Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Druids: What Could They Do?, Part Two.

Back again for speculations about the abilities of the druids... the previous blog entry presented Henry Rowlands' view that the major college of the druids on Mona/Anglesey was divided into three areas of ascending prestige: Beirdd in the function of bard "historians" and legal council, loaning out druidical knowledge and wisdom to petty tyrants in the interest of preserving peace between potential combatants; Offwyr of the school of the study of natural arcana [the deep secrets of the physical world], most particularly the secrets of living things; and Druda of the school of study of ethics and morality, and the contemplation of Divine and Hidden Things.

We can be certain that the "job description" of the Beirdd [memorizing and putting into poetry and even song the political histories of local petty kingdoms, and then serving to clarify contentions and offer council towards non-conflict compromise] is well within the capabilities of intelligent humans. We can be fairly certain that intelligent Offwyr, given relative peace and time, could achieve a great deal of natural knowledge about plants, animals, inorganic materials, and actions of nature, AND know many things which could be done with that knowledge, and thus appear to the ignorant as not only valuable but "magical". For many centuries such pre-scientific knowledge was call "natural magic" in the Greco-Roman world and post-Empire. All this without going to the paranormal.

Could the high druids, the druda, the contemplators of Divine and Hidden things, know more?? Well, the druids must have thought so, or they certainly wouldn't maintain a third tier of their college based upon no conviction. What sort of things were they "contemplating"? Did it get them anywhere?

I can't promise anything very good on this, but let's look at it from an odd angle.

During my last visit to my home in Kalamazoo in February, I was straightening up some of Ivan Sanderson's SITU collection in hopes of being ready in April to build new shelving in the garage to finally organize it. It was definitely lower tier druidical work. One aspect of this is getting the chaotic mess of journals at least into sorted piles to be ready for periodical boxes pre-shelving. One such periodical, which there was quite a tall stack of, was The American Dowser Quarterly Digest. I've covered dowsing before in this blog way back in 11/11/09 and 11/13/09 and there stated that dowsing was initially for me one of the more foolish-sounding of the anomalistic claims. This was despite the fact that a VERY good friend of mine, and one who buys into almost none of this stuff, is absolutely convinced that dowsing works. The two blog entries express my excursion into those mysteries, and my conclusion that there does seem to be a lot of reason to believe that something lies behind this, but NOT a mere physical force somehow undetectable but subconsciously sensed. Rather, dowsing seems to me to be something more akin to clairvoyance, with the "ritual" of the water-witching wand being ritual trapping for getting the mind right.

The "ritual of the water-witching wand"..... hmmmm.... sounds like we may be in druid country to me. Well, I never made the connection. But here, in Ivan's old stack of American Dowser's, shouting out at me from a cover was "Druid Divining In Ancient Erinn". Well now.

The author retold the tale [allegedly written in the just pre-Arthurian era, c.450AD] about Edain, the femme fatale of ancient Ireland, who was so beautiful that she bound the hearts of kings in multiple centuries. This particular tale was of a foolish king who bet a stranger "anything one wants to the winner". The bonehead king of course loses and the stranger shocks him by demanding Edain --- what an idiot. Married to the most desirable woman on the planet and the thought never crosses his mind that it would be she that the stranger wanted. Edain would probably be better off without that bonehead. BUT apparently no one saw it that way, and the king resorted to his only hope of locating her and bringing her back --- the druids.

The king's chief druid was told to leave the court and not return until he had found out her location. The druid knew that the perpetrator was a preternatural being from the land of Faerie, due to the way he was able to pixilate all of the court into not seeing the "theft", except the paralyzed king, and because of the description of the land and the people to which he said he was taking her. Even knowing that, locating the faerie criminal was no easy task. Wearied with lack of success, the chief druid sat on a mountain under a yew tree. From that tree [no doubt with proper supplication for the gift], he "cut four wands". Using these wands, and the powers of his ogam alphabet [this refers to apparently the concept that the druids used the ogam alphabet in some "runic" type of way to attempt to clairvoy the unknown and get advice], he was able to determine that Edain had been taken "underhill" at Bri Leith, the land of the Faerie chieftain Midir. [Midir and Edain had a long dance across the centuries by the way, and this final dance was supposedly in the rule of an Irish king of the c.100BC-100AD era --- thus within Rowlands' version of the druids.]

The writer sees the story as indicating the druid as using yew tree divining to locate a lost treasure [Edain]. He also hints that this sort of divining had a ritualistic paranormal aspect to it [ogam rune casting]. The whole thing sounds as if the chief druid had to resort to paranormal ability/ arcane ritual knowledge to pull off his quest. The yew tree divining rods are the correct species for such probing into the spiritual, so maybe it hangs together a bit. Believing that the Rowlands' druids tried water-witching and forms of divination is not much of a stretch to me.

