233. Mary Rodwell Which Extraordinary Human Experiences Matter


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Interview with the alien encounter researcher Mary Rodwell examines the stigma of extraordinary human experiences, and why science turns away.

mary-rodwell-bookJoin Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Mary Rodwell.  During the interview Rodwell talks about how her research into alien encounters has caused her to re-think our approach to other extraordinary experiences:

Mary Rodwell:   Something I didn’t ever expect, Alex, in terms of my work was how much I would have to do in the public forum. Primarily I’m a therapist, you know? I’m a counselor, etc. I help people deal with their issues.  I never realized that the dearth of information in terms of extraordinary human experience is the problem. We’re still in a paradigm that is so limited in terms of how we accept extraordinary human experience and this is a dilemma because in psychology and psychiatry everything is seen as some kind of dysfunction primarily.

As soon as you experience a non-ordinary state of any kind, then you’ve got still the traditional, conventional way of looking at that as something that says this is an aberration rather than saying, “Hold on a minute, here. We’ve got people from all belief systems, all professions, all ages, commenting on these experiences. Can we not start to look at this scientifically now with an open mind? Can’t we at least look at the patterns even if we don’t understand yet how our science can quantify it? Why can’t we find a way of at least looking at the patterns of this so that we can get some sense of what this is saying to us about reality itself and consciousness?”

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(this transcript begins at approximately minute 29 of the audio recording)

Mary Rodwell:   I think that you hit the nail on the head. Something I didn’t ever expect, Alex, in terms of my work was how much I would have to do in the public forum. Primarily I’m a therapist, you know? I’m a counselor, etc. I help people deal with their issues, to get new perspectives for their own healing and integration, etc.

I never realized that the dearth of information in terms of extraordinary human experience is the problem. We’re still in a paradigm that is so limited in terms of how we accept extraordinary human experience and this is a dilemma because in psychology and psychiatry everything is seen as some kind of dysfunction primarily.

As soon as you experience a non-ordinary state of any kind, then you’ve got still the traditional, conventional way of looking at that as something that says this is an aberration rather than saying, “Hold on a minute, here. We’ve got people from all belief systems, all professions, all ages, commenting on these experiences. Can we not start to look at this scientifically now with an open mind? Can’t we at least look at the patterns even if we don’t understand yet how our science can quantify it? Why can’t we find a way of at least looking at the patterns of this so that we can get some sense of what this is saying to us about reality itself and consciousness?”

Alex Tsakiris:  That’s such a common sense approach but again, that to me is the clarity that you bring. That’s very common sense. It’s very straightforward and it makes perfect sense. I think we need more and more people who just lay that out in that way.

I do have to tell you that I just last week on Skeptiko I published an interview that I did with a Montreal-based hypnotherapist that does between-life and past life regressions. It’s a very controversial area, obviously, but the guy is extremely well-qualified, not at all woo-woo. He’s hooked up with the University of Montreal. Do you know Dr. Mario Beauregard? Have you ever heard of him?

Mary Rodwell:  It rings a bell, actually.

Alex Tsakiris:  He wrote a book called, The Spiritual Brain. He’s a highly respected neuropsychologist and he’s at the University of Montreal.

What I was really going to say is in my interview with Jean-Charles Chabot, who is the between-life guy, I said, “Look, let’s forget about the between-life and the past life regression. Let’s just look at hypnosis. You have to understand that mainstream science rejects the whole idea of hypnosis. They reject it because they reject the idea that there is such a thing as consciousness that is other than the brain. You can go to Google Scholar and look up scholarly papers that are done on people with broken bones who are in hypnosis and are given the suggestion to make bones grow and they do it. This completely contradicts this model that we have of this strict mind equals brain.”

I always feel the need to bring people back and say it’s not just the skeptics. Forget about the skeptics. It’s science. Science doesn’t accept this. Like you were saying with the analytics, we can get these people together and say, “Okay, look. The guy grew the bone in his arm so he clearly was in an altered state of consciousness and you don’t accept consciousness. You don’t accept that consciousness can do anything. Can we at least move past that?”

There’s a real resistance to it because they see this slippery slope and they see you coming. Right now they can push Mary and that crowd off and say, “Oh, don’t even listen to that.” But as soon as that door opens a little bit they say, “Wait a minute. There is a consciousness. Now we have to start taking seriously altered consciousness. Now we have to take seriously extraordinary alternatives.” Now it’s like oh, crap. Now we really have to deal with that.

