|By: Paul S. Cilwa
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|How to use self-hypnosis to explore any abduction experiences you may have had.
Many years ago I lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and made frequent trips to St. Augustine to visit my mother and grandmother. I usually left in the evening after work and drove all night, arriving in the morning. This was before I-95 was completed, and a good portion of the route was on US 1, through parts of southern Florida which had not yet been overdeveloped. On one particular trip, I was suddenly taken by terror at the thought of driving the road I normally took, and went quite a few miles out of my way to find another road. I had no idea what I was afraid of. Now I recognize this as a typical reaction to having been abducted along my original route on a previous trip.
Years later, when I was writing
The Lady From Heaven,
I reached a point in my research where it was very
hard to deny that abductions may have been a part of my life. I decided to
"challenge" the aliens. Books I'd read suggested that they could be contacted
mentally, so I sent out a message: "Meet me in the Shenandoahs if you are real."
It was late October, but I gathered my backpacking gear and headed west, alone,
from my home in Reston, Virginia.
As I made the drive, I reached the Skyline Drive where I usually hike; but it didn't seem right, so I kept on going through Thornton Gap, through Luray (site of the famous Caverns) and on.
Driving along a straight section of road that rose and disappeared over a ridge, I realized how silly this quest was. A UFO! How preposterous. Fortunately I hadn't told anyone what I was doing; they'd know I was nuts. I ought to turn around and go home. Still…I sent out another message: "If this isn't stupidity and I should really keep driving to meet you, give me a sign."
Instantly, an unusual falling star dropped down the sky dead ahead of me. It was brighter than the usual meteorite and didn't burn out—just dropped from above, leaving a thick brilliant trail, and vanished beyond the crest of the road. I suddenly realized I was looking at a living movie poster for Close Encounters of the Third Kind! My heart started pounding. For several minutes I actually believed this foolishness. It had just been too perfect, the timing of the meteorite, the shape of the road, all of it. I kept driving.
Finally I reached Massanutten Mountain in the George Washington National Forest. (It was named by a slave who answered the question, "What's the name of that mountain?" by saying, "Massa, nuttin'." Seriously.) My trail book suggested a hike to the Devil's Knoll at the top. Somehow I didn't notice in the book that the climb would be much steeper than I usually attempted. Because I was "planning" to meet a UFO, and knew about the missing time episodes frequently reported, I made very special note of when, exactly, I left my car at the trailhead: 10:55 pm.
The night was cold but not bitter. I used the flashlight for awhile but found I could see better in the dark. There was no moon, but the starlight made the rocks on the trail seem to "glow" except under the densest stands of pine. When I used the flashlight, I could only see a narrow cone in front of me. Without it, I couldn't see anything as sharply as with the flashlight—but I could see everything.
The hike, of course, was grueling because of the climb and the fact that I was not physically prepared for it. I had broken with my personal tradition and wore a (new, still-working) watch; when I finally reached the top of the mountain it was exactly midnight. There was a delightful meadow up there with a few trees scattered here and there—knowing that no one else would be up there that time of year made it a tempting campsite. But first I determined to find the Devil's Knoll.
According to the trail book, there is no trail to the Knoll itself. You hike to the top of the mountain, then bushwhack a tenth of a mile to the west. That's what I did, plowing through bushes and clambering over rocks with my full pack, sweating in the chill air. Finally I broke through into an open area.
It was a full field of chair-sized boulders, tumbled over each other, and bordered at the far end by a thirty foot cliff wall jutting into the star-dusted sky. In the starlight (and thanks to the fact that I hadn't used my flashlight) the scene was at once brilliant and ghostly. It was so beautiful I could scarcely breathe.
I took off my pack and sat on one of the boulders and waited for the UFO. But really that was just an excuse. It was so beautiful and so right being there, that even if there weren't any aliens I was glad I had made the trip—one I would never have made if I hadn't been UFO hunting!
But after ten minutes or so I decided this was long enough; I was getting a chill from the sweat and the cold air and decided it was time to camp. Obviously I couldn't set my tent up in a field of boulders, so I returned to the trail. But, once I returned to that perfect spot for pitching the tent, I got the creeps. In spite of the time of year, I felt like someone might show up. I didn't fear aliens, I told myself, but the idea that some humans might be up this way scared the shit out of me. I had the distinct notion that anyone coming along might have knives. I practically ran down the steep trail that had taken me an hour to climb.
