[- Are they Scouting Earth? -]On the afternoon of November 20, 1952, lifelong occult teacher George Adamski met a Venusian named Orthon in the desert of southern California. This initiated a series of events which would involve further contacts with Venusians as well as Martians and Saturnians. Adamski would also travel into space and on one occasion attend a conference on Saturn.
These claims, chronicled in three books published between 1953 and 1961, electrified many in the movement which emerged in the wake of Kenneth Arnold's June 24, 1947, sighting of what newspapers quickly called "flying saucers." A movement based on such stories spread from California to much of the rest of the world. Other prominent claimants included Orfeo Angelucci, Truman Bethurum, Daniel Fry, Howard Menger, George Van Tassel, and George Hunt Williamson, all of whom published books in the 1950s and who were popular figures on the occult circuit.
According to these "contactees," friendly, goodlooking, humanlike space people pilot the saucers. They are here on a benevolent mission for the Galactic Federation. In the universe the earth is viewed as something of a backwater, its occupants primitive and violent; earthlings threaten to upset the "balance of the universe" with their atomic weapons and warlike ways. If earthlings will heed the space people's gentle message, they will enter a New Age of peace and prosperity and claim their place in the larger order. In some variants of this theme, the earth is about to undergo massive geological changes which will destroy a significant portion of the planet's population; those who follow the space people's direction will be saved, either by relocating to places which will remain stable during the upheaval or by entering spaceships which will pick them up at the appropriate time.
Early on, contactees and their followers attached the affectionate nickname "Space Brothers" to the extraterrestrials, apparently in recognition of the latter's charitable nature and essentially religious outlook. Contactee theology is based in the doctrines of Theosophy, an occult system developed by Helene Petrova Blavatsky in the latter nineteenth century. In an early-twentieth-century refinement of Blavatsky, Charles Leadbeater wrote that Venus, which operates on a higher evolutionary plane than earth, is inhabited by advanced beings called "Lords of the Flame," who occupy the highest rank in the "Great White Brotherhood"-spirit Masters who guide the development of the human race. Possibly the term "Space Brothers" has its origins in the earlier "Brotherhood."
Though the physical contactees, who often produced dubious photographs and other "evidence" supposed to validate their claims, dominated the scene in the first years of the UFO era, there were also psychic contactees who channeled space rnessages or received them in dreams or through automatic writings. By the early 1960s even some of Adamski's most committed disciples had begun to entertain doubts about his sincerity as his tales grew ever taller. But most psychic contactees were manifestly sincere, even if to unsympathetic observersincluding most mainstream ufologists-their message was inherently incredible, and they began to define the movement.
Only one physical contactee, Eduard (Billy) Meier of Switzerland, has had any significant impact on the current New Age scene. Meier produces photographs both of purported "beamships" from the Pleiades and of their beautiful occupants. In one instance a lovely Pleaides woman turned out to be a model in an advertisement which had appeared in a European fashion magazine. More typical of modern devotees of Space Brothers are those who flock to Laramie, Wyoming, every summer to attend the Rocky Mountain Conference on UFO Investigation; the conference caters mostly to contactees who live in small western towns or on farms or ranches and who believe themselves to be recipients of mental messages from kindly off-worlders.