Psychic Astronauts: Remote Viewing, Space Exploration, and UFOs
The emptiness of Fermi’s Paradox as an argument against ETs rests, I think, on the unlikelihood that advanced technological civilizations would ever explore or colonize their universe in the flesh. I’ve suggested here that the “reach” of ETs through space, and that of our own human or machine descendents, will be via Von Neumann probes gathering and collecting potentially infinite amounts of information for use and enjoyment back home. But there are other, not incompatible possibilities that, if we are to be suitably broad minded, we should also consider. These possibilities rest on a series of very big “ifs,” admittedly, but they are worthwhile (and way fun) to think about.
One of these ifs—which actually seems to be becoming less controversial in our day—is ESP. As outrageous as it remains to committed materialists—and I’ll admit it didn’t settle well with me either until I started paying serious attention to the literature—there is ample experimental evidence (quite apart from ample testimony of psychonauts and mystics since time immemorial) that knowledge may indeed transcend apparent limitations of matter, space, and time. According to a few serious scientific thinkers on this topic like Russell Targ and Dean Radin, consciousness is nonlocal. The CIA-funded remote viewing research of the 1970s and 80s at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), for instance, shows that distance is no obstacle for talented clairvoyants; the experiments conducted at SRI by Targ and Hal Puthoff clearly indicate that Psi effects don’t obey an inverse square law like electromagnetic radiation or any other known physical force. Skilled remote viewers seem to be able to accurately view targets on the other side of the planet or within an electromagnetically sealed chamber as readily as they can view something in a sealed envelope in the same room.
According to a former Congressional Aide interviewed by filmmaker Vikram Jayanti for a new, fascinating BBC documentary on Uri Geller’s spy work for the CIA and other intelligence agencies, the research made famous by Targ and Puthoff and project Star Gate continues now, but in the “deep, deep black”—interestingly enough, having been driven into the underground not because it was scandalous to mainstream science but because it conflicted with the Fundamentalist Christian theology of certain defense higherups in the 1980s and 90s. One wonders whether, decades later, this “deep black” research is still confined to remote viewing terrestrial targets?
Pat Price, the star remote viewer in Targ and Puthoff’s research at SRI, commented that he was “potentially omniscient in space and time” (see Targ and Puthoff’s Mind-Reach). And famously in the annals of remote viewing, psychic Ingo Swann, while at SRI, viewed the rings of Jupiter before they were discovered by the Pioneer 10 probe; and according to his bizarre memoir Penetration, he psychically saw structures on the moon similar to those allegedly photographed by the Apollo missions and that serve as fodder for various space anomaly websites. Whether or not Swann was accurate in the latter moon observations, Swann seems to have been the first to seriously attempt psychic astronautics in modern times—although mystics in the past such as Emanuel Swedenborg have also claimed to visit other worlds and communicate with their inhabitants.
Picture a room full of highly trained Ingo Swanns, given coordinates for one of the habitable-zone super-earths around Gliese 667c to image; each one receives the same coordinates, and from their collective viewings a rough consensus is reached about that sector’s topographic features or interesting biology (if any); then they move onto the next coordinates, ultimately creating a rough map of the whole planet; then they move on to the next planet … and so on. Is this the future of space exploration? Are such projects already being conducted in secret by government contractors or by NASA itself?
And by extension, could an ET psychic space program be behind many close encounters?
Encounters with “aliens” (or whatever they are) frequently have a psychic component, as Jacques Vallee has always stressed. That alien intelligences interact with humans psychically is a common theme also in the sci-fi and comic book collective unconscious, as Jeffrey Kripal has shown in his book Mutants and Mystics and as Christopher Loring Knowles has described on his phenomenally interesting blog The Secret Sun.
There is also the vast, weirdly consistent literature on experiences with Ayahuasca, Psilocybin, and other DMT-based entheogens: Users of these drugs consistently encounter alien beings that resemble those familiar from the UFO literature and/or enter a realm seething with alien intelligence. DMT researcher Rick Strassman has argued that the resemblance of DMT experiences to UFO abductions may not be a coincidence. The easy, respectably materialist position here is that of course it’s not a coincidence: It’s all in the drug-user’s (or contactee’s) head. But Strassman himself remains open-minded that the reality could be something more interesting and complex—that the intelligences might be authentic and that DMT may be facilitating access with the noetic realm or wavelength where they reside or through which they attempt to interact with us.
