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Of Vampires & Rasputin

The Vampire is an ancient character, a theme as old as our oldest civilizations. It binds together many phenomena and factors: psychological, mystical, spiritual and political. We must never forget that our own tropes, memes and media themes relating to the Vampire identify this being with aristocracy and predation, slavery and psychological domination, wicked and sexual temptations. The Vampire of fiction is an excellent stand-in for the political elite both in our age and in earlier times, for the behavior of aristocrats is always perverse.
Vlad Tepes himself is the perfect exemplar of this predatory nobleman, but for the obvious fact that most of what we have been told about him is in the form of propaganda composed by the Catholic Church in order to prevent the Wallachian - and later Romanian - national hero from garnering too much support and sympathy. The Holy Mother does a fine job of criminalizing those she has helped to betray.
In such a cosmos it is a certainty that discarnate intelligences exist and that sometimes they predate upon us. This is a far better and more complete argument for the causes and processes of many things - like mental illness and unhappy chance - than any of our more mechanistic descriptions. We cannot do away with science - it is too essential - but in this grossly materialistic age we must check its excesses. There are a great many things we do not understand, and where out conventions fail, we are all too often tricked into denying what we know instinctively to be true.

A vast energetic confluence appears to be underway, and it's a good idea for people of the open-minded persuasion to pay careful heed to the ways of the spirit world. This aside, the possibility of physical vampirism is not to be so readily discarded.
We have many accounts of these creatures, but those who have read them tend to relegate such stuff to the realms of fiction and phantasm; these are fantasies of various types. They fall into the categories of religion, terror, sexuality and the desire for immortality among other motivations. There's just one problem with assuming that what we have not personally experienced is of necessity unreal. People experience psychic and paranormal phenomena - to say nothing of the UFO/Alien/Otherworld reports - on a daily basis. The case can easily be made that our world is far weirder than any skeptic or purely scientific thinker is comfortable admitting. This means that the Vampire is just as likely a thing as the lost specter haunting a churchyard or the hairy wildmen stalking our forests. We make choices with regard to belief, but these are not based upon reason. The choices are founded upon comfort, familiarity, and fear.

Consider what the Vampire is, and the possibility that a handful of them exist becomes clear. Despite the biological unlikelihood of a species of this sort, the fact remains that there are more things in Heaven and Earth than Horatio's philosophy could think to dream of. And whatever the case, if even one such mutation or visitor from beyond ever has or still does walk among us, its primary ecology is that of a predator; what's more, it's a predator that feeds on human beings.
This is the apex predator, capable of manipulating the minds and therefore the perceptions of people at will. Moreover, the most ancient depictions are of creatures that rise from the dead to feed upon the living. As we consider this an absurdity, most disregard the possibility. It has become the essence of legend and fiction, but for a few intriguing and well-executed departures. This fabricates the ideal camouflage for a predator; imagine the effectiveness of a man-eating tiger if no one believed that tigers were real. So too, we assume that such a creature would leave evidence of its kills. But the problem is that we assume such a thing to be outside of the social and cultural sphere, a lurker and a killer and little more. But if the more modern interpretation of the legend is taken into account, it is obvious that we would never know directly that Vampires are among us. They would hide certainly, but their concealment would be within the body of the species, appearing always to be a part of our societies. This is precisely how many horror writers have often imagined it, and the real terror is that this could quite easily be the truth.

Neither the Vicar nor anyone serious expects the reader to be completely persuaded that Vampires are real and walk among us. But we can all have a great deal more scary fun if we recognize that this possibility is not as far outside the range of our reality as we would like. Consider how many abandoned buildings there are in any fair-sized town, to say nothing of large cities. Consider too how many people go missing on a daily basis. As of January 2011, over 85,000 missing persons cases were on the books. There are ample places for setting up secret Vampire covens or dens, and a ready supply of blood is available to such a cadre in the form of people who go missing, never to be found.
The true issue is this: In such a world, a group of predators capable of feeding upon people - and actively doing so - could readily exist. They could be concealed from us even if their psychology and biology were significantly different from our own. The Vampire of oldest fiction - a rotting corpse seeking the blood of its closest family members - is just as capable of existing and being denied, ignored and rejected as any other uncomfortable truth. Remember that we live in a time when large populations utterly reject climate change, fossils, geology and astronomy. There are still people rabidly dedicated to the notion of a hollow earth filled with untold civilizations and denizens. Consider the Flat Earth Society and know that humanity is capable of astonishing denial whether in part or as a whole.

