198. Mike Clelland Struggles to Understand Contact With Alien Consciousness


Interview with Blogger and UFO researcher Mike Clelland about reports of contact with alien consciousness.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Mike Clelland, host of the Hidden Experience Podcast.  During the interview Clelland discusses various account of contact with alien consciousness:

Alex Tsakiris:  I look at the UFO phenomena and I am challenged to either fit it into that near-death experience, mystical/spiritual framework, or say that it lies outside of that framework. So are the aliens God?

Mike Clelland:   I’m sure you could cherry-pick the reports and you could come up with that answer that they are God. In these UFO narratives people come back and they tell what they experienced and so one person in one narrative asked the little gray aliens, “Are you Angels?” And the gray aliens reply, “Yes. But not in the way you think of Angels.” Which is an interesting answer.

In another report someone asks the gray aliens, “Did God create the universe?” And the aliens reply, “No. God is creating the universe moment-by-moment.”

Alex Tsakiris:   That gets back to the most challenging part of all that which is we don’t understand the nature of that extended consciousness beyond our physical level, so whenever we talk about theatre, then is it theatre to us? Or is it theatre to them?

Mike Clelland: I feel like I’m constantly confronted with—and the phrase I will use is “something’s going on behind the curtain.” I’m implying that there’s this other dimensional realm that “they,” these aliens, can access that we can barely access. Maybe we can access it through death; maybe we can access it through psychedelics. Maybe we can access it through intense meditation or through dream realms.  We can access that realm fleetingly.

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Today we welcome Mike Clelland to Skeptiko. In addition to being a pretty amazing illustrator, Mike is also a blogger and podcaster at www.hiddenexperience.blogspot.com where he tackles a number of paranormal topics mainly centered around alien contact.

Now I know that can be a challenging topic for those who haven’t really studied the phenomena very much, but I’m really hoping that in this Skeptiko interview we can jump past all that first-level skeptical silliness because it’s really not that interesting. If you think all this stuff is swamp gas and ball lightning  then more power to you but that’s not really what we’re going to talk about today.

What I’m hoping to get into with Mike is questions about this other form of consciousness that many, many folks he’s been coming in contact with and hopefully trying to tie that back to so many of the topics that we’ve talked about here on Skeptiko, be it remote viewing or out-of-body experience or near-death experience, lucid dreaming, psychedelics, all the rest. So with that rather long introduction, Mike, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks for coming on.

Mike Clelland:   Thanks for having me.

Alex Tsakiris:   I’m really excited to talk to you because I’ve been listening to so many of your interviews and not just on a need to be informed for the show but because they’re great. I really like them; you have a great way on the mike. It’s very natural, very personable, and very personal. You come through with a lot of your own personal information that doesn’t get in the way but just enhances the experience. And of course, you have a lot of great guests. It’s really a delight to listen to and it’s a real joy to have you on the show.

Mike Clelland:   Great, thanks. The genesis of the whole podcasting series has been—and I’m not exaggerating and I repeat this over and over again—it’s been therapy for me. It’s been a form of self-therapy. I feel like I’m stepping into waters that are pretty murky and pretty deep and in a way venturing into the unknown as far as I try to sort of untangle some of these threads.

I’ve had some personal experiences and the podcast series and the interview stuff has been a way for me to—I almost want to say like be on the therapist’s couch in a way. Like I’m using them. It’s a selfish act, the podcast series that I’m doing. It’s a way for me alone. All that said, I’ve had similar feedback to you where people sort of tap into that in a way where they get something out of it, I guess.

Alex Tsakiris:   I think it’s always a selfish act a little bit whenever we broadcast like this. I mean, one way or another you’re getting something out of it in order to continue doing it. That’s good that you’re taking something out of it.

Let’s give people a sense for the kind of folks you’ve interviewed and what they’ve brought to your show and what you’re trying to get at. I want to hit on some names that folks would immediately recognize. Which one would you pick out first that folks would immediately identify with?

Mike Clelland:   Well, it’s interesting because it’s almost like two layers to the interview format that I’m doing as far as the folks that have been on there. I guess I’ve got about 70 interviews posted at this point. Some of them are shorter, some of them are two-parts and such but you’d certainly recognize the name Whitley Strieber, who I’ve had on and I’ve met him a few times. He’s obviously the fellow who wrote Communion and published that I think in 1987, sort of ushering in the entire UFO abduction lore. You know, the mythology and so many of the puzzle pieces that are entwined in that came directly from that book.

Alex Tsakiris:   Mike, wait a minute. Let me jump in there right off the bat because I can already see there are so many areas that we can pull apart and pathways we can go down. So Whitley, as you just mentioned, is a sci-fi writer. He comes out and writes a very personal story about his alien contact experience. It ushers in a huge explosion in interest and research into alien contact and whether or not folks have had real, physical contact with aliens, what that might mean, whether it’s a purely psychic inter-dimensional experience, whether it’s a physical experience, whether it’s a spiritual experience. So it really starts this whole thing.

But I really resist the idea and I understand where you’re going when we talk about mythology because there’s a bunch of other folks that have taken the whole UFO contactee experience and gone down this path of this is somehow mythological in a non-real sense. Pull that apart for us a little bit. Where do you stand on it?

Mike Clelland:   Ay-yi-yi. Well, it’s a can of worms in the sense that it’s all of that. I mean that it can frame itself within all of that context. I like the term “mythology” just because it allows me to step back a little bit and not be so tied into like—I mean, there’s very little concrete reality that you can grasp in this. There certainly is physical evidence; there certainly are multiple witness reports of abduction. You know, people that get abducted with other people, so multiple people will come back, share the same story independently.

So the term “abduction,” I feel like I’m a little stuck using that term. I don’t like it. I wish there was a different vocabulary word. Some people will say “experience.” That has its own baggage. Some people will say “contactee.” That has its own implications. Some people will use the  “direct contact experience.” I’m using the pop culture term we all know, which is UFO abduction.

