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UFOs: The Shamanic Dimension
by John Michael Greer
FATE | Mar-Apr 2009

For more than six decades, UFO sightings have puzzled scientists and the public alike, and sparked countless investigations aimed at getting the phenomenon to surrender its mysteries. So far, this research has produced very little in the way of solid results. Many factors have shaped this outcome, but one of the most important is also one of the least recognized: the way the UFO phenomenon has been categorized in the collective imagination of the modern world has little to do with the phenomenon itself.

Since shortly after the phenomenon burst into public awareness in 1947, believers as well as debunkers have generally assumed that if UFOs exist, they must be spacecraft from another planet. That assumption feeds on popular beliefs about progress and space travel, and it seems like common sense to most people; its only downside is that it misses some of the most striking dimensions of the UFO phenomenon itself. While many different things seem to be able to cause UFO sightings, one crucial set of factors has its origins in the human mind.

Consider the following case from Rochdale, England, collected and published by British UFO researcher Joseph Dormer. The witness and her elderly mother were at home near dusk on a November day. When the mother went to draw the curtains, she saw an unusual craft hovering in the sky nearby, and called her daughter’s attention to it. They both observed a 100-foot-long cylindrical craft with portholes along its length. Figures in “silver space suits” moved inside the craft. The witness and her mother both watched the craft for what seemed like some minutes, and were unable to speak or move during that time. Abruptly, the craft “vanished into thin air.” The witness noted that an entire hour had gone by during the apparently short time she and her mother watched the craft. No other witnesses reported the same object.

The Oz Factor

UFO believers might claim that a spaceship from a distant world visited Rochdale that evening, and used advanced technology to show itself to two women. UFO debunkers might claim that the witness and her mother saw the planet Venus, and somehow misinterpreted it as a large, cylindrical UFO. Still, at least three points about this sighting report suggest that the witnesses experienced an apparition.

First, 100-foot-long material objects made of metal and glass do not vanish into thin air, while it’s a commonplace of folklore and tradition that apparitions very often do. Second, nobody else in Rochdale reported seeing the spacecraft that was apparently hovering above their roofs. When a 100-foot-long blimp flies over a town during daylight, many people notice it. Why did only two witnesses see such a remarkable object, if it was physically present? If it was an apparition, on the other hand, the entire account makes perfect sense.

The third point, however, is the crucial one. The witness and her mother were clearly in an altered state of consciousness during the experience, as shown by their inability to move or speak and the distortion of their time sense that made an hour pass by in what seemed like a few minutes. Evidence of changes in consciousness like this are extremely common in accounts of UFO close encounters.

English UFO researcher Jenny Randles coined the term “the Oz factor” for the very common report of UFO witnesses that they seemed to enter another reality just before sighting a mysterious object in the sky. Many witnesses experience the same inability to speak or move as the two women in the Rochdale case, and subjective distortions of time are even more common. Other signs of altered states of consciousness reported by UFO witnesses include unexplained total silence and seeing other people who appear to be frozen in place, or who pass by the scene of the encounter without apparently noticing anything.

Once altered states of consciousness are taken into account, many dimensions of the UFO phenomenon become clear.....

Read the rest of John Michael Greer's article on altered states, Shamanism and UFOs exclusively in the March-April 2009 issue of FATE! Click here to purchase this issue now.

FATE Magazine: True Reports of the Strange and Unknown