A more advanced and suave, sleek predatory species could be dwelling here in the guise of human beings and making a great game of our whole psychosocial parade. Note the recent and significant surge of interest in all things Vampire. The success of numerous films, books and television shows bears noisy and flashy evidence to the fact that people love this genre and its attendant themes. But the secret underbelly of the whole thing could be much worse. Cults and covens have formed as a result; some commit horrific crimes and their charges and sentences are a matter of public record. While these are the acts of the anti-social and misguided, they may be reflections of a deeper truth: Humanity has a predator that we barely acknowledge and fearfully transform into lustful entertainment.
If we accept some of the more modern interpretations we verge into a much more bizarre realm. At the apex of society there could easily exist a closely held community of blood drinking beings that appear as humans. If such creatures are actually or nearly immortal, the eldest among them would have long ago learned how to amass fortunes and wield financial and political power. What would stop them from hiding in plain sight and ruling over what would for them be in all respects a cattle ranch? Our religions would be brain-sick fantasies, our means of defending ourselves few and far between.

The most obvious rejoinder is clear: the reader has never seen or encountered even the rumors of such a thing in the real world. The Vicar would like to tell you the same, but in the Wizard business, one runs across all manner of unpleasant possibilities and not a few dark realities. The fact remains that while you or your social circle have not been fed upon, this does not mean the same is true for the tens of thousands of people who go missing world wide and are never found again. If a major municipal police department found a body tomorrow morning with tell-tale bite marks and thoroughly exsanguinated, then the debate would still rage. No one would accept that a Vampire was on the loose. It would be a murder attributed to people in the grip of a frantic fantasy, experiencing a psychotic break with reality. And if there were any sense amongst investigators that something unnatural was at work, you can be more certain that we the people would never, ever hear of it.
Italian "Vampire skull, with a brick shoved into the jaws to prevent nocturnal feedings.

Are they real? We cannot know this either way. In the absence of evidence, the tendency is to assume evidence of absence. This is generally a bad move when we recognize that our knowledge of reality is bounded by the senses, memory and direct experience. In terms of personal truth, only a handful of human beings actually know that there is a moon, and not just an image in the sky. They know this because they have been there. Being there is worth more than all the pictures and words in the world.
As to the strange capacity of the "fictional" Vampire to resist violence and execute superhuman feats, consider the weird death of a man totally verifiable as human...

Grigori Rasputin is definitely one of the Vicar's favorite sorcerers, albeit a wicked and weird bastard with a penchant for violating that most basic of the true practitioner's codes: restraint. Rasputin's excesses - political, spiritual, chemical and sexual - are the stuff of legend. His life was a rampage and his capacity to manipulate and control is perhaps not mythic at all. But it is in the manner of his dying that serious thinkers must come to wonder at the power of the occult.
Rasputin was every inch a peasant wizard, a man who's wanderings took him to Mt. Athos in Greece and Jerusalem. He did most of this on foot, purportedly. His hardiness cannot be doubted, but he was also evidently able to control hemophilia in the Tsarevich Alexis. It's worthy of note that Vampire blood and saliva are both attested in fiction and myth as having remarkable healing properties - specifically the staunching of blood flowing from wounds.

Rasputin appears to have had a significant capacity for healing; some of this resided in his psychological control over individuals and his ability to calm them. Calm people certainly deal better with ailments and injuries, and this increases chances of recovery. But this is also a form of magic, centered in the arcane arts because the tranquil mind can be focused upon changing the condition of the body. The Vicar has always been of two minds about Grigori, alongside most historians of record.

Rasputin's death is the important part of the story for our purposes, however. For a variety of reasons - not least because he had made himself obnoxious to the powerful - Prince Felix Yusupov and other members of the aristocracy resolved to murder him. This is where it gets weird, and worth re-reading even if you know the story. Rasputin was invited to the Yusupov palace to meet the Tsar's beautiful niece. When he arrived, Yusupov and his compatriots fed Rasputin poisoned wine and tea cakes. These, it is reported, the man ate without effect. The poison in question? Cyanide.
When Rasputin showed no signs of poisoning, Yusupov shot him. This had an immediate effect, but the man still did not die. Instead, he fled to the courtyard, where another of the conspirators shot him again. Even still, Rasputin is reported to have tried to scale a low wall with two bullets in him and a large amount of poison. In his weakened state, the men were then able to bind him and throw him into the frozen Neva River where he is thought to have finally expired. The legend states that when his body was found, his hands were forming a symbolic evil incantation to wreak vengeance on those who had slain him. And we shouldn't forget the weakness of Vampires where running water is concerned...

The Vicar wishes only to make a few points. First, Vampires are immune to poison and bullets in the mythos. So too, Rasputin. Vampires - usually male, but sometimes female (particularly where Susan Sarandon is concerned) - are said to be fond of young women, as was Rasputin. And they are thought to exercise frightening powers of will. So too, Rasputin. The upshot?

Sightings of Rasputin and encounters with him are still reported around the world.

