Welcome to the fifth installment in my examination of the life and times of Silver Shirt founder William Dudley Pelley. Over the course of the first two installments in this series (which can be found here and here) I examined Pelley's time with the Silver Shirts and his ties throughout the fascist underground both before and after World War II. Beginning in the third installment I began to consider Pelley's metaphysical pursuits, one of the least examined or understood aspects of his life.
After breaking down Pelley's early involvement in such endeavors and his extensive contacts through out esoteric circles after his "seven minutes in eternity" in 1928 in that installment I began to get into the really incredible elements in Pelley's belief system. As revealed in part four, as early as 1932 Pelley was proclaiming that humanity (or at least the white race, anyway) was descendant from beings that migrated from the Dog Star Sirius centuries before recorded history. This was one of the key features of a theological system he devised that combined elements of Theosophy, Spiritualism, Rosicrucianism, pyramidism along with Christian Gnosticism and Millennialism and a good dose of alternative planes of existence.
In other words, Pelley combined a belief in ancient astronauts with a host of occult system and claimed to be informed of these revelations by "Hidden Masters" whom he frequently contacted through automatic writing. Needless to say, this was a remarkably modern metaphysical system that likely had a large, if little acknowledged, influence on the modern New Age movement. What's more, it seems to have drawn the interest of groups with ties to the United States national security apparatus.
|an aged Pelley|
But aside from a taste for theocracy and dreams of a cult of personality centered around Jesus Christ, there are more tangible links between Pelley and the Collins Elite. According to one of Redfern's informants, a "Richard Duke", the Collins Elite became convinced that heightened states of consciousness were crucial to understanding the UFO phenomenon after examining the accounts of three alleged contactees from the early 1950s: George Van Tassel, George Adamski, and George Hunt Williamson.
"In order to understand how and why the beliefs of the Collins Elite came to fruition, it is important to keep in mind the point that Adamski, Williamson, and Van Tassel had made claims that their presumed-alien visitors communicated with them by telepathy, ESP, and Ouija boards. And it is equally important to note that – as FBI records declassified under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act demonstrate – the trio was investigated by the FBI determine if they had communist leanings, or knowingly or unknowingly spreading propaganda on behalf of the Soviet Union.
"Richard Duke said that as far back as 1948, the FBI began to receive reports and stories very similar to those of Adamski, Williamson, and Van Tassel – that human-like aliens were among us, that they were communists, and that their means and modus-operandi of contact seemed to utilize the occult, as well as advanced science. Duke further stated that certain elements within the FBI came to a startling, albeit tentative, conclusion: that the claimed encounters with Communist extraterrestrials had nothing to do with visitors from other worlds, but were instead the outcome of Soviet mind control and 'brain-to-brain contact' projects, in which U.S. citizens were being 'implanted with thoughts' by Russian 'mind-soldiers' that led the contactees to think they were having real-life experiences with aliens who wanted to tell us how wonderful communism was...
"Duke maintained that this theory came to fruition in 1952, specifically after cleared FBI agents had attended 'two of seven or eight' lectures that have been held in the Pentagon that year on the utilization of ESP for psychological warfare purposes. That such lectures held in the Pentagon did occur, and that U.S. Intelligence was aware of Hitler's interest in such matters, is not in any doubt. In 1977, in a document titled 'Parapsychology in Intelligence,' Kenneth A. Kress, an engineer with the CIA's Office of Technical Services, wrote: 'Anecdotal reports of extrasensory perception (ESP) capabilities have reached U.S. national security agencies at least since World War II, when Hitler was said to rely on astrologers and seers. Suggestions for military applications of ESP continued to be received after World War II. For example, in 1952, the Department of Defense was lectured on the possible usefulness of extrasensory perception and psychological warfare...'
"It was during these lectures, said Duke, that a new theory began to emerge to explain the truth behind the contactee puzzle – and it was a theory that finally led to a complete discarding of the notion that the Soviets were somehow involved and the development of one that was more in-keeping with the views of the Collins Elite involving a demonic presence, and how it was all tied in with flying saucers. And, in view of this, said Duke, the Collins Elite decided that the only viable alternative available to them was to delve further into the murky and controversial realms of altered states and ESP and see what might potentially be uncovered, regardless of the outcome."
