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My Fortean Life
My Fortean Life
David T. St. Albans
*The definition of "Fortean" is at the bottom of this article.
Like so many of my kind, creative and imaginative, I awoke this morning with an urgent need to write this down, even though I have many other important, albeit mundane things to do. Sometimes I just feel a desire, an inner tugging and I must follow it. Poe might have called it the “Imp of the Perverse.” The imp is a malicious type of spirit which tempts a person into doing things which are not in one’s best interest, like jumping off a cliff. Of course now we have bungees and hang-gliders, flying suits and short distance parachutes. So the imp can do his thing and we can do ours. Then again there are other “reasons” for doing things in this world and I have learned through long experience not to try to worry too much, but only to act on the impulse and trust one’s self implicitly.
Today the common “skeptic” of our generation seems to revel in his or her ability to funnel everything that happens in human life down to some prosaic “simple explanation.” Occam’s Razor is often used by critics and skeptics to strip the very skin off our world and culture (of which there is no other like it in this universe…as far as we know), and chop it up into its basic constituents. This makes the “whole” seem much less than the sum of its parts. It makes our existence seem rather dismal and wanting. Yet we know the Human Animal has a fierce need for the unexplained, the mysterious, the paranormal, the spiritual and or the ultramundane, even in their busy and hectic average lives. Hence we still have friends who see spirits, we still visit street fair psychics or Gypsy fortune tellers. Astrologers are still writing for major newspapers, magazines and websites. There are still a host of magazines and books, like Fortean Times, Bizarre and The Gate to Strange Phenomenon, dedicated to the weird, morbid, odd, and sometimes the just plain unexplainable. This and such things as attending Daily Mass at your local church and the act of reverent Hindus giving milk to statues of their gods proves beyond doubt that people still need mystery in their lives.
When taken as a “whole,” the entirety of human life seems to be some vast interwoven matrix of probability and possibility riding on a wave of cause and effect exploding out from the First Event (the Big Bang), which seems an unassailable Gordian Knot, even to our most intelligent minds. Every time someone slices at it with Occam’s old, rusty razor, the knot re-ties itself! To put it another way, Occam’s Razor is not a workable solution for humanity. There may be an explanation for some event or occurrence, but this does not mean it is a simple explanation. That is, unless you want to insist that the quantum physical structure of the subatomic universe is nothing but a box of Tinker Toys ™ that we have yet to master, because our culture is still too young to figure the toy out. Many have said that since the dawn of the Atomic Age we have become gods. And that we handle atoms like early man handled fire. This may be true. But early man took over a million years to find out what fire is! I reckon it will take another million for us to figure out that we live in a complex multiverse of endless strings of possibility and Aeolian resonance in a multilayered, interconnected matrix of Being and Action, Creation and Re-Creation. We need to start learning the basics now. Because what a god may be capable of no man can say. A God may be capable of destroying himself utterly, or bringing something into existence that could destroy everything he cherished. It would seem even gods must take time and effort to learn their trades. What if this is the 999th version of our universe and God still hasn’t got it right? Maybe He will erase it all and start over? Or maybe, just maybe, we are helping Him create it and this is just our first attempt! There is an old philosophical question: Can an all powerful God create a stone which is too heavy for Him to lift? The answer is: Yes and No.
Let me tell the reader a bit about myself. A word of warning, I have already been accused of a nearly God-like hubris and vanity for telling others what I am capable of. I am no Nikolai Tesla or Leonardo Da Vinci, though these are two of my “heroes.”
I have been described as something of a Renaissance Man by people who like me; and as a vain, egotistical bastard by my enemies. The truth is as usual, not simple. It rests somewhere in-between the two poles of Genius and Bastard. I am an accomplished, award winning master artist, my art having been shown in galleries and museums across the country and featured in art magazines, comic books, tattoo magazines, and etc. I am also a published poet, and an author of two books, one a complete fiction, the other a journal of true experiences, each written under a different name. I have been published far and wide in both fiction and non-fiction journals and local newspapers on a host of subjects from the completely bizarre to the totally prosaic. I am an inventor. I play music. I have written songs and plays. I have been an actor in my own very profitable and well-liked Wild West Show, and I have appeared in commercials, stage plays in L.A., melodramas, re-enactments, music videos and even movies.
I am a man of letters, having had numerous of my missives published in the large and small press magazines and papers of our day and corresponded with the famous and infamous. Some of these correspondences even caused minor controversy within certain industries. I have signed autographs for my work and some of that work is in the collections of a few famous folk. I do wood working, scrimshaw, leather working, painting of murals and miniatures, illustrations and graphic arts. I also blog and do a lot of work with and on computers. I do a lot. I don’t know why. I don’t even know where I get the energy. I am a Type II diabetic and yet I seem to have overcome that disease for the present moment through exercise and diet and natural medicine. I believe in modern medicine and I also believe in the Spiritual Aspects of what is called Religion or God or New Age Thought. I believe in science and technology and am skilled at using it, and I can also use spiritual or psychic means to establish or manipulate certain events in my life or the life of others. I am a Reiki Master, a spiritual healer and teacher and I also can fix my home’s plumbing. I am also a very good cook. (At least my wife and a few friends have urged me to become a chef). I can pick up objects with my toes, I only grew one wisdom tooth and my wife claims I can see in the dark. Maybe I am just a freak of nature. Some bit of God’s unfinished business.
I grew up in pretty much abject poverty in the inner city of Chicago, Illinois in the late fifties and early sixties. My mother and father were not college grads. In fact my father had dropped out of high school to support his new family. I was born in 1954 at a hospital I believe was named Swedish Covenant. I was baptized as a Catholic, but never took confession, communion or even heard mass as a child. I grew up in the age of Rock and Roll. My parents, just kids having kids themselves, divorced when I was seven, leaving me pretty much on my own as they pursued their own lives. Today we call this abandonment and neglect, and I would have been considered a “latch-key kid” for most of my young life. I took care of my brothers and sister because my mother was an alcoholic who worked very odd hours. We were so poor that we were constantly being evicted from basement apartments and tenements in the poorest sections of Chicago. I attended about six different grade schools and two different high schools. Invariably in each I was the “new kid” who had to fight or be beaten up. Being a “squirt” and a tiny little guy, I didn’t do the fighting thing very well. So I took up story telling and being the funny guy. This usually took the pressure of being constantly "new" off of my little shoulders quickly and painlessly. Though I did have my fair share of fist fights and being bullied, I tried to be more fun-loving and witty, and often this got me out of the trouble of my youth.
The things I am about to document here are going to be denounced by some as being tales told in jest; or if in earnest, the ravings of a lunatic, or just simplistic lies. They are not, I assure the reader, any sort of “false memories.” I am a journalist and write everything down that happens to me of import. I also am a dream journalist who can recall lengthy, nay, epic dreams and I have thirty years of dream journals to prove it. I know the difference between reality and dreams. The old Philosophical conundrum: I dreamt I was a butterfly and when I awoke I wondered, was I a butterfly having a dream about being a man, or a man having dreamt he was a butterfly? Easy: I was a man dreaming I was a butterfly. How do I know? Because every day I "Awake" to be the same man in the same awful world. Whereas when I sleep, I dream I am a butterfly, or a turtle or live on the moon, or have dinner with the Pope. It's never the same dream twice. Because it is not "reality."Reality only changes by agonizing increments. And usually not for he better. Dreams change rapidly and often and have amazing results. If I was a butterfly I would be insane to have dreamed up THIS world!
The events I describe all happened to me nonetheless, and I feel graced by the Universe for having had these experiences. These events have led me to the conclusion that “all is not as it seems” in our lives, and that life is a great adventure and that we hopefully will never figure it all out. The fun of my life is owed to my Fortean Experiences, and they are legion. Again, Believe It, or Not!