Oh, and the Russian Museum of Erotica claims to have his penis on display. So if he is/was a Vampire, he's a dickless one.

The Vicar can't resist a bit of ribald humor from time to time.


Summoning a Corn Demon

Witnesses in the vicinity of a Southern Illinois town claim to have witnessed a bizarre ritual taking place in a field at 12:30 AM October 12, 2012. The town is of mixed European settlement, and has a bit of age to it - old even for the long-settled Mississippi valley. It is marked by houses built in the old and simpler - more organic, perhaps - municipal plan of the late 1880s through early 1900s. This is the sort of place troubled by less intense matters, or at least it appears to be upon cursory examination. But it is a sinister place by night, the old cemetery in particular. This is a place of curiosities and quaint ghost stories. A red lady is supposed to walk the upper stair of an insurance office that was once a small hotel. Lincoln is said to have visited the place. So too, Alexis d' Tocqueville. It is a place with a former Governor's residence, and it sports a significant university. It is also said to be haunted by escaped slaves who did not quite make it to freedom. In the vicinity, a massacre is said to have been carried out by American settlers against the indigenous inhabitants.

It has also been plagued since the late 1960s - so say locals and resident law enforcement professionals - by devil worship.

The Vicar is not one to put much store in tales of Satan-worship. All too often, these are the product of fevered fundamentalist imaginations, mistaking the weird late night romps of college kids for more significant rituals. Worse yet, it is not uncommon for the uneducated and uninitiated to conclude that a pagan ceremony is targeted upon contacting the Devil. Ignorance is bliss, except when it leads to witch hunts and bigoted agendas.

The ritual in question is however a disturbing one. If true, the event is said to have been connected to harvest and drought; the witnesses perhaps strayed too close for comfort. Kathy (a Nurse) and Maya (a CNA) are mother and daughter, and they reported to the Vicar that they had gone out in search of their dog Sasha, who frequently escapes from their yard to romp in nearby fields. These same fields have been ravaged by the country's most significant drought in 56 years (the mystical 11) and it perhaps should come as no surprise that a community so closely tied to farming for so long might harbor remnants of a harvest-centered cult. Rumors of this sort of thing run deep in the American consciousness, thought we rarely concern ourselves with such things in an age where most people think food comes from big-box grocery and retail outlets.

Careful research will lead the curious to the conclusion that produce actually grows in the ground, and it has to be carefully tended before considerable labor goes into harvest and transport. Farmers make up a tiny percentage of America's workforce these days, and the labor working those farms is often neither legal nor English-speaking. But the rhythm and rhyme of the wheeling seasons goes on apace.  We are no less bound to the land than were our distant ancestors.

The mother and daughter duo report that they discovered Sasha had squeezed out through the broken gate of their back yard sometime after 11:00 PM. This was not an odd occurrence, certainly, so they grabbed flashlights and set off in the direction she usually went.

"She usually runs off across Route 4," Kathy told our investigator, "so we just worry about her getting hit. But that late at night, there isn't much traffic."

"Across Route 4" in this case means that the dog goes from a quiet subdivision to a series of corn fields backed by dense stands of trees. This is typical Southern Illinois country, and those readers who have traveled the region will understand that by night, this can be scary territory. Kathy and Maya are used to chasing their dog under these circumstances, however.

The two women proceeded into the fields, where they soon found they could hear Sasha barking. These sounds led them about a mile into the corn field, near the edge of a stand of trees. The dog seemed to have continued into the woods, probably following the scent of other dogs or small game. "She's an English Setter - a hunting dog," Kathy said. "My ex-husband trained her."

The two women led our investigator into the trees for perhaps 500 yards to the point where a group of large, expensive homes are situated along what the women describe as a "private road".

"It's not really private, though," Maya stated. "It's more that nobody comes down here except the people who live back here. We don't really know these people. I think [redacted] the one lawyer with the office on Main Street owns one of the houses."

What drew the women into the area on the night of the 12th was the fact that a large bonfire could be seen burning in another, more secluded stand of trees to the east of the "private" neighborhood. Sasha was nowhere to be found by this point, and they could no longer hear her barking. But the women were motivated by something else.

Kathy told our investigator that they thought they could see people around the fire, and they wondered if someone - perhaps the rich folks living in the vicinity - were having a bonfire party. They concluded that Sasha may have been drawn to the people, and they could probably get away with a bit of trespassing if they were searching for the dog. They decide to walk the additional mile or so to the next clump of woods.

"That was not a bonfire party," the older woman informed our investigator. Both women are of a scientific mindset, the result in part of their professional training. Kathy has been a nurse at a local hospital for more than 11 years; before that she worked in medical offices as a receptionist and a CNA. Her daughter is following in her footsteps. "We go to church," Kathy said, "but I don't think either of us ever worry too much about the dark side of spirituality. I don't really buy a lot of the ghostly stuff and exorcisms and demons I really think are just silliness. I still do. But what we saw was a group of people who must feel differently."