Oh, by the way: the druid reported back to the king, who promptly rounded up every able-bodied man in the kingdom [finally getting his priorities right] and marched on the mountain. The faerie king of course knew that he was coming, and that his intention was to dig out the mountain in an attempt to break into the kingdom. Though this probably wouldn't have worked, it was just as bad, as it would have fatally desecrated the natural link to that kingdom and destroyed it. Midir therefore resorted to the subterfuge of presenting to the offended king several dozen women looking very much like Edain. To restore her, the king would have to pick the true Edain out. Apparently Edain liked the king better than Midir, and flashed a glimpse of a present which he had given her [a piece of jewelry --- always give your favorite girl lots of jewelry, boys] and the king accurately chose her to the great irritation of the defeated Midir. [that's Midir taking Edain in the picture above].

So, what could a druid do? He could remember history and try to make peace. He could display astonishing knowledge of the natural world. He probably had "inventions" that others had not yet seen [though claims of gunpowder and telescopes seem devoid of factual support]. And he seemed to believe that he had means of achieving insights into things in a "divinatory" ritual way. That last to me means clairvoyance, whether highly accurate and accomplished or not. Dowsing could easily have been one such "ritual". It can hardly be any coincidence that the device is called a divining rod and the act water-witching. Other rituals like casting ogam runes or any of the other "----mancies", could easily have been part of what these druda tried to do. And, as said in the last entry: the Roman Church did NOT view these rituals as ineffective. The Church viewed them as effective and dangerous, possibly leading one into the clutches of the Devil. [The reasoning behind this is not simple competition-with-the-other-religion rhetoric. The wiser Church religionists {there were some} saw these forms of rituals as conveying power to the hands of an individual and thereby dangerously swaying the person towards enhancing his own goals with that power to the detriment of others. Such behavior then leads right to manipulation by the Dark One. This in a far less dramatic way, is why martial arts masters demand a good soul and a clear mind from their students or they are not worthy of the gifts of the powers that the arts give them].

And for me there is something else about the story that we've been telling. The druid hunting Edain knows perfectly well about Faerie. If Faerie were real, how could colleges of forest-meditating priests NOT know? Moyra Doorly encountered the Faerie crowd on Arran while practicing meditation even in the 21st century. Could centuries of "professionally meditating" monks, sitting beneath their favorite oak and yew trees have completely whiffed for a couple of thousand years? Did the druids know of Faerie? I'd bet so. Was some of that interaction similar to Native American vision-questing? Why not? Did druids gain any sacred wisdom about the wholeness and integrity of Nature through such visions/encounters? ....... Did they learn how to DO things because of that?

In a possibly irrelevant sidelight, I'd like to reflect for just a moment on a very unusual character in Catholic history: St. Kevin.

Kevin was an early [pre-Patrick, even] Irish monk. He was however very different. Instead of raising fire and brimstone, throwing down the symbols of other peoples' beliefs, and generally trashing everything sacred to the invaded societies, Kevin seems to have quite loved the closeness-to-nature of the Irish druids, and almost became one, in spirit anyway.

Kevin, instead of continuously insinuating himself and the new Christian ideas into every household, went into nature and into communion with it. [left is the traditional cave in which he stayed]. His life was relatively solitary and produced a profound closeness to the creatures of the Irish forest. Miracle tales, some seeming much too far over-the-top to be literally true, are happily told in Catholic recountings of the life of this saint. I wonder if those doing the recounting were aware that that they were essentially describing a solitary druid in monks robes? Kevin WAS Catholic Christian, but a very unique variety. He found God and the spiritual in Nature communing as much as in the scriptures... and I'll bet moreso. Wisdom was to be had there. There was Presence.

From Rome's [doubtless puzzled] point of view, Kevin's life "worked". Local people from all about began to see the strange "natural" man who was visited by the animals as a holy man, a good soul. So, Kevin was ordered to bring that reputation out of the deep woods and to begin to function more publicly.

This he reluctantly did, setting up what was to be viewed as one of the holiest churches in Ireland at Glendalough.

I cannot help myself but to view Kevin as anything other than a Catholic monk with a Druid's heart. And, although I'll reserve some doubt about the specifics of the animal-related miracle stories, I cannot bring myself to doubt that he had a special communication with the animals and even the spirit of the forest itself. When the bird or the boar or the deer came to visit, was it "just" the bird, the boar, the deer? Or was it, just as the Native Americans believe, THE bird, boar, or deer? Was it in fact the good element of the "world alongside", the realm of the paranormal of Faerie?

