Wizards, Workings and Walk-Ins: Enter Ashtar

I've been re-reading John Keel's Operation Trojan Horse and finding I'm not quite as impressed as I was the first time I read it. Before it seemed like a marvelous corrective to ETH orthodoxy, but on re-reading I was often struck by Keel's lack of discernment (if not outright blarney) and kneejerk tendency to ascribe everything to his "Ultraterrestrials." It actually started to remind me a bit of Ancient Aliens, in the way it offers a one size-fits-all answer to every question.

Too often Keel ascribed an event to the these beings when it was painfully obvious the real culprit was madness or plain, old-fashioned bullshit. There's also more than a bit of irrational paranoia in its pages and a tendency towards Collins Elitism, something we're seeing quite a bit of as the old guard of UFOlogy heads for the barn.

I don't want to paint too negative a picture here-- I wouldn't have stuck with it (I'm on the last chapter of my re-read) had I not found a lot of value in the book. Regular readers know I don't subscribe to the ETH myself but rather what I call the Elusive Companion Hypothesis, which links UFOs and related phenomena to the ancient race of "Watchers," known to the Sumerians as the Igigi.

Aside from people like Tim Beckley, LA Marzulli and the Collins Elite-- who obviously bring their own religious agendas to the table -- I don't see any persuasive evidence that the Watchers do much besides watch, though I do believe they made it their business to mess with our heads when they became concerned about the Cold War and the nuclear arms race.

Indeed, Keel and I are in agreement on the virtual nature of contact and abduction events, something I had intuited back when I started thinking about this stuff again. This paragraph here is one of the nuggets of pure gold this book has to offer:
The well-investigated miracles are proof that the human mind can be exposed to induced hallucinations and that information can somehow be inserted into the mind by some unknown mechanism. In most contactee events, the percipient is alone or with a small group when the UFO contact occurs. Such percipients suffer medical effects which indicate that the "contact" was actually hallucinatory, just as the episodes involving children and religious entities have proven to be wholly or partially hallucinatory.

The event or vision takes place only in the mind, not in reality. The exterior manifestations are merely part of that mechanism, a byproduct rather than a cause. It is likely that an outsider trespassing on the scene of a UFO contact would see the contactee standing in a rigid trance, just as the witnesses to miracles see only the children in a blind trance state.

The contactee's real experience is in his or her mind as some
powerful beam of electromagnetic energy is broadcasting to that mind, bypassing the biological sensory channels.
This brings me back to what Mike Clelland and I discussed about some of 50s contact cases -- and maybe even the Betty and Barney Hill case as well-- a sighting is followed by a witness reporting being struck with some kind of paralyzing beam before undergoing this bizarre, impossible experience, of which the details are always radically different and therefore unbelievable.

Keel repeatedly argues that the Ultraterrestrials have no physical form and take form according to what the observer expects.
I couldn't help but think of my recent encounter with the anomalous, in that the figure I saw (small, as they usually are) seemed formless before taking shape (and as I discussed with Mike, a man in Scotland had an almost identical encounter back in the 70s but took ill with symptoms of radiation exposure afterwards).

Scott Corrales' recent post on UFOs and cemeteries was also on my mind, given that there are no less than six boneyards within walking distance of where I sit, including one bursting with high initiate symbolism.

But what I kept thinking is that how you approach this issue is how it will ultimately present itself to you. We see people who think the UFOnauts are angels, we see people who think they are demons. We see people who think they are extraterrestrials, we see people who think they are energy beings playing dress-up. We see even more people who think it's all a bunch of nonsense. In this, the phenomenon is the tabula rasa that Jung argued it was in Flying Saucers- a blank screen onto which the observers project their own unconscious contents.

And then there's Jack Kirby.

DC recently published an omnibus of Jack's late 50s work, including many of his weirdest UFO stories. I found it a bit irritating the editors credited the writer as "Unknown," when a houseplant could spot Jack's obsessions a light year away. We've looked at some of those stories in this series, but this was another one that synched up with my Trojan Horse re-read. First a bit of background...