The mother and daughter describe a lurid and weird scene, with around a dozen black-robed figures surrounding a fire in the midst of a small clearing in the copse. According to the women, these individuals wore white masks, largely featureless, and had their hoods drawn up. Maya remarked, "It reminded me of Eyes Wide Shut."

The group was apparently engaged in a fairly standard summoning ritual, as one individual brandished a ceremonial dagger and chanted phrases. When asked if they could recall what was said, both women indicated that a lot of it did not sound like English. The phrases that they did catch include, "Spirits of Earth and Sky" and "Dragon of Damuse".

Our investigator asked about pictures, assuming that both women had taken along cellular phones. In response, Kathy stated, "Oh, I thought about it for about ten seconds. But then we looked at each other and we were both like, 'not a good idea'. We pretty much turned and ran the other way."

Maya added, "This town gets weird around Halloween. I didn't think it would get that weird, but either way, I don't want to know any more about it. We both swore we wouldn't even discuss it but my mom ended up bringing it up to Dr. [redacted] at [redacted] University. And then there was that UFO out in Freeburg just the other day. We thought maybe it was connected."

An associate of the Vicar's at the local University made a referral, since biology departments do not accept the validity of occult rituals as a general rule. While the mother and daughter noted the use of the phrase, "Spirits of Earth and Sky," connecting the latter usage to the timely appearance of the UFO - not just in Freeburg, IL, but also seen in Hecker, Milstadt, Mascoutah, and as far south as Pickneyville - a different phrase caught our perhaps more esoterically trained ears. It is this single phrase that makes the whole episode worth investigating and reporting on, since it is unlikely to have been added if the experience was the result of running across weird revels in the night. It is equally unlikely that it would have been thrown into a fabricated account.
"Dragon of Damuse" is likely a misinterpretation of the phrase, "Dragon of Tammuz". The women claimed to have been in the trees, perhaps 30-50 yards from the ritual they briefly witnessed. The Dragon of Tammuz seems to be a reference to kin of the celestial dragon slain in Babylonian myth by Marduk. The serpentine monster, often called Tiamat, is in some occult sources the mother of a whole race of demonic entities. Some of these include harvest or planting oriented creatures and the use of the term Dragon of Tammuz almost clinches the connection. Tammuz was the Babylonian god of the harvest. His "dragon" could well be a simple way of identifying a serpent-like monster that hunts the corn fields - which would be a fair mythic rendering of the Midwest's recently surfaced Corn Demon. The creature described by some migrant witnesses is a serpentine being clearly related to Maya depictions of a similar entity. Investigations and reviews of relevant literature carried out by staff here at the Lamp in August and September yielded an interesting connection between harvest and planting sacrifice ceremonies in hundreds of early cultures, and the tendency even today for murderers to deposit bodies in cornfields and for individuals to go missing in the vicinity of the same. The conclusion: If any phenomenon has ancient roots, it's the notion that farm fields are inhabited, controlled or patrolled by spiritual entities with interesting tastes and appetites, including a need for human sacrifice.

On the heels of this report from Southern Illinois that a strange ritual occurred in the fields, a well-publicized news report was logged by of a mysterious light in the sky:

The upshot? It was a satellite, of course. These things always are, when they aren't a weather balloon or a secret US Air Force project...

Our dear friends at ATS spotted the same story from a different angle, here:

The obvious question is whether or not the ritual these women claim to have witnessed was a legitimate occult summoning. The idea that a group of people in a small Midwestern town might engage in occultism is neither surprising nor particularly scary; interest in this sort of entertainment goes back to ancient times and there is very little that has changed within human beings that we should expect the death of mysticism. If what they saw was a summoning, then it stands to reason that it runs a small percentage chance of being effective, since we have no idea as a species what it really means when our witch-doctors and wizards speak of "summoning a demon" or "contacting spirits". Literature abounds on the matter; it is always possible that the mystical means of summoning contact entities from off-world taken by our ancestors to be spiritual forces or divine beings.
This is a topic we have often visited and revisited here at the Lamp, sometimes to the delight - other times to the dread - of our readership. It remains an important point: In a nearly infinite reality, we cannot rule out possibilities of any kind, no matter how sharply Occam's Razor may cut. It's an uncomfortable, utterly statistical argument that skeptics cannot stand because it cannot be refuted, which makes it all the more potent.

