Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dellschau and Phantom Airships

Much has been written about the so-called modern-era of Ufology, namely that which was kick-started by Kenneth Arnold's now historic (or infamous, depending on your perspective) "flying saucer" encounter over the Cascade Mountains, Washington State, in the summer of 1947.

But what of earlier years? Certainly, there have been some very good works on the Ghost-Rocket mystery that swamped Scandinavia in 1946; and the Foo-Fighters of the Second World War.

And there have been some intriguing works that deal with the so-called "Phantom Airships" of the late-1800s. But, on this latter issue, none are quite like The Secrets of Dellschau by Dennis Crenshaw (in collaboration with Pete Navarro).

As well as being written fluently, and in a very descriptive style that flows and entertains, the book has at its heart a fascinating tale, and an even more fascinating character: a man named Charles A. A. Dellschau, for whom the word "enigma" was surely created.

Indeed, one might almost be forgiven for thinking that The Secrets of Dellschau is a work of fiction - such is the level of high-strangeness at its heart. That it is, however, definitive non-fiction, only makes the book - and the story it tells - even more extraordinary.

In essence, Dellschau was a man with many secrets; and a man who unfortunately took many of those secrets with him to the grave. But, that doesn't take away the fact that - thanks to Crenshaw and Navarro - we still have at our disposal a tremendous body of material on the man, his life and his machines.

And, you may well ask: what machines are those? Now, we get to the heart of the story.

As the book demonstrates, Dellschau (a Prussian who moved to the U.S. in his twenties) was a brilliant artist who was seemingly obsessed (and I do mean, literally, obsessed) with creating artwork of fantastic flying-machines. But, as the book also shows, those same flying-machines may not have been merely the products of Dellschau's imagination.

They - or, at least, some of them - may have really existed. They may have been the secret work of a controversial and enigmatic group known as the Sonora (California) Aero Club. And, as the book suggests, perhaps some of their strange craft even provoked the "Phantom Airship" tales of the late 19th century.

Of course, this matter will undoubtedly be debated for years to come. But, what really made the book so engrossing for me, is the way in which Crenshaw draws in the reader, exposes them to a mystery that would be worthy of the skills of Sherlock Holmes, and demonstrates the sheer intrigue and mystery that surrounds this profoundly odd story.

Part-historical mystery; part-Fortean tale; part-X-Files; part-detective story; part-conspiracy; and all-engrossing, The Secrets of Dellschau is a great read for anyone wanting to learn about what may very well have been at the heart of some of the strangest tales of unidentified flying contraptions seen in the skies of 1800s North America.

Tales of the Trickster

When, in my early teens, I became seriously interested in the world of Forteana, most things were pretty black-and-white to me: Bigfoot were giant undiscovered apes; the Loch Ness Monsters were surviving relics of a time long-gone; and UFOs were nuts-and-bolts spacecraft from other worlds. But, as I got older my views began to change.

The more I dug into the realms of alien entities and strange creatures, the more I came to realize that they were not just strange: they were too strange. And they were way too elusive. Bigfoot never get hit by cars. There are numerous cases on record of people trying to shoot Bigfoot creatures - but no body is ever found. And, there are rogue reports of Bigfoot vanishing in the blink of an eye.

Similarly, from the heart of Loch Ness, there are tales of Men in Black, ghosts, big-cats on the loose, and the legendary exploits of the "Great Beast" himself: Aleister Crowley. Could one loch really be home to such an absolute plethora of what, in scientific terms, has come to be accurately known as "weird shit"?

It was the same with UFOs: always elusive. And, even if a UFO did reportedly crash, the hard evidence - the "alien debris" - was never forthcoming, or it proved nothing. And, no-one has ever been able to vindicate the legendary stories of alien-bodies held in cryogenic storage in some underground lab.

The phenomena are always one step ahead of us - tricking us into following them down Fortean pathways, but always careful to ensure we never quite get close enough to solve the riddle.

And there was one other factor, too that I came to notice: the more I dug into these various phenomena, the more I found myself experiencing weird - and ever weirder - synchronicities. The phenomena, I realized had got their grips into me; as they had done, and continue to do, with so many others. And, if you too have deeply investigated the Fortean world, don't tell me you haven't experienced those same synchronicities. I know you have. Whatever was at the heart of the puzzle, I reasoned, deceit, manipulation and subterfuge were its calling-cards. And they still are.

So, when I heard that Chris O'Brien was writing a new book to be titled Stalking the Trickster: Shapeshifters, Skinwalkers, Dark Adepts and 2012, I knew this was one I would definitely have to read; given my own encounters with Trickster-style entities and their manipulative actions.

And I'm very pleased indeed that I did read it.

Chris' book is an excellent, in-depth (it runs to approximately 360 pages) study of the Trickster puzzle in all its strange and surreal glory. But, you may ask: what are Tricksters? Well, that's the big question, of course!

