UFO Mythologies: Extraterrestrial Cosmology and Intergalactic Eschatology

  • Daniel Wojcik University of Oregon, Eugene, USA
Keywords: UFO religion, mythology, eschatology, millennialism, nuclear apocalypse, ancient astronauts

Abstract

The initial flying saucer mythology that arose in the 1950s and 1960s is characterized by explicitly religious and mystical narratives that describe contact with extraterrestrial savior beings. These beliefs emerged in the Cold War era, in response to widespread fears of nuclear apocalypse. This essay traces the origins and development of the early UFO mythos, and presents case studies of several well-known UFO religious groups, analyzing the mythic aspects of their belief systems with particular focus on apocalyptic and millennialist scenarios.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Adamski, George. 1955. Inside the Space Ships. New York: Abelard-Schuman.

Angelucci, Orfeo Matthew. 1953. I Traveled in a Flying Saucer (as told to Paul M. Vest). Mystic Magazine (November): 52–68. Evanston: Palmer Publications.

Angelucci, Orfeo Matthew. 1955. The Secret of the Saucers. Amherst: Amherst Press.

Aubeck, Chris, and Martin Shough. 2015. Return to Magonia: Investigating UFOs in History. San Antonio, Charlottesville: Anomalist Books.

Balch, Robert W., and David Taylor. 2003. Heaven’s Gate: Implications for the Study of Commitment in New Religions. In Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions, ed. James R. Lewis, 211–238. Amherst: Prometheus Books.

Barkun, Michael. 2013 (2003). A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Besant, Annie, and C. W. Leadbeater. 1913. Man: Whence, How and Whither: A Record of Clairvoyant Investigations. Madras: Theosophical Publishing House.

Beckley, Timothy Green. 1980. Psychic and UFO Revelations in the Last Days. New Brunswick: Inner Light Publications.

Beckley, Timothy Green. 1992. Space Gods Speak: An Ashtar Command Book. Brunswick: Inner Light Publications.

Bethurum, Truman. 1954. Aboard a Flying Saucer: A True Account of a Factual Experience. Los Angeles: DeVorss & Co.

Bloecher, Ted. 1967. Report on the UFO Wave of 1947. Washington, D.C.: Self published by the author.

Bowman, Marion, and Ülo Valk, eds. 2012. Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief. New York, London: Routledge.

Boyer, Paul. 1985. By the Bomb’s Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age. New York: Pantheon Books.

Bullard, Thomas E. 1989. UFO Abduction Reports: The Supernatural Kidnap Narrative Returns in Technological Guise. Journal of American Folklore 102 (404): 147–70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/540677.

Bullard, Thomas E. 2010. The Myth and Mystery of UFOs. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Charroux, Robert. 1971 (1963). One Hundred Thousand Years of Man’s Unknown History. New York: Berkley Medallion Books.

Chryssides, George D. 2003. Scientific Creationism: A Study of the Raëlian Church. In UFO Religions, ed. Christopher Partridge, 45–61. London: Routledge.

Cohn, Norman. 1970. The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages. New York: Oxford University Press.

Colavito, Jason. 2005. The Cult of Alien Gods: H. P. Lovecraft and Extraterrestrial Pop Culture. Amherst: Prometheus Books.

Denzler, Brenda. 2001. The Lure of the Edge: Scientific Passions, Religious Beliefs, and the Pursuit of UFOs. Berkeley: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520930278.

Dione, R. L. 1973. God Drives a Flying Saucer. New York: Bantam.

Doty, William. 2000. Mythography: The Study of Myths and Rituals. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

Downing, Barry H. 1968. The Bible and Flying Saucers. New York: Avon Books.

Dundes, Alan, ed. 1984. Sacred Narratives: Readings in the Theory of Myth. Berkeley. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Ellwood, Robert S. 1995. Spiritualism and UFO Religion in New Zealand: The International Transmission of Modern Spiritual Movements. In The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, ed. James R. Lewis, 167–186. Albany: State University of New York.

Ellwood, Robert S. 2008. Myth: Key Concepts in Religion. London: Continuum.

Ellwood, Robert S., and Harry B. Partin. 1988. Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

Festinger, Leon, Henry W. Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. 1956. When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World. New York: Harper & Row. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/10030-000.

Flaherty, Robert Pearson. 1990. Flying Saucers and the New Angelology: Mythic Projection of the Cold War and the Convergence of Opposites. Dissertation. Los Angeles: University of California.

Flaherty, Robert Pearson. 2010. “These Are They”: ET-Human Hybridization and the New Daemonology. Nova Religio 14 (2): 84–105. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2010.14.2.84.

