The Subtle Racism of Ufology

An Orb of Light Chris Brown Witnessed

On last week’s episode of The Experience I spoke with Ardy Sixkiller Clarke about her new book, Sky People. Through direct interviews with trusting people living in remote villages throughout Mesoamerica, Ardy paints a picture of “alien” phenomena that is both similar to what we’ve all heard and distinct. Distinct in that the predominant entity encountered is not a short gray doctor with wraparound eyes, but a ball of light that can morph into a (usually tall) humanoid. A light being.

In my experiences, I have seen 3 types of light balls in 3 different contexts, which I will talk about on an upcoming episode of the podcast. (But they didn’t morph into anything). The guest on this show will be Chris Brown–an American man who had a couple of ball light incidents, which really shook him up in the “I must tell the world at all costs/MUFON investigators say I’m the only one who has been this close to this phenomenon” sort of way.

Ah, I remember the days of “I must tell the world!” enthusiasm. But I also remember what comes next: belief/disbelief/ridicule/some friends and allies/some stalkers and trollers/nothing. George Hansen’s audience will recognize this as part of Trickster Theory: entering any paranormal field is like walking into the dangerous poppy fields of Oz, where everything goes wonky and you forget who you are. It’s a subculture war for the hearts and minds of anyone who will listen. It’s intellectual bum fights.

Lately I’ve come to wonder if this is accurate. Is there really a trap set by a seeming intelligence hovering about like an air-born hallucinogen, just waiting for us to step into its mist? Or is it more likely that this circus of responses to one’s abnormal experience ending in nothing concrete (and often tears) is what happens when the culture defines normalcy by exclusion?

I mean, if I were to take my ball of light encounters to someone, anyone, from an indigenous nation who was raised to listen with an ear toward inclusiveness, that person wouldn’t shut the door on my encounter because it doesn’t challenge their sense of normalcy. It adds to and enriches it. In Western culture it would only add to and enrich one’s experience if I told it as fiction. To tell it as nonfiction is taboo.

So perhaps this belief/disbelief/ridicule/some friendships/some stalkers and trollers/nothing churn is one of neuroticism produced by the friction of a subculture attempting to be inclusive within an exclusionary mainstream culture, which is where its real heart beats. Perhaps, just perhaps, this Trickster Theory is describing a defense mechanism inherent to Western thought.

Now let’s get back to Chris Brown’s experiences. He’s excited by them because he was told by MUFON investigators that they were unique in their close proximity. So close were these lights that he could describe what was happening within them. Never been done before. Never.

Never, MUFON? What about all of the Native Americans living right here who have such a close relationship with these ball light beings that they set a space aside for them to show up during ceremony and sweat lodges? What about the fact that they often do show up?

Mesoamerican research is one thing. Traveling expenses are ridiculous, so let’s all thank Ardy Clarke for putting up her own money to do this. But what about North America? Canada? What about right here? Why is it again on Ardy Clarke to talk to Native Americans in her first book and one forthcoming?

While it is true that ball light phenomena have been reported time and again in association with “alien”, “ghost/spirit”, and other encounters… and as I said, I’ve personally seen them… why does reading Ardy Clarke’s book feel like a revelation? Why was Chris Brown told his experience was unique?

Where are the voices from other cultures standing right beside us? Are we afraid to speak with them? Are we afraid to learn that they have a fuller understanding of certain phenomena because they’ve built relationships with intelligences we have yet to engage in any meaningful way, while we’re still stuck on “Is it real?” and “I know what I saw!” and “The government better tell us what it knows–We have a right!”

How does that Western mind–which, like a child, believes itself to be the pinnacle of what Mind is and therefore believes itself to be at the frontier of exploration–engage its neighbor who has already formed close bonds with the transrational beings we ogle at a distance?

What would happen to ufology and the infantile Disclosure Movement if they were to learn that there is nothing left to pioneer, discover, or fight for, because those words are products of a culture that dominates through exclusivity and separation? What if they learn that these transrational beings entered into relationship with non-Westernized peoples long ago and that their “rational mind” pinnacle is only as 1st World as their bullets and disease?

What revelation about us and our culture awaits us on the waking side of the poppy field? Do we want to find out?

Do we honestly?

I submit to you that we suffer from a fear greater than the alien and that is a fear of our own shortcomings. The shortcomings of how we process and shape reality. And that fear is why we rarely engage people we believe we’ve “conquered” or who are otherwise born into cultures we’ve deemed “inferior.”

Meanwhile, they don’t deem us inferior or superior because their mind transcends that childish comparison. But just try telling a little kid who thinks he’s an adult that he’s a little kid. He’ll throw a tantrum in protest, such is the strength of the image he has built of himself.

There is a simple way out of this field of pies. Investigators? Actively engage and include everyone. That may mean setting aside the knowledge we’ve accumulated, giving up the dominant role of the investigator, and just listening. Not foisting hypnosis on people to hear that story again, either. Just listening.

Since we don’t actually know anything about the unknown, isn’t it more honest to admit we’re all still learning?

In the classroom we are equals. We’re sharing. We’re equals. Equality is the foundation of right relationship with any being, known or unknown. Dare we become students again? Dare we speak with and not at? Dare we let go the temper tantrums and allow ourselves to be wild and alive with curiosity again?

Dare we make the leap from subculture to transculture?

If we do, perhaps we’ll throw the Trickster for a loop.

 

 

There Can Be No Us

Originally posted on The Squeaky Robot:

I’ve just now arrived in Phrae, a low-key town with airy teak houses and unpretentious local food. A car backfires in the distance every ten minutes or so. Locals emerge out of their dark shops as they see me walking by; they smile and wave while encouraging their timid children to do the same.

The lady who owns this guesthouse has a scattered mind. She is bustling around the place while posing me questions: What’s my name? How old am I? Do I have a boyfriend? she asks while absorbed in her tasks. No, I say. She stops her bustling and looks at me intently with thick glasses that make her eyes look comically large and says: Freedom.


I will never claim to be on a spiritual journey; I will also never attempt to “find myself” via travel. Knowing oneself has less to do with one’s geographical coordinates and…

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