Bodies In Pawn

Clams, Marcabs & Galactic Invader Forces


One shouldn't laugh at another person's religious beliefs. But it's hard not to chuckle at L. Ron Hubbard's bizarre obsession with alien civilizations, traumatised clams and Galactic Invader Forces. The spiritual concerns of Scientologists remain quite a long way away from those of most people. Take this advert, spotted on page 39 of issue 105 of Source magazine (1997):


In his latest Research & Discovery Series, Volume 10, Ron explains:

"Most of you are Crew One - MEST universe Crew One. And this is the final dumping ground. Earth's a sort of a prison. You've been on the track for about 60 trillion years. You'll find other crews mixed up here. These are designations to which people answer up, by the way, who have been here much shorter periods of time, like 3 trillion years, something like that."

The real question is:


... You'll read about the phenomenon of bodies in pawn - a gruesome experience on the track.

... Page by page, the inexplicable becomes explicable: the history of man's implants, why entheta makes a person gain weight, a staggering explanation of the entities, a map of the whole track, the history of implants, what universe existed before this one.

Here are answers you have searched for, wished for, yearned for, over literally billions of years.

Very weird!

But let's wind back a bit. What is the "[whole] track"? What are entities? What are implants?

These exotica are all to do with a key element of Scientology belief: past lives. Scientology's predecessor, Dianetics, dealt only with present lives. However, Hubbard found that he was able to "regress" people further and further back down the "time track" of their life span. Ultimately he found that people could "remember" events as far back as the original sperm-and-egg at the time of, or even before, conception:

"Pre-sperm recordings are quite ordinary. The sperm sequence itself is worthy of note for it is a race of which the sperm is very conscious. His travails in reaching the ovum are many. There is a "visio" [image] which is quite standard, of the race. There is quite often a light, a spark, in this sequence. The sperm reaches the ovum and merges. This merging is another incident, conception.

Pre-ovum sequences are on record but are not common. The rolling of the ovum down the tube is commonly recorded."

[L. Ron Hubbard, A History of Man, 1954 ed., p. 21]

By 1951, Hubbard had "discovered" that the human body housed two distinct organisms: a "genetic entity" (GE) and a separate, ethereal "theta being", or thetan. Both of these had existed for vast periods of time, but the thetan only cane to Earth about 35,000 years ago. Both, however, had undergone many traumatic experiences in the meantime. Hubbard detailed these in his 1951 book What To Audit (later retitled A History Of Man), which must surely be one of the most bizarre books ever written; it really is so bad that it's funny. As one commentator aptly put it, the book "wobbles uncertainly between schoolboy fiction and a pseudo-scientific medical paper."

Genetic Entities, Clams and "The Piltdown"

The first part of AHOM describes the trials and tribulations of the GE. In the course of its existence, it has been
"an anthropoid in the deep forests of forgotten continents or a mollusk seeking to survive on the shore of some lost sea."

[L. Ron Hubbard, A History of Man, 1954 ed., p. 26]

The mollusk has justifiably become infamous amongst critics and commentators on Scientology. Hubbard warned:
 "... Your discussion of these incidents with the uninitiated in Scientology can produce havoc. Should you describe "the clam" to some one, you may restimulate it in him to the extent of causing severe jaw hinge pain. One such victim, after hearing about a clam death could not use his jaws for three days. Another "had to have" two molars extracted because of the resulting ache. The clam and all these incidents are very much present in the GE and can be restimulated easily. So do not be sadistic with your describing them to people - unless, of course, they belligerently claim that Man has no past memory for his evolution. In that event, describe away. It makes believers over and above enriching your friend the dentist who, indeed, could not exist without these errors and incidents on the evolutionary line!"

[L. Ron Hubbard, A History of Man, 1954 ed., p. 27]

Even today, clam engrams can cause great suffering:
"The hinge epicentres later become the hinges of the human jaw. Should you desire to confirm this, describe to some uninitiated person the death of a clam without saying what you are describing. "Can you imagine a clam sitting on the beach, opening and closing its shell very rapidly?" Make a motion with your thumb and forefinger of a rapid opening and closing. The victim may grip his jaws with his hand and feel quite upset. He may even have to have a few teeth pulled. At the very least he will argue as to whether or not the shell stays open at the end or closed. And he will, with no hint of the death aspect of it, talk about the ''poor clam' and he will feel quite sad emotionally.

The clam had an astonishing number of adventures for so minor a creature. It would get things into its shell and be unable to get them out. It would get its shell stuck open and be unable to shut it. And it would come loose from its rock, under the surface of the water and get tossed into the broil of the surf. And it would become deserted by the tide and left to bake under a frying sun, a quite uncomfortable situation which restimulates sometimes in a sunburn.

There was or is a spore method of procreation used by the clam. The spore was put on the inside of the lip and permitted to grow. Eventually it became large enough to become a clam on its own and would depart. There is a guardian-emotion on the part of the clam for these spores and a sadness on their departure. But there is more to the spore than this. The spore was like a barnacle. When the clam was cast ashore, these spores were still alive in the shell. The sun would kill the inner cells of the "barnacle" while the outer shell cells still lived. The dead inner cells would form a gas which, under the heat, would explode violently, to the agony of the living barnacle shell cells. This bursting was sudden and painful. These spores gave incidents which permitted the human teeth to have a pattern. The ancient bursting engrams are still dramatized by the teeth which, under stress, burst or feel like bursting. Running out some of these bursting incidents will take the ache out of a tooth rapidly."

[L. Ron Hubbard, A History of Man, 1954 ed., pp. 30-31]

Hubbard comments elsewhere that the reader may think that he, the author, has "slipped a cable or two in his wits." He was quite right.

But clam engrams were not the half of it. The unfortunate GE also faced traumas including The Atom, The Cosmic Impact, The Photon Converter, The Helper, The Weeper (also known as The Boohoo, which had "trillions of misadventures") and The Volcanoes ("smoking tobacco is a sort of dramatization of volcanoes which, at the least, were spectacular.") A particularly fine engram is that instilled by The Birds:

"Occasionally the creatures of the beach, still shell animals, had their troubles with birds which had become so earlier [sic]. Birds of a very crude construction developed a taste for clams. Clams had no adequate defense against them. If a clam opened its shell, the bird would thrust in a beak or a claw. If the clam then closed, the bird would fly up into the air. The clam would let go, drop on a rock and become bird food. If the clam didn't close, it became bird food anyway.

Falling sensations, indecision and other troubles go with the BIRDS."

[L. Ron Hubbard, A History of Man, 1954 ed., p. 33]

Alfred Hitchcock evidently was tapping a subliminal vein when he made his eponymous film.

The misfortunes of the Genetic Entity continued into the unhappy time of The Sloth. Apparently,

 "[t]he SLOTH shows Man's nature well, so far as GEs are concerned. ''Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone" is the philosophy here. But the sloth was slow and easily attacked and he had bad times falling out of trees when hit by snakes, falling off cliffs when attacked by baboons. And the sloth was trying to THINK. The most pitiful painful efforts at thinking are found in this series.

THE SLOTH is a chain of incidents and misadventures, mostly showing up fear of snakes and of falling."

[L. Ron Hubbard, A History of Man, 1954 ed., p. 35]

From The Sloth, Hubbard moves on to The Piltdown [sic]:
 "Man's first real Manhood is found in the PILTDOWN, a creature not an ape, yet not entirely a Man. It is so named not because it is accurately the real Piltdown Man but because it has some similarity.