(Final Events, Nick Redfern, pgs. 56-58)
Apparently Williamson's use of Ouija board to contact these alleged extraterrestrials was of especial interest to the Collins Elite because it was also highly regarded by Aleister Crowley.
"It may not be without significance that, just like contactee George Hunt Williamson, Aleister Crowley was a user of Ouija boards. Jane Wolfe, who lived with Crowley at his infamous Abbey of Thelema, also used the Ouija board. In fact, she credited some of her greatest spiritual communications to the specific use of the device. Crowley also discussed the effectiveness of the Ouija board with another of his students, Charles Stansfeld Jones – otherwise known as Frater Achad – who was an occultist and a ceremonial magician. In 1917, Achad experimented with the board as a means to summon angels, as opposed to elementals."
(ibid, pg. 61)
Curiously, possibly two of the individuals who alerted the Collins Elite to the significance of ESP, telepathy and the occult in general in relation to the UFO phenomenon, George Adamski and George Hunt Williamson, had ties to William Dudley Pelley. Let us begin with Williamson, whose ties to Pelley are a matter of public record.
"As for George Hunt Williamson, also known as Michael d'Obrenovic and as Brother Philip, Williamson became fascinated by the occult world as a teenager, and ultimately became a leading, albeit relatively brief, figure in the contactee movement. In early 1951, Williamson was summarily ejected from the University of Arizona on the grounds of poor scholarship. Having been deeply moved by William Dudley Pelley's 1950 book Star Guests, he went on to assist in the production of the organization's monthly journal, Valor.
"At the time, Pelley had been recently released from prison after serving eight years for his wartime opposition to the government and to the policies of President Roosevelt. The leader of a fascist body called the Silver Shirts, Pelley, like Williamson, was hypnotized by occult matters and compiled massive volumes of material on contact with allegedly higher forms of intelligence. Pelley became a major influence in the life of Williamson, who ultimately combined his fascination with the occult and flying saucers by trying to contact extraterrestrial-intelligences with the help of a home-made Ouija board and channeling. Commenting on the subject of Williamson's reported channeling of extraterrestrials, researcher Sean Devney stated: 'When Williamson started to channel, it was something truly inexplicable. [He] would begin speaking in several different voices, one right after the other.'
"In 1954, Williamson published his own saucer-dominated volume, The Saucers Speak, which focused upon his well-publicized attempts to contact extraterrestrials via short-wave radio and Ouija boards. Actar of Mercury, Adu of Hatonn in Andromeda, Agfa Affa of Uranus, Ankar-22 of Jupiter, and Artok of Pluto were just some of the many purported extraterrestrials with whom Williamson claimed interaction. Then, in the latter part of the 1950s, Williamson changed his name, drafted a wholly fictitious academic and family background to accompany his latest identity, and essentially disappeared. He died in 1986, largely forgotten by the UFO research community that had briefly welcomed him into the fold in the 1950s. The Collins Elite never forgot him, however."
(Final Event, Nick Redfern, pgs. 55-56)
"George Hunt Williamson took Pelley's ideas into areas far beyond... orthodox Soulcraft system, but throughout his electric career Williamson maintained beliefs firmly grounded in the teachings of his former employer (despite his claims to have distanced himself from the Soulcraft Recorder). While Pelley utilized the flying saucers as supportive evidence for his religious system, Williamson focused his attentions on the spaceman, then worked a religious system into the 'reality' of the saucers. His ufological studies involved receiving transmissions from Martians via short-wave radio. These messages instructed him that humanity developed as Pelley had depicted in 'Star Guests' – by the mixing of apes and aliens. However, Earth had been visited by three types of extraterrestrial since then. According to Williamson, the 'Harvesters' traveled to earth from Sirius and help defeat evil on this planet. Earthly evil is a product of the violent machinations of the 'Intruders,' from Orion. Humanity is assisted in its spiritual development by the 'Migrants' (Williamson occasionally adopted Pelley's terminology and referred to this group as the 'Goodly Company'). Like Pelley, Williamson stressed reincarnation and the golden 'New Age' that will dawn after the apocalyptic battle that inaugurates the Aquarian Age.
