The Stargate Conundrum The Stargate Conundrum
The US Government’s secret pursuit of the psychic drug
Chapter 1. A Man for All Psychics
Andrija Puharich. Not an every-day American name. Not an everyday person. The New Age guru turned fugitive and in 2002 convicted for murder Ira Einhorn observed that he had “practically lived in mind-link with Andrija for six years” and described his former mentor as “the great psychic circus manager of this century.” He is indeed regarded as the “father of the American New Age movement”. Puharich was born in 1918 in Chicago, from Yugoslavian parents. Graduating from medical school at Northwestern University in 1947, his interest was immediately captured by the paranormal. Particular emphasis was placed upon the possibility to enhance, in some way or another, the innate psychic abilities that many if not all of us seemed to possess. Puharich’s public career began in the late 1950s, when he wrote two books: The Sacred Mushroom and Beyond Telepathy. He then disappeared into the background again, until the early 1970s, when he travelled to Israel, and returned to the US with Uri Geller, the spoon-bending psychic that would soon create so much controversy. Behind this public life, lay a private life, which Steven Levy described as “much of his life [is] clouded in a murkiness he has come to wear like some exquisite garment.”
Whereas the Geller episode has captured the imagination of most and has made Puharich a known name, it was Beyond Telepathy that was considered to be a landmark publication. Ira Einhorn thought it was “the book”. It followed Einhorn’s idea that there was a relationship between information and energy. Or as Einhorn later stated: “to understand the laws that govern the non-physical.” Or: the laws that govern another dimension.
What had received less attention was Puharich’s publication The Sacred Mushroom, even though the book seems to be at the origin of all of his later material. Its subtitle carried the intriguing word “doorway”: “doorway to eternity”. How similar to “stargate”. The book tackles seemingly random events occurring during the time when Puharich was doing remote viewing as a “private initiative with government support”, i.e. his time when he ran the Round Table Foundation, which had been instrumental for the “Council of Nine” affair.
The book stated that two “remote viewers” – though not identified by this new name, but rather by the old label of “psychics” – (particularly Harry Stone) frequently went into a spontaneous trance, during which he talked largely in riddles, performing motions that seemed to be rituals. From this no doubt bizarre spectacle, Puharich was able to deduce that Stone was “remembering” a previous incarnation, when he was a high priest in Egypt, at the time of the building of the pyramids. Stone was stressing to Puharich the importance of a cult of a mushroom, the use of which was ritualised, allowing access to what we would term the Realm of the Lords – another dimension, very similar to the dimension in which the Nine were supposed to be sojourning. Puharich stated that some chemical in mushrooms, as was known at that time, was a hallucinogenic substance.
This is all nice and fine, but hallucinogenics were and are labelled as inducing visions that were “not real”; they were and are not supposed to take us into a different dimension, merely into a strange series of images concocted by the brain. Within the framework of our “hyperdimension”, we were talking here about a “real dimension”.
So two linked questions rose to the forefront: were the ancient Egyptians, and Puharich, mistaken by the visions of the mushroom? Did they believe it somehow allowed entry into a strange but real realm, rather than understanding – as present science suggested – that with the use of hallucinogenics, the brain merely went weird and in overdrive, but not “into” anything resembling another dimension? Question number two: did the ancients and Puharich realise that the mushroom contained some magical chemical that opened the door for the mind to enter into another dimension? Was this chemical a “stargate”? If so, how had Puharich come to this conclusion? Beneath the published record, lay a personal account, one which only after his death was revealed by his second wife, who wrote a biography, which in the end was only ever published electronically.
Puharich’s story starts at university, where he developed the “Theory of Nerve Conduction”. In the words of Terry Milner: “The theory proposed that the neuron units radiate and receive waves of energy which he calculated to be in the ultrashortwave bands below infrared and above the radar spectrum. Therefore the basic nerve units – neurons – are a certain type of radio receiver-transmitter.” Puharich’s theory was well received by leading scientists, including one Jose Delgado, later to become one of the pioneers for the CIA in implanting electronic tools in animal brains, to influence their behaviour. But Puharich’s aim was to become a doctor, even though during his internship, he carried out research into digatoid drugs. His sponsor was Sandoz Chemical Works, the pharmaceutical company that had created LSD – at a time when the world had not yet fallen for its hallucinogenic properties. Even though a brilliant career would lay ahead for Puharich if only he were to apply himself, his main interest lay elsewhere: all his time was devoted to the human brain, and beyond. In the mid 1940s, he wrote: “I would venture to say that nobody really knows another’s mind thoroughly, and I would further venture that very few people really know their own mind. It would certainly be a great step forward for many of us if we could sit down and untangle the jungle that is our mind, and then understand those processes by which we judge and study others. If I could do a good job of a task like this, understanding the nature of man’s consciousness, I would feel that I had passed a great milestone in my education.” Puharich was interested in ESP (extrasensory perception) and was aware of the pioneering work of J.B. Rhine, one of the leading inter bellum parapsychologists.
Puharich then traded in his military call-up for the first of a long series of funds: he found a sponsor who paid him a weekly wage. In return, Puharich would try to unravel the mystery of ESP. ESP, according to Puharich, was nothing more than an extension of his previous theory on nerve conduction. The brain and the nervous system were linked to cells, and instructions – energy – flowed between them. “The point that I am trying to establish is that the brain is an area wherein is localized the cell energy of the body. I shall label this cell energy ‘dynamics.’ I further venture to say that transference of dynamics from one person to another is possible.” How? “We all know that there are people who can thrill and exhilarate one, and that there are others who simply bore and fatigue one. This implies that there is a wireless, touchless transfer of this vital substance. If dynamics can be transferred from one organism to another, why cannot that other function of the mind – thought, also be transferred from one mind to another mind? It is also conceivable that dynamics not only passes freely between persons, but also dissipates out into the atmosphere.” In other words, ESP.
