Take me on a Trip upon your Magic Swirling Ship
The Space Brothers Revisited
The mid 1990s and Millennial Madness
Although predicting the brightness of comets with any degree of accuracy is very difficult, Hale–Bopp met or exceeded most predictions when it passed perihelion on April 1, 1997. The comet was dubbed the Great Comet of 1997.
Hale–Bopp became visible to the naked eye in May 1996, and although its rate of brightening slowed considerably during the latter half of that year, scientists were still cautiously optimistic that it would become very bright. It was too closely aligned with the Sun to be observable during December 1996, but when it reappeared in January 1997 it was already bright enough to be seen by anyone who looked for it, even from large cities with light-polluted skies. The Internet was a growing phenomenon at the time, and numerous websites that tracked the comet's progress and provided daily images from around the world became extremely popular. The Internet played a large role in encouraging the unprecedented public interest in comet Hale–Bopp.
Internet Madness, and the beginnings of the Whole Sordid Mess
Theories about a strange object near Hale-Bopp were first made public in November of last year when Chuck Shramek, an amateur astronomer from Houston, called Art Bell’s program to report that a photograph of his appeared to show a large object behind the comet, an object he speculated to be up to four times the size of Earth. The following night, Courtney Brown, a tenured professor of political science at Emory University and director of the Farsight Institute in Atlanta, was a guest on Bell’s show and claimed that three “remote viewers” associated with his institute had confirmed Shramek’s findings and, incredibly, had determined it to be a metallic object full of aliens. As further proof, Brown sent Bell a photograph of the Hale-Bopp “companion” (allegedly taken by someone Brown identified only as a “top-ten university astronomer”) on the condition that Bell hold off displaying the image on his Web page until the astronomer in question held a news conference. (Meanwhile, astronomers analyzing Shramek’s mystery object concluded it was a misidentified star, though Shramek continues to dispute this.) After two months of waiting for the secret astronomer to come forward (time also spent feeding the Hale-Bopp UFO hype), Bell decided to post the secret photograph. One day later Bell was contacted by Oliver Hainut and David Tholen, both professors from the University of Hawaii, who said that Brown’s image was merely a doctored copy of one of their recent comet photos, and they provided a comparison to prove it. The image was a fake.
A Gruesome Discovery
Following an anonymous tip, police enter a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, an exclusive suburb of San Diego, California, and discover 39 victims of a mass suicide. The deceased--21 women and 18 men of varying ages--were all found lying peaceably in matching dark clothes and Nike sneakers and had no noticeable signs of blood or trauma. It was later revealed that the men and women were members of the "Heaven's Gate" religious cult, whose leaders preached that suicide would allow them to leave their bodily "containers" and enter an alien spacecraft hidden behind the Hale-Bopp comet.
Who were Heaven's Gate?
A native of Texas, Applewhite attended several universities and, as a young man, served in the United States Army. After finishing school, he taught music at the University of Alabama. He later returned to Texas, where he led choruses and served as the chair of the music department at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. He left the school in 1970, citing emotional turmoil. His father's death a year later brought on severe depression. In 1972, he developed a close friendship with Bonnie Nettles, a nurse; together, they discussed mysticism at length and concluded that they were called as divine messengers.
What did they believe?
Applewhite preached that he and Nettles were human incarnations of aliens and that he was an incarnation of Christ. Furthermore, he said that one day Heaven’s Gate members would shed their human bodies and move on to a higher level.
Applewhite ordered that group members cut themselves off from their friends and family, and live communally with the group. Life inside the cult was highly structured: members ate the same food, had identical clothing and haircuts, and were forbidden to engage in sexual contact. Applewhite had himself castrated, as did five of the members who would commit suicide.
Just in case it's not weird enough yet (and was it just a photo that's responsible for those 39 deaths?)
Another New Age belief Applewhite and Nettles adopted was the ancient astronaut hypothesis. The term "ancient astronauts" is used to refer to various forms of the concept that ufonauts visited our planet in the distant past. Applewhite and Nettles took part of this concept and taught it as the belief that "aliens planted the seeds of current humanity millions of years ago, and have to come to reap the harvest of their work in the form of spiritual evolved individuals who will join the ranks of flying saucer crews. Only a select few members of humanity will be chosen to advance to this transhuman state. The rest will be left to wallow in the spiritually poisoned atmosphere of a corrupt world." Only the individuals who chose to join Heaven's Gate, follow Applewhite and Nettle's belief, and make the sacrifices required by membership would be allowed to escape human suffering.
The group moved to a mansion in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe in the fall of 1996. It was here that Applewhite decided that the group was destined to be carried away to the next level in a spacecraft traveling behind the Hale-Bopp comet, which would be visible to them in March 1997.
On March 19, Applewhite produced a videotape explaining why it was necessary to leave Earth. Days later, Applewhite and his 38 followers—21 women and 17 men ranging in age from 26 to 72—began committing mass suicide in shifts, a process that took three days.
