Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another History of the Knights Templar, Part 2

History tells us some ragtag Scandinavian tribe came out of nowhere in the 10th Century and within a few decades conquered northern France, England, Sicily and Syria. Quite a feat. What history doesn't usually tell us is that four most powerful secret societies in the world would emerge from these Norman kingdoms. France produced the Knights Templar (originally composed largely of Normans), England produced the Freemasons, Sicily produced the Mafia and Syria produced the Assassins.

Quite a coincidence, don't you think?
The Templar's luck in the Holy Land was short lived. In 1187, they would pay the price for an ill-advised alliance with the deeply unpopular King Guy of Jersualem. On the orders of Guy, the Templar army set off on July 3, 1187 for so-called Horns of Hattin, near the Sea of Galilee. They were to once again meet the army of Saladin, which now included 12,000 knights. A thousand Templars accompanied by 20,000 infantrymen would be set against this fearsome Muslim army.

Another of the great military orders, the Knights Hospitaller, chose to sit this battle out, out of disgust with King Guy. For this occasion, The Templars carried with them their holiest of relics, known as ‘the True Cross’. Legend had it that this was an actual piece of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. It seemed to charm the Templars in all their previous battles. and they had no reason to believe their good fortune would run out that day.

But run out it did, along with their water. For the Templars found themselves at Hattin without anything to drink since the Saracens has dammed off the only available stream. To add insult to injury, the Muslims set the surrounding dry grass lands ablaze. By the morning of July 4th, the Templars were half mad from heat and dehydration and found themselves surrounded by the Saracen army.

Outnumbered 10 to 1, the Templars valiantly fought, but fell to the superior numbers. They were cut down like stalks of wheat. Only a small cohort remained, and these were guarding the tent of King Guy. Guy clutched on to the True Cross, alas to no avail. He and his bodyguard were taken prisoner ad brought to Saladin's camp. The captured Templars were beheaded and the foot soldiers sold into slavery.

King Guy was imprisoned but later released. But his ill-advised and poorly planned campaign against the Saracens robbed the Templars of their aura of invincibility forever. Jerusalem soon fell and the Templars and all of the other crusaders returned to Europe, broken and humbled. Several more crusades followed and several more battles, but with the rise of the powerful Mamluks in Egypt the crusader dream would be crushed and the Templars- who ended up on the losing end of so many battles- lost their original reason to exist.

The Templars continued to be wealthy and powerful. But their reputation was tarnished by the fall of the Holy Land, and they came to be seen as another bunch of rich and arrogant noblemen. Where they were once warrior monks, now they were banker monks, who controlled the most powerful central bank in all of Christendom. And it was this fact that led to their fall.


A Capetian prince named Phillip Le Bel ascended to the throne of France in 1285. Phillip was a tall and good looking man, who had great plans for France. He would succeed where Charlemagne had failed and create an unified Christian empire with France at its head.

To do so, Philip needed money. Lots of money. He went about raising it by rounding up the nation's Jews and seizing their assets. He then taxed the French churches. When the Church protested, he installed a French archbishop named Betrand De Goth and named him Clement V. He then had the papal seat moved to Avignon in order to consolidate his power. Philip was no genius though, and his foreign campaigns went badly and put a strain on the French treasury.

Philip then looked around for the next source of plunder. He fixed his eyes on the banks of the Knights Templar. Legend has it that he first became aware of the Templar's vast wealth when he sought refuge in a Templar vault after being chased by angry mob who were angered by his devaluation of the French currency. At first, Philip attempted to join the order.

Rebuffed in this, he then set his puppet pope Clement to work on an Inquisition against the Templars. This would give him the excuse needed to close down the order and siphon off their wealth into his faltering war machine. Charges were drawn up including heresy, blasphemy, sodomy, and usury. It was known that the Templars held their rituals in secret and at night. It was claimed that there they worshipped the severed head of a man which they called Baphomet, trampled upon the cross, denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and practiced weird homosexual rites.

On October 13th, 1307, a papal bull was sent out to arrest all the Knights Templar in Europe. Many knights were tortured and forced to sign confessions. Many chose to die rather than defame the order. Some confessed and then recanted. But the arrest order was ignored in many lands, particularly the British Isles. In some countries the Templars were allowed to change their names and/or the names of the Order. Some simply were allowed to leave the Order and join other orders like the Hospitalers or the Teutonic Knights.

It is widely believed that the last Templar grand master, Jacques De Molay, anticipated Philip's betrayal and ordered the bulk of the Templar's treasure shipped out to Scotland, where the Scottish king Robert the Bruce had offered the Templars sanctuary. Robert had already been excommunicated by the church, so he had little to fear from Clement's condemnation.

It has long been speculated on that Clement went along with this inquisition reluctantly, and that he had written a letter of absolution on behalf of Jacques De Molay in 1308. This did DeMolay little good. He and his henchman Geoffroy de Charnay both recanted their confessions while on trial in 1314, and were sentenced to be burned at the stake. On March 18, 1314, they were put to death. DeMolay’s last words were a curse on the life of both King Philip and Pope Clement.

The next month lightning struck the church where Clement lay sleeping and completely consumed the building and the body of Clement. He would not be remembered well by history. In fact, Dante assigned Clement to the Eight Circle of Hell in his Divine Comedy. Philip would fare little better. He would pass into his own hellish circle on November 29th of the same year. The Capetian dynasty soon earned the name ‘the Cursed Kings’ and his line collapsed in 1328.