Alex Tsakiris:   Let me jump in there again, and I’m sorry…

Mike Clelland:   Oh, no, this is great.

Alex Tsakiris:   Okay. Because I want to make sure we don’t jump ahead too far and have people just clicking off and going, “That’s it. I’m out.” You just blew past the first major fulcrum point, if you will, in this whole thing and that’s that if we take these accounts and we try and understand them as best we can in a social science way, right? We have these first-person accounts and there are a lot of first-person accounts in science in general, right?

In medicine, as we’ve talked about so many times on this show, it’s the essence of medicine. It’s the bread-and-butter of medicine. The patient comes in. What is their first-person account? And we take first-person accounts from a number of patients and then we draw together what are the symptoms, what are the factors, and then we can do a lot of stuff beyond that. But these first-person accounts are very important. We have some tools in science by which we can establish whether those first-person accounts are real, in the sense that we normally use that word. Whether they’re delusional or whether the person is confabulating or making something up.

And what I didn’t want to blow past is by the best evidence we have, the first-person accounts suggesting that large, large numbers of people have had contact with another being that they understand to be an extraterrestrial, that evidence is overwhelming. We get it from a breadth of different accounts and we also get it, as you said, from getting different people who’ve had a shared experience by which they would have no way of knowing that without having had that genuine shared experience.

So can you take a couple of minutes and address that? There is some realness to this whole thing that we can’t dismiss out-of-hand.

And I want to back up one more time and say this is important. And it’s an important distinction from that real skeptical silliness that I mentioned, the “oh, all that UFO stuff is nonsense.” If you’re in that camp you can’t even have a seat at the table.

But I think there’s a number of people that are willing to accept that yeah, there seems to be these unexplainable objects in the sky that defy our understanding of engineering and aeronautics and all that. I accept that. But they’re still reluctant to go that next step in terms of wow, maybe all these accounts of people having some direct experience with these beings, maybe there’s some reality to that. So can you backtrack and give us your best guess on where all that shakes out?

Mike Clelland:   You know, it’s a can of worms. It’s a very muddy subject in the sense that what you’re asking is difficult but what is happening is that people are reporting very similar events. The events would be an interaction with some sort of non-human entity. You actually made a little leap where you said that the aliens would be extraterrestrial in origin. There’s actually very little evidence of that.

The term “alien,” when you look it up in Webster’s, it doesn’t really say anything about a being from another planet. Alien has its own definition and it means something so different that it is actually unknowable in some way. I’m paraphrasing. I’m not lifting that right out of the dictionary in front of me here. I would also say I use the term “intertwined” all the time when people seem to be somehow connected or intertwined with something very different from our normal state of consciousness and our normal state of interaction. There are things that show up in these reports over and over and over again that are so similar.

A lot of these things have entered pop culture. The caricature of what happens is that someone is asleep in their bed; they are woken by small, gray aliens with big, black eyes and then they are somehow ushered into a flying saucer and medical examinations take place. Then they are ushered back to their bed and afterwards they either have fleeting memories or no memories at all or memories emerge later or they have phobias and fears. Sometimes these memories are retrieved through hypnotic regression, which is controversial within the UFO research community. Some people are all for it; some people are against it. That short narrative is certainly part of it. That certainly shows up.

But what doesn’t really make it into the pop culture, and I think partially just because it can’t be easily encapsulated into a half-hour long documentary on late-night cable TV—what is missing is that there is stuff intertwined with this phenomena that is so intensely bizarre that it forces you to re-examine the definition of reality itself.

The people who have these experiences—there are lots and lots of experiences that take place in cars at night with multiple people. There are multiple experiences where the abduction, the contact experience, takes place in full daylight, outside and with all these paranormal elements. Time seems to change. Sound seems to change. The actual personality of the individual seems to change. They almost shift into an altered state of consciousness as well as an alternate identity at times. I mean, these are things that get reported commonly that never show up in the mainstream.

I’m very skeptical, I’m very cautious to call it research because I don’t even know if I’m doing this as research. I’m not a scientist, I’m not a sociologist, I’m not a psychiatrist. I’ve got no training in this. I feel like I’m more just someone seeking out answers in the dark and trying to find patterns. It’s very seductive. These stories are so interesting and so bizarre that I’m drawn to them.

Then at another level they’re very real human experiences. Some people are traumatized, literally, like they lose their ability to function. That’s at one end of the spectrum. Other people are—I want to use the term “enlightened.” There’s a spiritual aspect to this that can transform people and can alter their life path in a way that I would almost say is like meeting God on the road to Damascus or something like that would be the same analogy. Some people do take on a sort of religious zeal to the whole aspect.

The researchers in the community that are trying to make sense of this, many of them would be guilty of being pigeon-holed and only focusing on a small little element of it. But there are certainly physical traces that show up, people with marks on their bodies after these experiences or after unknown experiences. Poltergeist experiences.

I cannot tell you how many people I’ve had direct conversations with that say in no uncertain terms that after this experience they’ve become psychic. That shows up over and over and over again. That does not get played out in the mainstream documentation. I keep on going back to these documentaries that we’ll see on cable TV. You don’t hear that in the documentaries but that is so integral to the overall phenomenon. Like a new sense of psychic awareness.

A lot of people will actually start working as psychics. Now, I can’t speak to the authenticity of this but it certainly is a pattern. I’ve interacted with some psychics and done some psychic sessions and actually posted them online which I thought were quite profound. These were people who were having what we would call the classic UFO abduction contact experience.

Alex Tsakiris:   I don’t know if we’re ever going to be able to unravel this interview, Mike, but again, in the spirit of the way that you do it, I did want to comment. You know, the other thing I like about your interviews is they have a freeform, natural flow to them that I think is great. We’re going to follow that here. We’re going to let this thing go wherever it goes and we may not get back to even the very first question that I started with, which is all these very interesting, fascinating guests that you’ve had on, including Richard Dolan and Nick Redfern and Peter Robbins and many, many, many people that folks would probably recognize if they’re at all interested in this topic.