The convictions of the cult members is apparent on the group’s Web site, which remains online. It explains how their decision to leave Earth is not suicide and includes final testimonials from three members justifying their decisions.
The role of the Web site in recruiting and indoctrinating members raised concerns about the power of the Internet, which was still a relatively new phenomenon. One religion professor surmised in a 1997 issue of the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, “Freedom from the physical body and the free reign given to the imagination in cyberspace … could have contributed to the cult members' decision to go the next, if illogical step. … It’s within the realm of possibility that Applewhite's ministry plus cyberculture was a toxic mix.”
Psy-Ops, or Not?
"[Applewhite) seemed to think I had been given a wonderful gift," Shargel said, "a gift of prophecy, and that my prophecy was outlined in the book."
Shargel says his connection with the cult began in December, when he received the first of four phone calls from Applewhite. Applewhite had heard Shargel on Art Bell's nationally syndicated late-night radio show, a fringe forum on the paranormal.
"[Applewhite) explained to me that he ran a cybermonastery near San Diego," Shargel said. "He called me three times after that, to ask about meeting me in Nevada at a conference there."
In January, at the Sixth Annual International UFO Congress in Laughlin, Nev., Shargel says Applewhite and 38 other cult members filled the front row for his lecture.
"They liked my way of looking at things," Shargel said. "They looked relatively normal to me, except they all had the same haircut."
Bob Brown, the conference's organizer, remembers things differently. He says none of the cult showed up.
"We had a camera mounted above that also caught part of the audience," Brown said. "The same people in the front row were the ones who were there every day."
On March 15, Shargel says, he was the last person outside Heaven's Gate to see Applewhite alive. Shargel was in Southern California for a book-signing and lecture at Heaven On Earth, a metaphysical bookstore in Encinitas, near the cult's rented mansion in Rancho Santa Fe.
According to Shargel, a sickly Applewhite attended, accompanied by a dozen other members. Before leaving, the cult leader gave Shargel a page of Egyptian and Hopi hieroglyphics, a picture of an alien and a tubular chime in a wooden case.
"We never saw any of those people in our store," said Cheryl Phibbs, the bookstore's owner.
After learning of the suicides, Shargel called the television networks and told his story. Hours later, he was on Nightline, telling a nationwide audience that Applewhite was dying of liver cancer. News of a possible reason for the suicides spread like wildfire.
Three days later, Applewhite's autopsy revealed no trace of cancer. But Shargel was in greater demand than ever.
During the following weeks, Shargel became a fixture on the airwaves. He spoke with grieving cult members' families. He analyzed Heaven's Gate's inner workings. He described the group's admiration for him and his book.
In 1996, I wrote a science fiction novel entitled "Voice in the Mirror." It was a fictional story about the discovery of life on another planet...
I decided that the best way to get the book published was to make the slightest inference that it just might be real. Lo and behold, the NEW AGE publishers were beating down my door. I secured a publisher and a nice (if not small) advance check. I was ready to meet the world as a fictional Top Secret NASA scientist and holder of a PhD in Egyptian Quantum Mechanics...
I was asked to take part in an experiment. One that would involve my book and the story I wanted to tell. It turns out that NASA had been very interested in the UFO community in a way that I would never have imagined. They wanted to use the belief in UFO’s, or NEV’s (Non-Earth Vehicles) as they referred to them, in order to gauge reaction from that control group. I asked, “Reaction to what?”
They said they had numerous computer scenarios depicting the landing of a Non-Earth Vehicle in a public place under a variety of conditions and the outcome was always the same, chaos. They were now proposing a new scenario, one that could be postulated by me. Using my book as the foundation for this experiment, a lecture series with undeniable photos and supporting information supplied by others, I embarked on this seemingly preposterous endeavor.
The book was completed and an unsuspecting New Age publisher was found to publish the book. Now I needed to embark on a book and lecture tour. It was decided that a dress rehearsal was required so I was booked into a UFO convention in Philadelphia.
I was given a series of photos and three poster sized images of a UFO that supposedly was taken by a P-51 Mustang search plane out of Roswell, New Mexico. I was also given a set of NASA credentials proving that I was indeed, Doctor Lee Shargel. To my utter astonishment, I was a smash at the convention. My next foray into the world of UFO’s was as the featured guest on Art Bell’s Coast to Coast radio broadcast where I informed the world that an extra-terrestrial probe was accompanying the Hale-Bopp comet as it flew by planet earth in 1997.
The coup-de-grace was my being booked as the primary speaker at the largest meeting of UFO believers in the world. The International UFO Congress convention in Laughlin, Nevada. My preparations for a lecture was nothing less than spectacular. My friends at NASA, Goddard and the DOD were also there and later applauded my convincing presentation. They assured me that the experiment was yielding an immense amount of data. I continued with this charade until the unexpected occurred. The Heaven’s Gate cult suicides. At that point I was told that the experiment was a complete success. Then I was dropped like a hot potato.
