As I mentioned in my last post, Christopher Partridge writes the first chapter of the book he edited (UFO Religions). The introductory chapter is called “Understanding UFO Religions and Abduction Spiritualities.” Partridge begins by briefly overviewing “the emergence of contemporary ufology” (pp. 4-7), a discussion that traces the emergence of mass UFO sightings to 1947, with the famous Kenneth Arnold and Roswell cases. He then transitions to how post-1947 UFO sightings began to take on a distinctly religious interpretation — something that was not the case prior to that date.1 As Partridge notes, “The overall point is simply that, whilst there are claims to ‘contact’ with beings from other planets prior to the Arnold sighting, they are not the principal focus of such belief systems and UFOs per se are absent . . . [F]rom the perspective of religious and cultural studies. the systematic religious interpretation of UFOs (i.e., flying saucers) and alien beings and the emergence of specific UFO religions has followed the general rise of interest following the Arnold sighting.”2
Although not specifically a UFO Religion for Partridge, theosophy and its connections to UFOs are important. Indeed, the connections between the two are transparent. In order to process these connections, we first need a brief review of the basic history and tenets of theosophy.
According to one definition, “Theosophy is a doctrine of religious philosophy and metaphysics originating with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. In this context, theosophy holds that all religions are attempts by the ‘Spiritual Hierarchy’ to help humanity in evolving to greater perfection, and that each religion therefore has a portion of the truth.”3 The principal religious tenets of theosophy are as follows:4
1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.
2. To encourage the study of Aryan and other Scriptures, of the World’s religion and sciences, and to vindicate the importance of old Asiatic literature, namely Brahmanical, Buddhist, and Zoroastrian philosophies.
3. To investigate the hidden mysteries of Nature under every aspect possible, and the psychic and spiritual powers latent in man especially.
Blavatsky claimed that her theosophical teaching came from a long line of enlightened masters, including Jesus and Buddha, as well as “masters who dwelt on Venus and with whom she was in contact.”5 Blavatsky called these ascended masters from Venus “Lords of the Flame” and “Lord of the World.” These masters were:
“[L]iving persons who had fully evolved through many reincarnations, had acquired and become the custodians of ‘ancient wisdom,’ and now sought to impart that wisdom to humanity in order to lead it into a new age of peace, spirituality, and global community. The masters introduce new scientific ideas into the history of human thought, they warn of potentially harmful developments and catastrophes and ‘having themselves solved and mastered the problems of human living, they make a periodical effort to bring more enlightenment to mankind’. . . . The masters have ‘direct insight into the spiritual, psychic, and physical workings of our solar system,’ and communicate these insights through specially chosen intermediaries.”6
As Partridge notes, “Whilst there are some differences between the theosophical masters / mahatmas of wisdom (who were usually thought to reside in Tibet),7 and the early accounts of aliens, in actual fact the similarities between the two are striking and the differences fairly superficial.”8
Striking indeed. Anyone who has read more than half a dozen pages of contactee material can see the connections already (and we’ll get more specific). One wonders how Msgr. Balducci could have missed this kind of information. No … no occult connections to UFOs and alien contact here. Maybe he just doesn’t want to see the connections. After all, here’s what the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia has to say about theosophy (emphasis mine):
In of a Christian ethical phraseology, theosophy in reality is a form of pantheism, and denies a personal God and personal immortality. Its appeal to the spiritual in man, and its striving after union with the Divine are based upon a contradictory metaphysic, an imaginary psychology, a system of ethics which recognizes no free-will, but only the absolute necessity of Karma. No evidence or proof is given for its teaching except the simple statements of its leaders. The denial of a personal God nullifies its claim to be a spiritualistic philosophy. Judging it as presented by its own exponents, it appears to be a strange mixture of mysticism, charlatanism, and thaumaturgic pretension combined with an eager effort to express its teaching in words which reflect the atmosphere of Christian ethics and modern scientific truths.9
Yes, Msgr. Balducci would be in an ecclesiastical pickle if he knowingly affirmed UFO / alien contactee “theology” that aligns with theosophy. Playing ignorant, or remaining willfully ignorant, of these connections, allows Msgr. Balducci something very familiar to those who study ufology: plausible deniability.
- Partridge does mention Guy Ballard, who claimed in his 1934 book Unveiled Mysteries to have been in contact with twelve Venusians. These Venusians turn out to be modeled after H. P. Blavatsky’s “Lords of the Flame.” Partridge does not think the account and interpretation of Ballard constitutes a real UFO religion since the centerpiece of Ballard’s faith was theosophy, not UFOs. This allows him to argue that UFO Religions — where faith expression specifically revolve around UFOs and ETs — arose only after the Arnold and Roswell events. ↩
- Partridge, p. 8. Unless otherwise indicated, quotations in this post come from Partridge. ↩
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosophy ↩
- H. P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1889, p. 39; cited in Partridge, pp. 9-10. ↩
- J. G. Melton, “The Contactees: A Survey,” in James R. Lewis (ed.), The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995), 2-8. ↩
- T. H. Redfern, The Work and Worth of Mme. Blavatsky, London: Theosophical Publishing House, n.d. ↩
- This Tibetan connection is an important link between theosophy, ET ascended masters, and Nazi occultism. ↩
- Partridge, pp. 11-12 ↩
- Catholic Encyclopedia; http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14626a.htm. ↩