THE FLYING SAUCER VISION
The Flying Saucer Tradition
If the approaching changes which Jung predicted involve us in an entirely new experience and introduce new dimensions of philosophy, they must by their very nature be outside the present limits of our comprehension. Ideas of a totally different order from those in which we now deal, those for which there is yet no pattern or precedent within the terrestrial limit are inexpressible in terms of language and therefore unattainable. Language can only apply within our historical experience. Pole in his commentary on Wittgenstein says, ‘Our attitudes are embodied in our language and expressed in its grammar. Together they define the limits of discourse – limits beyond which we can not pass.’ From this we can see the impossibility of obtaining an answer where we lack the language in which to frame the question. Conversely all problems of which we are aware have attainable solutions.(Socrates: Then he who does not know still has true notions of that which he does not know. Memo: he has). New concepts can only be realised by an expansion of language, and this expansion must result from some totally new order of experience.
Although every form of human development is limited to that which can conceive of attaining, there is no reason to doubt that our potential is capable of a sudden, marked expansion. For untold thousands of years, from the first appearance of the human race to the time when the first steps were taken towards a civilisation. men, the same as we are today, lived in a state of nature unable to imagine any possible change in their condition. Suddenly something happened, something which created such a violent shock that the trauma has remained with the human mind ever since. The event shifted the fulcrum of human intellect; it opened a vision whose existence had not only never been suspected, but could never have had any conceivable meaning had the event which exposed it not taken place.
Whatever caused this first great revolution was something hitherto extrinsic to the human mind. For uncounted ages men had lived on earth, experiencing all the adventures which a purely terrestrial existence could provide. Yet nothing had happened, no sequence of events had taken place which had caused the slight shift in vision necessary to the conception of civilisation. It is hard to believe that after all the ages of men’s existence on earth some spontaneous reaction could have occurred, deriving solely from influences within the terrestrial limit, influences which must have been active throughout the whole of human experience, whereby men suddenly became aware of the possibility of creating a society. Far more acceptable is the open message of comparative mythology.
In this we have an unambiguous account of the first days or civilisation. The earliest myths describe the arrival on earth of an extra-terrestrial race, who, by their example altered the whole course of human history. Whoever these people were, their level of culture was so far outside men’s comprehension at that time, that their sudden confrontation with the extraterrestrials led to a revolutionary change in the whole pattern of human existence. This is the literal message of mythology, the only interpretation which resolves the many problems which it raises. Once we can accept the, at first sight, fantastic idea that our present culture is an inheritance front a former visit of people from space, a great deal of what is now obscure becomes clear. Besides providing the key by which we can interpret the myths and legends which form our early history and understand the meaning of certain symbols, petroglyphs and monuments of antiquity, the realisation that at some time in the past an extra terrestrial race his appeared on earth helps us understand something of the significance which the recent flying saucer manifestations will have for us in the future. The age we are now entering is in many ways similar to that which preceded the first arrival of the alien race, the gods. A study of that former time may therefore enable us to see the possible consequences of a confrontation with extra-terrestrial life in the future
The time of our first enlightenment, the introduction of civilisation by the gods from space, may seem to be so remote that we have little chance of learning anything about it. But in fact the tradition of what happened at that time has remained strong up to the present day in the various myths and legends common to all parts of the world. The evidence of mythology provides a general account of the days when the gods were known on earth. At first it seems, their coming caused misery and chaos. Men became aware of things which before had been entirely inconceivable. From their primal state of innocence they became committed to the task of developing their newly realised potential to the full. Nothing was the same, there was no more certainty. In place of the old system which had once seemed to be an integral part of human existence, there now stretched an apparently endless prospect of continual progress with all the responsibilities and competition which it involved. Not unnaturally men looked back to the former times with a hopeless yearning for the golden age now irretrievably lost. For the minds which had been opened by the vision of the gods could never again be contracted.
In the period immediately preceding, the arrival of the gods, men became aware of certain peculiar signs and portents in the sky. Fiery circles were seen by night, and by day flying discs passed overhead. The meaning of these phenomena was revealed when the objects came down to earth and were seen to be airships of a strange, unimaginably advanced race of people. Ever since that time men have been obsessed by the image of the circular flying vehicle and the god from space. The two figures are frequently shown together in the earliest illustrations to the legends of the gods’ first arrival, which describe the divine race as descending to earth inside the flying disc.
