Alien Abduction in Westworld?

Maeve with sketch of Westworld employee in hazmat suit

I think we're property.

- Charles Fort

Spoilers for Westworld S01E01 to S01E05 follow.

In an earlier post I mentioned the Gnostic underpinnings of the pilot of HBO's new hit series Westworld. In episodes since, that broad theme has persisted - but perhaps more interestingly, it has also been overlaid with some distinctly Fortean themes.

Perhaps the most obvious came at the end of episode 2, when Maeve (Thandie Newton) - who is only familiar with the 19th century world she believes she inhabits - wakes while on the operating/repair table inside the futuristic, technologically-advanced Westworld HQ, with two figures standing over her and an incision in her stomach. Forteans would have immediately recognised the similarities to the archetypal 'otherworldly journey', a narrative that is present in stories told by everyone from shamans to 'alien abductees'.

For instance, ethnographers have collected testimony from traditional shamans in which they tell of being cut, or dismembered, by spirits during their otherworldly journeys. "I have five spirits in heaven who cut me with forty knives," according to one. Another said there were three 'black devils' who "cut his body to pieces" and threw "bits of his flesh in different directions". Another said the spirits "cut off his head, which they set aside."

One Australian Aboriginal initiate told how, during his trance, an old man...

cut out all of his insides, intestines, liver, heart, lungs - everything in fact - and left him lying all night long on the ground.

Westworld Host bodies being cleaned

In more modern times, so-called 'alien abductees' have reported parallel experiences, but with futuristic aliens doing the 'surgery' rather than trance spirits. One of Harvard psychiatrist John Mack's patients told of seeing a spaceship shortly before blacking out, only to find upon waking that she was lying on a table, being operated on by two beings:

I was in a foetal position, my back to them. They were doing something to my spine. My entire spine was stinging and cold. It was awful! It felt as though they were going inside my body with some very sharp instrument and inserting it between my flesh and my skin.

Another abductee tells of being in a "shiny and metallic-looking" room that "contained what looked like equipment." Multiple beings surrounding him performed tests and inserted needles into his body.

Maeve on the operating table

(Given the scene were Maeve discovers the bullet hidden beneath scar-less skin, it's also perhaps worth quickly noting that both shamans and alien abductess often report that objects are left within them during these procedures - 'magic stones' for shamans, 'implants' for abductees. For instance, the Aboriginal initiate mentioned above told of how the 'old man' came back to him and "placed some more antongara stones inside his body and in his arms and legs".)

DMT-induced otherworldly trips appear almost as a mash-up of shamanic and abductee experiences. During his famous study on DMT, Dr Rick Strassman reported that one volunteer, as soon as they had been given the injection of DMT, described what happened immediately after with these words:

WHAM! I felt like I was in an alien laboratory... A sort of landing bay or recovery area. There were beings... They had a space ready for me. There was one main creature, and he seemed to be behind it all, overseeing everything.... I couldn't help but think 'aliens'.

Were the Westworld writers explicitly modelling Maeve's experience on alien abduction reports? It seems a distinct possibility when we consider the scene in which a doll is dropped by a Native American child, which appears to depict a Westworld employee as they often appear to remove Host's bodies from the park: dressed in a hazmat suit. This appears to be a reference to the (real-world) Hopi kachina doll tradition, which are said to represent "the immortal beings that bring rain, control other aspects of the natural world and society, and act as messengers between humans and the spirit world."

Real Kachina dolls

Westworld Kachina doll

But 'ancient aliens' theorists have seized upon the strange representations of these 'kachinas' (and other odd-looking statues and sculptures around the world) as possible evidence that they were 'astronauts' that have visited our planet in the past. And the Westworld 'kachina' reinforces this aspect, given the similarities between a hazmat suit and an astronaut's space-suit (hey, if it worked for Marty McFly...). So it seems likely that the writers of Westworld are intentionally referencing tales of alien visitation and abduction - at least in part - in the storyline.

And this certainly fits within that Gnostic framework I mentioned previously, as well as the seminal Charles Fort quote at the top of this piece.

[T]here are some who can see them. It's a blessing from god, to see the masters who pull your strings.

Hector, in Westworld

I thought I was crazy...and *this* [pointing at sketched image of Westworld employee in Hazmat suit] was standing over me. And then it was as if it never happened.

- Maeve, in Westworld

News Briefs 04-11-2016

” As rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, passion will break through an unreflecting mind.”

Quote of the Day:

“To cease from evil, to do good, and to purify the mind yourself, this is the teaching of all the Buddhas.”

Buddha

Before the Flood: Documentary on Climate Change Released Freely by National Geographic

Before the Flood is a full-length National Geographic documentary hosted by Leonardo di Caprio that looks at the impact of climate change on the planet, both now and the possible 'nightmare scenarios' of the future.

Before the Flood, directed by Fisher Stevens, captures a three-year personal journey alongside Academy Award-winning actor and U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio as he interviews individuals from every facet of society in both developing and developed nations who provide unique, impassioned and pragmatic views on what must be done today and in the future to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet.

I know public opinion on this topic is all over the spectrum, from complete denial of any climate change at all, through having questions the cause of the warming, to full acceptance of a human-caused disaster unfolding. However, I think the section in the documentary talking to astronaut Dr. Piers Sellers (who is incidentally, terminally-ill with pancreatic cancer, but still working for the future of the planet) gets down to the bare bones of things: the facts of the current situation.

A lot of people now get confused about the issue. Facts are crystal clear:

  • The ice is melting.
  • The Earth is warming.
  • The sea level is rising.

Those are facts. Rather than feeling "oh my god, it's hopeless", say "okay, this is the problem - let's be realistic, let's find a way out of it. And there are ways out of it."