Not even 30 years old, Puharich was showing his unique potential, looking towards ESP as a practical problem, which resided within the realm of scientific exploration. No wonder Aldous Huxley would later label him “one of the most brilliant minds in parapsychology”. According to Puharich himself, it was around this time that he was spotted by the intelligence agencies as a potential asset. Puharich claimed he became involved with a “Project Penguin”, a project whose existence has been denied by its sponsor. Project Penguin allegedly got underway in 1948, a Navy exercise that ran for some years. Its scope: to test individuals set to possess “psychic powers”. In charge of the project was Rexford Daniels, this according to a statement made by Puharich on the Geraldo Rivera show on October 2, 1987. A Rexford Daniels did indeed exist and owned a company that in the 1970s must have attracted the attention of Puharich as the company did research into an area in which Puharich was a world-renowned expert at the time: how proliferating electromagnetic emissions interfere with one another and may work harmful environmental effects on man.
However, it is only Puharich who has spoken about Penguin and even though there is no logical reason why he would lie about that episode of his life, it is not substantiated at present by other material. Still, whether Puharich worked for the Navy or not is not that important. It is a fact that he himself started to become the magnet that attracted the world’s most notorious psychics. The only question is whether it was pure self-interest, or whether the Navy was asking him to meet these people. Still, one of the more notorious of these individuals, Peter Hurkos, was brought to the US by a man with a background in Naval intelligence. So at the very least, the Navy did help Puharich… and we need to wonder why they did so much for what was, in essence, a psychic, for which there was no official interest. It was November 1949 when Puharich met Eileen Garrett, a well-known medium and founder of the Parapsychological Foundation in New York. She never wanted money for her séances and apparently doubted her own psychic abilities, even though when challenged in tests, she always succeeded brilliantly. Puharich was very impressed by Garrett, thrilled even as he got “a glimpse of what the operation of telepathy could be like.” Garrett accepted to be tested by Puharich. She then introduced him to John Hays Hammond, one of the world’s great electronic inventors. Puharich and Hammond would become friends, which would last at least a decade, as testified by Puharich’s wife who visited the Hammond residence in 1958. To quote Puharich: “Jack became my mentor, teaching me more subtleties of life than any book can capture. He taught me the art of invention, how all his ideas came to him in dreams, in reveries, etc.”
On March 27, 1951, Puharich and Eileen Garrett started experiments to find out whether or not telepathy existed. Puharich at the time was doing various tasks, some involving ESP, others involving food testing, as well as supplementing his income with his career as a medical doctor. As such, it is difficult to find out how much money came in from where, but it is generally believed that there was a “secret source of income”. And it is believed that this source were the American Intelligence agencies.
Fortune often walked together with these, as in 1951 he somewhat miraculously received a research grant of close to $100,000 to build a solid sheet metal Faraday cage, to test Garrett. And if the world of spooks had not been interested before, they were now. The Army, via Colonel Jack Stanley, and a French General, J.C. Sauzey, came to Puharich to express the interest of both the US and French government. Uri Geller stated in 1996 that he “probably” believed that “the whole thing with Andrija was financed by the American Defense Department.” That opinion was also expressed by Jack Sarfatti, who added that Puharich was Geller’s case officer in America with money provided by Sir John Whitmore. Puharich himself stated that his draft into the Army was strange, as Puharich had written down in his book The Sacred Mushroom: “Col. Nolton (a pseudonym), Chief of the Army Medical Laboratories of the Chemical Corps had invited me to his office one day. In a most roundabout way he had quizzed me about my experience with mind readers and such people who could get verifiable intelligence in the absence of any known mechanism to account for it.” Pure remote viewing. Puharich pointed out this was only the most recent in a long series of conversations that had started prior to his entry into the Army. “The first such conversation had started in August of 1952 at the Round Table Laboratory in Glen Clove, Maine. A friend of mine, an army colonel, who was Chief of the Research Section of the Office of the Chief of Psychological Warfare, had dropped in to say hello.” He was interested in Puharich’s research and a machine that was deemed to augment a person’s ESP capabilities. (So far, I have not seen this go on sale in the high street, making me wonder whether Puharich’s machine did not work… or whether its design is hiding somewhere…)
It was this report that was presented on November 24, 1952 before a meeting of the Research Branch of the Office of the chief of Psychological Warfare at the Pentagon. On December 6, 1952, Puharich received a greeting card from the draft board and was inducted into the Army on February 26, 1953. Puharich commented how strange this was, as he had had a medical discharge as a first lieutenant in 1948. It was clear that the Army wanted him solely for his recent experiments and by controlling his paycheck, they were controlling the man.
To once again quote Puharich’s wife: “Why they [the US and French military] had shown an interest became clear in 1959 when a French popular science magazine published a story that the Americans had been successfully communicating by telepathy with the submarine, Nautilus. This rumour gave Soviet scientists, already interested in telepathy, a lever to gain fresh government backing. A parapsychological unit was added to the Leningrad department of physiology, with professor Vasiliev as its head. The Super Power competition was on.” And playing captain for the American team was Andrija Puharich.
