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Alien contactees are people contacted by aliens.

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Alien Contactees are people claiming to be in contact with extraterrestrials. Alien Contactees have typically reported that they were given messages or profound wisdom by aliens. Alien Contactees say they are compelled to share these extraterrestrial messages.

Alien Contactees.
Alien Contactees are persons who claim to be in regular contact with extraterrestrials.

As a cultural phenomenon, Alien Contactees perhaps had their greatest notoriety from the late 1940s to the late 1950s, but individuals make similar claims to the present day, one of the best known currently being Swiss cult leader Billy Meier. Some shared their messages with small groups of followers, and many issued newsletters or spoke at UFO conventions.

The stories of Alien contactees contained much material that has not stood the test of time, such as claims that there were unknown planets within our Solar System, and that all the planets of our solar system are inhabited by human beings physically like us, but more spiritually evolved. Certainly at least some of the claims were fraudulent (Spencer 1991:82).

Randles and Hough write that, "The Alien contactee movement is a rich treat for anthroplogists, sticky with sincere and sincerely deluded individuals. Were the contactees in touch with anything other than their own internal fantasies?" (Randles and Hough, 108) In fact, the contactee movement has seen serious attention from academics and mainstream scholars. Among the earliest was the classic 1956 study, When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger, et al, which included information about, and analysis of, contactee groups. Additionally, there have been at least two university-level anthologies of scientific papers regarding the contactee movements (see sources below).

Contactee accounts are generally different from those who allege alien abduction: While contactees usually describe beneficial, human-like aliens, abductees rarely describe their experiences positively.

Overview of Alien Contactees.

Astronomer J. Allen Hynek described Contactees as asserting "the visitation to the earth of generally benign beings whose ostensible purpose is to communicate (generally to a relatively few selected and favored persons -- almost invariably without witnesses) messages of 'cosmic importance'. These chosen recipients generally have repeated contact experiences, involving additional messages. The transmission of such messages to willing and uncritical true believers frequently, in turn, leads to the formation of a flying saucer cult, with the 'communicator' or 'contactee' the willing and obvious cult leader. Although relatively few in number, such flying saucer advocates have by their irrational acts strongly influenced public opinion." (Hynek, 5)

Contactees usually portrayed the "Space Brothers" as more or less identical in appearance and mannerisms to Humans. The Brothers are also almost invariably reported as disturbed by the violence, crime and wars that infest the earth, and by the possession of various earth nations of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. However, despite their global concerns, the "Space Brothers" never landed their flying saucers in front of the United Nations building, the White House or the Kremlin to spread their message. Instead, they invariably selected obscure people (dishwashers, road crew members, assembly-line workers, sign-painters and taxi-drivers), often having a long prior history of involvement with mystical sects. Almost every contactee asserts that the urgent message of the Space Brothers is religious rather than technical; extraterrestrial religions as reported by the contactees are generally difficult to distinguish from a careless blend of Christianity and Theosophy.

Peebles (1991:146) summarizes the common features of many contactee claims:

  • Certain humans have had personal and/or mental contact with friendly, completely human-appearing space aliens.
  • The contactees have also flown aboard flying saucers, and traveled into space and to other planets.
  • The Space Brothers invariably come from utopian societies which are free of war, death, crime, disease, or any other vexing human problem.
  • The Space Brothers want to help mankind solve its problems, to stop nuclear testing and prevent the otherwise inevitable destruction of the human race.
  • This will be accomplished very simply by the brotherhood spreading a message of love and brotherhood across the world.
  • Other sinister beings, the Men in Black, use threats and force to continue the cover-up of UFOs and suppress the message of hope.

History of early Alien Contactees.

Though the word "contactee" was not in common use until the 1950s, the authors of the anthologies noted in "sources" below use the term to describe persons whose claims occurred centuries before the UFO era, seeing them as part of the same tradition.

Though not specifically linked to flying saucers or odd aerial lights, it's perhaps worth noting that there is a long history of claims of contact with non-earthly intelligences. The founding revelations of many of the world's religions involve contact between the founder and an extraterrestrial source of wisdom, whether identified as an angel, a god in human form, or a spiritually-advanced "Space Brother." In this context, it might be expected that most of the 1950s contactees would form their own religions, with the contactee as sole spiritual leader, and that is just what happened, almost invariably.

As early as the 1700s, people like Emanuel Swedenborg were claiming to be in psychic contact with inhabitants of other planets. 1758 saw the publication of Concerning Earths in the Solar System, in which Swedenborg detailed his alleged journeys to the inhabited planets. J. Gordon Melton notes that Swedenborg's planetary tour stops at Saturn, the furthest planet known during Swedenborg's era--he did not visit Uranus, Neptune or Pluto. (Melton, 3)

Later, Helena Blavatsky would make claims similar to Swedenborg's.