My Fortean experiences began long before I read Charles Fort’s books. A precursor event: When I was three months old my father had my mother take a photograph of me as he held me in one hand over the steering wheel of his big 1955 Chrysler Imperial. I still have the photo. What is Fortean is that I was too young to have any true formulated thought patterns. I was a baby, small enough to be held easily in one hand of an adult male. Yet I can remember distinctly looking over the steering wheel of the car and thinking: “I can drive this car.” I thought all I needed were longer legs to reach the peddles, But I knew how to drive! How could I know this? How could I know what a car even was? How could I even know I had legs and what they were used for in dealing with a car? According to science I could not know. I was barely capable of guiding my own hands and feet and was just recognizing faces and speaking blubbering goo-goo talk. But I knew how to drive, of this I was certain. The thought was adult, complete, and I was totally cognizant of what I was thinking. I recall it vividly to this day. And I can’t recall another lucid thought until I was three years old.
When I was just four years old I saw a pack of at least five hundred rats stampeding down an alleyway past me and up and over a wooden fence. What had driven them from their homes enmasse? Who could say? It was 104 degrees Fahrenheit outside that day. Much of what happened to me of a Fortean nature seems to have happened at the height of summer. Maybe the place they lived in was too dry, or someone had come to exterminate the nest. Maybe there had been a fire. What was odd was these were not typical gray sewer rats, like the big one which lived under our stove... they were huge, black and white and brown and gray speckled! Like laboratory rats. They came on like a living wave. I simply stepped out of their way; they did not even take me into consideration. They simply swarmed over a wall and were gone. Luckily they were not hungry, because a four year old child would have been easy pickings for this swarm. I am guessing there were at least two hundred to three hundred rats.
An able reader, I was able to name the Latin and Greek names of dinosaurs at age of four. I read about them on the back of cereal boxes. At this time my grandfather proclaimed me a “genius.” These days every kid knows all the dinosaurs’ names by age four. But back then it was uncommon, if not a bit surprising. At age seven I was already reading Edgar Allen Poe into my grandfather’s “wire recorder” and wowing my family. I was always entranced by the realm of fantasy and of aliens, leprechauns and fairies. I recall looking for Leprechauns every day for a year. I loved science fiction books and movies, monsters, horror and the macabre. Oh yes, I had a head full of knowledge and odd facts. I read the Encyclopedia Britannica through at age of eight. I used the dictionary to figure out all the words I did not understand. My father had taught me a valuable lesson when he got tired of my constant questions. He said: “Look it up!” I did. Then I filled the end papers of his set of encyclopedias with drawings of dinosauric monsters, soldiers and aircraft. After nearly breaking down into tears at seeing how I had wrecked his books, he bought me a sketch pad.
At age five I was one of those kids who, having worked my behind off to buy the first set of Topps “Mars Attacks” bubble gum cards (a nickel for a pack of five), had to watch them burn up on the stove when my mom found them in my possession. She became a righteously indignant 1950’s mom and threw a fit, deploring the horrors of the bubble-gum card publishing industry. This event brought on my first full blown “Fortean Experience.” Call it a hypnogogic or hypnopompic sleep disorder experience, or a lucid nightmare, or a psychotic break. The night of the day I lost those hideous cards, with their skull faced aliens, I awoke and sat bolt upright in my bed when I heard a noise. I broke out in a cold sweat when I saw one of these evil beings with his death ray at the ready, as real and as solid as you please, walk out of my closet and come towards me. This was not a cartoon character. It was as if somehow my young, impressionable mind had manufactured the flesh and bone replica of the beings I was so obsessed with. And they were dangerous and malefic beings! They were intent on killing me. Two came out of the closet. One came through the wall. I was paralyzed and unable to vocalize at all. I could not breathe. I was going to be killed. This much I knew, though my youthful yet still rational mind also said, “Wait! How did a solid being come through the wall?” At that moment I let out a scream. My father appeared in the room. I told him what had happened. He said it was a bad dream gave me a drink of water, calmed me and put me back into bed. Believe me. I had dreams before, bad ones, being chased by Polar Bears and dinosaurs through the dark streets of Chicago. But this was not a dream at all. This was an experience. Westerners say a person cannot die in their dreams. But the Malaysians believe a person can die in a dream. Which is correct; Western thought because it is “rational or Malaysian because it is experiential? I knew this was no dream. And I knew this, if those creatures had shot me, I would have been dead if only from a stopped heart. What their ray guns did to people was obscene; which is why my mother burned the cards in the first place. But by burning them, had she somehow forced a reality to come into being in an act of unconscious witchcraft or sympathetic magic? It was a horrifying experience, one I was not able to shake for many long years.
A skeptic would say: “Tish and tosh! A boyish nightmare produced by an overactive imagination from a pack of cards he should have never even bought, serves him right!” The point however, is that this was a Fortean Experience, in that the lines between dream and reality were so totally blurred that I was functioning on another level entirely. My Freudian Wish Fulfillment desires to have my cards back could have caused me real harm. The human mind can actually want something to be brought into existence that is utterly harmful, foreign to its genetic need for self-preservation, and which to all intents and purposes is real to the one experiencing it.
I know this. I did not want the killer saucer-men in my room! I wanted the cards back so I could read the story! In the case of mankind we want an end to war. So we create nuclear weapons so devastating they can kill everyone. Humanity wiped out, war ended, case closed. Peace on Earth. What happened to me went beyond simple natural human biology. I had created something real enough that it might kill me. I had created it with my mind. Either that or some alternate reality exists where Martians do make war on earthlings and I had stumbled into it. Either way, it was not “just a nightmare.” It was a three dimensional reality to my mind.
Whereas this first case was one of imagination ruling over reason, and which I knew to be the case later on in life, the other events were as real as reality can get because they often affected other people, or other people had similar experiences. I have a facile mind and a very fertile imagination. You can judge this by my art and literature. But one asks the question, at what point does the matrix of fertile imaginations and facile minds on earth begin to bend reality to their own whims, what are those whims from whence do they proceed, and how far can they go? Is there really a simple explanation for our experiences? What is a “mass hallucination?” Why do masses of people all see or experiences a similar thing? We do not know. Such a thing may not be real but it could also be true that the masses are actually seeing something which only the masses can see.
As a boy, looking for leprechauns in old tree trunks. I also was a very lucky kid, in that I was able to see and pluck four leaf clovers anytime I wanted. I plucked at least one a year until I was eighteen years of age. I still have about five of them under laminated plastic. Now of course science can generate four leaf or five or six leaf clovers any time it likes through genetic manipulation; but in my day one had to be observant and highly lucky to find one of these amidst the millions of regular old three leafed clovers. I never found a leprechaun, though I did look for pots of gold at the end of rainbows. I once followed a rainbow to its end with a friend of mine. We were on bikes and we rode after our quarry in rapid time. At the end of our ride we found ourselves standing not in front of a hoard of golden coins, but rather in front of the apartment where we had first met and grown up together some six years before! Coincidence? Serendipity? We did not even know what streets we were tooling down in our headlong rush to find the end of the rainbow. What we found there was our past! And we had been separated for some time before that by circumstances and physical distances. Now we were together again in the very place we grew up. We had the guts to ask the new owners if we could look around. I thought: “only adults do this in the movies!” Two twelve year old boys, nostalgic for a six year old past chased a rainbow to their old home. Who knows what one will find at the end of a rainbow? A treasure of sorts to be sure.