People may disagree on the actual point of origin and specific nature of the Tricksters, but as Chris demonstrates, they are most assuredly among us. They are entities whose whole role in life, it seems, is to play games with the Human Race. Sometimes those games can be fun and even amusing. Other times, they may be enlightening and helpful. But, then, they can be downright vicious and deadly, too. They are, in other words, a true paradox.

They come in many guises and disguises, as Chris skilfully shows: aliens, Mothman, skinwalkers, pixies, elves, gods, hairy giants, angels, werewolves, ghosts, demons, vampires and much more. They are the wild-things that lurk in the shadows of our bedrooms in our childhood; they are the Sasquatch we see while driving home late at night along winding, tree-shrouded roads; and they are the predatory entities that taunt us while we're in the dream-state and at their full mercy.

From the beginning of time and right up until the present day, the book reveals, these strange life-forms have been with us. Their appearance may change; their names may change; and they may pop up in the most unlikely places. But, they're always here in some fashion; always planning their next move, before vanishing back to the weird realm out of which they first stepped.

Indeed, to demonstrate these points, Chris has culled from his files countless reports of such Trickster characters as Kokopelli of the United States; Reynard the Fox; the dwarfish Alux of Mexico, and many more from throughout recorded history. Chris also gets into the fascinating realm of human-tricksters, and the way in which they, too, play a role in this weird affair. For me - with its tales of Joseph Smith, P.T. Barnum, Crowley and Parsons, and Keel - this was one of the most intriguing chapters of all.

I won't spoil things for the potential reader by revealing all of Chris' conclusions on what the Tricksters are and what provokes their actions - whether uplifting, alarming, transformative or downright hateful - but I will say this: after reading the book, you'll have a renewed appreciation and apprehension of these entities.

And, I strongly suspect, you'll also come away from Stalking the Tricksters with a realization that both our world and our reality are not what they seem to be. Someone - or something - is using us as pawns in a strange, intricate and huge game. It is a game where the rules are those of the Tricksters alone. Or, perhaps, there are no rules.

After all, what place can rules have for creatures that are defined by absurdity?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Coming of the Cryptoterrestrials

Over the course of the last 60 years or so, the world of Ufology has spawned a truly huge number of books: many very good indeed, a not-insignificant number very bad, and a great deal hovering precariously somewhere in between. Just occasionally, however, a title comes along that is truly revolutionary, ground-breaking and - as far as its potential implications are concerned - thought-provoking in the extreme.

For me, personally, Jacque Vallee's Messengers of Deception and John Keel's UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse both fall into that latter category. Albeit in admittedly different ways, Vallee and Keel made equally strong cases for the existence of genuine UFOs in our midst. But, both Messengers and Trojan delivered to the reader two far more explicit messages: (A) UFOs are real; but that doesn't mean they are necessarily extraterrestrial; and (B) the phenomenon is clearly deceptive and manipulative in nature and intent.

Of course, for many of the longstanding (a.k.a. the bloody old) players within Ufology, any talk of deceptive messengers, or of Keel's super-spectrum, is dismissed as mere speculation and not much else. For them, UFOs have to be extraterrestrial. After all, they have upheld such notions and beliefs for decades; and to relegate them to the rubbish-bin is not an option.

Well, I have a few choice words for those people who are so rigidly set in their ways: the extraterrestrial hypothesis is itself entirely speculative and totally lacking in hard evidence. All we really know for certain is that there most assuredly is a genuine UFO phenomenon. But, as for definitive proof of its actual point of origin or origins? Please! There is none. At all. There is merely a lot of data clearly demonstrating the presence of unidentified "others" amongst us.

Vallee and Keel most assuredly and astutely recognized this. They understood that a puzzle which - at first glance - seemed to be defined by the presence of nuts-and-bolts spacecraft and flesh-and-blood aliens in our midst, was far, far stranger than many within Ufology wanted to admit.

And there was someone else who also recognized this ufological factor: Mac Tonnies. Mac was a very good friend of mine; and like all his friends I was shocked to the core when he passed away suddenly and tragically in October 2009, at the age of only 34.

But, I am pleased to say, Mac's latest - and, inevitably, final - piece of work ensures that his memory, legacy and ability to think outside of the conventional ufological box will live on. That work is The Cryptoterrestrials: A Meditation on Indigenous Humanoids and the Aliens Among Us.

Like Vallee and Keel, Mac rightly recognized that UFO encounters could not be dismissed as the ravings of lunatics, the tales of the fantasy-prone, or the lies of those seeking fame and fortune. But, he was also careful not to get sucked into the near-viral mindset that practically screams (take a deep breath): UFOs = alien spaceships piloted by little gray chaps from across the galaxy, who are on a mission to save their dying race by stealing our DNA, eggs and sperm.