If - and we are almost always dealing with big IFs in this business - the ritual was real, then the next question is obvious: Did the UFO manifest in response? And will a new Corn Demon sighting be forthcoming? Or has the damage already been done by the Corn Demon, and we are merely treading along in the wake of Tammuz's Dragon? This kind of activity may indicate that a group of unknown size and uncertain purpose has been controlling or attempting to control ancient occult forces linked to agriculture. On the surface, that seems absurd. But the power to cause drought is simultaneously profound and well-attested. Francisco Maria Guazzo collected thousands of these stories in the course of his career as a Papal investigator of the Malficarum. And he drew heavily on secondary sources, which often drew on secondary sources of their own. While few serious researchers will take ghost stories from the Middle Ages at face value, the sheer weight of human belief in these phenomena manifests a corpus of proof all its own.
What caused our long drought? What is causing climate change? Understanding meteorologic forces is fine, but the function of Science is not and has never been the establishment of Truth. Rather, Science deals in Fact and the Facts collected are not ever assumed to have instant and perfect linkages to other factors of a query. The whole point of Science is to describe the what and the how of things. Causes and larger questions of why a thing occurs are a separate issue, except for the unimaginative. Knowing how the Sun burns is not the same as knowing why it is where it is and what it thinks about the planets that circle it.

The essence of a materialistic time is the certain and dogmatic article of faith that there exists a division between the animate and inanimate. But this is not the basis of the Occult systems that underpin the magic of rulership. If one accepts the concept that the elites have among their number cadres of Occult practitioners, then it is almost a certainty that these belief systems are survivals and reinterpretations of the pagan mystery cults. As such, they are methods for ruling the remaining 99% of the earth's populace. These methods are both overt and covert; no one can doubt the power of monetary control coupled with the capacity for violence represented by military hardware, soldiers and police forces. But it is the covert mechanisms that rob free peoples of courage and integrity.
Kongzi taught that "Symbols rule the world, not rules and not laws." Mastery of symbols and their power is the core of real magic. Those who master the symbols rule the world, and may even influence the forces we think of as natural and timeless.

At the very least, someone may be trying to summon and control the power of an ancient and potent occult spirit with dominion over our fields and our food supply.

Or some nuts out in the boonies were having a weird good time.


What They Already Know

The Vicar has returned from a bit of extensive sight-seeing in the Midwest farmlands, so the readership of the Lamp can expect an update on a favorite subject around here very soon. Alas, not today. We are still crunching data and examining the motives of two witnesses... Not that this kind of analysis will matter much in the field of speculation. But more on that later.

While traveling, it occurred to our field team that a bit of discussion was in order with respect to an age-old question. To the ancients of many societies, it was a foregone conclusion that the Gods (here read aliens, in deference to Mr. Tsoukalos) knew whatever they wanted to of human affairs. There was little or nothing the Gods could not be aware of, particularly so when they wanted information. For the Greeks, there was Hermes always on hand to augment noble father Zeus' quasi-omniscience. And for the Norse, the All Father Odin knew the fates of men, provided he could gaze upon eternity with the eye-that-was-not. What Odin did not ferret out, Loki could be sure to. All that we notice - like any pack of good Jungians - is that the chief Gods of both pantheons was given the moniker, "Father" much like the God of the current monotheistic fads.

For more animistic belief systems, the notion has long held that the spirits which inhabit the world and give it form are self-aware. As such, they observe, and by observing, they record (and also influence). Thus the mountain knows the names and family histories of the men who have scaled it. The forest records the passage of many things, weather most immediately, and the impact of a thousand generations of humankind last of all. The seas know the cities they have claimed, and in the words of Heinlein's Valentine Michael Smith, they have "grokked" them thoroughly. Such is the attitude of nature toward our brief and passing dominion over the Earth. In this vein, Gaia herself can be said to know all things provided that we leave "all things" circumspect to that category of influences tending directly upon her. Gaia looks inward, as she must. Luna is another story entirely...

All of this brings us to a venerable and valuable question: What do the civilizations that doubtless inhabit our galaxy know of us? Because they must surely know a thing or two, and they must just as surely concern themselves with any developing civilizations in their neighborhood. This particular assertion is by no means an absolute, but philosophers and logicians who frequent the Lamp will notice that it is phrased as such; if it is not taken as an absolute, no discussion can occur. And we are probably not too far off the mark to suppose that what we mean by "advanced civilization" requires some measure of what we humans would recognize as curiosity. "Scientific" curiosity is too far an assumption; it is far from likely that the sciences of other species would match our own. Our own science doubts the feasibility of simple realities like interstellar travel and variable temporal transduction - equally fact and fiction in our curious preternatural sense of truth.

First, let us discuss what ought to be a theory of some merit already - civilizations will have developed more rapidly nearer the Galactic Core than the outer rim. The reasons for this are multiple, but our favorite reasons are metaphysical and therefore unlikely to convince skeptics, nay-sayers and those ostensibly scientific thinkers.