The PILTDOWN contains freakish acts of strange "logic," of demonstrating dangerous on one's fellows [sic], of eating one's wife and other somewhat illogical activities. The PILTDOWN teeth were ENORMOUS and he was quite careless as to whom and what he bit and often very much surprised at the resulting damage.

Obsessions about biting, efforts to hide the mouth and early familial troubles can be found in the PILTDOWN."

[L. Ron Hubbard, A History of Man, 1954 ed., p. 35]

Unfortunately for Hubbard, Piltdown Man was exposed as a hoax in 1952, a year after the publication of the original edition What To Audit. Quite typically, in the book's new guise as A History Of Man, it continues to this day to refer to Piltdown Man as a fact rather than as an acknowledged hoax.

AHOM becomes even more improbable when Hubbard turns to the history of the thetan, which through book goes from sixty trillion years to seventy trillion years and finally to seventy-four trillion years. His description of the war between thetans and MEST [physical] beings is like something out of a bad 1930s pulp sci-fi story:

"MEST beings, trying to inhabit an area of THETANS are commonly balked and fought by the thetans and the MEST beings then begin to trap and harass the thetans and will use them to motivate new bodies when the thetans have been reduced to little or nothing in power. The THEY which you will discover in incidents are MEST beings. The current homo sapiens is a THEY. Theta beings (amnesia and a MEST body) attack thetans who menace him [sic]. Thetans can kill MEST bodies by throwing a charge at them. Thus a war develops between thetans and MEST beings. Given electronics and hitherto unconquered thetans, MEST beings can have won [sic]."

[L. Ron Hubbard, A History of Man, 1954 ed., p. 46]

In the course of this war, apparently, MEST beings have used "electronics" to trap thetans and implant them with dreadful traumas. Hubbard lists a variety of "incidents" encountered in past lives, many of which involving exotic forms of torture. Here's a selection:
THE JACK-IN-THE-BOX: Here we have an invader trick, a method of trapping thetans. It is a facsimile scrambler. It is very early, not the earliest, only the earliest invader trick. The thetan area is invaded by MEST beings. The thetans bother the MEST beings, nipping them, etc. The MEST beings use theta traps. One of these is to give to thetans pretty little boxes. These boxes contain a stack of pictures. As thetans are disposed to gather facsimiles, these pictures are very acceptable. The thetan looks over the pictures. He finds they are quite similar one to another. They show, each one, a picture of a box of pictures. When he replaces the lid, the box explodes violently. He instinctively tries to dampen the explosion. He gets his aura of beingness full of pictures which are extremely confusing, being pictures of boxes of pictures ... You will find a preclear with this in restimulation to be very curious about cereal boxes which have pictures of boxes of cereal which have pictures of boxes of cereal.

THE HALVER: Don't think thetans were only abused. When MEST bodies tried to invade and take over an area they usually wound up enslaved to the thetans in that area. And the thetans used them horribly. The invader sometimes came in with electronics, his only defense against a thetan. The thetan quite ordinarily took the electronics over and used them on the MEST bodies. One of the processes thetans used on MEST bodies was a half-light, half-black gun which shot out a wave. Half of this wave, usually the black, hit the right side of the victim's body, the other half, in the same explosion, usually the light side, hit the left side of the victim. This had the effect of causing him to be two people ... There was not always regularity in this incident. Sometimes it was the practice to shoot the victim one way and then turn him around and shoot him the other, sometimes the sides and head as well.

The halver was rigged up with religious symbols and it truly lays in religion. There is a devil on one side, a symbol carried in the light, angels on the other side. Sometimes it was very fancy and was complicated with dolls in the shape of nudes, angels, devils, strung on wires to slide and dance.

It did terrible things to the victim: it gave him a conflict, one side with the other, one being good, the other being bad. It gave him sexual compulsion all mixed up with religious compulsion so that an overdose of indulgences would send him to church, sometimes into a life of crime. It was a control factor used to keep the community fighting itself.

FACSIMILE ONE: This incident is in everyone's bank ... It is quite varied when found as an original - for in this case, it happened to the preclear in the last ten or twenty thousand years. It was originally laid down in this Galaxy about one million years ago.

The "coffee-grinder" (which might be an alternate name for it) is levelled at the preclear and a push-pull wave is played over him, first on his left side, then on his right and back and forth from side to side, laying in a bone-deep somatic which cannot be run unless you recognize it as a vibration, not the solid board it seems to be. When this treatment is done, the preclear is dumped in scalding water, then immediately in ice water. Then the preclear is put in a chair and whirled around. He was quite swollen after the pummelling of the waves and was generally kept in a badly run (but quite modern) hospital for a few days. Sometimes he was given several and after the first one would report back on schedule for the next.

FAC ONE was an outright control mechanism, invented to cut down rebel raids on invader installations. It was probably designed by the Fourth Invader and used by him in its original state and "ritual" for a considerable time. It gave him a nice, un-combative, religiously insane community. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF FAC ONE APPERTAINS TO ITS "SUMMONS TO COURT." This was a sick quiver installed in the stomach area by the "coffee-grinder" during the first part of the incident. The coffee-grinder laid in "baps" on the pineal and other points but almost knocked out the pineal potential forever and relegated its actions to the pituitary. It knocked in every other glandular point. And these same "baps" were used against the vagus nerve to give what everyone knows as an "anxiety stomach," uncontrolled bowel action, etc., etc. The invader wanted people to report when sent for. Thus the context (WHICH MUST NEVER BE DONE UNTIL THE EMOTION AND EFFORT ARE REDUCED) when the vagus area was "bapped" concentrates on getting the preclear to report quickly when summoned and makes him terrified of arrest, of courts, of other legal hocus-pocus. Thus criminal action against individuals, or sometimes any legal action, interrupts the glandular system, gives an anxiety reaction which has no equal anywhere else on the track. Experienced police know this sudden hitherto inexplicable collapse of the criminal and his feeling that he would rather be dead than simply arrested: one cannot exaggerate the effect of FAC ONE in the legal department ...

The "coffee-grinder" is a two-handled portable machine which, when turned, emits a heavy push-pull electronic wave in a series of stuttering "baps." It is violently restimulated by what construction companies call "widow-makers" - pneumatic drills of the kind used to tear up pavement; the sound's not dissimilar. FAC ONE, not silicosis, is responsible for the mortality of workers assigned to these drills on construction projects.

In the original version, the invaders operated these machines while wearing hoods and goggles, not unlike "hot papa" suits used today on aircraft carriers. The victim was placed behind a black gauze curtain but, in running FAC ONE, the preclear usually catches glimpses of the "coffee-grinder" and the users. Some people who wear horn-rimmed glasses are found to be solidly in the operator valence in FAC ONE. Such people are lean and hectic. Some persons whose faces are "swollen" and who have a "dumpy" build, who are given to asthma, are found solidly in the victim valence.

The invader gratuitously left these machines around for the yokels. Believing that the treatment was vital to get to heaven or some such thing, the yokels practiced on each other, found new victims and generally spread the implant around. Trouble with the machines the invader left around was that they "backfired" while they were working, sending out a ray into the chest of the operator to restimulate him, the yokel operator not suspecting that the machine was hitting anything else but his victim. And the yokel operator had neither goggles nor a "hot papa" suit. One of these unskilled operators lasted sometimes as long as forty victims before he collapsed from restimulation himself. The "back-fire" characteristic of the machine left around also inhibited the local people from using electronic hand guns and "rifles," thus killing off guerrillas who sought to attack the invader, for electronic weapons have a flash-back against the user.

THE WHIRLER: The thetan was placed on a platform which whirled eccentrically, jerkily to the left and right until he would turn as the post turned.