Almost immediately after DeMolay's execution a rich and varied mythology grew up around the Templars. They were soon seen as ‘the Murdered Magicians' whose wealth and supernatural powers were beyond all imagining. Speculations aroused by the spurious charges filed against them by the Inquisition granted the Templars a mystique that focused on their forbidden rites and practices.

Baphomet came to be seen as everything from the head of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, to the head of a goat, to the head of a two-faced man, to the head of John the Baptist himself. One recent theory has it that Baphomet is a conjunction of the great words baph and metis, meaning ‘baptism’ and ‘wisdom’ respectively. It was later said that rather than being mere military escorts, the Templars were actually charged to excavate Jerusalem in search of the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant. It was said that the Templars housed the Ark in their church in Ethiopia.

Some said the Templars rode in at the very last moment to save the army of Robert the Bruce from defeat at the hands of the English at Bannockburn. It was said that they brought the Holy Grail to Scotland and built Rosslyn Chapel to house it.

It's been said that the Templars discovered the true origins of Christianity when they encountered Gnostics and other heretical groups in Jersualem and Egypt. It was said that the Templars learned the Dark Arts from the Assassins and the devil-worshipping Yazidis.Some even say they reemerged in the guise of a secret society in the 17th Century that would have a powerful impact on the world in the coming years. Some have even said that this secret society eventually would shake the very foundations of the city-state that housed the Templars' former enemies.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Another History of the Knights Templar, Part 1

The Templars have burst back into the Memestream, mostly due to the senseless Norway massacre. The Templars have been the topic of endless conjecture and speculation over the years and there's no shortage of groups claiming to be the true remnant of the old order. Umberto Eco went so far as to write a novel on European Templar mania, Foucault's Pendulum.

An undercurrent of darkness has followed Templar revivalism even before the recent events in Norway and the emergence of another Templar order (in the form of a drug cartel) in Mexico. The cult known as The Order of the Solar Temple inspired a series of mass suicides/murders in the 90s. Death and tragedy seem to be inextricably linked to this powerful meme.

In light of all of this, I wanted to pull this piece out of my archives. In it I trace the prehistory of the Templars, their links to the mysterious Normans and the survival of Templar memes in Freemasonry and into popular culture today. Modern mass media controls our understanding of complex historical issues by divorcing them from history and excising any truths seen to be inconvenient to the manufactured consensus. I hope this work will put it all back in perspective.

The idea of the Knights Templar is a very powerful meme and has a nearly tidal pull over some very powerful-- and dangerous-- people. Hopefully, this series will shine some light on the subject for you...

The Cult of Constantine did not save the West.
The New Jerusalem never came from the clouds and saved Europe from the disease, death and ignorance left in the wake of the Fall of Rome. Those Romans who believed that the sack of Rome was divine retribution for the Empire’s abandonment of the old gods would find much evidence to corroborate their suspicions in the centuries following the disastrous reign of Theodosius. Roman art, science, medicine, architecture and education were all set back hundreds, if not thousands, of years with the rise of this new faith. A entity that men called ‘Rome’ would continue in the East, but it was a merely an Imperial vestige whose fall was long and gradual, rather than sudden and catastrophic like that in the West.

The Byzantine Empire, as this remnant of Rome has come to be known, soon became nothing but a relentlessly shrinking Christian island in the middle of a new religious tide rushing forth from the Arabian peninsula called Islam. Founded in the Seventh century by an Arabian merchant turned warlord named Mohammed, Islam lived up to its name (Islam means "submission") and soon brought most of the Middle East under its boot. The Islamic campaign would then spread like wildfire and conquer most of North Africa by the middle of the Eighth Century. Islam’s swordsmen were relentless in seeking to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the Roman Empire. Its colonizers would spread so far as southern Spain, which became a major Islamic center in the Dark Ages.

As wielded by the mighty nation of the Turks, the sword of Islam would reach deep into Central Europe, until the tide turned in the early 15th Century. A key figure in the repulsion of the advancing Turks was a particularly horrific sadist named Vlad Tepes of Wallachia. This Romanian warlord delighted in impaling his enemies, often by the tens of thousands. And his list of enemies was not limited to Turks and Muslims. It also included thousands of his own subjects, many of whom were ethnically German Christians. Vlad the Impaler is known to us today through his ceremonial name, Dracula.


In the Eighth Century, a petty Frankish warlord named Charlemagne labored to reunify Europe. The resulting conglomeration- made of mainly Germanic central European kingdoms- became known as the ‘Holy Roman Empire’. Historians today delight in pointing out that Charlemagne's ‘Reich’ was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire. It soon began to fall apart, but Europe remained more or less reunited under the banner of the Roman Church. The wheels of Charlemagne’s Empire were greased with the blood of tens of thousands of Saxons, who resisted the State Cult in favor of their native gods.

They would not be the only martyrs of the old Northern faiths. For it would be the sword-- not the Word-- that would bring the peoples of the North to their knees before the cross. The Eighth Century also saw the rise of the Reconquista in Spain, where the Islamic colonists were eventually expelled by a confederation of Gothic and Frankish kings. Norman armies were also busy expelling Islamic occupations from traditionally Roman territories like Sicily and Sardinia.

In 1074, Pope Gregory issued a call for Christians to go to Byzantium to the Eastern Empire in their struggles against the Turks. Gregory was unsuccessful, but Pope Urban II had better luck in his call for a crusade against the Islamic occupation of Jerusalem. His motivations were not purely spiritual. Europe was plagued by infighting, as recently converted warrior tribes in the hinterlands had little to do except fight one another. Urban sweetened the pot by informing his subjects that unlike dirty, crowded, miserable Europe, the Holy Land was one of endless riches and sunshine. Needless to say, his words had a singular effect on the oppressed peasants of Europe.


