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Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, October 2018

Reality Checking with Brent Raynes

by: Brent Raynes

Playing the Reality Game
John Keel once told me in a phone conversation that ufologists are too often like a dog chasing its own tail. Brad Steiger wrote and talked about how he had reviewed seventeen potential theories for UFOs and, alas, as Ivan Sanderson advised Keel early on in his quest, it's best to regard the journey as an “intellectual exercise.” You have a working theory, initially the pieces seem to be fitting together, and then as you continue to probe deeper, data comes along that just doesn't quite fit right – you end up with puzzle pieces that don't belong with the overall puzzle picture before you. At that point, you either neglect and ignore such misfitting pieces, in order to maintain the appearance and integrity of your self-completed puzzle, which is a fairly common ufological practice, or you acknowledge the uncertainty of your quest. Steiger toyed with the concept of a “reality game” being played out with humankind – interactions with other intelligences presumably designed to possibly guide us to deeper truths, provided we use caution and discernment. “The UFO intelligences are playing a teaching game with humankind in which our concept of reality is being gradually changed,” Steiger speculated. “In the teasing fashion of a Zen riddle or a Sufi joke, we are being provoked and guided into a higher consciousness.”

The trick, it seems, is not to become misdirected by misleading surface appearances that are more archetypal, more illustrative than literal “reality.” This could be, as mentioned previously in this column, the wiles of the teacher trickster archetype.

All of us carry within our conscious appaisals and understanding of “reality” different versions. The Ufological movement certainly is no different. I tried to illustrate that in my last column about the aggressive, hostile UFO beings some felt were patroling the skies over Brazil while Peruvian UFOers next door, so to speak, were opening their arms to the “Space Brothers” and dismissing the “abductions” up in the good 'ol USA as government propaganda.

In my book Visitors From Hidden Realms (2004), I provided what I feel is a good example of how powerful a culturally and spiritually perceived “reality” may become, and how for different people of different backgrounds there may occur objective and verifiable grounds to support such a perceived “reality” - though when you take the collective whole of such data from other regions and other sources it doesn't necessarily apply as the whole picture - the whole truth.

We all recognize that cultural and spiritual beliefs move and motivate people powerfully, but could such psychological mechanisms of consciousness actually alter reality in deeper and more complex ways than mainstream opinion and science acknowledge. If the parapsychologists, quantum physicists, and others who are thinking outside the box of mainstream contention are correct, then consciousness and the so-called objective classic physics reality in and around us is far more creative, interactive, and reaching (enter here the “non-local” component of quantum physics) than the officialdom of science, organized religion, and government are comfortable in acknowledging.

Here is the example I promised a couple paragraphs earlier:

“This is another phenomenon that seemingly crops up in different places throughout the world and has become commonly known as 'hagging.' In this event, a person awakens to discover an evil entity (often referred to as an 'old hag' in Western culture) sitting upon their chest. Frequently there is reported difficulty with breathing, and how at the time they felt as though they were going to suffocate. A dramatic and well-documented account is described by John Michael Greer, in his book, Monsters: An Investigator's Guide to Magical Beings (2001) and concerns a Vietnamese people known as the Hmong. After the Vietnam War, many found themselves in refugee camps and later were relocated to apartments here in the U.S. Suddenly, dozens of young and presumably healthy men began to die in their sleep. Medical doctors were mystified and unable to do anything. Eventually it was discovered that in their country there was practiced a shamanic intervention that protected these people from dab tsog, an evil spirit said to sit upon people and suffocate them in their sleep!”

“The problem persisted for years (had been virtually unknown back in their own country), but when many were able to move out to rural areas and reunite with extended families and traditional clans and got back to their shamanic practices, the incidents of these unexplained sleeping deaths began decreasing.”

“Interestingly, surveys of Hmong's living in America showed that 50 to 60 percent of them claimed to have undergone at least one Old Hag-type experience. This was said to be a rate two to three times that of the general population. In addition, for those who had abandoned their traditional ways and converted to Chistianity the rate was even said to be higher: some 72 percent.”