THE BOUNCER: The thetan was bounced up and down eccentrically until he had a facsimile which fixed him, it would appear, on his time track.

THE SPINNER: A chair device was used to spin the thetan until he had no orientation. This is the probable source of the slang term, spinning, meaning going insane.

THE ROCKER: This swung or teetered the thetan to the left and right, slowly and quietly ...

THE BOXER: This incident is a cousin to the "FLYTRAP." Its purpose was to make the thetan into a complete stimulus-response mechanism. He was hit from every angle by a device not unlike a boxing glove. He would be forced to kick back against it with his force. At length he would be psychotic enough to return every motion he received ...

THE FALLER: This installs fear of falling, also fixes the thetan in the incident on the track. He is dropped again and again and again to different drops and at varied intervals until he is jammed.

THE EDUCATION: After all these, the thetan was given a complete education. This was of a hypnotic, stimulus-response variety. It was the type of education which makes a file card system out of a thinking being. It is dramatized today in universities as it requires no skilled instruction.

THE FLY-TRAP: Very, very early on the track, a long time before any of the present populace came into being, there was a theta trap called the FLY-TRAP. It was of a gummy material. The thetan who got into it punched and fought at this material until he was psychotic enough to react to the physical universe laws of responding to motions. He was taken out of this trap by a crew of do-gooders who had caught him for his own good and who trained him in religious sweetness and syrup until they considered him fit to be part of their group. The attitude of these people was SO good, their manners SO understanding that the thetan usually ran away as soon as possible. Sunday school sometimes brings this, even as a second facsimile which it nearly always is, into heavy restimulation."

[L. Ron Hubbard, A History of Man, 1954 ed., pp. 60-73]

The Church of Scientology has claimed that AHOM is the product of "old technology" which is no longer used. However, the book is still in use, in the second of the Operating Thetan levels (more on this shortly).

Pasts Imperfect

After Hubbard had made these remarkable "discoveries" in 1951, Scientologists - the majority of whom were science fiction fans, not at all coincidentally - also began to "recall" Invader Forces and implants. This allowed the following definitions to be made (taken from the Dianetics & Scientology Technical Dictionary, 1975):

1. an electronics people. The electronics people usually happen to be an evolutionary line which is on heavy gravity planets and so they develop electronics. The reason you say invader force at all is because at some time along the line fairly early in its youth it took off to conquer the whole mest universe. You could expect almost anything in terms of physical form particularly physical form which matched the peculiar purpose of this group. They've usually got some gimmick like Fac One. Control has been the main thing. The way to control territory is to control people.

2. there are five invader forces active and one aborning, but the one aborning is not active. It will probably be several million years before you see this one, some of you hit the track 60 trillion years ago mest universe and some of you didn't get into the mest universe until about 3 trillion years ago that is invader force one and invader force two [punctuation sic]. Now we don't see anything of invader force three here on earth. I just haven't found any threes. Invader force four is really holding the fort someplace or other. Every little while, a few million years, some planet will get taken over by an invader force.

[Dianetics & Scientology Technical Dictionary, 1975]

In 1957, the 5th London Advanced Clearing Course was held under the supervision of Hubbard and his son, Nibs. High on the agenda was the issue of past lives. A "scientific survey" was carried out, in which approximately seventy students investigated each other's past lives. Needless to say, all of them "found" that they had indeed lived many times previously (though one wonders what would have happened if a student had not "confirmed" Hubbard's theories). According to one of the students, Cyril Vosper, "when a student was having a lot of difficulty in making his story, or rather Past Life gel, Nibs would helpfully fill in bits." This perhaps accounts for some of the bizarre stories told in the 1958 book, Have You Lived Before This Life?, which after A History Of Man has to be one of the strangest books published this century.

If nothing else, the stories related by the book's contributors show that they had imaginations on a par with Hubbard's. Many recalled past lives on Earth (ranging from 19th-century Chinese coolies to Roman soldiers). Several remembered extremely strange extraterrestrial past lives. Ray Kemp (below right, with Hubbard) wrote:

 "This takes place nine galaxy periods ago. I was a male, born of space parents. I seem to have two or three mothers who died or were killed. At the age of five I was already on the look-out for brothels. At nine years of age I asked my father if I could join the space academy. However; this does not occur until I am 14. I am 15 when I go with other boys and girls for three months to learn all about sex and homosexuality. When I am 16 I kill my father while fighting on the planet and I join a space-ship. It seems I have a journey here and rejoin the ship when I am 19. Then I learn all about space ship drill, take-offs, etc. There is homosexuality, as only officers are allowed women.

I did not care for homosexuality and soon gained the title of captain and so was able to have a wife of my own. She had a baby and a few days later I found the wife enjoying pleasures with another officer. I put her and the officer up for trial and they were condemned and burned (zapped with special ray equipment). I killed the baby because I thought it was not my child. I wanted to go back home so I went to see the captain who was in charge of all the space-craft men and who knew where the ship was going. I asked for the space-ship to be turned around and he said "No." I went mad and killed the captain with my hands and broke up his body. Next I went into the main hall and pressed a button to ring the bell for assembly. I asked for votes for turning back the space-ship for home. Sixty-five per cent. said "Yes." As I was talking to the crew members I felt a gun at the back of my body and I was led off by officers along the corridor. I was screaming and struggling as I did not want to go to the Zap machine (a ray gun to destroy bodies).

However, I arrived and my body was held against the wall by clamps, hands were outstretched against the wall. This wall was made of special ray detecting material about a yard to two yards thick. I felt the warmth of the ray until it grew so bad that I left the body. As soon as the head had been burned off, the clamps were automatically opened and the body fell in a trench in the floor, arms outstretched. A large trap door made of metal was slammed on my arms cutting them off. The arms were swept into the trench and the trap door was lifted up again. As it slammed tight again, my body fell into a space container and was thrown outside by tremendous pressure. A space coffin had its own power to fall away from the ship."

[L. Ron Hubbard (ed.), Have You Lived Before This Life?, 1958]

It's easy to see why this was such a traumatic event. Another Scientologist, Harry Dorfman, recalled something even more bizarre:
"There was a fantastic space factory with gold animals hanging concentrically from it all around, mainly elephants and zebra, by the necks. These appeared solid but periodically imploded or exploded. There was no gravity even near planets. Inside were four great bronze grinding wheels. During the incident, I look at time both ways as well as seeing it as a kind of circle from outside time. Therefore, it is hard to say whether discs from a case were ground up and made into small animals (which I think was the case) or whether animals were compressed into discs. I think the animals were subsequently inflated after blowing up through a totem and a cat devil and then broadcast (via the outside animals?) to other planets ...

The main and most awful part, and the most impenetrable, of the incident was the feeling of waiting and counting thirty to press a button. What was to happen then was uncertain. Either I was to blow up a planet, had blown one up, or failed to prevent it from being blown up. For this I felt I was punished by a bearded priest to whom I was betrayed by colleagues, by being compelled to work the grinder. There was also, towards the end, the stronger idea that all this appeared to happen in a robot body."

