The more interesting cases involve what J. Allen Hynek, former chairman of astronomy at Northwestern University and father of scientific ufology, called close encounters of the first, second or third kind. Consider the case of Stephanie (witness names in this blog will be changed to protect their privacy) who related the following set of experiences.
Stephanie was tending to her horses one morning when she noticed a thin, rectangular, metallic object across the fenced-in pasture. The object puzzled her, since she was the only one who used the pasture. Even more perplexing — the object had no apparent means of support. In fact, it seemed to be floating in the air. When relating the story to me, Stephanie couldn’t comprehend why she didn’t go over to take a closer look at the hovering object, which would have been her natural impulse.
Later that afternoon, Stephanie returned to the property where she ran into Miguel, the ranch hand who had worked there for many years. Miguel pointed out that her horses were acting strangely, as if they were scared of something. He went on to say that he had seen a metal object in the pasture that looked like a feeder except it was moving up and down and side-to-side. A grounded and dependable man, Miguel was clearly upset by what he had seen. He told Stephanie, “I don’t think it’s from here” — meaning, not from Earth.
Stephanie reported several other anomalous encounters too. Among these was a sighting in the late 1980’s of two barbell shaped craft larger than 747’s, floating above the trees outside her house. The flying barbells seemed familiar to her and made her feel happy. On another occasion, a strange beam of light danced along the dashboard of her car, making her dog “go crazy.” The way she described these events indicated that Stephanie had a personal, even spiritual, relationship with the source of these events. She confided to me that she wasn’t sure if they were aliens or spiritual beings.
Her curiosity inflamed, one night before retiring to bed Stephanie asked these beings to show themselves so that she could know who they were. Later that night she awoke to see her tabby cat sitting just outside the window across the room. Above the cat was an egg-shaped, golden orb. Stephanie’s thought was, “It’s heard me and it’s telling me that everything is okay.” Upon hearing this story, I wondered if it was a moving dream incubated by her attempt to summon the source of the UFOs. However, Stephanie insisted that she was fully awake.
This complex case presents several conundrums for the investigator. One immediate question was – what did the feeder shaped UFO want with Stephanie’s horses? And why was she so nonchalant when she saw the object hovering in the pasture with no visible means of support? The impression I had when hearing her story was that the UFO in the pasture was affecting her mind, blocking her natural interest and curiosity.
The fact that Stephanie reported so many strange encounters makes one wonder if the intelligence behind the UFOs and orbs had an ongoing interest in her. For instance, it’s not unusual for someone who has been abducted to report multiple experiences. While Stephanie did not claim to be an abductee, she did report several close encounters of the first kind. Another possibility is that Stephanie is an intuitive, and her mind is porous to other dimensions. Yet, didn’t Miguel see the UFO too?
Another puzzle is this. Assuming that the orb that appeared above her cat was not a dream, then what can we make of the fact that Stephanie seemed to summon its presence? If UFOs represent an alien intelligence, then how likely is it that they would show up upon request? It strikes me that true extraterrestrials from other worlds would be here for their own purposes, not to satisfy our curiosity. Or maybe her orb experiences have nothing to do with the UFOs she described. In this case, the orbs might represent a spiritual experience, and the UFOs, a nuts and bolts visitation. However, during my conversation with her that Stephanie clearly viewed these experiences as pieces of a single tapestry.
The skeptic in me might be tempted to dismiss her account as the product of an overactive imagination. But that would be an easy out, a psychological defense against a discomforting metaphysical ambiguity. Most of us like to divide the world into two categories: real or unreal, material or spiritual, fact or fantasy. When confronted by events that seem to have aspects of both, our minds seek to resolve the paradox by leaning right or left, making half of the phenomenon disappear. While I believed Stephanie’s story, in the end this case left me left with more questions than answers. I call to mind writer and publisher Ray Palmer's startling proposition:
Flying saucers are here to make us think.