Even if, beyond these facts, you feel that this is "just part of a natural cycle", is a large-scale move to renewables not still the far better option, for a range of reasons ranging from air quality to resource management?

News Briefs 03-11-2016

The Daily Grail website redesign is in progress. You can help us out by chipping in a dollar or three over at Patreon!

Quote of the Day:

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Digging Into the Classic Synthesizers and Musical Style of the Great John Carpenter

When the Netflix's Stranger Things exploded into the popular consciousness a few months ago, it did so on the back of some serious 1980s nostalgia. But while most people have focused on the amount the Duffer Brothers cribbed from the likes of Steven Spielberg (e.g. compare the storylines - and visuals - of Stranger Things to similar 'children-on-a-grand-adventure' movies like E.T. and The Goonies), perhaps less-discussed but equally important are the hat-tips to the great John Carpenter.

In Carpenter's case though, it's not just the story and visual elements that suggest an influence on the Duffer Brothers (from the adventure of Big Trouble in Little China to the monster-horror of The Thing). It's there right in the opening titles, in the theme of Stranger Things. Because John Carpenter is not just the director of iconic films including Halloween, Escape from New York, The Fog, They Live and The Thing - he also composed and performed most of the soundtracks to his films!

For the movie and music geeks out there, check out the cool video above from Reverb that digs into both his musical style, and the armoury of classic synthesizers that Carpenter used to create his soundtracks.

(h/t @JohnReppion)

How was the Great Pyramid Built? These 'Notches' Where Its Faces Meet May Be Evidence for an Internal Ramp

Great Pyramid of Giza. Image by Nina-no, Creative Commons licence

In last week's story about the 'hidden cavities' discovered within the Great Pyramid, I quickly mentioned how some of the scans were targeted at *already known* 'notches' (and one 'cavity') in the pyramid, simply to confirm that their detectors were finding hollow sections. It's worth digging into (no pun intended) these notches a little further though, as they are central to one fairly new theory of how the massive monument was built.

n the May-June 2007 issue of Archaeology, Egyptologist Bob Brier and French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin presented "a radical new theory: that blocks of stone were raised to the very top of the pyramid on an internal ramp." An important part of this theory was that larger corner spaces would have to be constructed for turning the 90 degree corner with a large block - and the existing 'notches' on the Great Pyramid are right where these rooms would likely be:

The internal ramp theory suggests that for the bottom third of the pyramid, the blocks were hauled up a short, straight external ramp. At the same time, a second ramp was built inside the pyramid on which blocks for the top two-thirds would be hauled. This ramp, beginning at the bottom, was put into use after the lower third was completed and the external ramp had served its purpose. Men hauling heavy blocks of stones up a narrow ramp can't easily turn a 90-degree corner, so Houdin suggests that the ramp had openings at each corner where a simple wooden hoist could turn the blocks. The notch two-thirds up the northeast corner could mark such a turning point, and it is precisely at a point where Houdin predicted there should be one.

Upon climbing the pyramid to examine this notch more closely, Brier discovered a small cavity hidden behind the inside wall of the notch - this was one of the 'calibration' targets used by the new muography scan.

But it is a scan done during the 1980s which offers serious support for the 'internal ramp' theory. A French team performed a microgravimetric survey that recorded variations in the density of the pyramid, and an image based on the readings gathered suggests a hollow tunnel corkscrews its way around the inside of the pyramid's walls, ascending toward the top.

More support for the internal ramp theory comes from a temple just a few miles away, constructed just 100 years after the Great Pyramid: the sun temple of Ni-Userre at Abu Gurob. The ruins of this temple appear to show an internal ramp similar to the one suggested by Houdin and Brier, and close proximity in time and location of its construction with Khufu's pyramid shows that it was a technique that would likely be used.

If you'd like to learn more about the theory put forward by Houdin and Brier, I recommend the documentary below which follows them on their journey of discovery:

News Briefs 02-11-2016

A quick reminder that while all the other sites have dumped the weird post-Halloween, we're on the beat 365 days a year. Sometimes even 366!

Quote of the Day:

Free your mind, and the ass will follow.

George Clinton

People of Earth: A New Comedy Series about Alien Abduction Experiencers

People of Earth is a new comedy series that premiered last night (Halloween) on TBS, starring former The Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac. The entire first episode has been made available online, and is embedded above.

After a car accident, reporter Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac) travels to the rural town of Beacon, New York to write an article on a support group for victims of alien abduction. His reporting leads him to realize that his memory of his accident may not be accurate—but instead a cover-up for his own experience with extra-terrestrial species.

I was fully expecting to hate this show, thinking it would be cheap laughs at the expense of experiencers (whatever you think they actually are, there is no doubt that many people have the experience - and many are terrified by it). And there certainly are cheap laughs, but the treatment (at least in the episode above) is good-natured and quite sympathetic to the experiencers.

And it helps that there's some basic research behind it: screen memories of seeing animals like deer is a central part of the storyline, as is the topic of the range of 'species' of aliens involved (the Greys, the Reptilians and the Nordics).

Give it a try above, and let me know what you think.

News Briefs 01-11-2016

Sorta like Larry, Curly and Moe reenlisting... *reads email* Whoa, I'm psychic. But it's more like Larry, Curly and Moe detained while trying to reenlist. Ah well, K Sera Sera.

Quote of the Day:

I don’t like the word ‘belief’ because people can believe anything, and very often our beliefs are not true. It is not a belief of mine now, that spirits are real. It’s a conclusion that I have come to based on so much evidence that I can no longer, with integrity, dismiss the evidence as untrue.

Gary Schwartz, director of the laboratory for advances in consciousness and health at the University of Arizona