Date: Tue Nov 09 1993 16:32:00
From: SHEPPARD GORDON
Subj: UFOs and Gym Shoes
Of UFOs and gym shoes
The Aetherius Society believes in love, healing - and extra-terrestrials
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH London
LAST Thursday was the start of Annual Spiritual Push. Members of
the Aetherius Society gathered in Fulham to draw down the energy
from Satellite Number 3, in orbit above the Earth.
Some 40 or 50 people had assembled in the society's chapel to
catch this energy and transmit it into the world for purposes of
healing and spiritual uplift. The congregation was largely
middle-aged and middle class. Many wore brightly coloured robes and
The evening began with the music of Vaughan Williams. Then a
minister urged the congregation to breathe deeply and to visualise
a vibrant white light coming down through the brain. The next hour
was spent chanting mantras and reciting prayers. Afterwards, people
took off their robes, put on their overcoats and shuffled into the
gloomy night. It was 1.30 am. I looked upwards but could see
The Aetherius Society was founded by George King, the son of a
Shropshire schoolteacher. On May 8, 1954 he was doing the
washing-up in his Maida Vale flat when he heard a voice warning him
to prepare to become "the voice of Inter-Planetary Parliament".
In yogic trance, King learnt that the voice belonged to a
Venusian named Aetherius. He began receiving regular transmissions
from him, urging co-operation with the space people, which King
passed on to the world, and a small group of believers gathered
around him. King told them the extra-terrestrial beings were
humanoid, taller than us and with "cinnamon-coloured" skin.
In 1958 he received the "12 Blessings" in a transmission said to
come from Jesus. This was described to me by Dr Richard Lawrence,
the secretary of the society, as "an extension of the Sermon on the
King, who is now 84, moved to California, where he established
the headquarters of the Aetherius Society. Membership in Britain is
numbered in hundreds; in America in thousands.
In London, the society has occupied the same Fulham Road premises
for 35 years: a shop-front decorated with a fading picture of King,
society literature and posters for courses in healing and psychic
powers. What is so curious is this juxtaposition of the mundane -
the drab suburban street, the nice ladies offering you instant
coffee in porcelain cups - with the exotic: the robes, the talk of
spaceships and Martians.
Dr Lawrence describes the Aetherius Society as "an ecumenical
organisation". It incorporates elements of Taoism, Buddhism,
Hinduism and Christianity, but central to its belief is the
existence of life-forms on Mars and Venus, existing "on a higher
vibratory level" than us.
Dr Lawrence is 40, a neat and energetic figure in a blue blazer
and grey flannels. As a young man he considered entering the clergy
in the Church of England but joined the Aetherius Society while at
Hull University. He now holds the post of bishop.
George King has also moved on. A society pamphlet describes him
as His Eminence Sir George King and lists his many offices. His
knighthood was awarded him in 1980 by The Order of St George, "A
Constantine order, the earliest order of Chivalry in
Christianity,"Dr Lawrence told me.
Many people, I said to Dr Lawrence, might accept the principles
taught by the society of universal energy, love, healing. But they
would balk at accepting extra-terrestrial beings and flying saucers.
"If you believe these are the greatest teachings you have ever
come across, and then you're told they're given by
extra-terrestrials, that's good enough for me," he replied.
HIS belief had been reinforced by personal experience, he said.
While a student he had had to choose between buying a new pair of
gym shoes and some Aetherius Society tapes. He chose the tapes.
Shortly afterwards, he spotted a cigar-shaped UFO in a field, which
disappeared behind a tree. Under the tree he found a pair of new
gym shoes, size 9. "That, to me, was a great sign. One of our
teachings is that what you sacrifice will be laid at your feet."
Marie Norden-Smith, 44, who works for a London finance company,
described herself as "a searcher" who had found "all the different
answers I wanted" in the Aetherius teachings.
Members of the society believe that the spaceships are sent to
help us, to make us better people. "When mankind is ready, and
deserves it, the craft will land," said Jean Berry, a retired nurse.
This cannot happen a moment too soon. Shortly before the service
began on Thursday night, Dr Lawrence told me that the Aetherius
Society took a call from a police station - he would not tell me
which one - saying they had received reports of a UFO above London.
The next day I called Fulham Police station to see if they had
received reports of a UFO sighting at the time. They hadn't, but
they had received 12 calls around midnight about a punch-up. "It
must," said the duty-officer, "have been a bloody good one."