Scientology Rare Book Library Dr. Christopher Evans - Cults of Unreason
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Jesus is Alive and Well and Living on Venus

ON A COLD Saturday morning in March 1954 Mr George King was washing up the dishes in his bed-sitter in Maida Vale when a voice boomed out from nowhere: `Prepare yourself. You are to become the voice of Interplanetary Parliament.' Struck by the unexpectedness of the message George King dropped a plate.

Although he has subsequently claimed that he had never heard the voice before and had no real reason to suppose that he would ever hear it again, the experience, he tells us, had a devastating effect on him. Not the least of his puzzles was that he had never heard of the `Interplanetary Parliament'. Nor could he imagine where the voice - which came from outside himself and not as some mere telepathic signal - had originated. Before long all these mysteries were to be cleared up and Mr King, with the resolute band of followers who joined him, were to become embroiled in interplanetary intrigue and skulduggery of the most fantastic kind - adventures which would put to shame the pathetic delvings of more pedestrian mystics and occultists and, on a different level, the feeble excursions into space attempted by Soviet and American cosmonauts. For from this original contact and the numerous and voluble communications which followed, arose a minor religious movement which is today the most potent and best-organized of these many groups across the world which relate themselves, in the religious sense, to superior beings from outer space. This is the Aetherius Society, which numbers its supporters in thousands, has branches in most English-speaking countries and offers a complete religious package-deal including prayers, chants, complex rituals, arduous pilgrimages and a fantastic and far-flung philosophy geared to the terminology and iconography of the space age.

Like Scientology it has evolved from its roots as a mixture of dramatized science fiction and personal revelation, into a clear-cut religion with numerous devout adherents. Stylistically and intellectually it is, however, more gauche and, with an emphasis on the divine power of healing rather than on an outre version of psychoanalysis, seems to pitch for, and attract, the middle-aged and elderly rather than the young. It also relies heavily on the personality and dynamism of its founder and leader, and similarly propagates its beliefs and achievements in a series of fantastically enthusiastic publications which scale - to the outsider - the strangest heights of fantasy. In this chapter we will examine this history and attempt an account of its philosophy, principles and practice.

At the time of his first contact with the Masters from Outer Space, George King was thirty-five years old. He hails from the West Country where his mother for a period ran a healing sanctuary complete with `Holy Well' and other attractions for the spiritually minded tourist. After a spell in the now-defunct National Fire Service he moved into routine civilian life being employed in mundane jobs of the kind that earn one's bread and butter and devoting evenings and weekends to an enthusiastic study of mysticism and yoga.

According to his own account, the coming of the mysterious voice left him in a state of turmoil and bewilderment, and only the self-discipline of the practice of `pranayama' (a yogic system of breath control) enabled him to hold on to his mental capacities. Eight days after the initial contact he was `shaken to the core' by another amazing experience. A man dressed in spotless white robes walked through the door of his room (George immediately recognized him as a well-known eastern saint) and delivered a homily on the dire state of mankind and the need for its rapid spiritual regeneration. He also indicated that George had been selected to perform a great task, and that no matter how unworthy he felt himself to be, he had been chosen as one of the few capable of acting as servants of the Cosmic Masters. Advising him to continue to make himself ready for this task by the further intensive practice of yoga, the saintly visitor turned and left, passing through the door again with a magnificent gesture of contempt for material barriers.

The visit was soon followed by a truly momentous occurrence. George King found himself under the control of - he prefers to use the phrase `overshadowed by' - a being calling himself the `Master Aetherius' and hailing from Venus where apparently a full-blown, highly advanced civilization exists. Aetherius declared himself to be the spokesman of the Interplanetary Parliament which met on the planet Saturn and brought the news that this august body had agreed on George King as their `primary terrestrial channel'. At intervals he would be required to surrender his brain and body to act as the link between the mighty civilizations of the solar system and beyond, and the ignorant masses on earth. His mission (on the guidance of Aetherius and others) would be to alert the world, or those on it spiritually elevated enough to grasp the truth, to the fact that man was not alone in the universe and that the time had come for him to awaken to his cosmic as well as his physical responsibilities.