Because you’re so generous with your time and you don’t need to hear me rattle on, here’s where I came down with Jacobs. I had a long conversation with Jacobs. In some ways not a lot was surprising but I talked directly about you and I told him that I interviewed you. I broke it down like the John Mack camp and the Budd Hopkins/David Jacobs camp. He just held to the line. As a matter of fact, he was even more strident than I’ve heard him before. He said all that John Mack stuff, all that spiritual stuff, none of it works. None of it stands up to scrutiny. None of it stands up to careful analysis.

Then where I really pushed him is something that you and I touched on. It really tickled me to push him on this. I said, “Dr. Jacobs, do you think there’s such a thing as a genuine spiritual experience? Is there such a thing? It seems to me that you guys are Humanists. Budd Hopkins was a Humanist and you kind of come from the Humanist side of things in your work as a historian. It’s a code-word for Atheism. It comes back to what we’re talking about. In mainstream science there is no such thing as consciousness. There’s really no such thing as any kind of real experience per se. It’s all just this random stuff. Is there a spiritual experience?”

He danced around and danced around but he basically said, “No. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a genuine spiritual experience.” I think in a way it then all falls from there. It’s exactly what you and I suspected. If you reject that people even have spiritual experiences, that’s a lens that does it.

Here’s what I did get out of it that I want to bounce off you. I have an interview scheduled about some forensic hypnosis thing. He said, “The methodology has to be different and the methodology has to be along the lines of forensic hypnosis.” There’s actually quite a bit of research. I’m sure you’re much more well-versed in it than I am on forensic hypnosis.

I’ve hooked up with someone at the University of Liverpool, where they’ve done some really fantastic research for getting into the court system and how to use witnesses who are highly suggestible versus not, the best procedures, etc. The problem with all that as I see it is the forensic approach is great because it says what really happened, but as you and I know, from a spiritual experience kind of thing that doesn’t exactly fit.

If you take near-death experience—that’s how I break down near-death experience. You go talk to the doctors and they go, “Okay, clearly we have all these people that didn’t have a brain. It was cardiac arrest and after 15 seconds there’s no brain. But now we have all these allegorical, metaphorical, contradictory, the language of that other realm. I think there’s a certain reality to we have to try and sift through it in that way.

So that’s what’s really the crux that I want to talk to you about and see what your thoughts are. You can see the appeal for the forensic, let’s do it in a very systematic way to make sure we don’t introduce this and that because there’s a reality to that that we have to acknowledge. We can really confuse the whole thing by suggesting things even when we’re not trying to, or letting the other person on their own go and make stuff up even if the therapist isn’t doing it. So we have that side.

On the other side we have the nature of this information might not lend itself to that kind of rigor. There. I’m going to shut-up.

Mary Rodwell:  I understand why it’s appealing to those that want to have a structure and a baseline to understanding hypnosis and experience. The problem with that is because they’re not taking in consciousness itself and the fact that we have the ability to travel out-of-body and have experiences alone—I mean, we talk about astral traveling alone and the experiences of those. Because they’re not allowing for that they’re never going to get any further than that road they’re treading.

In other words, if you use forensic hypnosis for something like taking somebody back to an experience where they go up on the craft, what they will experience is purely what they’re seeing. “Yes, I’m seeing three beings. I’m seeing a light there and I’m not seeing any corners,” or whatever. But if that person wants to get an understanding of that experience they won’t get it from that visual picture that they’ve gotten. They’ve got to tap into another part of them to get the greater understanding.

Now I say to people, “When I take you into hypnosis I need you to honor the very first things that you see and experience. I don’t want you thinking about them because as soon as you think about them you edit. You edit what’s acceptable and not acceptable. So I need you to be pure in terms of your focus so that when you see yourself what exactly it is you’re seeing, even if the being looks strange, weird, and wonderful and you really don’t like what you’re seeing and you’d like to change that. That is where we have to stop it.”

So the whole idea is that we’re looking for purity of the subconscious information. What is hilarious is often what they expect and what they get are two different things. If they consciously wanted to have a picture of something it will be quite different to what their subconscious offers. It often challenges them in ways they never thought.

I say to them, “You know, if this was a fantasy or imagination you wouldn’t be picking that because it’s so different to anything you could possibly imagine. That in itself gives it credibility.” Because it’s not what they would imagine; it’s not what they would fantasize. In fact, it’s often the last thing they would want to fantasize or imagine. That gives it credibility.

My point is that as long as they stick true to the first things that come in, which is uncluttered by their conscious mind, it’s allowing a purity of the experience however bizarre, weird, and wonderful. If you can honor that, afterwards you can pick it apart. You can say, “Okay, how does that resonate with your whatever?” No matter how bizarre or weird, when I get to a certain point and say, “Does that resonate with you,” part of them reluctantly generally say, “Yes, actually it does, even though I’m still struggling with that information.” That, to me, has integrity.

