At one point or another, the producers of Ancient Aliens changed the show in a subtle but important way. The early seasons of the program, while nutty, badly researched, and occasionally fraudulent, maintained at least a token respect for the viewers it supposedly existed to entertain. At some point the producers started treating the audience as a collection of idiots, 1.1 million of whom will show up no matter what the program tells them. Maybe it started around the time that the show actively encouraged Satan worship and then realized that no one objected. Maybe it was around the time that they started assembling whole episodes out of recycled content from past episodes and realized that it made no difference to their ratings.
It would hardly surprise me at this point if the producers weren’t actively contemptuous of their audience. How else to explain an entire hour devoted to an obvious fiction masquerading as fact? Putatively, Ancient Aliens S11E08 “The Mysterious Nine” is about the recurrence of groups of nine beings in mythology. Sure, there have been past episodes devoted to numbers—“The Power of Three” comes to mind—but this episode is different because it is based on science fiction. Literally.
In honor of this, I’m going to review this episode a little differently from previous ones. I’m going to take issue with the entire foundation for the episode before I discuss the specific content of the show.
As I discussed last November—perhaps not coincidentally right before this season of Ancient Aliens went into production—I discussed how the fringe claim of the secret council of Nine Unknown Men was a fraud, one derived from a 1923 adventure novel by Talbot Mundy called The Nine Unknown. Mundy described the organization as being global in scope and in control of world finances. It was made up, he said, of “Nine individuals, each independent, collectively forming a self-perpetuating board—each known to all the other eight but to no other individual on earth—not known, that is to say, to any other person in the world as being a member of the Nine.”
The story, in its modern form—not entirely found in Mundy—goes that the Indian emperor Ashoka (reigned c. 268-232 BCE) tried to protect humanity from forbidden knowledge by banning the study of science and charging nine individuals with guarding these nine books of occult lore.
As I reported at the time, the French fringe writers Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels used Mundy’s novel to imagine a conspiracy of nine guardians of forbidden wisdom in their book Morning of the Magicians, and they did not hide the fact that they borrowed the concept from Mundy. Indeed, they explicitly state on page 36 of the 1963 English translation that the claim was first published in Mundy’s novella, but they identify the story as “half fiction, half scientific inquiry.” This material was freely mixed with nineteenth century French occult writings and Theosophical texts, none of which mentioned the Nine Unknowns, but which fringe writers have long misunderstood (through failure to check sources) as “confirming” the existence of the cult. Anton LeVey dedicated the Satanic Bible to these imaginary characters, probably from Pauwels sand Bergier. Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince carried the myth into the modern era with their Stargate Conspiracy (2001), where they acknowledged Mundy only in a footnote.
Picknett and Prince were among the authors who connected the Nine Unknown secret society fiction to psychical researcher Andrija Puharich’s claim to be in contact with the nine Egyptian gods of Heliopolis known as the Ennead. This group of nine gods is thought to have originated in the Fourth Dynasty and been formalized in the Fifth. However, the Ennead was not consistent in Egyptian religion, being a different grouping of gods worshiped for a time at one cult center or another, and in different numbers—from seven at Abydos to fifteen at Thebes. Heliopolis had nine and was the model for the other groupings. The coincidence of number became important for nineteenth and twentieth century occultists because it matched the number of astrological planets (the seven non-Earth planets and the sun and moon) known in the nineteenth century. (The ancients recognized only seven, being unaware of Uranus and Neptune.) This connection allowed Picknett and Prince to develop their analysis of the imaginary Council of Nine, a group of aliens who ruled the world. They saw “connections” to the occurrence of the number nine anywhere in occult literature, particularly the numerology of the anti-Semitic occultist Schwaller de Lubicz, who devoted much of his energy to occult beliefs about Egypt.
Picknett and Prince didn’t invent the Council of Nine, of course. They were examining its use by earlier fringe writers, particularly in the Theosophical and New Age arenas. We see it in Robert Shapiro’s “Explorer Race” series of channeled texts, for example, and it appears, too, in the work of Israeli spirit-channeling author Phyllis Virtue Schlemmer, who claimed to be in communion with Tom. This entity, in 1974, revealed himself to be the head of the Council of Nine and a version of the Heliopolitan creator god Atum. According to Picknett and Prince, a whole group of self-deluded pseudo-psychics spent the 1950s to the 1970s channeling members of the Nine, apparently under the influence of Schwaller de Lubitz’s Egyptomania and numerology. Allegedly Puharich was the first to contact the Nine, and the Egyptian cast to the proceedings suggests that the Ennead is the source for the entities’ number.