[L. Ron Hubbard (ed.), Have You Lived Before This Life?, 1958]

From the surreal to the sublimely ridiculous; another Scientologist recalled how he had been zapped by a Martian bishop:
The preclear was on Mars without a body 469,476,600 years ago, creating havoc, destroying a bridge and buildings. The people were called by an alarm to temple. PC [preclear] went and broke the back pew, and the Temple tower. He wandered in the town and saw a doll in a window, and got entrapped trying to move its limbs. People seized it, beat it up, and threw the doll out of the window (30 ft. drop). The doll was taken roughly to the Temple, and was zapped by a bishop's gun while the congregation chanted "God is Love." When the people left, the doll, out of control, staggered out and was run over by a large car and a steamroller. It was then taken back to the Bishop, who ordered it to be taken (in a lorry with others) to dig trenches or ditches for 2,000 years. (The whole incident took nearly 2,000,000 years.) Then it was taken and the body was removed and the PC was promised a robot body. The thetan (PC) went to an implant station and was put into an ice-cube and went by flying saucer and was dropped at Planet ZX 432. It was drawn to a building to an emanator. PC was interiorised by spinning and confusion into a dummy training and indoctrination robot body. In some way not very clear, a transfer was made to another robot body and PC was told to look after it for ever. It reported to a village (after a doubtful encounter with a giant, and heat stroke) and was set to supervise unloading of saucers. It zapped and killed another robot and PC took over its body to prove it could work. The PC was punished in first robot in a saucer and shipped off. The saucer exploded en route and body of robot was in space falling in two parts with PC vainly endeavouring to take care of it and the second body. This was sucked by departure of a saucer into water in a dock. Divers brought it up, but the PC left it, he thinks, to attend the other body.

[L. Ron Hubbard (ed.), Have You Lived Before This Life?, 1958]

Other Scientologists recalled falling out of spaceships, being hit by meteorites, leading happy lives as walruses and even "falling in love with a robot decked out as a beautiful red-haired girl".

The book was originally intended to have a sequel, entitled Where Are You Buried?, in which Scientologists were to be invited to pinpoint the locations of their former bodies. But this project was abandoned - perhaps those consulted were unable to remember the details accurately enough. This was rather a pity, as it would have been well worth reading if it had matched the high (?) standards of Have You Lived Before This Life.

Heaven, Helatrobus and the Hoi-Polloi

Hubbard's fearless exploration of the bizarre continued in the 1960s, perhaps aided by the barbiturates which he was prescribed "for horticultural use".

1963 was a particularly fine year for strange pronouncements. That spring, Hubbard made the startling "breakthrough" that many of man's problems were caused by "implants" forcibly given to thetans trillions of years ago. On 11 May, he announced that he had been to Heaven - a claim which was to come back to haunt him and his Church in future years. It turned out that Heaven was in fact a gigantic hoax. "The symbol of the crucified Christ," Hubbard observed, "is very apt indeed. It's the symbol of a thetan betrayed." He dated the Heaven implants to "43,891,832,611,177 years, 344 days, 10 hours, 20 minutes and 40 seconds from 10:02½ PM Daylight Greenwich Time May 9, 1963." Presumably nobody had told him that "Daylight Greenwich Time" does not actually exist.

Heaven, said Hubbard, was definitely not what it was supposed to be like:

"The gates of the first series are well done, well built. An avenue of statues of saints leads up to them. The gate pillars are surmounted by marble angels. The entering grounds are very well kept, laid out like Bush Gardens in Pasadena, so often seen in the movies. Aside from the implant boxes which lie across from each other on the walk there are other noises and sounds as though the saints are defending and berating. These are unimportant to the incident.

The second series, probably in the same place, shows what a trillion years of overt acts does (or is an additional trickery to collapse one's time). The place is shabby. The vegetation is gone. The pillars are scruffy. The saints have vanished. So have the Angels. A sign on one (the left as you "enter") says "This is Heaven". The right has a sign "Hell" with an arrow and inside the grounds one can see the excavations like archaeological diggings with raw terraces, that lead to "Hell". Plain wire fencing encloses the place. There is a sentry box beside and outside the right pillar. The road "leading up" to the gates is deeply eroded. An effigy of Joseph, complete with desert clothing, is seen approaching the gates (but not moving) leading a donkey which "carries" the original Madonna and child from "Bethlehem". The implanting boxes lie on either side of this "entering" path at path level ...

The place, by implant and inference, was supposed to be in the sky like a floating island. Actually it was simply a high place in the mountains of a planet and the gates pathway falls away into a gorge, very eroded and bare by the time of the second implant, but heavily forested and rolling at the time of the first [implant] ...

The first series actually begins with arrival in a "town" (as everything is backwards to upset the time sense). This "town" consisted of a trolley bus, some building fronts, sidewalks, train tracks, a boarding house, a bistro in a basement where there is a "bulletin board" well lighted, and a BANK BUILDING.

The bank is the key point of interest. It is interesting that we use the work "bank" (taken actually from computerology) to indicate the reactive mind ...

The place seemed to have people in it. But they are all effigies. These seem radioactive. Contact with them hurts. No living beings. But effigies that look like humans are performing sudden, repetitive actions with long halts between. In the "basement" such dummies are seen operating machinery.

The boarding house at the actual beginning has a dummy guest and a landlady in kimono and wrappers, reading a newspaper.

There are no devils or satans that I saw. [Perhaps because this was supposed to be Heaven?]

There is a passenger getting on the trolley bus, a "workman" halfway down the first stairs of To Forget "eating lunch" and in To Be in Heaven a gardener or electrician adjusting an implant box behind a hedge and periodically leaping up and screaming ..."

[L. Ron Hubbard, HCO Bulletin of May 11, 1963, "Heaven"]

The moral which Hubbard drew from this was decidedly anti-Judeo-Christian:
"[W]e have our hands on an appalling piece of technology where the world is concerned. With rapidity and a Meter it can be shown that Heaven is a false dream and that the old religion [i.e. Christianity was based on a very painful lie, a cynical betrayal.

What does this do to any religious nature of Scientology? It strengthens it. New religions always overthrow the false gods of the old, they do something to strengthen man. We can improve man. We can show the old gods false. And we can open up the universe as a happier place in which a spirit may dwell. What more can you expect? This actually places us far beyond any other beings that are about. It puts us, through increased beingness and a restoration of life, in control of much destiny.

We have now only a few unsolved problems about life, huge though they may be, such as the construction of bodies and how does one establish the character of and communicate, if feasible, with beings who are making trees and insects. There are a few things like these. But I imagine when we finally manage to communicate with beetles under rocks and free them, we'll no doubt find the Creator of Heaven who 43 + Trillion years ago designed and built the Pearly Gates and entrapped us all.

Good Lord, I'd hate to be guilty of that overt. But never mind - you aren't either. That guy is GONE (I hope!)"

[L. Ron Hubbard, HCO Bulletin of May 11, 1963, "Heaven"]

The "Heaven Bulletin" aroused a good deal of attention (or, more accurately, derision) when it was publicised in the 1965 Anderson Report in Australia. The Church of Scientology subsequently tried to claim that Hubbard had merely been writing metaphorically. Unfortunately for the Church, Hubbard was very specific on this point and added at the end of the bulletin:
"(Note: This HCO Bulletin is based on over a thousand hours of research auditing, analyzing the facsimiles of the reactive mind, and with the help of a Mark V Electrometer. It is scientific research and is not in any way based upon the mere opinion of the researcher. This HCO Bulletin is not the result of the belief or beliefs of anyone. Scientology data reflects long, arduous and painstaking research over a period of some thirty years into the nature of Man, the mind, the human spirit and its relationship to the physical universe. The data and phenomena discovered in Scientology is common to all minds and all men and can be demonstrated on anyone. Truth does not require belief to be truth any more than water requires anyone's permission to run down hill. The data is itself and can be duplicated by any honest researcher or practitioner. We in Scientology seek freedom, the betterment of Man, and the happiness of the individual and this comprises our attitude towards the data found. The data, however, is simply itself, and exists whatever the opinion of anyone may be. The contents of this HCO Bulletin discover the apparent underlying impulses of religious zealotism and the source of the religious mania and insanity which terrorized Earth over the ages and has given religion the appearance of insanity. As the paper is written for my friends it has, of course, a semblance of irreverence)."

