The Red, White and Gray (Part Two)
I can't forget but I don't remember what - Leonard Cohen
Weird didn't begin with America, though its been advantageous for some to presume otherwise. Still, America has been weird since before its beginnings.
Cabeza de Vaca's 1542 manuscript, Adventures in the Unknown Interior of the America, describes his conquestador voyage up the Mississppi. Near the Ozarks his party encountered the Avavares tribe, who warned de Vaca that the area is home to a little man with indistinct features whom they called "Badthing." Badthing, de Vaca was told, terrorized the people by entering their homes unbidden at night and performing various surgeries upon them:
He would thrust his hand through the gashes, draw out the entrails, cut a palm's length from one, and throw it on the embers. Then he would gash an arm three times, the second cut on the inside of the. elbow, and would sever the limb. A little later he would begin to rejoin it, and the touch of his hands would instantly heal the wounds.
De Vaca and his men laughed off the stories of "Mr Badthing," which caused some indignation in the tribe, who then produced for De Vaca's examination many subjects who had reputedly been seized and operated upon by the entity, and bore the corresponding scars. De Vaca then launched into a pitch for Christendom, explaining that Badthing was a demon, and "that if they would believe in God our Lord and become Christians like us they need never fear him, nor would he dare come and inflict those wounds." He promised that Badthing would not return while he was in the land, which "delighted them and they lost much of their dread."
Whatever the truth of "Badthing" - a rationalist editor has interpolated "self inflicted?" following the description of the wounds - the story shares much with modern-day abduction accounts. Well, that's America, and it always has been. But it's never been only America. With different cultural presupositions, Zanzibar's sodomizing demon "Popo Bawa" would likely be called an anal probing extraterrestrial. (The disingenuous skeptics of CSICOP explain him away with the same wave of the hand they reserve for abduction accounts: sleep paralysis.)
And yet some alleged cases of sleep paralysis also manifest themselves as waking nightmares. One such story is told by Nick Redfern in On the Trail of the Saucer Spies. "Tammy," a 57-year old grandmother and manager of a restaurant in El Paso, fell down a now-familar rabbit hole more than 30 years ago. And if she'd been sleepwalking at the time, she was wide-awake for the aftermath.
About two in the morning on March 6, 1973, Tammy was returning to her Waco apartment from her waitressing job at a diner 30 miles out of town. About halfway home she began to "feel strange" - dizzy, lightheaded and overcome with vertigo - as the car was engulfed in a bright glow, and the headlights and engine cut out. In a field maybe two hundred feet to Tammy's right she noticed a pale pink dome-shaped object, and from it, two small humanoids were approaching. Panicking, she meant to flee, but her arms and legs were unresponsive. "The next thing she knew," writes Redfern, "dawn was breaking, and she was sitting in the front passenger seat of her car."
After arriving home groggy and scared, and sleeping the entire day, Tammy chose to keep the imprecise though terrifying incident to herself. But she began having vivid dreams of surgical examinations on cold surfaces, conducted by small figures with "thin faces and cheeks," and a "deep, continuous, resonating hum" emanating from a large mechanical "eye" hoving over the examination table. She dreamt of being dressed and carried to her car, and placed in the passenger seat, and "a man in military uniform sitting in the driver's seat looking intently at her."
Over the next several weeks her dreams changed, becoming nightmarish and apocalyptic, resembling the "warning" transmissions contactees often report. Tammy saw "Earth in the near future reduced to ruins" from a combination of environment and military crises, including a manufactured virus that devastates the Middle East and was now "spiraling out of control." Most ominous, she saw visions of a "disturbing afterlife in which various gray-like entities of several types fed - vampire-style - on human souls."
Certainly a disturbing episode for Tammy, but if that was it then she probably should have sought a referral to a good sleep disorder clinic. But three weeks following there was a knock on her apartment door, and a man in a brown suit whom she said "could have passed for a marine - a big guy, very short hair" - announced he was conducting a police "survey." Standing in her doorway he began to fire off questions relating to vehicular crime, and when he asked "Are you concerned about being kidnapped from your car?" she slammed the door in his face and shouted she was going to call the police.
In the following weeks, she was visited on three occasions by two military men out of uniform. "They were real friendly with me," she tells Redfern, "and identified who they were and where they were from - Kirkland Air Force Base." Acknowledging Tammy's previous caller had been "with us," they apologized for his aggressiveness, then admitted that they knew about her abduction experience (though "they never mentioned the word abductions like you hear today - just kidnappings") and asked if she could discuss it with them, as it was a matter of national security.
The pair told Tammy that since 1971, such incidents were seeing an alarming increase in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona, and as a result, the military had established a project to monitor contactees. Once she consented to participate, the two "reeled off a number of truly strange questions":
Since the "kidnapping" had Tammy felt the urge to become vegetarian? Was she an adherent of Buddhist teachings? Did she believe in life after death, or had her views on the subject changed or been modified "since the kidnapping"? And most disturbing of all: Was she of the opinion that after death "we would all be judged by a higher power?"