Rather, Mac - right up until the time of his death - was chasing down the theory suggesting that the UFOnauts may actually represent the last vestiges of a very ancient race of distinctly terrestrial origins; a race that - tens of thousands of years ago may have ruled our planet, but whose position of power was thrown into overwhelming chaos by two things: (A) the appearance of a "debilitating genetic syndrome" that ravaged their society; and (B) the rising infestation of a violent species that threatened to eclipse - in number - their own society.

They are the Cryptoterrestrials. And that violent species that blusters around like an insane, unruly and spoiled child, and that has done more damage in its short life-time than can ever be truly imagined, is, of course, us.

With their society waning, their health and ability to even successfully reproduce collapsing, and their absolute worst nightmare - the Human Race - becoming the new gang in town, the Cryptoterrestrials followed what was perceived as the only viable option: they quietly retreated into the shadows, into the darkened corners of our world, below the oceans, into the deeper caverns that pepper the planet, and in their own uniquely silent and detached way, set about a new course of action.

That course of action - given that they were in some fashion genetically related to the Human Race - was to eventually resurface; to move amongst us in stealth; to pass themselves off as entities from far-off worlds (as part of a concerted effort to protect and hide their real point of origin); and to use and exploit us - medically - in an attempt to try and inject their waning species with a considerable amount of new blood: ours.

In addition, Mac believed, the Cryptoterrestrials were - and, by definition, still are - subtle-yet-brilliant, cosmic magicians. For them, however, there is no top-hat from which a white-rabbit is pulled. There is no hot babe sliced in half and then miraculously rejoined at the waist. No: their tricks are far more fantastic. As well as deceiving us about their origins, the Cryptoterrestrials have - via, perhaps, the use of advanced hologram-style technology, mind-manipulation and much more - led us to conclude that they have an infinite number of craft, resources and technologies at their disposal.

And that is the trick, the ruse: in actuality, their numbers today may be very small. They may well be staging faked UFO events to try and convince us that they have a veritable armada at their disposal when, perhaps, the exact opposite is the case. And, most important of all, they desperately want us to think of them as visitors from the stars. If their plan to rejuvenate their species is to work, then stealth, subterfuge and camouflage are the essential orders of the day.

Of course, the above all amounts to a theory - just like the ETH. And, Mac's book makes it very clear that he is theorizing, rather than being able to provide the reader with definitive proof for such a scenario. He does, however, offer a logical, and at times powerful, argument in support of the theme of his book.

As for so-called "alien abductions": the clumsy, intrusive means by which ova and sperm are taken by a race of beings we are led to believe are countless years ahead of us is addressed. That the ability of the aliens to wipe out the memories of those they abduct is constantly and regularly overturned by nothing more than simple hypnosis is highlighted. And the unlikely scenario that our DNA would even be compatible, in the first place, with extraterrestrial entities is also firmly dissected. Mac's conclusion: all this points not to the presence of highly-advanced aliens who are thousands of years ahead of us; but to the actions of an ancient Earth-based society whose technology may not be more than a century or so in advance of our current knowledge.

Mac also noted how the "aliens" seem to spend a hell of a lot time ensuring they are seen: whether its taking "soil-samples" at the side of the road; equipping their craft with bright, flashing lights; or hammering home the point to the abductees that they are from this planet, from that star-system, or from some far off galaxy. Just about anywhere aside from right here, in fact.

Roswell comes into the equation, too: and in ingenious fashion. Those who do not adhere to the extraterrestrial hypothesis for Roswell point to the fact that many of the witness descriptions of what was found at Roswell, are collectively suggestive of some form of large balloon-type structure having come down at the Foster Ranch, Lincoln County, NM on that fateful day in the summer of 1947.

The possibility that ET would be flying around New Mexico in a balloon is absurd. But, as Mac notes, a race of impoverished, underground-dwellers, highly worried by the sudden influx of military activity in New Mexico (White Sands, Los Alamos etc), just might employ the use of an advance balloon-type vehicle to secretly scope out the area late at night.

Perhaps, when elements of the U.S. military came across the debris, they really did assume it was balloon-borne material and probably of American origin. Until, maybe, they stumbled across something else amid the debris, too...

The Cryptoterrestrials continues in a similar vein; to the extent that we are left with a stark and surreal image of a very ancient - and very strange - race of beings who may once have been the masters of this planet; who were sidelined thousands of years ago; and who are now - under cover of darkness and while the cities sleep - forced to grudgingly surface from their darkened lairs and interact with the very things they fear (and perhaps even hate and despise) most of all: us.

Survival is the name of their game. And deception is the means by which it is being cunningly achieved.

Whether you agree with Mac's theorizing or not, The Cryptoterrestrials is a book that is expertly and beautifully written. It challenges the reader to throw out old, rigid views. It represents the careful studies of a man who knew he was going out on a limb - but who, thankfully, didn't give a damn about appeasing the UFO research community in fawning style. And, for me, it truly is a Messengers of Deception for the 21st Century and for Generation-Next.

To learn more about Mac Tonnies' The Cryptoterrestrials, and where to purchase copies, click on the Anomalist Books website.