Puharich himself has stated that the Round Table Foundation was indeed a front for the Army. It functioned in 1953, when he worked for the Army Chemical Center in Edgewood, Maryland, where he served until April 1955. Picknett and Prince had stumbled upon this episode of Puharich’s career and stated that this re-employment was because the Army was interested in finding a drug that would stimulate psychic abilities. That is right: a substance that would give a person psychic abilities… Puharich’s Chemical Center at Edgewood was known to co-operate with the CIA’s MK-ULTRA team, whose quest was all about mind-altering drugs. Coincidence? The existence of the secret mind control programme of the CIA and the Army only came to light after Nixon’s resignation in 1974, when a fresh wind of “openness” seemed to flow through the opened windows of the Washington governmental offices. American journalist John Marks requested, using the Freedom of Information Act, several documents on the subject, which would result in Senate Hearings that occurred in 1977. A can of worms had been opened.
Were there any references to Puharich in these documents? One of the projects that was part of this programme, BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE, ran from 1952 till 1956, roughly coinciding with the period when Puharich was assigned to Edgewood. Furthermore, Ira Einhorn stated that his mentor, Puharich, “was doing LSD work for the CIA in 1954”. He linked Puharich with Sidney Gottlieb and MK-ULTRA and added that Puharich was involved in the notorious experiments that resulted in the death of one subject, Frank Olson, who fell from a window. Olson allegedly committed suicide in 1953 by jumping out of a 13-story window, 175 feet to the ground. Olson had unknowingly taken a dose of LSD. He resigned from government service shortly thereafter and allegedly began to divulge classified information to members of his car pool.
In 1965, Olson’s son Eric read a story that the CIA had experimented with LSD as a truth serum testing it on their own scientists in the 1950s. The CIA confirmed that his father had been one of these test subjects. In 1975, Gerald Ford awarded the Olsons $750,000 and an apology. In 1994, Eric was granted permission to exhume the body. The conclusion from this port-mortem was inconsistent with either an accidental fall or a suicide – there was an unexplainable bruise on the side of Olson’s forehead that had not occurred when he had hit the ground. The enquiry decided that Olson had probably been hit with a blunt object and was thrown out the window.
It was not the sole time the CIA experimented on its own citizens. In 1968-9, the CIA experimented with the water supply of the Food and Drug Administration, injecting it with a chemical substance. The experiment was intended to test the possibility of poisoning drinking water. No harmful effects were noted, and this case seems harmless enough, except that Nuremberg rules were violated. High strangeness in the state of play was indicated by Puharich himself. During the Round Table Foundation years, he was regularly visited by Army officials. One visit, by an Army general and his staff in September 1957, was cancelled at the last moment. Why? “There was some compelling security reason unknown to him [the Army general] which made it undesirable for military officials to express an interest in our kind of research.” The answer does not make sense. The answer implies that the general had wanted to visit Puharich, but that the Army had instructed him to cancel the visit, as the general did not have the necessary security clearances, or reasons. This was a tell-tale sign that the Army was involved with Puharich. One general in the Army wanted to visit a person whom he believed was a civilian, but when the visit was logged, someone in the Army, in another department, apparently realised this general was treading on sacred ground, and he was ordered to cancel his visit. In 1954, Puharich received a transcript from what Harry Stone had uttered during a trance. Some were in English, others in Egyptian. “The first time this occurred, Harry had been at Mrs. Davenport’s apartment in New York. When admiring a gold pendant, in the form of a cartouche, he had suddenly started to tremble all over, got a crazy staring look in his eyes, staggered around the room, and then fell into a chair.”
What fascinated Andrija was the trance description that Stone had given of a plant that could separate consciousness from the physical body. Puharich knew that the ancient Greeks and the shamans in Siberia had an ancient tradition in which men partook of a plant which could detach the soul from the body, travel far, and then return with knowledge that was otherwise inaccessible to the human mind. If he was able to master this technique, it was clear that he and those for whom he worked, would have a powerful advantage over their enemies. Stone’s drawings of the plant looked like mushrooms, and the description he gave was that of the fly agaric, or amanita muscaria.
Puharich realised that Stone had given him the answer to his problem: this mushroom could enhance extrasensory perception in human beings. All he had to do was find it and use it. By the fall of 1955, Puharich had an ample supply of the mushroom to find out… Being a scientist by training, he first set out to analyze the mushroom chemically, and found three chemicals that were of interest for his study of psychic effects: muscarine, atropine and bufotenin. Muscarine stimulates the parasympathetic nerve endings, giving the user great muscular strength and endurance. After this initial stimulating effect, muscarine acted as a poison and paralysed the very nerves that it had stimulated. Atropine alone initially stimulated the central nervous system and then paralysed it. The third drug, bufotenin was a hallucinogenic drug. Combined, they made the mushroom a magic potion.
Puharich tested 35 “psychically ungifted” people, but none reported anything out of the ordinary. But in the case of Harry Stone, during a visit by Aldous Huxley, Stone asked to have the mushroom administered. Rather than chew, Stone applied the mushroom on his tongue and on the top of his head, in ritualistic fashion. Five minutes later he woke up, and began to stagger around as though he were heavily intoxicated with alcohol. At that point, Puharich wanted to test whether Stone’s psychic abilities had enhanced. The results were positive. In fact, they were not just positive, but perfect. Ten out of ten. And not only that, but superfast as well.