All that is by now far Out Proctor.

I've walked a little way on the forest paths with Kevin and the druids, and of course do not well understand them. It's probably unlikely that I ever will. But there are a few more existing paths [in my Olde Bookes] that I can try before simply wishing them blessings and waving them on their way. But I have nothing more that I can pass your way for now. When some little possible flicker of light emerges from that Old Forest, I'll let you know.

And... As the faeries from their haunt in the ancient yew tree might say [if you treat them respectfully]: Blessed be until we meet again.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Druids: What Could They Do?

This blog entry will be more of a Taoist Walk [i.e. an organic meander rather than a strict linearity] largely because I don't know what I'm talking about and therefore can't possibly know where I'm going. Still: the topic seems interesting, something related just fell into my lap, and time and interest in getting blog entries have been tough to come by, so, "here goes nothin'".

Some time ago I was upgrading my library with a few Olde Booke purchases. The incentive behind one of these was that I'd been catching dismissive comments from Academia for several years and the comments had begun to acquire an unconvincing aura [well, let's say it: a stink] about them which was suspicious. They had begun to sound like the conservative cant of the academic tribe. They were reminiscent in fact of such near-derisive put-downs suffered by many anomalistic subjects. The "Druids" were everything from a bunch of brainless pagan priests to maybe an invention of "modern times" who never really existed at all. Their "non-existence" seemed far over-the-top and not to be taken seriously by me for a moment, and knowing what I know of humans, "brainlessness" [foolishness; stupidity of primitive people; charlatans; etc] did not seem likely. But what-the-heck, maybe the "experts" were right.

To do a little private "look into", I decided to try to find the oldest attempt to study the druids [in English] that I could.... something hopefully before the modern prejudices of the establishment would have settled in. As you can see above, that book was/is Henry Rowlands: MONA ANTIGUA RESTAURATA 1723.



Worth it.

Rowlands was Vicar of Llanjan, Isle of Anglesey, Wales. Like many vicars of the age, he preferred a hobby which took him outside of his church doors than locked him within them. In fact, this good fellow wanted very much to understand the ancient pagans of his Welsh isle perhaps more than his current Christians. [Actually he may have been a great vicar, but he DID spend an awfully lot of time on Druids].

Rowlands' interest was fired by his belief that Anglesey was the ancient Isle of Mona, and the home of the high college of the Druid priesthood. He probably was right on all of that. If this Isle was that significant to Druidism, then what could he still find out about it? Fortunately in Wales there are still today many old megalithic sites [see the map] and many in Mona, and folklore about some of them. So Rowlands began to study everything from the ancient writings to the geology of Anglesey to the megalithic remains. And he, at this very early time in English-language book-writing, began to see a picture emerging about his Isle, and put it on paper for all of us late-comers to read. Rowlands, a Christian man of his times, tried to take what he was gleaning and force-fit it into an Old Testament biblical schemata, and so turned much of the "where did this come from?" part of his book into nonsense. Such Elmers Gluing of different resources together is what gets academe to reject everything about an old work. It is the Baby & Bathwater phenomenon. I find it rather easy to carve away the Old Testament intrusions from the direct fieldwork. And so I find much of Rowlands interesting.

What do I suggest that Rowlands knew? I think that Rowlands was right that the druids had a major [if not THE main] "college" resident on Mona. This was why the druids made a constant retreat from the Romans in the direction of NW Wales and gathered there. There they put up a great bluff with all manner of weird behavior to attempt to spook the Romans out of a fight, but the Romans had seen weird bluffs before and ultimately just swept across the narrow waterway to the Isle and scattered them without a fight. This is the central truth to take away from the Roman record: when facing the druidical priesthood, that priesthood DID NOT FIGHT. It bluffed but ran. Druids were in my reading people of peace. Petty Celtic tyrants may have been men of war, but not the actual druids. This is a rather big deal and fits smoothly with several other aspects of what seems to be true about them.

Mona was home to a major College and, therefore, the base of the archdruid. I have no idea of what this meant. Maybe he was a strict authority; maybe he was just a facilitator. I find nothing credible [yet] about how he may have wielded that authority. Rowlands didn't either. But he seemed to find that the druidical college had three distinct areas to it. These "specialities" defined the three classes of druids: Beirdd, Offwyr, and Druda. The Beirdd were the druids as we tend to picture them: Bards of History and Law. The Outreach program of the Inner Druidical Priests. The Beirdd are those that volunteered themselves out to the petty tyrants as Keepers of the Political History of those "kingdoms" and councillors of right judgement between political disputants. What were they really doing? They were trying TO KEEP THE PEACE. The druids, an organization viewing The Cycle of Life as sacred, has come up with a brilliant way of minimizing wars. Nothing could STOP wars altogether, but it was apparently a priority for these people to try to prevent them.

