Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Earth is a Dangerous Place - The World View of the Aetherius Society

Now that the Aetherius Society has "the great Truths..... released to Terra through metaphysical means...",  are they really living by those TRUTHS or are they merely using them as building blocks for their own self-centred and illusory aggrandizement?

An extract from an article in the Marburg Journal of Religion regarding the Aetherius Society by John A Saliba, University of Detroit, Mercy Religious Studies Department, Michigan:-  

The Earth is a Dangerous Place - 1) Intro.....

Of the UFO organizations listed by Melton (1996) in his encyclopedia, the majority are quite harmless and not prone to violence. While many look forward to an age when human life will be improved through contact with aliens, only a few maintain that the end of the world is imminent, or that the advent of the flying saucers is about to happen, or that the aliens are nefarious and dangerous entities intent of destroying humankind. This paper[1] examines a contemporary flying saucer religion, namely, the Aetherius Society, and attempts to show, by an examination of its world view, that it does not fit into the foreboding scenario found especially in the popular media....... and aim at depicting the Society's world view from the "inside out" rather than from the "outside in." It will reproduce, and reach conclusions from, data provided by the Aetherius Society itself. Such an approach is justified both from practical and theoretical point of views. From a practical viewpoint, there is so little scholarly information on the Society that one has no choice but to rely on its publications and on the researcher's interactions with its members......

2) The Aetherius Society and its Founder

The Aetherius Society, one of the most well-known flying-saucer religions,[3] was founded in the mid-1950s by the late George King (1919-1997) who claimed to have received continual communications, through physical contact, trance, and telepathy, from various extraterrestrial beings who stem mainly from different planets in our solar system. His eminence Dr. George King, as the members of the Society usually address him, has been lavished with innumerable titles, academic degrees, and honors.[4] He is credited with countless skills, accomplishments, and missions (Cosmic Voice, vol. 16, May 1977: 1-8). He is regarded as a charismatic leader by the society's members and is referred to in its literature as an author, inventor, metaphysician, occultist, prophet, psychic, spiritual healer, spiritual leader, teacher, yogi, and Aquarian master. The following dedication in tribute to George King at his death sums up the high esteem in which the Society's members hold him (Cosmic Voice 1997):

To his eminence Sir George King, Beloved Master and Cosmic Avatar whose long life of selfless Service and sacrifice is the example to all who would dedicate their lives to God through practical Spiritual Action, and thus bring a New Age of Peace and Enlightenment to the Earth for the benefit of their fellow man [sic].

Roy Wallis (1974) describes King in classical Weberian terms, namely as a mystagogue who "offers a largely magical means of salvation." The reason for this is probably because King created and directed a number of spiritual and occult techniques and invented artifacts which seem to have magical power........

3) Organization

The Aetherius Society, which gets it name from the pseudonym of a being from Planet Venus who first contacted George King, is probably the most well-organized Flying-saucer religion........  Its work is closely linked to the directives of the Cosmic Masters who are believed to use the Society as an essential tool for the purpose of achieving universal peace and world enlightenment..... Its members participate in this noble task and become "builders of the New Age"........ The Aetherius Society harbors and encourages good relationships with other religions from which it incorporates several religious themes and spiritual goals. Unlike some of the new religious organizations, the Society does not proselytize........ Its members, however, believe that the Society has a function that is not being fulfilled by the other faiths. In one transmission from one extraterrestrial named Mars Sector 6, King maintains that it was revealed that "the orthodox religions have been given every opportunity to make known the great Truths. They have failed because they have chosen to exercise petty free will........  More recently, Richard Lawrence (1997), reflecting on the future of the Society after King's death, writes: "Over and over again, the plans and teachings of great Avatars have not gone ahead correctly after their lifetime. Ours is greater than any previous spiritual legacy, but it will work only if we make it work."

