Clark Jerome - Extraordinary encounters

Author : Clark Jerome
Title : Extraordinary encounters An encyclopedia of extraterrestrials and otherworldly beings
Year : 2000

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Introduction. Extraordinary encounters have been reported for as long as human beings have been around, and they are richly documented in the world’s folklore and mythology. A full accounting of traditions of otherworldly belief would easily fill many fat volumes. This book, however, is not about traditions but about experiences, or perceived experiences, of otherworldly forces as claimed by a wide range of individuals over the past two centuries (with the rare look farther back if the occasion calls for it). In other words, it is about things that people, many of them living, say happened to them, things far outside mainstream notions about what it is possible to experience, but, at the same time, things that seem deeply real to at least the sincere experients (that is, those persons who have had the experiences). Not everyone, of course, is telling the truth, and when there is reason to be suspicious of the testimony, that consideration is noted. Mostly, though, I let the stories tell themselves; I have left my own observations and conclusions in this introduction. Though much of the material is outlandish by any definition, I have made a conscious effort to relate it straightforwardly, and I hope readers will take it in the same spirit. No single person on this earth is guiltless of believing something that isn’t so. As I wrote this book, I tried to keep in mind these wise words from scientist and author Henry H. Bauer: “Foolish ideas do not make a fool—if they did, we could all rightly be called fools.” Most of us believe in at least the hypothetical existence of other-than-human beings, whether we think of them as manifestations of the divine or as advanced extraterrestrials. At the same time most of us do not think of these beings as intelligences we are likely to encounter in quotidian reality. God and the angels are in heaven, spiritual entities who exist as objects of faith. Extraterrestrials, though not gods, “exist” in much the same way, as beings who science fiction writers and scientists such as the late Carl Sagan theorize may be out there somewhere in deep space, though so far away that no direct evidence supports the proposition. When devout individuals report feeling the “presence of God,” they usually describe a subjective state that the nonbeliever does not feel compelled to take literally. Of course we know there was a time when our ancestors were certain that otherworldly beings of all sorts walked the world. Gods communicated openly with humans. One could summon up their presence or encounter them spontaneously. Fairies and other supernatural entities haunted the landscape as things that existed not just in supernatural belief but in actual experience. We also know that our poor, benighted ancestors knew no better. Superstitious, fearful, deeply credulous, they mistook shadows and dreams for denizens of realms that had no reality beyond the one ignorance and foolishness assigned it. Finally, most of us are aware, even if only dimly so, that a handful of people in our own enlightened time make more or less public claims that they have personally interacted with supernormal beings. Such persons are thoroughly marginalized, treated as eccentric and novel, as different from the rest of us; if they are not lying outright, we suspect, they are suffering from a mental disturbance of some kind. And we may well be right, at least in some cases. As for the rest, we could not be more mistaken. As it happens, reports of human interaction with ostensible otherworldly beings continue pretty much unabated into the present. They are far more common than one would think. The proof is as close as an Internet search, through which the inquirer will quickly learn that material on the subject exists in staggering quantity. A considerable portion of it is about channeling (in which an individual is the passive recipient of messages from the otherworld, usually speaking in the voice of an intelligence from elsewhere) from a wide assortment of entities: nebulous energy sources, soul clusters, extraterrestrials, ascended masters, interdimensional beings, discarnate Atlanteans and Lemurians, nature spirits, even whales and dolphins. Besides these purely psychic connections with the otherworld, there are many who report direct physical meetings with beings from outer space, other dimensions, the hollow earth, and other fantastic places. Not all of these ideas are new, of course. The hollow earth and its inhabitants were a popular fringe subject in nineteenth-century America, and in the latter half of that century, spiritualist mediums sometimes communicated with Martians or even experienced out-of-body journeys to the red planet. In 1896 and 1897, during what today would be called a nationwide wave of unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings, American newspapers printed accounts of landings of strange craft occupied by nonhuman crews of giants, dwarfs, or monsters presumed to be visiting extraterrestrials. But in the UFO age—that is, the period from 1947 to the present, when reports of anomalous aerial phenomena became widely known and their implications much discussed— a small army of “contactees,” recounting physical or psychic meetings with angelic space people, has marched onto the world stage to preach a new cosmic gospel. In a secular context, UFO witnesses with no discernible occult orientation or metaphysical agenda have told fantastic tales of close encounters with incommunicative or taciturn humanoids. Some witnesses even relate, under hypnosis or through conscious “recall,” traumatic episodes in which humanoids took them against their will into apparent spacecraft. The early 1970s, the period when most observers date the beginning of the New Age movement, saw a boom in channeling—again nothing new (spirits have spoken through humans forever) but jarring and shocking to rationalists and materialists. The same decade spawned such popular occult fads as the Bermuda Triangle and ancient astronauts (prehistoric or early extraterrestrial visitors), based on the notion of otherworldly influences— benign, malevolent, or indifferent— on human life. ...

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