The Presencing of the Other
The following piece was written as an "abstract" for a lecture on orbs and other odd phenomena that I will be giving at the upcoming Prophets Conference in Glastonbury, UK, titled "Orbs: Interacting with Other Realms", from July 11 - 13. Information about attending this conference, along with other essays by presenters, can be found at http://www.greatmystery.org/ .
Whether the subject is crop circles, orbs, alien abductions, UFOs, miraculous appearances of the Virgin, spirit encounters in psychedelic states, and so on, we face the question of the existence of "the Other," of entities or energies that seem to have intention, and to exist largely beyond the current range of our perceptions, while they touch upon our world. Philosophers would agree that we don't know "things in themselves," but only those aspects of a thing that can be perceived by our senses and cognized by our mind. It is also clear that perception involves a tremendous amount of choice, and that choice is based upon our psychological disposition. We don't see the world as it is, but to a large extent we see the world as we are.
I think this is true with all phenomena, but it is especially true with phenomena that linger on the outer edge of the cultural imagination, such as otherworldly apparitions. It is almost as if we require a multisensory approach to these areas, as ordinary sense itself -- logic or rationality -- seems too limited. Rudolf Steiner defined higher modes of cognition as intuition, imagination, and inspiration. We can seek to make use of the faculty of "intellectual intuition" as a tool for exploration, taking care not to confuse thinking about something from believing in it, or feeling something from thinking we have knowledge about it. Making sure to keep thinking, feeling, believing, and willing separate requires intellectual discipline, and is the only way to approach what Steiner described as "the spiritual world" without getting lost in our own projections.
In my personal explorations of shamanism and my study of extraterrestrials, spirits, and so on, I have developed the hypothesis that these phenomena are neither real or imaginary. What seems to be happening is something subtler and harder to define: the alien "Other" is coming to presence within the human Psyche. This appears to be happening in phases and stages, or gradations, and it is a co-creative initiatory process for human consciousness, which has to go beyond dualistic or "either-or" logic in order to participate in the unfolding of this plot.
Carl Jung recognized that the flying saucer as an archetype represented a development in the collective Psyche -- and the round shape of the UFO, like the circular form of most crop circles, made it a symbol of psychic wholeness. Even in its form, the apparently tangible object was a symbolic representation of the movement toward conscious integration of unconscious forces. Since the 1940s, the "flying saucer myth" has developed into a vast Wagnerian narrative, featuring shadowy meetings between ETs and US Presidents, Faustian bargains, underground (or Underworld) bases, and diabolical activities designed to create terror in abducted victims. This new myth seems to be about, in part, the failure of conventional science and the collapse of traditional authority structures, when faced with the Other as a revealed aspect or projection of the Psyche.
At this point in our evolution, the aliens that have come closest to revealing themselves do not seem to have our best interests at heart. However, if the encounter with the "Other" is a co-creative process and mutual coming-to-presencing, then this makes perfect sense: Rather than meeting the alien in any objective terms, we are attracting the alien we deserve, one that fits our cultural narrative of dominator control and predatory technology. When we shift our frequency of awareness and our level of resonance, we may attract, invite, or co-create a different level of alien presence within our world. Therefore, the personal work of developing our consciousness and initiating ourselves in a nondual frame of reference may have critical effects on a planetary scale.
As for the orbs, those floating willow wisps that continue to make startling appearances on thousands of digital images, I must admit that I do not yet have a conceptual container in which to place them. I look forward to the Orbs Conference to develop my own perspective on this phenomenon. They may be one other way that an intelligent "Other" is sneaking its way into our mind-frame at this point in time, or they may be plasma particles that collect like dust on a lens.
One way I have developed of studying any abstruse area is to observe, not just the phenomenon itself, but what happens to the people who find themselves fascinated, and sometimes transfixed, by the subject. Are they becoming more presently aware, socially active, and open-hearted? Or is the phenomenon leading them out of themselves (into what Steiner saw as Luciferic diversions from humanity's proper path)? At a time when we are faced with accelerating climate change, global famine and water shortages based on our civilization's systemic use of resources, any spiritual path or esoteric study only has value if it leads us back to active engagement with our political, material, and social reality -- that is, increasingly, my opinion, in any case.
Image by susurrus-sparks, courtesy of Creative Commons license.