I’ve been a guest on many podcasts recently, most of them the kind of podcasts I want to be on, with free-flowing discussions that almost always go in unplanned directions. I’ve been afraid of repeating myself, and that’s difficult to avoid when I’m essentially promoting my book. Same stories, same anecdotes, same ponderings about the reality we live in. Well, I’m exaggerating a bit. I try to talk about new stuff, and if the host(s) are good, there’s always room to explore things I’ve never even thought about before. However, one thing I almost always bring up is what a UFO or humanoid encounter brings to the life of the experiencer, or, in general, what a high strangeness event offers as a gift to the witness.
Gifts from another realm are something one should never accept, that’s what the mythologies out there claim. Eating that fairy food, or drinking that liquid the alien offers, will transport you to another world and you may never return. Maybe that offering of food and drink is just a misdirection from the biggest offering of all, the experience itself? Imagine stepping into a theater where the play is already underway. You sit down, and no matter if you missed the start, you’re drawn into the event unfolding in front of your eyes. A high strangeness event is just like that; you can’t look away. No matter what you do, it will remain within you for the rest of your life. Yeah, maybe you didn’t eat those pancakes, but the incident itself — often outrageous and difficult to understand — is so much larger than that final detail that propels you into a strange adventure somewhere else, a place that is not here.
When talking, I often bring up Benny, who at the end of the sixties had a bizarre experience meeting two tall humanoids, seemingly emerging from a mine — or at least being curious about it. This was the start of a life filled with experiences: flying saucers — and even a brief encounter with what he thinks were some kind of Men in Black, slightly more alien than the usual ones — and driving an old car along a road where he saw them from his vehicle. Another example is Ante, who in 1984 was attacked by a bunch of weird, short creatures. For the rest of his life, he had contact with the inhabitants of planet Prio. That initial experience seems to be a key, an eye- or mind-opener to other unknown worlds. It’s as if the experiencer is rapidly conditioned into understanding that everything is actually possible.
The absurdity of the experiences, often unlike anything else, makes me think it’s all symbolic or a language we haven’t yet been able to decipher. I’m aware that Whitley Strieber is into the same idea in his latest book, “Them,” where he analyzes letters from readers, connects them to his own experiences, and tries — not entirely successfully — to extract deeper meaning from them. It’s a fascinating idea, and a good one, but the question is whether he — and we — will ever be able to comprehend such a strange language. It’s as if we need a Rosetta stone for high strangeness, wherever it might be. Like dreams, I feel that the stone of knowledge is something highly individual. Whatever it means to you is what it means, and no two aftermaths are alike.
That insight, that “thing” that occurs at that very moment, is the greatest gift — and perhaps curse — of them all. It’s the instant when the door to Magonia opens, wisdom descends that there is something else, a mostly invisible world, and the experiencer’s life will never be the same again. But as we all know, a gift is never free, and there’s always someone who paid for it. Those are one of the darker aspects of high strangeness; you are both gifted the experience and must pay for it in frustration, confusion, and perhaps fear. Despite not being an experiencer myself, which makes it easy to hold opinions, I’d say the best thing to do is to accept the gift and not question it. Just live with it, ponder its mysteries, love it, be proud of it, and never cease to feel wonder.
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer, researcher and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of four books. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm, with his photographer husband Grzegorz and two overly active cats. Join him on Twitter and Instagram.