Flashback Friday: Doom

Doomsday prophets never die.
Flashback Friday: Doom
Steven Guarnaccia

Throughout history, mankind has been subject to those spooky individuals who’ve been able to cheat on the space/time continuum and peek into the future. Some, like Nostradamus, put themselves in trances and were able to prophesy under their own steam. Others, though, are merely psychic conduits for a bunch of mischievous ultraterrestrials who’d rather tweak human noses than sit on each other’s whoopee cushions in outer space. Continue reading below for more doomsday musings by John Keel from the April, 1983 issue of High Times.

It’s going to be the biggest going-out-of-business sale since Adam peddled his rib and traded his bachelorhood for a bite of an apple and a toss in the hay. One entire planet is going to be auctioned off in a mere 16 years. The human race—or whatever is left of it—is going to pack it in. It’s going to be an ugly scene, and if you don’t have a lead-lined cave in your backyard, it’ll be your last barbecue—with you as the barbecuee. Fried eyeballs and roasted buttocks top the menu. It’s going to make Hiroshima seem like a Boy Scout wiener roast.

Who says?

All of the great prophets of history, that’s who.

Michel de Nostredame, better known as Nostradamus, head honcho of history’s Peeping Toms—the seers and doomsayers—even pinpointed the date. He said there’s going to be very bad news in early July 1999, when a “king of terror” will come out of the skies. Since his death back in 1566, many of his prophecies have come true. So we should probably take this one seriously. And July 1999 is as close to us as the epic years of the 1960s, which changed all our lives.

Predicting the end of the world has, however, been a cottage industry on this planet for at least 2,000 years. Major religions have been founded on the premise that the end is just around the corner. Countless generations of believers have trudged up the sides of mountains to sit on the summits and wait for the sky to fall. Back in the last century, a Baptist preacher named William Miller received a news flash from God and soberly announced that the Second Coming of Christ would take place on October 22, 1844. His followers, known as Millerites, unloaded their worldly goods and grimly waited for the great event. When nothing happened, they simply regrouped and continued their vigil, forming the Seventh-Day Adventist church. They are still waiting, as are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Founded in 1872, the Witnesses pass the time peddling their magazine, The Watch Tower, from door to door.

Somehow, the Christian theologists have managed to turn the promise of the end of the world into a glorious event, anxiously awaited by billions of people generation after generation. The basic concept is that all of the dead in all of the cemeteries will rise up on the appointed day—how’s that for the ultimate nightmare? Meanwhile, the skies will open up and be filled with luminous objects, and Christ himself will descend from a luminous cloud. All the good guys, those who have led exemplary Christian lives, will be whisked off to heaven, where, as Mark Twain once pointed out, they will be given harps, even though they don’t know how to play musical instruments, and wings, even though they don’t know how to fly. Thus, heaven will be filled with the discordant sounds of billions of people aimlessly strumming on harps while they flutter about and crash into each other with their untried wings. Actually, according to the biblical prophecies, only 144,000 will go. Everyone else will end up shoveling coal in you know where.

The real end of the world might be even more dramatic. Scientists estimate that if the earth should collide with a meteor only one mile in diameter, the concussion would kill every living thing on the planet. We have several close calls in every decade. There’s all kinds of space junk out there posing a constant threat to us, and we can’t do a thing about it. Remember Kohoutek? When it was discovered in 1973, some astronomers estimated that it would hit the earth, and quite a few people went to sit on the mountaintops and wait for the end.

An all-out atomic war probably would not wipe out mankind. There would still be many survivors in South America, Africa, the Pacific islands, et cetera. Of course, they might cough a lot, and radiation would bring about many changes. The prophets have often described what sounded like atomic wars, although most prophecies are phrased in such a vague way that they never make sense until after the event has occurred. Very specific predictions usually don’t happen at all. For example, England’s famous 16th-century prophetess, Mother Shipton, wrote that the world “to an end will come/in eighteen hundred and eighty-one.” That’s about as specific as you can get, so her fans all prepared to meet their maker in 1881. Like the Millerites of three decades earlier, they were disappointed.