Abduction experiences with and without the use of drugs point to at least the possibility of alien psychic astronauts visiting us in the comfort of our living rooms, from the comfort of their living rooms, via a sort of cosmic noetic superhighway—which may be the same thing as the Nous of Gnostic and Hermetic mysticism or the Akasha of the Theosophical writings. Psilocybin prophet Terence McKenna, who routinely encountered alien-like “machine elves” (and whose Amazonia experience in 1971 vividly foreshadowed many of the extraterrestrial Gnostic themes and insights of Phillip K. Dick’s “2-3-74” experience a couple years later) would certainly agree with this idea; he suggested that Stropharia cubensis mushrooms may themselves be a plant-based ET colonization project, spores traveling through space and creating nodes in what we might now call an Astral Internet.
Think Nonlocally, Act Remotely
The notion of a nonlocal universe has also been called the “holographic universe” because any small fragment of a holograph contains the whole within it. Psi experiences are a scientific (though committed skeptics will always call them pseudoscientific) idiom for describing experiences of a realm that elsewhere and in other times have been called sacred or mystical, and there seems to be considerable overlap between these sorts of telepathic or clairvoyant capacities and other seemingly more farfetched experiences like astral projection or out-of-body (OOB) travel.
The latter phenomena are to my knowledge less well documented scientifically (except in the controversial near-death-experience literature), but they are equally well-assented by thousands of years of anecdotal accounts by yogis, shamans, and ordinary “gifted” individuals. The Theosophic tradition refers to travel in the Astral Plane, although it is quite possible that such experiences are really the same thing as lucid dreams and that the dreamer is misinterpreting the experience in “real space” terms; yet in a nonlocal universe that distinction shouldn’t affect whether such altered states (and others like hypnagogia) give access to real information about distant places or events yet to come. Probably a future theory of nonlocal noetic physics would need to abandon spacial metaphors like “plane” altogether, because space and time have no meaning in such a realm or dimension. (Even “dimension” is problematic because it implies extension and measure, like the other dimensions we are familiar with.)
Nonlocal consciousness is often explained by quantum entanglement—the “spooky action at a distance” that enables bound particles to somehow share information over great distances instantaneously (much faster than light speed). It has been suggested that the brain is itself a quantum computer, and that the real action is happening at the sub-neuronal level, in microtubules within neurons that are narrow enough for quantum effects to come into play. Another (maybe compatible) explanation that I favor would be the Buddhist one: that awareness is the fundamental field or ground of being, and that physical laws rest on it, not the other way around; thus our material brains and sense organs are a kind of filter (or as philosopher Henri Bergson put it, a “reducing valve”) of consciousness, not its generator.
Whatever the case, if nonlocality is the reality, then all points in space and time potentially coincide in consciousness. All points in space and time are equally close, equally “right here,” and perceiving things physically or temporally distant may just require an alteration or retuning of consciousness on the analogy of a radio receiver. The problem becomes one of locating the desired information, and in fact it was Jacques Vallee himself who, on the analogy of the way information is localized and accessed in computer databases, gave Swann the idea for using the arbitrary system of geographical coordinates, which became central to the protocol of coordinate remote viewing (CRV).
It certainly would solve certain standard hurdles of “spaceflight” if a highly trained (or highly evolved) psychic astronaut could actually interact noetically with places that are physically very distant, and it also adds new and very interesting wrinkles. While clairvoyant astronautics may enable rough surveillance of a distant locale, simply traveling in one’s head a la Swann or Swedenborg fails to satisfy our human need to go somewhere in the flesh, to step out onto the surface of a remote world, feel it under our feet, see it with our eyes, smell the air, interact with its animals and plants and, maybe, contact its intelligent beings on their own terms. Indeed, some kind of direct tangible information is also needed to provide feedback on the intuitions of the remote viewer; remote viewing requires verification.
This limitation—actual physical interaction—would seem to be the deal-breaker when it comes to full-blown psychic exploration of the universe. Or is it? Is there a way nonlocal consciousness could interact physically with a remote location?
The possibility of remote mental interaction with matter via telekinesis, first of all, is supported by limited but provocative accounts of feats by Swann, Geller, and others in the SRI studies as well as alleged achievements by psychic spies—including Geller, who we now know was employed by the CIA and other spy agencies not only to remote view but also to physically disable enemy electronic hardware and magnetic disks (according to Jayanti’s documentary and a companion book by Jonathan Margolis). If these things are indeed possible, then we cannot readily discount the feats of yogis and other Eastern adepts (e.g., the creation of tulpas) or achievements described in the OOB and astral-projection literature. OOB-ers have described accounts of target individuals and even third parties seeing and interacting (even sexually!) with them. Consistent with such a notion, some alien encounters seem like interactions with nonmaterial, ectoplasmic, “astrally projected” entities, suggesting that perhaps this is indeed the mode of “space travel” for ET explorers (again, on the assumption that they are from other worlds—but if this sort of interaction were possible, it really wouldn’t make any difference where, or when, they come from).