In 1891, Thomas Blott's book The Man From Mars was published. The author claimed to have met a Martian in Kentucky. Unusually for an early contactee, Blott reported that the Martian communicated not via telepathy, but in English. (Melton, 7)

Another contactee book (of sorts) was From India To The Planet Mars by Theodore Flournoy (1900). Flournoy detailed the claims of Helene Smith, who, whilst in a trance, dictated information gleaned from her psychic visits to the planet Mars--including a Martian alphabet and language she could write and speak. Flournoy determined that Smith's claims were spurious, based on fantasy and imagination. Her "Martian" language was simply a garbled version of French.

Alien Contactees in the 1900s.

Two of the earliest contactees in the modern sense were William Magoon and Guy Ballard (the later a follower of Madame Blavatsky).

Magoon's book William Magoon: Psychic and Healer was published in 1930. He claimed that, in the early 1900s, he had been unexpectedly and instantaneously transported to Mars. The planet was essentially earth-like, with cities and wilderness. The inhabitants had radio and automobiles. Though they were invisible, Magoon sensed their presences.

Though Magoon was obscure, Ballard would have more impact via the I Am movement he established. In 1935, Ballard claimed that, several years earlier, he and over 100 others witnessed the appearance of 12 Venusians in a cavern beneath Mt. Shasta. The Venusians played music for the audience, said Ballard, then showed the crowd a large -mirror-like device that displayed images of life on Venus. The Venusians then allegedly reported that the earth would suffer through an era of tension and warfare, followed by worldwide peace and goodwill.

George Adamski, who would later become probably the most prominent contactee of the UFO era, was one contactee with an earlier interest in the occult. Adamski founded the Royal Order of Tibet in the 1930s. Writes Michael Bakun, "His [later] messages from the Venusians sounded suspiciously like his own earlier occult teachings." (Bakun, 150)

Christopher Partridge notes, importantly, that the pre-1947 contactees "do not involve UFOs." (Partridge, 8) Rather, he suggests that an existing tradition of extraterrestrial contact via seances and psychic means promptly incorporated the flying-saucer mythos when it arrived.

Alien Contactees in the UFO era.

The 1947 report of Kenneth Arnold sparked widespread interest in flying saucers, and before long, people were claiming to have been in contact with flying saucer inhabitants.

There was a nearly-continuous series of contactees, beginning with George Adamski in 1952. Radio host John Nebel interviewed many contactees on his program during this era. The stereotypical contactee account in these days involved not just conversations with friendly, human-appearing spacemen but visits inside their flying saucers, and rides up to Mother Ships in earth orbit, and even jaunts to the Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.

By the late 1950s, many contactees were no longer claiming to have been physically visited by aliens; rather, they were more often in psychic contact with the spacemen, who passed their messages on to people in trances. However, alien contact via Ouija board, spirit mediums and channelling was fairly common even in the early 1950s. Eventually, there was a complicated crossover with the later "psychic channeling" movement, which found a degree of renewed popularity beginning in the late 1960s.

In support of their claims, early 1950s contactees often produced photographs of the alleged flying saucers or their occupants. A number of photos of a "Venusian scout ship" proffered by George Adamski and identified by him as a typical extraterrestrial flying saucer were noted to bear a suspicious resemblance to a type of once commonly available chicken egg incubator, complete with three light bulbs which Adamski said were "landing gear."

For over two decades, contactee George Van Tassel hosted the annual "Giant Rock Interplanetary Spacecraft Convention" in the Mojave Desert. Another 1950s contactee, Buck Nelson, held a similar convention in the Ozarks of Missouri up until 1965.

Though contactees faded from mainstream consciousness, people continued making claims of extraterrestrial contact.

Swiss cult leader Billy Meier has managed to include every one of the classic 1950s contactees within his own religious framework, and has made room for tens of thousands more, as this reported exchange between Meier and one of his extraterrestrial contacts indicates: "Meier: ... If you allow, I want to ask you about some matters respecting contacts. How many contactees exist in the world today...?" "Ptaah: The exact number of real contactees on Earth is presently 17,422 (1975). They are scattered over all your states and lands. Of that number only a few percent come to public attention. Many of them are working according to our advice at different labors and tasks.... In different cases such persons are also having contacts with us without being informed that we do not belong to Earth.... Of all these 17,422 contactees (the number increases continuously) only a few hundred are known publicly...."