“The future controls the present,” Sir Fred Hoyle the famous astronomer, once observed. In some strange and fascinating way, prophets seem to be reporting their memories of the future. Tomorrow already exists in some fashion, and by freeing their conscious minds through hypnosis or other techniques, they can cross that fourth-dimensional bridge. Nostradamus produced his predictions while in a trance state. Others have used Ouija boards, crystal balls or simply relied upon dreams. Still others have claimed telepathic contact with some all knowing force that exists beyond our space-time continuum. But the most interesting prophets of all are those ordinary people who suddenly have extraordinary contacts with entities who seem to know everything about our future. These entities have masqueraded in many guises throughout history. They look just like us, dress in contemporary clothing and usually travel in threes. The Bible calls them angels. In earlier times they were often regarded as gods. The Phoenicians, for example, had a goddess of fertility named Astarte. The Christian holiday Easter is named after her, and the fertility symbols of eggs and rabbits are holdovers from the pagan holiday that celebrated the spring equinox. An entity identifying herself (and in modern times, himself) as Ashtar has been visiting humans for thousands of years, showering us with predictions, many of which come true, and even dictating books. Books which usually purport to be histories of the human race.

An Arab businessman is said to have had encounters with a prophesying angel around A.D. 600. His name was Muhammad, and the angel dictated a book called the Koran, which became the Bible of the religion Muhammad founded. The religion of Islam.

By the 19th century, these mysterious entities were posing as East Indians, and ghosts from Lost Atlantis (interest in Atlantis ran high around the turn of the century). Then in the 1940s they assumed a new role. They became visitors from outer space.

Dr. Charles A. Laughead, an M.D. on the staff of Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan, started communicating with these assorted “outer space” entities in 1954, largely through trance mediums who served as instruments for Ashtar and his cronies from that great intergalactic council in the sky. A number of minor prophecies were passed along, and they all came true on the nose. Then Ashtar tossed in his bombshell. The world was going to end on December 21, 1954, he announced convincingly. He spelled out the exact nature of the cataclysm: North America was going to split in two, and the Atlantic coast would sink into the sea. France, England and Russia were also slated for a watery grave. However, all was not lost. A few chosen people would be rescued by spaceships. Naturally, Dr. Laughead and his friends were among that select group. Having been impressed by the validity of the earlier predictions, Dr. Laughead took this one most seriously, made sober declarations to the news media and on December 21, 1954, he and a group of his fellow believers clustered in a garden to await rescue. They had been instructed to wear no metal, and they therefore discarded belt buckles, pens, clasps, cigarette lighters and shoes with metal eyelets. Then they waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Two years earlier, in 1952, two men were driving through the mountains near Paraná, Brazil, in the state of São Paulo, when they encountered five saucer-shaped objects hovering in the air. Later, one of these men, Aladino Felix, revisited the spot, and this time, he said later, a UFO landed and he was invited aboard. He had a pleasant chat with the saucer captain, a being who looked very human and very ordinary, and he went away convinced that the Venusians were paying us a friendly visit.

Then, in March 1953, there was a knock at the door of Felix’s home, and his wife answered. She reported that there was “a priest” asking for him. Since Felix was an atheist at the time, he was a bit surprised. He was even more surprised when he walked out to meet the man. It was his old friend, the flying-saucer pilot, now turned out in a cashmere suit, a white shirt with a stiff collar and a neat blue tie.

This was the first of a long series of visits during which the two men discussed flying saucers and their mechanics, and the state of the universe at large. Mr. Felix kept careful notes of these conversations and later put them into an interesting little book titled My Contact with Flying Saucers, under the pseudonym of Dino Kraspedon. It enjoyed modest sales among the growing cults of flying-saucer believers.