So, who were the other guys?

There is that famous paragraph in Diodorus about the priests of the Hyperboreans [who are, under any reasonable way I've seen discussed, the British Celts] "bringing down" the god Apollo every nineteen years in their round temple [again almost certainly Stonehenge], and generally showing knowledge of and interest in the heavens. This sort of thing matches Rowlands second "school" of the Offwyr. These collegians were the students of the natural world. [The picture above is of a Welsh stone circle at Penmaenmawr]. "Students of the Natural World".... the lives of the plants.... the lives of the animals.... the properties of materials and fire.... remedies, potions, the living pharmacoepia... the movement of the "stars".... the winds, the weather, the seasons.... These people had found a way in the middle of primitivism to create an environment within which it was possible to begin the paths of science, and doubtless applied science as well. It seems almost a certainty to me that from these "explorers" came the concept of the "magician", and the wizard and the witch in later defamatory Christian times. It is also important to remember that the early Church did not doubt the abilities of these "pagan sorcerers" to actually DO things; the Church merely said that such activity was DANGEROUS. What all the Natural Magicians of the druids, the Offwyr, could actually DO is still a mystery to me at least. But one would at least suspect potions and cures, advances in some material technology, predictive astronomy, good calendar information, good agricultural information, and probably occasional new inventions. "Real" magic? Not the Offwyr. The arena of the true "other" seems the realm of the Druda.

By the way, I have memories of commentaries wherein the dismissive skeptics cite the "impossibility" of druids having made the ancient megalithic structures such as Stonehenge, and going on from there to dismiss them entirely as having any significance. Well.... it is of precisely of no consequence for our exploration of "Rowlands' druids" of say the 300BC-600AD period that they built any megaliths. It is only important, and that only marginally so, that they used the sites. That they used the sites [ex. holding ritual at old tombs areas and burying bones under stone piles in "auspicious" locations] seems at least extremely likely. If Diodorus' remarks are to be placed into any context which makes sense, then they at least "used" Stonehenge [or another great circle {Avebury?}] as a seasonal ritual meeting place. If any of the "modern" remembrances mean anything, then circles like Boscawen-un in Cornwall were sites of druidical competition [gorsedds]. Lastly, if Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments served at least in part as astronomically-linked calendar devices [and the study of archaeoastronomy is by now so robust that only members of academia can be so biased as to resist it], then why is it not only possible but even likely that whatever smart "priesthood" who saw and used these relationships way back in 2500BC or so did not pass on the understanding of what the structures did over many centuries? Did the Egyptian priests "forget" what the pyramid builders thought about astronomical alignment of "sacred structures" just because centuries passed? Look at the tomb ceilings of the chambers in the Valley of the Kings.

But on to the third and "highest" druidical group.....

Who were the Druda, and what was their expertise?

Rowland saw the Druda as the high college of the organization called to the study NOT of the natural world, but of the spiritual world. It was their task to probe the deepest questions of existence. Whether they found answers to any of it who knows?, but it is from them that must have come the foundational druidical insight that it is the "Cycle of Life" which is the pre-eminent feature of existence, and which must be honored. This they symbolized as a three-lobed clover or shamrock, which members of the order wore on their cloaks. The three lobes stood for Birth, Life, and Death&Regeneration --- taken of course directly from observation of the kingdom of the plants, and seen as applying as well to the heavens, the seasons, and with wisdom's eye, possibly to animals and humans. It is this Circle which druids continuously drew on the ground in front of St. Columcille, as he converted his way across Scotland in the post-Arthurian period, they accusing him of preaching a religion which was contrary to the Cycle of Life, and he claiming otherwise [despite that the fundamental vision of druidism is cyclical, and Christianity linear]. Columcille, to give him credit could honestly claim that Jesus was definitely "pro-Creation" and therefore honored all aspects of it.

The druids are said to have loved the forests and the trees. There, perhaps like George Lucas pictured Star Wars' Yoda, they "felt the Force". Maybe I should be embarrassed about this, but ever since I was a kid I "felt the force" in some sense when I was in a forest or under a great tree, too. Life seems all around, and palpable. What that is, I can't honestly say, but hearing that the druids preferred the forest for meditation or a great tree for a meeting place is very natural to me.

