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Historical Civilizations and the Sixties: The Obsession with Historical Astronauts

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Amid quite a few secular apocalypses of the Sixties, we can’t ignore the exceptional influence of Erich von Däniken’s e-book Chariots of the Gods? (the question-mark is, notice, ceaselessly omitted). Printed in 1968, Chariots of the Gods? explored the concept that alien beings visited Earth within the distant previous and stimulated historic civilizations with information of interstellar journey and technical feats now acquainted to viewers of the Sixties House Race and Star Trek . Whereas von Däniken took huge liberties with “factual fiction” to provide a compelling bestseller, the e-book’s curiosity for us lies in how its extraordinarily colourful story was interpreted.

Chariots of the Gods

The whole lot we now have been discussing in regards to the Sixties had fertilized the imaginative soil into which the “chariots of the gods” concept was forged. Not content material with relating heavenly symbols in Akkadian tablets found in Mesopotamia to pre-Columbian inscriptions of deities in contexts which—with the good thing about imaginations primed for the aim—may very well be interpreted as resembling “spacecraft”, the writer reinterpreted biblical tales on analogous traces, initiating a pattern that continues to at the present time. For instance, von Däniken took the outline of prophet Elijah assumed to heaven in a “fiery chariot” with horses in a whirlwind (II Kings 2:3-9) as the way in which a ninth century BC particular person would describe a flying saucer, or the like, descending to earth and taking—even abducting—a human being out of this world. And right here is the nub of our level. Elijah was extensively believed in Jesus’s time to be the herald whose coming to earth would sign the “Day of the Lord” (Yom Jahveh) and the final judgment. So—taking the alien situation as a framework—if a heavenly determine returned by alien spacecraft, then the Bible’s apocalyptic scheme may very well be interpreted as an eventual parousia of superior expertise from outer house, constituting the New Age. Non secular concepts have been trans-placed by, and confused with, scientific expertise. Very quickly after von Däniken’s e-book appeared, earnest advocates, or “channellers”, for the “mission” of alleged “spacepeople” asserted they have been coming to wrap up the thriller of human existence when, it was argued, our personal expertise had reached a stage when confrontation with “theirs” wouldn’t precipitate our wilting into aphasic terror and helpless awe.

Pattern of an Akkadian pill found in Mesopotamia. (Rama / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

In the meantime, Kubrick’s astonishing 1968 film 2001 A House Odyssey advised that even going to the Moon risked encounter with alien intelligence. The movie’s climax turned psychedelic tripping by way of special-effects (coloured lights) right into a quasi-spiritual transformative expertise, delighting audiences pre-oriented by chemical stimulants. 2001 straight attributed evolution of historic civilization to alien contact . What’s much more placing is how this entire quasi-religious scheme plugged in to fashionable concepts about U.F.O’s regarding worry of nuclear disaster: seeds powerfully planted in Robert Clever’s 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Nonetheless . Thus, the Sixties “Peace Motion” acquired religious, apocalyptic dimensions. All that was required now was a celestial visitation and sanction. “Proof” for such celestial curiosity may very well be sought within the mysterious archaeology of historic civilizations, whereas “psychics” supplied extraterrestrial messages of tedious consistency: peace and love; share and share alike; watch out for the military-industrial advanced! Repent ye, for the dominion of God (or alien expertise) is at hand.” You could possibly have gotten the identical messages from High of the Pops.

2001 A Space Odyssey. (Bill Lile / CC BY-SA 2.0)

2001 A House Odyssey. (Invoice Lile / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Alien Function in Human Civilization

The difficulty of alleged alien position in human civilization was compounded by a prevalent suspicion that the Earth’s future was being secretly directed by supposed “hidden masters”, within the U.S. typically recognized with secret authorities (the creepy 1967 US TV drama sequence The Invaders truly posited the key takeover of presidency companies by aliens indistinguishable from human authorities—aka communists—how’s that for calculated paranoia!). suspicion that authorities truly knew about aliens, however wasn’t telling us, fed straight into fashionable Belgian kids’s visible storyteller Hergé’s subsequent undertaking, his penultimate “Tintin” journey, Flight 714 ( Vol 714 pour Sydney within the authentic French).