We hear a lot today about “Urban Myths and Legends.” One of these I was involved in personally and my brother has the scars to prove it. Someone once said, "Scars are there to prove something really did happen." The “Superman Urban Myth” of the 1960’s is something that happened to me. My brother and I were big fans of Superman the television show, the one with George Reeves in the starring role. I liked Zorro, Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone as well as Flash Gordon. And I loved to pretend to be my heroes. On Superman nights my brother and I would generally get our blue or red towels, pin them up on our necks and swoop around the room yelling: “I’m superman!” “No you ain’t! I’m superman!” and chase each other around like idiots. On one particular lazy summer afternoon we swooshed out onto the back porch of our building onto the patio. We were two stories up. My brother, Daniel, said: “I am superman! I can fly!” He started to clamber up on the railing. I headed for the door to get my mom and dad! “Danny’s trying to climb the railing again!” I was saying, then I turned around and he was gone. I of course looked skyward. I was only five and he was two and a half! So of course I figured, maybe he could fly! Then fearful, I looked down. There he lay on the concrete below, having done a header right into a cast iron drain plate! I got my mom and dad and they were terrified he was dead. They drove him to the nearest hospital, he was unconscious, finally he woke unscathed but for a small gash on his head. So the Superman Urban Myth which many have said was not true, that no kid ever jumped off a building pretending to be Superman, was true, it was not a myth at all. It happened to my family and I am sure it is on record in some hospital in Chicago. And I am sure the incident was not a singular one. It probably happened a lot. Do television shows cause violent behavior or, in this case, stupid behavior? Of course! It only stands to reason that if a man can fly on TV, a man can fly elsewhere! That’s the logic of a child. I am betting a full phalanx of kids jumped off of rooftops and out of trees experimenting with their as yet untested super powers. What has happened culturally is that a dangerous event, kids jumping off of tall buildings in a single bound, has been sublimated, called a lie, and parents told it never happened. Now many people try to say television cannot and never has influenced kids to do stupid or bad things! Which is like saying fairytales of old, where wizards could make light appear at the end of a magic wand and light a way through a dangerous cave, never led to the invention of an electric lightbulb! People wanted mobile lights and so they invented them! People have wanted to fly like birds since forever. And they have formulated various ways of doing just that, from Boeing 767s to motorized kite wings! People will fly. And if they see someone flying in a movie or on TV they might just try it. Like my brother did. If they saw themselves or someone else doing it in a dream it is called imagination. If the imaginings are dark and morbid and perverse, like some of the modern video games, some idiot child will try to gun down the people he thinks are the monsters in his life. This is an absolute event which will happen over and over again. Not a imaginative possibility. We cannot blame the programs and the games, we can only blame ourselves. We invent the things which compel us to take steps towards either the light or the darkness. We make monsters out of ourselves. And we kill everything we hate and sometimes we kill what we love as well. Sometimes by an accident in mistaken logic, we even kill ourselves. My brother took a leap of faith into the mysterious world of myth...to become an Urban Fact which later was denounced. I am sure this will be further denounced as a False Memory, since so many astute personages have their credibility as scholars on the line. But it happened nevertheless.
Later he would be hit by two cars head on while playing in the street, his thick, Polish skull saving him once again. And that incident would set me on the path for my search for God, who had seemingly saved him at my behest. Because when he was put in the ambulance he was literally covered in blood, drenched and unconscious. His last words to me as I held him in my arms: “Don’t tell mom I was in the street playing,” made me weep. I was sure he died in that moment as his eyes closed. The ambulance men took him up and put him in the vehicle. In my little bedroom I prayed my tiny heart out. When he came home, as from the Superman Incident, he had only six stitches in his right cheek and was fresh as a daisy! (His friend who had been on the back of his tricycle, had rolled under one of the cars and suffered five hundred stitches! He looked kike Frankenstein’s monster). These were only two of the many incidents he had in his life where a lesser boy would have been snuffed. He had the most damnable luck. When we ask "What is faith" we can answer, "It is what happens to the human mind of a six year old child holding his blood drenched brother in his arms. It is what happens in a fox-hole with rockets flying over your head, it happens on airplane's that are about to crash. We call on that we cannot see, to save us from what we cannot know. When you think about it, we've never been dead. Our DNA went from living cell to living cell until it was allowed to become a human. Death is the last thing we experience before we mingle our DNA with the dust from whence we rose.
When I was about seven years old I was sent to the store to buy a gallon of milk. The store was at the corner of our street. I had to be bundled up because it looked like it was going to be cold and wet in a little while. It was the edge of autumn. Huge dark clouds blotted out the sun quickly as I ran to the store. I got there, got the milk and then stared longingly at the Milky Way ™ bars. They cost ten cents for the big ones. Being a chocolate addict like most kids I salivated like one of Pavlov’s mutts. I thought about taking the change my mother told me to bring home and buying it. I thought about stealing one. I thought better of either idea; then I figured I’d better get home as the wind was blowing the trees around viciously and rain was beginning to fall. I took the big, glass jug of milk and ran home. It was only a block away. Suddenly it began pelting down hail. White ice stones the size of marbles were bouncing everywhere. I loved hail. I collected hail when I could to put in our freezer. I thought it was neat-o (as we used to say). I figured I’d snatch some and take it upstairs. I was right outside my building. I observed one stone seemed to be dark grey. That would be a keeper! Most hail was bright white. I picked up the stone and I could see there was something inside of it. I put it in my hand and let it melt. Inside was a Mercury Head dime. I looked up at the sky. I looked down at the dime. I put the milk inside the doorway to the apartments and ran back to the store to buy a Milky Way bar, not even thinking how very odd it was to find a dime inside of a hailstone. The heavens had smiled upon me, offering treasure from above. Sure, a skeptic with Occam’s Razor handy would say: “Oh a tornado probably picked up the dime spun it into the upper stratosphere and as it came down in the cloud it became moist with condensation and froze into a form of hail. All right, silver dimes are fairly heavy. But that is what I figured too, at the time. Or maybe someone dropped it out of a plane? Who could tell? The point was I found a dime inside of a hailstone when I wanted a dime for a candybar and I got the candybar.
A famous scientific heretic and writer, Immanuel Velikofsky, once said that mass exterminations could have been caused by major disasters such as floods or meteor strikes, and he was pooh poohed for many long years; once explained that a miracle is not defined by what happens, but rather when it happens. In the Sixties I believed Velikofsky was correct about mass extinctions and disasters changing the surface of our globe, it made sense to me. Now his heresy is common fare in all geography lessons. Velikofsky said when Moses needed a miracle, a sea suddenly dried up. It might have dried up every year at that time regardless of who was there to see it. But it dried up just when Moses needed to get across. And I discovered a dime in a hailstone, just when I was pining for a candybar. Go figure. Later that same year I found a coin in the dirt of a construction site that was the size of a quarter, but it was not a quarter, because on one side was the head of some famous person and on the other a picture which showed one general delivering his sword in surrender to another, the figures were in Revolutionary War clothing. I have researched coins for years trying to locate evidence of such a coin, because once again, candy madness drove me to use the coin as a quarter. It worked. And I may have deposited a million dollar coin into a machine for a bit of 25 cent candy! Maybe it was a coin from the future? It was buried in the dirt but it was clean, silvery, unscarred by time.The Universe does play its little jokes. Or was the Universe simply looking out for me...or was I, as an extension of the Universe, manifesting what I desired?
Once when I was nine, living in the suburbs of Chicago I was on my bike at evening, once again looking for that elusive candybar. I went to a gas station I knew of that sold candy and other treats. The station was closed for some reason. In my life I had been stung by a horde of red ants and had to be immersed in water to get them off of me. I’d been harassed by hornets swarming me. I’d been bombarded by a plague of locusts. I’ve been chased by bears, bull snakes, crabs and scorpions. This time I was witness to the largest thing that would ever get a mind to chase me, talk about nightmares! As I rode to the gas station yet again a storm had brewed during my short ride and it looked very ominous. The suburban Illinois sky was full of typical tornado season thunderheads. The air had gone dead and the light of the sky turned greenish. This was a sign to head for cover. I could hear tornado sirens going off at my school. Across the street from me was an old dirt road leading to a forest preserve. I looked at the black clouds above and saw the swirling funnel of a tornado forming. Quicker than I could think , the funnel simply smashed into the ground about a block away and headed down the dirt road right towards me! It had the speed of an express train. And sounded like God’s Holy wrath! And all I could do was get my bike and my butt into high gear and pray as I sped away from the demonic swirling cloud without looking back! I peddled faster than I had ever gone before, zigzagging down different roads. I finally got to our school where others were going inside the basement to be safe. I yelled: “Get in! Get in! It’s following me!” We all were safe as the storm passed us overhead. But outside there was much destruction going on. Part of the school roof had blown off, so it had gone right over me,,,followed me straight to the school! I went home afterwards, wondering why on earth the thing had decided to come after me? My neighbor’s car-port wound up in my back yard. Telephone poles were splintered, roofs torn away. The next day I went to the gas station again to seek out my tasty reward. The gas station had been absolutely obliterated. It simply was not there except for fragments of roof and lumber. Had I stood there in that spot one more minute I would have wound up spinning into the stratosphere myself like a rag-doll, broken and mulched. As I said miracles are when things happen, not what things happen.