By the end of Puharich’s involvement with the Nine, the Nine were into all the big fringe archaeology of the 1970s—ancient astronauts, Egyptian mysteries, Martian ruins, Atlantis. They were very much a product of their time, which is a bit odd for timeless cosmic beings who might be expected to have information and ideas not known to 1970s fringe writers. According to the channeled words of the god Ra, the Council ordered the building of the Great Pyramid, which Ra undertook himself. That means that ancient astronaut theorists are shooting themselves in the foot by denying first hand testimony from the aliens themselves!
Fun facts: Andrijah Puharich discovered Yuri Geller and brought him to America. His encounter with the Council of Nine—channeling them while they talked of coming from Sirius—was a huge influence on Arthur M. Young, a true believer present at the channeling who was also the mentor to Robert Temple. Temple, in turn, drew on the developing New Age mysticism of the Nine to create the Sirius Mystery.
OK, so let us see what this episode was all about...
We open with elderly Canadian ex-official Paul Hellyer’s allegation that aliens have been visiting the Earth for thousands of years. The 91-year-old had no government-backed knowledge of aliens. Instead, he admitted to learning “the truth” about aliens from a Peter Jennings ABC documentary that aired three decades or so after he left office. Ancient Aliens conveniently leaves that out. Then we discuss Puharich’s channeling of the Nine. The show presents him as a serious scientist, though his research has long been called into question, particularly due to the fact that Yuri Geller fooled him with a parlor trick so simple that I can perform that trick—and used to impress my college classmates, who weren’t really that bright, with my “psychic” skills. I could also make objects seem to move on their own. Anyway, Lynne Picknett appears on the show to plug The Stargate Conspiracy but doesn’t discuss the CIA conspiracy she thinks is really behind the ancient astronaut theory.
After this we visit Heliopolis and hear about the Ennead, which is a Greek term that the show doesn’t seem to realize isn’t the Egyptian name for the gods. Ramy Romany, the show’s pet Egyptologist, happily discusses the Egyptian creation myth and surrenders his credibility by inches in exchange for screen time. Kathleen McGowan Coppens, wife of Stargate Conspiracy researcher Philip Coppens, also shows up to mouth some words about aliens that are at odds with Philip Coppens’s published views on the Stargate Conspiracy material. But why not? This is Ancient Aliens: The talking heads will say anything for the payday that screen time promises.
I would be remiss if I did not note that Hillary Clinton, who went on the record with her belief that alien abductions have some sort of basis in fact, is advertising on Ancient Aliens during its first commercial break. Apparently UFO believers are now a constituency, just as Erich von Däniken predicted forty years ago.
The second segment looks at other instances of the number nine in myth. It starts with the Southeast Asian Chinese diaspora holiday of the Nine Emperor-Gods Festival, in which the gods take their number from the fact that it is celebrated during the ninth lunar month and lasts nine days. The show compares this to the Aztecs’ nine Lords of the Night, the nine gods who survive Ragnorak, and Ashoka’s Nine Unknown Men, which they pass off as a fact instead of a piece of century-old fiction. Less clearly, they claim that the Etruscans had nine gods of fate (presumably they are referring to the obscure Roman Novensiles, perhaps of Etruscan origin, or to Pliny’s account in Natural History 2.52 of the nine Etruscan lightning gods) and the Zeus had a council of nine gods. There was no formal council of nine gods, and the number of Greek gods running things is rarely nine exactly. I can’t recall any specific instance of nine gods sitting in council in Greek myth, but the claim does appear in a Transcendentalist text of the 1800s imagining Prometheus speaking to the nine top gods.
The third segment tries to pass off a picture of space debris in a NASA photograph as the Black Knight Satellite, a modern myth of an ancient extraterrestrial satellite. The show claims that the satellite was first spotted in 1954, but that satellite was supposedly “large, silvery, [and] disc shaped,” not columnar and black as the Black Knight is usually described as. The 1954 satellite was clearly intended as a projection of the usual flying saucer description of its era. The Black Knight Satellite myth was invented in 1974 by Scottish researcher Duncan Lunan, who claimed that radio signals indicated that the object was a 13,000-year-old satellite. He then retracted his conclusion and admitted to have made critical errors in his research. What does this have to do with the Nine? Nothing, really. The show just spliced this in because it ran out of nines.
In fact, the show pretty much gives up on the whole “nine” thing and seems to become a completely different episode after this segment. Frankly, I thought for a while that the control room messed up and cued up a different episode.