The oldest and most powerful symbol of the Deity is that of a figure inside a wheel. This form was later conventionalised as the cross within the circle, examples of which are the Celtic cross, the cruciform church placed within the pre-Christian circular churchyard and the gold crossbearing discs of prehistoric Wessex burials. Another, purer form is that of the Lycian symbol, the three legs within the wheel which in the Isle of Man, where it appears on an ancient pillar cross, is said to represent Manannmann the giant god of the island who ‘rolled on three legs like a wheel through the mist’. The swastika is similarly a corrupt symbol of the god within the spinning disc.
The earlier the inscription the more explicit is the figure of the god within the circular airship. On prehistoric Assyrian cylinders appears the figure of a man, presumably one of the divine race, descending to earth inside a disc, and the god Assur is shown in this way, upright against a wheel in the sky or issuing from it. In his hand he holds the gods’ weapon, the flamethrower or thunderbolt. Early rock inscriptions show the god, Ahura Mazda, riding through the sky inside a circular vehicle or, in stylised form, as part of it. Indian gods are frequently depicted flying within an aerial disc. Vishnu, like Assur, spins through the sky in a wheel, launching thunderbolts to earth, and many other Indian deities, including the monkey god, Hanuman, have this striking association with the disc in the sky. Sometimes the god is shown running inside the rim of the wheel, a form which seems designed to indicate its spinning motion. The same conventional image of the sky god inside a spinning disc is found in many parts of the East and in Europe, appearing as the spokes of the divination wheel, or as the figure rising from the dome of Tibetan Buddhist temples.
Even though little research has yet been done on the question of possible visits to earth by extra-terrestrial life in the past, it is still surprising that the recurring image of the flying saucer in connection with the gods of antiquity has been so little remarked. The reason is partly because of the strength of the nineteenth century belief that the disc in the sky is always a symbol for the sup or moon. It is true that a cult for these and other heavenly bodies did later arise to complement or supplant the original worship of the actual gods. But the primary object of veneration was not the solar disc itself, but the god who rode it through the sky. The conception of the ‘man in the moon’ is extremely old and was once of real significance. It was only after the gods withdrew from earth that their cult, already transferred to the discs in which they travelled, became attached to the visible heavenly bodies. In Mexico and Egypt the gods only became associated with the sun after their time on earth was over. Re, the supreme god of Egypt, became the sun-god after he had left earth with the goddess Nut, who bore him up on her back in her form of a cow. Before that his vehicle, the ‘eye of Re’, had been the winged disc, the fearsome circle of fire which almost destroyed the rebellious human race. Like the disc of Vishnu from which thunderbolts were launched to earth, the winged disc was both a vehicle and an instrument of war and had no original connection with the solar circle/ It was only when open knowledge of the gods’ flying discs was lost that their legend was transferred to the visible heavenly bodies.
In a search for all association between the ancient figure of the circle, mandala or flying disc and that of the flying saucer the vital clue is to be found in the legends of the dragon. This creature, together with its homologues, the serpent, lizard, crocodile, eel, worm, flying dog and other such monsters, stands in the mythological and poetic languages for the fiery disc in the sky. G. Elliot Smith in The Evolution of the Dragon lists the dragon’s characteristics. It lives on the tops of mountains; it is associated with lakes, wells and pits in the earth; it guards valuable treasure and imparts knowledge to men; from it issue thunder and lightning; its light illuminates the earth by night. All these qualities link the dragon with the flying saucer. A Chinese legend quoted by D. Mackenzie in Myths of Pre-Columbian America further illustrates their association:
‘When dark clouds covered the sky everywhere at night, a noise of thunder was heard in the north…
This was what people call a descent of the celestial dog.
It has a shape of a large moving star, and produces a noise.
When it descends and reaches the earth, it resembles a dog.
Whatever it falls upon becomes a flaming fire… it looks like a fiery light, like flames flaming up to heaven…
Thunder resounded in the north-west in a cloudless sky, and this was called a descent of the celestial dog…
The celestial dogs live on the tops of high mountains….
Their colour resembles that of the dragon.’
The use of the dragon image to describe mysterious flying objects persisted until recent times. One of the latest accounts was that of Prefect Scherer who in 1619 saw what he called a fiery dragon fly over a lake from a cave on Mount Pilatus in Switzerland. Even later, though more ambiguous, was the dragon of St Leonard’s Forest in Sussex whose last appearance was during the nineteenth century. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that in a comparison of old and new legends the figures of the dragon and the flying saucer are invariably interchangeable.
