Angels and Extra-Terrestrials

When The Book of the Law was dictated to Aleister Crowley in April 1904, he tentatively identified the messenger as “a being of praeter-human intelligence.” By 1909, Crowley was convinced that this messenger, Aiwaz or Aiwass, was an “angel” and, specifically, his very own Holy Guardian Angel.

Crowley had originally attempted to invoke this being in 1898, unsuccessfully as he thought. In 1906, he achieved success and found that the experience of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel was of the same nature as the Samadhi aimed for in orthodox hatha yoga. If this terminological equation is obscure, Crowley’s writings on the subject, circa 1900-1920, are doubly or triply obscure, alternating between skepticism and piety in tone and between literalness and highly figurative symbolism in content.

As late as the Cefalu period (1919-1921), Crowley’s personal view seems to have inclined toward skepticism or symbolism, whatever he may have written in his books; for at Cefalu he unambiguously told the Australian magician, Frank Bennett, that “it was all a matter of getting the subconscious mind to work … for the subconscious mind was our Holy Guardian Angel.” (John Symonds and Kenneth Grant, footnote 4 to Chapter 90 of The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.)*
*This does not necessarily imply the very limited Freudian subconscious alone. Crowley also wrote during the Cefalu period that “the subconscious mind is aware of its own immortality” (The Magical Record of the Beast 666, edited by John Symonds and Kenneth Grant.) Obviously, the equation Holy Guardian Angel = subconscious even then implied for Crowley a subconscious that existed before, and will exist after, the lifetime of the conscious ego.

During the 1920s, Crowley became convinced that there was more to the Angel than this; he increasingly spoke of Aiwaz as a separate being. In old age, writing in Magick Without Tears (c. 1942) he said unflinchingly that the Holy Guardian Angel is “a separate being—of angelic nature—more than a man.”

Kenneth Grant, the disciple who became Outer Head of one branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis after Crowley’s death, now defines Aiwaz as “extra-mundane or extra-terrestrial”—immediately forming a possible link between Crowley’s magick and the interesting (and growing) number of citizens who claim to have received visits or messages from Outer Space. This group consists largely—as any investigation of the literature discloses—of eccentrics, odd-balls, persons of dubious sanity, and obvious charlatans. The prestigious and very objective Prof. Hynek, however, in his The UFO Experience, has shown that some of these UFO “contactees” have none of the stigmata of lunacy and seem to be quite sober, sane and thoughtful observers. There seems only two ways of accounting for their experiences: either we must accept that “hallucinations” can occur to very sound minds as well as to the unstable, or we must accept that they were contacted by some form of Higher Intelligence, which they interpreted as interplanetary.

This article will consider three of the most interesting contactees, not mentioned in any of the UFO literature I have read. Curiously, all three were trained scientists; all three were multi-disciplinary in their interests, but basically oriented to psychology-psychiatry; all three are brilliant men and also erratic and heretical, so that more conservative scientists have denounced them as cultists or “messiahs.” I refer to Wilhelm Reich, M.D., John Lilly, M.D., and Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

All three strangely parallel Crowley in more ways than the average UFO contactee does.

Dr. Reich was once Freud’s favorite pupil, but he developed so many original and dissenting notions that—like Jung and Adler and others—he was finally expelled from the International Psychoanalytical Association. Reich was also thrown out of the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and the nation of Germany (when the Nazis ruled there); he left Norway because of a press campaign of villification that rivals the similar campaign against Crowley in sheer hysteria and unfairness; in the United States, he was imprisoned and had his books burned in an incinerator by agents of the Food and Drug Administration.

A man who aroused that much enmity must have been at least partially right; and today—nearly two decades after his death in Lewisburg prison, as a “cancer quack”—Reich’s work has been confirmed in several ways. His methods of psychotherapy, involving the whole body of the patient, are widely copied by Gestaltists, Rolfers and Primal Therapists (among others) and are obviously useful with many kinds of bio-psychological problems. His theory that chronic frustration (especially sexual frustration) plays a role in the etiology of cancer has been confirmed by statistical studies showing a pre-cancer personality in persons who later developed this disease. (See Psychological Variables in Human Cancer, ed. by Bruno Klopfer, M.D.)

And Reich’s most controversial claim—the existence of a blue-tinted energy field around living organisms, visible with special equipment—has been proven by the Kirlian photographic process invented in Russia and now widely used over here. Occultists, who have known about this field for many centuries, can only be amazed that Reich’s evidence was attributed to “hallucination” by the AMA and led to his imprisonment in 1956. Like the Holy Inquisitors who condemned Galileo, Reich’s opponents in the Food and Drug Administration seemingly never checked his experiments, but assumed that he must have been hallucinating this field.

At the end of his struggle with the FDA, while admittedly in a state of emotional stress and attributing his legal problems alternately to a conspiracy of the big pharmaceutical corporations or the Communist Party, Dr. Reich reported his contact with spacemen. Needless to say, this did not help his case and strengthened the official FDA-AMA line that he was a bit funny in the head.

