CESNUR - Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni diretto da Massimo Introvigne
In this paper I will focus on an interesting case of recent channeling, one that might be considered to have played a major role in spreading the vogue of extraterrestrial channeling. As some of you may know, ET channeling has become quite fashionable over the last 30 years. Although it is difficult to point out exactly where this trend stemmed from, it is clearly an offshoot of the American New Age milieus. As Jon Klimo puts it, «the biggest hot-bed of ET-type channeling activity at the beginning of the 1990s was Sedona, Arizona», where «the activity centered on the nationally distributed magazine Emergence: A journal for the Golden Age».
Darryl Anka (1951), who claims to have communicated, through trance-channeling, with an extra-terrestrial entity called Bashar for almost thirty years, has been an important figure of this milieu. Anka started his Hollywood career as a visual and special effects artist. He has worked on, among other movies, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I Robot, Pirates of the Caribbean, Live Free or Die Hard and Iron Man. He first came in contact with "Bashar" when in 1973 he sighted his spacecraft over Los Angeles. As a result, Anka became aware of an agreement made with Bashar before his physical birth that he would convey his messages. Anka began attending channeling classes and he first channeled Bashar in 1984.
The encounter between Anka and Bashar cannot fail to recall the case of George Adamski (1891–1965), the first of a long line of UFO contactees, who in 1946 witnessed a large cigar-shaped "mother ship" and in 1952 claimed to have met near Desert Center, California, a Venusian called Orthon, pilot of a spaceship, and to have communicated with him through telepathic transfer. Another important forerunner of ET channeling is the Swiss Billy Meier (1937), who since the end of the '70s has reported regular contact with the "Plejaren" (aliens from beyond the Pleiades), describing them as human beings like us, who share with humanity a common lineage. This is a theme that we will find also in Bashar's discourse.
However, Darryl Anka was one of the first to fully combine two distinct ranges of unusual experiences: that of extraterrestrial sighting and that of ET vocal channeling. To understand the specificity of Bashar's phenomenon and the reasons for his success, we must add a third factor: since 1985, Ankas's sessions have been videotaped, and a few years ago they started to be diffused through the internet and particularly through different video-sharing platforms such as Youtube. This has helped a lot in spreading his message.
I. Mythology: alien narrative, occult human history and abductions
First of all, Bashar's discourse contains a general description of his own civilization, the "Sassani people", living on the planet "Essassani". Essassani ("place of living light") is approximately five hundred light years from earth and it is located near the Orion constellation. It is said to exist in a parallel reality, in a time frame that we perceive as the future. «The people of Essassani are humanoid, with somewhat Eurasian features, with enlarged, upturned eyes. They average five feet in height, and have white, grayish skin. The females have white hair, and the males have no hair. They wear silvery blue or silvery white, one piece, fitted garments».
According to Bashar, the Sassani are genetically and reincarnationally related to human species, and he himself is a future self of the medium, Darryl Anka (just like Seth had claimed to be Jane Roberts' future self).
Now here things get a bit complicated. In fact, according to Bashar the Sassani have been "created" by the civilization called "Zeta Reticuli" by hybridizing human and "grey" DNA. But who are the Zeta Reticuli/Greys? They are defined as "humans from a parallel dimension", who provoked catastrophes in their world that resulted into the loss of their ability to procreate. They then tunneled through their technology into a parallel reality in order to get human DNA, so that they could create hybrid races (among which the Sassani) and be able to incarnationally continue. This would explain the phenomenon of alien abductions.
The Sassani people are, then, a hybrid race, resulting from the combination of human and grey DNA. But the human race itself is hybrid, since according to Bashar it would have been created by an alien civilization – the Anunnaki, coming from the constellation of Lyra – with its genetic material. Bashar defines therefore the Anunnaki as our actual forefathers and foremothers. Bashar's discourse, then, contains the idea of an "occult" history of human civilization, that bears striking similarities with Zecharia Sitchin's (1920-2010) theories. Sitchin – probably inspired by E. von Däniken (Chariots of the Gods?, 1968) and by L. Pauwels and J. Bergier's Le Matin des magiciens (1960) – attributed not only the development of the ancient Sumerian culture, but also the creation of the homo sapiens species, to the Anunnaki, which he stated was a race of extraterrestrials from a planet beyond Neptune called Nibiru (The 12th Planet,1976).