The discovery that flying saucers, the fiery discs in the sky, were reported in the past as dragons or winged serpents reveals the significance of a great deal of previously obscure mythology and folklore in which these creatures figure. The extraordinarily vivid English dragon-killing legends, some of which are given in the last chapter of this book, and all those myths where the serpent is described as the airship of the gods, the vessel from which all human benefits derive, can be seen as symbolic accounts of the early dealings between the gods and men.
The origin of the identification of the serpent with the flying saucer is to be found in the snake’s characteristic habit of coiling into a circle or spiral. Irish folklore says that snakes travel long distances by putting their tails in their mouths and bowling along like a hoop. In this form they flew from the top of Croagh Patrick, the sacred mountain, when expelled by St. Patrick, a legend later adapted to symbolise the suppression by the Christian Church of the old worship of flying gods A memorial to this former religion can be seen in the beautiful spiral and circular motifs carved on the stones of New Grange in County Meath which together with the other great artificial hills of the neighbourhood formed a centre for the worship of the spinning discs in the sky.
One of the most explicit myths of the serpent as the airship of the gods occur among the Ainus, the aborigines of Japan. The goddess of fire, whose special responsibility was the earth, came down to help men. The heavenly serpent loved the goddess and offered to fly her down to the earth. He coiled into a spiral and descended with the goddess inside the circle of his body. Other serpents followed him coming down in the same way in the form of circles. They fell to earth so heavily that they have made depressions in the ground. These pits ,are still pointed out by the Ainu, who hold them in great reverence as the spots where the gods first arrived. This interesting legend has -a connection with recent events and the development of a similar belief in England. In the summer of 1963 an object in the sky was seen during the night by a man living near Charlton in Wiltshire The next morning a farmer of that village discovered a circular depression in his field of barley. The top soil and the growing crop within the circle had disappeared. An army investigation failed to solve the mystery of the sudden appearance of the pit which many people believe to have been caused by the landing of an object from the sky. In the same year similar pits were discovered at Flamborough Head, Dufton Fell in Westmorland and in a park in Southampton; others are said to have occurred in Ireland.
Further evidence of the identification of the serpent with the gods’ sky vehicle can be found in early myths. There is hardly any mythological account of flight where the serpent does not appear, carrying or accompanying the flying god. The Egyptian winged disc, the ‘eye of Re’, has two fire-spitting uraes – serpents – one on each side. Of the Greek deities, Athene travelled to face the judgment of Paris in an aerial chariot drawn by two serpents; Kirke was carried from Kolchis in a similar vehicle, a team of winged serpents pulling it through the air; Aphrodite, impersonating Kirke, returned in the same chariot, and this same legend was also told of Medea. Later, Aphrodite made a flying wheel, binding to it an inyx or wryneck, a bird closely associated with the serpent because of its habit of hissing and twisting its neck. A number of paintings showing this wheel appear on Greek vases. Along the rim is a row of dots like the so-called portholes which feature in many flying saucer reports. The same dots are associated with the dragon or celestial dog of China, and with the dragon of British legend.
Fig. 1 The Egyptian winged disc
Another figure from Greek mythology who flew in a serpent chariot was Triptolemos, the god who first introduced wheat to earth. This early recognition of wheat as an alien plant is remarkable, since its origin has always been a mystery. There is no native plant anywhere on earth from which cultivated wheat appears to have descended. In this case it is hard to dismiss the idea that it was a gift to men, brought in to aid the development of human civilisation. The same story is told in Mexico of the god Quetzalcoatl (the feathered snake). Besides teaching man the arts of civilisation, the use of silver and masonry and the application of paint and decoration, Quetzalcoatl introduced the cultivation of corn. His vehicle, like that of Triptolemos, was a raft made of serpents. ln a similar Polynesian legend the coconut plant first appeared from the head of an eel, a creature with the same legendary attributes as the serpent.
Gould in Curious Myths of the Middle Ages quotes an Icelandic saga in which the serpent plays much the same part as does the flying saucer in the books of the visionary American space travellers of the 1950’s. Two young men, one Norwegian and one Danish, both called Eirek, set off on a long journey in search of Paradise. They passed through India and entered a gloomy forest emerging on a strange shore where they saw the beginning of a bridge. Guarding the bridge was a great serpent. The Danish Eirek declined to advance any further, but the Norwegian walked right into the serpent’s mouth and shortly afterwards found himself transported into the land of Paradise.