Observer effect is a matter for psychologists (as the Vicar well knows) but it also applies in other areas of intellectual endeavor. The fact that our mere attention impacts the quantum dynamics of our universe is a weighty one. It means of course that humanity is formed as much by its own drives and motivations as it is by the influence of outside observers who are quite surely present. There's a bizarre theory knocking around out there - more an hypothesis, really - stating that we might all exist in a computer model of the real universe, and thus we are somehow designed as part of a test of the course of history. We are matrix entities with no real volition and all the deceptions of free will are attached to keep us reasonably stable. If this is indeed the case, and the mechanisms described are in place, we can only hope the designers intended the levels of insanity our species appears capable of.

But we digress. To return to the point, a dead zone of some intensity exists around the Galactic Core, where lifeforms remotely recognizable to us simply cannot have evolved. Radiation levels are too intense, and the life cycle of stars is too random because of the constant threat of outside interference by various forms of cosmic action. Stars drift into one another, and objects swing through orbits where they had better not have swung. Further out, somewhere midway between the core and our own, lonely arm, there must be a kind of galactic "Goldilocks Zone" where the radiation is not so intense, stars have sufficient room to maneuver, and civilizations have the unique advantage of evolving within reasonable ranges of observation and contact. Mark this in your minds, friends, as analogous to the early fonts of civilization on Earth. The river valleys meant that people could travel, communicate, share ideas and goods, and group together for common defense. So too, the early civilizations of our "just right" circuit in the midst of the Galaxy.

How many civilizations have come and gone is a matter for extended debate. The life cycle of anything extra solar is impossible to judge when we know so little about the life cycles of things that are solar in nature. Humankind pretends a lot, and when it is not pretending, it lies outright. These are human traits essential to our continued survival as a species, since fear and ignorance motivate what is very worst in us. Doubters may consider how the Inquisition would look if it were predicated upon modern global politics. As a world traveler, the Vicar shudders at the prospect. Expanding the same idiotic craziness to matters cosmic is both tragic and comic, but the latter is only in play for intellects born somewhere off-world and several eons ago. To the mortal human, bound as he or she is to flesh, these are not laughing matters.

H.P. Lovecraft argued (his stories are more factual and educational than most realize) that the things of the "Outer Dark" are largely strange beyond our comprehension and usually at least accidentally predatory where little creatures like us are concerned. Perhaps, but he did not consider the counterbalance to such a proposition. Just as Earth has its share of unpleasant beasties, it also sports beauty and peaceful natures in considerable profusion. The Cosmos is not likely to be very different in this regard, though in expression the things from other solar systems will differ greatly from what we know. Details and minutiae aside, there are beings out in the farther reaches that know about us, have watched for some time, and hold varying opinions.

We may state these in terms of absolutes: There are other life forms in the universe, since the purpose of the Cosmos is in part to bring forth life. Some are infinitely more advanced, others moderately so, and not a few are what we would arrogantly term, primitive. There are mathematical arguments and precedents for the same, but they need not be mentioned since Drake has had no great success in convincing us of our limitations and fears. These discussions, so common at the Lamp, are not simply silly discourses on the unknown. We must think at the edges or else we will not proceed into the realms beyond the edges.

The "Great Old Ones" are what needs concern us most immediately. True, in cosmic politics and scientific/technological concerns, we greatly need to focus on locating the real-universe version of the Vulcans: A basically friendly race willing to help us become an interstellar species. But this is a thing almost absolute in terms of destiny. Given enough time and enough effort, such an ally will likely be found. They may even be looking for us as we speak. We can hope so, at least. But the greater and more ancient species are of the most importance, because they will have already seen us, smelled us - perhaps tasted us - and their influence is the most important element of all.

Consider this: We have begun to accept multidimensional realities in advance of anything Newtonian. If we can imagine, things billions of years beyond us can move within. A species capable of subtle quantum experimentation on simple primate creatures dwelling on a comparative later-comer to the family of habitable planets would likely not hesitate to make adjustments and develop programs designed to elicit specific outcomes. We exist in large measure, we might contend, simply because older, "higher" orders of life desire us to exist. As such, we owe some species out there a very great deal, but we cannot see the truth because we are too busy believing our own watered down and primitive versions of the same. The power of the "Ancient Aliens" theory lies by no means within itself. It cannot rest on any merits as yet, because we have no external examples of civilizations experiencing extra-planetary influence to be weighed alongside a control group of civilizations unaware of other life forms. The greatest thing going for this theory in our own time is perhaps one man's hair. But the underlying concept is akin to the Great Chain of Being: There are things above us, next to us and below us. We must be careful how we tread, lest we end by being tread upon.