[L. Ron Hubbard, HCO Bulletin of 11 May 1963, "Heaven"]

Shortly afterwards, Hubbard discovered a series of implants created by invaders from Helatrobus, "a little pip squeak ... interplanetary nation." In HCO Bulletin of 14 July 1963, he described the Gorilla Goals,
"given in an amusement park with a single tunnel, a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel ... between about 319 trillion years ago to about 256 trillion trillion years ago, a long span.

The symbol of a Gorilla was always present in the place the goal was given. Sometimes a large gorilla, black, was seen elsewhere than the park. A mechanical or a live gorilla was always seen in the park.

This activity was conducted by the Hoipolloi, a group of operators in meat body societies. They were typical carnival people. They let out concessions for these implant "Amusement Parks." A pink-striped white shirt with sleeve garters was the uniform of the Hoipolloi. Such a figure often rode on the roller coaster cars. Monkeys were also used on the cars. Elephants sometimes formed part of the equipment.

The Hoipolloi or Gorilla goals were laid in with fantastic motion. Blasts of raw electricity and explosions were both used to lay the items in."

[L. Ron Hubbard, HCO Bulletin of 14 July 1963, "Routine 3N - Line Plots"]

The reason why the Helatrobans did these things might not seem particularly clear. But Hubbard provides an answer to the question mentioned at the start of this essay - "HOW DID EARTH BECOME A PRISON PLANET?". He explains the reasons in a May 1963 lecture:
"This [solar system] is Sun 12 and it is a rim, tiny, microscopic, terribly insignificant little bunch of apace dust. Not to do it down particularly but compared to other systems, galaxies, confederations and that sort of things and other possessions of confederations and so forth, this is nothing. That's why it's left alone. But it stands pretty well alone. It's peculiarly isolated. This is also true of most of the stars out in this end of this wheel.

It's very close, and people wishing to get rid of troublesome characters, captives, anybody you can think of... You know, around city dumps, you know, they always have trouble around cities because people start using certain areas of the city for dumps, you know? And they take -- use it as a dumping ground for the ice cube and for other thing: unwanted beings, unwanted people, unwanted personnel.

Like you overthrow the old regime, you see, and you throw them through a good, stiff implant that mixes them up so they can't tell north from west and you throw them into an ice cube capsule of some kind or another. And what do you do with them? Well, the primary threat to a system is the strength of a thetan. That's the primary threat in the view of some very aberrated character. He thinks the main danger in the planet, or main danger in the system or the galaxy, or so forth, is a free thetan ...

In other words, these people are -- have overts so they try to protect themselves from the vengeance of a free thetan and they compound the possibility and the potentiality of this particular universe as a trap, and they make these people very thoroughly trapped. Well, they dump them. They dump them pretty well far from home. They try to -- don't even try to -- they don't dump them close in, they dump them way out.

So this particular system got dumping, and the Marcab Confederacy and some of the other stars around here just got a terrific concentration of people being dumped from the center of the hub, you know. They don't want to go over to the next galaxy, so they just take it out to the edge of the city, you know.

Now, science fiction writers following the cue of some chap, I've forgotten his name now, Einstein, Beinstein, something like that, who said that MC squared over C wouldn't go, man, and that the speed of light could not be excessive. And actually I was looking up some speed tables the other day, and a trillion light years per day is not full throttle on a space wagon."

[L. Ron Hubbard, The Helatrobus Implants, lecture of 21 May 1963]

There are several things of note in this extract, apart from its sheer bizarreness. Hubbard refers to packaging thetans up in "ice cubes" - this was one of the incidents cited in A History Of Man back in 1952. Hubbard recycled many of his early writings during the 1960s and 1970s; the incidents and processes openly described in A History Of Man, The Creation of Human Ability and other works published during the 1950s later reappeared in new, secret versions, principally in the OT levels (of which more shortly).

By this time, Hubbard had also decided that the events described in science fiction stories really had happened - the authors may have got a few details wrong but otherwise, they were just repeating or "dramatizing" events from their distant pasts. This was, of course, a very convenient "discovery" for an ex-writer of pulp science fiction.

Hubbard also mentions the Marcabs. The Marcab Confederacy and its Invader Force was soon to become an obsession with him. Like the Helatrobans, the Marcabs were a "degraded civilization" whose rulers implanted innocent thetans. The Confederacy, said Hubbard, consisted of

"various planets united into a very vast civilization which has come forward up through the last 200,000 years, is formed out of the fragments of earlier civilizations. In the last 10,000 years they have gone on with a sort of a decadent kicked-in-the-head civilization that contains automobiles, business suits, fedora hats, telephones, spaceships. A civilization which looks almost duplicate [sic] but is worse off than the current U.S. civilization."

[L. Ron Hubbard, The Helatrobus Implants, lecture of 21 May 1963]

During his tour of the Mediterranean in the converted cattle ferry Apollo at the end of the 1960s, Hubbard liked to expound on his past lives, particularly those amongst the Marcabs. It turned out that their main recreation was driving cars very fast around racetracks. They crashed frequently, but as they used "doll bodies" stuffed with kapok [sic] they could be repaired fairly easily. One of those who accompanied him on the Apollo later recalled:
"LRH was on the ship and in a real jolly mood. He used to stay up late at night on the deck and talk to us into the wee hours about his whole track adventures, how he was a race-car driver in the Marcab civilization. The Marcab civilization existed millions of years ago on another planet; it was similar to planet earth in the 'fifties, only they had space travel. Marcabians turned out later not to be good guys so it wasn't a compliment that their civilization was similar to ours. LRH said he was a race driver called the Green Dragon who set a speed record before he was killed in an accident. He came back in another lifetime as the Red Devil and beat his own record, then came back and did it again as the Blue Streak. Finally he realized all he was doing was breaking his own records and it was no game any more."

[Russell Miller interview with Mary Maren, 1986]

This odd pastime, apparently, is responsible for the modern motor car. Hubbard explained it in a lecture of 1 January 1961, The Whole Answer to the Problems of the Mind:
"Now, let's take some fellow who's been reading space opera. I know. I like read space opera. I've written a lot of it. As a matter of fact, they don't write it anymore.

But this fellow just can't seem to keep his nose out of space opera, and he said, "Gee! I'd like to do that sometime in the future when this realization-when we get really geared up and when we really get into the future, and when we really have space ships, and when we really, and..." All this time he has this horrible burning sensation on the end of his nose, you know? And he can't quite account for that, but he's into space opera, but he's not in space opera, but he likes to read it, but it has a horrible effect on him, and - and - well, the first time he can enjoy space opera is when he finds out he's been a rocket jockey for the last 18 dozen lives.

No wonder he gets a burning nose. One of the favorite skills he had back in the early days of one of the space societies was shooting off doll's noses. He didn't like to hurt them. He just singed their noses, you know. Fast draw. You wonder why all these guys are fixated on western movies. Western movie is mostly a substitute for space opera if you only knew it.

It's space opera that's full of the fast draw and shoot them dead. Listen, human bodies are not bulletproof. I don't know if you've ever experienced that fact or not. Probably not in this lifetime, but you do have some evidence to this effect. If somebody stood up and pointed a gun at you, something in you would tell you that it would make a hole in you. Well, I wonder how you learned that. Not by watching western movies because they all die very cleanly and very calmly, mostly, except when they are being filmed with realism. Then they splatter a little blood on the fellow's shirt, you know, make him cough twice.

