What I Think About When I Think About UFOs

Medusa phone pics


As a young girl reading about our strange world, my first love was flying saucers. After 50 years my interest has yet to wane, as I’m still surprised by where the UFO can take a person.

I recently bought a copy of Patrick Harpur’s “Daimonic Reality”, a book which has been highly praised by people whose opinion I value. I’ve read about a quarter of the book, it’s easy to read and he does a good job of explicating the ways in which various paranormal events can be read at multiple levels. His discussion is very much informed by Jung’s theories.

I was annoyed by his introduction of the anima on page 16: “The Anima (or, in a woman, the animus) is the second major archetype uncovered by Jung. She is the female principle in a man, the personification of the unconscious itself. As such there is no end to the images by which she represents herself – virgin, crone, wife, girl-next-door, goddess, nymph, lamia and so on.”

Reader, I am a woman. As such, I was looking forward to a following sentence listing some of the forms in which the animus manifests himself, but it was not to be. I understand the principle of just turning the archetype around, but at the same time this book is 330 pages long and I think one more sentence could have been shoehorned in without catastrophe.  I noted this imbalance especially as Harpur afterward quickly jumps into a discussion of the mandala as symbol of the individuated or completed self, and explains that Jung viewed the flying saucer as a manifestation of the mandala in this sense. Not attempting to balance male and female in the midst of such a discussion struck a discordant note to me.

Concerned that I was giving Harpur short shrift, I skipped forward to the last chapter. Harpur concludes with an insightful discussion of Perseus’ quest to kill Medusa, of whom Harpur remarks: “It is difficult to know what Medusa represents in the psychological sense.” (p. 286) Now, all of these myths have variations. I’d heard that Medusa’s troubles began when Poseidon raped her in Athena’s temple, which would explain a lot. Again, thinking this may be an modern gloss on some truly obscure ancient mystery, I checked online to find that this version of Medusa’s story first appears in Ovid.

So, maybe – like the rest of us – Harpur has not yet integrated all of the self: male and female, hero and monster, inside and outside, living and dead. However, he gives us many tools and concepts which will be useful for us to strike out on this journey for ourselves, one of the most admirable of activities. I recommend this book to anyone looking to understand more about the Jungian approach to the paranormal and reading events for their symbolic meaning.

This was on my mind as I was reading UFO twitter, trying to avoid arguing with people about UFOs. I get aggravated by the gatekeeping, the cliquishness, the snide tone, the smugness, the side-choosing. I feel it creates an atmosphere where, especially, experiencers will feel they can’t tell their own stories and get a fair hearing. Again, the theme arises of an inside (in group) and outside (out group), the self (whoever agrees with you regarding material vs. ‘spiritual’, let’s say) and the other; etc.

Now, you as the reader will see where I am going to end up. But I hadn’t got there when I was struck by some overlapping visual/mental images – I saw a shining UFO in the heavens, I thought of all the people who report sexual encounters inside of UFOs, I saw the Tibetan mother/father cosmic union mandala – and I realized that the UFO mandala illuminates the shadow for all of us in contact with it, in an invitation to reconciliation.

Not just UFO witnesses, but also those who fall under the spell of the image of the flying saucer find that certain vexing parts of our awareness suddenly stand out in stark relief and demand our attention. Try as we might to vanquish these provoking emanations, they will not recede until we address them as equal participants in this great initiation of the UFO. Material or immaterial, male or female, human or alien, researcher or witness, colonizer or indigenous, past or present, living or dead – the UFO challenges us to make our peace with all these apparently contradictory aspects of its mystery.

Thus, I do my best to respect people’s quests in this unknown country. None of us have the final answer, and this phenomenon manifests on many levels of reality which all need study to further our understanding. Each of us approaches this puzzle from where we stand, as no one can do otherwise. It’s pointless to judge another’s journey by your own, in fact in this way you will likely impede any insight. Of course charlatans and worse pop up in this field. I would argue that dealing with them in an oppositional manner only feeds their fire, thus creating larger shadows.

Better to starve them of oxygen  – though more difficult on every level to accomplish.

Best wishes to us all in our initiation into the cosmic mandala.


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