But you just ventured into territory that I did want to spend some time talking about. That’s the connection between what you’re observing within the UFO community and the contactee community, the connection between that and some of the things we’ve observed in this consciousness community that’s interested in OBEs, near-death experiences and the like.

I don’t know if you’ve listened to this show but we’ve done a couple of shows on what’s broadly called “spiritually transformative experiences.” So NDEs often fall into this category because people have a NDE and they’re transformed spiritually. But there’s a number of other ways that people can seem to encounter these kinds of life experiences that really get to their core and get to their spirituality and shift it in a dramatic way.

One is the Kundalini experience which has been explored in Hindu literature and religion for a long time. People have this tremendous surge of energy that goes through their body. There’s a similar kind of experience that happens often in the Christian community. People in the Catholic Church will talk about doing the rosary and having this flood of experience.

It has a lot of connections with the kind of phenomena that you’re talking about and that’s that it increases psychic ability. Sometimes it’s dramatic and sometimes it’s very unsettling. People will be very, very psychic and a lot of times they’ll say that that was for a short period of time, a couple of weeks, a couple of months, and then it closes back down. The other connection with what you’re saying is that there’s often a physical shift in people and that they feel physically changed as well as spiritually changed.

So I think there are a lot of these connections that offer these interesting little tidbits. I don’t know how far we want to go down that path but there do seem to be these connections between the two experiences.

Mike Clelland:   You know, I agree. There are a handful of questions I try to ask everyone and one of them is “What’s your definition of a Shaman?” I kind of know the answer I want to get. Everyone gives me a different one but there seems to be that no one volunteers to be the village Shaman. It’s my understanding that the Shaman is picked by the elders within the village, often through some sort of ceremonial means.

Then there’s an initiation process with that young person who will take over the role of the village Shaman. That initiation process, across the board, can be brutal. Whether metaphorically or sometimes quite literally they will take the initiate right to the edge of death. So there’s a death and rebirth process that’s part of it. This is coming from reading a lot of Joseph Campbell, where they’ll take the initiate out to the edge of the village; they’ll take him into a cave; they’ll beat him up to the edge of death; and then they’ll bring him out of the cave. I see a lot of parallels to that and to the UFO alien contact experience where on some level it seems to be an initiatory framework within it.

Alex Tsakiris:   But Mike, isn’t that a difficult path to go down? I mean, we encountered the same thing in the consciousness community and that’s that we have this spiritually transformative experience or in particular, the near-death experience because it’s been studied scientifically, medically, so thoroughly that we can really grab onto it and say, “Okay, by any way we want to measure it there’s some realness to that.” And then there’s the next leap into the content of it.

Again, here’s another parallel. If you go onto NDERF.org where Dr. Jeffrey Long has collected over 2,000 near-death experience accounts, and these are self-reported accounts, they’re all over the board. Whatever you want to find there you can find there. If you want to find this as a Christian experience you can find that. If you want to find it as a Shamanic experience you can probably find that.

So again, the parallel with the abduction contactee phenomena in that there’s a whole range of different accounts that get written about, I’m really reluctant to try and find too much of a pattern there or too much of a narrative that flows all the way through because it seems to break down. Just from our own experience with this stuff, we know that there are a lot of blind alleys that we’re going to head down that way.

So that’s one part of it. Then the other is aren’t a lot of people going to be deeply offended by the notion that someone coming in and being taken against their will and have medical experiments performed on them is somehow an initiation that they should be grateful for?

Mike Clelland:   You know, I don’t know if the initiate in the tribal village is grateful for his being dragged off to that cave. Yeah, these experiences are like an Rorschach inkblot test where you can peer into them and sort of glean whatever you want out of them because they’re so all over the map. When you list it off the near-death experience, how they can be Christian and Hindu and Shamanic and transformative, you’re in essence describing what gets reported by people who have had the UFO abduction experience. It is all over the map.

I’ve sat in on what would be referred to as experience support groups where a bunch of people sit in a circle in a closed room and talk about their experiences just like any other support group, like Alcoholics Anonymous or something. I’ve seen people who have had Angelic experiences get into shouting matches with people who have had the evil doctor experiences on the medical exam table because they’re on such polar opposites of the way they’ve experienced this phenomena.

Alex Tsakiris:   Okay, hold on then. How do we penetrate that paradox? That’s a little bit frustrating too. We’re deep into it now, folks, so if you’re still with us hang in there because we’re going to get deeper.

There is a real point that interests me, fascinates me. If we’re going to play this game, and the game is that there is some reality that Mike and Alex are talking here and we have some kind of shared experience on this Earth and that’s reality and a lot of other people share it. We’re going to play that game of trying to figure out what that reality is.

I say it’s a game because there’s a whole other school of thought that this is somehow now a reality or some kind of virtual reality. Anything like that we could go down but let’s put that aside for a minute and say there is some reality to it. Then I get to the point where you just did. I feel a need to try and pin that down a little bit because we have two opposite ends of the spectrum. I don’t know how we can go forward saying, “Well, it could be either, it could be or, it could be both.” We have to sort that out, don’t we?

Mike Clelland:   Ay-yi-yi. In a way I’ve sort of given up sorting it out. What I’ve been more interested in is just listening to the direct human experience, the experience that people have had. Here, let me give you an example. This is coming from my own experience.

I had four different events where I felt this shift in consciousness, this altered reality. It’s very difficult for me to describe. I tried to describe it at one of these support groups. This took place at a UFO conference so there were probably 30 people sitting in this room. I asked if anyone else felt this and I described this feeling of very quiet, very vivid, colors were heightened, my own thought process was streamlined. I didn’t have the normal chatter in my mind.

Each of these four times was under unusual experiences. One time was actually in a dream where I felt it very clearly, that same sensation. I asked about this and a few people raised their hands and nodded. I said after the meeting I’d love to talk with folks. This one woman came up to me.