II. Bashar's predictions: earth's future and evolutionary cycles
But Bashar's discourse also includes interesting predictions about the future of humanity. These prophecies are placed under the general New Age assumption that we live in a "transformational age" in which humanity is going through a major shift.
Disappointingly enough, Bashar is not always accurate in his predictions (although he would say that there is no such thing as a prediction of the future: there is only "a sensing of the energy present at the time the prediction is made") and some of his boldest prophecies turned out to be incorrect. In one of his early sessions (between 1986 and 1988) he said:
«The laying down of the foundation of a world government will be accomplished between by your years of 2011 to 2013».
Which seems most unlikely. And:
«You will soon allow yourselves to form a triumvirate association of your three major powers: the United States, the Soviet Union, the Peoples Republic of China».
In some cases, however, we are still awaiting to see whether Bashar was right. Some of his more interesting prophecies concern a major shift in our economic system. In 1987, to a person from the audience asking: «How do we transform our economy? Or will we have economic depression?» Bashar replied: «You will to some degree. But the idea is that there does not need to be a depression. You are simply recognizing that your economic structure is shifting, is changing. And yes, in your terms the old one may need to break down». And more recently, in the session Connecting with the Oversoul (2010) Bashar stated that «somewhere [...] before 50-100 of your years from now your entire economic system will actually be based on the abilities of the people themselves and will be organized by an organization that simply serves to allow skills to go where they are needed». Here Bashar is basically pointing at the idea of a resource-based economy, that has become quite fashionable nowadays (see the Venus Project by Jacque Fresco).
Most interestingly, in the early Bashar's sessions we find no reference to the year 2012 as an important historical landmark. But recently, concurrently with the vogue of the Mayan prediction of the "end of the world", Bashar has elaborated on this theme extensively. 2012 is the fulcrum point of the current transformational process experienced by humanity. More generally speaking, these years of 2010 – 2015 (the "span") are the most pivotal in our shifting to a more positive vibrational frequency on our planet. After this period there will be what B. calls "The End Of the Quarantine", which will entail the possibility of an open contact with ET civilizations. So get ready.
III. Philosophy: the four laws and the value of excitement
Bashar's basic philosophical message can be summarized in the following sentences (the source is http://www.bashar.org/aboutprinciples.html):
Those of you who are familiar with New Age culture will notice that many of these themes are in fact typical of New Age discourse, and will probably recognize a strong affinity with the Seth Material published by Jane Roberts between 1963 and 1984. Even the terminology is very similar (All That Is, Oversoul, etc.). Some of these ideas are to be found also in the humanistic and transpersonal psychology of the '60s (for example, "follow your excitement" ← A. Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being, 1962).
IV. Communication strategies
If Anka is credited as one of the leading figures of contemporary channeling, it is not simply because of his message – although his alien mythology and prophecies about the impeding contact with ET civilizations have certainly played a role. One of the main reasons for his success is the quick diffusion of his performances on the internet, and their "overall quality". What I mean by "quality", is that Bashar is a very effective public speaker. His body posture is firm, somewhat hieratic and he very often uses gestures to accompany his speech – which is energetic, clear, unhesitating, and accurate. When he replies to the questions of the audience, his answers are direct, witty, sometimes biting. As a matter of fact, humor plays a crucial role in Bashar's communicative style. All these qualities can be easily observed in Bashar's videos, which started to be recorded in 1985, and to be put on Youtube about 6 years ago proving a great success. Bashar has obviously his own website and since 2010 is on Facebook.
It is my opinion that the increasingly widespread use of the net, and particularly of the video-sharing platforms such as Youtube (created in February 2005), has entailed a major shift in our perception of the channeling phenomenon. Whereas from the age of Allan Kardec (1804-1869) up to the Seth literature published by Jane Roberts (1929-1984) most people could only read the transcription of channeling sessions, now it has become possible for everybody to see the actual phenomenon going on, to observe the channeler "in action".
If the Bashar phenomenon, then, has taken advantage of the increased connectivity due to the Internet, introducing thus in contemporary channeling several aspects of novelty, it is clear that the core concepts of Bashar's philosophy are solidly grounded in New Age spirituality. Many Bashar's ideas also bear striking resemblances to various trends of recent human sciences, especially "fringe" human sciences, such as transpersonal psychology, resource-based economy and neuro-linguistic programming – which are all more or less directly related to New Age culture.
