Monday, June 24, 2013

Secret Star Trek: The Unknown Nine

In part one of this series, we looked at a strange clue embedded in the now-obligatory ancient astronaut/cargo cult sequence in Star Trek into Darkness, a clue that led back to one of the lesser entries in the franchise's nearly 50 year history, that being the ninth feature film. 

That film takes place on a planet nearly identical to the legendary New Age resort in California, Esalen. 

It all seemed like such a small thing, but I started pulling threads that took me back to familiar places but also to some very unfamiliar places, and finally to the doorstep of one of the most powerful families in the world...

So what is the connection between Star Trek and Esalen? If the Ba'ku homeworld is indeed Esalen in Space, why is that so? What possible reason could there be for such a strange collision between sleek, futuristic Starfleet and crunchy/granola Esalen?

The answer may be obvious to longtime readers of this blog, but for everyone else here's a brief history of one of the most bizarre and frustratingly elusive offerings in the High Strangeness catalog.

The Nine, aka The Council of Nine are alleged channeled beings who claim to be the extraterrestrials that the ancient Egyptians worshipped as gods. It's not entirely clear if they are wholly discarnate or computer intelligences, since they've been described as both. 

The man of the center of the story -- at least for its first 25 years -- is Andrija Puharich, a mad genius in the Nikola Tesla mold who worked for the military and the CIA and "discovered" Israeli psychic (or fraud, depending on your personal inclination) who himself seemed to be involved with Israeli intelligence.

Long before meeting Geller, Puharich would fall in with a group of rich occultists in Glen Cove, Maine, who formed an organization they called The Round Table in 1952, that fateful year of years. Opinions differ but seems to be the goal was contacting alien intelligences on behalf of the burgeoning Military Industrial Complex, a goal which not coincidentally is also that of the Starship Enterprise, as you can hear in the opening credits of Star Trek

A look at some of the players involved gives you the score fairly quickly. From Peter Levenda's Sinister Forces:
Andrija Puharich expanded his circle of like-minded associations by surrounding himself with select members from his Round Table Foundation, who would ascend in occult prominence as, The Nine. This impressive roster of the US’ earliest pedigreed families included Henry Jackson, Georgia Jackson, Alice [née Astor] Bouverie, Marcella DuPont, Carl Betz, Vonnie Beck, Arthur Young [Bell Helicopter], Young’s wife, Ruth Forbes Paine Young and Puharich himself.
The Nine apparently entered the picture through a mysterious visitor from the East (India, apparently), one Dr. Vinod. He would be the first to channel these self-proclaimed ancient gods, or so the story goes. As we'll soon see, Vinod may have been connected to a West Coast-based group of occultists who were also seriously interested in UFOs.

Considering that these people were all deeply involved with the military and/or the Establishment, it should be no surprise at all that they would keep their activities secret. 

They surely knew of rocket scientist Jack Parsons, whose occult work had been a factor in the loss of his security clearance, and I doubt any of the Round Table group could afford to be on the receiving end of a witch-hunt in McCarthyite America.

The idea of a "Nine" was not new to the occult underground, particularly that rich and loamy corner where occultism and pop culture met. Popular pulp writer and practicing Theosophist Talbot Mundy wrote a novel called The Nine Unknown based on an ancient legend from India. 

This would have no small effect when Paris woke up from its Existential nightmare to enter a new occult dream in the early 1960s.

But the content of The Nine, the stilted pronouncements and claims of alien beings masquerading as Egyptian gods, the promises of a benevolent race coming to help mankind in its evolutionary development, can be found almost verbatim in an extremely bizarre story from a November 1947 issue of Fantastic Adventures, a magazine under the auspices of the legendary Ray Palmer, the legendary Amazing Stories editor and creator of Fate Magazine.

The story is titled "Son of the Sun" (which would be borrowed for an early Star Wars title) and is one of the strangest things Palmer published, which is saying a lot for the guy who published "The Shaver Mystery." 