It proved to be a country as beautiful as that described by later visitors such as the American writers Adamski and Angelucci, and in no way dissimilar. One remarkable feature was a sort of tower hovering in the air a short distance above the ground and entered only by a thin ladder. Eirek climbed into the tower where he found food and enjoyed a refreshing sleep In his dreams an angel appeared to him and told him that he would be taken back to earth, but that after ten years he would once more be received into Paradise. He was then transported by the serpent back to the where he had left earth and after ten years in his own country ascended bodily to Paradise.
The clear identification of the serpent in this story with the modern concept of the flying saucer can be extended to cover almost every appearance of the serpent or dragon in mythology. Later by a natural development the serpent, the vehicle of the gods, came to stand for the gods themselves. This explains those myths which describe the serpent as the first introducer of the various forms of knowledge on which human civilisation is based. The most important of these, according to Levi-Strauss the crucial step in the development of society, is the use and control of fire. All over the world there are legends that it was the serpent who first instructed men in this art. J. Meier in Myths and Sagas of the Admiralty Islands repeats the local story of how a woman took a serpent husband and by him had two children, a boy and a girl. The serpent then put away his wife and looked after the children himself. One day the serpent sent the children to catch some fish. When they came back with the fish he told them to cook it. ‘We can not, do so,’ they said, ‘for the sun is not up.’ When the sun rose it warmed the fish, but they still had to eat it raw. ‘You are just ghosts,’ said the serpent. ‘Crawl into my belly and bring out the fire you will find there.’ The serpent opened his mouth and the boy crawled inside. He came out with fire and the serpent showed the children its use in cooking their food.
Many races, including the Polynesians, Andaman Islanders, Australians and Maoris, have a tradition that fire was originally stolen from the gods. In Greek mythology it was Prometheus who first brought fire to men. In historical terms Prometheus was either a member of the hybrid race, half man half god, or he was one of the renegade gods, those born on earth, who had more sympathy with men than with their own race. Early in his career Prometheus had tricked Zeus into the more unattractive share of a feast by dressing it up to look the better. For this the supreme god had with-held from men the gift of fire. Prometheus stole it, that is he instructed men in its use in the same way as he introduced other knowledge for the development of civilisation, an action for which he received a terrible punishment. This important myth describes how the seeds were sown for the later conflicts between men and the gods.
All the myths such as these illustrate the antiquity of the belief that civilisation did not begin spontaneously on earth but was at one time introduced to men by an alien race. It was these people who were later remembered in the symbol of their airships, the serpent. As Bonwick says in Irish Druids and the Old Irish Religion ‘The serpent is certainly the token or symbol of an ancient race celebrated for wisdom’. The serpent was said to be responsible for the introduction of all the arts of civilisation, and to be the source of all wisdom. Knowledge of healing was first revealed by the serpent, and sacred snakes were kept in the temples of Aesculapius, the god of medicine, whose staff the serpent entwines. The Greeks and Romans believed that serpents uttered profound secrets in oracular form. Later German folklore included the belief that to eat a white serpent led to the acquisition of knowledge and power, and whoever ate the dragon’s heart came to know all the secrets of the universe, the property of the gods.
Together with the tradition that the serpent revealed to men the path to civilisation there are other legends in which the serpent jealousy guards his secrets, to obtain which he must be beguiled or killed. These reflect the second stage in the relationship between the gods and men, the period of disenchantment, when men, awakened to the opportunities which the coming of the gods had brought them, began to covet all the possessions of the gods, to which they seemed to owe their superiority. The desire to own the instruments of the gods led men several times to the brink of extinction, for whenever they came to acquire, by theft or imitation those secrets which were far in advance of their own basic culture, they used them destructively to the danger of both men and gods. It was this which caused the friction between the two races which only ended with the gods’ departure from earth.