If you've poked around the fever-swamps of space brother UFOlogy you've probably heard the name Ashtar here and there, particularly the neo-Theosophist, vaguely authoritarian Ashtar Space Command. Keel writes that Ashtar has been with us for quite some time:
Thousands of mediums, psychics and UFO contactees have been receiving mountains of messages from "Ashtar" in recent years. Mr. Ashtar represents himself as a leader in the great intergalactic councils that hold regular meetings on Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, and many planets unknown to us. But Ashtar is not a new arrival. Variations of this name, such as Ashtaroth, Ashar, Asharoth, etc., appear in demonological literature throughout history, both in the Orient and the Occident. Mr. Ashtar has been around a very long time, posing as assorted gods and demons and now, in the modern phase, as another glorious spaceman.
Ashtar also made an appearance during the Contactee craze of the 1950s, when an eccentric doctor (who'd later show up in the story of The Council of Nine) got himself in the papers when he claimed that Ashtar had chosen him as a prophet of doom, naming the time and place of The End:
Dr. Charles A. Laughead, an MD on the staff of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, started communicating with as­ sorted entities "from outer space" in 1954, largely through trance mediums who served as instruments for Ashtar and his cronies from that great intergalactic council in the sky.

A number of minor prophecies were passed along, and as usual, they all came true on the nose. Then Ashtar tossed in his bombshell. The world was going to end on December 21, 1954, he announced convincingly...A few chosen people would be rescued by spaceships. Naturally, Dr. Laughead and his friends were among that select group. Having been impressed by the validity of the earlier predictions of the entities, Dr. Laughead took this one most seriously, made sober declarations to the press, and on December 21, 1954, he and a group of his fellow believers clustered together in a garden to await rescue.
Needless to say they waited a long time. Either that or got really drunk and laughed the whole thing off. Again, Keel chalked this up to the Ultraterrestrials and their vicious pranks. But when a weirdo like Andrija Puharich thinks you're a flake (I'm looking at you, Dr. Laughead), chances are good you might have a screw or two that needs tightening.

The story seemed to make an impression on Kirby, though. He cast Ashtar as a mysterious figure (wearing a mask, no less) who checks into a hotel. Shades of Keel's Men in Black, he's stymied when presented with a pen.

A detective decides to see what this weirdo is up (he might be a Red, after all) and spies him walking through a door, alien-style.

The detective confronts the stranger and discovers he's a time traveler (shades of Redfern's Men in Black) who's come back in time to help save future earth from a Martian invasion. Longtime readers might remember that Kirby posited a classic Grey as a time traveler in Black Panther, though that character had more familiar Ultraterrestrial psychotronic capabilities. Kirby never let a good obsession go to waste.

And here's where the story gets weird- it's almost as if the pictures and the text are telling two different stories. Ashtar is giving the dick some bullshit song-and-dance about being from the future and needing blueprints and all of the rest of it but at the same time we get the impression Ashtar is hypnotizing the poor slob and telepathically implanting the usual contactee rigmarole about flying through the sky and walking through walls. All well before these kinds of stories became common in abductee reports.

And then we hear more riffs from the abductee hit parade-- the mysterious flash of light, the mysterious figures out of the corner of the eye and the vanishing stranger-- all capped off by the gumshoe suddenly falling into a deep sleep. It all ends with the detective reading Ashtar's name in the register and the date written simply as 2957. In other words, the kind of account Operation Trojan Horse is packed to the gills with.

Here again is that unconscious signal, weaving in and out of Kirby's work, telling a metastory, or even a parastory. And here again are anomalies that don't coincide with the surface text. Kirby was certainly processing Laughead's debacle from three years prior and trying to construct a narrative out of the rubble. But almost in spite of himself another story ends up being told.

More on all of this in the near future- Greg Kaminsky has invited me on to Occult of Personality to chew over this series and much more. Watch this space.


  1. "The event or vision takes place only in the mind, not in reality. The exterior manifestations are merely part of that mechanism, a byproduct rather than a cause. It is likely that an outsider trespassing on the scene of a UFO contact would see the contactee standing in a rigid trance, just as the witnesses to miracles see only the children in a blind trance state."