Factually speaking, it takes a doll, if you please, a nonhumanoid body to be able to stand up to firearms of that character. There isn't any reason you should be killed dead just because you're shot. There isn't any real reason why it should hurt very badly.

You're afraid right now of travelling down an icy, slippery road at 110 miles an hour. You'd say that'd be a bum show. Why?

If you were in a doll body: So it plows into the concrete abutment, and it dents up your new shirt. Next time you think of it back at the base while you're over to the armor, and you say, "Hey, pound out my chest, would you? That's right. Pound it up, smooth it up a little bit. The enamel's cracked there too. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. That's better. That's better." And you haven't learned not to go 110 miles an hour on icy roads. Because there's no reason to learn it.

'Tisn't a particularly dangerous activity. And the Marcab Confederacy within the last 200 thousand years, racing cars went 275 miles an hour and were turbine driven. Everybody thinks a racing car should sound like a Marcab racing car. Just ask somebody how should a racing car sound.

Well, they don't say, "brrrrrrrrrrr" like an Earth racing car. They say "mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm." That's a Marcab racing car. They don't have any here on Earth.

Everybody knows how it is. I wonder why they know this so well.

Well, they were using meat bodies on some of that stuff, and boy, did they get messed up. Meat bodies. Imagine driving in racing cars like that. It practically cured everybody of driving, so nobody on Earth can drive."

[L. Ron Hubbard, The Whole Answer to the Problems of the Mind, 1 January 1961]

Finally, following the Marcab Invader Force came the unspeakable Fifth Invader Force - "very strange insect-like creature[s] with unthinkably horrible hands," according to Hubbard. Apparently, the Fifth Invaders landed during the Roman era and so traumatised everyone that no record of their landing survives. Except, of course, in the heads of Scientologists, where much profit can be made by "running out" the horribleness of the Fifth Invaders' hands.

The Wall Of Fire

By far the most famous example of Hubbardian weirdness, however, is the infamous OT III - "The Wall Of Fire". During the 1960s, Hubbard conducted much research into making a person an "Operating Thetan," or OT, with the "forgotten" superpowers restored and in total control over all aspects of "matter, energy, space and time". He outlined some key OT abilities in A History Of Man:
"A theta being produces considerable voltage and amperage, enough to give someone a very bad shock, to put out his eyes or cut him in half ...

Thetans communicate by telepathy. They can move material objects by throwing an energy flow at them. They can travel at very high speeds. They are not bound by atmospheres or temperatures ... Thetans do not die ...

Let's not go upsetting governments and putting on a show to "prove" anything to homo sapiens for a while; it's a horrible temptation to knock off hats at fifty yards and read books a couple of countries away and get into the rotogravure section and the Hearst Weeklies - but you'll just make it tough on somebody else who is trying to get across this bridge."

[L. Ron Hubbard, A History of Man, 1954 ed., pp. 45-48]

The eight OT levels were and remain secret, accessible only to those who have reached a sufficiently high grade (i.e. paid enough money) in their Scientology training. Most were replaced by the NOTs (New OT Levels) in the 1970s; however, the mystique surrounding OT III means that it is still taught in its original form.

This mystique is clearly apparent in the Church of Scientology's writeups of OT III:

"The material of OT III is of immense magnitude and power. It is so vicious that no one before Ron has come close to discovering anything at all of its nature. Ron has called it the "wall of fire".

Ron broke through it on March 14th, 1967, and then began researching the way for others to safely follow. This research is now totally complete.

Of OT III Ron says, "It is very true that a great catastrophe occurred on this planet and in the other 75 planets which formed this [Marcab] Confederacy, 75 million years ago. It has since that time been a desert." (Ron's Journal '67)

OT III is the full revelation of what happened and it's [sic] resolution. At the level of OT III the barriers that obscure the ultimate truth of the universe are blown."

[Advance! magazine, late 1970s]

"The Wall of Fire. At this level you face and handle the devastating effects of an ages-old catastrophe which to this day affects the very nature of beings and our society on earth. It is on OT III where you learn the very nature of beings and our society on earth. It is on OT III where you learn the final secrets of this sector of the universe. Ron's breakthrough on OT III allows you to pass safely though this wall of fire. It's a major step on the path to full OT."

[Advance! magazine, 1982]

OT III was written in 1968 when Hubbard's flagship Apollo was berthed at Las Palmas, in the Canary Islands. Part of the legend of OT III is that the research was so dangerous - "booby-trapped" - that Hubbard suffered a variety of injuries in the process. As he himself wrote in his notes on OT III , "I [took the plunge] and emerged very knocked out, but alive. Probably the only one ever to do so in 75,000,000 years." In fact, it appears that the injuries sustained by Hubbard were actually caused by his falling off his motorbike on a mountain road. He suffered a broken arm and broken ribs, but refused to let a doctor treat him.

Learning about OT III without the preparation of numerous Scientology courses beforehand is supposedly risky. When asked why they want to keep OT III secret, Church officials have alluded to the possible "spiritual harm" which it could cause. The "danger" is actually considerably greater than this: Hubbard claimed that learning about OT III would cause pneumonia in the unprepared. Be warned!

The OT III story was first mentioned by ex-Scientologists in the 1970s, but since then the whole thing has come out in the open; when the Wall Street Journal has detailed it in an editorial, it can hardly be called a secret any more. But OT III is still enormously entertaining.

What we now know as OT III emerged in a confidential lecture of 3 October 1968, given aboard the Apollo. In the course of a discussion of "assists" (spiritual healing techniques), Hubbard breaks off to describe a past-life incident called "R6" which underlies all present-day physical illnesses. It took place 75 million years ago on "the planet Coltice" (Polaris), one of the members of the Galactic Confederacy:

"people at that particular time and space were walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute. And the cars they drove looked exactly the same and the trains they ran looked the same and the boats they had looked the same. Circa 1950, 1960 ...

And there was quite a bit of 'huffle ruffle' and then upset and so on before R6 took place. What it was was the Loyal Officers were the body, the elective body, and they called them the Loyal Officers and they were there to protect the populations and so forth. And they had elected a fellow by the name of Xenu, could be spelled X-E-N-U, to the supreme 'rulah' and they were about to unelect him. And he took the last moments he had in office to really 'goof the floof'.

[Sound of pencil dropping]

Yes, I don't blame you for dropping something. [laughter].

He took these last moments to really upset it. He, of course, had several key birds who were close to him. He was a Suppressive, they involved Suppressives, he got these administrators and so on and heads of planets in various positions and places. He picked out all the cowboys in the white hat and he got rid of them first, fast and then troops, not knowing what the hell they were doing but fed all kinds of false orders, were fed in against the population to pick them up one after the other. Rat-a-tat-tat-a-tat-tat. One of the mechanisms they used was to tell them to come in for an income tax investigation. The United States just copies income taxes - it is just R6. They're just a bunch of dramatizing psychotics, these guys."

[L. Ron Hubbard, Assists, lecture of 3 Oct 1968]

Xenu (or Xemu: there is some debate about the spelling, as neither Hubbard's handwriting or his diction is very clear on this point) then massacred his prisoners, froze their thetans in "alcohol and glycol" and then "threw 'em into space planes which were the exact copies of DC8s, the DC8 airplane is the exact copy of the space plane of that day. And, no difference, except the DC8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn't." The unfortunate thetans were taken to Earth - known then as "Teegeeack" or "the Bomb Place" or "the Evil Place" - in Xenu's "space planes":
"[T]hey took these people in boxes and so forth and they dumped them and then they set off hydrogen bombs on the top of each primary volcano there is on this particular planet. And when they blew up, it blew the thetans into the air. And after the bomb, an electronic ribbon, which also was a type of standing wave, was erected over the area.