When I got to my car I collected myself. This was ridiculous. There weren't any aliens and there weren't any other humans. I had just creeped myself out. I started the car and stared at the dashboard clock. It was 2:30 AM. Good, I thought, no missing time.
Days later I realized it had taken me about two hours to run down a trail I had taken an hour to climb. I was "missing time."
Looking back, I see there were several lessons in these adventures:
Not knowing (as when I drove from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Augustine) is scarier than knowing…even when knowing is scary as hell.
There really were aliens even if I didn't remember them—they'd "proven" it in a subtle, easily-denied way with the perfectly-timed falling star and the missing time.
Unlike dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles or Microsoft Customer Service, interaction with aliens is characterized by ambiguity, not regulations. It's as if each experience were designed to convince only the percipient—no one else. (Note that people who are certifiably insane are always certain of their perceptions. Abductees are forever in doubt.)
The most subtle message of all, one I didn't get until I typed this up: Focusing only on what you can see clearly, obscures everything else around you. In spite of all common sense, it's easier to follow a trail in the dark than when lit by the narrow flashlight beam of logic.
Why Can't I Remember?
Very often, missing time is the first clue an abductee has that abductions are taking place at all. Sometimes the missing time is self-evident—a two-hour drive inexplicably requires four hours—and sometimes it is only implied, as in the case of scars that appear without explanation. Either way, it is clear that your body has been somewhere without your awareness. And, in either case, your response is, "What the hell happened?"
We naturally resist the idea that something, anything, could happen that so intimately involves us, and yet be edited out of our memories. It is threatening in the extreme, because it represents the ultimate in loss of control. Since we don't know what occurred during the forgotten event, we naturally assume the worst. Moreover, if we could have forgotten an encounter with aliens, what else might we be forgetting? Murders? Love affairs? It's the stuff of made-for-TV movies and we do not want to be a part of it. What we want is answers. Now.
The key to understanding how we might not remember our encounters is two-fold. One possibility, the more frightening of the two, is that our minds might be protecting us from trauma. If an encounter were truly horrible, truly more than a mind could stand, one's mind might well put up a wall to keep from having to deal consciously with that experience. Now, it's true that some encounters leave scars or bruises. But they don't usually leave any physical evidence worse than that; so if your mind is screening a memory of, say, torture, from you, it must be awfully sophisticated torture to leave so little in the way of evidence. Could it simply be that you have faced a non-human intelligence and that's too much for you to bear? Could be with some people, I suppose; but the abductees I've met have all had above-average intelligence. Many of them are Star Trek fans. It's hard for me to imagine such a person losing his memory because he discovered humans aren't the only people living on our block of space-time.
(And yet, the biblical Moses was told that simply looking upon the face of God, the ultimate extra-terrestrial, would cause his death.)
The second possibility seems more likely, and that is that we forget because we are told to forget. Obviously simply ordering us would be inadequate. But there is evidence the abductors use hypnosis to give their suggestions extra weight. For example, it often takes hypnosis to unlock these memories; and when the hypnotist does so, the abductee recalls being told to forget. Also, I, personally, have been hypnotized before; and I recognize the similarity in sensation between coming out of hypnosis and awakening from an abduction. Finally, some hypnotists have given abductees post-hypnotic suggestions that override the aliens' orders.
That explains why hypnosis is so effective in retrieving abduction memories. Under a hypnotic suggestion to forget, one doesn't truly lose any memories; the conscious mind simply agrees to refuse to acknowledge them.
Forgetting may also be a side effect of the hypnotic sedation the visitors use, both to calm us during the abduction itself, and as anesthesia during some procedures. When I was experimenting with hypnosis in my college years, I always gave the subject the suggestion that he or she would remember everything that occurred, because the experimentation was for both of us. Nevertheless, on two occasions the subject couldn't remember a thing and didn't believe she'd been hypnotized, or that more than a few seconds had passed! On those occasions the subject was very deeply hypnotized, so deeply that although she was cooperative during the session, and obeyed other post-hypnotic suggestions I had given her, she still didn't recall the session itself.
In the literature this is described as being a certain "level" of hypnosis that few subjects can reach (level 6, as I recall). Perhaps, in the telepathically-induced hypnosis I suspect the aliens use, that level is reached far more often.