If you are going to only allow what is consciously acceptable you are never going to get the purity of that experience. That is my point with all of this. I believe researchers have wanted to retain credibility. The nuts-and-bolts researchers are plainly trying to keep it as much as possible within a framework.

What I’m saying is that actually that framework isn’t useful because it limits what the person can actually explore. If we are truly wanting to explore multi-dimensional reality we have to let go of our own paradigm and they have to let go of theirs if they want to really see what they are experiencing in its multi-dimensional nature. We may not understand it scientifically yet but that doesn’t take away from its credibility and its integrity.

When you get patterns that are coming up time and time again with different people of different ages, different beliefs, different professions, all coming up with similar patterns, then that has to have some form of veracity. Otherwise every regression would be different. Every pattern would be different and it’s not. Many, many of the patterns are actually identical.

You know, when I work in hypnosis I will deliberately try and see if I can alter their response just to make sure that they are being honest with what they’re seeing.

They’ll say, “I’m seeing three beings.”

I’ll say, “Oh. So what color is their hair?”

They will disqualify that and say there’s no hair. I can’t make them see hair.

I can say to them, “What’s in the corner of the room?”

If they’re on a craft the first thing they’re going to say is that there are no corners. So even if I try to input information, which I do deliberately, they will disqualify it. If I try to say a certain thing to them, they will disqualify it. This happens time and time and time again. Yet afterwards they are even struggling with it.

But if people say to me, “What is the evidence of that experience? They haven’t got bits of the craft, they don’t have XYZ.”

I say, “The evidence is in the whole fact that they change as individuals. You don’t change after a hallucination. You don’t change after fantasies. But you do change after an experience and every single person after these experiences changes in a multitude of ways in terms of their understanding of their own spirituality, consciousness. Even in terms of their motivations and their focus. That is evidence of a reality even if you can’t make it any more tangible at its present time.”

The patterns, the constant patterns that I get time and time again with people that may have read nothing on this experience—literally nothing—there are some unique things they will say that only those that have an encounter will say.

But if you’re still going down the road of trying to keep this into a paradigm that is limited, we know the third dimensional world is a very limited paradigm and none of us fit into that box truthfully, no matter how hard we might like to.

I remember talking to a group of businessmen and a gentleman coming up to me and saying, “Oh, you’re the UFO lady. I’m going to have fun with you.”

So I started off with something I don’t normally do with these sorts of 60 and 70 year old businessmen, you know what I mean? Very much of their generation. I said, “I would like to issue a challenge to  everyone in this room that every one of you has had an experience that you can’t explain in third dimensional terms.” Not one hand went up. The guy that was going to challenge me didn’t say a word.

The truth is we’re all multi-dimensional. Even if we’re not aware or honor it, it’s there. The bottom line for me is that on some level if you resonate to that material, no matter how bizarre, weird, and wonderful it might be, all it’s saying is that you’re not consciously aware of that other part of you yet. Often through meditation or many other things we discover that there is another aspect.

For example, I’ve done past life work and I’ve had some really interesting results to that. Some very tangible. One lady came to me and she was terrified of birds. Never knew why. Absolutely phobic of birds. What bothered her was that her husband wanted to go to Ireland and he wanted to visit a falconry.

She said, “I can’t go anywhere near it, Mary, and I don’t know where it comes from. I’ve got nothing that’s happened in my life, etc.”

So I said, “I tell you what. We’re going to talk to that part of you that knows.”

I call it the “origin” of that phobia. It took her to medieval times. She was with her father who was a falconer and with her brothers. She was a girl and she was being taught how to manage her own falcon. But during that experience with her father she did something wrong and she damaged his falcon. She was devastated because he loved this bird. She took the guilt on that through her own inexperience she had damaged his falcon. This was something she felt like was an energetic imprint, if you like.

So we looked at how she could remember that energetically. We did that. She came out of the hypnosis and said, “I never in a million years would have believed that, other than that’s what I saw and experienced.” The proof in the pudding to that, Alex, was two months later she sends me a photograph of her with a falcon sitting on her arm and said, “Look, Mary, it worked.” Now if you see that as symbolic, you see that as a created fantasy that in some way worked it doesn’t really matter, does it?