Flaherty, Robert Pearson. 2011. UFOs, ETs, and the Millennial Imagination. In The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism, ed. Catherine Wessinger, 587–610. London: Oxford University Press.

Fort, Charles Hoy. 1967 (1919). The Book of the Damned. New York: Ace Books.

Fort, Charles Hoy. 1974. The Complete Books of Charles Fort: The Book of the Damned. Lo! Wild Talents. New Lands. New York: Dover Publications.

Fry, Daniel W. 1954. The White Sands Incident. Los Angeles: New Age Publishing.

Gallagher, Eugene V. 2010. Extraterrestrial Exegesis: The Raëlian Movement as a Biblical Religion. Nova Religio 14 (2): 14–33. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2010.14.2.14.

Grünschloß, Andreas. 2004. Waiting for the ‘Big Beam’: UFO Religions and ‘Ufological’ Themes in New Religious Movements. In The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements, ed. James R. Lewis, 419–444. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Helland, Christopher. 2003. The Ashtar Command. In Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions, ed. James R. Lewis, 497–518. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Helland, Christopher. 2007. The Raëlian Creation Myth and the Art of Cloning: Reality or Rhetoric? In Alien Worlds: Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact, ed. Diana Tumminia, 275–290. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

Jung, Carl G. 1978 (1959). Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

King, George. 1961. You Are Responsible! London: The Aetherius Press.

King, George. 1996. Contacts with the Gods from Space: Pathway to the New Millennium (with Richard Lawrence). Hollywood: The Aetherius Society.

King, George. 2001 (1963). The Nine Freedoms. Los Angeles: The Aetherius Press.

Leslie, Desmond, and George Adamski. 1953. Flying Saucers Have Landed. New York: The British Book Centre.

Lewis, James R., ed. 1995. The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Lewis, James R., ed. 2003. Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions. Amherst: Prometheus Books.

Lifton, Robert Jay. 1987. The Future of Immortality and Other Essays for a Nuclear Age. New York: Basic Books.

Lifton, Robert Jay, and Richard Falk. 1982. Indefensible Weapons: The Political and Psychological Case against Nuclearism. New York: Basic Books.

Melton, J. Gordon. 1995. The Contactees: A Survey. In The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, ed. James R. Lewis, 1–13. Albany: State University of New York.

Melton, J. Gordon, and George M. Eberhart. 1995. The Flying Saucer Contactee Movement, 1950-1994. In The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, ed. James R. Lewis, 251–332. Albany: State University of New York.

Norman, Ernest L. 1956, 1960. The Infinite Concept of Cosmic Creation. Portland: Unarius United.

Palmer, Susan J. 2004. Aliens Adored: Raël’s UFO Religion. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Partridge, Christopher, ed. 2003a. UFO Religions. London: Routledge.

Partridge, Christopher. 2003b. Understanding UFO Religions and Abduction Spiritualities. In Christopher Partridge (ed.). UFO Religions. London: Routledge, 3–44.

Partridge, Christopher. 2005. The Re-Enchantment of the West: Alternative Spiritualities, Sacralization, Popular Culture, and Occulture: Vol. 2. London: T & T Clark International.

Pauwels, Louis, and Jacques Bergier. 1960. Le Matin des Magiciens. Paris: Gallimard.

Peebles, Curtis. 1994. Watch the Skies!: A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth. Washington, London: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Pócs, Éva, ed. 2012. Hiedelemszövegek [Belief narratives]. A Magyar Folklór Szövegvilága 1. Budapest: Balassi.

Povedák, István. 2019. The Future that Changed the Past: A Narrative-level Analysis of UFO Culture with Special Regard to Paleoastronautics behind the Iron Curtain. In Present and Past in the Study of Religion and Magic, eds. Agnes Hesz and Éva Pócs, 363–389. Budapest: Balassi Kiado.

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 1995. Vernacular Religion and the Search for a Method in Religious Folklife. Western Folklore 54 (1): 37–56. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1499910.

Raël (Claude Vorlihon). 1998. The True Face of God. N.P.: The Raëlian Foundation.

Raël (Claude Vorlihon). 2001. Yes to Human Cloning: Immortality Thanks to Science. London: Tagman Press.

Raël (Claude Vorlihon). 2005. Intelligent Design: Message from the Designers. N.P.: Nova Distribution.

Rothstein, Mikael. 2003. The Idea of the Past, the Reality of the Present, and the Construction of the Future: Millenarianism in the Aetherius Society. In Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions, ed. James R. Lewis, 143–156. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Saler, Benson, Charles A. Ziegler, and Charles B. Moore. 1997. UFO Crash at Roswell: The Genesis of a Modern Myth. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.