Puharich quickly administered a large dose of atropine and removed the remaining particles of the mushroom from his tongue. Within fifteen minutes, Harry was ‘normal’ again. This was, of course, a major revelation for Puharich and the experiments were detailed in his book, The Sacred Mushroom. But Puharich was not the only one to write about it. Aldous Huxley stated: “I spent some days, earlier this month, at Glen Cove, in the strange household assembled by Puharich […] Harry, the Dutch sculptor, who goes into trances in the Faraday Cage and produces automatic scripts in Egyptian hieroglyphics […] whatever may be said against Puharich, he is certainly very intelligent, extremely well read and highly enterprising. His aim is to reproduce by modem pharmacological, electronic and physical methods the conditions used by the Shamans for getting into a state of travelling clairvoyance. At Glen Cove they now have found eight specimens of the amanita muscaria. This is very remarkable as the literature of the mycological society of New England records only one previous instance of the discovery of an amanita in Maine. The effects, when a piece as big as a pin’s head, is rubbed for a few seconds into the skin of the scalp, are quite alarmingly powerful, and it will obviously take a lot of very cautious experimentation to determine the right psi-enhancing dose of the mushroom.”
In short, Puharich found a psychic drug and one of the main authorities on the subject, Aldous Huxley, agreed, “whatever may be said against Puharich”, suggesting that Huxley was aware of a darker side to the man… or a side he at least wanted to distance himself from.
In spite of this promising start, Stone’s further test results deteriorated the more experiments occurred. At the same time, Puharich was often otherwise engaged. It was only in the late 1950s, when writing The Sacred Mushroom, that Puharich could once again set his mind in a logical order. And what he realised was simple: Stone had shown the possibility that a psychic, when being administered a hallucinogenic substance, will be able to get 100 percent accurate information from “paranormal communication”. Now Puharich only needed to find out whether it was repeatable, that all important condition for an experiment to be labelled “scientific”. Puharich needed more psychics and Henry Belk brought the name of a Dutch psychic, Peter Hurkos to his attention. Puharich stated on many occasions that he was only responsible for placing Hurkos in a light state of trance. “I have seen Hurkos demonstrate just as good or better examples of extrasensory perception without the use of the mushroom.” Hurkos’ extraordinary psychic gifts had manifested after he fell from a ladder onto his head in 1944. He suffered a brain injury and lay in a coma for three days. On regaining consciousness, he found that he had acquired an ability to “see into the unknown”.
Hurkos was tested for “normal” psychic abilities, but also for “enhanced” abilities, i.e. the mushroom ritual. Puharich wrote: “On August 23, 1957, after Hurkos had been administered the preparation of the mushroom, he slipped into a semi sleep state in about twenty minutes and began to talk. He saw what he called ‘a miracle in the sky’. When asked what this miracle was, he was not capable of giving it finite description. These are the words he used: ‘There is going to be a miracle in the sky. It is coming. I cannot tell you precisely what it is, except that I see it as an earth-ball. It is in the sky, and everybody in the whole world can see it.”
The results of the experiment were, to say the least, unimpressive; they belonged in the category of “the world is coming to an end” prophecies that had gone around the world for centuries. Nevertheless, this did not deter Puharich. He organised frequent “mushroom binges”, some which occurred in his own home. Most participants behaved erratic, some getting powerful sexual drives, others becoming violently ill. It was clear that after an initial success, the project needed a new focus to fulfil its possible destiny. In 1955, Puharich heard from Gordon Wasson that a ritualistic mushroom cult existed in Mexico. It had existed for hundreds of years, and was still practiced in some remote parts of the country. Wasson wrote his own book on mushrooms in 1957, which is considered to be a landmark publication. It was two years later that Puharich’s own book on “magic mushrooms” was published. Shortly after the publication, in June 1960, Puharich himself set out for the village of Juquila in the state of Oaxaca, 200 miles south of Mexico City. Four weeks later, one team member returned saying all others were ill, but Puharich apparently crazy, as he had gone on alone. Though the escapade was not appreciated by his second wife, Puharich was literally risking his life, at a time when he had a pregnant wife and four children at home. But the quest for the mushroom was more important than his own life. It always would be and it is one of the reasons why Puharich had some many wives and partners, and so many children with them. It takes a special type of woman to understand a man with such a deep drive, who accepts that she will always come second, and is able to live with that knowledge. Puharich seemed to have less difficulty in finding magic mushroom than such a wife… but perhaps they were rarer than the magic mushroom…
Upon his return, Puharich found a university and television company willing to sponsor a second expedition. In the end, ABC screened “One Step Beyond”, showing the expedition locating the mushroom in Mexico, and the ESP tests before and after eating the mushroom, at Puharich’s home. If the CIA had not heard from Puharich and his experiments, they would know now. What was next? After the demise of the Round Table Foundation, Puharich founded Intelectron Corporation, a medical electronics business. But his heart remained in the paranormal. He continued to make frequent trips to South America, in particular Mexico and Brazil, in search of the drug rites performed by the Chatina Indians and a faith healer called Arigo.
It was in 1963 when Puharich was asked by Belk to go to Brazil, to Arigo. Arigo performed major surgery on humans without any anaesthesia or antisepsis, using the same kitchen knife on each patient. Arigo’s “surgeries” were filmed and show him plunge an ordinary kitchen knife into a man’s eyeball or his testicles, with hardly any bleeding and the patients walking out of the room by themselves. How was Arigo able to do this? The spirit of a doctor called Fritz, who had died in 1918, guided him, he said.
