I am, frankly, at a loss for what more to say about The Ascension Mysteries. Each new chapter of David Wilcock’s autobiography offers a myopic list of the slights and wrongs he accrued over the decades, usually listed day-by-day, contrasted with his growing certainty that science fiction and horror movies, books, and TV shows were communicating to him cosmic secrets. (He believes Fallen Angels finance genre fiction to indoctrinate believers.) At one point we listen to Wilcock rage against a “jock kid” who humiliated him (hatred of “jocks” is an ongoing theme), and at another point he recounts his friendship with a young sadist whose parents he suspected were government UFO disinformation agents. He contrasts events like these with the music teacher who failed to recognize what he claims is his savant-like musical talent and the Cognitive Abilities Test scores that belied his low grades. “I just couldn’t take the dullness of practicing,” he writes, and that same ethos carries over into the other areas where he believes himself a genius: research, insight, and writing, all of which are decidedly lacking in the professional polish that would make this tome less of a slog.
As I wrote yesterday: Please note that nothing here is intended to diagnose Wilcock with a psychological condition. The diagnoses mentioned in my review are those Wilcock disclosed himself. He did not provide a discussion of whether he sought professional treatment in the past, or whether any treatment is ongoing.
Wilcock credits martial arts with helping him to overcome severe depression, and he praises himself for getting into physical altercations with his bullies and “fighting back.” By the time the seventh chapter ends, almost one-third of the book has been devoted to Wilcock’s horrific youth before high school.
Then came the high school years. Wilcock talks about his ongoing battle with depression, various traumas he experienced, and his growing realization that his best chance at happiness was to be “on stage” in some capacity, because if one is famous, he said, one could land girls and command respect regardless of looks. He is still trying to live out that fantasy today, but he considers his failure to achieve universal fame a virtue, claiming that recognizing the drawbacks of celebrity is “part of the ascension process.” Then he discovers marijuana, a drug his mother (but of course) used, and receives even more bullying for becoming a pothead. His mother encouraged his pot use but only allowed it on weekends. He crash-diets and uses hyperventilation to achieve an oxygen-deprivation high that he claims produced a past-life regression (or, really, a hallucination). At times he found himself dressing and heading for school in the middle of the night only to realize that he had hallucinated his alarm going off and never checked the clock. He took LSD and experienced horrific visions, and he did mushrooms with his father while attending a Grateful Dead concert here in Albany. All of this, he says, was traumatic for him.
Long before reading to this point I couldn’t take reading about any more traumas. The laundry list of misery—and even neutral or normal events mythologized into misery—was simply too great. For Pete’s sake, having an old woman mistake you for a girl because you had long hair and fair features is not the kind of event that deserves pride of place in the annals of human misery. “It only caused me to feel even more traumatized,” he writes. I had sympathy for Wilcock for a while, but the endless recounting of every slight, no matter how small, is painful to push through and unpleasant to read because Wilcock’s clunky writing ensures this is less a Bildungsroman than an invitation to Schadenfreude. Ideally, an author would be selective in details to build toward catharsis; Wilcock throws in everything that ever upset him, no matter how tangential to the alleged purpose of The Ascension Mysteries (remember those?), thereby blunting the impact of his eventual discovery of the ancient astronaut theory and its supposedly cathartic power of transformation.
“More and more, I was becoming deeply introverted, paralyzingly shy, paranoid, and fearful,” he says of himself at age 17. He started having lucid dreams where he reenacted movie scenes and engaged in wish-fulfillment displays of magic powers. He said he only knew he was dreaming because no one was making fun of him.