Thus began the First Crusade. And it was a disaster. A monk named Peter the Hermit raised his own army of peasants to aid the Byzantines at Constantinople, which came to number 100,000. This army bumbled their way through southeastern Europe, and spent most of their time either starving half to death or engaging other Christian armies in battle. The Byzantines were nothing but bemused by this ragtag army and sent them off to Asia Minor. There the would-be Crusaders were mowed down en masse by the fierce Turkish army.

Next to take up the Cross and the Sword were a band of more experienced warriors from the German territories. However, this band of thugs could not have been too experienced because they went north towards the Rhine instead of south towards Jerusalem. The so-called 'German Crusaders' then decided it would be easier and more fun to slaughter thousands of unarmed Jews in leafy green German cities than fight seasoned Muslim warriors in the burning sun of Canaan. Urban's glorious war wasn't getting off to a great start. Perhaps the Church's burning all of those pagan libraries and its policy of mandating illiteracy and superstition among the peasantry was ill-advised.

Another wave of crusaders was soon launched, led by a band of French-speaking Norman princes. They dragged an army of peasants in their wake, some of whom were veterans from Peter's ‘People's Crusade’. This pack of Crusaders made it to Constantinople, but Byzantine King Alexius wasn't too thrilled to deal with a bunch of Norman warlords, since the Normans had spent the past few hundred years harassing the Byzantines. However, Alexius was successful in wresting a loyalty oath from the Normans and lent them a Byzantine army escort. This conglomeration made it to the Turkish stronghold of Dorylaeum, where the Crusaders would eventually defeat the Muslim army of Kilij Arslan. Then they marched to Antioch. The Crusaders laid siege to the Islamic city-state, but were eventually laid low by infighting, an outbreak of Typhus and a lack of supplies.

Their numbers greatly diminished, the ‘Prince’s Crusade’ finally made it to Jerusalem. On July 15, 1099, the Crusaders then began a massacre were they proceeded to annihilate every man, woman, and child within the city walls. Jews, Muslims and Christians all fell beneath the sword, until the blood ran in the streets up to the Crusader's ankles. A Norman government was then instituted with Godfrey of Boullion at its head, and the Holy Land was officially open for business.


The late Eleventh Century was a great time to be a Norman. Thirty three years prior to the conquest of Jerusalem, the Normans had conquered Anglo-Saxon Britain as well. The Norman shadow also looms large over the formation of an order of Crusaders officially known as ‘the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.’ This group was founded in 1119 by Hughes De Payens and a group of nine knights. Their original commission called on them to safeguard the passage of European pilgrims to the holy city of Jerusalem. But under the patronage of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, their reputations, ranks and treasuries grew. This once-obscure band of military escorts soon came under no one's authority but the Pope himself.

As the order grew, the Templars graduated from their duties as escorts to becoming a full-fledged military order. Yet these knights were also monks, and were required to take the usual oath of poverty, chastity and obedience required of monastic orders by the Church of Rome. Templar knights made their headquarters on the Temple Mount in the so-called Stables of Solomon. They were known by their distinctive uniforms which featured the so-called ‘Cross of St. George’, the red on white cross known today in the flags of both England and the International Red Cross relief agency.

However, the Templar cross was not the same type as the more-familiar ‘Latin Cross’. It’s form is known as the Cross Patee - an equilateral cross with wings at the ends of each point and if often depicted in a circular form. In truth, the Templar cross is an ancient Assyrian Sun Cross. Another pre-Christian symbol was seen in the Templar seal. The famous two knights on horseback image associated with the Templars dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, birthplace of the Shemsu Hor. The Hittites associated this image with Astarte, whose Egyptian equivalent is Hathor.

The Templars soon became renowned for the ferocity on the field of battle. One of the oaths required of Templars was that they never surrender on the field of battle. It was promised that if they died in battle against an unbeliever, their place in Heaven would be instantly assured. How familiar that sounds to us today. Indeed, Templar knights were pivotal in the victory of the Christian King Baldwin IV over the Saracen army of the legendary Muslim warlord, Saladin. The military prowess of the Templars was such that only 80 Templars along with 500 knights and a few thousand foot soldiers were able to decimate Saladin's 30,000 strong army. The Muslim generals fearsome bodyguard of Mamluks were annihilated entirely.

If all that weren't enough, the Templars soon became entrusted with the treasuries of the pilgrims. This added to the already unimaginable wealth donated to the Templars by nobleman and initiates. Indeed, the entire concept of branch banking began with the Templars, as well as did a sort of credit system. A pilgrim was able to deposit his money in a Templar bank in Europe and then withdraw an equivalent sum at the end of his voyage. This system was instituted to safeguard the wealth of those traveling to the Holy Land, since they were subject to the predations of pirates, thieves and enemy soldiers. The Templars then used their wealth to institute a massive building program, consisting of fortresses, churches and public buildings. In addition, they founded a massive naval fleet which policed the Mediterranean on behalf of the Church.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nightmares in Camelot, Part 3: Aliens and Alchemists

The pilot episode of The Outer Limits "The Galaxy Being" (originally titled "Please Stand By") stands along side Star Trek's pilot "The Cage" and the pilot for The X-Files as a definitive statement of intent as well as an indelible blueprint for what was to come.
All three are self-contained works in and of themselves that stand alone as art; short feature films that stand alongside the best sci-fi cinema. Their relative short length is no handicap, no stain on their perfection.