Pondering this development in his bed-sitter, George King realized that it was incumbent upon him to spread the Gospel by all means available - firstly some form of public meeting and second via a newsletter or magazine. The first possibility was quickly explored and a meeting was held in the Caxton Hall, Westminster.

London's Caxton Hall is perhaps best known for its society and celebrity registrar weddings, but its secondary role is intriguing and important in a different way. Here, night after night, the casual visitor in search of spiritual or mystical enlightenment will find himself offered at least one, and frequently a selection, of public meetings expressing these fascinating cross-currents of the psychic, the occult, the bizarre and the simply cranky, which are so essential to the smooth operation of any complex society in our troubled world. Why the Caxton Hall has become the traditional centre for these borderline interests is hard to say. Perhaps the dark wood-panelled walls, the carpeted stairways and the giant throne-like scats for the speakers, add an air of conviction which might otherwise be lacking. At any rate it was in the tiny Tudor room on the first floor, in the latter part of 1954, that the Master Aetherius, entrancing the body of Mr George King, gave his first public audience.

Despite the fact that meetings of the Aetherius Society may now be held in packed modern halls seating hundreds, in places as far apart as Los Angeles and Sydney, and to audiences that accept the authority of the Interplanetary Parliament almost as much as that of the national governing bodies, the essential pattern of the event has changed little since those early days in the Caxton Hall.

Preliminaries and introductions at these meetings are generally kept to a minimum - the audience have come to hear the star performer and have no more desire to listen to the ramblings of some tedious minion than have Scientologists when Hubbard himself is due on the platform. George King sits quietly in a chair and after one or two deep breaths dons a pair of close-fitting dark glasses. The house lights may be dimmed at this point and after the briefest of pauses the first communicator comes through. Traditionally, this is not the Master Aetherius but an entity who announces himself, in a staccato voice, as `Mars, Sector 6'. This individual's role seems to be that of a kind of psychic switchboard operator connecting two exchanges under difficult circumstances. He also conveys information about various celestial events from the arrival or departure of fleets of flying saucers to forthcoming terrestrial disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. This is couched in clipped phrases with a quasi-scientific ring to them, and may include such sentences as: `With an absorption measurement of 3, the greater percentage of magnetic power has yet to be established from a flux caused by recurrent reverberations within your atmosphere.' Or perhaps: `Take those M-ions inside of yourself, then your brain cells will release an opposite female magnetic energy. This will counteract the hurricane-force.' Or even: `Certain crops next summer will be very good as a direct result of even the low-scale absorption. It should be an excellent season for wool.'

After the edgy yapping of the Martian, the voice of the Master Aetherius, sounding like that of a working-class curate striving hard at the Bishop's tea party, comes as a striking contrast. It is unfortunately no more informative, though devotees of the Society seem able to listen to it for literally hours on end. Apart from his maddening habit of addressing everyone as `My dear friends', he is also prone to phrases such as `My heart bleeds that it is so', `Go ye forth brothers!' and even, occasionally, `Take heed, ye schemers!'

Despite the unpromising nature of this material, King's first meetings in a tiny room soon began to acquire a regular following, and it became necessary to move to one of the larger halls. In June 1955 interest was sufficiently high to allow the launching of a mimeographed magazine, at first entitled Aetherius Speaks to Earth and later, as its pretensions grew, Cosmic Voice.

Copies of early issues of Cosmic Voice are now collectors' items, and so great is the demand for them that the Society's headquarters in Fulham Road have issued special edited `reprints'. These included the text of many of the first recorded transmissions from Mars, Sector 6 (and his occasional replacement, Mars, Sector 8), Aetherius and even those highly controversial communications reputed to come from Jesus Christ himself.