I nicely recall, aged eight, seizing on a contemporary copy of this e-book in late 1968 from the cabinets of the reasonably magical Victorian “Athenaeaum” personal library in Melbourne, Australia, which my household used to go to on Friday nights, unaware {that a} launch celebration for the e-book in Paris in Might of that yr  was prevented by the epoch-marking occasions of Parisian college students taking to the streets within the identify of revolution and anti-Gaullism.

Hergé’s story has Tintin diverted by criminals to an island south of Indonesia the place he unintentionally uncovers underground primitive temples whose huge stone figures strongly resemble astronauts. Tintin begins receiving telepathic messages that draw him additional into the labyrinth. Ultimately he encounters a secret scientist, “Mik Kanrockitoff,” apparently a contract U.F.O. scientist-enthusiast from the journal House Week, who’s in psychological communication with aliens and who explains how the traditional folks of the island worshipped extraterrestrials as gods.

Ancient astronauts proponents suggest that aliens came to Earth long ago, citing artifacts such as this ancient Mesopotamian cylinder seal. (Dyolf77 / Public Domain)

Historical astronauts proponents recommend that aliens got here to Earth way back, citing artifacts reminiscent of this historic Mesopotamian cylinder seal. (Dyolf77 / Public Area )

On the journey’s climax, Tintin and associates are lifted from the exploding island by a flying saucer summoned by Kanrockitoff telepathically. The catch is that everyone however Kanrockitoff is mesmerized into forgetting the expertise solely, thus leaving the query open in (mainly younger) readers’ minds. It was all very efficient, and one might need thought Erich von Däniken might need had a copyright subject with Hergé’s crew in Belgium. Hergé’s largest affect, nevertheless, appears to have been Robert Charroux’s “The Guide of Betrayed Secrets and techniques” ( Le Livre des Secrets and techniques Trahis, Laffont, 1965) whose account of historic astronauts recognized with the “Watcher” angels who descended to earth to mate with human girls within the apocalyptic Guide of Enoch influenced von Däniken to such an extent that Charroux’s writer advised plagiarism to von Däniken’s in March 1968 (Charroux’s identify would seem within the bibliography of subsequent editions).

Apparently, Charroux’s background was in science-fiction writing (from the 1940s onward) and the inspiration for his historic astronaut comes from genuine apocalyptic sources ( The Guide of Enoch ’s extrapolation of the account of “Nephilim” in Genesis 6:1–4) mixed with burgeoning scientific expectations of house journey elaborated in mythologizing fiction. It must be appreciated that for a lot of within the post-war world, to enter into “house” was already to encroach on the “heavens,” previously the territory of angels and their subordinates historically and nonetheless extensively believed to control the planetary and stellar techniques.


To enter into space was to encroach on the heavens, the territory of angels (natalia9 / AdobeStock).

To enter into house was to encroach on the heavens, the territory of angels ( natalia9 / AdobeStock ).

John “Hoppy” Hopkins and the London Free Faculty

The Sixties noticed the beginning of one other influential manner of wanting on the religious significance of Historical Civilizations. Cambridge graduate John Hopkins (1937-2015) may have loved a profession as a nuclear physicist, however as a substitute selected images as a manner of attending to grips with the true world and its inhabitants. Coming into the London scene on New Years’ Day 1960, by 1965 “Hoppy” had change into a form of one-man web, compiling by way of his many contacts encountered on his various images assignments particulars of anybody who gave the impression to be “doing something” within the fecund world of the London artwork and music scene. Making a stencil copy of the checklist, he distributed it to all of the names included, thus making a dynamic context for communication and information, in addition to a way of belonging and customary objective. This was the scientist in him, which made him a sensible problem-solver, in addition to an individual who may specific his real enthusiasm overtly. Impressed by one thing optimistic, “Hoppy” would say “Wow!” and that meant what it mentioned.

For our functions, “Wow” meant the primary manifestation of the “counter-culture” as a self-conscious animal. A few months after organizing a standing-room solely poetry occasion held on June 11, 11, 1965, on the Albert Corridor, in Kensington, west London—playfully titled the Worldwide Poetry Incarnation—“Hoppy”.

