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The Australian International UFO Symposium 1997

17-19 October 1997

Reviewer: Martin Gottschall, PhD

This was a three day event from 17 to 19 October, 1997, preceded and followed by other talks, workshops and seminars. The program listed seventeen speakers, twelve from overseas. The Symposium could well be called “interdisciplinary” as well, in that it brought together speakers who might ordinarily stay away from each other as regards their stance or viewpoint on UFO matters.

A 130 page booklet of the proceedings was available during the Symposium, containing 15 papers or reports relating to the respective speakers. Another innovative feature was “instant videos”. A bank of a dozen video recorders produced as many copies of each presentation as it was delivered, so the audience could immediately purchase them after the lecture.

An event like this represents a large investment of time, money and energy on the part of all the parties involved – speakers, organisers and those attending, and it seems appropriate that we take our time digesting all the information that was given. In doing this, we can follow up on the books published by the speakers, read the proceedings, and study the videos of the various presentations. In keeping with this plan, I will look at only some of the speakers in this Issue, and hopefully take up the others in the months to come.

Warren Aston’s paper, “An Analysis of the 1940 Udo Wartena Case” will hopefully be published in a future issue of UFO Encounter, and we can defer most comment for the time being. He reports on an encounter with ET’s in May of 1940 in Montana, USA, which contained many of the elements of later contacts of the 1950’s, and implies that the tendency of many UFO researchers to ignore such cases as non-factual was a mistake. In addition to being an important contribution to the history and character of the contactee phenomenon, Warren’s paper is a call to re-assess past decisions that are still governing today’s research methodology.

My paper (Martin Gottschall) , “A Search for Artificial Gravity” is also available for publication in a later issue. It addresses the mental and experimental processes one might employ in discovering artificial gravity in the context of the recent Finnish announcement of the accidental discovery of artificial gravity.

Possibly the most unexpected speaker to the Symposium was Giorgio Bongiovanni, a “stigmatist”. Giorgio has a long term association with an Italian contactee, and has undertaken the mission of publicising the prophecies given to the children at Fatima in 1917, which the Catholic church has elected to keep under wraps. Over a period of years, Giorgio has “developed” open wounds on his hands, feet, chest and forehead which bleed daily, that make him a member of a rather select group of people who have also displayed this condition. In Giorgio’s vision, ET’s are very much part of the spiritual evolution of humankind, and always have been. He speaks of a “New Theology”, which might well be viewed as a cosmic theology, in that it endeavours to integrate the “above” and the “below”.

Over the past few decades UFO researchers who usually see themselves as “mainstream” have had a materialistic, atheistic, scientific, anti-contactee orientation. The past two symposia in Brisbane have broken with this pattern. Whether it reflects a global trend or is just due to the selection of speakers, the “taboo” aspects of UFOlogy were also getting a hearing. In this context it is ironic that Budd Hopkins found himself virtually the sole “defender” of the “mainstream” orientation.

I say ironic because I do not think that Budd really has much time for that kind of UFO research. However, he seems to see the entire UFO phenomenon in the context of the abductee phenomenon, and anything that seems to deviate from that is a screen memory or some other form of deception by the abducting aliens. Not surprisingly, friendly, civilised and truly well meaning ETs are not real to Budd, and that the UFO phenomenon might have vital spiritual components is just wishful thinking. In putting his own viewpoint to the audience, he found himself, by default, apparently defending the “mainstream” position, and I don’t think he enjoyed this at all.

Budd Hopkins spoke on “The UFO Phenomenon and the Suicide Cults – an Ideological Study”. In this paper he explores the tendency of some people to attribute only bad things to humanity and human existence, and only good things to ETs and their way of life, which leads these people to abandon their human heritage by suicide in extreme cases, and by a mental/emotional abandonment in other cases. He also explores abduction experiences in which the abductees “overlay” a painful experience with beliefs about the importance or “goodness” of what the aliens are doing, either as a coping mechanism, or as ideas which were deliberately implanted by the aliens.

Hopkins’ concern here seems to be that we must not lose the real truth about the nature and meaning, if any, of the abduction phenomenon. I guess he sees it as a necessary first step we have to take in finding effective ways of dealing with it. Whether this is a problem we must solve by ourselves or whether there are non-abducting truly “good” ETs who are able and willing to help us, I do not know. For my part, I would not be too quick to ignore any real help that might be available. Our universe is far too big, and the contactee record is far too strong for me to give up the idea that truly good ETs are also visiting this planet. It would be far simpler if we did not have to entertain this ET duality, but at least it is not new. We have the same good/bad duality with humanity.

UFO Symposia like this one have yet to confront the question “How do we deal effectively with the abducting aliens?” Perhaps this is now on the horizon. The present trend of exploring spiritual issues in the UFO context, and what I hope is a growing willingness to have a really good look at the contactee phenomenon might give us some of the tools we need that would enable us to deal with abductions to our own satisfaction.

Dr. Francisco J Lewels spoke on the “God Hypothesis”. He faced the issue that the UFO phenomenon might have been capable of generating the historical events on which our religions are founded, and that it might be intimately involved with the genesis and evolution of the humanity of this planet. In keeping with Vallee’s thinking, he also wonders to what extent the phenomenon is a part of aspects of “life” which we recognise only in myth, folklore and superstition.

His hypothesis is that there is some kind of creative cause of the universe and the life in it, but that the creation process and cosmic evolution is different to what our religions, particularly Western Christian religions envisage, and that these religions therefore need to undergo a transformation that brings them more in line with the wider cosmic “reality”.

The next step in Lewels’ work that is needed to give it practical value, is a hypothesis which defines the relationship between us as individuals and humanity in general, and “God”, so that we know how to invoke or externalise those divine faculties and powers which we need to effectively guide and protect our own evolution. I’m glad Lewels is doing this work, but he should not have to be doing it because the framework of thought and action which he might eventually arrive at is almost certainly already present. It has been neglected and rejected for decades because of a peculiar human ego-mindset. One example of a very comprehensive Cosmic Perspective is the work of Frank Howard – right here in Brisbane. There are others as well.

Categories: Reviews

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