Sometimes though minor miracles happen to me that don’t seem to mean anything except symbolically, as when I was witness to myself standing on a rural road on one half of the road it was raining and thunder. On the other half it was sunny and nearly cloudless. I was at the very juncture of sky and storm. And I actually could walk from the rain into the sun and back into the rain for what seemed like a good half an hour! What does it mean? I don’t know but it happened to me years later as an adult in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Perhaps it was a quantum allegory of my life?
My life has been filled with strange occurrences like these, and it seemed I was always having the feeling that there was something going on in reality which no adult could tell me about. Around the time of the tornado I discovered Charles Fort’s Book of the Damned. Previously I loved the Ripley’s Believe It or Not section in the Sunday Funnies and got a collected version at the library to read. I also started reading a lot of True Adventure magazines, which featured stories that were bizarre and strange. UFO stories begin to appear in magazines of that type as well, and I was very interested in the idea that the things I saw in the movies might have a basis in reality. My friends and I were witness to many crop circles in the fields outside of town. These were simple round, flattened areas which we kids used as “forts” when we played “army.” Adults said they were made by cattle or horses when they slept in the field. But there were no cattle and only one horse that I knew of. Besides which don’t they sleep standing up? So of course we kids decided the adults were full of it and that these were signs of UFO landings. These phenomenon are now called "Crop Circles." The field behind our development in Carpentersvile was rife with crop circles. It was at this time when I had my first UFO sighting.
Now, one could say that here is this young, precocious child, filling his head with all these tales of UFOs and aliens and of course he’s going to finally “see” something in the sky. I watched the sky like a hawk day in and day out. After all we were supposed to be on the look out for Russian Migs and Bombers or even nuclear missiles! It was the decade of “Duck and Cover.” Everyone looked to the skies to see if they could spot the enemy coming. And the skies were full of military aircraft, as well as old timey airplanes from WWII that people still flew. I took it upon myself to study up on silhouettes and plane structures and markings just in case I could spot an enemy aircraft. I also stayed up at night to watch the airplanes take off from O’Hare Airport, which was nearby. Nightly one light after another would come up from the ground beyond the forest preserve and reach the altitude it needed for cruising and proceed in a direct line across my field of vision at a pretty reasonable, precise clip. One evening I saw two lights take off, one on top of the other. I thought it was a bit strange but reasoned it was just two jets taking off from nearby runways on the same heading. The lights looked exactly the same, which is to say they looked like two typical jet airliners. As they climbed to their necessary altitude, the light on top stopped dead. Then it rose upward vertically at an amazing speed. It then proceeded to zip into the night sky in a diagonal line at what looked to be about a thousand times faster than the other light was traveling! It ascended directly into space and blinked out of existence. It is a bit hard to describe it. But once I saw it I gulped. That was a UFO! Nothing else could go straight up and then make a right angle ascent that fast! I was awe struck! I had finally sighted a UFO. I am not here to say what it was, alien craft, ball lightning, swamp gas or Venus on a half-shell. It was the size and shape and same light pattern as a jet aircraft and it had maneuvered unlike anything I have ever seen before or since. It was a calm, starry night with no storms or winds or odd planetary alignments. What I saw was an unidentified flying object. Of course I wanted to see a UFO. Yet it had happened with no conscious direction from me. I was just in the right place at the right time.
At that time I became a part of yet another supposed Urban Myth which developed in the 1990’s. It’s now called The Thunderbird Photograph Myth. It was in the year 1967 or so when one of the magazines I was wont to read (the ones with all the lurid illustrations of Nazis torturing women on the cover, magazines with titles like “Men’s Best” and “Men’s Adventure Magazine”), ran an article on old stories from the American West, one of which featured prominently a photograph of several men pointing to what appeared to be a large, black pterodactyl, nailed to their hunting cabin or a shed. I remember the picture distinctly and recall the article, but not the magazine title or the author. I was always reading morbid tales and weird articles. My grandmother had started me with these horrible papers one got down South in cheap motels, sort of like the old Police Gazettes, they featured stories of bizarre murders, or tales about a girl whose skin would peel off in layers like an onion if she didn’t stay immersed in water all day! They were mostly patent nonsense like the Weekly Star or Weekly World News papers of today. But they were also precursors to magazines like Fortean Times. They also retold lurid stories about the murders of Ed Gein. Since I was a Poe fan, of course I got into this sort of trashy literature. The Men’s Magazines always had things about the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot or werewolves. UFO sightings and speculative pieces were big too, and so were Fortean Tales like the story about the men who caught the pterodactyl. So of course I recall that story since it also had a really nice picture with it and I would try to remember things like that for my inner x-files. Now in recent years there has been a veritable storm of controversy around whether the photograph ever appeared, who published it, and where it went if it did exist. Some say it is a complete case of mistaken identity or even “false memory!” Still others swear up and down they have seen this photo at one time or another. I recalled it so well I drew a picture of it some years ago which has appeared in “Strange Magazine” and other books and magazines on unknown mysteries several times. Some say it is as close as they remember to the true original. Others say they saw something very different. Yet the cultural behavior surrounding the issue is telling. We ask ourselves if what we recall as reality is even true, or is it some sort of dream? Or perhaps the whole controversy represents the need for some of us to get notoriety or to at least feel like we are the members of some interesting cabal of True Believers. Whatever the case, why was there a storm of controversy around a simple photograph? It most likely would have turned out to be a silly “photo-shopped” little bit of fluff anyway, a nicely done up hoax. Yet the idea that there could be a picture of what might have been a once living prehistoric bird which has now gone missing, tantalizes and tempts many to fits of passion either pro or con.
During this period I became involved with another event or occurrence which some writers in Fortean Times and other speculative magazines insist “means something.” It is the old “gymshoes thrown over the telephone wires” story. What does it mean? Is it a threat, a sign of gangsterism, witchcraft, cultists? Was it a simple kid’s game or a symbol of secret societies bent on violence? Why does it still happen today, who is doing it? WHAT DO THEY WANT!!!??? This is what people seem to be asking. The answer is simple.
When I was a boy we simply took our dirty, worn out gymshoes home from school when school got out for summer, tied the laces and proved our dominance and stamina by slinging them like Patagonian bolos, as high as we could to get them to loop over the wires. After all, who wanted a smelly, holey pair of sneakers when next fall we’d all get new ones!? Rain and wind invariably eroded the laces and the shoes would drop and disintegrate. But sometimes a pair would hang around for years and the spot would provoke others to try to knock them off or loop their own shoes nearest the heroic footwear. Yes, it was a meaningless game. And I suspect it still is. Yet someone keeps reporting on it and letters keep going out about it in magazines and newspapers spurring endless discussion. People see a tree or high wire full of shoes and they say: “This means something…this is important!” Yet if you tell them you saw Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster, or aliens coming out of your closet they say you’re crazy. Go figure.
I’ll take this one step further. In 1968 I saw a real Thunderbird! This very same bird was described in articles in 1977 where witnesses say an “over-grown vulture” actually lifted a small child off the ground and tried to carry it away! (Again the contention has been made that an eagle or large vulture is not big enough to carry away a human child. However there is now a very good You Tube video of a Golden Eagle in Canada trying to make off with a baby, Years before this George Catlin, famous American artist, was shooting at Andean Condors in South America and one of his companions was hoisted up by one which nearly took him over a cliff! So yes, birds do attack humans, and some are big enough to get away with it. Sightings of the notorious Thunderbird have been known in that area of Illinois since the Sauk and Fox Indians first inhabited the lands. Explorers found paintings of the thunderbird on the rocks overhanging the rivers. The sightings of Alien Big Birds have persisted right up to the present day. But I am not a second or third hand witness. I am an eye-witness. A Thunder Bird is a mythic bird that, like the Chinese Dragon, ascends to the sky and shoots down lightning and winds to harass mankind. Could it in fact be based on our ancestors’ real experiences with living giant birds? After all the giant Andes Condor and California condors still live. Other larger predatory bird bones have been found in the La Brea Tar pits of California. One great eagle like bird would have been fully capable of picking up a small child or even an adult male. Perhaps our legends of giant eagles, rocs and vultures are based in reality? The tar pits sucked in those birds only a few thousand years ago. Perhaps they persisted even into historical times as some of the West’s early explorers insisted? It is known from fossil evidence that large eagles occasionally or perhaps even routinely, took our early ancestors as prey, just as Monkey Eating Eagles in the Philippines take monkeys as prey. The lore is rich and would make a book all on its own. What happened to me was brief, but powerful.
