Feature Articles – The Mystery of X7
In the 1960s, a series of telepathic communications were circulated that apparently originated with a series of Russian prisoners. More than half a century later, the material remains an open question as to whether the incident occurred, even though its impact on the new age world is uncontested.
by Philip Coppens
Between 1953 and 1957, a group of political prisoners, codenamed X7, were apparently incarcerated in a Siberian salt mine. The prisoners were for years underground with almost no food and light. In itself, such stories were commonly heard in the Western media during the Cold War. In fact, centuries before communism, Russian leaders would send more than three million people to Siberia. It was referred to as “Russian’s Australia”, as Siberia was remote and considered to be one huge prison.
Originally, people were sent into exile to Siberia, but soon, the government decided that it needed people to work in Siberian mines and as a result exile was replaced with long prison terms, to make the people work once they were in Siberia. Before the Russian Revolution of 1917, most of the people sent to Siberia had committed often the smallest offences (e.g. fortune-telling). Under the communist regime, Siberia saw the arrival of thousands of political prisoners, opponents of the new rule. Citizens deported to Siberia labor camps Conditions in the camps remained extremely harsh, on par with conditions in Nazi concentration camps, no matter who was in control of the country. Guards seldom viewed the prisoners as human beings and physical abuse occurred daily, including amongst prisoners. After Stalin’s death in 1953, many of the prisoners were granted amnesty, though this applied mostly to non-political prisoners. It meant that conditions in the “gulags” improved, as they became the almost exclusive bailiwick of political prisoners, who were now no longer abused by the ordinary criminals, who returned home, causing a significant increase in criminal violence there. It is against this background that a group of seven political prisoners apparently became incarcerated in a salt mine. Despite the harsh conditions they found themselves in, they became 20th century equivalents of the former “ascended masters” who lived somewhere in the East and who contacted Western spiritualists. According to the transcripts, these men linked up telepathically with the Network of Light, a body of psychic individuals that had been set up by Alice Bailey that were stationed across the world, and transmitted their story to them.
They related that they had been trapped for years deep in the earth and had begun to refine the vibratory rate of the body and of the surrounding matter until they could experience themselves as beings of Light. In fact, they experienced Earth as light. They said that they had mastered the art of creation, which mystic traditions label the highest state of initiation, as it puts one on par with the Creator Deity: one can create a new reality. In the harshest of human circumstances, seven Russians seemed to have mastered the highest spiritual goal. Peter Caddy Though there were apparently many people listening to their story, only one person seems to have done anything with it: the transmissions were transcribed by American Anne K. Edwards, a psychic based in Evanston, Illinois. She would become a future cofounder of the Scottish spiritual community of Findhorn and worked in close collaboration with Peter Caddy, another of the founders of Findhorn. Caddy and Edwards had met in the Philippines in 1945, where she told him about the Network of Light meditations and that her pseudonym for most of her psychic work was Naomi.
Though the transcript is now published as “The Mysterious Story of X7”, Edwards’ original title for the series of communications was “A World Within a World”. In the early 1960s, a typewritten manuscript of the book came into British novelist Rosamond Lehmann’s hands. At the time, Lehmann had developed an interest in telepathy and life after death, speaking about how certain states were inaccessible to our ordinary senses. Her interest seems to have grown out of a desire to contact her deceased daughter.
In the 1970s, Edwards’ reports fell into the hands of Sir George Trevelyan, often seen as the British founder of the New Age movement. He was proud to be associated with Sir Trevillian, one of King Arthur’s knights, who swam ashore on horseback to Cornwall when the mythical kingdom of Lyonesse sank below the sea. Trevelyan pushed for the transcripts to be published, but it was not an easy task. When he showed the transcripts to the Conference of the Soil Association, half of its members were in favor of publication, half felt the time was not yet ripe for these scripts to be published. In 1979, the material was finally published by the Findhorn Foundation. The book stirred up controversy in both mainstream and alternative communities. What may have been controversial about the X7 in the 1970s definitely is not so much now. It is, in part, why the story of the X7 has largely been forgotten. Indeed, even in the 1970s, it appears that most of the controversy was not about the contents of the message, but about whether the organizations that learned about it, wanted to be publically associated with it. It was, after all, a partly political story and there was then – and still is now – no means or evidence to find out whether it was true or all made up. Those seven people, if they ever existed, have long since disappeared from the annals of history. Indeed, they may have disappeared years before they ever arrived in Siberia, recordkeeping not being one of the primary concerns the Soviet regime had with Siberia.
Content-wise, the story is about prisoners that had spiritually matured to a level of existence in which creation was put in their hands. They spoke about God, the importance of Jesus and to live like him, but there are also clear “signs of the times”. The first communication occurred on December 28, 1953 and begins: “Scientists are already aware that we are in an age of increasing revelation and are prepared to study and release their findings at the appointed time.” In retrospect, this clearly did not happen. It also states: “We are aware of the command of Ships of Space and have had contact with their pilots and have come to understand the meaning of their missions. We believe that a vast armada of winged radiations is now preparing to make their descent into and through the Earth levels.” Though some might argue that this may have happened, the point is that such wording was a typical sign of the 1950s, on par with the writings of the UFO contactees that were prevalent in the alternative community in the early parts of that decade. The Findhorn Community In the book, Peter Caddy explained how he had met Edwards, how Edwards had come to live in Findhorn for three years, and how during that period, communication with the X7 continued and that this involved the other founders of the community, including his wife Eileen, Dorothy Maclean and Lena Lamont. It is fair to say that the transcripts profoundly influenced the Findhorn Community and they can be seen as the community’s unofficial bible.
Findhorn is a mixture of new age teachings, meditation, and a belief that people can survive on light alone, which is the specific message of the transcripts. Early on, Findhorn was also a child of its time, with attempts to contact extraterrestrial beings through telepathy and apparently even constructing a landing strip on a nearby hill. In 1999, negative headlines hit the community when Verity Linn died of exposure on a Scottish mountain, trying to put into practice the teaching that human beings could live on light alone, something which continued to be taught at Findhorn.
One of the reactions the Bible brings out in most is the question whether we should believe in it. And that also applies to the story of the X7. Did it really happen, or is it instead merely a collection of conscious or subconscious thoughts originating from Edwards? The people involved definitely believed it was real and Tudor Pole, who was instrumental with the development of an alternative community in Glastonbury and who had used psychic means to discover some of the archaeological remains at Glastonbury Abbey, vouched for the prisoner’s authenticity, apparently implying he himself had spoken to them.
It is a fact that our ancestors, when people wanted to meet the dead and enter the Otherworld, were deprived of daylight for a number of days and put on a strict diet. The temple priestesses in sites like Delphi were said never to see the light of day during the years of their office, underlining the ancient link between living underground in darkness and psychic development. From this perspective, the story of the X7 sits within a tradition that goes back thousands of years.
But whether the X7 truly existed, is an open question. Even those who studied it, were often not sure what the X7 were. Some argued they were real, but that rather than being alive, they had contacted the soul of these seven people – that the communications were happening with the dead, and not with living ascended masters.
Content-wise, the communications are, especially in the 21st century, rather “average”. Their contents definitely could have been composed by someone aware of the various traditions; it is clear that it doesn’t require an ascended master to have written it. They essentially set out a doctrine that there is indeed a spiritual side to matter and that man can ascend to a more spiritual existence. That is an age-old premise and it seems that the story of the X7 was this age-old premise reworded for a 1960 audience eager to hear that the possibilities of old were still open to them today. In this case, the enlightened was not Jesus or Buddha, but a group of anonymous prisoners somewhere in a salt mine in Siberia – apparently.