The tremendous winds of the planet blew every thetan there was straight in to those particular vacuum zones which had been created. These were brought down, packed up and put in front of projection machines which with sound and color pictures first gave them the implant which you know as the Clearing Course. And then a Whole Track was implanted which you know as OT II.

After this, however, about the remainder of the 36 days which is the bulk of them, is taken up with a 3-D supercolossal motion picture which has to do with God, the devil, space opera, etc. They go five pictures to five words and we have the full record of what it is. It goes on about 36 days and then these poor bastards were let out - pardon me! They were then boxed up again and the boxes were mixed so that there were two assembly areas - one was Las Palmas and the other was Hawaii. And in these two assembly areas, they took samples from each volcano area and put it in little boxes and they had an assembly line. And at Las Palmas it runs down the main street of Las Palmas."

[L. Ron Hubbard, Assists, lecture of 3 Oct 1968]

This explains why Earth has so many problems, according to Hubbard. As well the planet having been devastated by "a gross complete atomic explosion all over the planet", many of the thetans who took refuge here over the trillenia [sic] were "mutineers and deserters" and the like. Hence there is a great deal of aberrated behaviour and "planetary suppression": Hubbard claimed that 20% of the population are "Potential Trouble Sources" and 2.5% are unrecoverable "Suppressive Persons," who should be made to "disappear" (shades of Argentina). Human evolution has been dominated by Xenu's "R6 implants". Why does modern civilization approximate so closely that of the Galactic Confederacy? Because, apparently, man is merely unconsciously re-enacting the events of R6. One of the principle products of R6 is Christianity:
The entirety of Roman Catholicism - the devil, all of this sort of thing - that is all part of R6 ...

The Roman Catholic church, somewhere along the line, through watching the dramatizations of people, picked up some little fragments of R6. And they make it look like it's continued forward into present time ...

Anyway, Everyman is then shown to have been crucified so don't think that it's an accident that this crucifixion, they found out that this applied. Somebody somewhere on this planet, back about 600 BC, found some pieces of R6, and I don't know how they found it, either by watching madmen or something. But since that time they have used it and it became what is known as Christianity.

The man on the Cross. There was no Christ. But the man on the cross is shown as Everyman. So of course each person seeing a crucified man, has an immediate feeling of sympathy for this man. Therefore you get many PCs who says they are Christ. Now, there's two reasons for that, one is the Roman Empire was prone to crucify people, so a person can have been crucified, but in R6 he is shown as crucified."

[L. Ron Hubbard, Assists, lecture of 3 Oct 1968]

This passage, and indeed OT III itself, has caused considerable embarrassment to the Church of Scientology over the years. The Church has taken a very confused line over OT III. On one hand, when confronted on-air with OT III materials, Church officials have claimed that the documents are a fake and that they have never heard of Xenu. But the Church has litigated ferociously and almost entirely unsuccessfully against mention of Xenu and the OT III story; the New York Times was some years ago sued for quoting 78 non-contiguous words from OT III, a case which was quickly thrown out. In court, Church officials have acknowledged the genuineness of OT III and have even allowed the name "Xenu" to pass their lips. The whole of Hubbard's handwritten notes on OT III can now be found on the World Wide Web at the incomparable Operation Clambake (current;y at http://home.sol.no/heldal/).

The other OT levels are, by contrast, rather dull. The key discovery in OT III is that self-aware thetans are covered in a mass of clinging, traumatised "body thetans" (Xenu's victims). The original OTs IV to VIII deal with various ways of getting rid of body thetans, including the peculiarly-named "thetan hand technique." Their replacements, the NOTs material apparently co-authored by Hubbard and his one-time heir apparent, David Mayo, is even duller but confines itself to the same sort of themes. OT III, in short, probably marks the high-water mark of Hubbard's vivid imagination. The boring and badly written Mission Earth "dekology" marks how sloppy he had become by the 1980s.

Journey to the Centre of Ron's Brain

As this essay has shown, Hubbard had some truly weird ideas. Of course, many others have propounded bizarre theories - two outstanding examples are the infamous Immanuel Velikovsky (Venus erupted from Jupiter and in passing caused the parting of the Red Sea) and Wilhelm Reich (orgasms are powered by blue "orgone energy"). But few can have had such sustained success and yet remained so resolutely unconventional as Hubbard. Why?

There seem to be a number of reasons for this. The most obvious is that Hubbard's most bizarre writings were promulgated in obscure settings. During the 1950s, Scientology was in a classic cult phase: a relatively small group of loyal followers gathered around a revered leader with whom they were in close physical contact. Likewise, when the OT levels were written in the 1960s, Hubbard spent much of his time in a relatively confined environment - whether at his manor house at Saint Hill, in Sussex, England, or aboard the Apollo in the Mediterranean. By that time his organisation was very much bigger (and very widely-spread), but his odder writings were no longer circulated through the entire membership.

This ensured two things. First, by confining his "upper-level materials" to a select group, he was able physically to control their dissemination. These days, OT and NOTs documentation is held under military-style security arrangements; however, this has not stopped them being leaked in their entirety onto the Internet. Second, the upper-level materials are only accessible to those who have already extensively been indoctrinated in Scientology; they are the people who are most likely to accept whatever Hubbard says, no matter how implausible.

The secrecy surrounding the OT materials in particular have helped Scientology to maintain a facade of being an entirely normal system of belief and self-advancement, completely compatible with Christianity and other mainstream religions. And indeed, to a large extent, this it is. Several million people have taken Scientology courses over the last 30 years or so, but only about 50,000 have reached "Clear," the most significant grade before OT. The number of OTs cannot be more than 50,000 and is probably far less. This means that the bulk of Scientologists, past and present, genuinely do not know about Xenu and body thetans and devote themselves to a philosophy which, while still somewhat odd, is not nearly as bizarre as the story of the thetans being nuked in Earth's volcanoes. Scientology is very much a gnostic religion and takes pains to conceal its "hidden truths".

Did Hubbard himself believe in the stories he told? There is no sign that he did not. He was a natural storyteller and had sufficient charisma to make the fantastic seem like fact. He discovered (or generated) the more bizarre aspects whilst auditing himself. His followers would faithfully take notes, which he would then write up and disseminate as, in effect, official dogma. There seems little doubt that the incidents he produced originated solely in his own mind. What inspired them? Hubbard is thought to have used recreational drugs during the 1960s (notably barbiturates, which he obtained on prescription) but it is unclear whether he used them during self-auditing - if he did, that must surely have contributed to some of his more exotic revelations. The fact that he had been a pulp science fiction writer almost certainly influenced his writings. His recall of Xenu and Helatrobus and the like was the product of a fertile imagination which had greatly been influenced by sci-fi, now let loose in self-auditing. Hubbard's strangest writings probably tell us rather more about Hubbard himself than they do about the hidden mysteries of the universe.

But why do Scientologists themselves believe even the wildest statements made by Hubbard? There is enough evidence to suggest that he was, at the very least, unbalanced. Surely that can't be true of everyone in Scientology?

Plainly, it's not. Relatively few Scientologists show a long-term commitment to the organisation. Even on the Church's own figures, nearly 50% of new recruits drop out within a year. Many more drop out over the medium term; only a small number remain for ten or more years. The longer one stays in the organisation, it seems, the longer one is likely to stay in it. It's not clear why so many drop out (no survey has been done) but it's probably for a combination of reasons: dissatisfaction with the results of auditing, financial strains, dislike of the high-pressure environment, and so on. One major factor is likely to be that, whatever the merits of Scientology, its belief system does not provide what the person seeks.