This latter development, which gave the Aetherius Society its first brush with the national press and brought charges of blasphemy to its door, came as a great surprise not only to the audience, but also to George King, the medium. For one or two meetings prior to the occasion, the Master Aetherius had made a number of passing references to `the Master Jesus' who, he implied, was alive and well and having on Venus. The same evidently applied to such other great religious leaders as Buddha, and Rama-Krishna. In a section, `Your questions answered', in the July 1955 issue of Cosmic Voice, it is indicated that there is nothing unique about the Immaculate Conception - this is the way all planetary masters are reborn on Venus. Furthermore, one of the first flying saucer sightings ever reported has come to be called the Star of Bethlehem and it was, of course, the space vehicle which brought Jesus to his earthly abode.

Today such stuff would pass pretty well unnoticed in the press, but in 1955 the climate of opinion still favoured the notion that England was an actively Christian country with an actively Christian press who were expected to take up the cudgels in the defence of the national ethic. In a swingeing attack on George King, the Aetherius Society and anyone vaguely connected with it, the Sunday Empire News - a newspaper which bit the dust in the TV boom of the late fifties - even took the line that the group were the dupes of Communism. This unusual accusation depended on the frequent warnings from Mars, Venus and elsewhere emanating through King which urged the suspension of nuclear tests and warned the world that it was rushing headlong into another major war - a theme which we have seen runs strongly through most of the contactees' stories.

The personal appearance of Jesus at the Caxton Hall also induced a great surge of interest on the part of the public and, following an attack on King by the specialist weekly paper Psychic News, tickets for future meetings sold out weeks in advance.

The voice of Jesus (it is possible to hear it by purchasing tapes from the Aetherius Society) is disappointing, not to say irritating. Nor is what he has to say particularly convincing, being mainly a collection of platitudes dressed up in a faintly New Testament style - `Lead them as you would a little child', `within each heart there burns a flame of love', etc. Nevertheless, according to contemporary accounts of the early meetings, it had a startling effect on the audience, some of whom were visibly moved to tears. Whatever the stir it caused in the fifties, the Master Jesus, speaking from Venus, still `overshadows' the leader of the Aetherius Society to this day and is a completely credible figure to most members, who accept his communications as untainted in any way with blasphemy.

Jesus survives as a major figure in the Aetherius cult though its adherents are careful to point out that he is `but one of the Great Masters' and not the divine Son of God. Today the publications of the Society include occasional dissertations from him, all more or less in the same harmless and good-natured vein, and he has communicated through George King in numerous parts of the world, during the latter's extensive travels to spread the word. This has led to such amazing headlines as JESUS SPEAKS IN NEW ZEALAND (Cosmic Voice, May 1961) and to the solemn delivery, before a Los Angeles audience in Christmas of that year, of a completely new text of the Lord's Prayer. Somewhat longer than the orthodox version, its basic appeal is for divine power to be channelled personally to the supplicant and there are references to `Inner Vision', `Energy' and `Higher Selves'. There is also a mysterious phrase with an Eastern ring - `Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti'. The prayer is chanted enthusiastically by cult members, normally at the conclusion of a gathering or public meeting.

In the complex hierarchy of the quasi-deistic beings who communicate through George King (quite apart from the link-men Mars, Sector 6 and Jupiter, Sector 92) there appear such notables as the Lord Buddha and Saint Peter. There is also an entity, no doubt of Eastern origin, who labours with the unfortunate name of `Saint Goo-ling'. All these individuals and many unnamed and unsung heroes besides are, the Aetherius Society would have us believe, labouring tirelessly to save the inhabitants of earth from damnation and cosmic disaster. The philosophy is tangled and its history incomplete, but by a careful perusal of the Society's written material it is possible to piece some kind of coherent picture together.

The main theme - one common to most religious belief systems whatever their vintage - is that the Universe is a battleground between the rival incompatible forces of Good and Evil. Unlike most other systems, however, which assign the duel mainly to `spiritual' planes of existence, supporters of the Aetherius Society hold that the war is being fought in the physical universe of which we are a part. The opposing forces move from planet to planet and from galaxy to galaxy by spaceships of various kinds and, even when sufficiently hard pressed, by teleportation. Contrary to all the findings of astronautics, the planets of the solar system are well populated, only Mercury being barren. Certain planets - notably Saturn - are more `spiritually advanced' than others, with our own earth (referred to ostentatiously as `Terra' by Aetherius and others) rather low on the list. So spiritually decrepit is earth, in fact, that it would normally fall easy prey to any kind of all-out assault from the Forces of Evil, many of whom have highly sophisticated weaponry at their disposal. In fact were it not for the unceasing efforts of Mars, Sector 6, Aetherius and others, to say nothing of the holy Goo-ling, we would have succumbed long ago.

