Light Years: An Investigation into the Extraterrestrial Experiences of Eduard Meier

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Attempting to understand the intense nature of the ten-year-old phenomenon of UFOs, Jung wrote in his essay Flying Saucers almost thirty years ago: "In the threatening situation of the world today, when people are beginning to see that everything is at stake, the projection-creating fantasy soars beyond the realm of earthly organizations and powers into the heavens, into interstellar space, where the rulers of human fate, the gods, once had their abode in the planets. Our earthly world is split into two halves, and nobody knows where a helpful solution is to come from."

Jung foresaw the end of an era, the dawning of a new age, and flying saucers somehow symbolized the transition. Suddenly, a significant number of his patients had begun speaking to him of dreams in which inexplicable circular shapes descended from heaven. And he read of many others all over the world, who reported seeing similar shapes in a daytime sky. He postulated that if the will was strong, the awakened mind could conjure circular shapes that, to the eye, appeared as flying saucers, much as the palms of faithful Christians had been known to bleed spontaneously. And either these visions or the presence of an actual physical object or both could be the catalyst for what he called a "visionary rumor." But: why this sudden need for the masses to clothe unexplainable things in extraterrestrial garb? Perhaps the omniscient God of the prophets like Moses and Jesus, once so radical in the eyes of Greco-Roman paganism, no longer fulfilled man's spiritual needs; perhaps this intense, unconscious desire to believe in the existence of flying saucers signaled a wrenching shift in religious paradigms. But - and this is where Jung disqualified himself - the breakdown of religious paradigms and flying saucers in dreams do not explain the trained fighter pilot who chases a silvery fifty-foot disk confirmed on radar, only to have the disk suddenly accelerate to a speed of several thousand miles an hour, execute a 90-degree turn, and quietly disappear.

After three years of research, I have concluded that UFOs exist: something we cannot explain indeed sails through our skies from time to time. This does not mean that representatives of extraterrestrial societies visit us, though there is some evidence to suggest that. I find it difficult to believe that anyone who looks seriously and objectively at the evidence - secret government documents that only recently have been discovered, the writings of and interviews with the coterie of scientists who have investigated the phenomenon, the reports themselves - can come away insisting the whole matter takes seed in the human mind. Though I have sampled only a small portion of the literature written by debunkers like Phil Klass and Robert Sheaffer, I find their arguments strained and unpersuasive, often more convoluted and difficult to believe than the sightings themselves.

On the other hand, I empathize with the scientist who refuses to become involved. Never has there been a more frustrating subject, where questions about and answers only shimmer in the distance. With our recently acquired knowledge of the origin of the universe, the birth-and-death cycle of star systems, and the evolution of life on our own planet, many, if not most, scientists now believe that intelligent life probably exists on other planets in our own galaxy. However, many of these same scientists also believe that travel in space is impossible: the galaxy is simply too vast. In winter 1986, I spent several days with NASA scientists who are engaged in the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) at Ames Research Center in California. The SETI people theorize that since alien civilizations cannot travel in space, they communicate with one another across interstellar distances with speed-of-light radio waves. The scientists now search for such magnetic waves in the galactic "neighborhood" out to a distance of a hundred light years. Meanwhile, things no one can explain still dart through our earthly atmosphere. Maybe someday, they will turn out to be, as many have suggested, merely a misunderstood natural phenomenon. In April 1984, Allen Hynek, in a column for OMNI magazine, even suggested that the seemingly solid yet ephemeral nature of UFOs might best be explained as "an interface between our reality and a parallel reality, the door to another dimension. Surely," he added, "we haven't had our last revolution in scientific thought.

And where does Meier fit into all of this? I don't know. I would not call him a prophet, though he may be. I would not rule out impostor, though I have no proof. I know that if you boiled the story into a kettle, you would find a hard residue composed of two things: one would be Meier's ravings about time travel, space travel, philosophy, and religion; the other would be the comments by the scientists and engineers impressed with the evidence he has produced. I can't believe the former, nor can I dismiss the latter.

"We can't prove the case is real," Lee Elders said to me in an interview in 1984. "We just can't do it. We can't prove that the metals are from a Pleiadian beamship, only that they are unusual. We can't prove anything. There are still things I question about the case," he added. "I don't know how to explain it."