Note that it hit the stands a mere three months after the Roswell incident and Kenneth Arnold sightings and is identical in content, tone and style to the channeled material that would be published from The Nine sessions. 
We are already here, among you. Some of us have always been here, with you, yet apart from you, watching and occasionally guiding you when the opportunity arose. 
Now, however, our numbers have increased in preparation for a further step in the development of your planet: a step of which you are not yet  aware although it has been hinted at frequently enough in the parables of your prophets, who have garbled whatever inspiration they have been able to receive.

You will find records of our presence in the mysterious symbols of ancient Egypt, where we made ourselves known to accomplish certain ends. 

Some of you have seen our "advance guard" already. You met us often in the streets of your cities and you have not noticed us. But when we flash through your skies in the ancient, traditional vehicles, you are amazed and those of you who open your mouths and tell of what you have seen are accounted dupes and fools. Actually you are prophets, seers in the true sense of the word.

This story didn't emerge from Palmer's fervid imagination, it came from a fixture on the occult elite on the West Coast, a woman who went by more names than an ancient goddess. One of those was Alexander Blade, the male pseudonym she used as her byline for "Son of the Sun." 

A Weird Tales fansite dug in this witchy woman's past:
Her first marriage, to a man deeply interested in the occult, was inclusive of those years. Also during that period, two new real-world beliefs, Dianetics and flying saucers, began to evolve out of the work of science fiction writers. Millen Cooke would be involved in both.

Millen Cooke's first husband, John Starr Cooke, was born into a wealthy and prominent family in Honolulu, Hawaii, on March 9, 1920. He became interested in the occult early in life and used a Ouija board to make important decisions, including the decision to marry. 
In the course of their marriage, Millen Cooke had a series of visions which formed the basis of her husband's "Atlantean Tarot," one of three original Tarot decks he created. 
Shades of the Liber Al. Note also that Master Cooke "also claimed to own Aleister Crowley's own crystal ball." Missus Cooke was obvious given to visionary experience. It's unclear if her liturgy was her own personal revelation or that of a group similar to the Round Table, but it should be noted that the Cookes were instrumental in bringing Meher Baba to America, and the mysterious Dr. Vinod could well have been part of that circle. 

These people all seemed to know each other, though they swapped practices and enthusiasms like normal people change socks.

It's important to note Millen's third husband:
On June 16, 1961, Millen topped off her marriages to fringe figures when she walked down the aisle with...Brinsley Le Poer Irish peer, a member of Dutch nobility, and a member of the House of Lords. 
He was also a believer in ancient astronauts, a hollow earth, and flying saucers. Editor of the Flying Saucer Review from 1956 to 1959, Le Poer Trench wrote several books on the subject, including The Sky People (1960), The Flying Saucer Story (1966), Operation Earth (1969), and Secret of the Ages (1974).  
Millen, who had been investigating aliens and UFOs for a quarter century, provided some of the concepts and content for Le Poer Trench's first book....According to an anonymous source, part of his second book, Men Among Mankind (1962), was hers as well. 

If the McCarthy Era encouraged the Round Table types to keep their occult and paranormal dabblings dark, the freaky 70s encouraged them to let it all hang out. And no one let it hang lower than Andrija Puharich. He waved his freak flag so high he began resembling David Crosby's more dissolute older brother. Puharich had become known for his work with psychedelic mushrooms, even encouraging a super-square TV host to trip balls on film.

But mushrooms can melt down a brain as well as any other drug. I've seen it happen. There's a wafer-thin membrane between visionary and madman, and Puharich seemed to cross it. 

Running around the deserts of Israel chomping mushrooms and chasing saucers with Uri Geller seemed to kick something loose in Puharich's skull. And his meltdown would be all too public.
The topic of alien machine intelligences hit the mainstream again in the early 70s in the wake of the Uri Geller phenomenon. In one of the strangest biographies to ever hit the best-seller lists, (Puharich) showed just high he had been getting off his own supply by taking the opportunity to wax ecstatic about an orbital computer intelligence he was in contact with called "Spectra."