Taking the Wheel
However, if we grant the possibility of remote psychic connection between humans and ETs (a big “if,” I still grant), then another possibility we are forced to consider is that of a psychic astronaut actually inhabiting and taking control of the physical body of a being at the destination planet. If minds at that location can be interacted with, communicated with, or manipulated telepathically, then it is also conceivable they could be overridden to provide local host vessels or vehicles for the nonlocal consciousness of the physically remote “traveler.” Any respectable shaman would certainly assent to such a possibility; the idea of spirit possession has a long history in many cultures. I can’t imagine such a possibility having been studied in a modern laboratory, yet it seems that if telepathy is granted, it should be theoretically possible for a highly trained or at least highly evolved psychic being to not just give ideas to a target or manipulate their behavior indirectly (i.e. through altering their perceptions or inducing life-altering experiences—the Vallee “control system” idea), but to actually sit in the driver’s seat.
Who knows what the technical requirements are for a consciousness to be able to physically inhabit a new, different body—perhaps this is a hurdle only achievable by more advanced beings, or perhaps there is a trick to it that human psychics will eventually discover and be able to teach their colleagues. Maybe our secret psychic astronauts will figure out the trick by adapting techniques in the Tibetan Book of the Dead for locating and inhabiting a new embryo—in other words, jailbreaking or hacking the cosmic reincarnation system to have it work on adults. (Incidentally, the more I think about this stuff, the more I wish David Lynch’s Twin Peaks hadn’t jumped the shark and ended after its second season, as it had actually begun to explore precisely this nexus between UFOs, spirit possession, and the afterlife—or the “Bardo” state between incarnations.)
Even if advanced psychic astronauts cannot quite manage the feat of possessing a willful alien species such as ourselves, they could still perhaps manipulate their contactees to do the necessary physical work of creating an entity that is more malleable or susceptible to serving as a host vessel. Such a project might involve a long-term breeding program, or else the manufacture of something like “bio-androids.” (Can you see where this is going?)
From the point of view of a hypothetical observer at the destination planet (of course, actual contactees would likely not figure out what was going on or would be on a need-to-know basis), it would be the kind of project that would unfold over hundreds, thousands, or maybe even millions of years (if we imagine, as various authors have suggested, that our very species or even our biosphere has been the subject of manipulation with a goal like alien colonization in mind). But remember: Nonlocality applies to time as well as space. This means that an ET project to cultivate our civilization to create for it the needed biological or bio-android substrate for their physical incarnation could take no time at all from the point of view of the alien psychic astronaut. A single alien astronaut could visit and interact with humans at different time points, encouraging this or that mating at various points down the line, and so on, all in a day’s work (so to speak). In other words, we need not imagine ancient immortal eminences with infinite patience engaging in such a project—they could be relatively flesh-and-blood, mortal schlubs like ourselves, just with better psychic abilities.
Both of the scenarios I’ve mentioned—directly possessing local organisms as hosts and directing or manipulating them to breed or construct avatars—seem consistent with themes in the close encounter and alien abduction literature, including the obsession with breeding and hybridization. In fact, it would make a lot of sense of many aspects of that literature that led Mac Tonnies to propose a “cryptoterrestrial” origin for UFOs, such as the fact that UFO technologies (airships, flying saucers, etc.) sometimes seem weirdly close to our own—like always just a generation or two ahead of officially available technology. If ET souls travel among us in specially bred bodies and fly around in technology built locally to their specifications by secretive human “contractors,” then their technology will be constrained by what can be achievable locally even if the ideas behind it are more advanced. It would explain why saucers sometimes crash—something I feel sure an actual space vehicle sent across the void by an advanced civilization would not do. Such a history of human contracting for ET clients could go back centuries or millennia—to ancient Egypt or Sumer, for example—and be equivalent to a long-duration version of Richard Dolan’s “breakaway civilizations” concept.
Dolan has suggested that the U.S. government is no longer where it’s at, in terms of UFO knowledge—that much of the information has been spun off into the private sector. Who knows what kind of complex relationship secret military contractors and their guild analogues in the past have had with alien beings or their indigenous contactee proxies; maybe those secretive contractors or guilds are and have always been the real players shaping our “exopolitical” future. (If so, there is little hope of getting answers from them about the UFO reality via the ever-breathlessly-anticipated “disclosure,” as there are no Constitutions stipulating that private firms are answerable to the public.)