This means that by the time a Scientologist gets to do the OT levels, he or she has effectively passed the test of commitment. Some have had their commitment shattered by the outlandishness of the OT levels - that is one reason why copies of the OT documents have been leaked over the years. But most who take OT III will have come to trust implicitly the word of Hubbard, no matter how improbable. They are not loons by any means. They are simply committed to a belief which to outsiders might seem bizarre, but to them appears completely logical and factual. Their world-view has been altered through years of training, to a point where they have dissociated themselves entirely from the mental world inhabited by "wogs" (non-Scientologists); indeed, Hubbard acknowledged this, deliberately emphasising the difference between "homo novus", the "OT élite" of Scientology and the hapless wogs ("homo sap", with the emphasis on sap) outside. "Let sleeping sapiens snore in the bulk for yet awhile," he wrote in A History of Man. "Then meet someplace and decide what to do about him and his twopenny wars, his insane and his prisons."

The Wogs' Perspective of Scientological Strangeness

Scientologists would doubtless argue that the extracts above are taken out of context (though that begs the question of in what context Xenu and the Marcabs can be taken). They would also argue that Hubbard's most esoteric writings are religious scriptures and that it is simple "bigotry" to find them laughable. Morally, they certainly have a case. After all, the Virgin Birth and the erotic activities of the Hindu gods seem equally ludicrous if considered on purely rationalist grounds. And yet, two billion people - half the human race - subscribe to those beliefs. At the same time, the Xenu story is regarded as hilariously silly even by many who do not have an axe to grind against Scientology (try relating it to someone without telling them of its provenance and gauge their reaction). Is this a case of double standards?

On the face of it, yes. Established belief systems have aspects every bit as bizarre as Scientology's - St. John's "Revelations" are a prime example. But there are subtle social and historical differences which disadvantage Hubbard's writings in the battle for credibility.

One of the most important is that Hubbard's "revelations" are not couched in religious language or imagery, but are presented as scientifically-proven "facts", describing events which read very much like a science fiction or fantasy story. Xenu is the classic example, and the crossover is highlighted by Hubbard in the 1970s turning the OT III story into a science-fiction film script called "Revolt In The Stars"; celebrity Scientologists such as John Travolta are said to have lobbied Hollywood, thus far unsuccessfully, for "Revolt" to be filmed.

Science fiction was perhaps a natural genre to which Hubbard, the ex-pulp sci-fi writer, would turn for his "religious" inspiration. Many of his supporters in the early days were science fiction fans who had come across Dianetics in the pages of John W. Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction. Scientology continues to attract many ex-members of other esoteric belief systems, such as transcendental meditation and yoga, who might well be predisposed towards accepting Hubbard's stranger pronouncements. Now that UFOlogy appears to have entered the mainstream (surveys suggest that a quarter of Americans believe they were abducted by aliens), Hubbard's tales of galactic wars and alien implantation may attract a whole new generation of adherents.

But while the esotericism of high-level Scientology may appeal to some, there is no doubt that it is seriously damaging Scientology's chances of becoming a mainstream movement. Virtually the whole of the formerly-secret high-level material is now in the public domain; most of the OT and NOTs documents have been made available on the Internet, and books, magazines, newspapers and TV programmes in a number of countries have covered OT III in detail. This is something of a disaster for Scientology. Officials of the Religious Technology Center (RTC), the body which holds the copyrights of Scientology and Dianetics, have testified in the recent Internet copyright cases that unauthorised reproduction of the OT and NOTs papers could result in millions of dollars' worth of economic damage. What sort of damage was not specified, but it seems likely that it includes lost revenue from those who would otherwise have paid tens of thousands of dollars to see the mysterious OT materials.

The problem is compounded by the (admittedly unjustified) image problem of science fiction. It's not a new genre by any means - the story of Odysseus' encounter with the mechanical giant Talos, a proto-robot, was written over 3,000 years ago. More recently, writers such as Mary Shelley, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells made science fiction immensely popular. But it was debased in the 1930s and 1940s by the rash of lurid, often badly-written penny-dreadful pulp magazines, the very same publications in which Hubbard developed his literary techniques. Of course, the pulps also saw the rise of distinguished writers such as Isaac Asimov, A.E. van Vogt and Robert Heinlein. The rest of the literary establishment, however, continues to look down on science-fiction and fantasy, evoking the ghosts of the pulps. Two recent UK-wide surveys revealed J.R.R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings to be the book-buying public's choice for best book of the 20th century, a selection which provoked rants from literary critics about the pernicious and unhealthy nature of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Likewise, Terry Pratchett - who, alone, accounts for 1% of all books sold in the UK, an unprecedented market share - had a slow start largely because non-specialist publications simply would not review books written in such an "unfashionable" genre.

Science fiction now is far more "mainstream", but Hubbard's adoption of the genre continues to pose a massive credibility problem. It's possible, for instance, to draw a parallel between OT III and Star Wars. Substitute Alderaan for Teegeeack (Earth), Emperor Palpatine for Ruler Xenu, Darth Vader for the Loyal Officers and the Jedi for the Operating Thetans: the match is quite close. But would anyone seriously suggest that Star Wars is a religious work? Unfortunately for his credibility, this effectively is exactly what Hubbard did with OT III. "Space opera" - a subset of science fiction which encompasses both Star Wars and Hubbard's own "Battlefield Earth" saga - is the only literary genre to be graced with an entry in the Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary, which reads as follows:


Of or relating to time periods on the whole track millions of years ago which concerned activities in this and other galaxies. Space opera has space travel, spaceships, spacemen, intergalactic travel, wars, conflicts, other beings, civilizations and societies, and other planets and galaxies. It is not fiction and concerns actual incidents and things that occurred on the track. See also whole track."

[Dianetics & Scientology Technical Dictionary, 1975]

This emphasis on literalism is the second major reason why Hubbard's writings come over as absurd even to those who have never heard of Scientology. Had Hubbard chosen a more religious style of writing, he might perhaps have had less of a problem. Parts of the Bible and the Vedic scriptures, for instance, might seem very obscure to the uninitiated, but they are couched in recognisably religious terms. OT III and its ilk might have been more accessible had they been about devils and angels and smiting, but Hubbard consciously rejected the religious genre, writing instead in a pseudo-scientific mode. What were his reasons for doing so? First and foremost, he regarded his work as being a revolutionary, empirically-based scientific breakthrough. It was not seriously presented as a religion until the 1960s, and then only for PR purposes. Trying to shoehorn Scientology into a religious framework continues to pose major PR difficulties, as so many of Hubbard's writings are explicitly not religious in nature. In fact, he had strongly negative opinions about mainstream religions: Christianity and Islam were the results of alien implantation around 600 B.C., while Hinduism and other Eastern religions were dangerously "booby-trapped", leading only to a "spiral into oblivion". This may have been another factor in his rejection of a religious style of writing.

The results are self-evident. Hubbard may have hoped that his style and genre of writing would win respect and credence. However, it comes across as a badly-written example of a discredited genre which is made ludicrous by the author's insistence on his literal veracity. Not exactly a big win!

In short, Scientology's silliest secrets do not appear laughable simply because of the reader's "bigotry". They are fatally undermined by Hubbard's rejection of religious conventions. They are and always were works of pseudoscience à la Wilhelm Reich or Immanuel Velikovsky, not religious "scriptures". Ironically, it is the Church of Scientology which is guilty of taking Hubbard's writings out of context, rather than its critics.


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Last updated 10 May 1997
by Chris Owen (chriso@lutefisk.demon.co.uk)