Unlike Chris Carter, Leslie Stevens and Gene Roddenberry both stood back from their creations, and let others take the reins- Joseph Stefano and Gene Coon, respectively. But their pilots were so complete, so perfect (and self-replicating, in a sense) that the new producers needed only to be faithful to the original vision. Even when Ben Brady took the reins in The Outer Limits' second season, the reverberations of "The Galaxy Being" continued, with episodes like "Keeper of the Purple Twilight" and "The Inheritors."

What was so powerful about Stevens' script that it laid the foundations for generations of TV sci-fi to come? For those of you who haven't seen it, here's a brief synopsis:
Allan Maxwell, a cottage-industry scientist and tinkerer, constructs a high-powered transceiving device as an adjunct to his commercial radio broadcasting station. He makes accidental contact with an alien who is doing essentially the same thing, billions of miles away. "We're both breaking the rules," Allan observes. A power surge causes the unintended teleportation of the alien to Earth, where its nitrogen-based, super-radioactive form causes the usual monster movie havoc as it searches for Allan.

The National Guard rolls in to obliterate it and Allan's wife is wounded by a trigger-happy soldier. Holed up in the radio shack with Allan, the creature cauterizes the wound with radiation and saves her life.

Using Allan's translating computer, the alien denounces the soldiers and populace for reacting in fear and panic to its unintended visit, then uses its powers to disintegrate the radio tower in a show of superior force. Aware that it will be destroyed by its own race, the alien "tunes" itself out of existence by damping Allan's transmitter power.

It does not die; rather, it leaves Allan with the sure knowledge of an existence transcending mere physical death: "No death in my dimension," the alien has told him. "Electromagnetic waves go on to infinity - Matter, infinity, space, time - all the same."
What "The Galaxy Being" is is simply a Space Age retelling of the old Alchemist and the Angel trope. Allen (read: Alien) is using high technology to reach into Heaven and bring back an angel. As Jacques Vallee puts it in Passport to Magonia:
Throughout medieval times, a major current of thought distinct from official religion existed, culminating in the works of the alchemists and hermetics. Among such groups were to be found some of the early modern scientists and men remarkable for the strength of their independent thinking and for their
adventurous life, such as Paracelsus. The nature of the beings who mysteriously appeared, dressed in shiny garments or covered with dark hair, and with whom communication was so hard to establish intrigued these men intensely.
The Enochian Keys are nicely updated in The Outer Limits when Maxwell uses his computer to translate the alien's language. Maxwell isn't interested in silly Plait-like nonsense about space rocks or the behaviors of gas clouds in vacuums, he wants the big answers about the nature of existence. He's also seeking to use this knowledge to make his name in the world of science.

What the alien imparts to him is entirely spiritual in nature- or would be regarded as such by the Nobel Committee. Joseph Stefano would explore similar themes in his landmark episode "The Bellero Shield," and add in some appropriate Shakespearean themes via MacBeth, as well as themes taken from Nordic mythology (and some Sapphic undertones thrown in for resonance/seasoning).

The late Robert Anton Wilson explores these kinds of contacts in depth in the first volume of Cosmic Trigger, quoting Timothy Leary:
Interstellar ESP may have been going on for all our history, Tim (Leary) went on, but we just haven't understood. Our nervous systems have translated their messages into terms we could understand. The "angels" who spoke to Dr. Dee, the
Elizabethan scientist-magician, were extraterrestrials, but Dee couldn't comprehend them in those terms and considered them "messengers from God." The same is true of many other shamans and mystics.
Indeed, these contacts-- whether actual or aspirational --lie at the heart of Alchemical enterprise. All of the great masters were primarily concerned with contact with --and harnessing the power of-- angels. Wilson explores this motif in the context of the work of Carlos Casteneda and explains that these experiences didn't end at the dawn of the Enlightenment, but were in fact common among the great scientific visionaries of the 19th and early 20th Century:
However, might we dare consider that Mescalito may be
just what the shamans (who know him best) always say he is—
one of the "spirits" of the vegetation? Too silly an idea for
sophisticates like ourselves? Paracelsus, the founder of mo-
dern medicine, believed in such spirits and claimed frequent
commerce with them. So did the German poet Goethe and
the pioneer of organic agriculture, Rudolph Steiner...
Or consider Gustav Fechner, the creator of scientific psy-
chology and psychological measurement. Fechner lost his
sight and then regained it, after which he asserted that with
his new vision he saw many things normal people do not see-
including auras around humans and other living creatures,
and vegetation spirits just like Mescalito....

Thomas Edison became so convinced of their literal existence that he spent many years trying to develop a photographic process that would render them visible.
Tesla's greatest discovery was the mechanism by which
alternating current can be electrically generated and used.

This illumination came to Tesla in a series of quasi-mystical visions during his adolescence. The key events were: 1. The visions themselves, in some of which Tesla literally went into trance and talked to entities nobody else could see...
In his essay "John Dee and Edward Kelley: Sex, Lies, and Angels," P.T. Mistlberger explores the specifics of the Enochian workings of the two legendary intellectual outlaws, revealing traces of the ancient astronauts (make that further traces, since The Book of Enoch is one of the most lucid accounts of alien contact in all of history):
Dee’s esoteric work with Kelley—in specific, the ‘angelic’ séances—lasted just over five years, from March of 1582, to May of 1587. Their usual manner of operating together was to begin with a prayer, followed by uncovering a ‘shewstone’, a viewing device in which Kelley would see visions, report them to Dee, who dutifully recorded them and later worked to make sense of them.

The object used by Kelley in which to see the visions was either a rock crystal globe, or a black obsidian ‘magic mirror’, both items of which have survived and can still be seen in the British Museum. The obsidian, also known as volcanic glass, is the black circular disc seen below (the small rock crystal, or crystal ball, lies in front of it).