Skipping ahead to the end of his high school years (if you will allow me the jump—I don’t think you need to hear about his hundred pages of high school angst), Wilcock became a chronic drug user and chronically insecure about being “cool” as a druggie. He began to think that the TV and VCR were communicating secretly with him through high pitched squeals most people cannot hear. (This used to bother me, too, but I know that in reality some electronics give off a high pitch that adults can’t hear but children and adolescents can. Tuning in to WTVH in Syracuse on my parents’ old 1980s TV used to drive me mad because of it. I never considered it a secret message, and as I got older, like all kids, I stopped being able to hear it.) MTV, he thought, was trying to humiliate him with commercials that made fun of drugged out kids sitting and watching MTV. Wilcock claims that when he fled his school on the last day because he was high on drugs, leaving behind two pieces of jewelry that he had made, that moment of losing the jewelry caused so much trauma for him that it haunted his dreams for two decades. “If I’d had any idea at the time how much that trauma would repeat in nightmares, I would have risked everything to save my art.”
The man needs help. This book reads like a cry for it.
And, dear God, it just keeps getting worse. In college at SUNY New Paltz, the drugged-out Wilcock said that his dominant roommates turned him into their submissive cleaning slave. He said that they poured so many humiliations onto him in one semester that he would need another book to detail them all. Even through Wilcock’s self-pitying description I could see that his real issue seems to be difficulty with social relationships, which led to him entering into bad or even abusive relationships. Some of the actions he describes as bullying read more like his misunderstanding of adolescent attempts at male bonding, combined with his ineptitude at forging friendships. Don’t get me started about his dating woes.
He describes having his mind blown by a freshman sociology class in which the professor accused oil companies of destroying the streetcar industry to benefit automobiles (Illuminati conspiracy!), and he wistfully recalls his freshman bull sessions with roommates about how corporations really run the world. Instead of recognizing these for what they were, he believes he accidentally discovered hidden truths that the public is blind to, mistaking corporate greed for Illuminati action. He quit drugs, but he came to believe that his dreams were portals to other dimensions and that the short science fiction stories he wrote were actually prophecies. He decided that his band’s song lyrics—“metal to metal, soul to soul, meshing to fusion”—were a prophecy of the 9/11 terror attacks. Around this time, he decided to start reading about ancient mysteries in the college library’s fringe history books. He claims a professor admitted to participating in the Roswell cover-up and then refused to ever speak of it again, so he didn’t bother to try to confirm the claim.
At this point, halfway through Chapter 14 and still in Wilcock’s freshman year, the book abruptly stops being Wilcock’s autobiography and on a dime switches to rewriting standard conspiracy theory claims about space aliens, NASA, and government cover-ups. He says he formed his view of ancient history, aliens, and government conspiracies from ancient astronaut theorist Maurice Chatelain, whose claims he accepts wholesale from the book he picked up in the college library, and later he added those of Graham Hancock, whose Fingerprints of the Gods (1995) helped him to understand Chatelain’s references to catastrophist ideas going back to Ignatius Donnelly.
The remainder of the book—its back half—is a steaming pile of warmed over internet conspiracy theories and recycled content from other conspiracy theorists (specifically Richard Hoagland), interlaced with comparisons to science fiction films that Wilcock seems to think are intentionally created to pave the way for the public to accept the coming alien/Illuminati paradigm shift and power grab in the name of the good aliens, the Alliance. This includes ancient astronaut theories, anti-government conspiracy theories, hollow Earth theories, hollow Moon theories, and so much more. He refers repeatedly to having “insider knowledge,” but offers no proof beyond attributing famous internet conspiracy theories (like George W. Bush’s supposed “ear piece”) to pseudonymous ex-government officials who sound delusional. One claimed to have led combat missions on Mars like John Carter and another to have battled insect-people at Ice Station Zebra—yes, the one from the movie! But, no, supposedly it’s all real and the movies are secret documentaries. No conspiracy is too stupid not to be confirmed by an ex-government agent. I think this line about sums up the quality of this section of the book, and why there is little point in analyzing his claims line by line: “The two most prominent movies that reveal the Alliance’s agenda and prepare us for disclosure are Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Wilcock can see that science fiction and fringe history are connected, but he reverses the order of operations and assumes that a real conspiracy stands behind the similarity. “Comics and other pop-culture media sources are routinely used to provide us with disclosure disguised as fiction,” he writes.