Examples since the 1990s include the Heaven's Gate group (whose members committed mass suicide) and the Raelian Movement, which earned international attention with their claims of successful human cloning.

Response to Alien Contactees claims.

Though contactees earned a degree of mainstream attention, most mainstream observers seem to have concluded that the claimants were either hoaxers or mentally ill.

Even in ufology -- itself subject to at best very limited and sporadic mainstream scientific or academic interest -- contactees were generally seen as the lunatic fringe, and "serious" ufologists subsequently avoided the subject, for fear it would harm their attempts at "serious" study of the UFO phenomenon (Sheaffer 1986:17; 1998:34-35). Jacques Vallee notes that "No serious investigator has ever been very worried by the claims of 'contactees.'" (Vallee, 90)

Some time after the phenomenon had waned, historian David Michael Jacobs noted a few interesting facts: the accounts of the prominent contactees grew ever more elaborate, and as new claimants gained notoriety, they typically backdated their first encounter, claiming it occurred earlier than any one else's. Jacobs speculates that this was an attempt to gain a degree of "authenticity" to trump other contactees.

Were Contactees an attempt to discredit UFO studies?

There has been speculation that some Contactees were Central Intelligence Agency operatives following the Robertson Panel's directives to "reduce 'public interest'" in UFOs and to infiltrate UFO groups.

Randles and Hough write, "Some historical analysts think that the sudden arrival of countless Americans claiming contact with 'Space Brothers', and the quirky behaviour of some of them, may not be coincidence. Were some of the more extreme cases planted by the CIA as a way to speed up the Robertson panel's requirements? They definitely tarnished UFO credibility." (Randles and Hough, 104).

Though the Robertson Panel undoubtedly recommended the surveillance of civilian UFO groups, to date no evidence has been presented that would verify the speculations noted by Randles and Hough.

List of Contactees:

  • George Adamski.
  • Wayne Sulo Aho.
  • Orfeo Angelucci.
  • Truman Bethurum.
  • Albert Coe.
  • Daniel Fry.
  • William A. Ferguson.
  • Calvin C. Girvin.
  • Gabriel Green.
  • Dana Howard (contactee).
  • George King (Aetherius Society).
  • Elizabeth Klarer.
  • Dino Kraspedon (aka Aladino Felix).
  • Gloria Lee.
  • Dan Martin.
  • Billy Meier.
  • Howard Menger.
  • Buck Nelson.
  • Ted Owens.
  • Reinhold O. Schmidt.
  • Frances Swan.
  • George Van Tassel.
  • Samuel Eaton Thompson.
  • George Hunt Williamson.

Sources of Alien Contactees.

  • Michael Bakun, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America; University of California Press Berkeley, Los Angeles, 2003; ISBN 0-520-23805-2.
  • J. Allen Hynek (1972), The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry, Henry Regenery Company.
  • David Michael Jacobs (1975). The UFO Controversy In America. Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-19006-1.
  • Gordon J Melton, "The Contactees: A Survey", pages 1-13 in The Gods Have Landed: New Religions From Other Worlds, James R. Levin, editor; University of New York Press, Albany, 1995; ISBN 0-7914-2330-1.
  • Christopher Partridge, "Understanding UFO Religions and Abduction Spiritualities; included in UFO Religions, Christopher Partridge, editor; Routledge, London, 2003, ISBN 0-415-26324-7.
  • Curtis Peebles (1994). Watch the Skies: A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth. Smithsonian Institution ISBN 1-56098-343-4 (Chapter 7, pages 93-108, is about the contactee era.).
  • Jenny Randles and Peter Houghe (1994).The Complete Book of UFOs: An Investigation into Alien Contact and Encounters. Sterling Publishing Co, ISBN 0-8069-8132-6.
  • Christopher F. Roth, "Ufology as Anthropology: Race, Extraterrestrials, and the Occult." In E.T. Culture: Anthropology in Outerspaces, ed. by Debbora Battaglia. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005.
  • Robert Sheaffer (1986). The UFO Verdict: Examining the Evidence, Prometheus Books ISBN 0879753382.
  • Robert Sheaffer (1998). UFO Sightings: The Evidence, Prometheus Books ISBN 1-57392-213-7.
  • John Spencer (1991). The UFO Encyclopedia. Avon Books ISBN 0-380-76887-9.
  • Jacques Vallee (1965). Anatomy of a Phenomenon: Unidentified Objects in Space, A Scientific Appraisal. Henry Regnery Company, ISBN 0-8092-9888-0.

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