My efforts to contact the people who had been, so to speak, handling me had vanished. It was as if they never existed. I tried everything to get an audience with them but I was told, “No one by that name is employed here.” I eventually gave up and made the decision to abandon any future forays into the world of UFO’s. I am still writing books and have had some success writing screenplays for motion pictures. I often wonder though, what experiments are being played out now, where and why?
Coincidentally, three members of the Heaven’s Gate “away team” worked for Advanced Development Group, Inc. (ADG), a company that developed computer-based instruction for the U.S. Army. ADG later became ManTech Advanced Development Group; these organizations have connections to the First Earth Battalion, a psy-op group formed within the U.S. military to allegedly handle extraterrestrial affairs such as abductions or contact through telepathy or remote viewing...
Well, it seems there's a DEFINITE connection of Heavens Gate and the information on their web site that connects to the C.I.A., N.S.A., Department of Defense, a retired Admiral in the Navy, and retired Generals in the Air Force and Army plus a San Diego company called S.A.I.C. that was convicted of FRAUD!
S.A.I.C. is the company located in La Jolla CA next to Rancho Santa Fe, that controls web site addresses on the Internet through a company called Network Solutions which in turn owns InterNIC. That's the company that controls information on the World Wide Web by controlling the addresses of all sites on the Information Super Highway...
[Former NSA Director B.R. Inman] who seems to be somehow linked to cover ups of UFO information, such as MJ 12, and a little server in Minnesota called Space Star Communications that hosts the Heavens Gate web site... When Bobby Ray retired he went to work in Texas for some software companies that specialize in security software.
Now, Spacestar.net is owned and run by a little fellow named Ed Deppe...I hope he doesn't join the BOOT HILL list of Clinton casualties for emailing me the following letter I'm posting on the internet for all to see... It shows that a missing piece of the Heavens Gate puzzle, is that the highest levels of the US government were somehow not only neighbors of Heavens Gate nearby in Sand Diego, but they also used the same little server called spacestar.net located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota which was chosen by Heavens Gate to host their web site... Now, it's a FACT that I reported in earlier articles, that search indexes like Alta Vista held a record of certain files from the Heavens Gate site that were posted last year...
In total the first index I ran at Alta Vista had 144 files from heavensgate.com which I indexed on March 27th 1997... I note that this index now only shows 111 files ... 33 have been removed from the Alta Vista search index... I also had reported, that certain key files such as the index.html file which is the first page you see at the site, was recording a different file size on the mirror sites than the file that was listed at Alta Vista's index... I also reported that the file named letter.html (which is the groups bizarre explanation for being AGAINST SUICIDE) was also different than the one listed in the index I had run on March 27th 1997 at Alta Vista... by the way that file has now disappeared from the Alta Vista index as of 4/8/1997...
Now that heavensgate.com is back on line (Ed Deppe the owner of the server admits he took site down on March 27th 1997 see interview below) you can now view the dates that these files were modified. The index.html file shows it was modified on April 3rd ... the group is dead so who is changing it... Ed Deppe says he can't say... see email letter below... Now, most importantly is the FACT that when you go to the letter.html file which is titled Our Position AGAINST SUICIDE... It shows the file was modified on March 20th 1997 or about when the group started on their voyage home... Which is EXACTLY what I reported earlier in my articles about how files from Heavens Gate had appeared to be altered...
Now, Ed Deppe admits US government agencies have been in touch with him concerning Heavens Gate... But, he can't give specifics...Ed Deppe says he doesn't know what S.A.I.C. is... However, Ed Deppe admits that good old boy B. R. Inman is a client of his, so he can't release any information about his contacts with old Bobby Ray...
Many in the internet community questioned WHY would Heavens Gate a southern California company, choose spacestar.net of Minnesota as a server... The real question is WHY does Bobby Ray former director of the C.I.A. appear to be a client of theirs also???? I believe you can now add 39 more bodies to the BOOT HILL list and let's just see how long it takes Ed Deppe and or Bobby Ray to join the list of individuals who died from Arkancide...
originally posted by: mirageman
a reply to: starwarsisreal
I would say this. The decline of interest in UFOs was a direct result in the decline of really compelling UFO cases during the 21st century. So cause and effect takes place and consequently there aren't enough gullible people around to form a UFO cult.
holder of a PhD in Egyptian Quantum Mechanics…
I decided that the best way to get the book published was to make the slightest inference that it just might be real. Lo and behold, the NEW AGE publishers were beating down my door. I secured a publisher and a nice (if not small) advance check. I was ready to meet the world as a fictional Top Secret NASA scientist and holder of a PhD in Egyptian Quantum Mechanics. (That degree was made up in a pinch, but it, too, worked) I got an agent and a manager who were only to eager to cash in on the UFO craze. (Abduct My Wallet: Confessions of a UFO Hoaxer by Lee Shargel)
originally posted by: adjensen
a reply to: ATODASO
holder of a PhD in Egyptian Quantum Mechanics…
"Egyptian Quantum Mechanics"? Kind of gives him away as a liar right there, lol.