The black obsidian was originally an Aztec device (used by Aztec shamans for divination), plundered from Mexico in the 1520s by Cortes' people. How it came into Dee's possession is unknown.
I can't help but think of Elizabeth Fraser as well as Allan Maxwell's translation computer when Mistlberger explains the nature of these communications:
The visions seen by Kelley were exclusively concerned with angels, and their transmission of a language that they claimed to be the primordial language of humanity. Much of the work of these ‘spiritual conferences’ was enormously tedious and difficult, often not producing much of substance more than the angels making something like angelic small-talk, peculiar religious references that at times sound like gibberish, or correcting errors in transmission.
Mistlberger then explores the enigmatic nature of these comminiques in language that any Synchromystic would be proud to call their own:
Indeed, one might reasonably question the entire body of material brought forth by Kelley, and why ‘angels’ would need to communicate through such a strangely indirect method. Why not just speak simply and directly to the two men? This all addresses a broader theme, an idea found in many wisdom traditions—perhaps spelled out most clearly in Gnosticism—which is that the world we humans inhabit is remote, degraded, and ‘far away’ from higher, more refined dimensions of existence.
This too is a common theme throughout The Outer Limits as well, especially but not exclusively in "The Galaxy Being". And Allan Maxwell- among many other AstroGnostic visionaries throughout the original OL series would take the teachings of Cornelius Agrippa to heart:
In his book Occult Philosophy, Agrippa explained that magic was not connected with demons or sorcery but with the personal gift of psychic powers, and that the secret of using such powers was to successfully blend philosophy with physics and mathematics.

He also maintained that in order to produce the desired effects, or achieve communion with the divine, the magician had to use his will power and be well aware of the natural harmonies. He was deeply interested in medieval magic but wanted to free it from the dangerous rituals of witches and sorcerers, while tying to merge occult knowledge from northern Europe with Italian occultism.
And again, Agrippa's teachings on the nature and purpose of symbolic communication should strike a note with any serious Synchroid:
In the three books of his masterpiece, The Occult Philosophy, Agrippa divides the world in three sections: the elementary, the celestial and the intellectual, and believes that every inferior world is governed by its superior.

His first book deals with the elementary or material world, whose main elements are: earth, water fire and air. In his second book, he deals with the celestial world, the magic properties of science and mathematics, and how the material world is influenced by celestial bodies and astrology.

In his third book, he describes the spiritual world of angels, other heavenly beings and spirits, and the way one can communicate with them and with God, by using secret symbols and special talismans.
And so we see in The Outer Limits, as driven outsiders seek to transcend the mandated limitations of corporate science by appealing to angelic forces. But there is also a darker current in these narratives as well, one that traces back to the shamanic era. And that is contact with lesser angels or daemons which was passed down to the vulgar masses as "deals with the Devil."

These lower daemons offered the alchemist/shaman/whatever wealth and power on the material plain, which everyone from the Gnostics to Alchemists like Agrippa taught was the lowest of all forms of existence. Even the modern Alchemist Terence McKenna taught that this plane was the lowest- the deadest- of all possible options.

Sci-Fi variations of these deals with devils are sprinkled throughout the original Outer Limits (see The Sixth Finger, OBIT, It Crawled Out of the Woodwork, Don't Open Till Doomsday, The Invisibles, etc., etc.) but the best example of this trope is "Keeper of the Purple Twilight" in which a hot-headed scientist trades his emotions (read: his soul) to a hostile alien in exchange for the formulae needed to build his doomsday weapon.

Of course the archetypal narrative of the Alchemist and the Fallen Angel is Faust. As written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust tells the story of the scholar who seeks to know everything there is to know, from the scientific to the magical. This opens him up to temptation which comes in the form of Mephistopheles (who first appears in the form of a dog) who offers ultimate knowledge in exchange for his soul.

Whatever Goethe's original inspiration for Faust was, the book exists today as a startling work of prophecy, accurately depicting the entirety of the scientific establishment which serves absolutely no one but the Military-Industrial-Globalist oligarchy. Any benefit to the rest of us is an accidental by-product.

Strangely enough, Goethe had his own close encounter which he described in exacting detail. His experience sounds like any number of alien encounters from modern literature or sci-fi. In fact, it would have fit in quite nicely in any old episode of The Outer Limits:
All at once, in a ravine on the right-hand side of the way, I saw a sort of amphitheatre, wonderfully illuminated. In a funnel-shaped space there were innumerable little lights gleaming, ranged step-fashion over one another; and they shone so brilliantly that the eye was dazzled. But what still more confused the sight was that they did not keep still, but jumped about here and there, as well downwards from above as vice versa, and in every direction. The greater part of them, however, remained stationary, and beamed on.

Goethe, quoted by Jacques Vallee
From a Scientistic point of view all of these narratives are delusion at worst, fantasy at best. They're hardly more defensible in light of the extraterrestrial hypothesis of nonhuman contact, given how relatively frequent and far-reaching they are. Looked at in the context of the Elusive Companion Hypothesis, they're almost inevitable.


Monday, July 11, 2011

The Elusive Companions: The Secret Commonwealth

We see the world through an extremely limited band of the electromagnetic spectrum. The same goes for our hearing. We consciously process a remarkably tiny proportion of the limited sensory input we receive. We are only able to measure that which can perceive. And we still don't understand exactly how or why we process anything, other than to facilitate our survival on a purely reptilian level.