Reich claimed, in his last book, Contact With Space, that UFOs or “flying saucers” regularly hovered above his laboratory (in Rangely, Maine) whenever he performed certain experiments with the bio-energetic field—the “orgone” field, he called it. Among his other “lunacies” (by 1950s standards), Dr. Reich was very worried about air pollution and his last researches were devoted to using the “orgone” to break up deadly air clusters and even to make rain and revitalize deserts. (He had a few striking successes and also a few failures.) The space-visitors, he noted, appeared during these experiments, but not at any other time.

Several critics have disparagingly described Reich as a “magician,” a “shaman,” even (in one FDS publication) a “Green-wich Village Swami.” (He lived in Greenwich Village for two years once.) There was, of course, some truth to this. His “orgone” is just a scientific name for the astral energy always used by magicians and witches. His rain-making experiments are a technological equivalent of the earliest and most widespread of all shamanistic practices. His later philosophical writings, renouncing “mechanism” in favor of “functionalism” and frankly admitting that “functionalism” is pretty close to primitive “animism,” cut back through the last 300 years of mechanistic science to rejoin the mystic-scientists and magician-scientists such, as Bruno and Paracelsus who were rivals to the materialistic school of Newton and Descartes. Indeed, Reich recognized in Bruno’s eroto-magical approach to astronomy a foreshadowing of his own physical theories.

More strikingly, on the social and political level, Reich’s theories were almost precisely parallel to Crowley’s. (This point is worthy of a whole book, and I can only pray that Israel Regardie, who once studied magick with Crowley and now practices Reichian psycho-therapy, will someday write that book.) Basically, both Crowley and Reich felt that Christian sexual “morals” were destructive to both mind and body; that only after such “morality” was expunged totally could a man or woman function as a full human; and that the alternative was neither Hefnerian rationalism nor hippie-esque blind whim, but an organic internal navigator which Crowley called “True Will” and Reich called “self-regulation.” Modern cybernetic biology has shown beyond doubt that many forms of such self-correcting (feedback) mechanisms exist in every living being.

John Lilly, M.D., has largely led a less controversial life than Reich. A psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, neurologist, mathematician, cyberneticist and delphinologist (among other things), Dr. Lilly was once described by the NY Times as a “walking one-man syllabus of Western civilization;” he only became controversial when his work on LSD and isolation led him to “mystical” speculations.

Dr. Lilly described in his Programming and Meta-programming in the Human Biocomputer and The Center of the Cyclone a series of experiments in which he attempted to define the space-time parameters of the human mind more sharply than hitherto. Briefly, his procedure was to shut out as far as possible all external stimuli—by use of blindfold, ear-plugs, etc. and suspension in al-most gravity-less condition underwater—while enduring an 8-hours LSD trip.

In Programming and Meta-Programming, Dr. Lilly reports on “contacts” or experiences, during these tank experiments, in which he seemingly had telepathic communications with certain cosmic beings who are “programming us in the long term. They nurture us. They experiment on us. They control the probability of our discovering and exploiting new science … discoveries such as nuclear energy, LSD-25, RNA-DNA, etc. are … under control by these beings … only limited choices are still available to us as a species. (Italics in original.)

Dr. Lilly very carefully emphasizes that he has no scientific way of determining whether these “contacts” are with true extra-terrestrials or with some imaginative part of his own unconscious.

In The Center of the Cyclone, Dr. Lilly goes further and admits that among the beings he met were two who seemed to him (at the time) to be “angels.” He adds objectively, “These two guides may be two aspects of my own functioning at the supraself level. They may be entities in other spaces, other universes … They may be representatives of an esoteric hidden school … They may be members of a civilization a hundred thousand years or so ahead of ours …” Later, in a section of “programs” (meditations) aiming to make contact with these guides easier, Dr. Lilly writes to himself (and any readers who care to follow him): “I am not limited by the known physical senses, known physical signals sent/received by my brain … in other universes and spaces, the other states of being, are teachers, guardians … the teachers‘ teachers take over my lessons. (New unknowns become known. The cycle repeats. Mastered, these unknowns are transcended.)”

Dr. Lilly seems to have recreated, in a rationalized or science-fiction format, the basic operating methods of Sufi and Rosicrucian magick. And, if Reich’s sexual doctrines remind us of Crowley, even more Dr. Lilly’s use of a psychedelic drug in this research reminds us of the Beast Himself.

Dr. Timothy Leary—like Reich and unlike Lilly—has been put in a cage because of his scientific-religious writings. Also like Reich, he was been widely accused of insanity or incoherence by his learned colleagues—and, like Reich, he has been tested, by court psychiatrists and pronounced quite sane. Like Dr. Lilly, he was a totally respectable and orthodox academic-type scientist until he began experimenting with LSD: since then, he has become, in the public mind, a monstro-demoniac figure almost as dreadful as Crowley.