"It took us two years," said Brit, "to figure out you're never going to prove it, and you're never going to disprove it; it's just there."

When I met Meier in the spring of 1984, I saw a tired man with a deeply lined face who walked with a shuffle. His bright green, once playful eyes, described to me by so many people, had turned weary, and the beard he had begun to grow in the summer of 1978 was now curly and half gray and fell nearly to his waist. Only forty-seven, he looked to be at least twenty years older. People at the farm told me he rarely slept, he had ghost pains in his missing arm, and he saw well out of only one eye. In the fall of 1982, Meier was in the bathroom early in the morning when he slipped and hit his head. A doctor diagnosed the injury as a severe concussion.

Meier still lives on the farm in Schmidruti, and people still come to visit. But rarely does he speak with anyone. When visitors drive up the gravel path, he may slip his index finger beside the sheer curtain in the parlor and peek out; more likely, he will continue to stare at the television screen. Others at the farm usually intercept the visitors and talk with them about Meier and his experiences and show them photographs from several large albums and then send them on their way. I was at the farm for three weeks in the spring of 1984 and again for two weeks that fall; in the spring of 1985, I lived in Switzerland for two months, traveling frequently to the farm. In all that time, I rarely saw Meier anywhere but on that sofa in the parlor in front of the television.

Though years had passed since Meier left the farm for a contact, he told me the Pleiadians still spoke with him and had even appeared in his office several times. But since it was customary for them to run things in cycles of eleven years, even that would end in 1986. "At present," he told me, "there isn't much happening in my head."

I doubted Meier's story from the beginning but only for the typical reason: it couldn't be true. Two years later, out of frustration, I jerked open my file drawers, emptied everything into large cardboard boxes, and carried them into the basement of my office building. I could find no answers. The photo-analysis came up inconclusive because originals could not be studied. The unusual metal sample had disappeared. Except for the Intercep group, almost everyone I interviewed in the UFO community warned that I was wasting my time on an obvious hoax. But in Switzerland and again in Munich, I talked for days with Herbert Runkel, and I saw a sincere, curious, and intelligent man truly baffled by his experiences with Meier. His friend Harold impressed me the same way. With my translator Frank Stuckert, I spoke often with the people at the farm about their myriad and unusual experiences; I walked the sites in the hills, and I talked at length with the people at Bär Photo. I spoke with village administrators, interviewed neighbors, and explored the old Hinwil house from the basement to the attic. I found the alleged detractors Martin Sorge and Hans Schutzbach: Sorge now believed the contacts had actually taken place, though in a different fashion; Schutzbach remained convinced that Meier had faked everything, but after two years of searching, he had "found out nothing but a lot of ideas." He couldn't explain the landing tracks, photographs, or sound recordings, and still had no idea who even one accomplice might have been. He told me, "around Billy, the oddest things always happened." I met several intelligent and well-educated adults who rarely visited the farm but who told me their lives had been changed upon meeting Meier. One afternoon, as I sat out front of the farmhouse talking with Meier, a taxi pulled up next to the aviary, and out stepped two Japanese women who had seen the television documentary on the Meier story. They had flown twenty-two hours from Tokyo. As the older woman stood next to the taxi, both hands enveloped the stem of a red rose.

The scientists who had examined the evidence cautioned against premature conclusions, but the evidence impressed most of them. That, of course, does not make Meier's story real, but having experienced the setting in Switzerland, I, like others before me, could not understand how Meier could have created sophisticated special effects in his photography. Then, there were the sounds, metal, landing tracks, films, the explanation of the beamship propulsion system, all of which lent credibility to the story. Yet Meier's contrived photos of the San Francisco earthquake and his other outlandish claims tore at the credibility. He may simply be one of the finest illusionists the world has ever known, possessing not the power but the skill to persuade others to see things that did not happen and do not exist. Perhaps he has no such ability; perhaps beings on a much higher plane have selected him and controlled him and used him for reasons far beyond our comprehension. I do know this: trying to make sense of it all has been the most difficult thing I will ever do. Finally, I realized, as the Elders had years before, that the truth of the Meier contacts will never be known.

Lee elders interview etc on this copied from

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