The Aetherius Society is probably the best-known and -organized ﬂying-saucer religion. It was founded by George King, who in May 1954 received a command from interplanetary sources to become “the Voice of Interplanetary Parliament.” Since then, he continually received trance messages and/or telepathic communications from various beings, mainly from different planets in the solar system.His eminence Dr.George King,as the members of the society usually address him, has been lavished with innumerable titles, academic degrees,and honours.He has authored many books and,because of his teachings and works,is recognized as a charismatic leader by the society’s members. Roy Wallis describes him in classical Weberian terms,namely,as a mystagogue who “offers a largely magical means of salvation.” Members of the society,however,see salvation in terms of the laws of karma and understand Dr. King’s role as that ofa teacher who conveys messages and instructions from extraterrestrial beings, rather than that of a miracle worker or a dispenser of magical rites. The Aetherius Society, which gets its name from the pseudonym ofa being from Planet Venus who ﬁrst contacted Dr. King, is a structured organization founded by King himself.It is run by a board of directors, which was chaired by King until his death in 1997. Some internal hierarchy exists,with several degrees of initiation and merit awards being available to members. Headquartered in Hollywood, California, the society has branches,groups,and/or representatives in North America (the United States and Canada),Europe (England),Africa (Nigeria and Ghana),and Australia. Its membership, though not very large, is thus varied. In the United States, members are more likely to be adult, middle-class, and white. One must add,however,that in some cities white members actually form a minority.Further,many of its ministers and priests are women and black. These factors,plus the society’s presence on several continents, makes its overall membership cosmopolitan. The society publishes Dr. King’s books and taped lectures, a newsletter, The Cosmic Voice, which has been in print since 1956,and the quarterly Journal of Spiritual and Natural Healing, which a few years ago was replaced with The Aetherius Society Newsletter. This newsletter covers many topics, including information from the society’s headquarters and various branches, activities of members, and columns on the Cosmic Teachings. Among the many aims of the Aetherius Society are the spreading of the teachings (or transmissions) of the Cosmic Masters,the preparation for the coming of the next Master,the administration ofspiritual healing,the creation of the right conditions necessary for contacts and ultimate meetings with beings from other planets,and the conduct of various missions and operations. The beliefs of the Aetherius Society are rather complex. Reference to God is common in its prayers,though the planetary beings appear to occupy the central stage in the members’ spiritual lives. Among its teachings are included those on the chakras,the aura,kundalini,karma,and Reincarnation.Yoga and meditation are considered to be very important.George King is also said to be a master of yoga, a well-advanced stage that he achieved at an early age and later enhanced by practices given by a Master who resides on earth. Meditation,or Samadhi,is, according to the society,the experiential state of Adeptship,“when the soul is bathe in the Light of pure Spirit and one becomes a knower of truth.” Mantras are also frequently repeated during services. A common theme that runs through all the teachings of the Aetherius Society is spiritual service.The greatest yoga and the greatest religion is service to humankind.Many ofthe operations and missions upon which the society has embarked should be understood primarily as acts of service to the human race,which has at times placed itself on the edge of destruction. Some of the teachings of the Aetherius Society has led one scholar, Robert Ellwood, to place the society within the theosophical tradition.The literature of the Aetherius Society in the late 1950s
and early 1960s exhibits both great concern for the dangers of atomic warfare and fallout as well as excitement about UFO sightings. These features, plus accounts that the earth is under attack by evil cosmic forces and the interest in the coming of the next cosmic Master, has led Ellwood to conclude that “like the Adamski teachings,Aetherius can be thought of as apocalyptic theosophy.” In both its literature and its regular prayer services,however, little if any prominence is given to an imminent apocalyptic scenario. One of the Aetherius Society’s central beliefs is the existence of a kind of pantheon of beings largely from other planets in the solar system. These beings live in a kind of paradise and are,scientiﬁcally and spiritually,millions of years ahead of the human race here on earth. In the society’s literature there is mention of Four interplanetary Beings (Shri Krishna,the Lord Buddha,the Master Jesus, and Lao Tsu) who descended to earth as teachers. The Great White Brotherhood, made up of Masters from all races is,according to the Society, the spiritual hierarchy on earth and is made up of adepts, Masters,and Ascended Masters.The function of these beings is mainly to preserve and develop spirituality upon earth. Detailed descriptions of several Cosmic Intelligences, of their planetary habitats, and of the major types of spacecraft they use have been provided by George King. Motherships, scout patrol vessels, and special-purpose