This week continues the trend of Ancient Aliens moving ever farther away from its core concept, largely because there is so little to the ancient astronaut theory that it quickly becomes repetitive. This episode focuses on whether NASA is engaged in a conspiracy to suppress evidence of UFOs, ancient astronauts, and alien monuments on the moon and Mars.
I’ll be frank: ufology is not my particular area of expertise, and I don’t particularly care much about evidence-free claims that since astronauts saw shiny lights in space they had to be alien spacecraft. Since there is almost nothing “ancient” in tonight’s Ancient Aliens, I’ll leave it to ufology skeptics to offer more substantive critiques of the program’s twisting of recent history. I will devote most of my comments to the occasional claims about ancient history.
Several astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, Edgar Mitchell, and Story Musgrave, show up to talk about the moon landing, and we get a potted history of NASA’s moon mission, with the added coda from David Childress that the astronauts of Apollo 11 were tasked with secretly photographing “certain parts of the moon” with “artificial structures,” of which no evidence is given. I presume this refers to Childress’ silly book about the topic, Extraterrestrial Archaeology (2000), which Childress claimed in 2006 was not about alien archaeology even though it was about archaeological remains left on the moon and Mars. Mitchell is well-known for his belief in UFOs.
Much hay is made of the fact that the father of the man who chose Apollo 11’s landing spot was an Egyptologist specializing in Egyptian religion. Apparently, conspiracy theorists feel this means that NASA chose a landing spot to align with Orion’s belt to honor the god Osiris. Even if this was true, so what? The tallest mountain on Mars is named for the Greek Olympus, but this doesn’t make it a conspiracy to promote Zeus worship. Nor, for that matter, does the fact that the very planets themselves bear the names of Roman gods. After all, didn’t Ancient Aliens tell us last year that the Greco-Roman gods were laser-wielding space aliens who landed a UFO on the (Greek) Olympus?
Then we hear from Michael Bara that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong performed a Freemason offering to Osiris of poured wine and broken bread. Really? How did that work? Everything that went up on Apollo 11 was carefully weighed and measured, and wine wasn’t on that list.
The notion, incidentally, Bara proposes that Catholic communion is a rite of Osiris is a rather simplistic reduction of a widespread rite of libation.
I don’t really know anything about Michael Bara except that he shows up across the internet as a proponent of the Face on Mars and to imagine conspiracies of scientists and historians who suppress alien influence to further their careers, as he wrote on this website:
Because scientists are getting so rich off faking carbon dates on wood chips.
NASA’s own incompetence, losing the original recordings of Apollo 11, is seen as part of a conspiracy, even though a degraded version of those recordings was broadcasted live on television in 1969 with nary an alien in sight.
But at least it wasn’t a “moon landing hoax” conspiracy.
Erich von Daniken starts talking about the Face on Mars, long debunked, and supposed “pyramids” on Mars. But he says that he doesn’t know what to think is true because it’s all so mysterious. These “structures,” really geological formations, would, if artificial, be the largest buildings known in the universe to be big enough to see from space. Strangely, this area of “research” is quickly glossed over, probably due to a lack of public domain video Mars compared to the hours of moon landing tapes. At any rate, this section was redolent of Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval's 1998 anti-NASA tract, The Mars Mystery.
Shape Shuttle UFOs
NASA has a “direct pipeline” to the aliens, according to the show, followed by discussions of flashing lights and other space anomalies witnessed from the space shuttle. These videos have become famous in UFO circles, but skeptics have discussed and explained them. At any rate, modern UFOs aren’t my field, and I don’t have much to add their discussions. When Childress describes “extraterrestrials in special suits” looking like luminous angels with wings (“in space!” he adds) viewed from a Russian voyage, the only thing I could think of was Lovecraft’s Elder Things sailing across space on their wings: "They seemed able to traverse the interstellar ether on their vast membranous wings - thus oddly confirming some curious hill folklore long ago told me by an antiquarian colleague" (At the Mountains of Madness).
Michael Bara claims that NASA is engaged in a government-mandated program of controlling information and suppressing evidence of extraterrestrial contact. This is all well-trod territory for ufology buffs, and then Bara claims that NASA is run by secret societies whose members believe themselves that physical descendents of the Egyptian gods, who are space aliens. This connects, he says, to Freemasonry and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. These groups, supposedly, descend from the Illuminati and a succession of secret societies stretching back to Egypt.
But these societies have nothing to do with space aliens. The Golden Dawn was Aleister Crowley’s (first) group, and his thing was ritual magic, not extraterrestrials. It’s only in Lovecraftian chaos magick that Crowley’s magical beings are married to space aliens, though interestingly Lovecraft's beings were influenced by the Celtic creatures used by Arthur Machen, another member of the Golden Dawn. But he didn't have aliens either.
Somehow, the Apollo space mission’s very logo is roped into the conspiracy, with the “A” representing not Apollo but Asar (a variant spelling of Usir, or Osiris). The symbol of the Mercury missions is falsely said to be an Egyptian ankh; it is in fact the astronomical symbol for Mercury, used since the Middle Ages and combining the symbol for Venus with horns representing the god Mercury's winged cap. But even if they Egyptian, so what? Using Egyptian motifs does not equal space aliens. If that were true, then the Chrysler Building, whose lobby is decorated in Egyptian style, would be the world’s tallest monument to space aliens.
But this is passed over quickly so we can get to NAZIS! The show discusses Werner von Braun, a former Nazi turned NASA rocket scientist, because he was interested in space and had—and this is damning—read War of the Worlds and thus believed aliens could exist on Mars. A very long segment talks about his rocketry with nary a hint of why this is relevant to ancient aliens.
Von Braun was supposedly obsessed with the Norse god Týr (Germanic Ziu or Tiwaz), but contra the narration, Týr was not a sky god who “ruled over Mars” and provided “technology” to humans. Týr derives from the same proto-Indo-European root as Zeus and the Vedic Dyaus, Dyeus, who was originally the god of the daytime sky. Týr’s onetime position at the head of the pantheon was usurped by Odin after the Migration Age. He did not “rule” Mars; he was equated with the god Mars in the interpretation romana because both were gods of war, but this was an attempt to create Latin equivalents for the Norse gods; it did not mean that the Germans saw him as the god of the planet Mars. This correlation is why the Roman day of Mars became our Day of Týr, or Tuesday.
Nor did the Nazis believe that Aryans came from the stars and were aliens from space. Nazi ideology referred to the Aryan homeland of Thule, an earthly island and a kind of German Atlantis, one of superior ancient technology, deep connections to the cosmos, and superior scientific knowledge.... Wait a minute: isn't that what Ancient Aliens is all about? I see why they want to ignore this. Did ancient aliens support Nazism? American voters demand answers.
The final segment talks about advanced propulsion systems that really have nothing to do with ancient aliens except that a bunch conspiracy theorists think that we are reverse engineering UFO technology to build anti-gravity craft. Once again David (“I’m not an ancient astronaut theorist!”) Childress spent the entire segment talking about “retro-engineered spacecraft” from many different types of aliens. We conclude with irrelevant speculation about terraforming Mars and eliding the potential discovery of “life” on other planets (which could take any form, such as bacteria) with “a prior advanced civilization.” Michael Bara concludes that NASA exists to prove that elite humans are the descendants of the main Egyptian gods.
Of course this is ridiculous. Everyone knows elite humans are descendents of lizard people from the Nameless City in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. You know it's true. David Icke was even on Ancient Aliens this week. Coincidence?
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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