But in Bashar's discourse we may also notice a reflection of what might be called a – much more ancient – "Hermetic paradigm". Its most basic element is the idea that "the One is the All and the All are the One". This holistic model implies: 1) that, according to Bashar himself, "there is no distinction [...] between the Creator and its creations"; 2) that "each component [of creation] contains [holographically] the whole" and therefore is a microcosm, a reflection of All that is. Another aspect that recalls ancient Hermeticism and Neoplatonism is Bashar's theory of the imagination as a creative power that has a direct impact on physical world. Also Bashar's pun on the word "imagination" – that he interprets as "I–magi–nation", "a nation of magicians", recalls an analogous pun by the 17th German esotericist Jacob Böhme. Which shows that, despite its extremely innovative appearance, this kind of discourse is deeply rooted in the history of Western esotericism. Thank you.
Jon Klimo, Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 1998, p. 98. About the reputation of Sedona as an important "power spot" ("places where the Earth's configuration creates a spiritual energy vortex") in New Age culture, see http://www.answers.com/topic/sedona. Cfr. also Richard Dannelley, Sedona Power Spot, Vortex, and Medicine Wheel Guide. Sedona, Ariz., R. Dannelley with the Cooperation of the Vortex Society, 1991.
Kal K. Korff., Spaceships of the Pleiades: the Billy Meier story, Amherst, Prometheus Books, 1995. Bashar himself mentioned Billy Meier during one of his sessions: «Billy chose to be one of the vanguards, one of the forerunners who would take the brunt of the ridicule. Many things have become twisted: much of the information is now no longer reliable, because it has been interspersed with false information. The job has been done to some degree, and in a very real way Billy can relax a lot more than he thinks» (Darryl Anka, Luana Wing, Bashar: Blueprint for a change. A Message from our future, Redmond, New Solutions Publishing, 1990, p. 265-266).
And as far as actual ET channeling is concerned, we cannot neglect the case of of Hélène Smith (real name Catherine-Elise Muller, 1861-1929), a Swiss medium that claimed to communicate with Martians through vocal channeling and automatic writing, and to be a reincarnation of a Hindu princess and Marie Antoinette (Théodore Flournoy, Des Indes à la planète Mars, étude sur un cas de somnambulisme avec glossolalie, Genève et Paris, Eggimann et Alcan, 1900, republished by Seuil, 1983 and L'Harmattan, 2006).
Joel Bjorling, Channeling: a bibliographic exploration, cit.. p. 150.
"Who are the Greys? (ET Aliens)" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF5ef6HeVz0&playnext=1&list=PL01407EA209B573DB&feature=results_video.
"Bashar - Annunakis and Greys" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sSL9BHr8-M&playnext=1&list=PLAF3D89B7E489ABBB&feature=results_video.
"Bashar - Alien Abduction" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aZW24eGuKM&feature=autoplay&list=PLF9FC4C4F367BB6B5&playnext=2.
According to Bashar, we are now in a 80 years cycle called "Harmonic Convergence", whose fundamental stages are the following:
1947 we began to recognize as society that other civilizations do exist
1967 Star Trek: representation in a graphic way of our ongoing relationship with extra-terrestrial cultures
1987 Star Trek (new format)
2027 humanity will be interwoven into the Galactic Association of Worlds.
Bashar: Blueprint for a change, cit., p. 30.
Ibidem, p. 31.
And about this shift, he adds: «Begin by basing your economics on each other, not on a symbol! Direct interaction between individuals, with the removal of limitations you call borders, will facilitate an interactive global economy. It is simply the idea of the reapportionment of the resources you have, and the reshifting of your priorities» (ibidem, 53).
On this point, cfr. the following article by Massimo Introvigne: «2012, tutte le bugie sui vaticini dei maya» (http://www.labussolaquotidiana.it/ita/articoli-2012-tutte-le-bugie-sui-maya-4095.htm).
See W. J. Hanegraaff, New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought, Brill, Leiden 1996, State University of New York Press, Albany 1998.
Darryl Anka, Steve Meyers, Quest for Truth. 100 Insights That Could Change Your Life, Iowa City, Nobul Press 1997, p. 110.
Ibidem, p. 111.
"Bashar - Key To Higher Mind - June 14, 2008" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPd3CMK8jas&feature=share).
Antoine Faivre, "Vis imaginativa", Accès de l'ésotérisme occidental, vol. II, Paris, Éditions Gallimard 1996, pp. 184-185.