4) Major Beliefs

The beliefs of the Aetherius Society are rather complex. As an organization that promotes occult wisdom, it incorporates ideas from various religious traditions. Reference to God is common in its prayers (King 1966), though the planetary beings appear to occupy the central stage in the members' spiritual lives. Its main beliefs are listed as follows: Service to mankind........ Some of the major beliefs and goals of the Society are summarized in "nine freedoms," which express its goals as well as the stages of spiritual development open to all human beings (King 1963). These freedoms consist of (1) bravery; (2) love; (3) service; (4) enlightenment....... 5)

Interplanetary Beings

One of the Aetherius Society's main beliefs is the existence of a kind of pantheon of beings, referred to as Interplanetary Intelligences, who form a spiritual hierarchy concerned with the welfare of planet Earth. These beings, unlike the aliens of abduction accounts,[17] are for the most part benign, compassionate, peace-loving, and dedicated to the service of others and, scientifically and spiritually, millions of years ahead of the human race here on Earth. They live in a paradisial state and place, where old age, disease, natural disasters, and wars do not exist.....  Martians are described as having brown skin without any blemish or wrinkle..... Some of the teachings of the Aetherius Society have led one scholar, Robert Ellwood, to place the Society within the Theosophical tradition. The literature of the Aetherius Society in the late 1950s and early 1960s exhibits both great concern for the dangers of atomic warfare and fallout as well as excitement about UFO sightings. Accounts that the planet Earth is under attack by evil cosmic forces and references to the coming of the next cosmic Master,[18] may have led Ellwood to interpret the struggles with evil forces as apocalyptic in nature and to conclude that "like the Adamski teachings, Aetherius can be thought of as apocalyptic theosophy"..... In fact, some of the transmissions from the Masters suggest that the end is far from near. Master Aetherius, for example, is recorded to have said that the "Third satellite will continue to come into Orbit of your Earth for many centuries to come" (King c1975: 6, 30). He has also given to King the dates for the next 1,000 years during which Satellite No. 3 will be operating round the Earth (King, c1975: 34ff.). The society believes that we are on the verge of a great millennium, the Age of Aquarius, which is described as follows (King 1996: 85):

In the Age of Aquarius we will see a merging of science and religion; a breaking down of the barriers between different religions and cultural and racial groups; the introduction of mysticism into orthodox thinking to bring a deeper realization about the meaning of life in all aspects; and, above all, a much clearer realization and recognition of the importance of Service to humanity.

Even though one of the goals of the Society is to prepare for the eventual coming of the next Master, there has never been any attempt to specify the time of his arrival. King has stated that when the next Master will arrive, he will come as an adult in a spacecraft and present irrefutable credentials to the Earth's leaders. Though it is said that he will come "shortly," his arrival will depend on whether there are enough people prepared to receive him........ Members of the Aetherius Society are not preoccupied with an imminent catastrophe that will mark the end of the world. Rather they believe that the Earth faces periodic disasters of vast proportions. These calamities, which may stem from both internal and external sources, can, and have been on several occasions, averted. They are not inevitable or fatalistic. Thus, for example, there was an urgency to the early messages King received from the Space Intelligences. Some of these beings, referred to as the "Lords of the Ineffable Flame of the Logos of the Earth," are endowed with unlimited power and could, if necessary, prevent human beings from destroying the planet through atomic warfare ..... Others visit the Earth regularly to protect it from the wrong thoughts and actions of humankind and to help humans to live according to God's laws so that dangerous situations may be interrupted and prevented from harming the human race...... The cosmic battles with evil forces or intelligences also bear some resemblance to the fundamentalist Christian concept of "spiritual warfare," shorn of its imminent apocalyptic content..... The Society's literature contains several records which corroborate their belief that the Earth had been on the brink of annihilation.....

7) Main Operations and Missions

In practice, much of the work of members of the Society is dedicated to conducting and/or maintaining several major operations and/or missions, some of which confirm the members' preoccupation with the perils to which the Earth is exposed. Among these missions are..... (1) Operation Starlight, a Mission which began in Holdstone Down in Devon, England, in July 1958, and continued till August 1961. During this period 19 select mountains were charged with spiritual energy that can be radiated to uplift our world by anyone who prays unselfishly on them. Located in different parts of the world..... they can be used to send out spiritual energies to the world by anyone who, with pure and selfless motives, climbs them and prays for peace and enlightenment.....

8) Ritual Practices

The rituals of the Aetherius Society, which can be rather elaborate, are carried out on a weekly basis and on special commemorative occasions. The temple (often a small room) where the services are held is usually decorated with religious symbols that include a photograph of George King and a portrait of the Master Jesus. Members sit either in a circle or in rows facing a sanctuary area where religious objects are displayed and from where the officiating ministers lead the congregation.