Dino Kraspedon’s real identity remained a mystery until 1965, when he surfaced on Brazilian television as a self-styled prophet named Aladino Felix. He warned of a disaster about to take place in Rio de Janiero. Sure enough, floods and landslides struck a month later, killing 600. In 1966, he warned that a Russian cosmonaut would soon die. (Vladimir M. Komarov became the first man to die in space on April 24, 1967.) In 1967 he appeared on television to grimly discuss the forthcoming assassinations in the United States, naming Martin Luther King and Sen. Robert Kennedy.

The startling accuracy of his major and minor predictions impressed many people, of course. When he started predicting an outbreak of violence, bombings and murders in Brazil in 1968, no one was too surprised when a wave of strange terrorist attacks actually began.

Police stations and public buildings in São Paulo were dynamited. There was a wave of bank robberies, and an armored payroll train was heisted. The Brazilian police worked overtime and soon rounded up 18 members of the gang. A 25-year-old policeman named Jesse Morais proved to be the gang’s bomb expert. They had blown up Second Army Headquarters, a major newspaper and even the American Consulate. When the gang members started to sing, it was learned that they planned to assassinate top government officials and eventually take over the entire country of Brazil. Jesse Morais had been promised the job of police chief in the new government.

The leader of this ring was… Aladino Felix!

When he was arrested on August 22, 1968, the flying-saucer prophet declared, “I was sent here as an ambassador to the Earth from Venus. My friends from space will come here and free me and avenge my arrest. You can look for tragic consequences to humanity when the flying saucers invade this planet.”

It was a story almost as old as the human race. Following contact with these mysterious entities, who are known to occultists as ultraterrestrials, ordinary people are often swept up into disastrous events. Their whole lives are frequently destroyed or, at least, their families are scattered, their careers are ruined and they suffer all the hardships of the biblical prophet Job.

In the fall of 1967, when Dino Kraspedon was publicly issuing his uncanny predictions in Brazil, another group was battening down the hatches in Denmark, preparing for the end of the world. A man named Knud Weiking began receiving telepathic flashes in May 1967, including a number of impressive prophecies that came true. (Just prior to the capture of the U.S. “spy” ship Pueblo off Korea in January 1968, Weiking warned, “Watch Korea.”) He was then instructed to build a lead-lined bomb shelter and prepare for an atomic holocaust on December 24, 1967. This seemed like an impossible task, since 25 tons of lead were needed and the total costs exceeded $30,000. But donations poured in, and voluntary labor materialized. The shelter was built in about three weeks. On December 22, Weiking and his friends were “told” to leave the shelter and lock it up. A telephone blackout next occurred, lasting throughout the Christmas holidays and cutting off all of the participants from one another.

Meanwhile, mediums, telepaths, sensitives and UFO contactees throughout the world were all reporting identical messages. There was definitely going to be an unprecedented event on December 24, 1967. Ashtar was talking through Ouija boards to people who had never before heard the name. Another busy entity named Orion was spreading the word. The curious thing about these messages was that they were all phrased in the same manner, no matter what language was being used. It was as if they were all the work of some mischievous phonograph in the sky. They all carried the same warning. People were reporting strange dreams that December, dreams involving symbols of Christmas (such as Christmas cards scattered through a room). There were also reports of dead telephones and glowing entities prowling through bedrooms and homes. Many of these messages, dreams and prophecies were collected by a British organization calling itself Universal Links. The stage was set for doomsday. Thousands, perhaps even millions, of people had been warned. At midnight on December 24, the messages said, a great light would appear in the sky, and then…

Mr. Weiking, nonplussed but not discouraged, later gave the press a message he had received, which, he thought, explained it all: “I told you two thousand years ago that a time would be given and even so I would not come. If you had read your Bible a little more carefully, you would have borne in mind the story of the bridegroom who did not come at the time he was expected. Be watchful so that you are not found without oil in your lamps. I have told you I will come with suddenness, and I shall be coming soon!”

It was all a dry run!