So, in that case, why do any of us remember? Well, for some, the experience may be so shocking, or have produced such undeniable physical marks, that it demands investigation. Other abductees may simply be poor hypnotic subjects. A person who has been drinking heavily, for example, cannot be hypnotized; they can't focus mentally. That's why so many early reports of UFOs came from people who'd been drinking. The debunkers made much of this; yet, really, how often do drunks have cogent hallucinations? The stereotype is seeing pink elephants, not being abducted by pink elephants who take them aboard a ship and perform medical experiments on them.
I suspect, though, that the main reason is we are intended to remember…eventually. There is some suggestion that the aliens may be "training" us for some task and, while some of the lessons are directed to our subconscious minds, some must be made conscious to have the needed effect. So they make the encounters as hard to ignore as possible, to force us to examine them. Most abductees find that once they accept the fact of their abductions, the most disturbing aspects of them diminishes or disappears. Apparently we must be handed information in some specific sequence—for whatever reason, we must actually reach conclusions rather than simply be handed the information.
How Can I Remember?
Once one has been awakened to the fact that one is an abductee, one generally wants an instant opening-up of all the suppressed memories. That suggests a run to one's nearest hypnotherapist.
This may be ill-advised. First of all, most hypnotherapists are not familiar with the abduction phenomenon. The majority of them deal with smoking cessation and the enhancement of sports abilities. Secondly, even if the hypnotherapist is aware of the abduction phenomenon, it doesn't necessarily follow that he or she believes in it. I'm not saying you should throw skepticism out the door, but hypnosis is a very powerful tool, and if the hypnotist hammers at you long enough your memories can be altered even beyond the warping the aliens did. This experience is bizarre enough without you placing yourself in a position to incur further doubts in your own perceptions.
Psychologists are a step up from hypnotherapists in the psychoanalytical hierarchy, but many of them don't perform hypnosis; and even more of them are not supportive of abductees. If you can find one who is, great—but then you should ask yourself seriously: Do I really want to remember the aspects of an encounter the aliens don't want me to remember?
Think about this: You were left with some sort of evidence that an abduction took place, or you wouldn't be concerned about missing memories to begin with. If what you do remember is intentional on the visitors' part, probably too is what you don't remember.
Remember, the hypnosis is part of your sedation during medical procedures. This is an anesthesia we humans have experimented with as well. Suppose you'd had your appendix removed—would you really want to bring back, through hypnotic regression, the physical sensations of the surgery that had been hidden?
Recent cases have left the public with a distaste for hypnosis. We've been told that hypnosis can implant false memories as well as suppress genuine ones. Many abduction researchers will not accept hypnotically-retrieved memories as evidence. The majority of abductees spontaneously recall enough of their experiences to convince them of their reality.
But there are things you can do…when you feel you're ready. First, learn self-hypnosis. It's very easy and harmless; there are $2 books at your supermarket checkout counter that tell you how to do it. When you've got that down, you can give yourself post-hypnotic suggestions: "I will retain a memory of everything that happens to me tonight." Or, "I will recall every being with whom I interact tonight." Or, "I will write a check for half my savings and send it to Paul's blog—" No, maybe that last one wouldn't be such a good idea. But suggestions for keeping calm and detached could be helpful.
Do not give yourself the suggestion, "No one else will be able to hypnotize me." Hypnosis is their anesthesia, and you don't really want to be brought into an alien operating room without anesthesia, do you?
If hypnosis doesn't do the trick, and your memories are slow in spontaneously manifesting, you can also try poetry or artwork. Betty Hill found herself awakening from nightmares and wrote them in a journal. Under hypnosis, it turned out her nightmares had been fairly accurate recollections.
After I spent those hours-that-seemed-like-minutes on the Devil's Knoll, I was moved to do a computer art piece on it. In those days, I was limited to a 16-color version of Windows Paint, so the drawing was crude. Still, something seemed to be missing. It was nothing I remembered consciously. But when I added a figure to the drawing, it seemed complete.
So…what did I remember under self-hypnosis?
When I decided to try self-hypnosis to unlock a memory, I had one, particular event that came to mind as being perhaps pregnant with the possibility of additional, suppressed content.
It happened when I was a junior in high school. I had asked Kathy, a beautiful, long-time friend and classmate, to go to the prom with me and she agreed. As it happened, she and her parents lived literally around the corner from me; nevertheless I drove to her house. Her parents fussed over us and her mother took a photo of the two of us with her Instamatic camera.