vessels are among those accounted for in the Aetherius Society’s literature. The reason why these beings cannot land openly is because of the negative karmic effects created by human beings by their neglect of God’s laws and the Teachings of the Masters. There has been little attempt by the society’s members to embark on an evangelization campaign; consequently, the Aetherius Society does not ﬁt into the popular image of a new religion that indulges in heavy-handed recruiting tactics. In practice much of the work is dedicated to conducting and/or maintaining several operations and/or missions, among which are: Operation Starlight,a mission carried out between 1958 and 1961 during which 19 select mountains were charged with spiritual energy that can be radiated to uplift our world by anyone who prays unselﬁshly on them; Operation Space Power, which involves the cooperation of the Aetherius Society with Interplanetary Beings to radiate spiritual power to earth during “Spiritual Pushes”; Operation Bluewater, which alleviated the effects of a warp in the earth’s magnetic ﬁeld, a warp produced by atomic experiments and the negative thoughts and actions of human beings that interfere with the natural ﬂow of spiritual energies to earth; Operation Sunbeam, through which spiritual energy is restored to the earth as a token repayment for all the energy humanity has taken from it; Operation Prayer Power, which involves the storing of spiritual energy through prayer and mantra, an energy that can be released to relieve suffering anywhere on earth;and several past missions that saved the earth from evil extraterrestrial intelligences or entities (the Alien Mission and Operation Karmalight). These last two missions were almost entirely performed by Interplanetary Beings and are not being conducted or maintained by the society. Probably one of the most interesting aspects of these missions is their technical aspect. Some of them required the designing and building of special equipment. Thus, for instance, Operation Prayer Power needs unique batteries and transmission systems that were designed by George King to, respectively, store spiritual energy safely and beam it effectively to trouble spots on earth. The ritual of the Aetherius Society, which can be rather elaborate, is carried out on a weekly basis and on special commemorative occasions. The temple where the services are held (often a small room) is usually decorated with religious symbols that include a photograph of George King and a portrait of the Master Jesus.Every week the following services are held: a prayer meeting that includes a short meditation period,the recitation of the Twelve Blessings of Jesus,and petitions for the healing at a distance for anyone who has requested to be placed on the healing list; a service dedicated to Operation Prayer Power; a private healing service;and a regular Sunday service,during which taped instructions or lectures of Dr. King and messages from various planetary beings might be played.On a yearly basis the start and/or completion of several of the missions and operations are commemorated.Pilgrimages to the Holy Mountains, charged with spiritual power during Operation Starlight, are periodically made by devoted members of the society. Several years after the death of its founder, the Aetherius Society still functions with little changes in its rituals and beliefs. The charisma of its deceased leader seems to be in the process of institutionalization,a development that,from a sociological point of view,is not surprising,for the society has a well-structured organization and a well-deﬁned religious agenda.The society has,so far,continued to operate as a small religious movement or organization where belief in extraterrestrials who help humankind is central and spiritual healing is regularly practiced.Whether and when George King will be replaced by another Cosmic Master are not pressing issues in the minds of its members. The society’s literature published since King’s death has not dealt with the question of succession.The more common belief appears to be that George King will not be succeeded in the near future by another Master who will act as the Primary Mental Channel. In the unspeciﬁed future,however,a Cosmic Intelligence could come to earth and be the next Master. —John A.Saliba
See Also:Ascended Masters;Contactees;Cults,UFO; Religions,UFO;Space Brothers
Aetherius Society.Temple Degree Study Courses. Hollywood,CA:Aetherius Society,1982. The Aetherius Society Newsletter,1992–1999. Cosmic Voice,1956–1999. Ellwood,Robert.Islands ofthe Dawn:The Story of Alternative Spirituality in New Zealand.Honolulu: University ofHawaii Press,1993,pp.92–94. King,George.Life on the Planets.Hollywood,CA: Aetherius Society,1958. ———. The Nine Freedoms.Hollywood,CA:Aetherius Society,1963. ———. The Twelve Blessings.Hollywood,CA:Aetherius Society 1962. ———. You Are Responsible!.Hollywood,CA:Aetherius Society,1961. King,George,with Richard Lawrence.Contacts with the Gods from Space:Pathway to the New Millennium. Hollywood,CA:Aetherius Society,1996. Saliba,John A.“The Earth Is a Dangerous Place—The World View ofthe Aetherius Society.”Marburg Journal ofReligion4(2) (December 1999):1–20. The Story ofthe Aetherius Society.Hollywood,CA: Aetherius Society,n.d. Wallis,Roy.“The Aetherius Society:A Case Study in the Formation ofa Mystagogic Congregation.” Sociological Review22 (1974):27–44.
Taken from : UFOs and Popular Culture – An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth
Written by : James R. Lewis – Copyright © 2000 by James R.Lewis