    This presumption is the presumption of scientific materialism which views the brain as the only producer of mind or consciousness and nature and other species as being without consciousness, and/or spirit. So in this mindset--including Jungian thought--the only reality is 'in the human mind'. Whereas many indigenous peoples do not have this worldview and rather see us IN Mind, and not only us but all species and nature.

    ALSO, I am sure you may have heard of that dramatic claimed 'abductions' in NYC of Linda Napolitano where there were reported witnesses who claimed they saw exactly what she claimed to experience--here is an account: The Daze After Manhattan Stood Still, by Yancy Spenc

    see what you think I distrust mono-theories, and feel that Reality is far weirder than we can even imagine, because it is the SOURCE OF Imagination :) lol and by 'imagination' I dont mean 'fancy' as such.

  2. Hey chris,

    speaking of AAT the Prometheus movie was a disappointment in my opinion.

    I think Ridley Scott made this movie too late post internet revolution.

    Have you seen it?


  3. Hey Chris,

    Great post. I think Keel obviously had some powerful synchronicities and experiences, and in his excitement/confusion might've let certain assumptions get the better of him. The Ultraterrestrials seem to be Keel's Unified Field Theory. I think there's an element of atmospheric, Gothic fiction in Keel's work, which might in some way account for some of the paranoia and elitism that you sense in OTH.

    While I'm open to the possibility that certain abductions might be literal and physical, I do agree that the argument for many of them being interior, virtual events is highly compelling. In my view this doesn't make contactee and abduction accounts unreal, as such. It only means that many of them are engineered psychic experiences, guided or inserted by an unknown intelligence.

    This is not hard for me to consider, since I suspect that the mysterious stuff of Psyche is the stuff that holds the universe together. It's interesting; I do believe in the literal existence of a Watcher race, or races. I also believe in the power of the Gnostic Archon concept, but tend to view that through a visionary, imaginal lens - as I feel it helps me avoid a whole host of aliens/angels/demons confusion.

    All these threads are obviously connected and inter-resonant somehow, but I'm very wary of falling into the trap of trying to create a Unified Field Theory based on these data-sets coupled with my own strange personal experiences.

    I'd much rather remain somewhat agnostic regarding the depth of certain connections and how it all fits together, as this stance seems much more growth-oriented and tends to foster a keener appreciation of Mystery, for me at least. Great stuff, bro.


  4. Interesting stuff to chew on here..

    I read Operation Trojan Horse ages ago and have been planning to reread it one of these days. I guess I subscribe to my own Elusive Companion Hypothesis, just that the elusive companions are our shadow selves, the collective unconscious, the animus mundi whose symbols and metaphors are made or appear to be made physical/quasi-physical, filtered through our culture, our fears, hopes, expectations and belief systems. Just who is manipulating who? The ultimate Trickster jest perhaps - a game we are playing with ourselves? I can't write a book here, so won't expand on why I think that.

    On the (garbled) meaning of ashtar and related sounding names, I don't have the time to look it all up, but going on fuzzy memory here (and what Chris has brought up before I think, or not?) - Ashtar is close to Ishtar, Babylonian goddess of love and war. Also an etymological association with Easter perhaps, from the goddess of spring and rebirth, Eastre and variants (celebrated on the spring equinox of course). The Hebrew Esther appears to be derived from this, once a goddess demoted to a mortal woman. A quick search shows the root meaning of Eastre - austron, to be 'shine' esp of the dawn, and from the East. I wonder if the Greek word for star, aster is derived from this same root?

    If these extraordinary High Strangeness encounters could be seen as shamanic, in other words symbolizing a spiritual rebirth or *potential* rebirth to the percipient or witness, then the meaning of ashtar and variants makes sense. Of course this is just speculation. The unconscious is far more clever and uh conscious than our everyday so-called consciousness, which is highly limited and cut off from the deeper currents.. Think of our dreams and their often deeper meanings and symbolism that we could never consciously come up with!

