Orfeo Ascending

For Orfeo Angelucci, his strange career as a spokesperson for the aliens watching Earth reportedly began on August 4, 1946 with an amateur science experiment.  

Born in Trenton, New Jersey to a working-class Italian American family, Angelucci was a sickly child with a history of childhood illness.    Diagnosed with “constitutional inadequacy” as a child, his poor health left him with recurring migraine headaches as well as a peculiar sensitivity to thunderstorms.   Despite having to leave school early due to poor health and family financial problems, he continued to study science in his spare time until a complete physical breakdown forced him to give up his job.   After nearly two years in hospital, he eventually returned to work and resumed his amateur science experiments.   

While his experiments may have been somewhat offbeat, there was no doubting his enthusiasm.   Angelucci had a particular fascination with how electricity and thunderstorms affected humans and even wrote an enthusiastic letter to then-President Franklin Roosevelt about his discoveries.   In the letter, he insisted that the “range paralysis” he saw in chickens was related to atmospheric static conditions  and suggested that this might be relevant to the treatment of polio.   He never received an answer. 220px-Orfeo_Angelucci[1]

In the fateful 1946 experiment,  Angelucci tried to launch samples of the fungus, Aspergillis clavatus, into the upper atmosphere in a homemade weather balloon.    He hoped to study how the fungus was changed by atmospheric conditions but the balloon broke away from the mooring and was lost along with his fungus samples.  As he would later describe, Angelucci and the family members who had gathered to watch the balloon launch saw what appeared to be a flying saucer hover overhead.   When the balloon went up, the saucer apparently followed it until both were lost from sight.    No trace of the balloons or the fungus samples were ever found.   

After moving to California (where he heard there were fewer thunderstorms), Angelucci  attempted to break into the movie industry by writing his own script about a trip to the moon (no studios expressed any interest though).    He finally went to work for the Lockheed Corporation doing fabrication work while continuing scientific research in his spare time.  Along with self-publishing a thesis titled “The Nature of Infinite Energies” describing his theories on “atomic evolution, suspension and involution”,  he also wrote several letters to Linus Pauling outlining his theories on biology and nuclear causation.  Pauling wrote several letters back politely thanking him but adding that he had no comments he could make on these theories. 

With the advent of the “flying saucer” craze in 1948, Angelucci became fascinated with the various sightings being reported.  His own flying saucer event occurred on May 23, 1952 after he left the Lockheed plant early in the morning (he was working the night shift.)     In the statement he later wrote about his experience,, he began experiencing “prickling sensations” while driving home that felt as if his old medical problems were returning.    Angelucci then saw a “red-glowing, oval-shaped object” in the sky which he decided to follow.    On a deserted part of the highway, he saw two smaller objects detach themselves and approach his car.  A clear voice told him, “Don’t be afraid, Orfeo, we are friends” and instructed him to get out of the car.  The two smaller objects were apparently meant for communication.  

After reassuring him of their friendly intentions, he was told that the aliens had been watching him ever since his 1946 balloon experiment.    The voice then told him to “Drink from the crystal cup you will find on the fender of your car, Orfeo!”   And, sure enough, there was a goblet on his car fender filled with a liquid.    Angelucci reported, “It was the most delicious beverage I had ever tasted. I drained the cup. Even as I was drinking a feeling of strength and well-being swept over me and all of my unpleasant symptoms vanished.”   The goblet vanished after he replaced it on the fender.

The twin disks then formed into a luminous screen which showed two “oddly familiar” beings, a man and a woman.  “There was an impressive nobility about them,” he wrote.  “Their eyes were larger and much more expressive and they emanated a seeming radiance that filled me with wonder.”    The screen then vanished.   He was then told that “the road will open” and that they had been watching the Earth for centuries.  They also told him that he had been chosen for first contact and that the “flying saucers” were their own ships which were powered and controlled by tapping into “universal magnetic forces.”      Though “Cosmic law prevented one planet from interfering with the evolution of any other planet and that Earth needed to work out its own destiny”, they had been trying to help the human race move forward.   Perhaps not surprisingly, they also informed him that his numerous unconventional theories on nuclear causation and biology were absolutely correct.  After promising to be in contact again, they then left.

And thus Orfeo Angelucci’s strange mission was born.  Never as famous as other flying saucer enthusiasts such as George Adamski, the message he relayed in books such as his 1955 classic, The Secret of the Saucers, seemed to resonate with his early Catholic upbringing.   In the book (which was co-written by science fiction author Ray Palmer), Angelucci described his early experiences with the aliens as well as later trips on board flying saucers which seemed more like spiritual experiences.  Angelucci also became part of the lecture circuit along with other contactees and became a popular guest with radio show hosts as he described his flying saucer journeys.

On one later trip, he was told that Christ had been an “infinite entity of the sun” who had become “flesh and blood and entered the hell of ignorance and woe and evil” due to “compassion for the world’s suffering.”     During that same journey, Angelucci underwent a death and resurrection experience after which he heard the voices tell him, “Beloved friend of earth, we baptize you now in the true light of the worlds eternal.”   He also learned that the flying saucers were symbols of mankind’s “coming resurrection of the living death.”  

His message was also strongly influenced by the 1950s era.  The aliens appeared strangely concerned about communism which they described as a symbol of the earth’s fallen state and something that humanity needed to overcome (nothing about capitalism, however).    They also warned that the human race was living in a state akin to Purgatory and that a Great Armageddon was approaching unless humanity could reform.  Whether this was a nuclear war or something even more dire was left to the imagination of his readers. 

In a later book, Son of the Sun, Angelucci expanded more on his meetings with the angelic aliens and the mystical nature of his experiences on board the flying saucers.   He also described living for a week in the body of his “space brother” Neptune on a large asteroid while his usual body went to work in a waking dream state.    Angelucci published several other pamphlets expanding on his space-brother ideas and also claimed to be in contact with other people who had met the same aliens that he had. 

While Orfeo Angelucci remained part of the flying saucer movement until his death in 1993, he had faded into obscurity by then.   He still has a cult following and his books, complete with audio CDs of him describing his experiences, are available on Amazon.   Carl Jung devoted part of his 1978 book, Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies to him and regarded Angelucci’s account as being the most compelling of all the first-person contact narratives that were published during that era. 

It is tempting to try explaining Angelucci using his medical history and how his “encounters” resemble the type of hallucination seen in certain neurological patients.   Unfortunately, there is not enough information available to make a real diagnosis in his case.   That his claimed experiences strongly reflected his own Catholic upbringing and personal beliefs (including pep talks with Jesus Christ himself) seems to be one of the common features that he shared with fellow contactees.   His other chief claim to fame was that he is believed to have been the first to coin the term, “New Age.” 

Aside from his books on Amazon and the few web pages dedicated to him, Orfeo Angelucci has been largely forgotten by believers and skeptics alike.   Ultimately, what impressed people most listening to his fantastic accounts was the utter sincerity he displayed at all times.   Whatever you might make of his strange claims, he definitely believed what he was saying and that was enough to convince others as well.   If nothing else, he remains an object lesson in the power of belief.

           

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