by Nigel Watson
The idea of extraterrestrials visiting us in spaceships is relatively new. However, myths, legends, history and folklore indicate that humanity has been subject to abduction by nonhumans throughout history.
Vimana flying craft are described in the ancient Samarangana-Sartradhara, Mahabaharata and Ramayana Indian texts. The various propulsion systems and means of controlling the vimana are detailed in Chapter 31 of the former text, and the other two epic poems indicate that they travel on rays enabling them to carry death anywhere in the world.
The Greek myth of Leda and the Swan is particularly relevant to us today. Disguised as a swan the god Zeus made love to Leda. The result of this union was Helen of Troy, who was said to have been born from an egg. Another, variant is that Leda‘s egg hatched two boys,
Castor and Polydeuces, as well as Helen. Another egg was said to have given birth to Clytæmnestra, whose husband won the Trojan War. Abductionists would say that Zeus used a screen memory of himself as a swan to trick Leda. For those of us with an enthusiasm for the extraterrestrial origin of alien visitors it is significant that the Greeks linked the swan (Cygnus) with the constellation Cygnus, indicating that Zeus was a god-like being/alien who originated from this star system.
The Christian Bible is said to contain many accounts that refer to meetings with Space People and thereby helped create the religious rules and beliefs that have shaped Western civilization. In Chapter 2 of the Second Book of Kings, it has the story of Elijah who saw a fiery chariot that tore asunder. This was followed by a great whirlwind that sent Elijah skywards to heaven. It is easy to see why he is often cited as one of the first abductees.
In the Book of Ezekiel, UFO-type objects are reported on four occasions. The most striking sighting by Ezekiel was of great cloud issuing forth flashes of fire accompanied by stormy winds. Inside this he saw four wheels with eyes, and four sparkling bronze, winged men.
Enoch was visited by two tall, strange looking men who gave secret knowledge about God and took him on a tour of the seven tiers of heaven. Ufologists note that the Second Book of Enoch also said that Enoch thought a few days had passed but when he returned many centuries had passed.
Visions, UFOs, entities, magical flights, Men in Black (MIB), time loss, vehicle stoppages, abductions, implants, invisibility, sexual intercourse and hybrid offspring are just some of the features of witchcraft, shamanism and fairylore.
Science fiction has certainly had a role in promoting the abduction and UFO mythology. Ufologist Mark Pilkington notes, ‘Themes of aliens kidnapping and impregnating humans, coming from dying planets and using implants, telepathy and mind control have been consistent themes in science fiction film and literature since the pulp magazines of the 1930’s, so to deny a link between popular culture and the abduction myth is entirely ridiculous.’
Besides science fiction, we must return to the first form of mythic American literature—the ‘captive narrative.’ These stories began with Mary Rowlandson’s The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682). Its popularity paved the way for hundreds of captivity narratives, featuring kidnapping and life amongst the American Indians. These stories became the stuff of folk tales, legends and pulp fiction. This literary genre spawned novels like James Fennimore Cooper’s seminal, The Last of the Mohicans (1829). Decades later, the theme was continued in such films as the classic John Wayne movie The Searchers (John Ford, 1956), A Man Called Horse (Elliot Silverstein, 1970) and Kevin Costner’s, Dances with Wolves (1990).
The typical captive narrative usually featured a woman who has to reject assimilation with the cannibalistic rituals of the captors and their temptations of the flesh. To marry the Indian captor, or come to terms with them, is to reject Christianity. By overcoming the ordeal through belief in Christ, the victim is redeemed and is given salvation.
Michael Sturma, Senior Lecturer in History at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, made these comparisons between captive narratives and the abduction narratives:
- The captive/abductee is stripped naked thereby divesting them of their culture and identity.
- The victim is subjected to torture.
- The abductors are regarded as evil or devilish yet the captive/abductee can admire and identify with them.
- The experience initiates spiritual growth in the victim.
- The Native Americans and the aliens represent a punishment for moral and religious laxness.
For Sturma, the wildness and mythic power of the Western frontier has been displaced by our consciousness of Space, the ‘final frontier’, to use the words of the original Star Trek television series.
The gruesome stories of aliens or entities related to the ‘foreign’ and ‘other’ abducting, raping and torturing their victims is nothing new, yet the present-day belief in aliens from outer space has condemned thousands of people to believe that they are victims of alien breeding projects. This is mainly based on a very few cases that have relied on hypnotic regression to obtain the evidence for these suppositions.
Whatever the reality of the abduction phenomenon, flying saucers and aliens act as a metaphor for personal, social, psychological, cultural, technological, physical alienation and despair.
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