Puharich believed that Spectra was connected to The Nine, disembodied alien intelligences he and an elite group of occultists had claimed to have been communicating with since the early 1950s. Any claims that Puharich wasn't 100% sincere in this admittedly eccentric belief are pretty quickly debunked once you read the book itself. No wonder he soon found himself not contracting for the CIA anymore.
Puharich's unique blend of mushroom madness and Jerusalem Syndrome would be spelled out in his 1974 biography on Uri Geller. The young Israeli was already under growing scrutiny from the skeptics for his increasingly extravagant claims of psychic power and Puharich's mad travelogue/Saucercult liturgy blew the lid off the pot.

Here's a typical passage:
Hal Puthoff and Russ Targ arrived in Ossining on January 27 to show us the movie film they had made of the experiments with Uri. They told us that the management of SRI had decided to stand firm, to back Hal and Russ, and to make a public announcement backing their findings with Uri. This was heart-warming news for us. 

On February 2 we were driving from New York City toward Ossining at we were turning into Exit 7A at Elmsford, New York, we both saw a welcome sight. There, some thirty feet in front of and above our car, was Horus. He was fluttering in the rain and air, hovering over us so that we could see him. 
I slammed the car to a skidding halt. Horus glided to a nearby dead tree, landed, and looked down upon us from his imperial height. How happy Uri and I were to see him, after a whole year!

We looked at Horus for some ten minutes, then he glided silently down into the woods and vanished. Uri and I looked at each other; we both knew the meaning of Horus's appearance. We were in danger again! But we were also protected. 

When we got to the house, Uri and I sat in my study to discuss our situation. The tape recorder started to run. But this time there was no message. The tape recorder ran on and on, blank. 
Then a letter appeared on top of the tape recorder. I picked up the letter.  It was dated 1949, with no month or day.
It was from my departed friend, Dr. Eugene Milne Cosgrove...(w)here had it come from? With Horus on the scene, and this acute reminder of the nameless terror of impending death, what was in store for us?
Now, remember this book was supposed to be written in order to kosher Geller with the scientific community and it's one occult ritual after one UFO encounter after another.

Puharich's meltdown might have been a deal-breaker to his old friends in the CIA and the scientific community, but the Round Table's connections continued to bring he and The Nine into powerful circles, and to bring powerful people into his own.

Geller grew bored of The Nine and ran a strange and somewhat mysterious "Geller Kids" operation in conjunction with Puharich's Space Kids operation. These were kids living on Puharich's Ossining estate being used to channel extraterrestrials and the rest of it.

How serious this all was is unclear. I don't believe it was as serious as a similar operation being run by the military or any number of black-bag outfits. It was too public.

But Puharich didn't have to worry that Geller was drifting out of the picture. He was about to snag the patriarch of a genuine pop culture craze.

Star Trek was a failure in the Sixties (go figure) but a massive and growing hit in syndication. It was such a huge success in reruns that Paramount was talking about launching its own network just to air a new Star Trek series. 

But its creator was not doing as well. He'd been unable to repeat its success and the studio wasn't being cooperative with his new Trek ideas. He'd also been drinking and abusing drugs. But to legions of Trekkies, he was a god.

So if you were hawking a sci-fi religion, who better to approach than the creator of the sci-fi sensation of the early/mid 70s? 

From 2008:
In early 1975, a broke and depressed Roddenberry was approached by a British former race car driver named Sir John Whitmore, who was associated with a strange organization called ‘Lab-9.’ Though unknown to the public, Lab-9 were ostensibly a sort of an independent version of the X-Files, dedicated to the research of paranormal phenomena. 
However, Lab-9 had another, more complex agenda- they later claimed to be in contact with a group of extraterrestrials called the ‘Council of Nine’...

Lab-9 had wanted to hire Roddenberry to write a screenplay based on the Council of Nine’s imminent return....Lab-9 flew him out to their headquarters, located on a large estate in Ossining, NY. There, Roddenberry met and interviewed several psychics, and prepared the groundwork for his script.

Roddenberry wrote a script called The Nine, in which he fictionalized his experiences at Lab-9 and the message for humanity that the Council of Nine wished to convey...
(T)his was no ragtag bunch of hippie phreaks that Roddenberry was dealing with... Roddenberry biographer Joel Engel noted that Whitmore introduced Roddenberry to several key figures in the British Broadcasting Corp. as well.  
Roddenberry's activities with Lab-9 didn't go unnoticed; paranormal author Brad Steiger was invited to a session in which Roddenberry interviewed Lab-9s subjects. 