I was staying with my father at his place in Keeneyville, Illinois, a small rural community on the outskirts of Chicago not far from where I had lived and seen the crop circles. Around his home were several other homes; across the street was a large water filled quarry where I once found a mummified frog. (I kept this esoteric object for many years, Illinois is not fertile ground for mummification, but this frog was absolutely mummified, stiff and dry as a bone.) Around the quarry were miles of corn fields. My father had about two acres of land around his house which needed mowing. He let me use his mowing tractor to cut the grass. That summer day in 1968 I was cutting the front lawn. It was hot and humid. I parked the tractor under a great Weeping Willow tree to take a rest. My step mother came out to give me a glass of lemonade. It was nice and cool. I sipped it and looked at the scenery. She went back inside. Over a corn field to my left I saw a huge bird. It must have been a heron, I thought, since I’d seen those big birds passing over before. But something was odd about this bird. As the wings flapped slowly, even lazily, it seemed to go in and out of time, as if something in the sequence of its movements did not coincide with the reality of the moment. How to describe it? It seemed to be dimensionally shifting. I was puzzled. But the bird came closer and closer. There seemed to be a hazy light around it. And it was gigantic. The wingspread must have been at least eight to ten feet! It was flying right over our front yard. It was so close I could see the vulturine white ruff of feathers around its neck. It was definitely a vulture, brownish black, dull feathers, a bald head and a long, extended neck. The beak was what was important here. It was not vulturine. It was quite a bit longer very much like an Albatross. It had a large bulbous shape at the end with a vicious hook like a parrot’s beak, it looked razor sharp. As the bird glared at me with a beady black eye, not more than ten feet away, I could see it had sharp, white teeth along the edge of the beak! From all my studies of prehistoric animals I knew that birds had lost their teeth millions of years after they first developed from the first feathered raptor like predators. Some fossil birds of the time like Hesperornis had teeth, which lived just after the demise of the dinosaurs. (Now we know for a fact that birds are descendants of dinosaurs). This then had to be some sort of weird throwback! Let me tell you, this bird looked evil, and hungry! It looked me straight in the eye. And I did not like that look one bit! Yet as it flapped slowly past me, I could still see it shifting in and out of synch with its surroundings. I stood paralyzed as it flew past me and headed out over the back yard, easily scooping the air with its huge pinions. It more glided than flew really. Each swooping of its wings propelled it quickly through the air, but it was so big it looked slow because it took awhile for it to disappear into the distance of the neighboring corn fields. It was as if some time-warp had occurred and I had seen a vision of a prehistoric animal that did not exist either here or there, but somewhere in between. One thing was sure; it had seen me as well. Thankfully it had kept on going.
I watched its huge bulk disappear over the corn and then ran into the house yelling: “I just saw a pterodactyl! I just saw a pterodactyl!” My step mother tried to calm me down, but I was simply too excited to be quiet. I described the event exactly. To this day my family laughs about the day “David saw his pterodactyl.” They thought I had sunstroke or something. But I’d had sunstroke before, and had fainted momentarily a few years before. I knew sunstroke, I knew dreams, I knew imaginations, this was different. I was in the yard, perfectly lucid and standing up with a glass of lemonade in my hand. I could feel the breeze, see the wind in the trees, the scene was as it always had been, but there had been this awesome, low flying bird. O.K. so they made fun of me for awhile. Years later during one of the resurrections of the stories in various books and magazines dedicated to such phenomenon, I read that indeed all that summer people had reported seeing a huge, vulture like bird near the Fox River and its environs. So it was not just me. Later the bird was reported seen again in the late 1970’s in the same area. This is when the incident with the little boy being picked up by a vulture-like bird had occurred
The oddity of all this is not that I saw a thunderbird or was chased by a tornado or that I found a dime in a hailstone. Any number of people has at least one story like this in their lives. The oddity is that these things happened to me over and over again. My life has been full of such strange occurrences.
Like this: One day at age nine I was in bed with a very high fever, the room was pulsing and the curtains seemed to be breathing slowly. It was as if I were on some sort of drug. For no reason at all that I can recall I came down with this illness. In the afternoon I came down with severe stomach cramps. I ran into the bathroom and vomited into the toilet. What came out was a huge gush of almond slices! I mean it was as if I had eaten at least two pounds of sliced almonds! So what? You might say; so you ate a bunch of almonds and got sick. The thing is I detested almonds. I hated anything with almonds on it or in it. I hated them in Almond Joy bars or any other candy. If I was getting a chocolate urge and had only an Almond Joy bar to eat, I would pick the nuts off on purpose. You could not get me to eat an almond. Yet I was vomiting up a couple of bags of absolutely undigested almond slivers! A type of nut which we did not even keep in our house! It was as if during the night someone had force fed me almonds through a funnel, because these were not chewed or desiccated in any way, they were whole almond slivers. To this day I do not know what this was about. As soon as they were out, my fever subsided.
This was just one event of many I had in my long life. I must say it has been interesting. And it got me interested in beginning my personal explorations into the occult and mystery religions. It turned me towards an inner spiritual search and a search for God. It gave me the impetus to continue to study history, art, literature, natural phenomenon and science.
I seem to have an affinity for birds of prey. I have been up close to beautiful Red-Tailed hawks, Great Horned owls, Snowy owls, Barn owls, Bald and Golden eagles, and even made friends at the LA Zoo with an Australian Wedge Tailed eagle. All of this was happenstance, usually during times in my life when I wandered the wilderness trying to establish some connection with a sort of Native American spirit which was something that attracted me since I was a young man in the Boy Scouts. The more I studied Native American culture the more I was certain that I had some sort of mysterious connection with it, even though I had no Indian blood in me that I know of, except that in the far distant past an ancestor of mine surnamed Roberts (A Frenchman accused of Piracy…perhaps he was the original “Dread Pirate Roberts?") married into an Indian tribe in Georgia in the 1600’s. During the 1960’s I delved deeper and deeper into the history and culture of Native Americans, studying anthropology and Native American History in college. I saw Russell Means speak at my college in Pasadena CA in 1976 and was very aware of him as being a very dynamic and skilled orator. This was during the time of the Wounded Knee debacle. The whole thing was forgotten until years later in the 1980’s when another Fortean event occurred which featured Means…A Ouija board was involved, In the late Eighties I was living in a town in New Mexico called Tucumcari. I lived on a ranch fourteen miles outside of town. Out there with the eagles, hawks, coyotes, cattle and rattlers I lived closer to the earth and nature than I had ever been. I felt one with the places of ancient Indian dwellings. I had experiences with spirit winds and felt that often the spirits of the ancestors would be trying to tell me things about the past and how men should live now. It was a place where the wind whispered secrets, if one listened attentively. It seemed to me the ancestors did not much like what the Whites had done to their people and ways. Very near where I lived ran a small river called Pajarito Creek. There was where the trailblazer Kit Carson was slain by Comanches; (where I encountered my first Great Horned Owl sighting.) Ghosts and spirits abounded all around. Fossils and Indian sign lay strewn everywhere, as well as relics from the pioneers and cowboys.
One evening I was entertaining my friend, Richard Kimball, from Albuquerque. Richard had gotten involved with the Ouija board and brought his along to entertain my wife and I. Out on the vast prairie, which stretched from Mexico to Canada, it was quiet, dark and still. Sometimes yipping coyotes would come close to the house and disturb the cattle, making them low in response. Generally though it was quiet as a tomb out there, no traffic noises, no people talking, no televisions on in other houses. The next house was so far away we could barely make out the lights. My own television had been burned out by a bolt of lightning that had hit the house during a recent storm. (I’ve had a lot of episodes involving lightning, another Fortean subject.) Radio reception was nil. We entertained ourselves with books and long conversations, and spent the evening adding to my scorpion jar, as my wife and I plucked the buggers off our ceiling with a long pair of surgical tweezers and put them in alcohol. It was a very different place out there in the Wild West. My friend had driven 120 miles to see us, so we had lunch and he read us stories he had written. We took a hike, looking for dinosaur, mussel and ancient mammal fossils, which were abundant on the ranch. We also would find flints and arrowheads at sites where the native ancestors had camped all around the sides of the steep canyon we lived on top of. We took some photos and then after dinner went in the kitchen and played with the board. We had, previous to this, contacted an entity that claimed to be a “Martian” trapped in between life and death. We helped send him over to the other side. It was all in fun. Or so we believed.