Every week the following services are held: (1) a prayer meeting that includes a short meditation period, the recitation of some segments of the Twelve Blessings of Jesus, and petitions for the healing at a distance for anyone who has requested to be placed on the healing list; (2) a service dedicated to Operation Prayer Power; (3) a private healing service; and (4) a regular Sunday service, during which taped instructions or lectures of King and messages from various planetary beings might be played.

On a yearly basis the start and/or completion of several of the Missions and Operations are commemorated. Pilgrimages to the Holy Mountains, charged with spiritual power during Operation Starlight, are periodically made by devoted members of the Society.....

Various other spiritual practices are also encouraged. Instructions for spiritual healing, correct breathing exercises for promoting mental balance and spiritual well-being, healthy drinking and eating habits, and aura cleansing exercises can be found in the Society's literature..... Yoga plays an important part in the lives of the Society's members since it is the means by which an individual comes into contact with his or her Higher Self and thus acquires the knowledge and understanding of truth.....

9) Future of the Society

The future of new religious movements has been one of the concerns of scholars studying them (Bromley and Hammond 1987). Sociologists tend to look on new religious groups as dynamic organizations subject to change. New movements can remain marginal in the society in which they sprung; or they could simple die out because of internal conflicts and/or outwards pressures. They could alternatively grow into larger bodies and become established religious groups. This, in the opinion of Stark and Bainbridge, is not very plausible. They think that "all contemporary cult movements contain too much magic to become really successful mass movements"..... and they expect no single new religious movement to become a dominant force in Western culture.

The future of the Aetherius Society depends very much on what happens in the aftermath of the demise of its leader. Even during the last few years prior to King's death, there seems to have been very little speculation among members of the Society on this issue. Some believe that George King will not be succeeded by another Master as the Primary Mental Channel. One transmission from the Master Aetherius states explicitly: "When George King--as you call him--has to vacate the terrestrial body he now inhabits, he will not be replaced" (King c1975: 7). Other maintain that in the unspecified future a Cosmic Intelligence could come to Earth and be the next Master with a mandate to act as the spokesman for the Interplanetary Intelligences.

What will happen to the Aetherius Society is open to several speculative possibilities:

(1) After the death of it's founder, the members will disband and the Society will cease to exist. This is unlikely to happen since, as Gordon Melton has remarked, "the death of the founder rarely proves fatal or leads to drastic alteration in the group's life"..... It has, in fact, not happened. Rather the Society, a year and half after King's death, is continuing to operate with no visible changes in the religious lives of its members.

(2) The Society will split into several branches as happened to other religious movements. There is no indication, however, that any rifts between members have occurred and there are no signs of factions within the Society. The Board of Directors is carrying on business as usual and there is no evidence of internal conflicts between individuals vying for control. The relatively small size of its membership is likely to militate against divisions..... (Ed.???)

(3) The Society will become an institutionalized religious organization with authority and charisma vested in itself. The succession of authority, necessary if the organization is to survive, will pass from George King to the membership or board of directors. This is what is apparently taking place. The fact that the Society has been a well-structured organization with a well-defined religious agenda favors such institutionalization. As Gordon Melton (1991: 8) has pointed out "once the founder articulates the group's teachings and practices, they exist independently of him/her and can and do develop a life of their own."

To some extent the Aetherius Society had already begun the process of institutionalization before King's death. Its leader made provision for the continuation of the society's missions. He not only established the Board of Directors which would provide a mechanism for governance, but also stated explicitly (King 1989) that after he is gone, the members of the Society will still be able to cooperate with the uplifting, healing, and inspiring spiritual energies sent from Satellite 3.

Less than two years after King's death, the Aetherius Society has already assumed the task of continuing King's work....... Another example of the move towards institutionalization is the exercise known as a "Spiritual Push." Since the 1950s the Society's members have believed that a massive spacecraft, known as Satellite No. 3 and manned by the Cosmic Masters, came into the Earth's orbit to beam the correct energy to those people, irrespective of their belief or nationality, involved in helping humankind...... There are set times, four every year, when this satellite is believed to come into orbit and radiate its energies......

It is, therefore, likely that the Aetherius Society will continue to function as a small religious movement or organization where belief in flying saucers is central and whose main mission is to protect the Earth from evil forces and prepare it for the millennium.......

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