They left behind them the legend of their wisdom and immortality, which was henceforth the the object of men’s yearning and quest. The men who had enjoyed close contact with the departed race, the heroes and demi-gods of mythology, devoted their lives to seeking out their former benefactors. They were looking for a return of the gods’ flying discs, and the story of what they hoped to achieve is told in the legends of the killing of the dragon and the vision of the Grail. The Holy Grail, as it became in later Christian legend, was the vessel which men believed could give them all the secrets and powers of the gods, youth, love, knowledge and the ability to understand all that was then obscure. The lives of the heroes were devoted to a ceaseless hunt for this treasure. To obtain it, it was necessary to face the dragon who encircled it, to break into the flying disc and plunder its contents. This feat was performed by Peredur who, in a story from The Mabinogion killed a great serpent and captured the ring on which it lay coiled. In the same way Hercules succeeded in capturing the inspiring apples of the Hesperides after he had killed their guardian, the serpent Laden. The apple is commonly used to symbolise Ambrosia, represented as the food of the gods, through which men can achieve the expansion of the consciousness necessary for a vision of a higher way of life. There seems to he an archetypal belief that the apple can show men the way to a god-like state of wisdom and immortality. Voltaire’s story of the discovery by Newton of gravity makes the apple the instrument of his enlightenment. In Avalon, the enchanted island where men stayed young for ever, apple trees grew in profusion. It is said that a crab-apple was found in America which can induce hallucinations similar to those from psychedelic drugs. If this is so, the controlled eating of apples may have been a former mystic practice, designed like the modern use of the hallucinative mushroom to give men an insight into another world. This would explain the belief that the apple was the fruit of the Garden of Eden through which knowledge came, and the use of the apple to symbolise the secret of immortality which Hercules stole front the serpent, Ladon.
The serpent and the flying saucer occur together and have an identical character in the story quoted by Donald Mackenzie in Indian Myth and Legend. The food of immortality, ambrosia or amrita, was coveted by men, but guarded by the flying disc of Vishnu, which destroyed all who sought to steal the cup containing it. Garuda, in this case like Prometheus a renegade god, set out to steal the amrita. It was kept on a high mountain, surrounded by a ring of flames and guarded by two serpents and a fiercely revolving disc, sharp-edged and brilliant. Garuda quenched the flames, killed the serpents and destroyed the disc. He then flew with the cup of amrita to the demons who had sent him on his mission, but before they could drink it Indra snatched the cup up to heaven, and the demons were left desperately licking the spot on the ground where it had rested. In this is apparent the widely held belief that just one minute drop of the contents of the tragic cup will give a man immortality and a knowledge of all the secrets of the gods.
In the period which followed the first appearance of the gods, the serpent, representing their circular airships, became the object of a messianic cult something like the cargo cult of the South Pacific. In the modern version of this movement its followers, primitive natives of the New Guinea area, are impressed by the riches which, they see, belong entirely to the white men. Such possessions, tinned food, clothes, radios and the like are so miraculous that they must have been sent by the gods, destined for the natives but stolen by the Europeans. Cargoes of the coveted goods are known to arrive in aeroplanes and the natives come to believe that, if they can be intercepted, the benefits will come to them, to whom they rightfully belong. They therefore imitate the ways of the white men, erecting sticks like radio masts and clearing landing strips in the jungle. Magic rites are performed, all the cattle slaughtered and a feast prepared to welcome the expected cargo. When this fails to arrive and the cult dies, the natives are faced with starvation, having used up all their resources in the celebrations. The effect on primeval man of their first confrontation with the advanced beings from the sky must have been very like that which the sudden appearance of European civilisation had on the New Guinea natives. The shining dragon-disc was the object of the same desires as today are directed by the primitive people of New Guinea towards the aeroplane. The film Mondo Cane showed some of these natives building a fantastic model aeroplane on a huge scale in the hope that it would act as a decoy and attract the aeroplanes flying overhead. In the same way primitive men thousands of years ago, knowing the wealth to be found inside the sky discs, built circular mounds and arrangements of stones, whose form was visible only from the air. According to Mexican legends these circular shapes were only erected after the coming of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, in other words it was the appearance of flying discs in the sky that inspired them. These cargo cult monuments including the most famous of all, Stonehenge, the perfect flying saucer model, survive all over the world and their shape, that of the sacred circle, persisted well into Christian times long after its original meaning had been lost.