There have been clues dropped over the years by those in the know that the UFO problem is linked to psychic phenomena, and one of the juicy clues comes right from a higherup at one of those defense contractors. In 1993, when he was dying of cancer, Ben Rich, former director of Lockheed’s “Skunk Works,” reportedly raised eyebrows by mentioning in a lecture to invited engineering alumni at UCLA that “we already have the technology to take ET home.” As Rich was leaving the lecture, Jan Harzan (now the head of MUFON), chased him down to probe him further: “I have a real interest in the propulsion you are talking about that gets us to the stars,” he said. “Can you tell me how it works?” According to Harzan, Rich stopped and obscurely asked Harzan if he knew how ESP worked. Taken aback, Harzan said “I don’t know, all points in space and time are connected?” To which Rich said, “That’s how it works.”
The nuts-and-bolts-minded may assume that, if there’s truth to this story, then what Rich meant was some kind of quantum technology—leading perhaps to a picture of physical vehicles capable of teleporting through space—or else the use of an exotic material with negative mass capable of traveling near lightspeed by ignoring the local inertial frame (as John Mike suggests in his book The Anatomy of a Flying Saucer). In his lecture, Rich did indicate that the answer lay in certain “errors” that had been discovered in physical equations, and he hinted his shop had indeed been building home-grown UFOs, so perhaps this is what he meant. But what if the UFO propulsion question is slightly distinct from the nonlocality question? What if interstellar travel occurs via psychic contact aimed at creating biological and material infrastructure using local contracted labor? What if local contractors like Lockheed itself are actually building advanced flying machines not only on behalf of our government but on behalf of ET intelligences, who communicate via psychic intermediaries or even locally bred hybrid beings (Men in Black? Grays?), for the purpose of more conventional, physical interaction with us or our planet?
Are Ancient Astronauts Alive and Well?
One argument against the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) for UFOs and even against the SETI project is the problem of extreme technological and social nonsimultaneity of civilizations throughout the galaxy—that evolutionary, technological, and cultural parity between any two civilizations would be extremely unlikely. Recently George Dvorsky ran new numbers through the Drake Equation and arrived at a very modest .58 to 5 contemporaneous radio-communicating civilizations in our galaxy, making any contact with somebody else anywhere near us on the technological spectrum extremely unlikely.
But again, given that nonlocality means collapsing both temporal distance and spatial distance, psychic astronautics potentially opens the door to interaction with other intelligences across the whole universe, across its entire lifespan. If ETs can “astrally travel” across space, they can do so across time as well (and we know that, from the fundamental standpoint of light, there is no difference between the two). Thus the aliens (again, if that is what they are) encountered by humans now could just as easily be from our distant past (or, for that matter, from our distant future) as from the present. Some could even represent the original Dawn Civilizations that emerged when the universe first became cool enough to support life as we know it—the ones that mathematical models say should have long ago colonized our galaxy. Well, maybe they have colonized it, in a sense—maybe they did and still are colonizing it, but not in physical ships, and in a “slow from our point of view but fast for them” way that depends on the emergence of technological civilizations locally to make machines and bodies on their behalf.
If we actually visited those ancient psychic astronauts’ homeworld “now,” we might find them, their civilization, even their planet and star, long dead and gone, yet they would still appear throughout space and time, going about business conducted billions of years ago. Perhaps it is even those civilizations’ distant “post-human,” nonsentient, non-psychic technological descendents that visit us in mundane 4-D space as Von Neumann probes. (Or, who knows, maybe those probes provide, among other things, the concrete feedback required for ET remote viewers back on their homeworlds.)
Whatever the case, when we start multiplying the number of potential civilizations that have emerged and will emerge by the possibilities of spacial and temporal nonlocality, the bizarre variety and absurd inconsistency in UFO encounters begins to seem a bit more reasonable, and the Drake Equation (as now written) becomes meaningless.
Somewhere Terence McKenna suggested that when we finally travel to other planets, it will probably take less power than a flashlight battery. If psi abilities do exist and can be developed to the extent yogis have always asserted—a very big but also a very interesting if—then those abilities, not “ships through space” carrying our physical mortal bodies, are probably our ticket to the stars. One day Earth’s psychic interstellar explorers may look back on our concept art of solar sails and Bussard ramjets and Alcubierre-drive starships the way we look back on DaVinci’s flying corkscrew.
Postscript: The always fascinating Jacques Vallee turns out to have lots of great insight into scientific remote viewing research. The phenomenal Forbidden Science, Volume Two (his journals covering the 1970s, when he was at SRI working on the Arpanet) is a goldmine of great behind-the-scenes stories about the SRI remote-viewing research, Swann, Geller, the involvement of the CIA (which he clearly had to keep silent about until its declassification), the intersection of ESP with his better-known interests like UFOs and computer networks, and just generally Vallee’s thoughtful, bemused reactions to the surreally science-fictional California of the 1970s. It’s my second-favorite Vallee book after The Invisible College, which was written during the same weird, incredible decade.