Archive for June, 2015

The UFO Rabbit-Hole

June 20, 2015

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), begins with a description of Alice being jarred from the sleepiness of hum-drum living—not by a white rabbit, not even by a talking white rabbit, but by a talking white rabbit wearing a waistcoat and taking a watch out of its pocket. This beginning could not be more suitable for a tale of exogenous shock-transformative experience. Although categorized as fantasy, the story is well-recognized for its archetypal value. Actual life is truly a fantastic fool’s journey for every soul that enters the “earth-plane” of existence, and a fantastic life-transforming encounter—like Alice’s summer-day punch-in-the-paradigm—amounts to rebirth into a different world, perhaps a parallel reality. Rapidly and widely expanded perception has that effect, commonly referred to as having one’s mind blown; the frame around one’s former cozy paradigm bursts into Humpty-Dumpty-like pieces beyond reassembly.

“Burning with curiosity she ran across the field after it…” the original story continues, and Alice follows the time-aware rabbit down a wide and elaborate hole that seems bottomless. While still falling, Alice realizes that: “…after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs… Why I wouldn’t say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house.” Alice cannot imagine any future fall having remotely comparable shock value. Mind-blowing awakenings are extremely disorienting as they subject the experiencer to absolutely undeniable awareness of the reality of something that would formerly have been deemed wildly impossible. Some call it “initiation” into a world so new, so real, and so powerful that it practically erases one’s former self. Such is the nature of the much used, and often abused, “rabbit-hole” metaphor.

My purpose here is not so much to analyze Lewis Carroll’s work as to preface disclosure of a personal trigger-event that seemed incredible to me at the time and which is likely to be thought unbelievable by many people now. Yet it happened, and for more than half a century I have had more reasons to keep it a secret than speak about it publicly. I would be happy to take a lie-detector test, but those who are hardcore skeptics cannot be swayed by any proofs acceptable to reasonable minds. And that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to huddle inside a paradigmatic box of their own selection and keep the lid screwed on tight rather than embrace the limitless higher truth. Sometimes I envy their parochialism because once one’s cosmic eggshell has been broken there is no way to retreat back into a virginal space of opinionated ignorance.

What prompts me to make a controversial self-disclosure now? It is partly due to having reached a place in life where I am less concerned about being ridiculed than about doing what feels right and good. Besides, the world suffers an insufficiency of constructive candor. It is also partly due to recently finding a book given to my father when he was a child, a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and taking time to read it with awareness of the value found there by students of esotericism. Carroll, an Anglican deacon who abandoned his pursuit of the priesthood, had a deep interest in paranormal phenomena and is said to have owned a large collection of occult writings. But it is mainly due to Carroll’s description of Alice’s encounter with an impossibly human-like rabbit which, although fictional, runs an amazingly close parallel to a life-changing experience of mine—an encounter with an impossible device having “magical” performance abilities—that marked the beginning of a long strange trip into the world of “space-time transients,” or UFOs. Did Lewis Carroll have some similar experience?

It was July 29, 1964 and I had been sitting in the kitchen at my parents’ house in Hyde Park, New York, discussing Einstein’s Theory with my mother. I stepped out onto the back porch just in time to see something bizarre, ridiculous—impossible. Behind the house was a grassy field (in those days), and beyond that woods, a swamp, and an electric company power substation. From under a low tree limb at the nearest edge of the woods, a super-shiny silver object was emerging in front of me. As it entered the yard at that point about 100 feet away, it turned left (west), almost reversing direction, allowing me to see the entire side of this seamless, windowless, torpedo-shaped UFO bearing no identifying mark. Less than 20 feet long, it moved slowly, the speed of a person walking. Keeping close to the densely-packed tall trees that lined the south and west edges of the field, and staying near ground-level—producing no sound or exhaust—it turned right (due north) and moved towards the neighbor’s house, slowly increasing altitude to about 10 feet above the low grass. Too mesmerized to be afraid, burning with curiosity I ran across the field after it, in order to get a better look, and as it went behind the far side of the neighbor’s house I ran between the houses and out into the front yard, keeping my eyes on the vicinity of the object’s flight path.

After shouting to her the instant I saw it, my mother watched the silent torpedo through the kitchen window and ran out the front door to catch up with me and watch it enter the neighbor’s front yard. However, the object did not show itself, so after waiting a moment I walked to a point in the street where I could see the far side of the neighbor’s house, the area where we believed it must be hovering, hiding. Whatever piloted it, or controlled it remotely, had not expected it to be seen, or so we later surmised. But there was nothing there—as if it had vanished (and maybe it did). Looking into the clear blue sky of midday there was only a black dot far up and directly north. Somehow, we concluded, the object had left the area so fast that its departure had been invisible to the eye. Yet there had been no roar of an engine, no sonic boom, not even a rustling of leaves. Neither of us realized then that we had just fallen into a life-changing bottomless rabbit-hole filled with much more strangeness than we could have imagined at the time. Falling off the top of the house would have been a non-event by comparison.