I’ll also add that another thing I’ve been asking folks is what they were thinking about or saying or doing just before they had these contact experiences or what would be a synchronicity or some sort of profound event in their life. What were they doing right at the moment when they were having that experience?

So this woman came up to me and she said, “Yeah, I’ll tell you the story of what happened to me. I was in my yard. I went to the pecan tree that I have in my yard and I picked some pecans and I held them in my hand and I turned away. Then I turned back to face the tree and when I did that I felt that same experience that you were trying to describe.” We went back and forth and we agreed that it’s very feeble to try to use vocabulary words to describe what would be an almost mystical experience.

She felt that and as she turned to face the tree after having picked the pecans, the next thing she knew it was hours later and she was sitting at her kitchen table. It was like there was a jump cut in the edit of reality. She had had a lifetime of odd experiences including seeing little gray aliens in her bedroom. I asked her, “What were you thinking right before you had that sensation that then turned into a missing time experience?”

She said, “Oh, I picked the pecans. I was walking away from the tree and I turned around because I wanted to formally thank the tree for giving me the pecans.” I thought that detail, like this being almost submissive to nature itself, thanking the tree, being grateful for food, I just thought that was such an intensely prescient detail to her whole story.

So I don’t know where to go with that. You know what I mean? I’ve seen that pattern; I’ve seen people tell me stories like that that add that extra richness to the overall phenomena that you wouldn’t get unless you were like me. I feel like I’m digging and searching with a kind of compulsion at this point. I don’t think I would have gotten that detail had I not pressed her and asked her.

Alex Tsakiris:   That’s a great detail although I’m struck with the same question you are. Where do you go with that? I think there’s two lines of inquiry here. One is a personal sense of connection and deeper spiritual, mystic kind of experiences that we get from these accounts. Then there’s the other kind of analytical, logical, scientific what does this mean? How does this fit into some larger pattern? How do I sort these and assess the probability that they mean X versus Y?

Mike Clelland:   Yeah, I’m not much of a linear thinker. I’m very much a creative type, very much an artist, so I feel like I’m approaching this less as a scientist and more as a poet. I know that sounds really lofty but what it has allowed me to do is obviously I’m not going to abandon logical thinking but I am going to trust my intuition.

Alex Tsakiris:   That’s fine. I think that’s a problem in our society in general in that we have this idea of science that it somehow lies outside of these other modalities that we have, be it a narrative or poetic or artistic, and it doesn’t. I think at the end of the day it’s the tools we bring to critically examine all this stuff. So I’d push you on that a little bit and say I think you’re applying the best critical thinking you can. I’ve listened to enough of your interviews where you’re getting to some junction point and you’re saying, “Well, we’d probably have to go this way because the predominance of evidence suggests that that’s the way that the thing is.”

And also I think that if we don’t close down some of these doors, some of these possibilities or look at them critically, I think we wind up in this no-man’s land where we’re not really able to move forward. At the end of the day, the way I look at this, in the consciousness community it’s the same thing. People spin their wheels forever and look for more experiments. If they’re logically or scientifically oriented they’re looking for more experiments. If they’re more on the touchy-feely, narrative side then they want more accounts. At the end of the day they don’t really want to move forward. They just want to stay where they are. That’s how it seems to me.

I think instead of that what a lot of people are doing is they’re trying to make real decisions about—this sounds really big but it’s the only way I can put it—how to live their life. How to make life decisions. People are trying to decide whether they should go to church or whether they should not go to church. Whether they should be materially oriented and try and get the most stuff they can or whether they should be more community oriented and try and reach out and connect with other people. There’s all these life decisions that at the end of the day are all we have in terms of who we are. I think that the information that you’re digging into can definitely inform those decisions.

Just like that’s the thing that always amazes me about consciousness research and near-death experience research is that it’s so directly, fundamentally in your face. It gets at those kinds of issues that I just don’t understand 1) people who don’t seem to be very interested in it or 2) people who wind up being somewhat interested in it and reach some kind of agnostic position. “Well, I don’t really know. I can’t really make a decision on that.” Of course you can make a decision. You make a decision every day in the way you live your life. So aren’t those the same issues that you’re dealing with?

Mike Clelland:   They are. One of the things I’ve been trying to unravel is people who have this experience, one of the questions I ask, similar to the Shaman question, is like, “Hey, do you have any synchronicities in your life?” The people who have had this kind of contact experience, including the researchers, they’ll say when they get into a case they will report all kinds of synchronicities. The people who have the direct contact experience will just be flooded with synchronicities.

I felt all high and mighty and I wrote a little essay on this. I felt like I was Mr. Smarty-Pants. I was making this connection. Then this close friend of mine, I said, “Hey, UFO abductees have more synchronicities than the statistical norm,” and she rolled her eyes and said, “Anyone on a spiritual path will have more synchronicities.” Which is true. So there is an element of this contact experience, there’s the New Agey side to it where it’s very obvious, where it feels like a spiritual path. I think that’s the very definition of a spiritual path, in a way, is to be wrestling with these grander questions.

Alex Tsakiris:   What does that mean to you? What does a spiritual path mean to you personally?

Mike Clelland:   Well, on one level I’m a cartoonist so I picture this guy in a robe walking in the desert.

Alex Tsakiris:   You really do? That’s what you really think?

Mike Clelland:   As a cartoon, sure. That would be the perfect New Yorker cartoon of someone on a spiritual path. I mean, that’s ridiculously simplistic but I guess the spiritual path to me would be asking questions. I’m coming off the cuff here. Asking questions from a heart-based place and then seeking the answers to very difficult questions. Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the meaning of all this?

Alex Tsakiris:   Okay, so what are the answers you’ve found?

Mike Clelland:   Well, I haven’t found any to those big questions.

Alex Tsakiris:   Of course you have. You have. I have. That’s how we live our life.

