Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jacques Vallée: Dimensions

An excerpt from the fascinating book Dimensions by Jacques Vallée, the first I'm reading of him, talking about science and history, entity contact and the heavenly beam of light. The images in the article are not what Vallée is exactly talking about but what related images I could find on google. You can download the book here.

A Universal Fact
The problem before us now is this: if the reality behind the UFO phenomenon is both physical and psychic in nature, and if it manipulates space and time in ways our scientific concepts are inadequate to describe, is there any reason for its effects to be limited to our culture or to our generation? We have already established that no country has had the special privilege of these manifestations. Yet we must carry the argument further: if the UFO phenomenon is not tied to social conditions specific to our time, or to specific technological achievements, then it may represent a universal fact. It may have been with us, in one form or another, as long as the human race has existed on this planet.
Something happened in classical times that is inadequately explained by historical theories. The suggestion that the same thing might be happening again should make us extremely interested in bringing every possible light to bear on this problem. Beginning in the second century B.C. and continuing until the fall of the Roman Empire, the intellectual elites of the Mediterranean world, raised in a spirit of scientific rationalism, were confronted and eventually defeated by irrational element similar to that contained in modern apparitions of unexplained phenomena, an element that is amplified by their summary rejection by our own science. It accompanied the collapse of ancient civilizations. Commenting on this parallel, French science writer Aime Michel proposes the following scene.
Consider one of the Alexandrian thinkers, a man like Ptolemaeus, the second-century astronomer thoroughly schooled in the rational methods of Archimedes, Euclid, and Aristotle. And imagine him reading the Apocalypse, various writings about Armageddon. How would he react to such an experience? He would merely shrug, says Aime Michel: "It would never occur to him to place the slightest credence in such a compendium of what must regard as insanities. Such a scene must have taken place thousands of times at the end of classical antiquity. And we know that every time there was the same rejection, the same shrugging, because we have no record of any critical examination of the doctrines, ideas, and claims of the counterculture that expressed itself through the Apocalypse. This counterculture was too absurd to retain the attention of a reader of Plato. A short time – a very short time – elapsed, the counterculture triumphed, and Plato was forgotten for a thousand years. Could it happen again?"
Only a thorough examination of the ancient records can save us from the effects of such cultural myopia. Among other interesting objects, some of the artifacts that have come to us from Phoenicia provide insight into the idea of contact in antiquity.