In the summer of 1973, in Folsom Prison, Dr. Leary began a course of experiments (without drugs) to contact Higher Intelligences. He was frankly following the methods of Dr. John Dee and Sir Edward Kelly, as he understands them. (He had become interested in Dee and Kelly because of an experience in Bou-Saada, North Africa, in 1972, which oddly paralleled some of the visions Crowley obtained there in 1909 using Dee and Kelly’s Enochian invocations.) Briefly, Dr. Leary, being separated from his wife by the prison bars, began with her an effort to channel all sexual feelings upward in the usual kundalini path to the crown chakra; all feelings of sexual frustration, anger at the prison situation, etc. were similarly sublimated. Whether or not Dee and Kelly actually used this largely Tantric system or a more Crowleyan system I don’t know, but Leary in any event complicated this matter by drawing into the experiment another convict and this man’s girlfriend.

(This corresponds not only to the qualrilinear circuit of Dee-Mrs. Dee—Kelly-Mrs. Kelly but also, in Leary’s calculations, to the four chains inside the DNA molecule: adenine, guanine, cystosine and thymine. Dr. Leary is convinced that the DNA is—more or less—the immortal Higher Self or Atman that “remembers” previous stages in history and evolution, and also that this DNA code is of extra-terrestrial origin.)

The results of this experiment are given in Dr. Leary’s new book, Terra II–Briefly, 21 “trans-missions” were received by the four parties. In his summary, the message is condensed as follows:

“It is time for life on earth to leave the planetary womb and to walk through the stars.

“Life was seeded on your planet billions of years ago by nucleotide templates which contained the blueprint for gradual evolution through a sequence of bio-mechanical stages.

“The goal of evolution is to produce nervous systems capable of communicating with and returning to the Galactic Network where We, your interstellar parents, await you …

“You are about to discover the key to immortality in the chemical structure of the genetic code, within which you will find the scripture of life. The time has come for your to accept the responsibility of immortality. It is not necessary for you to die … Come home in glory.”

As for the possibility that all this is auto-suggestion, Dr. Leary typically states this without back-tracking a bit on the mind-blowing implications of the message: “If the Starseed transmissions are hallucinations, it does not matter. Since they are the most logical and practical and optimistic hallucinations available, they can be accepted and acted upon until more amusing, hopeful hypotheses come along.”

The rest of the book—the largest part of it—consists of examination of current scientific literature, confirming that true interstellar flight (as distinct from our current interplanetary toddlings) is possible by 2000 A.D. if a project is started at once, and that comparative immortality is possible by that date. (The trigger molecule that instigates aging, senility and death by old age can be inhibited. This might be a lot closer than 26 years in the future.)*
* Since writing the above, I have received a review copy of The Immortality Factor, by Osborn Egerberg Jr. soon to be published by E.P. Dutton Co. Mr. Egerberg is also convinced that compara-tive immortality (abolition of death by aging) is about to be achieved, and he is worried about the social consequences in our crowded world. He quotes estimates by various scientists of how soon chemists will achieve this feat—inhibition of the molecular triggers leading to senility and death. In 1962, Arthur Clarke predicted it would arrive in the last 21st Century; in 1964, a panel of experts estimated no earlier than 1992 nor later than 2065. In 1969, another panel estimated the discovery would arrive between 1993 and 2017. Dr. Leary, basing his calculations on studies published between 1971 and 1973, says the breakthrough may come in the 1980s. Very briefly, then, it may be said (for the first time in history) that nobody reading this page can be certain that he or she must die, even physically.

Dr. Leary, interestingly enough, also suggests that Dr. Dee was aware of the intergalactic origin of his own Enochian transmissions and described them as “angels” only to avoid trouble with the Inquisition.

I draw no conclusions from the above provocative data. Intelligent readers can interpret this evidence for themselves, in the light of their own occult experiments (if any.) It is obvious that Higher Intelligences, whoever and whatever they are, suffer some loss in translation through the nervous system which receives them: Crowley’s visions are notoriously Swinburnian; and Lilly’s and Leary’s are equally influenced by the science-fiction they presumably read for relaxation. Crowley was specifically told, in the Book of the Law and again in the North African visions, that death would be no more; he interpreted this allegorically* where Leary takes it literally. At minimum, this line of exploration suggests another bridge related to parapsychology but different from it, over which scientists and magicians may soon begin to have commerce with each other.
* The Book of Law says, “Think not, o king, upon that lie: That Thou Must Die: verily thou shalt not die, but live!” and “Death! thou shalt long for death. Death is forbidden, o man, unto thee.” That this is not directed to Crowley himself is indicated by the direct reference to his own death in II, 66: “Ah! thy death shall be lovely: whoso seeth it shall be glad.” Again, in the North African visions using the Dee-Kelly invocations, Crowley was told: “Behold! where now are the darkness and the terror and the lamentation? For ye are born into the new Aeon: ye shall not suffer death.” (The Vision and the Voice, Crowley, ed. by Israel Regardie.)

Gnostica, Number 23
Angels and Extra-Terrestrials
by Robert Anton Wilson appeared in Gnostica, Volume 3, Issue 11 in June 1974.