Something odd happened when the Flashcube went off. I can't really be more specific than that. It was as if my mind became numbed somehow. After the flash, everything seemed to move in slow motion.
This was the first time I'd been in Kathy's home, and I discovered that her mother, who was our church organist, actually owned a rather expensive electronic organ which was the centerpiece of their "Florida room." I asked if I could play it, and Kathy's mother agreed. However, my fingers wouldn't move correctly. I am certainly no keyboard wizard, but that night I couldn't play even a simple piece I knew well. It was just embarrassing.
Kathy and I went to dinner. I know that only because it is part of prom protocol. I assume we went to the Posada Menendez, because it was the four-star restaurant where I worked. The fact is, however, I don't actually recall leaving Kathy's house, or anything after sitting down to the organ, until we arrived at the Armory where the dance was being held. When we got out of the car, it had just started to rain, a concern to all the girls in their taffeta gowns; so we hurried inside. I remember seeing Nancy, one of the other girls from our class, on a ladder adjusting the decorations. At that point, my perceptions seemed to return to normal.
Kathy and I had a good time at the dance, and after it ended I drove her home. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and I got back in my car, drove around the corner, and pulled into my own driveway.
As I stepped from the car to the house, I recalled it had been raining earlier in the evening and impulsively I looked into the night sky to see if it was still cloud-covered. It wasn't; there were a few, puffy clouds still floating overhead but beyond them were stars, brilliant and twinkling, seemingly much farther away than the low-hanging cumuli. I returned my gaze to the flagstones when I realized I had seen something else, some kind of movement, above. I assumed it was a lone seagull, but looked upward again to identify it.
It was no seagull. Directly above me were three translucent ovals, far, far above, higher than the clouds—so each must have been enormous, much bigger than a passenger jet. As I watched they traveled due east at a high rate of speed, though their speed relative to each other was not constant—one would slow down, another would speed up, the third would catch up. Decades later I would learn that this "falling leaf" motion is typical of UFOs. By my count, it took about 40 seconds for the objects to move from directly overhead to below the trees in the vacant field that lay behind my house—and, incidentally, behind Kathy's house as well.
I was, of course, very excited. I went inside and wrote a description of the sighting that I intended to mail to the Air Force. When I was done, it was about 4 AM and I went to sleep. I never did find that description and never did mail it to the Air Force. I realize now that there was some missing time involved in the experience, since it certainly didn't take me three hours to describe a 40-second sighting!
This was the experience I decided to retrieve via self-hypnosis.
I put myself under using the counting-backward-while-walking-down-a-flight-of-stairs technique. When I passed the "you can't move your arm" test, I gave myself the instructions that would rewind the "tape of time" back to prom night, 1967.
Immediately I could see myself getting into my car and parking it in front of Kathy's house, as clearly as when it had originally happened. I'd forgotten that, in 1967, the house still had a great, screened-in front porch that was removed a year or so later; but there it was in my memory. The images were as clear and natural as recalling something I'd seen a minute before.
I rang and Kathy's mother opened the door and invited me in. Kathy would be down in a moment, her mother explained. I stepped in. And there, casually standing in the hall leading out of the living room, was an alien, ignored by everyone— including me!
Kathy came down the stairs, radiant in her prom dress. Everything about the scene was absolutely Happy Days except for the bizarre incongruity of the observing alien. But when Kathy's mother took our picture, the moment the camera flashed everyone froze. The alien stepped forward, took Kathy and me by the arm and walked us into the back of the house. The next thing I remember was getting out of the car with Kathy and heading into the Armory. I don't even remember having dinner.
I tried hypnotically re-running the moments after the camera flash, but was not able to retrieve any additional memories. And when I gave myself the suggestion to awaken, I did so covered with a cold sweat.
Did what I remembered, really happen? I have no way to verify it, and so I cannot tally this as a "real" experience. If I awaken with a three-inch incision and others see it, too, that's external evidence. If I see a UFO as part of a regular memory sequence, I count it as experiential evidence. But a bizarre recollection retrieved by self-hypnosis, with nothing else to support its validity? What use is it?
And so I prefer to work with external and experiential evidence, and save self-hypnosis for studying (I still remember that John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath, though I never read it) and things such as recalling the license number of a car I see involved in a hit-and-run accident. I don't discount hypnotically-recalled memories; I just don't find them useful without corroborating evidence.