One of the millions of dry runs staged since the first hairy biped crawled out of his cave and stared at the sky. You would assume that Man has learned a lesson from all these ultraterrestrial pranks, that we wouldn’t play this foolish doomsday game anymore. But there are always new victims ready and willing to face the unknown terror of the end of the world. In September 1982, a young couple in Scottsdale, Arizona, Michael and Aurora El-Legion, hit the contactee road to spread the latest message of impending doom. Straining whatever finances they had, they traveled from town to town, appearing on local radio and television programs and lecturing to anyone who would listen. In New York City they hired a huge hall, and about 30 people showed up. Their message was hardly different from that of the Denton family who toured the United States in the 1860s. Like William Denton, Michael had been receiving warnings while in trances. The end of the world was at hand. In fact, the El-Legions predicted that it would occur around 2 A.M. on October 18, 1982. At that time, they promised, millions of flying saucers would appear in the skies all over the world and rescue all those who deserved to be rescued. If you are still here, you are obviously one of the rejects.

There are literally millions of people all over the world who have the gift of prophecy and are haunted by dreams that later come true, or by sudden visions of future events. Usually, such people avoid publicity and share their unnerving talent with only their family and immediate friends. But they are responsible for many of the rumors that spread in troubled areas such as California. Millions of Californians deserted their state no less than four different times in the 1970s because of rumors that it was about to sink into the Pacific. One woman did go public, moving her family to Oregon after announcing that California was doomed on a specific day in 1970. On that date she dropped dead.

Traditionally, prophets who try to exploit their talent quickly lose it. When they place themselves under pressure to come up with new predictions on a regular schedule for a newspaper column or TV show, they usually begin to produce gibberish. They are often forced to steal from other prophets. There’s an old saying that prophets are without honor in their hometowns. There’s a new saying that there’s no honor among prophets. Mrs. Jean Dixon, best known for her prediction of the death of President Kennedy, borrowed heavily from Nostradamus in her biography, My Life and Prophecies, much to the delight of the skeptics. She gave herself away by paraphrasing from Henry C. Roberts’s translation of the French seer, a version sneered at as being inaccurate by most experts.

Translating the poetry of Nostradamus is no easy task, however. The learned doctor deliberately used vague imagery to disguise his meaning. He wrote about a vegetarian named “Hister, the hysterical” who would wage war and wreak havoc in the 20th century. Apparently, he was referring to Adolf Hitler. And translators were baffled for generations by this verse:

There will go from Mont Gaulfier and Aventine
One who from the hole will warn the army.
The booty will be taken between two rocks,
The renown of Sextus Cornerstone will fail.

It didn’t make any sense until 1783, when the Montgolfier brothers demonstrated the first hot-air balloon. The operator was stationed in a basket below the hole in the balloon, and within a few years hot-air balloons were being used by armies in the Napoleonic wars. The second part of the verse seems to refer to Pope Pius VI (the Sextus Cornerstone) who was kidnapped and held prisoner by Napoleon. Many of his predictions dealt with Napoleon. He foresaw World War II as well, and even got some of the names and dates right! For example, here’s how he predicted that the Germans would never succeed in capturing Gibraltar in spite of Spain’s General Franco.

The assembly will go out from the castle of Franco,
The Ambassador not satisfied will make a schism:
Those of the Rivera will be involved,
And they will deny the entry to the great gulf.

In 1980, a new translation of Nostradamus became a runaway best-seller in France, convincing millions that World War III was just around the corner, that Paris would be atom-bombed and that many other horrors would be unleashed.

Live fire will be left, hidden death,
Within the globes, horrible, frightful.
By night a fleet will reduce the city to rubble,
The city on fire, the enemy indulgent.

The heart of an atom bomb is a globe filled with plutonium. The outer sphere is composed of high explosives which, when detonated, explode inwardly (implosion) and compress the plutonium, creating a critical mass and atomic fission.