Steiger wrote about it in his 1976 book Gods of Aquarius:
"We wrote a couple of episodes about individuals who had such unique talents. As a matter of fact, our second pilot - and the one that sold the series - was on that subject when Gary Lockwood began to find out that he could, after having undergone a strange experience in space, accomplish things like moving a glass of water without touching it. And then he developed more and more power... It was too much power to put into the hands of an unprepared person."
Roddenberry's sessions even it made into the last and strangely perfunctory testament from the Lab-9 operation, The Only Planet of Choice.
GENE: To whom am I talking? Do you have a name?

Tom: I am Tom. I am the spokesman for the Council of Nine. In truth I am Tehuti. Yes. I am also Hamarkos, I am also Herenkar, I am known as Thomas and I am known as Atum.

GENE: Are you one of the Nine or are you a separate being?

Tom: I sit in the Council of Nine, yes. I am one that is in wisdom that speaks to you. But the Council has said that, in communications, at times I sound not wisdom Yes.

Anyhow, Roddenberry fulfilled his obligations and took his paycheck and returned to Hollywood. He then offered Lab-9 head psychic Phyllis Schlemmer a job at a very high wage for the time, believing she was just making it all up and hence was an extremely creative writer. She refused the offer.

Roddenberry seemed done with The Nine, but The Nine were not done with him, or with Star Trek. Not by a long shot.


While Roddenberry's star would rise with the Star Trek feature film and the astounding success of the The Next Generation, Puharich wasn't doing quite as well. Like many a UFO buff, he began talking about "free energy," the difference being that he had the know-how to get it off the comic-book page.

Andrija Puharich was about to find out who really runs the show down here. I'll give you a hint; it ain't million year-old space gods. 

The late Philip Coppens writes:
On August 7, 1978, he got a telephone call from one of his assistants from Ossining with the news that fire had been set to his beautiful home. Later, the police confirmed that the fire had been arson. At the same time, Puharich learned that he and those closest to him were under surveillance. It became clear that the reason for this was Puharich’s “meddling” with so-called “free energy”, following in the footsteps of that other Yugoslavian genius, Nikola Tesla...Puharich’s book, however, was never published. He had, in essence, been silenced.

Perhaps as a reward for his silence, in 1982, Puharich was offered the post of ELF (Extremely Low Frequencies) research director for the CIA. In the words of his biographer, “supposedly two CIA men came to his house in Delaplane, Virginia apologizing that the CIA gave him such a hard time.” Puharich declined the position. He had got the message: do what you want, but keep quiet about it. And so he did. 
He couldn't keep his hand out of the hornet's nest, though. In 1983, Puharich got himself into trouble again, this time with a patent application:
(Puharich) was granted a U.S. patent for a "Method and Apparatus for Splitting Water Molecules." This method would reportedly split water molecules into Hydrogen and Oxygen with a net energy gain, and is essentially a perpetual energy device that many believe violates the first law of thermodynamics. 

Puharich, being a friend of R. J. Reynolds, found support and protective acceptance, until he fell into disfavor with David Rockefeller, necessitating him to seek protection from another friend, the [then] Mexican President. 
Puharich capitulated, acquiescing to Mr. Rockefeller’s demands, promising not to engage in further ‘water as fuel’ research, thereby, stopping all attempts at his sanctioned assassination by the CIA.
(His) use of ‘water as fuel’ was a direct threat to one of the most powerful families on planet Earth. Puharich had to personally assure the Rockefeller family, that he would no longer engage in further research or usage of ‘water as fuel’ to power combustion engines. 

"Actual Case Histories of Suppression Occurrences" by Leslie R. Pastor


Were Puharich's problems with the Rockefellers only a function of his work with free energy? Or was his other project-- The Nine-- causing the Rockefellers grief on the other side of the country?

Because as much as it's anyone's, Esalen is a Rockefeller project. 

Rockefeller money helped build it, sustain it and grow it. It helped rebuild it after various crises. The Rockefeller in question is the late Laurance Rockefeller, whose very, very deep pockets helped build a New Age Empire in California, including Esalen, the San Francisco Zen Center, the Lindisfarne Association, the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the California Institute of Integral Studies.