There are millions of square miles of land we've never stepped foot in. There are many millions more we have only the faintest experience in. The same goes for our oceans- we're still struggling to explore the endless depths- 71% of the surface of the world is water- and are physically limited in our ability to do so. And we've barely touched the unimaginably vast network of caverns beneath the Earth.

Earthquakes, floods and tsunamis make mockery of our technological pretenses. The same great scientific minds who claim dominion over the planet would wilt in panic like frail flowers in a half-decent thunderstorm, never mind a typhoon. Though we try to ignore them, the nuclear flames of Fukushima are nothing less than a slap in the face of our Technocracy.

And yet we claim to have fully mastered and cataloged our environment and everything in it.

Since the dawn of time, humans have recorded encounters with strange beings with weird powers and even stranger means of transportation. They've been identified in various cultural trappings. Our tech-minded age chooses to see them as extraterrestrial technocrats, coming to Earth to conduct their experiments.

Those who seem to know them best didn't rely on charts and graphs but another kind of knowing. A more elusive kind of knowledge, if you will, for our elusive companions. Legendary UFOlogist Jacques Vallee wrote a book about these historical perceptions called Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds.

I'm quoting his citation of a landmark work on Celtic mythology. Since it's not illustrated I added in some examples of our modern folklore, which as we've seen on this site is often brought to us by individuals who often seem to know things they shouldn't know...


In the last half of the seventeenth century, a Scottish scholar gathered all the accounts he could find about the Sleagh Maith and, in 1691, wrote a manuscript bearing the title: The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies.

The Secret Commonwealth
was the first systematic attempt to describe the methods and organization of the strange creatures that plagued the farmers of Scotland.

The author, Reverend Kirk, of Aberfoyle, studied theology at St. Andrews and took his degree of professor at Edinburgh. Later he served as minister for the parishes of Balquedder and Abcrfoyle and died in 1692. It is impossible to quote the entire text of Kirk's treatise on the Secret Commonwealth, but we can summarize his findings about elves and other aerial creatures in the following way:

1. They have a nature that is intermediate between man and the angels.

2. Physically, they have very light and "fluid" bodies, which are comparable to a condensed cloud. They are particularly visible at dusk. They can appear and vanish at will.

3. Intellectually, they are intelligent and curious.

4. They have the power to carry away anything they like.

In modern fairy-lore this divine branch or wand is the magic wand of fairies; or where messengers like old men guide mortals to an underworld it is a staff or cane with which they strike the rock hiding the secret entrance.- The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries
5. They live inside the earth in caves, which they can reach through any crevice or opening where air passes.

6. When men did not inhabit most of the world, they used to live there and had their own agriculture. Their civilization has left traces on the high mountains; it was flourishing at a time when the whole countryside was nothing but woods and forests.

7. At the beginning of each three-month period, they change quarters because they are unable to stay in one place. Besides, they like to travel. It is then that men have terrible encounters with them, even on the great highways.

8. Their chameleon-like bodies allow them to swim through the air with all their household.

9. They are divided into tribes. Like us, they have children, nurses, marriages, burials, etc., unless they just do this to mock our own customs, or to predict terrestrial events.

10. Their houses are said to be wonderfully large and beautiful, but under most circumstances they are invisible to human eyes. Kirk compares them to enchanted islands. The houses are equipped with lamps that burn forever and fires that need no fuel.

11. They speak very little. When they do so, when they talk among themselves, their language is a kind of whistling sound.

12. Their habits and their language when they talk to humans are similar to those of local people.

13. Their philosophical system is based on the following ideas: nothing dies; all things evolve cyclically in such a way that at every cycle they are renewed and improved. Motion is the universal law.

14. They are said to have a hierarchy of leaders, but they have no visible devotion to God, no religion.

15. They have many pleasant and light books, but also serious and complex books, rather in the Rosicrucian style, dealing with abstract matters.

16. They can be made to appear at will before us through magic.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Nightmares in Camelot, Part 2: Slave Girls and Prison Planets

The Outer Limits would inspire - and lend creative personnel -- to two other landmark sci-fi series of the 1960s, series whose numinous power continues to overshadow any of the formulaic bilge that has passed itself off as science fiction in recent years. Both series were Gnostic to their cores; Astro-Gnostic, to be precise. Perhaps all good sci-fi must be.

The Outer Limits had a brief and troubled life in its 1960s run. In hindsight it's amazing that the show got on the air at all, never mind lasted for 49 episodes. Executive producer Leslie Stevens and showrunner Joseph Stefano were constantly at odds with the network, who replaced them with company man Ben Brady for the second season.

One of Brady's priorities was enlisting established sci-fi writers to script new episodes. But with per-episodes budgets slashed to the bone the best he could do was enlist an ambitious up-and-comer by the name of Harlan Ellison to pen "Soldier" and "Demon with a Glass Hand," both of which were cited as primary influences for The Terminator by James Cameron.

Crossing dimensions in "The Borderland"

But the insane, psychedelic energy of the first season (Stevens openly stated he wanted to replicate an hallucinogenic trip for his dimension-crossing episode, "The Borderland") would be long gone, even if a second-season episode ("Expanding Human") was inspired by the Harvard Psychedelic Club (and in turn inspired Altered States).

You can't help but wonder if Stevens turned on his employees at some point, since so much of the first season features tripped-out optical effects, as well as tripped-out storylines. And that heapin' helpin' of Space Gnosis.