It is agreed apparently by almost everyone that the druids regarded certain species of trees as special in various ways. Whether anyone should say that this was "tree worship", I don't see it going that far. Trees are more loci of nature's [yes, spiritual] powers, but not exactly "gods". Respected, yes. Never taken a sharp blade to when living, yes --- the mistletoe ritual doesn't count against this as the mistletoe is a "gift" from the oak tree itself to be used in ritual. Oaks were high on the list of symbols of the power of the Life force. Some folks even interpret the word "druid" as coming from the word for oak ["dair" Irish; "deru/derwen" Welsh]. Different tree species had different meanings for these people. Another "magical" tree in this story is the Yew [striking examples of which are in the pictures above both to the top and to the left]. The Yew tree is the tree of Immortality and the spirit-world. It is also the tree which provides the "wand".

And that leads us in a, to me, other surprising direction in this tale.... a direction to pursue in part two of this "intellectual fiasco" I am bumbling through today.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Close Encounters of the First Kind: Do we really care? Part Three.

Part Three, eh? Time to depart from the semi-sane ground of actual UFO data and spew forth shameless speculation about what might be going on. Well, folks: Crap Detectors at Full Power!! Shields to Maximum!! Ready or not.......

The first speculation that I heard about the "endless variety" phenomenon for close encounter craft design was the equally "endless variety" of extraterrestrial civilizations. That theory said: there are a lot of different folks out there, and it seems like a lot of them are visiting Earth. The concept is that a very large number of worlds all have their Henry Ford Model ZZZZZZZ UFO makers, and the changed craft designs identify those different worlds.

I don't like it. Maybe you do, but not me. Hundreds of thousands of different civilizations seem a bit much to me. And just one guy per civilization? I would think that we'd have rather large clusters of cases with identical craft, but I, at least, find no support for that in the case pile. Fell free to disagree of course. Not for me.

The second "explanation" for the design differences in all these cases [that I can remember anyway] is the "the craft are designed differently with different tasks in mind." Well, OK, sort of. Steamshovels should look different than Limousines than Tanks than Race-cars. But this just won't cut it. I'm even more sure of that than about hypothesis #1.

The reason is that I've done simple analyses of things like Car-Stop incidents, and the cars get stopped regardless of the shape, details, color, beam, or anything at all of the craft. The form of the craft seems to have nothing to do with it. The form in fact seems like an outer shell of misdirection surrounding what is actually going on. So, no good for me.

If not #1 or #2 then what? The lightbulb is only slightly above dim here, but we can at least stumble "Out Proctor". The following commentary will definitely be Out Proctor [i.e. so crazy as to be only marginally conceivable], but not "All-The-Way-Fool" [i.e. that I'm convinced of any part of it]. We're Out Proctor quite a bit on this blog, but All-The-Way-Fool is rarer, like when I could not avoid the apparent Fact of a Real Nessie, BUT a non-physical/biological one, and therefore was stuck with a folkloric paranormal spirit type theory.

So, what's Out Proctor on this topic??

The slightly agreed-upon hypothesis of at least a handful of UFOlogists is that the constant meddling with design is a ploy to break down our human search for patterns in the data. We have seen over and over again how difficult finding such patterns is. The intention of the altered designs would be therefore to maintain a general covertness in the phenomenon, while allowing all the "in-your-individual-face" overtness that any ET agenda might want. I believe that this hypothesis, though not able to be tested scientifically, could be seen as sufficiently dealing with the variation-of-structure enigma to be a "keeper", as far as a reasonable thought is concerned.

That theory might also be seen as amenable to any hypothesis of what the alien agenda might be, as long as some overall covertness is deemed important. So whether you want to be relatively non-interfering explorers, or relatively non-interfering meddler societies, or relatively non-interfering social, psychological, political game players of some kind, the craft variation to break patterns is an idea that can serve.

But is there another way of looking at it? Doubtless hundreds. But one way intrigues me until I get some real negatives about it.

I asked a friend about this element of UFOs the other day. He looked at the panels and said: What it reminds me of is Art. What he meant was an outbreak of INDIVIDUALITY in the production of the specific piece of technology that was that individual's personal device. Ernest Callenbach's ECOTOPIA had the idea that a person's private automobile would be craft-customed to the desires of the owner, by the owner. That concept leads, whether based on a real concept of ET civilization or not, to some interesting lines-of-thought.

We've tended to think about UFOs as the products of great systemic agendas of space powers, who have come great distances with some iron-willed purpose. Almost an Industrial-Military vision of those home worlds. But "Art?". THAT's Freedom. What if? Just what if? Could some "individuals" just simply be here?

The idea of an advanced civilization which honors the individuality of its citizens by granting and maintaining a liberal amount of freedom shouldn't be automatically rejected as unthinkable. Almost all Americans hope [sometimes against all data] that the USA and our tired old Earth will end up that way. So maybe. If so, what "flavors" of a free society might there be?