The legends of dragons as the guardians of fabulous treasure are a product of the times when men believed the discs in the sky to be the source of the gods’ wealth. The wrath of the dragon when its treasure was stolen, as in the saga of Beowulf, is like that of Zeus when Prometheus stole fire for the benefit of men. In the former case, the dragon laid waste the country with his fiery breath, and so fierce was the destruction that the stone walls of Beowulf’s fortress melted and fused together in a way reminiscent of the vitrified towers of Scotland, those mysterious monuments whose stones appear to have melted and run together as if a fierce blast of heat had been turned on to them from an object hovering directly overhead. Beowulf went out to meet the dragon, but its heat was so intense that only his iron shield saved him from being burnt. Another hero who joined him in the battle found his wooden shield useless and had to fight behind the shelter of Beowulf’s. Together they wounded the dragon so that its fire abated and they were able to kill it. Beowulf later died from his injuries. The victory of the two men armed with a metal shield and swords may indicate that their enemy did not rely on this material. It is not inconceivable that the superior race had no practical use for metal. They were evidently a people who had mastered many of the natural laws that enabled them to travel through space and control the elements, but it is possible that metal had no place in their technology. It is hard for us to imagine space flight in a craft made of non-metallic material, but for anything other than short trips to our neighbouring planets a metal rocket, such as is now used, would be useless. For real space travel outside our solar system an entirely new concept, bearing no relation to our present means of propulsion, would be necessary. It is quite possible that a form of life which had solved the problems of journeying through space would have no interest in the human obsession with warfare, and, apart front the use of fire to deal with the attacks of men, would have no defence against quite simple weapons like metal swords. It may have happened that when men began to apply their newly acquired knowledge to their warlike purposes, they were able to defeat a people immeasurably superior in every way but that of making war. It was when the gods saw how powerless they were to prevent their secrets from falling into the hands of men, and realised how inevitably they would be used to spread destruction and greed, they decided to withdraw from earth.
Although in the course of time the treasure which the dragon guarded came to be thought of in terms of material wealth, gold and silver and jewels, the original object of men’s desire was the food of the gods, the elixir of life. But the best known of all the dragon’s treasures is the beautiful woman, rescued from her guardian by a human hero. There are two possible interpretations of this story, both of which may be correct in different circumstances. Either the heroine was a woman of the alien race, the ‘swan maiden’ or bride from the sky, referred to in another chapter, or she was a woman from earth, abducted by the gods in their need for human specimens. The Cretan minotaur was a figure, like the dragon, standing for the people from the sky. The labyrinth in which it lived, is a most significant figure of great complication, but in general it seems, like the spiral, to represent the spinning sky vehicle and to indicate the difficulties in the task of penetrating its mysteries. In this it is associated with the revolving glass towers of Celtic mythology, built by the gods on small islands. On the island of Crete, as on many others, the gods had made their home. It was here that the human specimens, perfect young men and women, were taken as sacrifice. This was done year by year until Theseus attacked and defeated the alien race, and released their captives. The stories of Perseus and Andromeda and of Tristan and Isolde are among many others which refer either to the capture of a woman of the alien race by a native of earth or to the release of a human captive taken by the extra-terrestrials.
With the departure of the gods, dragons were no longer familiar objects on earth, but their memory was still kept alive by their intermittent reappearances. There is hardly any period of history which has not left the sort of records now called flying saucer reports. Sometimes the objects in the sky are described in the old form, such as the flying dragons which in 713 AD terrified the people of Northumbria. Later historical accounts tell of aerial globes, discs and moving lights. Desmond Leslie, one of the first to research on the subject, produced a list which gave twelve examples of such apparitions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and included the huge flaming things seen over Worcester in 1661, the vast balls of fire which moved slowly over Edinburgh in 1750, the bright glows which appeared over Portugal in 1755 and over Switzerland six years later and the lightning balls and other flying objects which were seen in Basle, the incident later quoted by C. G. Jung. Similar descriptions occur in the works of earlier writers. Livy and Julius Obsequens give instances of strange moving lights and other objects over Italy reaching a climax in 218 BC when a flying shield was seen over Arpi, followed by reports of two moons in the sky, luminous flying ships, shining globes over Praeneste and strangers in white clothing appearing on earth. Perhaps most remarkable of all is the earliest known saucer report dating from the reign of the Egyptian King Thuthmosis III (1504-1450 BC). The document in which the reports appear was found among the papers of the late Professor Tulli, the Egyptologist. Translated by Boris de Rachewitz the extract reads:
‘In the year 22 third month of winter, sixth hour of day…the scribes of the House of Life found it was a circle of fire that was coming in the sky. (Though) it had no head, the breath of its mouth (had) a foul odour. Its body one rod (about 150 ft) long and one rod large. It had no voice… Now after some days had passed over these things, Lo! They were more numerous than anything. They were shining in the sky to the limits of heaven… Powerful was the position of the fire circles. The army of the King looked on and His Majesty was in the midst of it. It was after supper. Thereupon, they (the fire circles) went up higher directed towards the South.’