Now we sat down to have some more occult fun, but oddly the board began to tell us of an imminent threat, a danger to someone important. Something about the FBI came up. And finally the name “Means” came forth. We asked the entity speaking through the board what it needed with a rapid succession of questions. We finally understood that somehow Russell Means was going to be killed by agents of the FBI when he crossed the border from Canada. Now, we had no idea as to whether Means was in Canada or not. We could understand them wanting to arrest him, but for the FBI to commit an assassination was puzzling to us back then. It seemed out of the norm for the government at the time. But the entity was insistent. We asked what we could do to help. The Ouija entity said simply: “Call John White.” We pondered who John White might be. The Ouija entity said: “Navajo Nation.” My friend Richard (an American Native himself), recalled that White was a common name among people of the Navajo Nation and yet many out on that vast, arid reservation had no phones. All we could think to do was to call the New Mexico operator and ask for any John White living on the Navajo Reservation. We were given a number, the only listing at the time for a John White. We called the number. A man answered. It must have been about 10:00 PM. I told him how sorry we were to disturb him and asked him point blank if he knew anything about Russell Means. He asked suspiciously “Who wants to know?” I explained as best I could that we had contacted an entity through our Ouija board and that the entity specifically told us Russell Means was going to be killed by the FBI if and when he crossed the border from Canada. There was dead silence. “How did you know he was in Canada? No one is supposed to know that!” The voice answered. “Why did you call me?” I told him the spirit told us to call John White. He paused. “All right, well, thanks for that information. I can tell you this, Russell is in Canada and he was scheduled to come over the border this week sometime. You know we believe in the spirits. I believe you are telling the truth. I will warn him to stay there until we can get people to help him cross safely. Thank you. Give me your number and I will tell you what happens.” I gave him my number, thanked him again and hung up. He did not call back that week, but a week later there was a blurb in the paper about Russell Means, Indian Leader, coming back from Canada after a series of talks with Native American Leaders there. Later that week we got a call from John White. He said that Russell had wanted to thank us, and that he knew something was up, but hadn’t known how bad things had gotten with the FBI. He thanked me again and I just said “You’re welcome.” End of story.
Perhaps the reader can tell me how on earth a Ouija board reading became that precise and why on earth did this entity pick us to come through? How do these things happen? I’m sure Occam’s razor could split some hairs, or even scalp my whole story clean to the bone, if some skeptic is wielding it deftly enough. But I am here to tell you this did happen (even if my details now, nearly twenty years later are a bit hazy), and the outcome was positive. And we had many, many positive experiences of a psychic nature over the years after that. As far as I am concerned something saved Russell Means’ life, something unexplainable. Call it spirits. Call it psychic connection, call it mass hypnosis. Whatever it was it sent chills up my spine at the time.
I may as well wrap this up by adding two more incidents, one being my experience with an actual conspiracy involving a Santa Fe UFO cult which occurred in 1988 and one other a very recent (as in this happened today, Sept. 23, 2007), minor, if intriguing Fortean event. I think at this point the reader has to be saying either this writer has the strangest life anyone has heard of, or he is totally making this all up. I wish I was. It would be easier, I am sure, to just put all of this down to a vivid imagination, too many street drugs in the early Seventies, or even simple schizophrenia. These are all nice, neat explanations. They could wrap up my life nicely in a tin foil wrapping with which I could make a nice anti-alien mind control device to wear on my head like a party hat. However if you look at my life in full you will see that even these many odd events are just a tiny part of an eventful and well rounded life. I have seen three psychoanalysts in my life, and not one of them ever seemed convinced that I needed a straitjacket, lithium, or even more psychoanalysis. Most of them seem to have believed that I was the sanest person they had met. Either I am very good at convincing them of that, or maybe I am just a sane person who has had a series of odd experiences, because I wanted to live a life full of these kinds of moments. I wanted a life that was rich, one in which I could have many entertaining stories to tell. I did go looking for the different, the weird, walking down the twisted “road less traveled.” I took that road a long way. But in the end that road always leads back to one’s self. What does the self want, what is self? What is that which we call consciousness? Is it an easily wrapped and bundled biological package which simply dissolves with our death? Or are we instead more than the sum of our parts, reaching out through our biologies to taste and experience Creation and all of its levels and paths from lowest to highest? One experience I had in the early seventies, a religious epiphany, brought me in direct contact with God and the Oneness of the Universe. It was a Zen enlightenment. A moment of true satori, which happened to me at age 15! And it was everything it had been cracked up to be by people like Buddha, Baba Ram Dass and Timothy Leary. God and I have been friends ever since. I cannot deny that there is a God. I can only say the one that IS, is NOTHING like the one men preach of. That is another story for another day. However it does color my life with a spiritual quality which I cannot deny or loose myself from. So I can never be a total Skeptic. But I always ask skeptical questions, even of this apparent God I met.
One thing I never wanted was a boring life. Life to me was something wide and broad and deep with boundless horizons and virtually infinite paths of experience. The truth is the whole idea of Forteana saved me on many occasions from depression and reclusive solitude, from hurt and emotional troubles, because every time I thought I was in a life of mundane tragedies and had to lower every expectation, I would read Fortean Times or some other magazine or book, like Fate or World Explorer and look back on my own experiences and realize that there was a lot that no one would ever know; Which is a good reason to stick to life, just to see what happens next.
In 1988 I was living in Santa Fe, working as an artist for Ted Miller, a famous Indian knife maker. I was doing Scrimshaw for him (engraving on ivory, bone and horn). What happened to me ruined a thirteen year marriage and nearly caused me to commit suicide. If you think conspiracy theories are only theories, think again. And this conspiracy, I guarantee you, is one no one will like. I have tried to publish this story before and no one will touch it. I lived in a nice rented home on the outskirts of the city. It was a beautiful modern development with all the niceties. I had moved there with my wife and a friend of mine, whom I will simply call R. He was a jeweler and made spaceship jewelry from silver and gold alloys. We were helping him through a divorce, and also helping him make his jewelry, paintings and sculptures. We had a gallery in our living room. We had our work space out back, where I did my scrimshaw and we made the silver and gold for R.’s molds. We learned a lot from each other as friends and artists. At one point, R. who seemed to firmly believe in UFO’s and said he’d had many encounters, told us that he had received the alloy formula from a being from the Pleiades. All of his work was either called Pleidian or Arcturan. (One of my favorite books of all times was Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay) He sold the stuff he made by pushing this story, especially to the rich and famous like Madonna and Shirley McClain. Back then a lot of people were into the whole Alien Contact movement. It turned out R. had many, many people who called on him all the time for information and support. After a few weeks we began to have weekend “meetings” in our home where some very well known authors and artists would gather, discussing the Alien Abduction or Contact phenomenon with their acolytes and disciples. And these were indeed true disciples, worshipers of UFOs, local people with wealth and power who sat at the feet of these writers and artists like R. and simply reveled in their talks on where UFOs were from, what they were doing here and what the outcome of contact was likely to be
Several of these acolytes came up to me during the course of the meetings asking who I was, how I knew R., and had I had a UFO experience? Some seemed in pretty desperate straits. Their wives or husbands had left them because they felt sure they had been touched in various ways by alien beings. Families were being torn apart. People seemed, to me, to be losing their grip on reality, taking in a lot of what was being said as gospel truth. Of course afterwards they would insist on buying one of R.’s trinkets or a “Pleidean Fish” or an “Arcturan Bird” (these were pieces from Thailand we bought at Pier One Imports and repainted in psychedelic colors). It was heady stuff, listening to these people go on about these weird experiences involving aliens and abductions as if they were talking about going to the store to buy bread!