After this, the show describes the Apocalypse of Baruch (3 Baruch), which Giorgio Tsoukalos describes as a powerful account of a satellite with solar panels. The text, from chapter 6 reads thus: “And I said to the angel, What is this bird? And he said to me, This is the guardian of the earth. And I said, Lord, how is he the guardian of the earth? Teach me. And the angel said to me, This bird flies alongside of the sun, and expanding his wings receives its fiery rays. For if he were not receiving them, the human race would not be preserved, nor any other living creature.” (The name of the translator is not specified.) The clear implication is that the bird is stopping the sun’s damaging heat from burning the Earth.
The timeworn tale of Frank E. Stranges and the alien called Valiant Thor, a Venusian space brother, is rehearsed, but the story is no more credible here than it was in the 1950s. A bland male Caucasian space alien from Venus (!) worked for the U.S. government (!!) for the three years because the Galactic Council was worried about our nuclear bombs. It’s yet another of the “benevolent Aryan space brother” silliness of it era, and even Nick Redfern recognizes that the story is remarkably similar to The Day the Earth Stood Still. Space aliens of the time were envisioned as super Aryans. The guy’s name was Valiant Thor for crying out loud. Could you get more Nordic? Some photos of a standard-issue white man are said to be of Thor, strange visitor from another world, and some dotty folk—Hellyer and Dwight Eisenhower’s New Age believer great-granddaughter—supposedly provide evidence that the alien was real. Neither of them had any direct evidence, and both long ago let ufology overcome their reason.
In the fifth segment we return to Puharich and his channeled Nine. The show claims that various luminaries met with Puharich to commune with the Nine. One of these was said to be Gene Roddenberry, and the show claims that Star Trek was partially the work of space aliens, who delivered science fiction ideas, including the Federation, from space. The aliens sure have a lot of time on their hands if they can dictate scripts, and it’s also pretty sad if the idea of the Federation had to come from space, since the Earth has the Commonwealth, the United Nations, and other leagues. I know that Roddenberry did meet with Puharich in the 1970s, but I’m not able to find a reliable reference to the men meeting earlier.
Only a couple of weeks ago, in episode S11E05 “The Visionaries,” the show admitted that it really just wants to geek out over Star Trek, with the nerdy talking heads alleging the Gene Roddenberry was purposely preparing America for UFO disclosure through Star Trek. Now Hellyer tells us that Star Trek’s Federation “is real” (but in space), and that the Prime Directive came from the Nine as well. This is cute, but Gene Roddenberry didn’t invent the Prime Directive; Gene L. Coon and Theodore Sturgeon are variously credited with that concept, and they weren’t under the (known) tutelage of space aliens. The same directive appears in Olaf Stapledon's 1937 novel Star Maker decades before Puharich met the Nine. A highly publicized re-release of the novel had occurred in 1965, two years before the Prime Directive made its TV debut.
The final segment throws up its hands and asks whether a Council of Nine really exists, and if we can ever know. Gee, and I thought that was why this hour existed. Weren’t they supposed to figure that out?
7/8/2016 10:26:39 pm
I guess the Nine really like Westerns. Gene Roddenberry wrote many episodes for popular Western TV shows, and his original pitch for Star Trek was "Wagon Train among the stars."
7/9/2016 12:27:39 pm
I've read that the Black Knight is a big heat shield from a satellite launch. It must be a big piece of fabric that has crumpled up somewhat. I never knew that any satellite stage had or needed such a thing.
7/9/2016 08:53:03 pm
Thermal blanket lost during a space shuttle EVA, actually. And yes, the space shuttle crew used those things for everything, including their own naps, because they can stow very small and yet are quite toasty when you're in one as well as reflecting heat away from delicate equipment fairly well.
7/9/2016 01:45:02 pm
I can see it, Wagon Train to the Stars. Ward Bond as the Spock Character and John Wayne playing Captain Kirk. "Let's all go into space, pilgrim."
7/10/2016 12:20:37 am
Thermal blankets don't send off radio signal and go around Earth on intelligent orbits you retard! You'll fell got such obvious disinformation! The council of nine channellings contain solid info verified by many other sources ! Seems you are just a dumb fuck who can't research !
7/10/2016 12:50:50 am
You are correct, good job. Congratulations. May the world ever bask in your brilliance. Bravo. Such a thoughtful, articulate argument. Incredibly well done. Much better than I expected. 10/10 -IGN. You came, you saw, you conquered. Have a cookie; no, two cookies.
7/10/2016 06:05:41 am
What an idiot. Typical imbecile that believes this made up crap.