Alex Tsakiris: Well, it does and it doesn’t because it’s challenging in a couple of ways. Because you’re obviously really bright you approach this in a very methodical way with the kind of controls that Jacobs is talking about, too, right? So you’re using some of the same techniques that a forensic therapist would use. But that is because you want to have some validation for yourself and for your clients that there’s a reality to this that relates to our reality. You know what I mean? That’s what we’re all doing. So I think to a certain extent we’re torn because sometimes the things that have the most meaning don’t fit our reality and we just have to accept that. But sometimes they do.

Here’s the part that challenges me: I look at, for example, the near-death experience and the spiritually transformative experiences. I think I’ve mentioned this to you before. You don’t see deception. The whole shamanic initiation thing, that works to a certain extent but to another extent it doesn’t work and it doesn’t happen and you don’t see it in the near-death experience.

If you do the between-lives thing, one of the things that’s interesting—this is a little bit of an aside but I think it relates to what we’re talking about. I was just watching Rick Martini. Have you seen his documentary? He went to the Newton Institute and did this fabulous documentary, Flipside. He’s actually a Los Angeles movie producer. He’s done some pretty big movies. But one of the things he pointed out that I really had to think about is the between-lives information—science , if you want to call it that—contradicts a lot of Buddhist thought about what happens, right?

So here we have this long tradition that everyone reveres, the Buddhists and the Tibetan Book of the Dead and they know all about it. Now we have 7,000 people come back and say, “No, that’s not the way it is. What you think about karma, it’s not like that. There’s no karmic penalty that you have to pay. It’s total love, total forgiveness. You’re judging yourself. How can we make things better?”

That is also what comes through in the near-death experience. It’s this pureness of love and you don’t get that from the abduction experience. You just don’t. Not in that way. Isn’t that a little unsettling? If we add in the fact that there is this mind control aspect to it, if we add in how humbling it is, right? We now realize that there’s all these other dimensions and we realize where we sit in our narrow little focus here.

The opportunity for manipulation, the opportunity for some being which is of a higher order of consciousness but isn’t really of the highest order to game the system in here, what are your thoughts on that?

Mary Rodwell:  You have to go to the soul itself and the origin of soul. If we honestly feel, as my work has shown me more than my background in Catholicism and all that rubbish that I was programmed into, I learned more by reading and doing work with past lives, with in-between lives, with people going to the origin of their experiences of whatever it is. I learned more from that that I gave credibility to than I ever did through any belief system that I came across on this planet.

That was going to the deeper part of someone’s psyche and I felt that had more credibility to me. Many of those that have had an experience like an abduction that’s been traumatic or difficult, they have felt very much victimized by various beings. I make sure that in all of that we explore the experience. We explore their interaction with the beings because there is always a dialogue that they’re not consciously aware of.

We also explore one of the questions I always ask which is, “Have you, on any level, consented to this experience?” They always go back to the soul and say, “Before I came here there was an agreement with a particular species that I would experience and there would be a trade-off. The trauma would be a catalyst for X or Y.”

Let’s face it. We’re very good at looking at good and bad. What we don’t realize is that sometimes our most difficult, traumatic, painful experiences are the facilitator of the greatest growth of understanding. Because it’s painful we see it as bad instead of realizing that that’s often the process of the greatest growth for us as we challenge ourselves through that process. It is always the soul guiding the journey. That is how I see it and that’s what comes over time and time and time again.

Alex Tsakiris:  It’s just extremely, extremely challenging because you also hear that from the between-lives and the past life thing with murder. You even hear it with sexual abuse. It’s just almost impossible for people to get their arms around that and I totally respect that. I can’t even touch that. I think it’s really, really challenging to go there in a way that most people are going to be able to get close to or relate to. It’s just too hard. It calls into question some of our core beliefs about good, about bad, and fundamentally about who we are and how we control things.

How firmly do you come down on that side of things? If I was going to take that all the way I’d say that you’re suggesting that these encounters with these alien abductions, we have to understand them from that spiritual perspective and that we cannot judge them without understanding that spiritual perspective. Is that to suggest that these beings are more spiritually advanced than we are? Would you go there?

Mary Rodwell:  I would say certainly some are.

Alex Tsakiris:  Right. Some people are, too.

Mary Rodwell:  Exactly.

Alex Tsakiris:  Are they just like us? One of my working hypotheses is that they’re a lot more like us than they’re different from us. Even their technology—it seems way out there but if we just take 100 years and extrapolate just a few hundred more, we might be able to get there. So maybe they’re not technologically that far along but maybe in the spiritual dimension they’re not that far along. Maybe they’re like us. Maybe some of them are perverts who are doing some pretty bad things and other ones are loving beings. What are your thoughts on that?

