by Steven Mizrach 

Many people undoubtedly have seen the cheesy science fiction film Stargate, which seems to have been far from a box office smash. The film basically involved discovery of a mysterious metallic gate which seems to be the conduit for a wormhole which leads to a planet light years away. The action heroes of the film, military men and a nerdy Egyptologist, go through the gate, only to find themselves on a desert planet that looks a lot like ancient Egypt. Sure enough, on this planet seems to be a race of people who live in terror of an extraterrestrial overlord which seems to have been taken by the ancient Egyptians as their god Ra. As in any typical Hollywood film, the good guys triumph over the nasty Ra and send his pyramidal spaceship packing. 

Deep questions seem to be raised by the film, such as an extraterrestrial origin for Egyptian culture, but they are quickly shucked in favor of typical popcorn fodder - lots of explosions and Arab-looking extras getting blown to smithereens. The film seems to have lent itself well to its low-budget TV serialization, which involves the actor (Dean Anderson) who played "MacGuyver" in the lead role. Neither the film nor the TV series ever seem to get very deep - they focus too heavily on sci-fi shoot-em-outs to probe into the deep philosophical and esoteric terrain of the current fascination with ancient Egypt, and such mysteries as the age of the Sphinx or the Pyramids.

Despite this fact, the film's name seems to have been chosen as the title of a new book by British Forteans Clive Picknett and Lynn Prince. The book's name is The Stargate Conspiracy. A proviso at the outset here: I have not read this book yet, since it's only just come out in the UK, and won't be available in the U.S. for several months. So - why discuss a book that I haven't read? Because, through other sources, including someone who did a great deal of the research for the writers, I have become familiar with the essential hypothesis of the book, if not the actual details. I may err on the side of the details, but the hypothesis is so important it needs to be discussed now, in light of so many interesting "millennial" events on the verge of occurring. 

The interesting thing is that Picknett and Prince seem to have headed into altogether new intellectual territory with this book. Their first book, The Turin Shroud, dealt with a relic that a lot of other writers (such as Masons Knight and Lomas, Ian Wilson, and Noel Currier-Briggs) have been writing about lately - but it offered a really new and controversial theory: that Leonardo de Vinci created the shroud in the 1400s through a mysterious photographic process, putting his own head on the cloth. In their second book, The Templar Revelation, Picknett and Prince follow their Shroud links into exploration of the mysterious Priory of Sion, said to have been the organization which created the Templar Knights, and which also appears to have been the "Shroud Mafia" which promoted interested in the Shroud in the 15th and 16th century. Templar Revelation seems to hint that the Priory may be a "Johannine" (i.e. John the Baptist-venerating) organization with roots in ancient Egyptian mysteries. 

So, what is the essential hypothesis of Stargate Conspiracy? Please note - I have no interest in promoting the pocketbook of either author. I read both of their first two books in the local library. So I'm discussing the book's hypothesis because I think it's intriguing, controversial, and possibly even helpful in exploring the agenda of some of the current mysterious figures swirling around in the nether terrain between UFOlogy, "ancient mysteries," and "ancient astronauts." Stargate Con argues that, like the film Stargate, numerous authors right now are trying to convince the public that space beings are responsible for creating the culture of ancient Egypt, and thus the human race is in fact their intellectual if not their genetic product. Why are they doing this? Picknett and Prince suggest these people may be working with quite terrestrial intelligence agencies interested in manipulating people through belief in superior extraterrestrials. 

I don't know the authors mentioned in the book as members of this "conspiracy" - so I may misidentify who their "conspiracy" targets are. However, I have reason to believe that they deal with (among others) Richard Hoagland (author of the Monuments of Mars), Robert K. Temple (who recently rereleased his Sirius Mystery with a new foreword), and Zechariah Sitchin (author of the 12th Planet). Possible additional "targets" may include Robert Bauval, Erich von Daniken, Laurence Gardner, and Graham Hancock. If anyone is holding the book while reading this "hit list" - bear in mind that I'm only guessing - my source has not spilled all of the beans yet. Some of these people may not actually be part of the "con". The essential argument of the book is that various "ancient astronaut" writers are trying to inculcate belief in humanity's utter dependence on alien intelligences, to whom we are supposedly indebted for our entire civilization (through Egypt), possibly with the goal of setting us up to be controlled by "communiques" from that alien intelligence when it "returns"… with a nasty fascist agenda. 