Mike Clelland:   Well, okay, for me personally the answers would be to be honest, make your decisions from your heart rather than from your intellect. Obviously some decisions it’s better to do from intellect, like when to get your brakes checked on your car. I think that’s a good thing to do from an intellectual place but how you interact with your fellow man should be done from a heart-based place. And then to recognize that—and this is for me, my spiritual path—is to recognize that we as humans are fragile so to come from a place of compassion when interacting with your fellow man.

Alex Tsakiris:   Okay, so at the end of this life experience what happens? There’s this other consciousness. What is the nature of that other consciousness?

Mike Clelland:   I’ve listened to your interview with Eben Alexander and he painted that incredibly rich, almost psychedelic narrative from butterflies and beautiful Angels and turning into dirt. So whatever is going on, I think it’s going to be multi-dimensional in a way that we can’t articulate cleanly. We would have to use metaphor or story or mythology in an attempt to define what that other worldly, grander dimensional realm is beyond the curtain. So I feel like reincarnation? Sure. Maybe we come back again. Life review? Sure. That makes perfect sense.

Alex Tsakiris:   But hold on for a second because reincarnation, and in particular life review, suggests that there’s some kind of order to consciousness that is somehow, in some way we might not fully understand, hierarchally structured. And that suggests that there’s somebody sitting at the top of the pyramid. Maybe that’s switching too much into the literal sense. But if there is a hierarchy then that suggests God more-or-less. Is that what you’re saying?

Mike Clelland:   God? With the universe, God? Sure. I use the term “the universe” to replace—I grew up in a Lutheran family and it was about as low-key and non-intrusive kind of Christianity as could possibly exist. It was the ‘60s and guitars and stuff like that. I feel like I’m rebelling a little bit from that structured Christianity. So I have a hard time saying “God.” I have a much easier time saying “the universe.” I’m saying the same thing; I’m just choosing a different vocabulary word because one has more baggage for me.

So back to the UFO thing. People report this bizarre stuff. I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. I mean, no one reports the exact same thing. One report—and I’m paraphrasing this from memory and am probably going to get some details wrong—someone said that on the moon there’s this machine and the machine then takes our souls and it uploads them. I’m thinking how I can upload and download things from one computer to another over the wireless Internet. So it uploads souls after someone dies. It puts them through this formal process and then it just recirculates them right back into the soul base here on Earth.

Now I don’t really think there’s a machine up on the moon that does this but that is what someone shared. What it felt to me like—they were very, very earnest in sharing this. They felt it. But what it felt like was here is the mythology. Here’s this metaphor. It may not be real and to me it’s almost more fun to hear someone share a story that they think is real than it is to ponder it in the abstract.

I’ll jump to one more thing. Dr. Leo Sprinkle—I think he’s 82 years old now. He’ll be 82 in early January. I think his birthday is January 1st. He’ll be 82 in a couple of days. He’s a researcher out of Wyoming who’s been doing this for over 50 years. He started in 1960 doing UFO research. One of the things he has done is he has a questionnaire he created in 1960. He’s been giving it to all his clients that claim this phenomena. So he’s been giving the same questionnaire for 50 years. It’s meant to be given to UFO experiencers, people who see a UFO, people who claim the direct contact experience.

One of the questions is, “Do you believe in reincarnation?” Once again, I’m doing this just off the top of my head. What he’s getting back from this questionnaire is that it’s not 100% but it’s so close to 100% that it’s striking. I don’t know what the statistical norm is if you asked a random sampling of people. It would be much lower than 100%. That to me is a very interesting detail that close to 100% of the people who have had this experience believe in reincarnation.

Alex Tsakiris:   Okay, let’s run with those two data points. I’m going to pin you down here, Mike. I’m going to continue to pin you down.

So the one data point is God. Okay, so there’s God. Deal with it. Whatever form. It doesn’t have to be an old man with a white beard; it doesn’t have to be a bald Buddhist. It’s God. If we have that and then we mix in the near-death experience but we mix in just the most basic part that we can all look at and agree with for the near-death experience, that would be this overwhelming experience of love.

And if we also mix in from the near-death experience this moral imperative, if you will, this directive to do things a certain way. There’s a right way to do things; there’s a wrong way to do things. Again, without layering on any kind of religious overtones on that and you don’t have to because you can pick your religion and they all say the same things. The Golden Rule, “Do unto others…”

If I want to start from that standpoint and say that then becomes my lens with which I’m going to look at everything else, I look at the UFO phenomena and I am challenged to either fit it into that framework or say that it lies outside of that framework. So are the aliens God?

Mike Clelland:   I’m sure you could cherry-pick the reports and you could come up with that answer that they are God. I’m looking around my cabin here and I’ve got so many books and I won’t be able to tell you exactly where I’m getting these references. These are just stuff I’ve read that may or may not be true. So in these UFO narratives people come back and they tell what they experienced and so one person in one narrative asked the little gray aliens, “Are you Angels?” And the gray aliens reply, “Yes. But not in the way you think of Angels.” Which is an interesting answer.

Another report I have in one of these books on the shelf here, someone asks the gray aliens these big spiritual questions and they ask, “Did God create the universe?” And the aliens reply, “No. God is creating the universe moment-by-moment.” Which is almost like a Zen koan to get as an answer. Have you ever read a series of books called, The Andreasson Affair, written by Raymond Fowler?

Alex Tsakiris:   No.

Mike Clelland:   Okay, it follows this one woman, Andreasson, who is very Christian and sees the whole phenomena through her own Christian ideology. I think there’s four books in the series and then sort of a fifth book that is the final summation. So this woman, Betty, and her kids and her parents and her husband—if they’re to be believed they’ve all had these abduction experiences.

Now she tells a story of being abducted, taken aboard a craft, interacting with the small, gray aliens. The aliens escort her to—if I’m remembering this correctly it’s like a little gray box there on the ship. They say, “Okay, now push the button on the box.” So she pushes the button on the box and the next thing she knows she’s taken through the tunnel.