Author John E. L. Tenney has long been interested in strange and unexplained occurrences, from ghosts, UFOs, monsters, and even elves. In fact, what a remarkable story he shares about his own encounter with an elf! He claims it happened in a heavily wooded area of Michigan, on a very cold winter night with snow on the ground. He's with an elderly man who claims that he had been interacting with elves in the woods near his home. For several days prior, Tenney had a series of things that he was supposed to do prior to coming to this man's house, in order to be ready for an elf encounter. For example, every morning right after he would get up, he was to go outside and let the sun shine on his face. Three times a day for three days he was to go outside and touch a plant of some kind, plus three times a day for three days he had to interact with an animal, such as a dog or cat, for example. He also was instructed not to eat any meat for a spell also, as the elves can presumably smell it on your breath and would become “afraid and think that you're going to eat them.”

Tenney claimed that this man had been following him on the internet and had attended one of his lectures. Early in 2016 this man contacted Tenney and asked him if he wanted to see an elf. They exchanged emails and talked on the phone many times. The man claimed he had acquired the ability to summon them and wondered if Tenney would like to see an elf for himself. Though it might end up being a wild goose chase, something every investigator of the unexplained has to consider and be prepared for, Tenney was willing to give it a try just in case. After all, if it was possible, he definitely wanted “to see an elf.” So he jumped through all of the hoops that the elderly man provided in his instructions, and then drove to his home, hoping he wasn't going to confront somebody “dressed up as a Keebler elf in the forest with a knife” (he did tell some people where he was going, just in case). Together the two walk out into a snow-covered forest behind his home, around 9:30, about minus 5 degrees. It's pitch black out. The old man is singing a song, as the elves he claims like him singing to himself – which is what initially attracted them to him. Suddenly there are these unusual “popping flashes” of light – purples, blues, and pinks – bright bursts of light that would soon fade away. “They're coming,” Tenney recalls the old man saying. Something is scurrying around at his feet. Chipmunk, squirrel, he wonders. The elder announces that it's right in front of him about 10 feet. “You can take a picture,” he adds. Tenney had a camera strapped around his neck, and without even lifting it up to his face he snapped the shutter. “My flash goes off and about 10-12 feet in front of me, on this log that has fallen over, is what looks like an elf,” Tenney states. “A little 11 ½ inch tall person, upright, who jumps back into the darkness as soon as the flash goes off. ...And I ran over there and I start taking more pictures and I get pictures of these little hoof prints all around in the snow. ...The creature is gone.” (1)

On a recent episode of Exploring The Bizarre with hosts Tim Beckley and Tim Swartz, Tenney shared his theory for these anomalous manifestations – a theory that kind of made me think of Steiger's “reality game” concept. He said, “It very much seems like whether you're talking about ghosts or UFOs, cryptids, Mothman, the Braxton County Monsters, Van Meter Monsters, whenever you're talking about anything over the past few decades as I've gone to these places and talked to people and investigated cases, gotten to know more and more people, it seems to me that the universe is playing a game with us and the only thing the cosmos has ever really showed us is that it loves to create, it makes things, and then it destroys them, rebuilds them. It's in this constant process of doing things and it seems almost like a play. It seems like it's a game and when you make the decision to play (with) it it puts a new move in front of you.”

“If you have cynics and skeptics and the universe taps them on the shoulder and says, 'Do you want to play?' and they say no, it doesn't play,” Tenney explained. “But a year later, or some other time later, it will tap them again and say, 'Do you want to play?' and they say no, and so it doesn't play with them. With people like us every now and then it taps and says, 'Do you want to play?' And so we play and then it gives us something to think about. Now what's interesting to me is it seems like I don't believe we're the only things in the universe and so I do think that there are probably people who are also playing this game, or beings who are also playing this and they're probably better at it than we are. So not only are we playing a game against the cosmic mind, (but) there are other players involved who are also playing – that are always being intertwined in our lives.” (2)


1. Spook Clip: John E. L. Tenney and the Elf, Spooky Southcoast, published May 31, 2016. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLUDeVe2HxO

2. Exploring The Unknown, September 6, 2018, KCOR Digital Radio Network.

Sunday, March 03, 2024