What those aware of us already know cannot be measured; our own knowledge is beginning to wear thin its boundaries and limits. What we think we know is doubtless a heavier package than the real truths, and human experience suggests we are likely to accept the former while discarding and denying the later. But the knowledge of beings who have a billion years head start on us is a thing of wonder. We must consider the fact that the universe is STRANGE and that reality is a permeable layer. Some of our prophets have spoken for off-world entities, but they may no more be dwellers in star-ships than they are Gods in a thousand Heavens. We cannot assume they are evil anymore than we can assume they are good. We cannot assume they mean to make or remake or sustain us anymore than we can be certain that they mean to do us in.

We can only know that they are there. And this is the highest knowledge of all because it encourages the most essential of human qualities:



The UFO Game

Whoever is flying these UFOs is playing with us, and you can take that to the bank.
A decade into the modern era's experience of UFOs, it would have been logical to conclude that our little planet on the galactic edge was being scouted. Perhaps we were being slated for military or economic exploitation. Perhaps we were being considered for contact - inclusion in some kind of galactic United Planets. Perhaps we were being tasted, in order to determine whether or not we belonged on somebody's menu.

The only problem with all of that is the fact that these are assumptions.

Assumptions are trouble, but often in the field of speculative assessing (aka "paranormal research") we have only assumptions to work with. It's the nature of the game.

The other game that requires us to use our heads as hard and as fast as we can manage is the UFO game. Oddly enough, the idea that UFOs have been hidden by governments who secretly know the truth has fed into paranoia alongside rational fears about government authority. The fact that the USAF has long considered UFOs a convenient smokescreen for black projects hardly helps matters. In a world where the mainstream is heavily influenced by skeptical opinion, we are supposed to accept that every major scion of the Kennedy family who was in a position to be President (or was the President) has died. And we are expected to believe that those scenarios directly involving assassination were the work of lone madmen, rather than the result of political infighting between the great families of the Republic cum Empire. In such a world, it is easy too to believe that the government knows about UFOs and keeps the truth from the public.
The UFO game is a powerful tool, used by someone to manipulate public opinion and perhaps even to control popular will and the outcomes of policy decisions in ways unforeseen.
It has also served to undermine faith in religions and caused some to focus on the idea that all myths are based in alien encounters. It has brought about changes in human collective consciousness and altered the thinking of countless persons regarding the possibility - and the likely fact - that we are not alone in the universe. It has sparked debate and encouraged a widening of our notions and an expansion of our considerations.
The UFO game may mostly be a function of human agendas, but this does not ultimately account for the oddities and encounters that are simply too numerous to all be hoaxes, identification errors and/or misguided attempts at fame and fortune. The UFOs and their apparent occupants often behave oddly, and this is no surprise. After all, how does an alien think? What does an alien civilization look like, and how is it organized? What are the customs, traditions, sciences and religions of extraterrestrials? 
Take, for example, the notion that an alien civilization would engage in reconnaissance. This is a human concept, an outgrowth of an epoch of internecine war amongst varied factions of our species. It is a function of our terrain, our modes of organization and our philosophies of knowledge, exploration, discovery and the establishment of advantage. All of these things depend upon our humanity. It's just as likely that technological differences (readable - but not always definable - as superiority) would mean that all reconnaissance could be accomplished without ever placing a vessel in our skies. In fact, the more we consider what a future earth military might be capable of in 500 years, the less we can believe that we might even recognize an alien assessment of our world - much less catch them at it.

What if the alien species is something even science fiction hasn't imagined? What if they are based on a gas, rather than a solid element? What if they exist in ranges of temperature, pressure and volatility such that we would consider them more forces of nature than actual living creatures? What if the Ancient Aliens who are the basis for our Gods were nothing more than a kind of morality play, or else the prehistoric equivalent of an instructional video? What if the Bible is a form of highly advanced warfare? In this case, perhaps the technology deployed against us is the complex of laws, teachings, examples and prophecies - all of which serve to generate confusion, discord and chaos. If so, is this "cognitive weaponry" designed to cause a species to wipe itself out on a specified time scale, partially determined by random chance, natural forces and the fundamental need for an animal like us to develop independence and individual identity? As we throw off the yoke of such a faith system (in some quarters), we trigger reactionary events that bring about the End as We Know it.
This last proposition is one of the scariest, because it would mean that something akin to a Time Lord has been here - or is still here and always has been - and has manipulated us for nefarious purposes. It could well be that this is the simplest and simultaneously the highest form of warfare: Get your enemy to kill himself, without ever realizing that you were present and a threat in the first place.  