At the same time, Puharich conducted psychic experiments at his country estate, at 87 Hawkes Avenue, in Ossining, New York. It was here that Hollywood and New York collided, for in the movie Hudson Hawk, Bruce Willis was asked where he got his tattoo of a Hawk, to which he replied “in Ossining, New York”. An unremarkable detail that must have slipped past most of the viewers, but which is nevertheless of interest, were it not that the plot of the movie involves a time-machine. Perhaps it was fall-out of Puharich’s appearance on an episode of the Perry Mason television show, where he played himself. With Intelectron, he mainly worked for the US government. “They had immediately seen the many potential applications of electromagnetic stimulation of hearing,” Puharich said. The U.S. Air Force thus awarded Intelectron a research contract. From there on, research was to be performed under the guidance of a member of an Air Force committee. Puharich, it seems, was never more than a long arm away from a government official…
The interest of the committee led to an active exchange between Puharich and representatives of the U.S. Government. These agencies were the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Foreign Technology Division of the Systems Command of the U.S. Air Force (USAF-SC), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)… not your normal “interface” when working for the government.
As I have already mentioned, the United States and Russia were actively interested in telepathy. Apparently Professor Vasiliev, head of the parapsychological department in Leningrad, had used a Faraday Cage isolation technique to prove the existence of telepathy. This work had been done in secret, and all the witnesses to the work were no longer alive. There was a question in the minds of some NASA officials as to whether the Russians had actually done this cage-telepathy research, or had merely copied Puharich’s work of 1952. Puharich himself had many discussions about this question with NASA officials. The conclusion was that NASA was going to support his research in psychic phenomena, or what they called bio-information-transfer, or energy transfer. According to Puharich, a curious situation was created in the fall of 1963, so much so that he himself did not clearly foresee when it started to happen. It all came out of his research work in two different areas, the psychical research (ESP), and the research in electro-stimulation of hearing (ESH). The problem arose, he thought, because competing agencies of the US Government supported different aspects of his research. The United States Air Force supported his research in ESH under contract; NASA supported the research in ESP.
In September 1963, at the International Astronautic Congress in Paris, NASA’s Bioastronautics director Eugene Konecci said that both the American and Soviet Union Space Agencies were testing “non-electronic biological communication”. He believed that “thought transference” might be a workable method of communication through space.
The announcement made by Konecci caused a fierce negative reaction from the US Congress. One of their spokesmen had just said that NASA believed in telepathy? The administrator of NASA, James Webb, was told that if he did not stop this ESP research, there would be major cuts in the NASA budget. Dr. Webb could only follow up on this advice and the research project that Puharich was to direct was cancelled. Puharich himself believed that the US Air Force was behind this congressional pressure on NASA, because of the intense rivalry that existed between the two agencies.
After he had fulfilled his contract with the Air Force, and his paper was published, he was approached by a scientist, Dr. Leon Harmon, from Bell Laboratories to give a demonstration that the Transdermal Hearing System really worked. Dr. Harmon even brought his own deaf patient. After two hours of tests, he saw the proof that his patient could indeed “hear” and repeat words that were transmitted to him. However, all Dr. Harmon could say was, “Damn it, Puharich, that’s not hearing, that’s telepathy what we saw.” (Again, I believe this device is not on sale…)
All these government sponsored projects had resulted in the fact that Puharich did not have the time to convince the scientific community of the validity of his ESP research. Though the US government was slowly but definitely becoming convinced of ESP and Puharich’s pioneering role, the rest of the world had to wait. Though it meant that the public at large missed out on the knowledge that ESP was a reality, the US government did have a legitimate reason to withhold this information at the time: it believed that the opposition – the Soviet Union – was engaged in a similar programme, whereby total secrecy would be of the utmost importance. Furthermore, if Puharich –or other researchers – did make their research public and were able to convince the world of the reality of ESP, did this not mean that anyone anywhere could begin to try to penetrate – via ESP – into the darkest secrets of the government? Of course, in the eyes of the military this problem outweighed all the beneficial possibilities… By the late 1960s, Puharich had built a solid foundation for ESP, and had shown practical applications, many of which he had done for the US government. The next phase of his life took him back to the days of the Round Table, where he had worked with psychics on a largely informal basis. Puharich went in search of new psychics, of which Uri Geller would become the most notorious example. Sponsored and largely run by the CIA, the remote viewing project seemed to use Puharich as a consultant, whereby the day to day management was left to other scientists. It seems that Puharich carried on where he had left off more than a decade before, except for one major missing factor: what about the mushrooms? Are we to assume that the government “forgot” about the mushroom connection of Puharich’s original research – the discovery of a psychic drug?
In August 1972, Puharich called Geller back from Europe, to start the research programme. Geller agreed reluctantly. They flew to Germantown, Maryland, to meet with Dr. Werner von Braun (we can only ask why), then onwards to San Francisco, to Stanford University, and back to the East Coast to meet some more scientists. It was Stanford Research Institute (SRI) where the remote viewing experiment was housed. The project was co-ordinated by Russell Targ, a specialist in lasers and plasma research, and Dr. Harold Puthoff, a specialist in quantum physics. They were sufficiently impressed by Geller’s qualities to warrant further investigation.
A full-page report of the experiments appeared in the National Enquirer, not renowned for its scientific focus: “A young Israeli who can apparently bend metal with his mind has undergone rigidly controlled experiments at a leading research institute. The top scientists who tested him admit they cannot explain his amazing ‘powers.’ The experiments were ‘cheat-proof’ and the scientists reported that Geller participated in experiments where the probability that anyone could have done what he did was one in a million, and in another test, one in a trillion.”