"Williamson eventually became obsessed with uncovering artifacts from the lost continent of Lemuria and spent much of his time exploring Himalayan ruins. Although his later works focused on these endeavors, his 1950s works on 'Star Guests' activities resonated with a number of writers. Williamson's Pelley-inspired notions encouraged metaphysical oriented ufologists such as George Van Tassel, Max Flindt, and Erich von Daniken and insured an audience for his creation theories well beyond the limited sphere of Soulcraft."
(William Dudley Pelley: A Life in Right-Wing Extremism and the Occult, Scott Beekman, pg. 161)
|some of Williamson's latter works (i.e., the late 1950s, very early 1960s)|
"In 1952, the world found out, thanks to George Adamski, a sixty-one-year-old Polish-American who ran the Palomar Gardens Café at the base of Palomar Mountain, between San Diego and Los Angeles. Atop the mountain was the 200-inch Hale telescope, then the largest in the world, though Adamski liked to set up his own fifteen and six-inchers for passers-by to peer through at the heavens. Adamski also ran a theosophically inclined mystical order, the Royal Order of Tibet, and lectured regularly at the café on esoteric topics to a small coterie of followers who knew him as the 'Professor.'
"In 1949 Professor Adamski published a science-fiction novel, Pioneers of Space: A Trip to the Moon, Mars and Venus, under his own name, though it was actually written by his secretary, Lucy McGinnis. Soon afterwards he began incorporating flying saucers into his lectures, claiming to have seen and photographed the spacecraft. His reputation as a saucer spotter began to grow locally until, in 1950, he featured in Ray Palmer's Fate magazine. Adamski was fast becoming California's one-man flying saucer industry: business at the café was booming.
"With flying saucers very much in the news, Adamski's mystical saucer group began to attract new members, among them George Hunt Williamson...
"It was at that time Williamson and his wife, who had been attempting to contact the flying saucer occupants with an Ouija board, heard Professor Adamski's own tape-recorded communications with the Space Brothers. Deeply impressed, they joined the group and had become key members when, on 20 November 1952, Adamski, Lucy McGinnis, the Williamsons and fellow saucerers Alfred and Betty Bailey saw a large cigar-shaped object drifting over their cars as they drove through the California desert. Adamski told his passengers that it was one of the Space Brothers' airships and asked to be left behind.
"An hour later, the Professor returned with an incredible story. Alone in the desert with his telescope and camera, Adamski had seen a smaller, beautiful, craft land in the desert about half a mile away. Emerging from the craft was a human being from another world, about five feet six inches tall, in his late twenties with long blond hair, high cheekbones and a high forehead. He wore a one-piece brown outfit, red shoes and a perfect smile. Only a few words were spoken, much of the exchange taking place through telepathy and body language.
"The Nordic-looking spaceman was called Orthon. He had come to California from his home planet Venus to express his race's concerns for humankind and, in particular, its use of the atom bomb. Orthon asked Adamski to help them spread their message, then, their meeting over, Orthon and his craft took off, leaving behind only the imprint of a single shoe, which Adamski and his friends were able to preserve in plaster of Paris. Strange symbols were visible in the cast, including a star and a swastika.
"Adamski was as good as his word and immediately began to talk about his amazing encounter. In 1953 his account (again ghost written, this time by Claire L. John) was included in a best-selling book, Flying Saucers Have Landed, along with an essay on flying saucers and antiquity by the Irish peer Desmond Leslie. Adamski traveled the world talking about his meetings with the Space Brothers, which continued after his initial contact. Among those seeking an audience with the Professor were Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and, allegedly, Pope John XXIII. Meanwhile the Space Brothers kept in touch, occasionally dropping by the café to catch up with their new Earthling friend, and taking him on trips into Outer Space, which he described in another book, Inside the Space Ship (1955).
"Later investigations haven't been kind to the Polish professor – his iconic UFO photograph looks uncannily like a chicken feeder and a flying saucer design depicted in a technical paper that was widely circulated in early 1952. What really happened that day in the desert only Adamski, and perhaps Orthon, knew, but the timing of his encounter couldn't have been better, occurring just months after the Washington DC flap and just as the CIA and the US Air Force were discussing how to defuse the saucer issue.