Tammy then began to share with them her apocalyptic dreams, and the two "expressed deep concern" as they told her that other contactees were having similar dreams. They also confided that while some on the project believed the kidnappers to be extraterrestrials, others had concluded they were "demonic beings whose point of origin was somehow connected with the realm of the dead and the afterlife, and that the creatures derived sustenance from the human life force - namely, the soul."
The men asked Tammy if she would consent to a physical examination at Kirkland, and she agreed. And though they met twice more, probing her thoughts on "life after death, and - notably - her views on life after death in the animal kingdom," the examination never happened. (Or at least, not to a conscious Tammy.) After their visits stopped, she never heard from them again, though for several more weeks she experienced unnerving "countless interruptions" on her telephone line from "strange, rapid, and unintelligible voices."
What sense can we make of this? First, as Redfern also notes, Tammy's two men and their disturbing inquiries and revelations are quite similar to that of the two DoD scientists who approached theologian and Fortean researcher Ray Boeche 20 years later (discussed here). Boeche wrote that they informed him of an "obsessive effort" to contact and control non-human intelligences, and the methods "had grown to encompass the use of...satanic rituals/ritual magic along the lines of that espoused by Aleister Crowley, including human sacrifices." And though my hypothesis is virtually identical, it's always important to question the integrity of "whistleblowers," especially when they appear to blow your own whistle. "Since the best disinformation is mostly truth," I wrote last August, "if this communication were disinformative, could this addition [an unconvincing list of victims of psychotronic weapons experiments] have been the poison pill to misdirect a researcher already sniffing around the Military Occult Complex?"
Red flags should rise whenever a military official or contractor confides much more than someone needs to know. From Tammy's account, it seems at least as important to her two visitors that she hear them out as it was that they hear her. And could their anticipation of her apocalyptic dreams be due to her dreams having been imprinted upon her hypnotically during the abduction event?
While I'm persuaded UFOs represent a genuine phenomenon of occult provenance and are of critical interest to certain institutions of Earthly power, I also think their facsimile has been employed as a screen to pursue other work in the deep black under cover of absurdity and "alien" misdirection. I think it's significant that numerous abductees since the mid-sixties have reported being subjected to mind control devices similar to Skinner boxes and John Lilly's isolation tanks onboard "alien craft." Lilly claimed that, as his isolation tank research became known, he was approached by military personnel who sought to use it "to coerce a change in belief systems" (according to Dr Helmut Lammers' MILABS: Mind Control and Alien Abduction). Lilly's ethics forbade him from testing his tank on anyone but himself and colleague Craig Enright. But since immersion in the tank dramatically increased suggestibility, it's easy to imagine the military taking up the work covertly when reading the words of "Delora,"daughter of a career Naval officer, who's had flashbacks of what she takes to be an underground alien/human facility: "I saw steel doors of elevators leading to underground areas. I saw 'capsules' with people in them, in a suspended state, both vertical and horizontal, in gas and also in liquid" (from MILABS).
Redfern also describes the case of "Alison," a 36-year old native of Arizona, who was subjected to at least five abductions between 27 and 31. Each event began with her pet dogs acting distressed, a deep humming, loss of electricity and a bright light enveloping her room. Then, semiconscious, she would sense "small shadowy figures" carry her onto a small craft for a gynechological exam, before returning her to another part of the house.
The final event was a significant departure:
On what Alison believes to have been the fifth abduction, however, the mysterious humming sound abruptly came to a halt only a few seconds after her cosmic visitors had entered the room. At that point, Alison recalled - not in a later dream on this occasion but in real time - she began to slowly regain her senses and the feeling of disorientation eventually eased and finally vanished. And so did the aliens. In their place were not a group of frail-looking alien "Grays," but a number of large and burly men in what looked like black fatigues.
According to Alison, one of the men screamed into a microphone something like: "What's happened?" Suddenly, the men backed away slowly and, as Alison began to regain her senses, one of them held his hand up "as if to say 'stay where you are,'" and uttered the word "sorry" in her direction. Alison made her way to the window in time to see the men jump into not a state-of-the-art alien spacecraft but a very terrestrial-looking black unmarked helicopter. At a height of several hundred feet, a powerful lamp was suddenly turned on that lit up the dark sky around her property.
Some may happily seize upon stories like Alison's to contend that all UFO sightings and entity encounters must be similar masquerades. But to do so requires a disservice to the volume of cases around the world, most of which were recorded long before any of us had the means to effect such magic. And still, there's the matter of motive. "Mind control" isn't an answer; rather, it's another question: control of whom, and for what? What's the purpose of implanting apocalyptic visions in abductees, probing Tammy for her thoughts on the afterlife, and conducting invasive gynecological and genetic work?
Even when the close encounters are with covert American power, there's nothing happy here. Because the dead intelligence at work appears as alien to us as though it were in sunken R'lyeh, dreaming.
Or can they even know what they do, and why, walking like ghosts in the skin of Mr Badthing?