She almost has a near-death experience where she’s dragged through the tunnel; she emerges in this realm of white light. And before her is a giant eagle, a giant bird. She looks at this bird and then the bird is enveloped in flames and then it shrinks down to ashes and then from the ashes emerges this golden bird. Then from that golden bird she has the overwhelming experience of absolute love. Of universal peace. Of magical love. Very much a communing with God. Then she comes back through the tunnel; she’s in the ship with the little gray aliens again, and they basically quiz her. “How was it? What happened? What did you think?” And she’s transformed. She’s like, “Omigod, it was so beautiful. It was magical.”

Now that same narrative shows up in other people’s reports. One report quite literally the same and then often in other reports it’s got difference, without the mythological Phoenix bird. So the implication to me, the way I read it, is that these little gray aliens are—the way the questioning takes place, if these reports are to be believed, it paints a picture where these little aliens are wrestling with these questions the same as we are.

Alex Tsakiris:   Can you really say that? That they’re wrestling with the questions? I mean, what I took from that narrative—and I’m getting it second-hand from you—is that they’re able to access that dimension, that level of consciousness more readily than we are but you can also take that and take the Shamanic guru and the Hindu lineage I’m more familiar with. There’s countless numbers of people through the ages who claim to be able to access that realm and access that connection with God, with that all-loving being, almost instantaneously at will.

Mike Clelland:   Yes, now maybe I didn’t describe it quite right but the implication is that the little aliens can’t get through that door. They can’t get through that tunnel. They’re taking mortals, putting them through this process, and then asking them questions because they can’t get through that door. Because they are somehow—you know, whether they’re on some alternate evolutionary track where they can’t access that universal love. I don’t know if this is the way it was framed in that narrative.

I’ve had one direct conversation where this woman spoke about this and that was her take on it, so I’m paraphrasing her take on this thing, that they are somehow incapable of receiving that love. Now if I jump back in a grand, grand metaphoric level, these little gray aliens on some level—it doesn’t take too much to perceive them this way—they are us, right? They look like us. They’re maybe some millions of years of evolution in the future from us but they are us and then we are being confronted with—I’m going to use the term “mythology”—with a mythology where the future us can’t access this profound spiritual love.

So there’s a little parable and that means that we now need to change our path so we don’t go down that same road that these little scientific, non-spiritual, gray aliens with the big bald heads and the big black eyes, we don’t go down that same path that they’ve gone down.

Alex Tsakiris:   Yeah, boy, that’s interesting. That’s a great path to explore because that’s another theme that I hear over and over again in the UFO community and the UFO research community. It really is funny because it has a very materialistic bent to it when you really process it all the way through, you know?

It’s along the same lines of oh, it’s about energy. When I hear people in the UFO community talk about the energy systems or they’re trying to show us energy systems and all that, it’s like I don’t know. That just doesn’t really fit well, in particular with one of the things I’m interested in on the periphery here. It doesn’t really play in but it does.

Some of the recent developments with cold fusion and low energy nuclear reactions which have now, as we speak, this day in December, 2012, it’s pretty firmly been established that multiple labs, both in the U.S. and Italy and other places, have shown that there is an effect there and they can generate energy almost in a limitless fashion. It will be somewhat of a challenge to get that out, blah, blah, blah. Enough of that digression.

But the point being that the simple, it’s about energy, it’s about energy systems, or they’re trying to show us their energy systems or they’re trying to change our energy systems just sounds so down materialistic, back to let’s play this game some more.

Also, you’ve heard we just passed the 2012 Mayan Calendar things. Well, spin back the clock a year or two ago and go listen to what people were saying, including many people in the UFO community. They were saying all sorts of connections and links that of course never came to pass.

Or jump over to the other thing that sends me off. It’s the economic thing. It’s the 2008 economic crisis that we’re in. That’s such an ethnocentric, eco-centric kind of view of things. I mean, there’s other parts of the world that are doing great on a financial basis. So to take our tiny little part of the world, whatever it is, your local economy, and extrapolate that out to have some kind of huge, not just inter-galactic but spiritual kind of implications to me seems kind of sketchy.

As does this idea that the real narrative is these aliens and it’s about souls and they don’t have a soul and they’re trying to regain a soul and all that. That suggests to me a deeper sense of knowing about the mind of God, for lack of a better term, than I would be willing to go. I mean, I don’t know what all that means. I don’t know what the white light means. I don’t know what all the rest of that means.

But it certainly means to me that the message that we’re getting back is that this material reality that we have is a very, very limited kind of view of things. I would put the alien soul-stealing kind of hypothesis in that same category because at the end of the day it’s all going up to one source. So how would that really play out in any way that’s meaningful? That sounds to me like a very human kind of invention, that whole narrative.

Mike Clelland:   You know, once again it’s a Rorschach inkblot that we’re staring at. You can paint it with whatever baggage you bring to it. It’s going to mirror back the avenue of research you go into, in a way. This is one of the things I’ve learned is that everyone’s got a different take on this phenomena and nobody agrees on everything. So when you enter this community—and I’m just thinking of walking around at a UFO conference—nobody is going to be telling the same story. Nobody is going to have the same conclusions. But at the core I believe there is a very real experience taking place. Oftentimes I’ll say that’s the only thing I can say for sure. Something real is happening. Beyond that, it’s all speculation on one level or another.

Alex Tsakiris:   But we all have to speculate, right? That’s kind of our job, if you will. Our job title here is Speculators. That’s the condition of being on Earth.

Let me jump on those words, “experience” and “experiencer,” because it pops up in our field over here in consciousness research and certainly in near-death experience research. It always amazes me when I encounter folks who say, “Well, all I can tell you is that’s my experience.” And then they want to end the conversation there and put QED, I’ve solved it. That’s my experience.

I always find that interesting because it seems so limiting in a way and it seems like that what we really want to do—and this is what’s so great about your work—is you really want to open up to as many of these experiences as possible and take them all in and gain from experiences that you’re not going to have. Let’s face it. We can’t all have all these experiences. So we have to share with the experiences of others.