Arab armies will sweep into France from Italy, according to Nostradamus, while Armageddon gets underway in the Middle East. Prophecies of Armageddon, the last great battle, have been around for thousands of years, of course. The New Testament spells it all out, asserting that the ultimate war will take place after the Jewish people have been restored to their original homeland. The founding of Israel in 1948 took care of this little detail. The very name Armageddon is derived from the name of a plain in Palestine. It is possible that the real meaning is that the Arab leader who drags us all into World War III may be born in Palestine. Nostradamus sees it this way:

He shall also invade the fair land of Palestine, and myriads shall be killed…As he exerts his force against the various lands, the land of Egypt shall not escape, but he shall lay hands on the treasures of gold and silver and all the valuables in Egypt, the Libyans and the Ethiopians following his train.

The Bible and other prophetic literature suggest that Russia and China will be sucked into the Middle Eastern fracas. Even the Hopi Indians, who never even heard of China, have an ancient prophecy about a yellow-skinned hero in a red cloak who will one day come thundering out of the East. Our mysterious ultraterrestrials have been passing along messages about Armageddon for hundreds of years. Everyone everywhere has heard of it, and most people accept it as unavoidable. Students of prophecy now see the stage being set in the Middle East. The conflict over Palestine, the emergence of the Jewish state, the world’s insane dependence on Arab oil, all form part of the larger pattern. The sagging worldwide economy and the steady collapse of the international monetary system were all predicted long ago. Rising anarchy, hunger and hardship, unemployment and depression, will make whole nations susceptible to the appearance of Hitler-type leaders.

Meanwhile, a curious phenomenon has been taking place all over the world. People everywhere are suffering from a sickness of the soul. There is a universal feeling that these are the End Times, that the end of everything is close at hand. It has even spread behind the Iron Curtain. Soviet authorities recently blamed the sudden rise of religious fervor, and a growing sense of hopelessness, in Tashkent on the influence of the sinister CIA. How they arrived at such a conclusion is anybody’s guess.

The widespread dry run of December 1967 was trivial compared to the growth of the worldwide sense of impending doom in the 1970s. It has permeated whole countries, and even small children everywhere sense it and discuss it. Ironically, the same negative spirit gripped the world in the 1880s, and millions of people became convinced that the world was going to come to an end in the year 1900. Another dry run, perhaps?

Nostradamus’s incredible track record (he even predicted the date of his own death—July 2, 1566) has focused attention on his uncanny prophecies for this century, particularly his biggie:

In the seventh month of 1999
A great king of Terror comes from the sky
To receive the king of Angolmois
Before and after, Mars reigns by good fortune.

Who will be the “king of Angolmois’? Some interpret this to be a Mongol from China. The poem that struck terror in the hearts of Frenchmen in the early 1980s made reference to an Oriental invasion.

The Oriental will leave his seat,
He will pass the Appenine mountains, to see France;
He will pierce through the sky, the waters and snow,
And he will strike everyone with his rod.

After all these battles and bloodbaths, nature will strike a terrible blow. There will be earthquakes and floods and generally rotten weather conditions, according to Nostradamus:

There will be in the month of October a great translation made, such that one would think that the librating body of the earth had lost its natural movement in the abyss of perpetual darkness. There will be seen precursive signs in the springtime, and after extreme changes ensuing, reversal of kingdoms and great earthquakes… Then by great deluges the memory of things will suffer incalculable loss.

It does sound as if the whole planet is headed for some cosmic flea market. Everything is shutting down in the 1980s, and the whole human race is following a timetable that was laid out thousands of years ago. Since 1945 we have been constructing thousands of those globes envisioned by Nostradamus. Globes filled with plutonium and capable of turning the earth into a cinder. The ”Me Generation” of the 1970s has bred the “Blank Generation” of the 1980s.

The question is no longer: Is the end of the world at hand?

The question is: When the end comes, will anybody care?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts
Read More

The Magic of Mushrooms

Welcome to Psilocybin: An Easy Guide to Growing and Experiencing the Potential of Magic Mushrooms provides an introductory approach to psychedelic fungi.
Farmer and the Felon
Read More

A Commitment to the Culture

Farmer and the Felon prioritizes the preservation of legacy cannabis cultivators and helps support people imprisoned for cannabis.