Wilcock believes that the Cabal of evil aliens tried to threaten him into silence by causing a plumbing problem at his house. Big deal. These must be some awfully inept aliens. I’ve had so many household disasters that surely the aliens must be behind it all. Does that qualify for home owner’s insurance coverage? Or do aliens run the insurance companies, too, for extra cash?
Oh, and the evil aliens are also secretly black magicians who can open portals with magic spells, and they are anti-gun. According to Wilcock, the evil Cabal have a plan to seize all our guns and get rid of the Second Amendment (that somehow they allowed to be enacted), and indeed the Cabal use liberalism, science, secularism, and atheism to make America weak, and only by enacting conservative policies can we guarantee the good aliens will keep the bad aliens in check. Wilcock believes that evil aliens plant damaging info-packets in one’s soul, sort of like engrams and thetans in Scientology, and only by acting according to traditional Christian morality can one avoid having them activated in a “damaging” way. The good aliens, incidentally, are cat-people, which is why Egyptians worshiped cats, I guess. These cat-people built the pyramids and the Face on Mars and gave their secrets to Mithras and Solomon. He adds that the skeletons of giants were not, as many have argued, the bones of Ice Age mammals (actually, he misunderstands Adrienne Mayor as referring to dinosaurs), but those of space aliens, who came back to remove the bones so no one can find proof of their existence.
As you must have guessed, because no fringe theory is complete without them, these aliens are the Watchers or Fallen Angels of Genesis 6:4 and the Book of Enoch. He redefines God to be the plural Elohim, who are the “good ETs,” and assigns the Watchers to be the “bad ETs.” Citing Jim Vieira, he argues that the Watchers’ children, the Giants, were the residents of Atlantis and that Noah’s Flood sank the lost continent:
Just as the Book of Enoch indicated, giants from this civilization did survive all over the Earth after the epic Atlantean flood. They were often reduced to a primitive level, such as in the Americas. They continued to build mounds, even if only out of dirt, to commemorate their ancient legacy.
This is, of course, warmed-over Ignatius Donnelly, who wasn’t even being original when he made that claim back in 1882.
The giants had elongated skulls and were, according to Wilcock, the ancestors of European nobility and key members of the Vatican’s secret circles. U.S. presidents are descendants of the giants through European aristocrats. These giants are, of course, also “international bankers.”
There is so much more, but it’s all recycled crap from other fringe writers—Peter Lemesurier on Christian “codes” in the Great Pyramid (from 1977’s The Great Pyramid Decoded), Helena Blavatsky on Pyramid mysticism, various internet memes—that there is no purpose in reviewing material that was debunked decades or even a century or more ago. Instead, I will skip ahead to the final claim of the book, the actual “secret” of the Ascension Mysteries. I don’t feel bad about giving it away because this misshapen mess of a book is a classic bait-and-switch. According to Wilcock, he planned to teach the reader how to reach the extraterrestrials, but his “dreams” told him at the last minute to junk that and write about his traumatic youth for two-thirds of the book and conspiracy theories for the other third instead.
So, bottom line, here is how you “ascend” to superpowers in the heaven-dimension, in toto: “All you have to do is be slightly above 50 percent ‘service to others’ as opposed to ‘service to self’ and you are cleared for ascension.”
Yup, that’s it. There is none of complex argument between salvation through faith or works as in Christianity, or abnegation of the self as in Buddhism. There is only a mechanical calculation in which you can be 49.999% selfish dick and still be a superhuman. I guess that explains why Wilcock praises himself as a global force for good: “Now I am glad to be a force for good by starring in Ancient Aliens on the History Channel, and sharing information that can help wake people up from the lies and myths of mainstream reality.” That’s about 49% selfish humblebrag, wouldn’t you say?
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, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, 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.