According to numerous accounts delivered through George King, the apocalypse has nearly been visited on earth several times recently, and while the vast majority of terran inhabitants go about their daily lives in doltish ignorance of the massive battles raging across the Universe, there are a few - a very few - enlightened ones on earth who not only appreciate the situation but can also do something concrete to alleviate it. Aetherius Society members make up a high percentage of this privileged group, but not for them the luxury of basking indolently in the glory of self-awareness or cosmic enlightenment. With this great knowledge go even greater responsibilities and the opportunity to play a dynamic role in the fight against the forces of evil. The principal, and by no means the least exacting, of these duties is to participate in the frequent bouts of activity known as `Spiritual Pushes'.

The concept of the Spiritual Push is an important one and must be studied in some detail. All life forms are motivated by, and themselves may utilize, a vital power known to enthusiasts of yoga as `prana'. This force, which is essentially non-physical, is itself neutral and may be put to use for Good or Evil, depending only upon the skills, knowledge and motivation of those employing it. Terrans, Aetherians believe, have largely lost the capacity to use this vital force except in an entirely automatic way, and our own planet is particularly weak as far as its own spiritual batteries are concerned. This naturally makes it particularly susceptible to assault from Black Powers of one kind or another. For centuries now, the White Powers of this solar system, represented mainly by Aetherius and his chums, have been shoving prana into the earth and its ungrateful inhabitants for all they are worth (Aetherius himself has been at the game for some time - when he first contacted George King in 1954 he revealed that he was 3,456 years old).

The main method of doing this is to bring a giant spaceship - the one generally used is known as `Satellite Three' which is literally miles in length - into a tight orbit around the earth where it acts as a base for a `push' of vital energy. Details of how this is effected are not at all clear, but if we remark that it involves `metaphysical manipulations' and the beaming of `magnetic energies' this should serve to give some idea as to what is going on. During the periods when Satellite Three is in orbit (it is covered by a radiation absorbing screen which renders it invisible and non-responsive to radar signals) members of the Aetherius Society assist by various spiritual exercises, prayers, meditations and the like, thus doing their bit towards re-charging the earth's dwindling batteries. There is no doubt that such assistance is appreciated. On numerous occasions the Masters Aetherius and Jesus, together with Saints Peter and Goo-ling, have been unstinting in their praise, and have hinted that the power of their allies' `push' has been enough to tip the scales during very ticklish moments.

Anyone who feels that the threat of a take-over bid for earth by the Black Powers is exaggerated would do well to ponder the terrifying story of the `Fiends of Garouche', related in Cosmic Voice No. 5 published in 1956. Writing about it at the time George King, while admitting that it read like science fiction, claimed that it was `true in every detail'. He was able to vouch for its authenticity having been himself `intimately concerned in the action'.

The saga runs thus. Some time ago our earth was inspected from afar by highly intelligent fish living on the water-bound planet known as Garouche, situated on `The other side of the Milky Way'. These creatures, aptly described as fiends, made it their purpose to `annihilate all humanoid life on Terra, by drawing the atmospheric belt' away from earth. This, Mars, Sector 6 tells us (erroneously), would not have affected the sea-dwellers on this planet for `they take their oxygen from the water itself'. (For the pilot of a twenty-mile-long spaceship, Mars, Sector 6 is a bit dim about planetary physics.)