It would be very easy to start a global war of proportions previously unreached simply by making it seem that Jesus had returned in a way too obvious and profound for any atheist or unbeliever to challenge - and all of it broadcast on international live news feeds to radios, televisions and computer screens everywhere. And with highly advanced technology, the appearance of miracles would be indistinguishable from the real thing. The global Christian community would be instantly galvanized, and the fake alien Jesus could rely upon unthinking obedience from billions of people. What if he ordered genocide carried out against all unbelievers?
A host of "what if" style questions might lead us into the weeds, but they can also liberate us from our preconceptions and lift us out of the mire of theoretical muck. It is always an open possibility that our Science is only a new Dogmatism, and as such, it is insufficient to address the true nature of reality. This is an underlying tenet of Athena's Men, a guiding principle of our work here at the Vicar's Lamp, and an eternal, unresolvable proposition that irritates hard scientists to no end.

Irritating the scientists is one of our primary goals. Like Socrates before us, the importance of playing the gadfly to the horse of institutional and presumptive thinking is not lost.

If a cosmic warrior race descended upon us, would we be able to form a resistance? Humans - primarily Americans - have already developed shockingly effective forms of near-absolute mind control, without even resorting to brain implants and memory manipulation. Well, we haven't resorted to these things publicly and en masse, as yet. Given time, things will no doubt change. As we wrote in How Superman Will Destroy Democracy, the pendulum that swings between offense and defense throughout history and determines the degree of individual freedom via the limited range of human styles of government has swung again to the side of power. Authority will soon be unshakeable, and revolution will be virtually impossible.
A basic rule of open-mindedness is the recognition that skeptical responses are motivated by unease, fear and an unwillingness to accept human limitations. In truth, the whole of reality may be totally different from what we see as a species and even more differentiated on the individual level. It may be that nothing we perceive is true and valid. "Row, row, row your boat... " as the three primary Star Trek characters once sang around the campfire.

Is reality as we see it? Consider the case of the UFO that landed so it's occupants could briefly abduct a man and then pull out pieces of his hair. That strikes as a bit bizarre, but there again, the case was ultimately labelled a hoax. But there are two problems with the hoax moniker in any case and especially in these types: First, every case is a hoax in the minds of those who automatically discard the possibility of alien interaction with our world. Second, the concept of a hoax is typically tied to the capacity to find supporting evidence. In the absence of evidence, skeptics are quick in most cases to insist that the mundane has been disrupted more by imagination and a desire for profit or fame than by any abnormality. But absence of evidence has not ever been and in fact likely never will be evidence of absence. And when what is described as having happened is utterly weird, why should we be surprised if no evidence that we can recognize turns up?
Based upon Vallee's insights, we must consider the fact that many UFO and "alien" encounters actually just end up looking weird and making no sense. We read of aliens landing to offer bland pancakes to farmers, or diminutive aliens landing so they can march, single file and in shiny suits, to a well into which they promptly disappear. Three things are of significance in these kinds of events, but first, consider this:
The equation between the humanoids of the flying saucers and the elves of folklore has become something of a truism.

The similarities between the UFO phenomenon and the European, and even extra-European, fairy cult is strong, especially in the subtexts of sexuality, abduction, rape, and the substitution of otherworldly changelings for human babies.

That's not alone the essence of the argument made by Vallee and others, it's also the crux of the whole UFO issue. Why are there incidents throughout human history that neatly escape being fully verifiable while also often enough leaving tantalizing little bits of evidence to suggest that something happened, even if we have no idea what it was, exactly?

Something - or a group of Somethings - is playing with us. But there are many kinds of games, some leisurely and others dastardly. The precise nature of this game is yet to be determined. Only time and further revelations will tell.

In the UFO encounters that are super-weird, it was mentioned above that there are three things of significance. They are as follows.
  1. We can never know that what people are seeing is what it appears to be. We don't know that a ship is really a ship, the beings are really beings (as they appear or otherwise) and we don't know that how they interact with the environment isn't fundamentally a deception, be it intentional or the result of some mechanism casual or fundamental to whatever is causing the incident in the first place.
  2. We can never know that what we are taking to be technology of a sort we recognize is not a function of some other kind, be it "magical" or mystical, "psychic" or otherwise rooted in interface and interference with human cognition. We cannot know that a spaceship is not actually a wizard's abode or a fairy castle. To some extent, the variance in these concepts does not matter, since it is fundamentally of human origin and based entirely upon our own preconceptions. If the Gods were Ancient Aliens, it is important to remember that functionally, it makes absolutely no difference what we call them if their operation and behavior is godlike. We can only kneel, if that is the case.
  3. We cannot truly understand the point of these interactions. Are they lessons? Jokes? Rare glimpses into the lives of the true rulers of the earth? We cannot know if we are slated for destruction fifty or sixty times a day by civilizations sinister and vastly more advanced, only to be saved by an invisible alien super species who defend our world out of a sentimental attachment of the sort we make with our pets.
Indeed, as Porno for Pyros once mentioned, We'll Make Great Pets.

Or perhaps we already do.