Geller amazed the scientists when he made a balance placed in a bell jar respond as though a force was applied to it – without touching the balance. A chart recorder monitoring the balance showed that Geller somehow produced a force ten to a hundred times greater than could be produced by striking the bell jar, or the table, or jumping on the floor.
He correctly identified, eight out of eight times, the numbers shown on a die shaken inside a closed metal box. Only scientists handled the box, and no-one knew what number was on the die until after Geller had made his predictions, and the box was opened.
A magnetometer, a sensitive instrument that measures magnetic fields, registered when Geller just passed his empty hands near it. Geller also bent metal objects and broke them in half, without physical force. He stopped clock hands without touching them, and made objects disappear completely.
Geller, it seemed, was too good to be true, and definitely too well-known to be left alone. Puharich learned that Time magazine was about to publish an article about Geller being a fraud. From what he was able to find out, it appeared that the US Defense Department was backing them and making every effort to discredit the scientists and Geller. We need to ask why the Defense Department wanted to do a character assassination of a spoon bender… unless, of course, it had a direct relationship with some of their projects.
The government knows it is good practice to ridicule people like Geller, in case they are to speak up about secret projects in public. It would allow them to be immediately labelled “frauds” by certain “experts”. But to Geller’s credit, when he was contacted for The Stargate Conspiracy in the late 1990s, he felt he could still not speak about the Remote Viewing experiments or name names, unaware that the project had been declassified – and a clear indicator that Geller had moved away from sensitive material, dedicating himself at the time to trying to run an X-Files orientated UK newsstand magazine. Before the kick-off of the SRI project, Einhorn and Puharich had become close friends, resulting in the re-publication of Puharich’s Beyond Telepathy, with Anchor Books, for whom Einhorn was a consultant. Then Geller arrived. One night, Puharich and Einhorn talked about nothing but Geller. Author Steven Levy states how “Ira divined immediately that the proof of Geller’s powers would jar conventional physics and create the ‘paradigm shift’ that Thomas Kuhn described in his book.” The meeting concluded with Puharich and Einhorn making a pact: to make Geller a worldwide phenomenon. Goal? To create such a paradigm shift, which Kuhn had expressed in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, wherein Kuhn argued that paradigm shifts occur when a certain number of neglected or denied experimental results suddenly become accepted and change the way we look upon things. In the case of Geller and psychic events, it would be how we looked upon reality, for suddenly the bounds of physics were, well, no longer boundaries. Though this goal was noble in itself, Einhorn seems to have miscalculated the lengths some forces would go to to maintain the status quo… which was easily done, as Puharich had done most of the work as part of a government contract; a secret government project. Puharich was close to breaking his tie with the “underworld”. Would the lords of the underworld allow him to shine the light in our world? Einhorn’s plan was initially working: tests at Stanford Research Institute underlined Geller’s paranormal capabilities and the exposure in the National Enquirer brought the “Geller effect” to the forefront of the international media.
Something seemed to be happening and the boundaries of reality seemed to be extending. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell wrote how “during the six weeks when we conducted formal experiments with Uri, there were also an incredible number of equipment failures and downright strange occurrences that no one could reality explain.” Video equipment would lose a pulley, later found in a different room; jewellery would go missing, only to be found in a locked safe. “There were literally dozens of such events.” It seemed that whenever Geller was around, things would disappear and appear in different places – physics somehow forgot the laws it was supposed to be ruled by. Many of these events were captured on camera, and some demonstrations were broadcasted to TV audiences. In the spring of 1973, Geller appeared on the Jack Paar talk show. Paar unexpectedly asked whether Geller could bend several large steel nails, held by Paar. Geller placed his hands over Paar’s, concentrated, then asked Paar to open his hands and inspect the nails: all were bent. Mitchell, co-appearing on the show, stated how “when he opened his hand his faced turned ashen. The tip of one of the nails was bent about twenty degrees, whereas all had been perfectly straight just moments before. An awkward silence fell over the set.”
Mitchell and Puharich both witnessed how whenever Geller appeared on television, there would be numerous reports of how suddenly parents rang, reporting that their children were bending spoons as well. Mitchell stated how “I could usually sense what part of the world Uri was in by where the parents were calling from to report that their children were mutilating the family silverware.” Professor John Hasted, Chairman of the Department of Physics at Birbeck College in London, reported how after seeing Geller, several children could bend metal without any physical contact. Was Geller somehow showing the children of the world how they could defy the laws of physics? The answer was an unequivocal yes. Was a paradigm shift at hand? The answer seemed yes as well. While Geller’s powers became known around the world, the results of the scientific tests performed at SRI were published in Nature, a first important hurdle in creating this paradigm shift. But then the plan derailed. Because of Puharich himself.
Einhorn had succeeded in landing a book-deal for Puharich. The book, Uri, was the account of Geller’s powers, as witnessed by the man’s protégé. The paradigm shift was riding on this book. But instead of fame, it brought despair. In trying to explain the origin of Geller’s powers, Puharich attributed these to an extraterrestrial source, the Hoovians, agents of an interstellar council called “The Nine”. The Nine, Puharich stated, left strange messages on Puharich’s tape recorder and appeared in the form of UFO’s. “The Nine” had first appeared on the scene in the early 1950s, at the Round Table. They form, as mentioned, the backbone of The Stargate Conspiracy.