"Adamski stories provided a much-needed answer to the flying saucer question: the occupants weren't evil Russians, they were peace-loving Venusians. While the burgeoning science-minded UFO community, epitomized by Leon Davidson, derided his account, the more spiritually minded tended to accept it, as did the general populace. As Adamski's fame spread, a number of other 'contactees' emerged, all telling similar stories of benevolent Space Brothers and joy rides into Outer Space."
(Mirage Men, Mark Pilkington, pgs. 100-102)
"Speculation that Adamski, and some of the other contactees were embroiled in intelligence games has existed since the 1950s. Leon Davidson contacted Adamski shortly after he went public with his encounter, exchanging several letters with him over the years. Asked by Davidson if there was anything at all unusual about Orthon and his fellow Space Brothers, Adamski replied that he was 'very definitely a human being... with his hair cut and in a business suit as men here wear he could mingle with anyone, anywhere.'
"Davidson naturally sensed Allen Dulles's stagecraft behind Adamski's encounters. His later 'trips' to Outer Space, documented in Inside the Space Ships, always began with the Space Brothers picking him up in a black Pontiac and driving him out into the desert. Here, Adamski would encounter a landed 'scout craft', inside which he would sit in a chair and watch the stars zoom by on a pair of screens (the craft's portholes were always closed), though he sensed 'no motion at all' while flying. During these trips 'newsreels' from Venus would be shown on the screens and the Space Brothers would lecture on various topics, all the while serving Adamski oddly coloured drinks. A suspicious Davidson noted that in 1955, a 'Rocket to the Moon' ride had opened at Disneyland that used black-projections to create the sensation of spaceflight. Were Adamski's space journeys concocted using similar Hollywood special effects? And just what was in those in-flight drinks that the Space Brothers were serving up to him?
"Whoever was behind Adamski's adventures, the involvement of Silver Shirt George Hunt Williamson and his circle, combined with persistent rumors that the Royal Order of Tibet masked a moonshine operation during Prohibition, would have been enough on their own to warrant the FBI's undivided attention. And Adamski had it, from an early stage in his career. A September 1950 FBI report paints a vivid picture. 'If you ask me,' the Professor told an FBI agent, 'they probably have a communist form of government... That is a thing of the future – more advanced. He also predicted that 'Russia will dominate the world and we will then have an era of peace for 1,000 years.'"
(ibid, pgs. 103-104)
The FBI contact of Adamski was echoed in Redfern's account, which noted that originally elements of the national security apparatus were concerned that the UFO encounters were some type of communist mind control plot. No doubt Adamski's observations about communism would have raised a few eyebrows during this era (though he never seems to have run afoul of the red hunters significantly) and its entirely possible those curious drinks he was served by his Space Brothers was a part of an enhanced interrogation the US intelligence community subjected him to to get to the bottom of his claims.
Still, Redfern insists that the intelligence community (or at least the Collins Elite) had a serious interest in Adamski. They seem to have become especially taken in by his claims due to his association with the above-mentioned Desmond Leslie.
"... Richard Duke told me that the CollinsElite quickly became concerned by the working relationship that existed between Adamski and Leslie, and for one very stark and eye-opening reason: Desmond Leslie had a long and rich link to the world of the occult, including Aleister Crowley himself.
"Leslie's father, Sir Shane, who was a second cousin to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was a truly colorful character who caused a sensation by converting to Roman Catholicism and the Nationalist cause. In addition, he spent part of his early years in Russia, where he became friends with Leo Tolstoy, before traveling across Europe. It was during these travels that Sir Shane became obsessed with the world of the supernatural, which led him to carefully collect stories of his Ghost Book, published in 1955. Sir Shane's closest friends at this time included the acclaimed paranormal novelist, M. R. James and the eccentric Lord Tredegar, who dabbled in the black arts, under the influence of Aleister Crowley's teachings, at his country estate in Wales.
"So Desmond Leslie was, in reality, someone who had been firmly exposed to the occult and the teachings of Crowley. Just like Jack Parsons, in fact."