For discussion sake, let's take the pragmatics of money and technology out of the discussion as useless misdirections. Our imagined societies will have the means to travel --- maybe expensive but not prohibitive. What sort of civilizations might they be coming from?

One can imagine a society so liberal that it permits radical freedom. Such a world would be pouring forth all manner of "behaviors" into the Galaxy and upon our world. UFOs do a lot of things, but I don't see that. There are very strange incidents occupying the Whacked-Out dump baskets of our files which could be interpreted that way, but very few credible ones. That would be a UFOlogy like Ford Prefect's remark in The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy when he mentioned ET teenagers putting on weird hats and "strutting around in front of people making Beep-Beep noises". That is not the UFOlogy that we have.

But we could have visitors coming from freedom-oriented societies, whose actions were restricted by either technological limitations or by policy limitations.

Some would attribute the preponderance of designs based upon radial symmetry as an indication of a technological limitation or at least a technological advantage. That in fact seems a perfectly good idea to me. If one adds to that a policy limitation: one only gets a permit to come if one can indicate a useful role in whatever the over-all exploratory agenda is, or at least a range of proposed activities which does not contradict that over-all agenda, THEN the variations of behavior shrink quite nicely into what [I believe] the case experiences have to show us. This sort of vision would be VERY upbeat. The civilization would be a benign one towards its own citizens, honoring freedom. The persons coming would be serious and "mature" persons, possibly involved with research, and the home civilization would have a well-thought-out and mainly non-interfering program of interest.

I asked two UFO-savvy friends what they saw in the UFO data mountain which violated the general idea. Chupracabras was the first word out. OK, but I don't believe that that concept is real, and don't buy the alleged UFO connection anyway. So, right or wrong, that "problem" doesn't bother me.

Mass Abductions and the mistreatment of Abductees was the second word out. Well, there's a bunch of assumptions there able to be debated [see John Mack], but [and I'm not going to go into it] I do not find the MASS part of mass abductions at all convincing either. Betty and Barney, fine. Buff Ledge, Stanford,KY, fine. The gigantic avalanche, no.

Deliberate harming of humans by craft? Well, we did a whole series of CE2ps here, and there was VERY little evidence for that. Even the one deliberate action [paralysis] does not result in long-term effects. Neither wild freedom individuals harming humans nor individuals systematically harming humans under some mass agenda seem [to me] to be going on.

So, Out Proctor we've been. Whether all this craft-design variation is "just" the required psychological dissonance of a great rigid agenda, or the product of allowable individuality among responsible explorers, the two models seem simplistically OK with the data, at least to me.

Throw in a spicy dash of local Tricksterisms and you have a very interesting if unprovable world.

May the Advancement of Civilization never leave Art or the Artistic Soul behind.

Till the next time, folks, whenever that may be.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Close Encounters of the First Kind: Do we really care? Part Two.

Let's see how far I can get on this topic today. When you're dealing with an old man sometimes the energy just quits --- but high hopes. Yesterday we looked at some of the 1940s and 1950s cases which happened to be in my files [I say that to remind us that there are MANY other cases and many other drawings], where the witness blessed us with an actual first hand illustration of the object involved. Today we can gaze at another set of these things; this time from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s. And so we go....

Our first and unsurprising "conclusion" is that they continue to defy any detailed pattern, just as their earlier sister set of cases also did so deny [how's that for 19th century British sentence structure? --- sorry, my PhD is in 19th century History of Science and Technology]. If anything these characters may even be a little bit more diverse. Even the two "diamond hexagonal" objects differed mightily in size, although they were both on the small side when it comes to UFOs. It was nice that the one lady felt that she saw the same shaped craft ten years and several hundred miles apart, but even that might give one some cause for out-of-control speculation [feel free; it doesn't hurt that much if you're honest about it].

As to the specific sightings: There are some of UFOlogy's strongest CE1s in this set. I've found over the years, even in very informal polls at UFO get-togethers, that folks differ greatly in their "favorite case lists", but a couple of these above make them more than not [ Red Bluff and Exeter]. [I've read recently an attempt to debunk Exeter, but if you read the extensive interviews by John Fuller and others on this case, you see rather quickly that the persons pushing the debunk aren't interested in addressing the whole case's details]. And Red Bluff is a UFO Titan no matter how you want to cut it. In that case the Air Force and Donald Menzel actually used atmospheric diffraction of stars WHICH WERE NOT EVEN IN THE SKY YET to come up with what was a totally ridiculous concept anyway. THAT was one of the biggest, most over-the-top, explanatory stupidities or dishonesties [take your pick] in the history of the field.