Happily the plans of these creatures were intercepted by the friendly Martians who intervened at a cost of great effort, and some loss of life. Mars, Sector 6 reminds us that `many from Mars sacrificed themselves in the Cause to save Terra' and he asks those upon earth who `have the decency that goes with humanoid life to realize this'. The skirmish - we are not told what weapons were used, but presumably they were of the spiritual push variety - did not destroy the fish-people from Garouche who then sent a radioactive asteroid to within a few hundred thousand miles of Mars. This was fortunately detected by the robot-miners of that planet, and the asteroid was `deactivated'. `Do not thank us', says Mars, Sector 6 magnanimously, adding that `the Earth-receiver I am now using was nearly killed himself three times during that action' - suggesting that George King's role as intermediary between the beings from outer space and earth is not all beer and skittles.

The attack from the fiends of Garouche however was as nothing compared to the fearful duel which took place more recently and whose progress was reported, in serial fashion, like the Perils of Pauline, in successive issues of the Society's news-sheet. This epic, which went under the code name Operation Karmalight, involved George King and `Five Adepts' - men living on earth in material bodies but who are of such a high state of spiritual development that they can emancipate themselves from these physical encumbrances whenever they please. Dr King (he acquired a doctorate at some stage during his travels in the USA) never claims to be an `Adept' himself, though one rather gets the impression that he is, and many members of the Aetherius Society have no doubts on this score. Be that as it may, in the terrifying events during Karmalight, he was to need all the spiritual support he could lay his hands on.

The principal problem seems to have been an evil scientist by the name of Lubek who had `for hundreds of years... thrown the whole of his energies into amassing occult data'. Being one of the chief scientific advisers to none other than Satan himself, Lubek made it his business to keep abreast of all the latest developments in science and technology and had devised a massive computer complex known as Egog which covered ten square miles of land - in the lower astral realms of course. Into this impressive instrument the evil scientist had steadily been feeding all the occult data of the universe and was also developing the software to match.

The possession of this huge data bank, which would in due course fall into the hands of Satan, posed a real threat to the Forces of Good, as the Five Adepts plus the `Master Babaji' (a kind of spiritual President of Earth) were not slow to realize. Fortunately, Lubek, like so many terrestrial scientists of his ilk, became so wrapped up in the intricacies of his computer's mechanics and in the spectacular programming problems it provided, that he began to waver from his goal. As the Aetherius Society newsletter of July 1969 puts it, he `became more and more the pure scientist and less and less concerned about the dog-eats-dog politics of the lower astral kingdoms. His whole mind was turned to the improvement of his computer system.'

Before long, Lubek found himself challenged by the feudal barons of the astral realms who, taking advantage of his preoccupation with the Egog, strove to unseat him in Satan's favour. It was at this point, with their enemies divided by internal bickerings, that the Adapts decided to strike. Backed by the concerted `pushing' and other metaphysical efforts of Aetherius Society members on earth, and numerous emergency gatherings at their headquarters in London, Los Angeles and elsewhere, the Adepts began a James Bond mission to seek out Lubek's computer and destroy it.

It was a grim but stirring time. On 24th May 1969 at two o'clock in the morning, Dr King ordered the spiritual energy radiation switched on `in the reciprocating fashion' in an attempt to stave off an assault from Lubek on his headquarters. This wonderful device - there are, unhappily, only too few on the planet - consists of a series of simple rotary parts, activated by an electric motor and allegedly emanating prana or some similar vital force in the common good. No one at the Aetherius Society's base in London, where they have one or two of these machines, seems totally able to explain the principles of their operation, so it is hard to assess their overall efficacy. Anyway, Lubek apparently received the spiritual equivalent of a thick ear from the device but, having the ever-curious mind of the scientist, could not refrain from sticking around to examine it in detail. It was a fatal error, for while thus engrossed he was attacked by Adepts Number One and Three, rendered unconscious and removed by them, very sensibly, to a special satellite which they had placed in orbit as a prison station. Explosive charges were than planted in appropriate places and the computer, `so painstakingly built and educated throughout the years, disintegrated into a mass of twisted wires and shattered crystal in a matter of seconds'.

Lubek himself, the newsletter informs us, is now awaiting the Karmic repercussions for his past actions. And is this then the end of the fiendish scientist? It may look like it, but addicts of American comic books will be forgiven for wondering if, like the Joker and the mad scientist Luthor, those implacable enemies of Batman and Superman, Lubek will not somehow contrive to escape his prison to terrorize the world once again.