Phoenician Amulets
History books tell us that the Phoenician civilization was established long before the Hebrew migrations, when several Semitic tribes founded a series of cities on the Mediterranean littoral. The main ones were known as Tyre, Sidon, Tripoli, and Byblos, and each was governed by an oligarchy or by a king. At the height of its development, Phoenicia itself extended through that part of Syria that goes from Nahr-al-Kabir (Eleutherus) on the north to Mount Carmel on the south.
Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, one of this century's most distinguished scholars of Egypt and Mesopotamia, states that the Phoenicians were not a literary people. Unlike most Semitic peoples, they loved the sea. They used their abundant forests to supply timber for their ships. Their work was exceptionally refined and their products were sold by their merchants throughout the ancient world, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and India. They had learned from Babylon the art of dyeing, from Egypt the craft of glassblowing, and they used accurate systems of weights. Little is known of their religious beliefs, although it is often pointed out, on linguistic grounds, that the names of their gods showed direct Babylonian, Egyptian, and Greek influences.
Of their ritual practices we are told that they sacrificed their firstborn children in times of trouble; that they killed their prisoners of war on the altars of their gods; and that their women surrendered their virginity in the sanctuaries of Astarte. For their personal magical protection the Phoenicians appear to have adopted the type of amulets used in Babylonia and Assyria, and a collection of cylinder seals has been preserved in the British Museum. Some of these artifacts, which are shown in Wallis Budge's book Amulets and Superstitions, may date from a few centuries B.C., probably from about 400 to 300 B.C. Five of these cylinder seals depict a Winged Disk, often with appendages. Figures that are referred to in the literature as "divine beings" are seen emerging from these disks in four cases. And in every one of them human figures in ceremonial dress appear to be involved in rituals that contain. Assyrian features.
The first cylinder seal shows a hero holding in each hands the foreleg of a winged beast. One of these two beasts has horns on its head and a tail. Above the human being is the winged disk, from which a god is emerging. ("Ahuramazda or some Assyrian god," writes Sir Wallis Budge.) The interpretation of the second amulet involves scorpion-men and sexual symbols. It is apparent that two strange creatures, obviously male, are supporting a winged disk above a sacred tree. To the right is a worshipper, while another person is bringing some sort of animal as a sacrifice. Here, again, two divine figures are to be seen, emerging from the disk.
In the third amulet two large winged figures – classically interpreted as "priests wearing winged garments" – frame a large disk with extended legs. Directly beneath the disk is a symbol of lightning or a thunderbolt, before which a man appears to be standing in adoration. There is something on top of the disk.
Another artifact: a sphinx and a goat stand on either side of a sacred tree above which is a winged disk. Two men are performing a ritual in connection with the scene.
In the last amulet two of the strange dwarfish figures, which authorities call scorpion-men (despite their large breasts on this particular seal), are supporting a "winged disk from which project the heads of three divine beings." Two men are in adoration before the disk, beneath which a sort of vaulted door can be seen. To the left is a very strange figure interpreted as "a god holding a gazelle or goat under each arm."
The interpretation of this collection of artifacts raises several questions, because the classical statement that the flying disk is simply a primitive representation of the sun or the soul leaves much to be desired. Is it common for the winged disk (a frequent symbol in antiquity) to show several beings emerging from its upper part? In what context are such representations encountered? If the disk is interpreted as some mythological symbol connected with the cosmos (as is indicated by the abundance of astronomical designs in the seals: stars, crescent moons), should we speculate that the representation of a disk with extended claws may in fact seek to preserve the memory of a vision, or observation, of a flying craft capable of landing?
This speculation does not answer all our questions but it provides a stimulating avenue of research into ancient symbolism. It is certainly fascinating to read the best accepted interpretation for the zig-zag symbol in some of the amulets is lightning or a thunderbolt. Why should a thunderbolt be associated with a winged disk, and why should three people in elaborate magical garments stand in adoration before it? The scene suggests plan and purpose rather than a chance occurrence of some purely natural phenomenon. It suggests overt contact with a flying craft.
Equally fascinating to the student of close-encounter cases are the scenes in which animals are carried to the hovering disk. In one case, a god is seen holding a horned animal under each arm – a scene certainly reminiscent of many a claim of animal kidnapping by UFO occupants. Three of the cylinder seals show approximately the same thing: a disk above some elaborate ground structure, a human in adoration, and someone bringing a horned animal toward the center of the scene.
The beings themselves fall into the following categories:
  1. Human beings that Assyriologists call worshippers, priests, kings, etc. Sometimes they are wearing winged garments.
  2. The gods. They are shown either emerging from the disk and wearing, in some cases, elaborate headdresses or walking outside the disk, as in one amulet where an entity seems to be wearing its hair in three long tresses on either side of the head.
  3. The scorpion-men, who have large phallic attributes in one figure but in another case would more properly be called scorpion-women. They are only seen supporting the disk. It would be interesting to find out where the word scorpion comes from in connection with these figures. The scorpion-men are consistently about two-thirds the size of men, who in turn are smaller than the gods. (Professor Douglas Price-Williams of UCLA points out that in the Gilgamesh epic the scorpion creatures were the guardians of the mountain of the sun. The scorpion-man in the Babylonian Enuma Elish was a monster created by chaos at the beginning of the world. Price-Williams adds: "These creatures would thus be tellurian beings, 'chthonic' as Jung would have said.")
  4. Various monsters, such as a horned creature or a sphinx.
Why should the observation of a flying disk be represented in the context of an obviously magical ceremony that does not appear to have any traditional characteristic of Phoenician religion? We are told, for instance, that the Phoenicians held the same view as the Hebrews concerning the survival of the soul, that they buried their dead with great care, and that their sacrificial ceremonies involved killing human beings and sacred prostitution. Why then is it that, if the seals are associated with spiritual or religious values, they depict nothing of this, but do instead show winged disks that appear to come from a star, contain strange beings who carry off earth animals, and emit lightning bolts? And why are the human assistants wearing special vestments with wings on them?
Representation of flying disks in religion does not stop with the Phoenicians. The symbol is a basic one in the early Christian church, and it is consistently associated with the angels. Christian theology does not have much to say about the angels, just as official Muslim theology remains discreet about the jinn. Some rare documents, however, give details concerning the nature of these beings. According to Japanese researcher Y. Matsumura, the religious Sophia, a written document commenting on the dogma of the Greek Orthodox Church preserved in the Leningrad National Library, describes the process of communication between God and the angels:
How does the Lord guide His Angel, if the Angel cannot see the face of His Lord? An Angel has a projection on the upper part of his eyes, where a sacred cloud rests. He has also a thing to recieve sounds on his head. This thing makes noises as an Angel recieves an order where to go from his Lord. Then he quickly looks at the mirror in his hand, and he gets in the mirror something on which an instruction from God is given.
I have not been able to verify directly the existence of this document and the accuracy of the translation, but it is consistent with a number of paintings, icons, and murals that depict contact between "God" and His messengers and contact between the messengers and men. Communication for a long time took place through pictorial representation rather than words, and it is not surprising to find few descriptions of such contact in written language.
I am inclined to a literal, rather than purely symbolic, interpretation of the scenes depicted on the Phoenician amulets, and I am also tempted to accept as a working hypothesis that in times remote contact occurred between human consciousness and another consciousness, variously described as demonic, angelic, or simply alien. This would explain much of the symbolic power retained in our own time by the concept of "signs in the sky." It would account for the fact that modern-day UFOs seem to present archaic as well as futuristic designs (as in the representation of the Arabic astrological sign for Venus on the object seen at Socorro, New Mexico, by patrolman Lonnie Zamora), and it would also explain the fascination that people of all countries and races have always had for the strange entities from "above."
How constant these observations and visions have remained will be seen by comparing the Phoenician seal story with the following letter from a woman who saw a scorpion-man... in our time!