Was Geller used by Puharich to convince the world that The Nine were real? Or were The Nine used, so that Geller and his psychic abilities could become ridiculed? In my opinion, Puharich seems to have tried to overplay his card. Someone knew the paradigm shift was about to happen and “asked” Puharich to freeze it. But this was, of course, not to Geller’s liking. Was it any wonder that Geller distanced himself from his mentor? It seemed clear that this sudden turn left both Geller and Einhorn flabbergasted. Why did Puharich kill the paradigm shift? Picknett and Prince have implied that Puharich’s true motivations had resurfaced: his interest in the Council of Nine. Puharich had used Geller’s fame to promote the cause of “The Nine”. Possible. But was this answer perhaps too obvious?
Picknett and Prince state that in the campaign to promote The Nine, Puharich had used Geller to further his own belief in The Nine. But there is no evidence that suggests Puharich was particularly interested in The Nine between 1952 and 1972. Nor is there much evidence to suggest that Puharich was interested in them afterwards. Though it was true that the accreditation of Geller’s powers to The Nine resulted in the latter’s rise to fame, it seemed this had been a side-effect and not the focus of Puharich’s reason. Furthermore, Puharich must have realised that a step by step approach would be more beneficial. There was no need to explain the “Geller effect”; Uri could just show it, and inform the world of the existence of ESP. Afterwards, Puharich could have used his and Geller’s notoriety to work The Nine into the scenario and cement their fame. So even if Puharich wanted to promote The Nine, he had obviously done it far too quickly… and without any clear strategy.
So why do it? The evidence suggests that Puharich was merely interested in a twenty-year old incident to make the origins of Geller’s powers into an unverifiable myth – or disinform the public. Why? Perhaps Puharich did not want the paradigm shift to happen after all. But perhaps (more likely) he was following orders, and the orders were that the status quo had to remain. It seems a logical enough assumption that the US government was not interested in paradigm shifts, but instead preferred status quo, in which the existence of ESP was contained within the corridors of their own buildings, and not displayed in every street of the world. With such a paradigm shift, there was more than the state of the family silverware at stake. Even though Puharich may have wanted a paradigm shift, he was not “just” a civilian. Einhorn was “just” a civilian and the patriarch of the New Age movement: he wanted a “change in world consciousness”. He lived for it. Strived for it. But Puharich was a man living in “murkiness”, as Einhorn himself had stated. Puharich was a man of the black world. The black world had allowed Puharich to find answers to his questions. But the black world of intelligence agencies was also a black hole: it did not like publicity, it functioned in the background.
Geller would have changed all that. Could the government allow Puharich that to happen? Could Puharich himself allow it? If Geller became accepted, there would be enquiries into Geller and Puharich’s background. And in the early 1970s, the mind control experiments, which included the testing of mind-altering drugs on unwitting American civilians, was still secret. If Geller became accepted, that can of worms would be opened. Could Puharich and his colleagues allow that to happen? Even if my entire line of reasoning were to be wrong, the answer to this question is an obvious no. Another question needs to be asked. When Puharich had left the Army in 1955, had he and the military found a “psychic drug”? Or had they found it when Puharich re-entered the public arena with Geller?
Though Geller has become a household name since the early 1970s, his most remarkable performances occurred over a limited period of time. Of everything Geller managed to perform, it seems that only the spoon-bending pre-dated and survived his days at SRI. What had happened to all his other abilities? Geller defied the laws of physics and then reverted to being a “normal psychic” – which does imply he was not very good at it, except in this short period of time.
Another possible reason for this turnaround could therefore be that the truth about Geller’s extra-ordinary power, only displayed over a very short period of time, could not be divulged. What if Geller was indeed psychic, but that his “super psychic” abilities had been “induced”, by a “psychic drug”? We note that before Geller, Puharich had worked with other psychics, with whom he had shown that the use of drugs – mushrooms – had made “psychics” into “super psychics”. Had Puharich and the mind control projects stumbled upon “the psychic switch” and had they given it to Geller – perhaps even without telling Geller himself? Had the US Government discovered the key that made a normal person – but particularly a psychic person – into a superman? It may seem a preposterous question, but any anthropologist will be able to list hundreds of examples of tribes in which the shaman is believed to turn into a superman, able to access another dimension and bring back knowledge from that realm… after the ingestion of a hallucinogenic substance – a psychic drug. Though Geller had been discredited by Puharich, another “hound” would make sure that Geller continued to be haunted. That hound was James Randi, whose battles with Geller could fill hundreds of pages – and continues to this day.
The story of James Randi and his fight against the famous but believed to be fraudulent psychic inspired the script writers of the 1970s series Columbo. In one episode, Columbo Goes to the Guillotine, the story of “Elliot Blake”, a fake English psychic and former magician is in cahoots with the female leader of a secret government think-tank solely dedicated to psychic research, the “Anneman Institute”, whose primary funding is coming from the US Government, in particular the CIA. “Max Dyson”, a famous magician turned paranormal sceptic – i.e. James Randi – organises a “conclusive” test to find out whether Blake can “view from a distance” – distant viewing as opposed to remote viewing – an apparently sound scientific experiment that seems to prove to the CIA and the institute that ESP is real. However, when Dyson (Randi) is murdered by Blake (Geller), Columbo unravels a web of deceit, in which he reveals how Dyson and Blake faked the entire experiment and hence collaborated to fool the US government.
It is an intriguing story, particularly when one realises that certain aspects of the story, when aired, were somewhat or completely secret – such as the fact that the CIA was funding the Geller experiments and SRI’s ESP experiments. But Hollywood knew, perhaps because Puharich himself would make a small contribution to the film industry by playing himself in that other paramount legal drama of the American television industry, Perry Mason.