It is important to realize that this material, no matter how outlandish it may seem to the outside observer, is accepted almost without question by adherents of George King and his Society. Periods of Spiritual Push are taken with complete seriousness and crises such as that engendered by Lubek and his Egog are treated with the awe engendered in most people by major international upheavals. This highly uncritical acceptance of the bizarre and the fantastic is further illustrated by a series of witty, if rather cutting hoaxes which were played on the Society and its founder in the fifties.

The hoaxes began when, as the result of a complaint by King that scientists were too narrow-minded on matters concerning flying saucers, a letter appeared in the Cosmic Voice from a Dr Walter Wumpe, Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.A.P.C., which seemed to suggest that far from finding the messages from Aetherius incredible, scientists across the world were examining their texts with interest. In fact, Dr Wumpe reported, astronomers had lately been receiving radio signals coming from a planetary system `forty-three light years distant' in which the names `Thereus' and `Zaturn' could be detected. Commenting on this staggering development, the editor of Cosmic Voice wrote: `Cosmic Voice wishes to extend grateful thanks to that famous lecturer on astronomy, Dr Walter Wumpe, Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.A.P.C., for the report from a meeting directly connected with the Geophysical Year Programme. I consider his paper to be of great importance to the work of Cosmic Voice.'

Dr Wumpe's colleague, another distinguished astronomer, evidently of Swedish origin, and with the slightly unusual name of Dr Egon Spunraas, also came in for favourable comment from the Voice, which added: `The reference to the discoveries of Professor Spunraas is very interesting in the light of our Space Contacts. I would like to point out to readers that words "Thereus" and "Zaturn" as translated by Professor Spunraas, allowing for interference, picked up by his vibratory recorder, could quite well have originally been radiated as "Aetherius" and "Saturn". If this is the case', Cosmic Voice continued triumphantly, `it stands as yet another unshakable proof of the authenticity of the contact with Aetherius, whose seat of Government is the planet - Saturn!'

Later issues of Cosmic Voice offered even more conclusive evidence of the growing interest of professional scientists. There was an article on `Mescaline and Flying Saucers' by a Dr Dominic Fidler, which was later to be challenged for scientific inaccuracies by a Professor Huttle-Glank. If members of the Aetherius Society showed any puzzlement at the queer names of these great men of science, they raised no querulous sounds, for subsequent issues of the magazine included references to sages with even weirder names including a Dr N. Ormuss (and his assistant Waathervan), two Dutchmen Drs Houla and Huizenass and even the ridiculously obvious Dr L. Puller. Presumably the hoax would have escalated even further had not the literate Spiritualist newspaper, Psychic News, which casts a baleful eye on mediums who spout nonsense and had already had one or two verbal tussles with King and his Society, exposed the whole joke under the sardonic headline, THESE NAMES MADE NEWS. The offending articles have been blue-pencilled from later reprints of Cosmic Voice for obvious reasons. The incident remains, however, as a salty comment on human credibility and lack of critical acumen.

Despite the press controversy over the weekly manifestations of Jesus at the Caxton Hall, the fiasco over the Egon Spunraas hoax and the successful excursion into space by Russian and American rocketry (Mars, Sector 8 claimed that Man would never be permitted to set foot on the moon, and that the first Russian lunar rocket had been destroyed before impact by `Magnetic Beam Neron six five') the Aetherius Society continued to flourish and before long small branches were being established in many cities of the USA. By 1959 it was becoming evident to its founder that other parts of the world would benefit from his personal visitation, and thus when the command was finally issued to him by an unidentified Martian to go to America he did not waste time hanging around in London. In addition a new and major enterprise on the part of the Society - code name `Operation Starlight' - was under way and would need to be implemented in all parts of the world.