What I feel a need to do is go one step further in realizing the dangers that lie within doing this, but try and understand those experiences somewhat scientifically. So I want to start sorting them, shifting them, sifting them and pulling them apart and trying to figure out where I can really feel more grounded in the reality of those experiences. I really resist people who go, “Oh, no, no. Don’t step over that line. You don’t want to do that. You can’t really apply science to that.” It’s like of course we can. That’s what we need to do, it seems to me. We do need to filter out these experiences and try and understand them as best we can in this measurement of real, not real, probably somewhere in-between.

Mike Clelland:   Yep. One of the things that I’m doing is I’m making an effort to talk to people who purposely challenge me. I’ll say folks that fall into the New Age camp, like my toes curl up in my shoes sometimes when I hear the things that they say. That doesn’t make it wrong. That’s just an emotional reaction I’m having to vocabulary words.

Alex Tsakiris:   I can’t help but jump over on the other side sometimes. There are some things we know, if you will, and let’s talk about some of the things we know. We know there is a phenomena. We know there is some government knowledge of it. That’s well documented in the best-sourced material we can get, and that is the government’s own documents and testimony from government officials. We know there’s a deliberate attempt to misinform folks about what the government knows, whatever the government does know. What else do we know?

Mike Clelland:   Okay, what else do we know? We know that there’s physical evidence.

Alex Tsakiris:   What else do we know?

Mike Clelland:   I was making some notes here. When I talk to women that have had the UFO abduction experience, it seems that it’s universal that 100% of the women will tell stories, whether this is a psychic phenomenon, whether it’s a totally physical phenomena, whether it’s some blending of both, they will tell stories of strange pregnancies, missing fetuses, encounters on ships where they will interact with tiny babies. And then actually meeting hybrid children, hearing it telepathically through their encounter that this is their child. Now, there’s very little proof that this actually exists. There are some gynecological records that tell of odd pregnancies that have stumped the doctors.

Alex Tsakiris:   So let me add because I picked this up from an interview that you did and I don’t have any verification of the source and I don’t know if you do, either.

But the account is, “I was pregnant. I went to the doctor. The doctor said I was pregnant. I returned to the doctor some period later.

The doctor said, ‘What happened? You’re no longer pregnant.’

‘I don’t know what happened.’

‘ That doesn’t seem true. This clearly from your medical exam, you clearly had an abortion. What’s going on here?’”

And the doctor won’t believe the patient and that’s where the mystery ends, right? Is that it?

Mike Clelland:   And often women will not be sexually active and they’ll be pregnant. Few things in our society are more fraught with drama than virgin birth. So there’s that aspect to it, too, where they will not be sexually active. So I don’t know. I can’t prove to someone’s satisfaction that this is real. I’m going from the point that it is basically expected in my sense now. If I talk to a woman who claims the abduction phenomena, one of the questions I’ll ask is, “Have you had any odd experiences with pregnancies?” There will be a pause on the phone or she’ll take a deep breath and then she’ll say, “Well, yes. Here’s what happened.”

So yes. So maybe this shouldn’t be in the category of things we know for sure but it is certainly in the category of a reoccurring pattern that is so defined that it is very difficult to ignore and dismiss.

Alex Tsakiris:   Great. Anything else that we know?

Mike Clelland:   We know that there’s a—and this is going back to the fairy lore and stuff like that. We know that there is a record that stretches back before the modern age of the UFO phenomena that would tell of very similar stories. This is that word “mythology” again. We have it in our mythology that pregnant women will be interacted with by fairies in Celtic lore, elves in a more Nordic lore, trickster animals in a Native American lore. All would have an interest in pregnant women.

Alex Tsakiris:   That touches on the this other thing that maybe falls into that category of what we know. And that’s that the use of psychedelics, be they in a Shamanic setting like Ayahuasca or something like that, or in a clinical setting like the use of DMT by Rick Strassman in New Mexico. Those experiences have yielded a lot of encounters with beings that map almost directly to the UFO experience.

Some of the experiencers of Ayahuasca down in Central America, Native people are drawing pictures of flying saucers that they saw. And it’s kind of uniform. Or beings that look a lot like beings that contactees report. So I guess that’s something else maybe in that category like you said, not that we know but that there is a high correlation between these two things.

Mike Clelland:   Absolutely, and that’s where it gets very murky—where you realize that there’s a physical element to it. Like people will say, “The flying saucer landed in my back yard. I was escorted out of the house and taken onboard the flying saucer.” And then the researcher will show and there will be a burn mark in the back yard exactly where the person said it was. So we do have these kinds of physical events that can be documented by a researcher. And also very easily dismissed—or not easily dismissed—but are dismissed with some contempt by folks that don’t want to look into this.

The whole psychedelic thing, that paints a picture of something in a psycho-mystical realm that’s also using the same characters. You know, the theatre of the psychedelic experience has many of the same plot points and the same imagery that would be within the physical realm of these abduction cases.

Alex Tsakiris:   That gets back to the most challenging part of all that which is we don’t understand the nature of that extended consciousness beyond our physical level, so whenever we talk about theatre, then is it theatre to us? Or is it theatre to them? Whatever “them” is. I don’t just mean that in an alien sense. I mean that in an interdimensional whatever that is that people are encountering under Ayahuasca that isn’t an illusion.

Or backtracking a step, that is the conclusion of the one scientist that’s done the most extensive work on this. That’s Rick Strassman, well respected scientific guy publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. His conclusion is that 1) they’re not delusional and 2) that the encounters that they’re having are with beings that seem to be freestanding beings that do have an ability to move in this environment. So on one hand it defies completely our whole reductionistic, scientific, materialistic view of mind and consciousness. But heck, if we don’t get past that we can’t get into any of these dialogues.

Given that that’s the case, I think all this stuff begs the question of can we really understand this? Can we even talk about this extended consciousness in any way that’s intelligent from our perspective? From where we are? From down here, if you will?

