Spooky Spirituality: Serpents, UFOs and Alien Encounters – Patheos

spooky spirituality
Neven Krcmarek via Unsplash

There’s a slightly darker side to spirituality, a place where it’s not about light energy or guardian angels or conversations with God, but darker encounters with animals and entities that seem to have wisdom for us. It’s an area I like to call spooky spirituality.

In Supernatural, Meeting with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, Graham Hancock writes about the powerful plant hallucinogen ayahuasca and its use by Indian shamans in South America as part of a sacred ritual. It’s a practice that continues today and has in recent years attracted many westerners seeking everything from cures to depression to spiritual enlightenment.

A funny thing happens when most people take ayahuasca: they share a common vision that hasn’t changed for centuries. They enter a world where powerful spirits dwell and frequently encounter snakes, serpents and other strange beasts—creatures that often speak to the spiritual seekers telepathically.

Hancock himself has had several “sessions” with ayahuasca and during one he saw rows of brown and yellow snakes laid out in front of him in an intricate pattern “winding around each other like the DNA double helix.” In another session, he sees an alien-like creature, then comes face-to-face with a large muscular man with the head of a crocodile that he determines is his guardian, protection from any dark forces that may try to enter his life.

In most ayahuasca journeys, the creatures encountered are benevolent, though their message is often not clear. In a 2015 article in National Geographic, the writer talks of ingesting ayahuasca and encountering a God-like being who most closely resembles Santa Claus. She asks why God seems to hate her and is told “I have always loved you as my own child. Know that suffering is the greatest teacher on Earth. It leads us out of our belief in separation.”

Hancock believes that “only a thin veil separates the world of everyday reality from the supernatural other worlds.” And ayahuasca allows us to break through this thin wall, showing us realties that exist just outside of our perception. He believes that “the spirit world and its inhabitants are real, that supernatural powers and non-physical beings do exist.”

So why do these spirits from the otherworld appear in such strange forms? Hancock speculates that “we are forced to cloth the external forces or beings that otherwise might be invisible to us, in a manner that we are able to recognize. Angels, demons, imps, elves, dwarves, are similar creatures but ones that appear in a guise that is culturally or personally determined.”

There’s a parallel between those who claim to have witnessed angels or the Divine, and those who see aliens and fairiesThese entities often appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. They defy rationale or scientific explanation. Yet to the people who witness them, they are as real as you and I, and seem to represent first-hand proof that there is more to this world than meets the eye.

Read enough of these stories and you will ask the question: why are they here and what do they want? A few of the books I’ve read come to the same unique conclusion—these unidentifiable crafts and strange entities that occasionally interact with our world, are rooted in mythology and are all interconnected. They may, in fact, be myths that have come to life.

The mythology angle was first posited by the great philosopher Carl Jung, who tried to explain the meaning of UFOs in a book titled Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky. Jung speculated that the UFOs came from the collective unconscious, a vast repository of myths and dreams of people throughout the world, all connected in a complex matrix that transcends time and space.

While many believe that UFOs are spaceships from another planet, in the book Angels and Aliens, author Keith Thompson echoes Jung proposing that that UFO encounters contain mythic elements—and may come from somewhere deep within our psyche. Thompson compares UFOs to visionary experiences like “angelic visions, shamanic journeys and folkloric encounters with fairies.”

Most enthralling are the tales of those who encounter not just UFOs, but their inhabitants. There are stories galore of people who have seen aliens, and many thousands who believe they have been brought to their “ships,” often for bizarre experiments. Here, Thompson suggests that it’s our cultural upbringing and mindset that help determine how we interpret what we see—angel or alien, friend or foe—and whether our encounter is positive or negative.

Angels can be as mystifying as aliens. (In fact, some have speculated that aliens are fallen angels.) In Angels Are for Real: Inspiring, True Stories and Biblical Answers, Judith MacNutt reports that angels are often invisible, though their physical presence can be sensed. Other times, angels appear with distinguishing traits that set them apart from the rest of us. Eyewitnesses have described them as “8 feet tall, wearing a robe,” “beautiful, androgynous, and dressed in white” and “glowing, surrounded by a bright light.”

One person who has had an encounter with an alien, several in fact, is the Reverend Michael J.S. Carter, who currently serves as the minister of a Unitarian Universalist congregation in North Carolina. Carter had a middle-of-the-night visitation by a gray alien—an incident repeated over and over again, with a changing cast of extraterrestrial visitors.

The beings who drop in on Carter have different appearances and while most are the classic “grays,” they include a “green and scale-y, Spiderman-looking” entity. He watches as this ET “simply walks through my window and outside the building.” He lived on the 15th floor at the time.

With a few exceptions, most of Carter’s uninvited visitors leave him with a positive, loving vibe. He gets special meaning from several passages of the Bible, like Ezekiel 1:16, which seems to reinforce his belief that UFOs and aliens have been around since the beginning of man and are messengers sent by God. Writing in a section titled “Lessons from my Contact Experiences on Life and Spirituality,” Carter comes away with the following insights, based on the lessons he learned from the aliens.

  • I have come to know that what we call “God” is really an Energy…a Spirit…a Source of all Consciousness…and that we are a part of this consciousness.
  • We can tap into this consciousness, if we are willing to, by just sitting still, through meditation and prayer.
  • This Energy/Consciousness/Intelligence moves through us, in us, and as us. It is all there is. There is no where we can go where this Source is not present.
  • Recognizing the connectedness of our planet and the universe is the first step in becoming mature spiritually, or in cultivating an inner life.
  • We all have a mission that we come to this planet to fulfill.
  • Of course, we can choose not to fulfill that mission. But if we choose to accept it, a good part of that mission is to learn to love and to forgive, oneself as well as others.
  • Thoughts are things. If you think that life is #$@&%*! and then you die, that is just what life will mirror back to you. We attract to ourselves what we are.
  • All the answers you need are inside of you. Because all that is Consciousness is inside of us.
  • There are as many paths to God as there are people who walk those paths.
  • We might see God not as a person, distinct and separate from the material world, but rather as a spiritual reality in which all life participates.