(Final Events, Nick Redfern, pgs. 54-55)
"According to my information, contactee George Adamski had connections with American fascist leader William Dudley Pelley, who was interned during the war. Another seminal contactee, George Hunt Williamson (whose real name was Michel d'Obrenovic), was associated with Pelley's organization in the early 50s. In fact, Pelley may have put Williamson in touch with Adamski. Other associates of Williamson during the great era of the flying saucers were such contacteess John McCoy and the two Stanford brothers, Ray and Rex.
"The connections among all these men, who have been very influential in shaping the UFO myth in the United States, are quite intricate...
"It was about 1950 that Williamson is said to of begun working for Pelley at the offices of Soulcraft Publications in Noblesville, Indiana, before moving to California, where he witnessed Adamski's desert contact on November 20, 1952, with a Venusian that had long blond hair. Williamson, however, has assured me that he never embraced any of the racist theories that the pro-Nazi movements promoted..."
(Dimensions, Jacques Vallee, pg. 250)Pelley's biographer, Scott Beekman, does not agree with Vallee's time frame. He places Pelley's meeting with Williamson in 1953, after the Adamski close encounter. Still, Beekman seems to believe that there was some type of connection between Pelley and Adamski as well.
"... a young anthropologist named George Hunt Williamson, who began working for Pelley in 1953. Williamson was deeply interested in ufology and wrote a regular column on UFO sightings in Valor until 1954. Williamson then left Pelley's orbit and began a long and eccentric career investigating ufology, unexplained phenomena, and the occult.
"Williamson was already well-known in 1953 because of his connections with one of the most controversial figures in the UFO movement, George Adamski, who died in 1965. An opportunist of dubious morals, Adamski established himself as a minor metaphysical teacher in the 1930s, when he created the Royal Order of Tibet. 'Professor' Adamski's teachings were swiped whole cloth from the I AM movement, and the Royal Order eked out a meager existence until the late 1940s. Inspired by the Arnold sightings, Adamski began lecturing on flying saucers (of which he claimed to have seen 184 by 1950) and writing science-fiction stories.
"During the early 1950s, Williamson had traveled to California to meet Adamski, and discuss UFOs. In November 1952 Williamson, Adamski, and five others ushered in the 'contactee era' by allegedly conversing with a Venusian near Desert Center, California. The spaceman encountered was described as 'Aryan' looking, with long blond hair and blue eyes, a point that critics familiar with the backgrounds of Adamski and Williamson quickly seized upon as evidence both fraud and racism. Adamski spent the rest of the decade writing about his frequent encounters with aliens (including rides into outer space) and promoting the spiritual teachings the spacemen allegedly imparted to him. That the spacemen's religious system was identical to Adamski's prior Royal Order of Tibet teachings (and that his pictures of the spaceship bore a striking resemblance to out-of-focus ceiling light fixtures) is usually cited as irrefutable evidence of Adamski's chicanery.
"Despite the highly questionable aspects of Adamski and Williamson's stories, Pelley continued to trumpet his association with them and the validity of their alien encounters. In Valor, Pelley recounted their adventures and reprinted letters he received from Williamson, Adamski, and Adamski's secretary, Lucy McGinnis (who ghostwrote all of his books). When Adamski began publishing accounts of the spacemen's spiritual system, which, being I AM derived, bore close similarities to Soulcraft, Pelley approvingly noted the material as further extraterrestrial evidence of the validity of his own religious teachings."
(William Dudley Pelley: A Life in Right-Wing Extremism and the Occult, Scott Beekman, pgs. 154-155)
So to recap, the Collins Elite allegedly became convinced of the occult nature of the UFO phenomenon as a result of the experiences recounted by several contactees in the early 1950s, but most notably those produced by the three Georges: Van Tassel, Williamson, and Adamski. Of these three, Williamson most certainly had ties to Pelley and Adamski most likely did as well. Further, the metaphysical aspects of their respective systems, which most fascinated the Collins Elite, seem to have been largely based upon the system Pelley originally devised in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and which was later adopted wholesale by the much more successful I AM movement.
|Guy Ballard, the founder of the I AM movement|
But of course the very existence of the Collins Elite is still highly debatable, and thus can hardly be held up as confirmation of the American national security's apparatus' interest in Pelley's work. The existence of the next network we shall consider is not only certain beyond a shadow of a doubt, however, but evidence pointing to their interest in Pelley's theology is also much more compelling as well. Stay tuned for further revelations.