Mary Rodwell:  We have soul groups and we interact with one another through different lifetimes. One of the very interesting things in my book was a lady who had implants and she asked me if I could help her shift them or change them. She wasn’t aware that they were physical so much as energetic. Now, this was very new to me at the time. What was fascinating was that she said she couldn’t connect to her guides and spiritual side because all she saw was beings and spaceships. This frustrated her.

She couldn’t even put her head upright because of these implants. It was a really unusual regression in the sense that what I found was she isolated five places in her body which had implants. One in her head, one in her throat, one around her solar plexus, and one in her feet. So I said, “Okay. Who put them there?”

She described three reptilian-like beings as being responsible for them.

I said, “So can we ask why they put these there?”

She said, “They put them in in this lifetime because I had an agreement with them when I was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I wanted to survive so they said they would help me survive if I agreed that in this lifetime I would have these implants and have the limits that went with these implants.”

The one in her head which we removed,  she explained what it did to consciousness. It was something that stopped her speaking about her experiences, which was another implant here. She went down her body and she knew exactly what each one represented. We energetically and spiritually removed them all, which was fascinating to see how she could articulate. She could create visually what they looked like and how she needed to remove them. So I found it fascinating that she’d seen it connected to a past life.

We removed all of these as far as she was aware from her subconscious. They were gone. She felt she could straighten up her head. All those things were positive. But I went back to her about a year later and I said, “Do you still understand it in that way that you had agreed to these implants in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany?”

“Actually, Mary, it came from Egypt when I was in Egypt before then. When I was aware of my future lives and I decided that I would have certain limits placed on me in this particular future lifetime. So actually I was the orchestrator of my meeting with them and the agreement to have the implants in the present life that I have now.”

Now wrap your head around that one.

Alex Tsakiris:  You really can’t. So let’s immediately flip over since that’s such a fantastic story. People do make this stuff up. We just know that they do and we don’t know what that means. Let me throw that in. We don’t know if that’s metaphorically true or has some kind of other meaning in some other way for this person. I don’t know. I’m not putting her down.

I’m just saying here’s what the evidence tells me. False memory is real. That’s proven. There are too many good studies that show that people can have false memories. Again, you have to open that up. What is a false memory? Is it a memory that doesn’t conform to our consensus reality? Some group of kids say they were sexually abused and they buried the bunnies and here are the bunnies and there’s no bunnies there.

Let’s accept for a second that false memories happen. But the darnedest thing is the people that want to go down that path are often these folks who then want to throw everything out and ignore the fact that recovered memories are true, too. In this real world here we can have two sisters who are sexually abused in the worst way by a family member and one of them says, “No, it didn’t happen,” and the other one says, “Bullshit. It happened. I was there and you were there and I know it happened because I saw it.”

And the dad is in jail because they did find out that it happened. We have physical evidence for it. So we know that that person really was able to repress memory. So now, from this Earth kind of reality thing, we’ve got this total contradiction.

We have this over here where there’s a false memory. We know it’s a false memory because it couldn’t have happened. We have the same kind of eyewitness that says, “No, I was there with you. That didn’t happen.” And we have someone that says, “I was there with you and it did happen.”

So back to your story. What do we do with the fact that we can’t necessarily trust all those stories? They may be meaningful for that person. They may propel them forward in their life’s mission. But in the sense that you and I are talking it might not be real.

Mary Rodwell:  Firstly, like I talked about the lady with the phobia of birds, at the end of the day my work as a therapist is to enter someone’s world and hopefully help them to understand more of their human experience. However they choose to interpret that is their choice. It’s not my business.

What I do look at when I’m helping someone explore their experiences in terms of whether it’s ET or anything else, I’m looking for patterns that I can work from. That’s the only thing I’ve got. Some people feel they have gone into another dimension, for example. They see aspects of themselves not human, for example. They see planets that they say they come from where they describe how they lived. All I can do with all of that is say, “Okay. Are there any others that have a similar kind of understanding when they go into that place? Have they seen similar beings? Do they have the same understanding of them or how they operate, etc.?”

This is all I can do because I don’t know what I don’t know. I can’t say from the third dimensional perspective. It just doesn’t even begin to touch the edges of this. So all I can do is continually look for those patterns. And the fact that through those experiences people change. However we want to look at it, they’re transformative. They change the individual. So that is the evidence.

They don’t change after hallucinations. Even with these experiences that people have on the craft, whether or not they can ever prove them. Some ways that I work are, when they come out with something extraordinary, I say, “Look, you articulated this in hypnosis. You can choose whether or not to believe what you’ve said or not. You can decide whether or not it resonates. If it resonates you can choose to integrate that or not. At the end  of the day, that’s up to you.”