Wednesday, March 15, 2017

UFOs, Kenneth Arnold and the American Bible



Kenneth Arnold was the original credible witness, a straight-shooting, down-to-earth ex-Boy Scout. Jacques Vallee wrote, "I now think of referring to the (flying saucer) problem as 'the Arnold Phenomenon' after that celebrated witness, businessman Kenneth Arnold." (11 April 1963 entry, Forbidden Science Volume I.)  However, in the years since, Arnold's role as the herald of the UFO age has been diminished by the overemphasis and promotion of the Roswell crash franchise. His role is important, and there's a lot more to his story.



Shortly after his encounter, Arnold had the first of many other sightings on his flight to Maury Island, a trip that began his informal role as the first civilian UFO investigator. He became interested in Charles Fort's books of phenomena and joined the Fortean Society. Over the years, he came to believe that the objects he'd seen were living creatures, possibly related to what Ezekiel had described in the Book of Revelation. There's a lot more to Kenneth Arnold's story than just his first sighting, but UFO history has largely ignored the story.


Ray Palmer and an Amazing Book

UFO historians have sought to diminish or deny the role of another pioneer, Raymond A. Palmer, who was promoting the reality of extraterrestrials space ships visiting the Earth as early as 1945. Palmer was a science fiction author, but interested in the reality of space travel, Fortean phenomena, Theosophy and all sorts of paranormal topics, so in 1948 he created a non-fiction magazine to discuss them, Fate magazine. Palmer wrote to Kenneth Arnold and persuaded him to tell his story, which became the cover feature for the first issue of Fate. As a result, the two men became life-long friends and worked together, the best-known example being their collaboration on the 1952 book, The Coming of the Saucers.

In 1945 Ray Palmer became fascinated with something that's been called the American Bible, "... an amazing book called 'Oahspe' which purports to be a history of the past 79,000 years, both of the earth and of heaven... which ties into a cohesive whole all the legends and folktales of the world, and all the archeological discoveries of the past, and depicts a logical and convincing, and for the most part provable relationship between all the races of mankind for LONGER than science says civilized men existed on the earth, or even cave-men!" (Amazing Stories December 1945)




"Oahspe, A New Bible in the Words of Jehovih and His Angel Embassadors" was published in 1882, by John Ballou Newbrough supposedly written by automatic writing, channeling the word of Ormazd, "the Creator." In The UFO Phenomenon: Fact, Fantasy and Disinformation,  John Michael Greer describes it's significance to UFOs and the extraterrestrial hypothesis. 
"Like many channeled works, Oahspe defies easy characterization. Written in the style of the King James Bible, it combines Christian imagery with ideas borrowed from many other religions... What sets it apart most strikingly from the religious visions of a previous century, thoughis the way it locates its theology in outer space. Its angels and gods live on countless planets... and travel from world to world in Etherean vessels that range from little scout craft to vast mother ships the size of a planet." 

Ray Palmer's Mystic Magazine, May, 1954

 These vessels are referred to as fire, sun and "star-ships." An example from Oahspe: "Then Osire left this high place and with his host, aboard the etherean ship of fire, sat out toward the earth, at break-neck speed; for such was the disposition of this most determined god."

Ray Palmer promoted the text in the pages of his magazines over the years, and went on to publish three versions of it between 1960 and 1972, writing that, "Oahspe is truly a gateway to understanding."


Arnold's Souvenir Card

In 1950 Kenneth Arnold published The Flying Saucer as I Saw It, an the illustrated pamphlet to be sold as a souvenir at his lectures on the topic. He used the same saucer image for a calling card. His daughter, Kim Arnold wrote: “Kenneth Arnold used to give out philosophy cards to the many people he would meet. They were the size of a common business card. The front of the card had the image of the second to the last of the nine flying saucers he saw on June 24, 1947. The back of the card expressed this quote:”



     Many people have inquired as to my philosophy – due to my involvement in the phenomenon known as "Flying Saucers.” The following I accept is worth thinking about. 
     A great man is the unbelieving man; he is without spiritual sight or spiritual hearing; his glory is in understanding his own understanding. It is he who subdues the forest, tames the beasts of the field to service. He goes alone in the dark, unafraid. He follows no man’s course, but, searches for himself; the priests cannot make him believe, nor the angels of heaven; none can subdue his judgment. He says: why permit others even priests, to you think for you? Stand on your own feet – be a man. Through his arm are tyrants and evil kings overthrown. Through him are doctrines and religions sifted to the bottom and the falsehood and evil in them cast aside. Who but the Creator could have created so great a man as the unbeliever? 
KENNETH ARNOLD

It's an unusual piece of writing, not what you'd expect out of a man like Arnold. It turns out the language is taken from scripture. It's taken from Ray Palmer's beloved Oahspe.


Oahspe, a New Bible in the Words of Jehovih and His Angel Embassadors, Page 361

26. Nevertheless, the Creator created a great man amongst these; and such is the unbelieving man. He hath neither gold nor silver, nor house nor land; and he is without spiritual sight or spiritual hearing; but his glory is in understanding his own understanding.
27. He it is that subdueth the forest, and tameth the beasts of the field to man's service. He goeth alone in the dark, fearing naught. He followeth not the course of any man, but searcheth for himself; the priest cannot make him believe, nor can the angels of heaven; none can subdue his judgment. He beholdeth the glory of the earth and of manhood. He calleth to the multitude, saying: Why permit ye others, even priests, to think for you? Arise, O thou, and be a man! Arise, O thou, and be a woman!
28. He inspireth of the earth and for the earth; through his arms are tyrants and evil kings overthrown. Through him are doctrines and religions sifted to the bottom, and the falsehood and evil in them cast aside. Yea, who but Ormazd could have created so great a man as the unbeliever?

We can't know exactly how Arnold came to use the Oahspe text on his calling card, but there can be little doubt that his friend, Ray Palmer, was influential in its genesis.




Update: Kenneth Arnold's story was on the front cover of the 1st issue of FATE Magazine, but I had forgotten what was on the back cover: