This post has been updated to correct information about The Planetary Doctrine.
Before I was so rudely interrupted by Ben Carson’s foray into Egyptology, I was starting to look into the life and work of Andrew Tomas, one of the minor ancient astronaut and ancient mysteries writers of the twentieth century. A regular reader pointed me to some interesting information that seems to explain Tomas’s later claim that he had begun investigating flying saucers in 1935, more than a decade before the modern UFO era began. As you will recall from my biography of Tomas, he had told his colleagues at the Australian UFO Bureau in the 1950s that he had written a book called The Planetary Doctrine in 1935 in which he had described shiny, silvery disks that flew acros the sky and were associated with occult communication. This thin volume of less than 80 pages had been published in Shanghai in a very limited edition.
You will also recall that Tomas spent several decades living in China, and it was while he was in residence in Shanghai in 1935 that the 29-year-old Tomas attended a lecture given by Nicolas Roerich, the theosophist and occultist who seemed to have a finger in many parts of the weirder side of the early twentieth century. Roerich, for example, was for several years a key influence on U.S. vice president Henry A. Wallace, who for a time was in thrall to the idea of ancient aliens, Atlantis, and Lemuria and lost his chance at the presidency in part due his embrace of the man he called his “guru.” Roerich’s paintings of central Asia were also a key influence on H. P. Lovecraft, who used his art as models for his fantastical alien cities due to their “vague suggestions of cosmic wonder & terror.”
Tomas developed an affinity for Roerich, and he undoubtedly read Roerich’s 1929 book Altai-Himalaya. It was in this book that Roerich described the type of silvery flying disc that Tomas would late claim that he had discovered in Asian lore in 1935 while researching The Planetary Society. Here are Roerich’s words describing an event of August 5, 1927 in the Qinghai province of China, on the northeastern border of Tibet:
On August fifth—something remarkable! We were in our camp in the Kukunor district not far from the Humboldt Chain. In the morning about half-past nine some of our caravaneers noticed a remarkably big black eagle flying above us. Seven of us began to watch this unusual bird. At this same moment another of our caravaneers remarked, “There is something far above the bird.” And he shouted in his astonishment. We all saw, in a direction from north to south, something big and shiny reflecting the sun, like a huge oval moving at great speed. Crossing our camp this thing changed in its direction from south to southwest. And we saw how it disappeared in the intense blue sky. We even had time to take our field glasses and saw quite distinctly an oval form with shiny surface, one side of which was brilliant from the sun.
According to Bill Chalker, who cites Tomas’s late book Shambhala: Oasis of Light (1977), which I have not read (and therefore can’t confirm), at the 1935 lecture, Roerich recounted this event and suggested that the object was “an aircraft or spacecraft from Shambhala.” The identity of the material and the date—a shiny silver disc, 1935, occult connections—all conspire to tell us that Tomas was quite likely using Roerich’s work as “his” UFO discovery when later telling his Australian UFO investigator colleagues about his research into UFOs before Kenneth Arnold’s famous “flying saucer” sighting of 1947.
Indeed, in a 1938 letter Helena Roerich praised parts of Planetary Doctrine but noted that it drew heavily on Theosophy and even quoted sections of Altai-Himalaya.
While this is a fascinating bit of evidence that Roerich is the actual source for the Asian mysteries Tomas discussed, it’s also interesting to learn that this was the exact same period when Swedish geographer Sven Hedin was conducting weather balloon experiments in the same area, as recounted in his Across the Gobi Desert (1931, English trans. 1932), as Mark Pilkington recounted in 2010, citing earlier work by ufologist Leon Davidson. The locals were in awe of the shiny silver balloons: “they stood speechless and stared after the bright ball till it could only be seen with field glasses,” Hedin reported. The description is fairly close, though ufologist Brad Sparks denies that anyone could confuse a small weather balloon for a large disc. We know that people are terrible judges of the size of objects in the sky, so this objection is probably unfounded.
If the identification of Roerich’s silver disc with a weather balloon is true, it adds whole new layers of irony Tomas’s early embrace of ufology and his later investigation of ancient mysteries. But either way, it’s pretty clear that Tomas simply appropriated Roerich as his source (apparently with credit in 1935) and in the 1950s passed it off as his own decades-old research.
11/7/2015 12:44:55 pm
Helena Roerich, to Richard Rudzitis
11/7/2015 12:49:42 pm
11/7/2015 12:59:22 pm
How odd that the ufologists weren't aware of that. Thank you. I'll amend the above accordingly, but I'm glad to see that my suspicions were correct about the source.
11/7/2015 02:12:51 pm
“Travellers and explorers often notice in the heights of the Himalayas strange shiny objects or creatures soaring high above the mountain crests, which are an eternal puzzle to Europeans. Whether these mysterious objects are vehicles belonging to supermen we dare not assert, though such an explanation is quite plausible. Cannot the reader believe that by such means, utilising unknown energies, communication is maintained from planet to planet...?”
11/7/2015 02:17:40 pm
Isn't it interesting the way he pluralized Roerich's sighting?
11/7/2015 02:54:59 pm
IIRC, /Monster Quest/ had two episodes where they did an experiment that demonstrated what should have been obvious: without objects in the foreground and background that could be used for comparison, eyewitnesses are often way off on their size estimates for objects observed at a distance.
11/7/2015 04:52:42 pm
David Childress in Technology of the Gods, 2000, p. 165:
11/7/2015 05:02:43 pm
That's an old Islamic legend, derived from Jewish folktales.
2/15/2016 01:52:03 am
King Solomon and the flying device - it is in the Ethiopian bible Kebranegest, Kebra Nagast, The Glory of the Kings...
11/9/2015 07:22:57 am
Just to clarify it was Andrew Tomas (then A. Boncza-Tomaszewski) at Roerich's 1935 Shanghai lecture, not Roerich, that what Roerich had seen in 1927 an “aircraft or spacecraft from Shambhala” and to further clarify (to correct your interpretation) in 1935 Tomas had written, “Travellers and explorers often noticed in the heights of the Himalayas strange shiny objects or creatures soaring high above the mountain crests, which are an eternal puzzle to Europeans. Whether these mysterious objects are vehicles belonging to supermen we dare not assert, although such an explanation is quite plausible. Cannot the reader believe that by such means utilising unknown energies, communication is maintained from planet to planet by the scientists of Agharti? No doubt there are initiates on other planets who sometimes visit Shambhala by similar means. How pitiable are men in their erroneous conviction that earth is the only habitable planet and earth-men the only higher creatures.” So Tomas was not appropriating Roerich's sighting explanation. He was extending it in 1935 to suggest it was also evidence of "men from other planets" who he thought interacted with the "super races" of Agharti & Shambhala. I'm not supporting Tomas' take, merely trying to relate it more accurately
9/3/2016 03:38:00 pm
1. Kailasa and Kailash are the same word, meaning "crystal".
9/28/2016 12:29:20 pm
When I looked into this ever so long ago, I found that there was a sequel to the story, in which a Lama explained to Roerich that what he had seen was “the protecting force from Shambhala” in a “Radiant form of Matter”. Perhaps we should understand by this a tulpa. The text may now be found here:
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