7/10/2016 07:23:48 pm
Any object caught in earths gravity will go around it in intelligent orbits, methinks.
7/11/2016 02:01:12 pm
"You'll fell got such obvious disinformation!"
7/15/2016 07:56:05 pm
You'll fell got such obvious disinformation!
3/18/2017 01:43:29 pm
Sorry folks, it's all wrong being the disinformation starting with Gene Roddenberry himself. Facts are the inception of Star Trek occurred in February 1964, which a month later on March 11th, he submitted to CBS, the treatment that became the program. As is per a conversation we had, in Redlands, Ca., him as an adult, me as a child of near eight, in two months, I provided him the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Hitch your wagon to a star.", over the fact of talking about his stint up til then since being an LAPD cop, writing westerns and of course at the very time for his background experience, let alone father having been a police officer, the Lieutenant.
7/9/2016 01:02:51 am
The last segment, all of the standard kooks put forth the premise that the aliens were sitting back, unable to interact with us due to the prime directive.
7/9/2016 02:07:02 am
Never let a fatal logic contradiction get in the way of a good story.
7/9/2016 08:51:58 am
Ah yes. A prime example of pseudoscientist idiots engaging in doublethink. And they don't care if they do. Why? Because of the money Lebowski!!!
7/9/2016 11:03:26 pm
The Dude abides
7/9/2016 07:51:36 am
I know the producers and writers of this nonsense don't really think about stuff that might have served to provide a better platform for their lunacy, but I can't help but think it would have been more advantageous to base the whole argument on Aleister Crowley's "The Lost Continent" (http://hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib51.html).
7/9/2016 12:45:07 pm
" ... it's a hideous bit of writing full of weird utopian racism, ... "
7/9/2016 09:36:08 am
According to South Park, the Council of Nine who rule Imaginationland includes Aslan the Lion, Jesus Christ, Gandalf, Glinda the good witch, Luke Skywalker, Morpheus, Popeye, Wonder Woman, and Zeus.
7/9/2016 09:37:05 am
I liked how Laura Eisenhower, great granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower twice referred to him as "Eisenhower". You have to ask yourself (sorry Dave C.) why she doesn't say "My great grandfather".
7/9/2016 10:53:30 am
Can you not pick and choose your twelve, nine, three?
7/9/2016 10:51:08 am
Are there any connections to the Nazgûl? The Nine Ringwraiths are Sauron's most terrible weapon!
7/9/2016 09:28:23 pm
This was my first thought, what about the fellowship of nine to be set against the nine black riders......surely the witchking of agmar is an alien
7/9/2016 12:01:33 pm
Man, I wish they would leave Hellyer alone. Someone should call the Canadian equivalent of Elder Abuse and have his home life checked out. I think they'll find someone is bombarding him with subliminal broadcasts of Ancient Aliens episodes.
7/9/2016 12:27:27 pm
Pretty fitting that a H. Clinton commercial aired during this broadcast.
7/11/2016 02:05:58 pm
A D. Trump commercial would have worked better on the AA audience.
7/9/2016 12:32:56 pm
Saw Dr. Frank Stranges speak once. He immediately launched into his Valiant Thor talk. This was in about 2005 when it was widely known that Venus was an inhospitable hell hole. Later he asked the audience if they believed that the earth was hollow, and half of them held up their hands. I thought, "What am I doing here?--This is crazy."
7/9/2016 01:52:01 pm
Of course, that all-pervasive number nine, always coming up in counsels of ancient gods--except when it's five (Smarta deities), three (Taoist Pure Ones), or twelve (Olympians).
7/9/2016 02:11:28 pm
Yeah, thats the part I find to be the most stupid, considering that this show explicitly brought up in the past how there were 12 Olympian gods. But I assume that they think that people are stupid, and that the viewers they get now are different viewers that have not kept up with the show. Whatever the case is, I would like to know how low do the ratings have to be for History to cancel this crap?
7/9/2016 03:51:13 pm
They also flashed a quick stock clip of a large group of humans pushing and pulling blocks up ramps on the great pyramid using ropes and rollers. Isn't it their contention that the blocks were levitated into place by aliens?
10/6/2019 02:35:03 am
Nine is the number of completion and as a life path representation of full spiritual completion . IDK how this might relate since numerology and the occult were deeply embedded factors of The Illuminati , the council’s
7/9/2016 02:28:20 pm
Not only were Paul Hellyer's UFO beliefs formed after he left his government post, I believe the same to be true about Edgar Mitchell's UFO beliefs. From their comments it sounded like they learned what they knew about UFOs from the internet ,TV shows, and contact with believers, and not from work experience.
7/9/2016 03:06:08 pm
I don't know what anyone here thinks of the physicist Alan D. Sokal but whatever the case, I find his essay on how the arguments of pseudoscientists and postmodernists can be similar to be interesting as it could shed some light on the mentality of the idiots on this show (as well as even Scott Wolter for that matter):
7/9/2016 05:45:30 pm
" At some point the producers started treating the audience as a collection of idiots,"
I made the Black Satellite!!! Clemente Pizza of Alexandria(and now Abydos! Mmm) When I invented the pizza I launched the sat to have real time tracking of my horseless pizza chariots. I used pyramid hydro electrolysis ovens...so as you can see we had stores all down the Nile. The sat came in handy when indnosia amd the Mayans bough franchises. The Chinese and the Bosnians even got in on it.
7/11/2016 10:06:30 pm
Can anybody honestly say that they watch this show for the "truth" about aliens? According to this program, nothing that has happened to us is because of us learning and progressing on our terms, it's always aliens. Caveman made fire? Nope! The aliens did it! Egyptians built pyramids? Nope! The aliens did that too. People can come up with interesting plots for stories? Nope! ALIENS...
7/12/2016 07:57:07 am
Valiant Thor and I have been vacationing on the French Riviera for many moons. He says the French Riviera is much like the interior of Venus. I'll ask him about the Council of Nine.
7/12/2016 10:00:56 am
Wait, don;t you see. How many players are there on a baseball team. Only the nine players have any real impact on the events on the field. The goal is to make a complete loop by leaving home and circling the "bases" (obviously alien substations) only to return home again eventually. All this played on a field vaguely shaped like a pyramid with "home" being at the pinnacle of the pyramid. Why did I not see this before.
7/12/2016 04:21:29 pm
OK am I the only Geek here that remembers Jose Farmer's "A Feast Unknown" a thinly veiled Doc Savage/Tarzan novel dealing with the "the Nine"?
7/15/2016 10:35:26 pm
Klatu Verata Nictoo.
7/18/2016 07:57:28 am
This is hilarious! A man watches a show he subtly suggests is intended for idiots and complains left and right about its propensity to fill episodes with recycled content and more ridiculous claims...The same man then writes full on recaps of the apparent already recycled content as some kind of hobby. As far as my review of your reviews go, I would say at this point at least the producers of the actual show have more imagination and creativity than yourself! You complain about a show and then proceed to write a full on in-depth recap on said show. But for why? So you can complain? How does my complaining right now sound? I figured you would say that. What kind of person would actually care to write a review at this point? I guess you would? That makes you very special ;) Try finding another topic to indulge yourself in instead. Something that provides a more positive release of feelings/opinions and less of an actual waste of time and energy (like writiing reviews of things you apparently greatly dislike). So here's a toast to exorbitant amounts of wasted time being spent on trivial things that apparently don't even matter in the real world. And this is what you went to college for? Is this your calling?
7/18/2016 11:45:31 am
Wow! Who peed in your Cheerios?
7/18/2016 11:56:22 am
Perhaps you should take your own advice because your comment does nothing to add to the discussion. If you had paid any actual attention to what Jason posts you would see that he reviews the episodes and then explains the lies, fallacies, and misinterpretations presented as fact on the shows so that people who are researching the whole Ancient Aliens "theory" might find this site and learn the truth about the show.
Three eyes open
3/1/2019 04:35:22 pm
Well said, Kay Bee.
10/9/2016 12:31:22 am
I find the show interesting because the universe and the galaxy are full of unknowns. Other unknowns that fascinate myself are what is the purpose of human life, how did we get here, how did we evolve, and so on. To put it in more simple terms, humans at this point in our timeline "we" have theories not real answers. The show proposes ideas outside of box and it makes you think. It doesn't mean you have to believe what the show proposes without question.
10/14/2016 10:39:36 pm
I watch Ancient Aliens just to see how high Tsoukalos' hair is. I'm waiting for it to hit Marge Simpson heights!
10/31/2016 03:48:19 pm
Nice to see the comments ...maybe all should be made to state their religion..if any...then we can discount all the American Christians...especially those who believe that the bible is all true..!!!!
3/7/2017 01:16:05 pm
What Ive always wanted to ask this AA mob is, if aliens helped us build and evolve, who helped them?
11/4/2017 02:57:09 am
I think Ancient Aliens is a somewhat interesting title for the show. However, the content as some have said, is lacking in facts for the sake of entertainment. Here are some facts that I think can redefine the meaning of Ancient Aliens.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.