Rhaune Laslett and others launched the London “Free Faculty” in a Notting Hill basement in west London. The Free Faculty inspired straightforward acquisition of helpful information and crafts: a utopian place the place folks with expertise may move them on shortly with out institutional hurdles. Out of the energies stirred up within the course of got here the West Indian showcase, the Notting Hill Carnival, the influential underground journal “Worldwide Occasions” (that so enraged the federal government) and ultimately the well-known axle of psychedelia, the UFO Membership at 31 Tottenham Court docket Highway, established by “Hoppy” and Joe Boyd in 1966, which employed the primary “mild exhibits” in rock music. Early experimenters in mild and sound have been The Pink Floyd who performed their first profit present at Notting Hill’s All Saints Church to boost cash for the Free Faculty, earlier than turning into an everyday attraction of the UFO Membership. A current BBC movie on the Floyd included an interview with percussionist Nick Mason who talked about in passing that you might study “Gnosis” on the Free Faculty. This was the phrase that Storm Thurgerson (1944–2013), the designer of the Floyd’s second album A Saucerful of Secrets and techniques (June 1968), mixed with “hip” (as in “conscious”) to provide the trend-leading firm of album design: “Hipgnosis.”

Floyd’s second album “A Saucerful of Secrets” – a loose representation of the album cover. (tombud / Public Domain)

Floyd’s second album “A Saucerful of Secrets and techniques” – a unfastened illustration of the album cowl. (tombud / Public Area )

Up to date Curiosity in Historical Civilizations

The Free Faculty occurred within the basement of a home belonging to John Frederic Carden Michell (1933–2009). It was Michell who straight impressed the intrigue that permeates up to date curiosity in Historical Civilizations. Educated at Eton School and (like Aleister Crowley) at Trinity School, Cambridge. Michell’s Cambridge expertise had been asphyxiated, as he noticed it, by rationalistic and materialistic orthodoxies. For Michell, it was the emergence of the U.F.O. phenomenon within the fifties that gave leverage to opening the thoughts to new concepts about human origins.

Michell supplied Free Faculty programs in U.F.O’s, ley traces (invisible “energy traces” believed to pulse between historic websites of worship forming “sacred landscapes”), and Gnostic traditions . Michell’s information of Gnostic lore is obvious in his e-book The Dimensions of Paradise: Sacred Geometry, Historical Science, and the Heavenly Order on Earth (1971).

Ley Lines. (vaXzin / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ley Traces. (vaXzin / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Michell accepted French religious thinker, Fabre d’Olivet’s idea of the “Custom”. The Custom existed, it was believed, in a pre-Egyptian civilization that understood the connection of religious and created orders. Struggling a primordial deformation, it descended to us in fragments, locatable as “conventional information” in cultures globally and with religious inspiration, to be re-composed for our transformative occasions. It was not a lot “Man”, however his information base that had “fallen”.

For Michell and others, the British Isles held a novel position within the return of conventional consciousness to the world and on this perception, Michell had the assist of the religious legacy William Blake represented in Blake’s dynamic psycho-spiritual and geographical myths (See my biography of Blake: Jersualem! The Actual Lifetime of William Blake , Watkins, 2015). In 1967, Michell’s pioneering work in what has change into a small trade of “New Age” Earth Mysteries publishing started with The Flying Saucer Imaginative and prescient: The Holy Grail Restored, revealed after his article on Flying Saucers appeared in Worldwide Occasions in 1967, however it could be Michell’s 1969 e-book View over Atlantis that gave large impetus to the spiritual-eco-aware speculations of the world’s “various” hippy-derived, typically Gnostic, magical sensibilities from the 1970s to the current time. It was Michell who drew up the Glastonbury Pageant “pyramid” stage on correct cosmic dimensions and Glastonbury stands at the moment as a dwelling monument to this fertile Sixties-based impetus.

High picture: Idea artwork of an historic astronaut (grandfailure / Adobe Inventory)

This text comes from the e-book ‘ The Non secular That means of the Sixties: The Magic, Fable, and Music of the Decade That Modified the World ’ by Tobias Churton.

By Tobias Churto

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