A case in point is "The Children of Spider County," which aired February 17, 1964 (a week after The Beatles premiered on Ed Sullivan). The story presented a spate of alien abductions of gifted young men whose only connection is having been born in the same rural county. Ethan, a young "witch boy" (played by Lee Kinsolving, who played an alien biker on The Twilight Zone), is busted out of jail by a strange man, who tells him he is his father. His true identity is yet another Grey-variant alien who also has the power to instill illusions in the human mind.

The alien came to Earth from the planet "Eros" to create human hybrids to repopulate his dying planet. His offspring are naturally superhuman, which in this case manifests itself as intelligence. Ethan is an outsider among normal humans and becomes a natural suspect for a disappearance treated as a murder. He is a superior being persecuted for his superiority, a fallen angel slumming among mere mortals.

A figure straight out of doctrinaire Gnosticism, in other words. There were more to come.


The first and most direct descendant of The Outer Limits was Star Trek. As the show was in development while TOL was on the air, the connections would be strongest between these two. Several key behind-the-scenes personnel- including Harlan Ellison-- would switch over to Star Trek shortly after TOL was axed.

What's more, ST stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan and Grace Lee Whitney-- as well as key guests such as Malachi Throne and Sally Kellerman-- all had pivotal lead roles on TOL. Several storylines and even costumes from TOL were recycled for ST (click here to read more on the TOL/ST connection).

Jeffrey Hunter aka Fleet Captain Christopher Pike behind bars in Brainstorm (1965)

The Outer Limits presented alien contact as a quiet, intimate and life-changing event, usually experienced by driven loners and mad visionaries, where Star Trek presented it as a matter of fact. But both series would weave in and out of published UFOlogy, especially that of the most esoteric variety. Frail aliens with large, bald heads were seen in episodes in both series that dealt with abduction phenomena.

The TOL episode "Nightmare"-- which saw prisoners in an interstellar war experimented on aliens who had the power to implant illusions in the minds of its subjects-- seems to have been a pivotal influence on the first Star Trek pilot, "The Cage" (the second ST pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before" picks up on themes explored in TOL's The Man with the Power") as well as the third season episode, "The Empath."

"The Cage" featured the doomed Jeffrey Hunter (best known at the time for playing Jesus Christ in King of Kings) as Christopher Pike, commander of the USS Enterprise. Responding to a distress signal on Talos IV, Pike leads an away team to rescue a band of scientists, stranded on the dead planet. There Pike meets Vina, a tousle-haired wild child with piercing blue eyes played by the spunky, spirited enchantress Susan Oliver.

Oh, I forgot to mention- the name of the crashed ship was the SS Columbia. Ring a bell?

Vina takes Pike to a cave entrance where he is abducted by frail, androgynous Grey-type aliens. The scientists and their camp turn out to be an illusion and the crew scramble to deal with their captain's kidnapping. Pike is put in a cell with Vina (knowing the priapic Roddenberry, her name is almost certainly "Vagina" with the A and G dropped, though her name is also roughly homophonic with venere, the Latin term for sexual love derived from "Venus").

The Talosians plan to use Vina and Pike as Adam and Eve for a slave race to rebuild their planet (dying planet tropes were common in sci-fi to explain why aliens would travel all the way to Earth as we saw in "The Children of Spider County"). Seeking to put some lead in Pike's pencil, the Talosians concoct a number of scenarios in which Vina plays the woman of Pike's dreams, most famously as a Orion slave girl, feral sex-machines notorious across the galaxy.

Note the conflation of Orion and green skin, both linking us to Osiris, which Pike himself becomes an analog of. Not to mention the music, costumes and settings on loan from a contemporaneous pagan peplum. As we've seen, Star Trek is ripe to bursting with ancient symbolism, especially with Gnostic themes it has no business knowing about. This is just the start of a daisy-chain of incongruous synchronicities, many of which revolve around the irresistible Miss Oliver.

"The Cage" failed to sell, but Roddenberry pulled it out of the vault when Star Trek was picked up in 1966. In "The Menagerie" two-parter we see Spock mutiny in order to take Pike back to Talos IV. Pike sacrificed himself to save a group of cadets during a training mission and is now a badly-disfigured quadriplegic (and played by another actor).

During his court-martial, Spock airs a transmission from the omniscient Talosians, which replays most of "The Cage," and ends with the revelation that Vina was the only survivor from the crashed spaceship and was so badly mangled that the Talosians were unsure how to put her back together again. At the end, Pike and Vina are restored by the Talosians and live in the stars like Osiris and Isis, presumably no longer as prisoners.

In a similar but somewhat different manner to "Spider County," "The Cage" is pure, unadulterated Gnostic creation myth. The Talosians are Archons who pluck Adam and Eve from the Heavens and force them into captivity as breeding stock for a slave race. They create a literal prison planet, similar to another Outer Limits episode "A Feasibility Study," as well as Dark City and The Matrix sometime later. (There are also echoes of TOL episode "The Guests" in "The Cage" as well).

"The Cage/The Menagerie" would be Susan Oliver's only apearance on Star Trek, but it sealed her name in the annals of pop culture forever. She never appeared on The Outer Limits, but would appear in two crucial episodes of The Invaders, the seminal UFO invasion series which would have a major influence on The X-Files. One episode would feature some crucial Outer Limits figures, and another would feature yet another bizarre foreshadowing of the seminal event of this miserable era.


Susan Oliver was never a feature star but worked constantly from the late 50s to the late 80s, mostly on TV. She exuded a strangely post-modern type of energy in many of the roles she took on, coming across as a spunky yet vulnerable pixie with a ferocious erotic allure that made people nervous, particularly men's wives. Needless to say, she played a lot of misunderstood bad girls in her early days.