This is not a novel theory. Back in the 1970s, Jacques Vallee wrote a book called Messengers of Deception where he warned that certain UFO "cults" (such as UMMO and the Raelians) might be the creation of quite terrestrial military intelligence agencies using them as psychological warfare testing grounds. Vallee seems to have been somewhat prescient, in that many authors discovered CIA links to the mass 'suicide' at Jim Jones' Jonestown camp in Guyana in the late 70s - John Judge believes that the CIA was interested in just how far a charismatic figure could get people to go (including killing others or taking their own lives), and that they set up Jonestown as an "experiment." Also, just recently, people were shocked by the mass suicide of the Heaven's Gate sect.

What people may not know is that Vallee met "Bo" (Marshall Applewhite) and his companion "Peep" back in the 70s, when they were calling themselves "the Two" and attracting a small cadre of followers. Vallee was already warning people in the 70s that there was something very suspicious indeed about "Bo" and where he was leading his "sheep" - too bad nobody listened. Although Vallee believes in a genuine UFO phenomenon, he warns researchers that there definitely seems to be a rather nasty military interest in manipulating simulation of the phenomenon for their own purposes - whether to conceal "black" projects or to test various kinds of psychological wafare techniques. Thus, some 'sightings' (such as the 1980 Bentwaters/Rendlesham Forest case) may have actually been military experiments. 

Another writer to offer theories in a similar vein has been Martin Cannon, author of The Controllers: a New Theory of Alien Abductions. Cannon argues that "alien abductions" are actually kidnappings of people by quite terrestrial agencies (i.e. the CIA, NSA, etc.) using a variety of deceptions to conceal ongoing MK-Ultra mind control experiments under the guise of 'alien' experimentation. He suggests that by making people believe they are being kidnapped by something from outer space, the government has finally come up with the perfect cover-up for continuing MK-Ultra tests (which the CIA was ordered to quit performing during the 1975 Church hearings) clandestinely. Because the mass media will assume the people are crazy for reporting "unbelievable" things, they know this way they cannot get caught. 

There seem to have been lots of strange incidents showing that military intelligence enjoys feeding the UFO field, and maybe through them the public (indirectly), various "nuggets" of disinformation. William L. Moore admitted he did this to Area 51 researcher Paul Bennewitz, giving him a paranoid nervous breakdown. Should we be surprised that he seems to have done this at the urging of AFOSI (Air Force Office of Special Intelligence) and that the AFOSI officer "Falcon," Richard Doty, seems to have been giving a lot of suspect data about underground bases, crashed saucers, and vats of human stew to UFOlogists? Or that Moore and Shandera were the first ones to come forth with the so-called "Majestic 12" documents, proclaiming a conspiracy of twelve scientists in the Truman Era to conceal the 'truth' of the Roswell Crash - itself likely to have been the crash of a 'black project' experimental Air Force vehicle? Or that Moore and Berlitz were the primary people to revive the legend of the 'Philadelphia Experiment,' which seems to have become the foundation of an even more bizarre saga at Montauk Point? 

People who watch the X-Files will note that there was a long "season of doubt" for FBI maverick Fox Mulder where some of these ideas seem to have been coming out. The true believer Mulder starts leaning toward his "skeptical" partner Scully's beliefs that there are no aliens, only sinister government agencies out to do nasty genetic and other experiments on people. The "Consortium" and the mysterious Smoking Man seem to be manipulating him in this direction - he stumbles across a room in the Pentagon filled with dummy alien bodies (not unlike the dummy [?] in the Roswell "Alien Autopsy"), meets a Pentagon mil-intel operative who tells him they have been manipulating him and the public all along into believing in aliens for disinfo purposes, and discovers hints that the "Consortium" may be linked to an international pharmaceutical firm. 

However, true-believer Mulder, and his true-believer TV fans, soon finds his faith restored, when in the summer blockbuster X-Files: Fight the Future film he comes across real aliens, complete with B-movie bloodsucking fangs. So much for cerebral Grays - these aliens don't do scientific tests, they just snack on human flesh. As usual, whenever they're around, his skeptical partner is either unconscious, on ice, or collapsed from exhaustion. Once again, Chris Carter was on the verge of exploring interesting intellectual territory - perhaps like the filmmakers of Stargate - before giving into the craven impulses of the mass market. 