Mike Clelland:   I’m not sure what to say. I feel like I’m constantly confronted with—and the term I will use is “something’s going on behind the curtain.” I’m implying that there’s this other dimensional realm that “they,” these aliens, can access that we can barely access. Maybe we can access it through death; maybe we can access it through psychedelics. Maybe we can access it through intense meditation or through dream realms.

You know, we can access that realm fleetingly. It’s not like we’re living in that realm. It seems to be that “they” either are in a partially physical realm or they are in a partially mystical, spiritual, other dimensional realm that gets very—I feel like I’m searching for my words here. That gets very challenging to define simply because we are on this side of the curtain.

I almost go back to the mythological interpretations of the Garden of Eden, where I read one account where someone dissected the Garden of Eden where it was basically the separation of Man from the Garden was the separation of Man from that greater, grander knowing of that multi-dimensional realm. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but that is something I sense. That we as humans are challenged confronting that realm “they,” the aliens, are not. I’m simplifying that greatly just when I said that.

Alex Tsakiris:   But I like that a lot. I think that while I wouldn’t want to hang my hat on that, a lot of the evidence does seem to be pointing in that direction. It does, in a way, kind of close the loop a little bit in terms of trying to understand how all these different experiences might fit together.

So, Mike, maybe with that it might be a good place to start wrapping this up. What other issues are pressing you as you go forward with Hidden Experience?

Mike Clelland:   It’s very interesting. We’ve done this whole little dialogue here and I haven’t really shared any of my own experiences, which felt great because in a way I feel like I’ve shared my experiences so many times that I feel like I go on auto-pilot when I tell the stories. I think it’s a little unfair to anyone listening.

In 2009 I went to a UFO conference. There was this woman named Miriam Delicado. I’ve interviewed her on the site. She’s had a lot of very strange experiences. I sat with her for a little while and I was in “the dark night of the soul,” which is as good as any term. I was extremely challenged. These memories were welling up. I didn’t know what to do with them. They were scary.

They challenged my definition of reality so I said, “What do I do? How do I proceed forward?” She very thoughtfully said, “You should talk more about this stuff.” I drove back from the conference and I literally—I am not exaggerating—it felt like I was compelled by an outside source. I came home and started the blog almost—I don’t think I even took my coat off after coming home from the conference. I pulled up into the driveway. It had been a long drive. It was an 18-hour drive. I sat right down at the computer and started the blog.

Initially the blog was just a collection of synchronicities, which I’ve had a lot of. They make for very tidy—they’re perfect little blog postings, right? They’re tidy, they’ve got a little punch line at the end. So I started posting those. At a certain point I started posting some of the memories of what could be interpreted—and I’m sure I’m doing it right now. I’m very shy to give myself the label that I was so easily and callously labeling other people.

So I’ve had experiences that might seem to, depending on how you look at it, fit the definition of UFO contact/abduction. So there. I went around the block rather than saying it outright because it is so weird, it’s so challenging that I can’t—it would just feel dishonest deep down if I called myself a UFO abductee. So I don’t. I go right up to that line and maybe that’s shallowness on my part, I don’t know.

But I started posting some of my memories online. In doing so, I was slammed with such crazy, overwhelming, impossible-to-ignore synchronicities that I was forced to deal with the reality of this. So it wasn’t the memories. It wasn’t the experiences. It wasn’t the marks on my body that made me take this seriously. It was the synchronicities when I started sharing, when I started looking into my own experiences. It was the synchronicities that forced me to take this seriously. I was very capable of denying the stuff that has happened to me. I mean, I denied it outright for at least five years.

I’m 50 now so in the last five years or so I have looked into this in a way that—obsession is a perfect term—obsessively.

Alex Tsakiris:   Let me jump in there with one thing because I’ve heard you say that before. Why do you think your interest in this is obsessive? I think you’re being too hard on yourself and I think that I’d flip it around and say how anyone can ignore the huge implications that these questions have for their life is, as I said before, on a day-to-day basis and the way that you choose to live your life, to me seems to be the part of a psychological condition that needs to be explained.

That is, how can you ignore this stuff? How can we continue to distract ourselves constantly, continuously, with stuff that we know was total fluff and it doesn’t have any real significance for our lives? So I don’t know. I have to challenge you on the idea of how do you think you’re obsessive? Is it somehow disrupting your life or making your life really unsettled in some way?

Mike Clelland:   Yes. I’m obsessed to the point where it has changed—I’ve talked to people who have had this experience. Well, I’m just parroting what they’re saying because I’ve heard it. I’m saying it myself. What happens is an old set of friends fades away; a new set of friends emerges.

Alex Tsakiris:   The same thing happens to people when they just join the church or move from one church to another. I’m not a Christian but I understand that experience.

Mike Clelland:   Well, it feels a little obsessive to me because it has impacted my life. And it’s funny because one of the things that I’ve talked to folks at UFO conferences, I’ve talked with people on the phone, and people who have been at this a lot longer than I have as far as the path they’ve been on. They came to the realization years before I did.

I’ll ask them, “Oh God, I’m so mixed up. This is so challenging and I don’t know what to think.”

They look at me and go, “Humph. Three years. Everyone goes through it. It takes three years.”

I’m sort of at the tail-end of that three years now. I guess it’s more like five years since I’ve been actively been looking into it. So that was actually very reassuring to have someone just say that to me. Like, “Oh yeah, everyone goes through that.”

Alex Tsakiris:   Well, I hope you stay at it for a lot longer than that kind of timeframe would suggest because you do a great job. The interviews are great. I just hope I can get to them. They’re somewhat lengthy, a lot of them, as this one has turned out to be. So you have to hang in there. They’re steady throughout. The content, the quality of it doesn’t really go down so I hope everyone checks out your interviews. They can find them at www.hiddenexperience.blogspot.com. You can subscribe to them on iTunes.

Mike, it’s been great having you and thanks so much for joining me.

Mike Clelland:   Thank you so much. This was great.