    It's worth adding that Laughead's experiences with the flying saucer group and the landings that never came, were the subject of one of the most pioneering studies in twentieth century psychology, Leon Festinger's (who infiltrated this group along with his colleagues) landmark work on cognitive dissonance, 'When Prophecy Fails'.

  5. Chris, have you thought about writing a book about Jack Kirby's cosmic/esoteric/prophetic comics, expanding on some of your work in this blog? I think this would a fascinating book! And if you don't want to do it, maybe I will. It's time we moved beyond mere fandom and started spreading the religion of Kirbyism!

  6. My own inclination is to see the whole range of trance and visionary experiences as something like the situation described in certain science fiction stories where the protagonists are on an alien planet or passing through the fourth dimension and cope with their inability to comprehend what they see around them by mentally "translating" it into familiar beings and objects.

    In other words, I believe these are encounters with a genuine higher reality -- but one that is so foreign to our ordinary experience that we have to hallucinate furiously in order to interact with it at all. Sometimes those hallucinations take the form of seemingly normal people who might speak and act strangely or be slightly "off" in ways that fall into the uncanny valley. Sometimes they involve monsters, or bizarre technology, or images out of traditional myth or fantasy.

    And those same images and situations can appear even we are not dealing with actual visionary experiences but rather with the free play of the imagination in artists or authors. It seems as though such things well up spontaneously any time the normal censor mechanisms are relaxed.

    But in every one of these cases, I would argue that the surface appearance of what is experienced is irrelevant and that it's only the content of what is being communicated that matters.

    Looking at it that way, I tend not to get particularly caught up in the question of who or what is the ultimate source of these messages. It could be a higher capacity of our own minds, one that has access to certain forms of non-sensory knowledge. It could be superior beings of one kind or another. It could be some sort of cosmic collective consciousness. Or we may be dealing with a level of reality on which all three of these are ultimately identical, in which case trying to argue that it's A and not B is simply a low-level distraction.

  7. I won't disagree that most of what is discussed here regarding intelligence in energy is not valid. It surely is, in that energy IS intelligent in all it's forms but the higher the form, such as plasma, will no doubt be imbued with higher intelligence. However, we cannot discard the physical phenomena of UFO's. Is it such a stretch to think that these vehicles could be physical machinations of off world beings ?
    We as physical humans have built tin cans powered by crude propulsion systems, have ventured out into space. With the physical Universe being so vast, can we disregard the idea that there are others like us out there ??? Certain humans on this planet HAVE designed and built technically advanced space fairing craft far beyond the tin cans that allegedly took us to the Moon. If the Universe is full of life then it's only prudent to assume we are NOT alone as physical beings capable of traversing vast distances using advanced technologies.
    The extra dimensional aspect lends itself very well to the Gnostic ideas of demonics as well as benevolent entities BUT ... it seems the demonic has had the most sway here given our collective past as far back as we can obtain records for. Hence the Gnostic idea that this planet at the very least if not the entire ENTROPIC Universe, is THE domain of the demonic, the creation of the EVIL mind as per Dr. Chiappolone's writings. I find some of his material fathomable and some not. I'm on board with plasma energy being intelligent beyond that of say conventional EM such as electricity which is a subset of plasma energy or a bleed off of such energy. Either way it's all energy and possesses some level of intelligence. If one looks at the Revealatoriums references: Intelligence is attributed to the Father and male aspect, Substance is attributed to the Mother or female aspect and ENERGY is attributed to the only begotten Son/Daughter aspect which binds the Father/Mother aspect together. This is what they refer to as the Trinity or Triune ... the third aspect, ENERGY is what conventional religion calls the holy spirit.
    I'm not sure I buy into any of that but they do make a compelling case for it, especially when you look at the geometry that describes it in terms our tiny limited brains can comprehend and touches the consciousness on a rather deep level that grabs your attention.

    It's all just speculation until one can elevate ones consciousness to a higher level where these concepts lose there paradoxical loops and make perfect sense in the non corporeal realms, where time itself has no meaning, just an illusion and all is as ONE in the ever present NOW.
    Try some DMT and you'll know what I mean. Or get lost in a long dream sleep since that realm is triggered by DMT secretions from the pineal gland.