One evening as we were painting some Pleidian Fish I asked R. (he claimed to “channel” his art), how he became so involved in this cult phenomenon and did he actually believe in UFOs. What he told me made me hate his guts then, and even today. He told me that he had grown up poor, had run away from home and traveled with a New Mexico carnival, one that hit the State fairs all over the Southwest. There he had learned how to guess people’s weight, how to tell an “easy mark,” how to scam the “rubes” with fake freaks and stories about Bigfoot or two headed babies. As a "carny" he learned every gypsy trick and cheap con in the book! I had read about people like these “carnies.” I’d seen them in movies, but had never met one, until now. Basically he painted Ferris wheels and tit-o-whirl rides, fixed engines, worked on tents and costumes and learned to make jewelry. He then told me that the entire Santa Fe UFO cult was invented by him and three other writers of science fiction. He liked to write science fiction himself and said all of his notes on dolphins and Pleidian contact and his alloys were all completely made up from the whole cloth! He knew I wrote and illustrated science fiction, because we had met at a local sci-fi con in Albuquerque called “Bubonicon.” He thought I was pretty adept and had all it would take to get on board with him and his friends and bilk these rich f*ckers out of their hard earned dough! To him they were marks and rubes, people to be taken advantage of because they were either too stupid to live or half-insane! He mocked them to me as if all their troubles and tribulations meant nothing. I had never been in the presence of that cold and calculating an evil before. And I told him so. He tried to convince me that these people deserved to be taken advantage of if they believed garbage and that he was handing out to make big money off of them. This cult was going to push the writers and artists involved to the top; they would be on television, radio, in the papers and magazines. They would get rich on the hogwash they made up, just like L. Ron Hubbard had done in the 60’s. When I told him where he could stick his Pleidian Fish, he was stunned. He continued to try to convince me, as if his plan was normal human behavior. Why didn’t I see that? I had grown up with some morals and ethics. I had been a Boy Scout after all! I could not even believe he was telling me this, let alone wanting me to be a part of it. And now I had just learned the entire UFO phenomenon in that town was completely made up. He had never seen a UFO in all the years he had lived in New Mexico, even though he told people he had boarded them! He even took them on UFO tours! I realized I was now living on part of the Ill-gotten gains of these con-artists. I went to bed angry and distraught. In the morning I told my wife what he had said. She said I was lying, and worse, she told me she was in love with R.! She was going to go with him to a convention and was now his disciple! I had not realized it but he had spirited my wife away right under my nose into his awful fake cult. She had not let on at all that she even liked him. Now the word love was used. I told her we were through, that I could not live in the same house with this crook or with her. I had told her years before if she ever told anyone else that she loved them, we would be finished. This was because she could never say it to me, even though we had been together since 1973. Now my marriage was at an end. The usual complications ensued, who would get what, when would I leave, etc. As the days passed and I packed up my little blue Toyota station wagon, K., my wife, told me how she believed she had been contacted by aliens and had a “crystal” implanted in her head! I asked her when this had happened and she claimed it happened out in Tucumcari while I was “asleep.” Fat chance. She had a sleep disorder which woke her up with walking nightmares and talking in her sleep every night. She kept me awake for years dealing with this. At no time would I ever have been deeply enough asleep to allow for alien contact as I was always afraid she would fall out of bed or sleep walk and hurt herself. While she said it R. looked at me as if she were just another loony loser! He kept telling me he wanted to be my friend. I felt like I was in one of her waking nightmares. I nearly killed R. after he gone off with my wife, made it with her and had nearly burned down our home by neglecting pots which had been on the electric burners while they were away! She even had neglected her favorite Siamese cat, Chang, and basically let the poor thing die while we were all gone for a few days. I also firmly believe that R. tried to poison me with some mushroom soup he had made us, just before they left for this convention. I became deathly ill for three days, unable to leave my bedroom for the constant regurgitation and diarrhea. I thought I had picked up Salmonella, but neither of them got sick. Many years later my ex-wife informed me that R. was into ritual black magic and had put things in my food, vile things, to try to sway me to his way of seeing things! So there it is, a UFO cult concocted by sci-fi writers, and a carny posing as a would-be warlock/UFO abductee with my own wife as a willing disciple! (I now believe he poisoned the cat and used drugs on my ex wife to get her to believe his garbage). I was so enraged I was going to kill him with my bare hands. But my wife suddenly laughed at me, and I realized I would spend my life in prison for nothing, he would have her. I’d be locked up and for what? It was not worth it. I went into a cosmic tailspin for months. Meanwhile she contracted herpes from R., and he dumped her. She did continue with the cult, about which a friend of mine said now extended to California and was seeking a way to bring “cosmic alien babies” into the world via weird orgies and rites! She finally went on to appear on several UFO programs which are still repeated on the Discovery channel now and then, and eventually she married another saucer-nut who together tried to scam some rich woman in Switzerland and got thrown out of the country. Oh what a tangled web we weave…
It was not easy for me to write this, as I firmly believe UFOs and piloted spacecraft exist. But I have long ago released myself from any of the frenetic and hyper people who gather at meetings to discuss their “contact experiences.” I know the truth behind most of these events is a media blitz constantly promoted to a gullible and neurotic public by con-artists. All the books you have read about Contact and Abductions and Men in Black and the whole nine yards, were ALL concocted years ago by dope-smoking hippy artists and hack writers. It was and remains a viable, lucrative conspiracy. Even though I have told hundreds of people the truth, no one believes it, because they apparently would rather believe the lies.
Oh, and the Scientologists? They base their religion on lies as well. I’ve met with people who knew L. Ron when he was a boy. I’ve had my run-ins with these Scientology cultists who invariably turn out to be egocentric, flaky personalities. People who follow the science fiction writings of a hack writer as if it were a religion are not always reliable or competent, but they also tend to be peddlers of false doctrines for money, as were the Santa Fe cultists. Conspiracy theories? No. Conspiracy facts. I've been involved in or taken in by several others. They exist all right, for one purpose, making money.
My present wife’s father said to her when she was young, “If you want to know what something is all about, follow the money.” Think about it. In 1947 there were no flying saucer books, no flying saucer contacts, no crashes, alien encounters or anything like that. There were a few sightings of odd things in the skies during WWII. But nothing that made the papers or the news in any significant way. After 1948 and phrase “flying saucer” was coined, there started first a trickle and then a stream of books on the subject. By 1961 and the Betty and Barney Hill affair UFOology had come into being. Project Blue Book was a hot topic and people everywhere were shooting snaps of UFOs. Now there are hundreds of thousands of books, articles, pamphlets, videos, television and radio shows dedicated to discussing and reporting on UFOs. I even do work for one magazine called “The Gate to Strange Phenomenon” put out by Beth Robbins out of Ohio which has a monthly report of UFO occurrences and at least one major UFO article appears in every issue. I myself wrote up an article about a UFO I saw recently, though it was by no means any sort of saucer. (It was more like a giant, rectangular striped balloon). I only get paid in copies of the magazine. But let’s face it; UFOs are a cash cow of gigantic proportion. It is easy to postulate that about 99.999 percent of all UFO tales are probably pretty banal retellings of common atmospheric events or else pure hokum. But then you have things like the Phoenix Sightings in 1999. And these happened to occur right down the street I live. Videos were taken, and these were shown in local movie theaters. This type of UFO flap is a guaranteed generated income for someone. Like I said, follow the money. And when something generates an income, people get on board, no matter what they have to do or say to sell the product. That’s what happened to me in the Late Eighties. Cultists gathering in my living room buying what they assumed were relics of the True Cult of UFOs. I was nearly swept up in it. And still to this day no one wants to believe it. Something in us needs to believe. But for me, the truth set me free from a host of bad life-paths and put me on the trail of becoming a true skeptic even about my own experiences. I use Occam’s Razor to great effect on any and all of my own experiences whenever I can.
Yet often the inexplicable, synchronistic events which fill my life also fill me with a sense of wonder about who I am, what we are, and why we are here. So I am a skeptic but also a Seeker after Knowledge. And I am prepared for the truth whenever it reveals itself, even if it destroys my previous comfortable concepts, or sends me spinning off into a vortex of confusion and consternation. I am prepared to step off into the abyss; even if I find out I cannot fly. I am Fox Mulder. In fact I know even more than Fox Mulder does, as I keep having to correct him when I watch the X-Files reruns...And I don't want to believe. I DO BELIEVE. I just don't know what I am believing in.