A letter from a British woman begins:
At the lecture by Jacques Vallee at the London A.A. [Architects Association] on the 12 of December I was surprised by one of the slides of a Phoenician seal showing a winged sphere held up by two creatures which he described as "Scorpion men." Perhaps I have seen such a man myself....
It was the summer of 1968, about 4:00 P.M. She was driving from London to a place near Stratford to visit friends for the weekend. She had a companion in the car with her. Just outside Oxford they both saw a shining disk in the sky. They slowed and then stopped to watch it as it darted and dodged. Another car stopped to watch it, too. Eventually it sank behind the trees. They resumed their trip, but the really striking events took place after the disk had disappeared:
During the drive between Burford and Stratford I had some startling, and to me, novel insights into what I can only describe as the Nature of Reality. They were connected in some way to this shining disk, and have had a profound effect on me, causing what is commonly known as a personality change. I won't try to explain what those insights were since almost all the religions of the world have tried to do this and have failed. (In that afternoon I changed from an agnostic to a gnostic, if that means anything at all.) However, these insights hit me like bolts from the blue, as though from outside, one after the other. I've never had a similar experience since.
The letter continues with a description of what the woman saw that evening after supper, a
description that seems to come straight out of a John Fowles novel: the guests were in the sitting room, which had open French windows leading out onto the lawn, and the woman went over to the window to get a breath of fresh air. The weather, she wrote, was "very hot and close."
The light from the room shone in an arc of about ten feet around the window. In that area I saw, as soon as I came to the window, a strange figure. My perception of it was heightened by the state of frozen panic it produced in me. It was for me without any doubt, a demon, or devil because of my Western oriented interpretation (I imagine) of the vision or creature or animal or man, or whatever it was I saw. Like the "Scorpion man," as well as Pan, it had dog or goat-like legs. It was covered in silky, downy fur, dark, and glinting in the light. It was unmistakably humanoid, and to my mind malevolent. It crouched, and stared, unblinkingly, at me with light, grape-green eyes that slanted upwards and had no pupils. The eyes shone and were by far the most frightening thing about it. It was, I think retrospectively, trying to communicate with me, but my panic interfered with any message I might have received. If it had stood to its full height it would have been about four to five feet tall. It had pointed ears and a long muzzle. It gave the impression of emaciation; its hands and fingers were as thin as sticks.
Eventually, convinced that I was hallucinating, I went and sat down for a while, until the panic had subsided. Then I went to see if it was still there. It was, except that it had moved further into the shadows on the edge of the arc of light. I made sure I kept away from that door for the rest of the evening, and left the next day. I told no one. That it may have been connected with the shining disk I only realized when I saw that slide.
I have other reports in my files of such forgotten observations that the witnesses only recollected when their memory was triggered by a slide, a book cover, or a lecture.

The Beam of Light
A major feature in all religious traditions involves a mysterious beam of light emanating from a point in the sky or from a cloud of peculiar shape and focused on a human being. This beam usually is interpreted as a sign of blessing which conveys information from a divine source.
I am intrigued by this concept because it is a recurrent one in modern contact cases. Psychic experimenter Robert Monroe has described a similar phenomenon in his own investigations of out-of-body consciousness. On the night of September 9, 1960, as he was lying on his bed, Monroe says (in his book Out of the Body):
I suddenly felt bathed in and transfixed by a very powerful beam that seemed to come from the North, about 30º above the horizon. I was completely powerless, with no will of my own, and I felt as if I were in the presence of a very strong force, in personal contact with it. It had intelligence of a form beyond my comprehension, and it came directly (down the beam?) into my head, and seemed to be searching every memory in my mind. I was truly frightened because I was powerless to do anything about this intrusion.
On September 16, at night, again from the verbatim notes of Robert Monroe:

The same impersonal probing, the same power, from the same angle. However, this time I received the firm impression that I was inextricably bound by loyalty to this intelligent force, always had been, and that I had a job to perform here on earth....
I got the impression of huge pipes, so ancient they were covered with undergrowth and rust. Something like oil was passing through them, but it was much higher in energy than oil, and vitally needed and valuable elsewhere (assumption: not on this material planet).

On September 30, the same pattern:
They seemed to soar up into the sky, while I called after them, pleading. Then I was sure that their mentality and intelligence were far beyond my understanding. It is an impersonal, cold intelligence, with none of the emotions of love or compassion which we respect so much, yet this may be the omnipotence we call God. Visits such as these in mankind's past could well have been the basis for all of our religious beliefs, and our knowledge today could provide no better answer than we could a thousand years past.
By this time, it was getting light, and I sat down and cried, great deep sobs such as I have never cried before, because then I knew without any qualification of future hope of change that the God of my childhood, of the churches, of religion throughout the world was not as we worshipped him to be – that for the rest of my life, I would "suffer" the loss of this illusion.


aferrismoon said...

The Czech version of WALL-E = VALL-I

Ed said...

Interesting. It reminds me of Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods.