UFOs, Orgasms and the Occult: The Tucson Connectionby Cherlyn Gardner Strong on Nov. 03, 2009, under General Paranormal, Life, Paranormal, Psychic Phenomena, UFO News, UFOs
More than half a century before the “Balloon Boy” family hoax in Colorado, another eccentric family was involved with weather experimentation. This family resided for a while in Tucson. Last month, we were temporarily tricked into believing that a runaway weather balloon that bore a strange resemblance to a UFO, contained a trapped little Colarado boy. In the 1950s, Tucson was home base for a series of weather experiments conducted by a family. These experiments were not conducted for publicity. They were conducted in the name of science, though the science behind them was anything but mainstream.
According to the man who headed these experiments, his research culminated into a battle with UFOs in Tucson. This is a fairly long post that brings to light some pretty strange history in Southern Arizona.
Primarily, it focuses on a couple of well-known residents who had a connection with each other in a fairly odd way. These men left a lasting legacy in the world, even though their views were far from mainstream. This post does not advocate sexual or occult practices. It simply touches briefly on their lives and their connection to eachother, as well as their connection to Arizona.
It’s a slight deviation from the “normal” paranormal topics normally contained in these pages.
A battle with UFOs in Tucson
In 1954, Tucson was experiencing growing pains. World War II directly influenced a surge in population with troop deployments to Davis Monthan Air Force Base in the 1940’s. The population kept growing after that. Tucson’s boundaries were expanding. Tucson was in the midst of a severe drought. However, in 1954, a world famous scientist relocated to Tucson to battle the drought. This man not only took credit for bringing that rain during his five month residency, but he also claimed he was engaged in a battle with UFOs during his stay.
This man’s name was Wilhelm Reich.
Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who trained under Sigmund Freud in Vienna. He was known for forging ahead with work for which the world wasn’t quite ready. He was labeled as a “quack” by the FDA and deemed mentally ill. However, Wilhelm Reich was once connected to the Old Pueblo and this connection is an interesting one. It might be a bit bizarre.
Reich experimented with a biological energy he called “orgone energy.” Reich claimed to have found a way to harness this energy. The energy was to be used for a variety of purposes from cancer treatment to weather experimentation. The weather experimentation brought him to Tucson all the way from Portland, Maine.
This concept of Orgone was derived from Freud’s concept of libido, while Carl Jung identified the libido as psychic energy. Wilhelm Reich expanded on these concepts with his theories about orgasmic energy. We will return to this idea of Orgone and delve deeper into it later. However, you get the idea. This was biological energy that Reich claimed to have harnessed for the greater good of mankind.
At about the same time in 1954, the world was fascinated with UFOs, and so was William Reich. In fact, much of what was wrong with the world, according to Wilhelm Reich, was due to repressed sexuality and UFO invaders. The term UFO was relatively new at the time. In 1947, a pilot by the name of Kenneth Arnold reported seeing an object that was shaped like a saucer while he flew over Mountain Rainier, Washington. His report gave rise to the terms “flying saucer” or “flying disc” to describe these alien crafts. That same year, 1947, was the Roswell incident. By the early 1950’s the United States Air Force coined the term UFO, or Unidentifiable Flying Object. Popular movies from the 50’s closet of UFO fears include War of the Worlds, Devil Girl from Mars, It Came from Outer Space and The Day the Earth Stood Still. These films thrilled the general population and caused many to look toward the sky. Wilhelm Reich’s eyes tended to be already fixed on the sky.
When Reich relocated his family to Tucson in 1954, he drove through Roswell, NM, on his way to Arizona, feeding his fascination with UFOs. Though Reich called the otherworldly life forms EAs (”E” for Energy and “A” for Alpha). EAs impacted the weather, according to Reich. Reich enrolled his son, Peter, in Wetmore Elementary School, located on Wetmore Road just west of Oracle. The family took up residence near the school. Peter would later pen a memoir about his father in a book published in 1973, called “A Book of Dreams”, where he recounted his memories of living in Tucson with his father. In that book, Peter recalled receiving queries from classmates about his dad’s scientific equipment – specifically about a large contraption that his dad called the Cloudbuster. The Cloudbuster functioned as a rainmaker. According to Peter, the contraption could also disable EAs. In Peter’s memoir, he recalls a UFO/EA battle that took place in Tucson on May 12, 1954 where the Reich family managed to make the EAs disappear from the sky. Peter Reich recalled this incident as fondly as the time he went to Jacome’s Department store downtown to buy a “real Stetson hat for $12.”
During Wilhelm Reich’s stay in Tucson, he deduced that a mountain range prevented rain from reaching Tucson. So for the next several months, Reich would travel further west with his cloudbuster until it rained in March 1955. Reich packed up and returned to Maine. In August of that very year, Tucson experienced the wettest month on record. No one can really say that Reich was responsible for clearing the way for the record rainfall. It rained in August 1955 like it hasn’t rained since, as documented on the National Weather Service website.
The next two years were not happy ones for the Reich family. The federal government was not keen about these weather experiments and other strange research conducted by a man considered too radical in his thoughts and actions. The Food and Drug Administration filed a complaint against Reich, in which they declared that orgone energy did not exist. In June of 1956, Reich’s works were burned at his Maine estate by the federal government. Reich was arrested. He was examined and deemed paranoid with delusions of grandiosity.
Wilhelm Reich died of a heart attack in prison on November 3, 1957. He was 60 years old.
Almost three years after this death, in March of 1960, the FDA incinerated several tons of Reich’s books, journals and papers in New York. Whether or not Reich brought rain to Tucson, his surviving works are still referenced by those outside mainstream science. This post only touches on a small part of a man, whose life was complicated, controversial and disturbing. To read more about him and his other research and experiments, visit Wikipedia or the Wilhelm Reich Museum websites.
Wilhelm Reich lives on in music and literature. Bob Dylan, Kate Bush, Patti Smith, and other songwriters have written and recorded songs about Wilhelm Reich. Jack Kerouac referenced Reich’s work in his book On the Road, as did William Burroughs through his own works. The idea of orgasmic energy didn’t die either. In fact, the idea of orgasmic energy was studied before and after Wilhelm Reich. Before Wilhelm Reich, there was Aleister Crowley, and there were others before him. There are many after him, as well. In fact, much of Reich’s unpublished papers were stored at Harvard Medical School. A stipulation in Reich’s last will and testament ordered that his works remain unopened until 50 years after his death. The anniversary of his death was in November of 2007, as anticipated back then via an AP news article.
Wilhelm Reich believed that pent up orgasmic energy manifested bad energy. He believed that the process of building up and releasing this energy was so strong that it could cure cancer. It could even manipulate the atmosphere to bring rain. Reich asserted that the ability to love was dependent on a person’s ability to make love with “orgastic potency.” This hypothetical form of energy was dubbed “orgone energy” by Wilhelm Reich. Orgone energy, if harnessed, could change the world according to Reich.
Suppressed sexual energies at “the root of all evil”
Before Wilhelm Reich, an occultist from England named Aleister Crowley also dabbled in the powers of orgasmic energy. Crowley called it “Sex Magick.”
Both Wilhelm Reich and Aleister Crowley believed that suppression of sex was at the root of all evil and violence in the world.
“Each individual has an absolute right to satisfy his sexual instinct as is physiologically proper for him. The one injunction is to treat all such acts as sacraments. One should not eat as the brutes, but in order to enable one to do one’s will. The same applies to sex. We must use every faculty to further the one object of our existence.” – Aleister Crowley in “The Book of the Law”
Crowley believed that the energies built up and released during the sex act was capable of being used for magic. Crowley emphasized sex as a supreme magical power. There was more than this belief in the application of sexual energies that bound these men together. Their link came in the form of a man named Israel Regardie.
Regardie took an interest in Aleister Crowley’s published works in the late 1920’s. After corresponding with Crowley, Regardie received an invitation to become Crowley’s secretary in the United Kingdom. Regardie served Crowley for four years before relocating to the United States to become a chiropractor. He studied psychoanalysis at the same time, and he would eventually teach Freudian, Jungian and Reichian psychiatry. Regardie took an interest in Wilhelm Reich’s orgone energy theory. However, after studying both Crowley’s and Reich’s theories of the powers of orgasmic energy, Regardie adopted alternate views. Among them, Regardie believed that these energies were indeed powerful. Those energies could manifest greatly by applying them toward one’s own spiritual and creative endeavors. Regardie’s writings and viewpoints provide much of the foundation for modern Western occultism. He wrote volumes of books before retiring to Sedona, Arizona.
Donald Michael Kraig of the Llewellyn Journal states that four of Regardie’s books put together provide a comprehensive course in magick. There is much more to tell about the lives of Regardie and Reich, but the resulting documentation would produce volumes. The idea was to touch on their connection to each other, as well as their connection to southern Arizona.
Wilhelm Reich and Israel Regardie came to Arizona for vastly different reasons. Wilhelm Reich left Arizona after his work was completed. Israel Regardie retired to Arizona in 1981 after many of his lifelong works were published. Regardie would live the remainder of his life in the desert southwest.
Regardie died of a heart attack in a Sedona restaurant while dining with friends on March 10, 1985. He was 77 years old.