn.  Adamski espoused a “cosmic philosophy” that offered the possibility of reincarnation on other planets for those who served the good of the universe.  

Reid failed to mention, however, that Adamski never authorized the formation of a cult around those mysteries he wrote about in his flying saucer books, or anything concerning the cosmic philosophy that he advocated.  He urged the individuals interested in his work to pursue their own paths of enlightenment and readily stated that thousands of others have been contacted by the extraterrestrials.  He wasn’t the only channel available for such esoteric knowledge.  

Escaping Cultists

Many of those who escaped from the UFO Education Center described life with the group as one of unyielding commitment- emotionally, financially and philosophically toward the Center’s work and its leader, Blob, a one-time associate of Adamski.  They also point out that for those who are thinking of dropping out, their lives are laced with feelings of guilt and fear.  Said one former member from Escondido, California, who live at the Valley Center compound for nine months with her two children, “We tried to talk the others into leaving; but they chickened out.  Blob says that when you leave, you are committing the greatest sin.”

Like Susan Kolb, others caught in the cult are encouraged to shun their parents.  This is especially so if those parents urged their children to leave the group and return home.  This forced estrangement was the cruelest part of the cult experience for a Clintonville, Wisconsin, woman whose daughter left home after graduation from high school to go live with the group in the Appleton house for three and one-half years.  This sad mother exclaimed, “She felt very hateful of us.  That’s the way they wanted it.  They did not want to the people to have anything to do with their parents.  Her letters said we didn’t mean anything more to her than the ‘manure of this Earth.’

The daughter in question, Joy Mulligan, 23, of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, was still reluctant to speak of her dark experiences with the group to her parents, even nine months after she had left it.  At the time she was involved with the UFO Education Center in Appleton, however, she did say to a reporter from her hometown newspaper that, “I am perfectly happy at the UFO Education Center and consider my contributions of money to the Center and work at the Palomar Press as my share of the living expenses.  I did not enlighten my parents about this because some people just misunderstand.”

Reid, according to the testimony of some ex-members, referred to Joy Mulligan’s mother as a “witch” for wanting her daughter to leave the UFO Education Center.  

And then there was a Greenfield, Wisconsin, woman who met a similar circumstance with her son, who was in the Appleton Center for several years.  After getting out of the group, he refused to talk about it with his mother.  He said, “I simply want to make a whole new life and forget the whole thing.”

Theologians Opine

J. Gordon Melton, the director of the Institute of American Religion in Evanston, Illinois, believes that the cultism of the UFO Education Center stems from Adamski’s “cosmic philosophy.”  The former members initially expressed only an interest in UFOs, but said they were gradually introduced to Adamski’s philosophy, which ultimately drew them completely into the organization.  Melton said that Adamski’s followers constitute the oldest of some 25 “UFO religious groups” that have formed around contactees.  “They also have a direct relationship to transcendental forces,” the theologian noted.  “Instead of godly stuff,” he added, “It’s space brothers.”

One former member, who concurred with Melton that it was all about the philosophy, declared: “The philosophy, as it was put to me, was that when you ‘pass on’ you will progress through reincarnation if you have done a responsible job at whatever you have chosen- anything of service to the universal needs, the good of all.

“You pass on to the next planet.  Earth was only like kindergarten.  Venus was the planet of love.  Saturn was the planet of balance.”

Also finding agreement with Melton was Reverend Richard D. Leach, an ordained Methodist minister and associate professor of philosophy and religion at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, who taught a course on cults and sects.  He also believes that the UFO Education Center is a cult; and he bases that opinion on numerous interviews that he has conducted with former members.  “What they hold before their members is the possibility of communicating and meeting ‘brothers,’ as they call them, from other planets,” remarked the minister, adding that, “It seems to me that their use of religious sources, including the Bible, really translates into religious and ecstatic sorts of terms.  I would say that in my understanding of a cult, they qualify.  I have talked to them and that’s not what they think.  Of course, cult has so many negative connotations that I can understand why.” 

*****

Editor’s note:  Keep reading this column for more of Dr. Raymond Keller’s updates on the George Adamski legacy.  To discover more fantastic revelations about Adamski and others in contact with the Venusians, be sure and read any of the books in the doctor’s amazing Venus Rising series (Terra Alta, West Virginia:  Headline Books, 2015-2020).  To communicate with the “Cosmic Ray,” you can reach him at his e-mail: rkeller1@mix.wvu.edu, which he checks every day when he goes outside to pick up his regular postal mail.  In the meantime, keep watching the skies!