So Hollywood depicted the entire experiment at SRI as bogus. And in real life, Randi felt as much. Randi’s quest had been helped by Puharich himself, in claiming that Geller’s powers came from extra-terrestrial sources. The paradigm shift that Einhorn had hoped for, did not happen. Unlike Neo in The Matrix, the spoon-bending Geller had not been able to shift “The Matrix”. And despite Puharich’s claims that Randi was a disinformation agent responsible for this, the truth was that Puharich himself had sown the seeds of Geller’s demise as a “worldwide phenomenon”. After the kick-off of the Remote Viewing project, the CIA seems to have forgotten about Puharich, or Puharich about the CIA. Perhaps the episode of The Nine made them decide not to continue to use him – perhaps he was only ever required for the kick-off of the new project.
Puharich then focused on the techniques of the “psychic doctors”, following up on his research of Arigo. Puharich was asked to lead a group of scientists to learn their methods, a mission that he accepted. In January 1978, he was once again in Mexico, to study Pachita, one of these doctors.
Like Arigo, Pachita used a crude surgical tool in all of her operations, whether it was eye, brain, bone or abdominal surgery. As before, Puharich underwent surgery, this time for a hearing problem. Puharich reported that one month post-op, his hearing was back to normal. During his stay, he witnessed many operations, including organ transplants, one of which was a kidney transplant in a 34-year-old woman which he had brought from the States. Puharich was convinced Pachita’s surgery was genuine and that no fraud had occurred in the presence of his team of observing scientists. Apparently, Puharich, a doctor himself, believed Arigo and Pachita were opening a new science of medicine and felt it his duty to publish their techniques, so that “psychic surgery” could be taught to others.
Though it may seem to be a radical departure from his previous material, in essence it was not: Puharich continued to promote the innate wisdom of the “primitive tribes” and shamanic techniques, as long as they continued to extend modern man’s understanding of physics and the mind. Puharich at the time was working on a book, which his publisher stated would be delayed, this for rather vague reasons. Some months later, however, Puharich was contacted by some of his friends and colleagues stating that a CIA agent had shown them a copy of the manuscript. The editor, however, stated no-one had been given a copy. Puharich realised the CIA was trying to give him a message, but had no idea what the message was. To me, it seems quite simple: they were monitoring, just in case he was thinking of creating a paradigm shift, using different material than Geller.
On August 7, 1978, he got a telephone call from one of his assistants from Ossining with the news that fire had been set to his beautiful home. Later, the police confirmed that the fire had been arson. At the same time, Puharich learned that he and those closest to him were under surveillance. It became clear that the reason for this was Puharich’s “meddling” with so-called “free energy”, following in the footsteps of that other Yugoslavian genius, Nikola Tesla, who had given the world alternating current (AC/DC). In the late 1970s, people with an interest in Tesla and specifically the promotion of such technology, were harassed, including Tom Bearden, whose book, Excalibur Briefing, was subjected to similar treatment. Break-ins at the publisher, fires at the typesetter, followed by further break-ins at the typesetter with the smashing of the galley proofs were all part of the treatment that someone was “offering” to those foolishly continuing to create a paradigm shift. In the case of Bearden, it merely delayed the publication; Puharich’s book, however, was never published. He had, in essence, been silenced.
Perhaps as a reward for his silence, in 1982, Puharich was offered the post of ELF (Extremely Low Frequencies) research director for the CIA. In the words of his biographer, “supposedly two CIA men came to his house in Delaplane, Virginia apologizing that the CIA gave him such a hard time.” Puharich declined the position. He had got the message: do what you want, but keep quiet about it. And so he did. In 1980, Richard Joshua Reynolds invited Puharich to live at his estate and study ELF at his own convenience. On January 4, 1995, the following death-notice appeared in the Winston Salem journal: “Elderly Scientist ordered evicted from Reynolds Estate dies in fall.” The newspaper reported that Puharich, 76, had suffered a heart-attack and had fallen down the stairs. At the time, Puharich had been evicted from the estate, together with Elizabeth Rauscher and William Van Bise, who unlike Puharich were fighting the order. It had started in June 1994, when Reynolds died. Reynolds had not provided for them in his will, leading to the eviction order. Two months before the date, however, Puharich collapsed and was hospitalised, revealing severe diabetes and kidney failure, as well as other related problems.
It was a sad demise for one of the true innovators of the 20th century. The tone at his funeral reflected the same. Few friends and only a couple of his children turned up, about a dozen people in all. Here was a man who had dined with the most prominent and wealthiest people in the United States, had mentored the most well-known psychics, from Garrett via Hurkos to Geller. No Uri Geller, no Barbara Bronfman or Christopher Bird were present at his funeral, though the latter did send notes. The only person there was Henry Belk, apart from of course the other tenants, Rauscher and van Bise. As to Belk, a man who had remained in the background, though always close to Puharich, he told author Terry Milner that “he would never commit or have his life committed to paper because people simply would not be believed.” Enough said… Still, unfortunately, Puharich had been forgotten; the founder of the American New Age movement was dead; long lived the New Age, but who the hell was Puharich?
Intriguingly, within one year of Puharich’s death, the CIA decided to declassify its Remote Viewing project, the brainchild of Puharich. On November 29, 1995, the Chicago Tribune read “CIA aided by psychics for 20 years”. But there was no emphasis whatsoever on the use of possible hallucinogenic substances. Or the role that Puharich had played. As to Einhorn, he was on the run from the law, as he had allegedly murdered his girlfriend. By 1995, the lid could come off the can of worms. All the big worms were either dead, silent… or on the run. to chapter 2 >>