Operation Starlight, which was launched in July 1959 and continued until August 1961, represents one of the most spectacular religious rituals ever undertaken and is a tribute to the zeal and sincerity, if nothing else, of George King and his followers in their saga to follow the instructions of the Cosmic Masters. The operation consisted of the personal ascent, by George King and colleagues, of certain `holy' mountains to `charge' them with spiritual power. These mountains, which were selected for their own inscrutable reasons by the Cosmic Masters, were named one by one, and led George and his band a merry dance across the globe. The earlier ones, including such neighbourhood pimples as Holstone Down in Devon or Ben Hope in Scotland, presented few problems, and literally crowds of Aetherians made the ascents, bearing sandwiches and Thermos flasks. Here they saw their leader raise his arms to the skies and proclaim the mountain charged, after which the Society's symbol (pyramid and mystic scribble) was marked in white paint on convenient rock.

In America, however, the picture was quite different, and the first mountain selected for `charging' was Mount Baldy in California, which rises over 10,000 feet. Here, with fine sunny weather for the whole of the climb, the job was done with no physical discomfort or danger attending. Mountain number two in America was another 10,000-foot peak in the Sierra range in California and its picture adorns the cover of Cosmic Voice for May 1960 above the ringing headline FIGHT YE THE EVIL. This time, while the ascent was no problem, the party found themselves scrambling anxiously down the slopes in pitch dark having been unexpectedly overtaken by sunset. Mount Adams, the next cosmic choice, was a mere 6,000 feet in height but the Masters had, somewhat unreasonably, decreed that it should be ascended in March and the party made understandably heavy going, falling now and again into snowdrifts and suffering from partial frostbite. Nothing daunted, in April the group, by now thoroughly kitted out with snowshoes, blue glasses and other professional equipment, set out up the snowy slopes of Castle Peak in Colorado, a height of over 14,000 feet. The December 1960 issue of Cosmic Voice gives a hair-raising account of what appears to have been perfectly genuine hardships, not to say real risk to life and limb, endured by the party on this trip. The group were assailed by alternating blizzards and brilliant sunshine which gave them both frostbite and severe sunburn, and experienced mountaineers might well decide that they were lucky to return from the climb alive. Later climbs in Australia and New Zealand, performed during more clement weather, and even the ascent of the 9,000-foot Madrigerfluh in Switzerland in 1961, must have seemed like picnic excursions. Any consternation felt at the Masters' selection of Mount Kilimanjaro (19,000 feet) for the final phase of Operation Starlight was swiftly dispelled when Aetherius advised them that, because of their splendid efforts on the previous twelve peaks, the charging of Africa's highest peak would graciously be performed from above by the Masters themselves.

The holy mountains are now, to members of the Aetherius Society, special pilgrimage points and it is believed that an ascent to the spot where their emblem is painted brings considerable spiritual benefit to the individual and also to mankind. Issues of Cosmic Voice and the newsletter gave details of organized parties that make the pilgrimage from time to time, and also give dire warnings to lay enthusiasts against attempting the more formidable of the peaks in poor weather or without special equipment.

Operation Starlight having been completed, the Reverend Dr George King embarked upon its successor, Operation Bluewater. This, believe it or not, required the purchase of power boats and the shuttling of certain `batteries' to and from the Californian coast and some points in the ocean. Issues of the magazine show King and disciples, with yachting caps and sunglasses, setting out on a nautical jaunt and one feels that if nothing else they had certainly earned it.

At the time of writing the Aetherius Society seems to be strongly entrenched as the primary religious organization weaving its philosophy out of the phenomena of UFOs. It is particularly strong in America with headquarters in Los Angeles. Here George King now resides, having long forsaken his bed-sitter in the far-off grime of North London. He moves around the world a bit, returning to Britain to straighten out the London branch when required and to visit Scotland where the Ben Macdhui range was recently declared a mystic mountain and an official abode of the `White Brotherhood'. At its headquarters the Society holds regular meetings and distributes numerous books, magazines and tape recordings conveying the new gospel of the cosmic laws. In a recent meeting held in the Rembrandt Hotel in London, presided over by the Reverend Keith Robertson, `Certificates of Merit' were formally presented to fifty-two members for their zeal in following the great teachings of the Cosmic Masters. Dr King, who was by then engaged in a later venture, `Operation Sunbeam', was unavoidably absent.

 
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