By R.G. Larson

Flying Saucers, Flying Discs, UFOs, Alien Visitations, Abductions, Contactees, Men in Black, Grays, Invisible College... These are some of the buzz words of a genre of inquiry that is sometimes referred to as ufology. To many people these buzz words don't mean much. Or they are an invitation to ridicule those who utter them. But for some of us, these words are charged -- charged with the energy of a mystery begging for attention. It's got our attention and it won't let go. I'm not sure we know why. It may be just that it is an unsolved mystery possessing a peculiar sense of humor. It may be that only a very peculiar person is even able to see this. I don't know. I do know that I don't meet many people who intuit the levels of implications these phenomena induce in me. But I sense there are some of you out there. I see these pages as a vehicle to make contact (pun intended) with you.

I'd like this to be an ongoing process of educating ourselves. It seems that this area of inquiry is a strange and possibly unique opportunity for learning. There is something going on, but what? I think it's rather open to interpretation at this stage. There's this large gulf between the ludicrous supermarket tabloid handling of it and the boring proclamations of unimaginative orthodox scientists that more or less say, "Since we can't explain it, it doesn't exist." That large gulf, that "excluded middle", is what interests me. There are many ideas there I'd like to throw around:

It is my feeling that what Carl Jung had to say regarding this issue is still worth considering. Whether or not these things have an autonomous reality, they seem to carry a symbolism that may be quite valuable. Michael Grosso, Dennis Stillings, Terence McKenna and Keith Thompson have run with this line of thinking in some damned fascinating ways.

There's the idea of UFO as mandala, a symbol of wholeness at a time when culture and the eco-system can be seen to be disintegrating. This symbolic communication from the collective unconscious, it is suggested, will increase in times of catastrophic change, upheaval and imbalance. What better symbolized an initiation of such a time than the atom bomb of 1945? How interesting that the modern flying saucer era began in 1947.

The classic flying saucer shape can be symbolically interpreted as female. Is this a counterbalance to thousands of years of patriarchy and male dominance epitomized by our own phallic-shaped rocket ships?

If one really examines the stories, characters and behavior --not only in UFO lore but among ufologists themselves -- one can notice parallels to many classic and ancient myths. Keith Thompson, in his book Angels and Aliens, does a marvelous job of pointing out this mythic nature of UFOs.

Thompson has also noticed that the classic UFO abduction experience has many similarities to shamanic initiatory processes of more "primitive cultures": symbolic death and rebirth, transformation, and messages from extraordinary beings. Could this be compensatory for a lack of proper rituals and initiations in our society?

There is another hypothesis that there is a realm of existence parallel or orthogonal to ours that we don't normally perceive because our brain chemistry tunes us to this here and now frequency that we've chauvinistically assigned pre-eminence. There is a certain class of mind altering substances (the tryptamines) -- with a history of shamanic usage in their plant forms -- that at certain doses seem to induce UFO-type experiences in the perception of some users. Terence McKenna talks about tryptamine use introducing one to a world of "crackling, electronic, hyper-dimensional, interstellar, extraterrestrial, saucerian landscapes filled with highly polished curved surfaces, machines undergoing geometric transformations into beings and thoughts that condense into visible objects." It must be noted that these tryptamines that are ingested to induce such experiences do occur naturally in the human brain and may be activated under certain circumstances. Do check out Mr. McKenna for more on this.

Psychologist and research scientist Michael A. Persinger has discovered a seeming correlation between the geographic location of UFO activity and disturbances in the earth's magnetic field caused by plate movements. And an individual's proximity to the field disturbance seems to have a relation to the perceived intensity of the experience. Magnetic fields are known to affect human nervous systems.

One of my favorite interpretations is : UFOs as our descendants returning in time machines.

Jacques Vallee has noticed that many UFO encounters have the look of "staged" events -- events staged with some sophisticated but not necessarily other-worldly technology. Well, it's known that the CIA has access to some rather sophisticated technology. It's also been mentioned that they had a program to create staged quasi-religious, supernatural events in third world countries ostensibly for mind control experimentation. Think about it.

These are just some of the notions about this puzzle that I find captivating. I hope I've sparked interest in those of you out there who have been touched by this the way I have. It is my desire to engage in dialogue, discussion and debate about all this and more. The intention is that we'll have fun, learn, and maybe gain some fascinating insights into the big questions like who we are, what we are and, " Why was Joe Simonton given pancakes?"