Today she'd be cast as the punky, eccentric sidekick to the glamorous female lead. But even then she exhibited a proto-punk sensibility, favoring bright colors, short bobbed hair and cutesy accessories which did nothing to diminish the effect of her piercing blue eyes, sculpted cheekbones and pouty lips.

Sex on wheels, in other words. Which may be we saw her behind bars so often.

Her biography is likewise illuminating. Her father worked for the USIA so Susan attended college in Japan. Her mother, Ruth Hale Oliver, was a top Hollywood astrologer and Susan herself was an accomplished pilot, and flew solo across the Atlantic in 1967.

Her breakthrough role was playing the title role in The Green-Eyed Blonde, one of the many teenage delinquent potboilers of the late 50s. Caged heat, yet again.

This led to a string of roles but her next big impression on the collective consciousness was on The Twilight Zone in the episode "People are Alike All Over," a direct descendant of "The Cage", in which astronaut Roddy McDowall is lured into a zoo exhibit on Mars (note that McDowall would work with Serling again on Planet of the Apes).

The same year preproduction began on "The Cage," Oliver appeared on The Andy Griffith Show on the episode "Prisoner of Love." The elemental sexuality she exudes is shocking for such a mild-mannered series. It's a good bet the appearance caught the eye of Roddenberry, who gave satyriasis a bad name.

Behind bars again, in The Love-In's trailer


More importantly, the same year Star Trek premiered (1966), Oliver narrowly escaped death in a plane crash. Shades of Vina.

The following year after that she'd repeat the Orion slave girl dance, only this time on LSD in The Love-Ins, a (very) thinly-veiled parody of Timothy Leary that also featured Lost in Space's Mark Goddard. The trailer has to be seen to be believed. In fact, I need to get this movie on DVD. Like, now. Hold on a few minutes...

OK, I'm back. The same year she'd also appear on The Invaders, the first of two appearances (like The Outer Limits, alien contact on this landmark series was a quiet, intimate affair). Let's look at her second appearance first, as it was on the last episode of the series.

Oliver co-starred in the episode with not one, not two, but five Outer Limits veterans, including Mark Richman ("The Borderlands"), Mary Gregory ("Expanding Human") and Burt Douglas, John Milford and Kent Smith from-- you guessed it-- "The Children of Spider County." You can be excused for mistaking the picture on the left for a younger John and Cindy McCain- perhaps from the 2000 primaries?

The episode ends with a crash, only this time it's in a car and ends in her death.

Her first appearance on The Invaders also features airports, as Oliver played the oversexed wife of an underachieving pilot played by Jack Warden (prisons, again). The scenes where she hits on Roy Thinnes are something to see.

Warden's been duped by the aliens to shuttle newcomers to Midlands Academy, where they'll be trained to fit in as normal humans. And, of course, we see her "caged." Just in case the "warden" connection wasn't enough.

The episode climaxes with Warden committing suicide by flying his plane into the Midlands building (why does that name seem so familiar?) and destroying the alien's compound.

As if all of this weren't enough, Oliver also starred in The Monitors, a 1969 satire in which aliens take over the world to save humanity from itself. The Monitors-- or "Watchers" if you prefer-- look like nothing less than the Men in Black. Needless to say all of this is more unalloyed AstroGnosticism, a comedic antecedent to Dark City and The Matrix. And certainly in The Outer Limits' ballpark, to say the very least.

But wait- there's more.

Just as we saw Jack Warden's anti-alien suicide run, so we see it repeated in 1969's The Monitors when the hero (Guy Stockwell) and Oliver fly to Chicago to blow up the Monitors' HQ.

On the way they pass over this Chicago landmark. Click to enlarge and tell me if the timecode doesn't catch your eye in any particular way.

Oliver died in 1990 of smoking-related lung cancer. Her last appearance was on Freddie's Nightmares, an anthology series based on the Nightmare on Elm Street villain.

Illusions, yet again.

UPDATE: Speaking of telling tales out of school, I woke up in the middle of the night and realized that "The Cage" was eerily similar to a famous abduction account from the late 50's. Read this and tell me if the description of the being this Brazilian farmer encountered isn't strangely familiar. From The Night Sky:
Antonio Villas Boas was a 23-year-old Brazilian farmer at the time of his abduction, who was working at night to avoid the hot temperatures of the day. On October 16, 1957, he was plowing fields near São Francisco de Sales when he saw what he described as a "red star" in the night sky....The craft began descending to land in the field, extending three legs as it did so.

According to Boas, he first attempted to leave the scene on his tractor... However, he was seized by a five-foot tall humanoid, who was wearing grey coveralls and a helmet...Three similar beings then joined the first in subduing Boas, and they dragged him inside their craft.

Once inside the craft, Boas said that he was stripped of his clothes and covered from head-to-toe with a strange gel...Shortly after, Boas claimed that he was joined in the room by another humanoid.

This one, however, was female, very attractive, and naked. She was the same height as the other beings he had encountered, with a small, pointed chin and large, blue catlike eyes. The hair on her head was long and white (platinum blonde? ) but her underarm and pubic hair were bright red. Boas said he was strongly attracted to the woman, and the two had sexual intercourse.

When it was over, the female smiled at Boas, rubbing her belly and gestured upwards. Boas took this to mean that she was going to raise their child in space...
We looked at how 2001: A Space Odyssey seemed to coincide with my suspicion that abduction phenomena may well be a non-physical reality being implanted in the mind through methods as yet unknown. I came to this realization after research abduction reports from the 1950s, many of which were unpublished-- or classified-- until the late 1960s.

And yet, here they are showing up in these pop-culture landmarks. How about that?