A case that I particularly like [probably for irrational reasons] is the Millersport, OH incident of 1963. [my "synthesis" of the four witnesses' drawings is above]. In this case a family watched a UFO essentially "parked in the air" for some time until it took off. The drawings were done separately and "are the same, and different at the same time". They have plenty of similarity to convince one of the unity of the experience, and enough difference to convince one that the witnesses were not even subconsciously pushed to say one exact story. So, for me, even though this was one family, the reports have an element of credible independence. This case may also be a good old-fashioned CE3 as well, as the mother felt that she quite clearly saw a humanoid -shaped figure silhouetted in one of the windows. So, what can I tell you? I like it, and probably would put the case in my top 200 or so encounters to use to defend the phenomenon. And just to complete that thought: it is my experience with just my own files that there are probably at least 400 or 500 cases good enough to roll out there in front of reasonable people to defend the basic anomalous nature of the phenomenon.

There are other cases in the list of similar confidence... but I've placed alongside to the left a drawing of one just too late to have made that panel: Mackay, Queensland 1965 [actually it may well have made it if I was being obsessive about month-&-day order but life's too short for such nonsense in filing.]

Mackay has multiple independent witnesses, a very good viewing allowing much detail, and a possible related trace [which would convert it into a CE2t]. For the ET-technology debate, the witnesses stated that this was "a well-defined machine, solid and metallic". The witnesses had no background with which to judge size, and said it could have been anywhere from 30' to less than 10'. The internal diameter of a ring trace found the next day a little ways away was c.20', so the guessed range may have been good. Three brilliant floodlights surveyed the ground, and the thing was in sight for 30 minutes. It then rapidly accelerated away. Well, I say that's a rocking good UFO! And it's one of the many that Jim McDonald researched while he visited Australia in 1967. I'm happy to share anything with Jim McDonald, but particularly a mutual interest in the Mackay case.

Other things are sequestered on this list. Sheffield, OH 1958 was probably the incident which caused the Air Force more difficulty in Congress than any other. It was a pretty good unknown, but the difficulties were caused by the USAF making a complete hash out of its non-investigation and making statements which offended a no-nonsense woman. With Mrs. Fitzgerald's cooperation, a Ohio UFO group [not NICAP but of NICAP attitude and competency] pursued congressional aid in redressing USAF incompetency and nearly got an investigation by congress when Don Keyhoe couldn't. The ultimate case report small monograph [ called the "Fitzgerald Report"] was delivered to many congressmen, and is a UFO historical classic.

Elsewise here, are things like the great Lt.Colonel Gasslein case from Springfield,PA with all its witnesses and its long-observation, and apparent clear high technology nature. Another thing which is irrelevant to everybody but my brother and myself is the St. Albans, WV case of 1958, which is our own personal CE1. I used to view this as "just as nice domed disk", but as I thought about our observation the thing had to be closer than I thought.

I should have drawn a little "map" but this should be simple enough to follow without that. Tom and I watched the disk going by E-to-W almost exactly, looking out of a north-facing window in our home. When it looked like I was going to lose the sighting shortly, I "sacrificed" a little of the window view and turned and bolted for the west-facing door in another room. Trees unfortunately blocked the whole scene so I had to continue running until I cleared them [ah, those were the days .... actual running]. Once cleared the thing still wasn't in sight so I shifted on a precise right angle turn to the north [not by plan; that was how you had to go given all the obstacles] and jumped down a steep embankment [could I ever do that? Yes you could old man; you were once a basketball player remember? Basketball? What's that?]. Once down that embankment it was just a few more strides to get a look to the west and there the thing was, almost due west at the time. So you can see that I took a "Z" shaped run with right angles, and the object was at least close to dead west on that final angle. I'm not saying that the disk was only 30 yards away when it passed by the window; that seems way too close, but who knows? But even given some slop in the actual angle-guessing of my last position, that object was very probably far closer than a football field. So, I'm giving myself credit for a CE1. If you don't... that's OK too. It's also a good case because someone up-river was reporting it to a local radio station at the time. I have no idea how many other folks may have seen it, or whether Tom and I got the best look.

The picture above is the artwork from the old J.Allen Hynek slideshow, illustrating the concept of a close encounter of the first kind using the Exeter case. It is a pretty faithful rendition from witness testimony vs some of the other representations that you see [example, see the picture at the very top of this post; also supposed to represent Exeter]. It points out another danger in these drawings: never put anything out there without the approval of the witness. It as an old prof friend of mine would say "subtracts from the sum total of knowledge in the Universe".

My lightbulb is growing dimmer than usual at the moment, so I'm going to stop here, and complete this topic next time with the Total BS part: what might it mean? Till then, if you have the stamina.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Close Encounters of the First Kind: Do we really care?