Saliba, John A. 1995. Religious Dimensions of UFO Phenomena. In The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, ed. James R. Lewis, 15–64. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Saliba, John A. 2003. The Earth Is a Dangerous Place: The Worldview of the Aetherius Society. In Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions, ed. James R. Lewis, 123–142. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Schellhorn, G. Cope. 1990. Extraterrestrials in Biblical Prophecy and the New Age Great Experiment. Madison: Horus House Press.

Scott-Elliot, William. 1904. The Lost Lemuria. London: Theosophical Publishing House.

Segal, Robert A. 1999. Theorizing About Myth. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Smith, Simon G. 2003. Opening a Channel to the Stars: The Origins and Development of the Aetherius Society. In UFO Religions, ed. Christopher Partridge, 84–102. London: Routledge.

Story, Ronald. 1976. The Space Gods Revealed: A Close Look at the Theories of Erich von Däniken. London: New English Library.

Talmon, Yonina. 1968. Millenarism. In International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences: Vol. 10. ed. David L. Sills, 349–362. New York: The Macmillan Company and The Free Press.

Thomas, Paul Brian. 2010. Bible Lessons with Raëël: On Religious Appropriation in ET-Inspired Religions. Nova Religio 14 (2): 6–13. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2010.14.2.6.

Thompson, Edward P. 1982. Beyond the Cold War: A New Approach to the Arms Race and Nuclear Annihilation. New York: Pantheon Books.

Thompson, Tok, and Gregory Schrempp. 2020. The Truth of Myth: World Mythology in Theory and Everyday Life. New York: Oxford University Press.

Tuella. 1993. Project World Evacuation. New Brunswick: Inner Light Publications.

Tumminia, Diana G. 2005. When Prophecy Never Fails: Myth and Reality in a Flying Saucer Group. New York: Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/0195176758.001.0001.

Tumminia, Diana G. (ed.). 2007. Alien Worlds: Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

Unarius Academy of Science. N.d. A Resume of Unarius. El Cajon: Unarius Academy of Science.

Vallee, Jacques. 1969. Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.

Vallee, Jacques, and Chris Aubeck. 2010. Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times, and Their Impact on Human Culture, History and Belief. New York: Tarcher, Penguin.

Erich, Von Däniken. 1969 (1968). Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past. New York: Berkley Publishing.

Erich, Von Däniken. 1977. According to the Evidence: My Proof of Man’s Extraterrestrial Origins. London: Souvenir Press.

Wallis, Roy. 1974. The Aetherius Society: A Case Study in the Formation of a Mystagogic Congregation. Sociological Review 22 (1): 27–44. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.1974.tb00240.x.

Weber, Max. 1963 (1922). The Sociology of Religion. Boston: Beacon Press.

Wessinger, Catherine. 2000. How the Millennium Comes Violently: From Jonestown to Heaven’s Gate. New York: Seven Bridges Press.

Wessinger, Catherine, ed. 2011a. Oxford Handbook of Millennialism. London: Oxford University Press.

Wessinger, Catherine. 2011b. Millennialism in Cross-Cultural Perspective. In The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism, ed. Catherine Wessinger, 3–24. London: Oxford University Press.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195301052.001.0001.

Whitmore, John. 1995. Religious Dimensions of the UFO Abduction Experience. In The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, ed. James R. Lewis, 65–84. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Williamson, George Hunt. 1959. Road in the Sky. London: Neville Spearman.

Wojcik, Daniel. 1997. The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America. New York: New York University Press.

Wojcik, Daniel. 2003. Apocalyptic and Millenarian Aspects of American UFOism. In UFO Religions, ed. Christopher Partridge, 274–300. London, New York: Routledge.

Wojcik, Daniel. 2011. Avertive Apocalypticism. In The Oxford Handbook of Millennalism, ed. Catherine Wessinger, 66–88. London: Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195301052.001.0001.

Wojcik, Daniel. 2022. Artist as Astronaut: The Otherworldly Art of Ionel Talpazan. London, Cambridge: Strange Attractor, MIT Press.

Zeller, Benjamin E. 2010. Prophets and Protons: New Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America. New York: New York University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18574/nyu/9780814797204.001.0001.

Zeller, Benjamin E. 2014. Heaven’s Gate: America’s UFO Religion. New York: New York University Press.

Ziegler, Charles A. 2003. UFOs, Religion, and the Statistics of Belief. In Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions, ed. James R. Lewis, 349–357. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Published
2022-01-03
How to Cite
1.
Wojcik D. UFO Mythologies: Extraterrestrial Cosmology and Intergalactic Eschatology . Traditiones [Internet]. 2022Jan.3 [cited 2022Jan.28];50(3):15–51. Available from: https://ojs.zrc-sazu.si/traditiones/article/view/10542