Nigel Watson reports:
From the 27 to 28 May 2015, La Casa Encendida ('The House on Fire'), Madrid, held a series of talks by UFO experts about the historical origins and foundations of modern UFO beliefs and theories.
The star guest was Jacques Vallee, and it was great to actually meet the inspiration for so much on this website and who influenced the creation of Magonia magazine, and Peter Rogerson’s INTCAT project.
In 2010, with Chris Aubeck a fellow speaker and organiser of the meetings, Jacques wrote ‘Wonders of the Sky’ that chronicles 500 anomalous events from Ancient Egypt right up to 1879. This certainly indicates that UFOs and related events are nothing new. Indeed, in 2003, Chris set up the online Magonia project to collect old newsclippings and reports of UFO-type events from the past, resulting in a massive 30,000 to 40,000 items being posted, with more being added everyday.
Jacques knows there is something unusual going on. “I don’t have a personal theory,” he says. “I’m not trying to sell a theory. I can’t give an answer, but there does seem to be a non-human consciousness that seems to be amongst us that is an enigma that science needs to study.”
His view of alien abductions is that “I believe witnesses have real experiences, my problem with them is that with the use of hypnosis to obtain alien abduction ‘memories’ it can damage the perception of normal life.”
“As civilisation has developed people integrate the UFO phenomenon into their lives as folklore and mythology, and it seems to act as a control system. The question is are we creating this control system or is something outside us that is manipulating us?”
Chris Aubeck, spoke about the issue of trying to unveil the clouds of folklore and mythology that has attached to the subject of luminous and non-luminous objects seen in the sky. “We need to exclude such things as Reptilians, Roswell, Pyramids, Faces on the Moon, Anunnaki and the Bermuda Triangle from our data analysis,” he said.
Chris also spoke about his own work on the theme of meteorites being being found covered with hieroglyphics and containing ‘alien’ bodies inside, and noted he had found 65 cases of people between 1880-1920 who claimed to be from other planets (most of whom were locked up rather than being invited to daytime TV shows as they would be today!).
Theo Paijmans from Holland presented a talk on the influence of early or proto-science fiction literature on UFO-type sightings in the 19th and early 20th Century. He noted how the expectations and anticipations of the ‘industrial imagination’ connected to the proto-UFO sightings of the 1880s onwards, as well as with the growing body of proto-science fiction that was so popular at that time. He showed some wonderful illustrations from these works in his presentation.
I continued Theo’s theme with a talk about the enthusiasm for flight during the 19th Century inspiring new inventions, science fiction stories and sightings of anything in the sky as being of ‘phantom airships’ piloted by secret inventors. I also mentioned how the German menace influenced sightings during WWI that I chronicle in my book ‘UFOs of the First World War’.
Jesus Callejo reviewed the story of how humanity has always dreamed of flying, and the gadgets and inventions that have been designed and built since 500 AD to make the dreams a reality. Such attempts were often fatal either because their prototypes drastically failed, or were condemned as the work of the Devil making their inventors flee for their lives.
Another speaker was Juan Jose Sanchez-Oro, a professional historian who graduated from the Universidad de Complutense, who spoke about the evolving role of otherworldly beings in belief and folklore over time. Unfortunately, I missed his talk.
The event hosted at La Casa Encendida, contained rooms full of alien related exhibits and film shows, making it a ufological delight. It was certainly a great opportunity to meet other ufologists who have been exploring historical cases and their wider context. It was also a wonderful opportunity to see and taste the delights of Madrid. A reminder of some of the Anglo-French UFO meetings of the 1980s!