This isn't surprising; nothing gets done in this country without people with deep pockets behind it. Not religion, not politics, not media, not even big-time conspiracy gurus. But it might explain why the New Age movement is so arid and inert and unthreatening (especially compared to its early days). It was engineered that way.

But let's go back to that recent controversy over Esalen:
The Esaleaks website was created a year before the recent layoffs as an anonymous forum for employees to air their gripes. Posted documents, from staff salaries to tax returns, have been uploaded to the site.

On the website, the writers sardonically refer to themselves as "The Nine," a reference to the so-called nine extraterrestrials from the star Sirius that British psychic Jenny O'Connor said she "channeled" to help her decide how to shake-up management in the late 1970s. At the time, some in the community referred to "The Nine" as "extraterrestrial hatchet men." O'Connor was hired by Dick Price.

"I think he may have used her to enact things he wanted to do anyway," said his son David, who lives in Poland but returns to Esalen every year. "There was a level of absurdity to the whole thing."
Ah, there it is. The legendary Jenny O'Connor. 

The Rasputina who seduced Dick Price into a world of UFOs and psychics and extraterrestrial nonsense and took control of the fabled institution, hiring and firing people at will, bringing the world to the brink of annihilation, if you believe the fevered rantings of Lynn Picknett.
In 1978 Whitmore introduced Englishwoman Jenny O’Connor to the Esalen Institute... (i)ncredibly, not only did the Nine give seminars at Esalen through her, but from 1979 until at least 1982 they effectively took over the Institute. 
This period was particularly significant for Esalen. Many of those who attended O’Connor’s seminars became prominent in political circles both in America and the USSR (through the Institute’s Soviet Exchange Program), as Jack Sarfatti wrote (his emphasis): "The fact remains… that a bunch of apparently California New Age flakes into UFOs and psychic phenomena, including myself, had made their way into the highest levels of the American ruling class and the Soviet Union and today run the Gorbachev Foundation. "

It was through O’Connor that the Nine reached Washington, including the circles from which Al Gore – an unashamed fan of the paranormal – was to emerge...It’s a chilling thought that if Gore had become President, who – or what – would have influenced him?
Jack Sarfatti loves to tell an exciting story, as does Picknett's star witness for all of her (as opposed to Philip Coppens') research on The Nine, longtime fugitive/convicted murderer/new age guru Ira Einhorn. 

The truth is a bit less apocalyptic. Though no less weird.

Left: John Lilly Right: Dick Price

Price, like partner Michael Murphy, came from a wealthy family (you don't get access to Rockefellers if you're poor). But he experienced a major psychotic break when he was young and was institutionalized. In many ways his spiritual seeking was a function of seeking healing. Although its hard to imagine now, Esalen once attracted the cream of the crop of psychiatry. Ironically, it would Price's father that would pull him out of a second psychotic episode in the 1960s.

Murphy was cut from a different cloth. He was the one who was close to Laurance Rockefeller and he spent most of his time away from Big Sur. He opened up a branch office and a sports center in San Francisco and left the running of Esalen Prime to Price, who was growing erratic in the 1970s.

Suddenly in 1978, Price announced-- quite publicly-- that he was now a devotee of Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh and flew to India to study his methods.

Price took to wearing the orange robe-like clothing of the cult, traditionally symbolizing renunciation. But his experience with a British convert leading classes in Rajneesh's ashram horrified him with its methodology, which was kinda like EST only with people getting their bones broken. Like, for real.

Price then just as publicly renounced Rajneesh and returned to Esalen where faculty member Betty Fuller was waiting to introduce him to Jenny, whom Fuller thought was the best thing since organic sliced bread. Price immediately began using Jenny in his classes.

But it was very clear that there was a definite line of demarcation between Price's Esalen and Murphy's Esalen and that the men had followed their interests in very opposite directions. At the same time Price and Jenny (and if you insist, The Nine) were remaking the workshop/spa end of the spectrum in their image, Murphy had begun his work with Soviet scientists and so on and ne'er the 'twain would meet. 