I think what's interesting is that Picknett and Prince are issuing their cry from the wilderness just as massive events are shaping up for the millennium. Apparently, many members of their "Stargate Con" seem to be putting together a millennial extravaganza (called Project Equinox 2000) in which it looks like they're poised to make a whole series of "revelations." I don't want to minimize the fact that there are a lot of mysteries about ancient Egypt. The Sphinx could well be 12,000 years old, and there might be a hidden chamber in the Great Pyramid. Who knows? But none of this proves that the Egyptian civilization was created by alien beings or Atlanteans, or, for that matter, that Egypt is the root of the rest of human culture (something claimed by 19th century diffusionists and mystics, and 20th century Afrocentrists, but also not true.) 

I have always found Temple's book interesting, but I never felt that it "proved" anything other than that ancient Egyptian astronomy might have been quite sophisticated. It never really "proved," to me, that Nommos from Sirius ever visited the Dogons, the Sumerians, the Egyptians, or anyone else. As for most of the rest of the "ancient astronaut" crowd, they leave me cold. Von Daniken is an admitted forger and liar, and obviously is totally unaware that what he calls a "rocket ship" (the design on the tomb-lid of Pacal at Palenque) is really a Mayan representation of the afterlife. Sitchin has always been pretty suspicious to me, being an alum of the psy-ops London School of Economics, and I'm a little confused as to why his Annunaki, who created humanity as a slave race to be used and abused, should now be suddenly seen as the celestial "Saviors" of the Bible. And Hoagland disgraced himself in my eyes when he called a stone Tequesta house floor unearthed in Miami some sort of UFO landing site/crop circle analogue/Mayan-Martian mystery monument… and then accused NASA of "forging" the 1998 photos of the Mars Face which revealed it to be a natural formation. 

As for Laurence Gardner - his claims are becoming more and more outrageous - recently he has said that humanity was "cloned" (from what?) by Sitchin's Annunaki and that they gave humanity a mysterious elixir of immortality, "Star Fire," whose main constituent seems to be menstrual fluids. As a Fortean, I'm open to a lot of areas of unusual inquiry. But most people doing "ancient astronaut" research seem to me to be very careless, if not suspect in the way the "Stargate Cons" are. They have a bad habit of finding ancient monuments and technologies and declaring that the people who lived in the era when those things were built were incapable of building them - which is eerily like the racist diffusionists who said that American Indians were incapable of building the Plains mounds of the Americas or Africans the towers of Great Zimbabwe… and they too quickly jump to the conclusion that anything they find in an ancient image is a rocket ship, space helmet, ray gun, or chariot of the gods. 

I'm entirely open to a lot of unusual possibilities for ancient humanity - what I don't buy is that we had to have had these advances handed to us on a space-borne alien silver platter. This derides human ingenuity and ability. Belief in ancient astronauts seems to make people feel dependent - like nothing was actually developed on our own, it was given to us by benevolent space brothers. And those agencies charged with suppressing the restlessness of the populace (i.e. the CIA) like nothing more than to have people feel dependent. People may not listen to the government any more, but if "Ra" descends in his pyramid and tells them to go fight in a war across the Atlantic, they'll pay attention! Popular culture has "prepped" people to believe that aliens must be either benevolent demigods (such as in the film Starman ) or malevolent marauders which can only be stopped by the combined might of our planetary military-industrial complex (as in the film Independence Day/

Either belief suits the military just fine, although both ignore the "excluded middle" possibility that true extraterrestrial visitants might not be all that different from us - both technologically and ethically a mixed bag. Like Bob Oechsler, I do think we are being "conditioned" by popular culture to "prep" us for contact from aliens. However, I see the hidden agenda behind it… since it's hard to get people to hate the Soviets any more, and nobody wants to fight the zillion plus members of the Chinese Red Army… the future bread and butter of the military-industrial complex seems to be convincing us that they need all those nukes and brilliant pebbles for deflecting wayward comets and asteroids, or malevolent alien motherships.

Personally, I think there is a UFO phenomenon which has been interacting with human beings for a long time, perhaps well back into ancient Egypt and even long before. Like John Keel says - those bastards may have been mucking with us since the first caveman crawled out of his cave. I just don't think it's necessarily from outer space, that it helped create human technology or civilization, or that it exists primarily either to hurt or harm us. Thus, belief in it of any kind is dangerous - belief is the enemy. One thing we definitely do know about ancient Egypt is that it was a twisted theocracy - absolute belief in the divinity of the phaoroh motivated people to work as slaves constructing his funerary monuments. I can’t help but think that what some of the power-mad poobahs anxious to have people looking back at this society as a model for our own have in mind for the rest of us is not very healthy. 

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