The dragon as a fiery circle can be seen in early illustrations from China and the East, and a rock carving in Algonkin territory of Illinois was found to show a rampaging dragon inside a circle formed by his own tail.
As today flying saucers are both a portent and a part of great events to come, so in the earliest times their appearance gave warning of and led to the first great crisis in the history of the human race, the arrival of the gods on earth. Chinese dragon myths describe how the first flying saucers appeared to men. They were fiery or luminous. People were frightened by the shaft of light which they threw on to the earth by night. They flew without wings and landed on four legs on hilltops or in pits which later filled with water and became sacred ponds. They frequented mountains and high places, but were also associated with the sea, lakes and deep water. All these features are characteristic of modern flying saucer reports, and have been associated with unidentified flying objects throughout history. The shaft of light which illuminated the earth in the year before the landing of Cortez in Mexico was interpreted by astronomers to mean that the gods were about to return. This was why Montezuma hesitated to oppose the Spanish invaders: he took them for the gods and was anxious to do nothing to give them offence. The fire from the Spaniard’s guns confirmed his belief that he was dealing not with men but with gods. Like the Tuatha De Danaan of Ireland who arrived from the air with fire and thunder, the gods are associated with flames in the sky. Their vehicles, the shining disc or fiery dragon, have always terrified men and been seen as a portent of strange, supernatural events or of some change in the existing order.
When the luminous discs came down to earth they were seen to be the vehicles of a strange race of intelligent beings. For the first time in the history of the world men were confronted with something quite outside their terrestrial experience. Suddenly their minds became aware of things of which they had no previous conception, for it was only through contact with the gods that men first realised the possibility of a higher way of life. They imitated the gods in their own particular sciences. It was the serpent who introduced the knowledge on which our communal life depends, the use of fire and the arts of agriculture and medicine. We naturally think that our path to civilisation was the only one possible simply because our experience is limited to that which we received. Our entire perception is conditioned by knowledge of our own past. But it is based merely upon an almost forgotten encounter at the dawn of history with an extraterrestrial form of life which may, for all we know, be only one degree superior to ourselves. The lessons we learnt, those which have been developed up to the present state where no further advance is possible inside the existing system, but the scope for revolutionary development is infinite. Given one more key, another inspiration from outside, we may be capable of an expansion of consciousness comparable to that achieved as on the first occasion when we were visited by people from space.
The war between men and gods, the killing of the dragon, the expulsion of the serpent, all these myths refer to the times preceding the withdrawal from earth of the superior race. The tragedy which the sudden awareness of a higher potential brought to the human race is told in the Prometheus myth and that of the Garden of Eden. Prometheus, as Zeus knew, was no benefactor to mankind. The secrets he revealed, those which the serpent gave to Adam and Eve, were far beyond man’s power to accept. The familiar tragedy of the impact of an advanced culture on a primitive race destroyed the equanimity of the human spirit. Men could use the gods’ artefacts and instruments but knew nothing of the culture which underlay their possession. From this came war, the repeated decimation of the human race and the eventual acceptance by the gods that their presence on earth could cause nothing but continual strife. They withdrew and left men to sort out their affairs as best they could. It was left to a few men, the heroes who had known the gods, to maintain the system they had established. For some time these men, like the Romanised Britons after the withdrawal of the legions, tried to carry on the traditions of the gods. But since the imposed culture had never taken root among men, decay quickly set in. Knowledge atrophied, and those civilised customs which were still observed became mechanical rites, the reasons for whose continued practice were forgotten. Gradually the memory of the gods and their civilisation became confined to small groups of people in widely separated parts of the earth. Wherever the influence of these people was not felt, whole sections of the human race began to relapse into the state of nature in which they had been found. This process of degeneration continued into modern times, reaching its nadir in races such as the Tasmanians* who by the middle of the nineteenth century, when they were finally exterminated, had almost returned to the primeval state, and the Andaman Islanders, a people so regressed that they had even lost the art of making fire. It was only a tradition of the gods and a vestigial memory of their secrets, preserved by certain sects and religious societies, that enabled our present form of civilisation to arise from the embers of the culture once established on earth by an extra-terrestrial race.
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