The two founders were like an old married couple who agreed to tolerate each other. As Price said of Murphy, "He puts up with my ETI and I put up with his KGB."*

Mother Jones did a negative piece in December 1979 ("Esalen Slides Off the Cliff") that focused on Jenny and The Nine. The writer, though a leftist, wasn't necessarily opposed to psychic phenomena, he just thought Jenny was mediocre. 

But she stayed around from early 1979 to at least the beginning of 1983 (according to Upstart Spring) and I can't find any mention of her leaving, other than Marion Goldman writing of Murphy marshaling his forces to get rid of her and The Nine in the early 80s and reassert control over Price (which is a whole other story).

As much as people within Esalen want to treat Jenny and the Nine as a footnote, it wasn't. It covered a full fifth of Esalen's lifespan by 1983. Seeing as how Price went through enthusiasms like Obama goes through your email, it's even more remarkable how long he and Jenny kept things together. 

What this adds up to in the real world is a matter of speculation but for a cult whose literature will soon have you begging for the sweet release of death, there seems to be a remarkable staying power with The Nine.

By the mid 1980s, Murphy had reasserted control over Esalen, bringing in a corporate type named Steve Donovan (who was involved in the building of Starbucks and Peet's Coffee) to act as a third co-president. 

This move also smells faintly of Rockefeller, but it could be all these people were moving in the same elite Bay Area circles (Donovan was already an Esalen trustee).

It seems an odd fit for a free spirit like Price, but we'll never know...

Soon after Donovan was appointed to the Esalen leadership role, Price hiked out to the source of the springs for an routine inspection. Apparently there had been a heavy rain and by some bizarre fluke a boulder came loose and fell down a mountainside.

 It exploded on impact and Price was struck in the forehead by a stray chunk and killed instantly. He was found sitting in the water basin that feeds the Esalen water supply, a huge gash in his forehead.

Perhaps in honor of the fading Aquarian spirit that Price was the now-dead symbol of, Price's body wasn't removed by the police or the coroner's meat wagon. Seven men took him back to the grounds and seven women removed his clothes and ritually washed his corpse and wrapped it in linen.

Murphy would say of Price's freak accident; "it partook of the occult." Some today say the spirit of Esalen died with him. It would certainly become a much different place without him.


With Esalen now lost to them, The Nine drifted back to space. Strangely enough, Star Trek was about to lift off again shortly after Dick Price's freak accidental death, and this time Roddenberry's cast would have nine major characters who would have close archetypal connections to the gods of Heliopolis. 

There would also be more channeling, discarnate entities, walk-ins, first contacts and space gods than you could shake a photo torpedo at. But that would be just half the story. 
 Following the smash success of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Paramount created a new spinoff series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The story took place on a space station abandoned by the Cardassians, who had occupied a planet known as Bajora. The planet was crucial since it guarded an interdimensional wormhole that allowed intergalactic travel. You can call it a Stargate if you like. Same difference.

The entry at Memory Alpha tells us that "the Bajoran wormhole is the only stable wormhole currently known to exist in the galaxy," and that "the wormhole is also the home of extra-dimensional beings who are worshipped by the Bajorans as the Prophets, and therefore is also sometimes referred to as the Celestial Temple."
Sounds a bit like the Nine, no? What else can we learn about the Prophets?
In normal space, the Prophets can only physically communicate with outsiders by possessing a body and using it as a vessel. The host is conscious of what is happening but has no control over its actions. The Prophets have no sense of linear time, so it is likely they live outside of the normal space-time continuum; however their existence has been recorded on Bajor for at least 30,000 years.- Memory Alpha
My mistake. That doesn't sound a bit like the Nine. It sounds EXACTLY LIKE THE NINE.
How many Prophets there are was never quite explained, but how many Orbs, or Tears of the Prophets, had originally existed was. 

There were Nine.

And who wrote the episode which laid all of this out for us?

The same guy who wrote Star Trek 9.


*Having been to Esalen and met Murphy and gotten a sense of the situation I would say the Russian program was in no small part being shepherded by the Rockefellers. Seeing as how one of Esalen's projects was bringing Boris Yeltsin to America, I would say that suspicion is well-founded.