A few days ago I had yet another odd little experience. It was the kind that keeps me wondering, and which also lead to some knowledge about myself I was not quite prepared for. That knowledge I will not impart just yet. I will save it for another time. But the event was at first just one of those odd synchronistic things that happen to me all the time. Something I have become used to.
For years I have wondered about and theorized about how the universe was formed, what happened at the Beginning and what will happen at the end. I read books by Einstein and Hawking and numerous articles by other men of great wisdom about the formation of the universe. But after all my research I had come up with my own pet idea. Any time I hear about another person’s theory, I always like to find out more about it so I can compare and contrast or learn more to add to or subtract from my own theory. I was reading a very interesting biographical book called: Edgar A. Poe, A Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance by Kenneth Silverman. I had read most everything Poe himself had written over the years, but the book told of Poe giving a series of lectures on the Universe and how it was formed and where it would end up. It was called “Eureka.” I had never heard of this before. I hadn’t considered Poe to be that kind of thinker, one who would try to produce something that we would call Einsteinian today; Something Big, Something Grand, about Life, the Universe and Everything, as Douglas Adams would say. Apparently one day after Poe’s wife, Virginia (whom he called Sissy), died from Tuberculosis he had an epiphany as he stared at the stars over Fordham, New York. He was blasted by a cosmic idea that he feverishly wrote down over the period of several days. I won’t reiterate what the theory was. The reader can do research on that, needless to say he seemed to have trumped a lot of geniuses of science in his day by understanding how the planets formed as rings of debris cast off from the formation of our star and how gravity pulled these masses into orbits around Sol. This he put into a whole other state as he began to explain how Spiritual Forces worked and how life after death had to exist, for (as Einstein later said) nothing (matter and energy) could ever be truly destroyed. He was said at the time to have been too esoteric, too technical and too over the heads of most of his audiences. Some even accused him of heresy as well as blasphemy and he was named an “infidel” by some noteworthy men of his day. He had pronounced a scientific heresy that countered the beliefs in God and the Holy Spirit which in the 1840’s was gaining wider and wider acceptance even among the wealthy and intellectual elite as America began a new Revival Movement of Christianity. This put Poe into the category of being a “Transcendentalist” along the lines of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (whom he detested), and Ralph Waldo Emerson (whose works he despised, even though Emerson thought highly of Poe). This was only because his theory simply “transcended” every mode of thought of his day. He could often be found in bars and taverns after that, propounding his theory and trying to find someone who could understand him. He needed someone to listen and no one would. It was sad. But as I read the pages I laughingly said to myself “I wonder what his great theory was!? It would be interesting to compare it to mine.” As the author described the theory, my interior laughter shut down quickly and quietly. What the author described was almost exactly what I myself had scribbled onto two envelopes at work two weeks earlier! Poe’s theory was my own! Or maybe mine was his. But I cannot ever recall ever having read anything of the sort by Poe. As I continued to read I found more and more odd things about Poe’s life that paralleled my own. My ideas have got me called a heretic, infidel and blasphemer in my time. The parallels became more and more distinct. Either certain types of people with certain types of (perhaps morbid?) personalities just always have the same type of troubles in life or the thought came up that maybe, somehow, I had known Poe in another life. The overview of Poe’s life had a lot of episodes that began to haunt me as being way too close to experiences I’ve had in my life.
What is one to make of this? Possibly nothing? Possibly just synchronicity at work? Funny, we use the word synchronistic as if it were a catch-all for every bit of high-strangeness that occurs in our lives. As if a psychological guard exists against the bare and horrid fact that we don’t know why we are here or what the hell is actually going on no matter how many times we nail “reality” to the wall with a treatise or thesis or experiment of science. Something always comes along to tear that nail right out of that wall, always. But for the sake of sanity and skepticism let’s say it was just a synchronistic happenstance that caused me to write a theory down two weeks earlier that I thought was mine and mine alone and then pick up a book I had stopped reading six years before in order to finish reading about Poe’s miserable life (one which had affected me so badly in the past I had to put the book down). In the book I had once rejected and then reopened, was an enlightening bit of synchronicity indeed. Apparently I either think like a writer from the 1840’s or he was thinking like a writer from the 21st Century. Still, this was Poe, the first writer I read as a boy and whom I idolized . Stories I read into my grandfather’s brand new wire recorder when I was seven. Stories I had wished I had written, by an author whom I wanted to emulate ever since. Great minds think alike? O.K. I can only pray I don’t die in some feverish delirium, alone and broken in body, mind and spirit. My mother used to warn me that all poets and artists die in the gutter. She was trying no doubt to frighten me out of my life long goals of becoming a professional artist and writer as being hopelessly uneconomical and ending with suffering. She was correct in some of those thoughts, but not all of them. I had to become an artist and a writer. I was forced into it by my nature. Or maybe by the Imp of the Perverse which chortled on Poe’s chest as he gasped his last words to an asylum doctor: “Lord save my poor soul.” At some point Poe’s soul or his angels or mine got us together in the same weird space and produced two similar theories of Life, the Universe and Everything. But to me it was an awakening and it was frankly a rather eerie experience. And these darn experiences keep happening to me. This was just the most recent one. I now believe, for all intents and purposes, after many new recent experiences and information, that I WAS Edgar Allen Poe. It doesn't make me happy. In fact it makes me feel wretched. I feel that he didn't properly ever understand his own theories and so brought suffering down through several lives into this one. I am not proud to have been him. It kind of scares me. I don't want to live or dress or act like him. I don't even want to believe I was him. I'd prefer it if I was just mad as a hatter. Because the actual implications of being that broken down, poverty stricken genius, alcoholic madman so full of sorrows and loneliness is not something I want to carry around as a burden. Yet, I am doing it now.
This then was a brief portrait of several of the more memorable experiences of a Fortean nature that I have had. I can only hope it was worth the read and that it provokes the reader to look into the phenomenon of this world, with skepticism, yes, but also with an open mind to the truth as it reveals itself to you.
A note to the reader, Keep a synchronicity journal sometime. Write down things that seem to be coincidental. The more you write, the more synchronicities you will have. Many of mine involve being close to large birds. Others have to do with time, still others with television programming or things I am reading which somehow appear in other forms during the time I am reading them. Like reading a sentence in a book and staring in disbelief as the same sentence comes out of the mouth of a newscaster on TV moments later. Some have to do with music, some with people. But to a huge extent in my life between my dreams and my waking reality there is an often magical transference of informational-energy which I cannot explain. However if you want to have a Fortean Life of your own, write down your dreams and your synchronistic events and see where it all leads. Perhaps down some quantum rabbit hole wherein a white knight riding backwards will tell you: "It’s My Own Invention!" And you’ll notice the knight looks much like you.
David St. Albans
Scottsdale, AZ 2007 revised 2012
- * “Fortean” A word which is based on the name of Charles Fort, a writer of the early twentieth century whose work “damned” science and skepticism as being too narrow and unable to deal with occurrences that seemed to be outside of the norm. Fort spent years scouring the great Public Library in London for articles relating to certain phenomenon such as falls of frogs and fish, stones being thrown at houses from nowhere, animals from one continent being seen on another where they should not exist, as well as ball lightning, spontaneous human combustion and other oddities. He felt that science was not being true to its own tenets since almost all such incidences were washed over with banal and mundane explanations that were simply pulled out of the air by scientists refusing to sully their hands with further research. The English Magazine, Fortean Times, a monthly journal of Fortean phenomenon from around the globe, is a good place to start to research Fortean events.
About the author:
David Pudelwitts-St. Albans is an author and artist living in Scottsdale, ArizonaUSA. With his wife of twenty years. He is the author of two books: Speaking of Angels by David St. Albans and Blood of the Dragon (The journal of Vlad Draculya) by David Telesfoe Pudlevitcz, both available at iUniverse.com. Or through Amazon.Com as Print On Demand books. He also does illustrations and jottings for “THE GATE” Magazine, published by Beth Robbins.