A little look at some CE1s--- but first: "Excuses, Excuses." The blog's been mainly dormant for several weeks for some "good" and some not-so-good reasons. My mother's care continues to occupy a lot of time, and a lot of energy. Currently I'm getting a "month-off", thus finally this posting. Secondly, the big UFOs and the Government book is in the final polishing, has been in the majority seen by the publisher, and is being read by the author who will write the foreword. In other words, such stress is about to float downstream. SITU is actually at the point where I can build the final interior shelving units in the garage, and begin shelving books and journals according to category. There is some psychological relief in that, and such relief aids in the day-to-day "optimism" which is necessary to do research and contribute to blogs. So, life is still not that of an irresponsible playboy, but just enough relaxation of issues is occurring to make a few occasional blog entries more likely.

So, to the material-of-the-day: this comes from my freedom to attempt straightening out my files which had gotten out-of-hand due to problems one and two above. I had probably 200-300 cases to log and file; that's how far behind things had become. Once I finished, I thought: is there something here relatively mindless that can be done which would be amusing? For reasons unknown, I pulled out the files from the CE1 drawer and began to idly page into them. The interest arose as I saw that, although in the minority, there were quite a few files wherein the witness had sketched a craft [or someone else did, but had gotten witness approval]. So, I began plucking them out, and here they are. [I've more than this first page --- waiting with the rest until later is good strategy, I think].

Here are twenty-one case drawings from the WW2 to 1957 era. It's interesting, I think, for anyone to just look at the array for a minute without me gabbling away making noise about them.

And here are the thumbnail case details for the sketches above. Hopefully you will be able to pop this graph up and magnify it if necessary; there are a lot of pixels in it.

I'm not sure what to begin to say. I'll be bonehead obvious to start. UFOs don't look alike. They especially don't look alike if they are anything but smooth featureless globes or disks, or cigars or ovals. As soon as you get features, then the simple description of a "UFO" goes out the window.

For those of you who have been around the subject for a long time, you know that this is one of the great and frustrating enigmas about the phenomenon. Why don't the darn things look more like they came off a high-tech assembly line? People will try to say that they all look like they are in a general class of shapes ["radial symmetry" would be the fancy talk], but even that isn't really true. They rarely look alike; they rarely are the same size or color; they rarely behave alike; --- even giving them the benefit of somehow "seeming" alike [some good percentage of them anyway], they are far from Model T Fords a la Henry's mass production concepts.

There are UFOlogists who dislike this very much. I used to be that way. Now I've done a "180". The fact that everyday Janes and Joes do NOT describe some fixed image "flying saucer" gives me a significant boost towards the credibility of the reports. Arrays like that pictured above show [to me] conclusively that the media does not control UFO report content, and probably controls nothing about UFOs at all.

Let's leave the general comments with that for now, and say something about a few of the specific cases.

The drawing way at the top was one of Edward Ruppelt's favorite cases, and it has become one of mine as well --- whether it happened or not. This was the "shooting" incident which he was told about on one of his trips to Holloman AFB. An officer there told him that a pilot had fired his weapons at a UFO [VERY controversial thing to do] and even showed Ruppelt the incident report WHICH THE OFFICER PROMPTLY BURNED!!! Ruppelt was thoroughly boggled by this, BUT HE BELIEVED IT. We know that he believed it because he presented this incident prominently before the CIA investigation panel [The Robertson Panel]. Could we have actually had a USAF/UFO shooting incident in late 1951?

The next drawing down is my colored up version of the little sketch in the witness drawing panels. It's the 1952 Bainbridge, MD case where two women naval officers saw a large black disk hovering over the roadway which they were walking and spectacularly "pouring" sparks like a liquid fall down onto that road. This two-witness case has the necessary high credibility AND high-strangeness to make it one of my favorite "hidden" encounters.

The incident pictured just above [again my colored-up version of the witness sketch] is the Yuma, AZ case of 1952, and is another little-known report. The case has a very detail-oriented observer, picturing a rather unique craft, and with an intelligent credible report [there were allegedly two military observers to this but, as usual, the second wasn't around for an interview]. My favorite detail was that the object produced a distinctly different color-pattern when it decided to take off, from that which it displayed while hovering.

The case at the bottom is a 1954 case from the Pacific Ocean, off Yaron-Jima Island. In this incident, the crew of the ship saw a very bright neon-blue object approach, looking only like a line of blue in the distance, but a disk when close. When directly overhead it appeared to have a thick red-colored ring surrounding a black center on its underside. The thing was quite large, perhaps one hundred feet in diameter.

I'm going to leave off at this point. I'll try to get another set up tomorrow or soon, with some further commentary. Until then, Happy Valentine's Day.


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