|Motto||'Service is the Jewel in the Rock of Attainment'|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California and London, England|
|Founder/President||George King (1919–1997)|
The Aetherius Society is a UFO religion founded by George King in 1954 (or 1955), combining UFO claims, yoga, and ideas from various world religions, notably Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Theosophy. The religion's stated goal is to prevent the annihilation of the Earth by improving cooperation between humanity and various alien species, and by improving the spiritual lives of the world. The society has claimed that various disasters may be prevented by prayer, often aided by "Spiritual Energy Batteries" meant to store healing psychic energy The society also believes that it is to make the way for the "Next Master," a messianic figure who will descend upon Earth in a flying saucer, possessing magic more powerful than all the world's armies. The society is named after Aetherius, a being King claims to have telepathically contacted and channeled. Aetherius is believed to be a "Cosmic Master" from Venus, along with Buddha and Jesus. The society's membership, although international in composition, is not very large, consisting of approximately 650 members as of 1993.
In 1954, George King took up yoga and tantric yoga and according to the Aetherius Society, developed psychic powers that allowed him to learn the secrets of the universe. King claimed that in 1954, a voice told him "Prepare yourself! You are to become the voice of Interplanetary Parliament." A week later, an unnamed but supposedly world famous swami was reported to have entered King's locked apartment. King claims that the swami instructed him to form a group dedicated to helping the planet, and that the swami further taught him in yoga, prayer, and meditation. According to King, this training enabled him to receive telepathic messages from Venus, the first coming from Aetherius. King rented space in Caxton Hall in London, in which he allegedly channeled Cosmic Masters and recorded their messages. Based on his experiences and these messages, King founded the Aetherius Society in the following year, 1955.
Questions of credibility
This version of events, however, is based solely on the Aetherius Society's hagiography, and not external sources. The religious scholar Mikael Rothstein notes that a lack of objective factual information is often a problem in studying religious leaders, even for new religious movements. The story of King, according to Rothstein, is part of an attempt (common to all religions) to portray their founder as an extraordinary individual to legitimize the religion. Many of King's other claims, particularly claims to various titles and honors, have been shown to be questionable at best. Rothstein notes that while the Aetherius Society touts a television appearance of King's as a momentous event, contemporary media coverage of King was mostly negative.
The Aetherius Society claims that several aspects of the soviet atomic accident known as the Kyshtym Disaster was reported to George King on April 18, 1958 by "mental transmission." The New Scientist magazine, after receiving a claim about the transmission from the Aetherius Society, entered a two paragraph item under the title "Scooped by a UFO!", next to other news items intended to be humorous, such as a report of a "Dolphin Embassy." The Aetherius Society, however, reinterprets the New Scientist coverage as recognition of King's integrity, and admission by the magazine that they had been scooped by a UFO.
Beliefs and Activities
As in other New Age religions, alternative medicine (including energy medicine), yoga, and dowsing are also accepted and practiced by the Aetherius Society. King designed many items of equipment for such purposes. Probably the best known of these is the 'Spiritual Energy Battery.' Its precise design and composition are not in the public domain. Its purpose is to hold a "charge of spiritual energy for an indefinite period." When connected to a 'Spiritual Energy Radiator' (again designed by King), it can be 'discharged.'
In Aetherius Society teachings, various religious figures come from different planets. Krishna, for example, is from Saturn, which is the home of an Interplanetary Counsel. These beings are, however, spiritual beings on another dimension's version of those planets, as the idea of corporeal intelligent life on Mars and Venus was known to be unlikely in the 1950s. King claimed to have been contacted by many aliens, including Venusians, Martians, Devas, and the Great White Brotherhood to spread a message to aid humanity. This message exalted the promising future humanity has should Earthlings turn to better ways of living, while warning of the possible consequences otherwise. King is now regarded by the Aetherius Society as an Avatar and Cosmic Master, though he did not make any claim to being either in his lifetime. The Aetherius Society also believes that King was the last person to receive mental transmissions.
The Aetherius Society claims that under the guidance of the Cosmic Masters and with the aid of Spiritual Energy Batteries, they have prevented wars, natural disasters, disruption of the Earth's magnetic field caused by atomic power, and even alien invasions. King taught that these spiritual exercises are meant to prevent the world's destruction, and that the Cosmic Masters of other planets are fighting off a number of evil alien invaders. The Aetherius Society has also launched initiatives against pollution and nuclear power, and generally identify with the ideals of the Green Movement. However, the Aetherius Society believes that environmental and societal problems are only symptoms of a much larger spiritual problem that, once solved, would cure all other problems. To help with this, the Aetherius Society pray and meditate to draw Prana to earth. The source of this prana, they believe, is an orbiting spaceship known as Satellite Number Three, which they claim is shielded to not show up on telescopes or radar. The Aetherius Society often make pilgrimages to mountains where they have painted the movement's symbol, believing they receive more spiritual power. This began with "Operation Starlight," where, between the years 1958 and 1961, members climbed eighteen mountains throughout the world, seeking to be spiritually charged by the Cosmic Masters.
Should the Aetherius society or the Cosmic Masters fail to protect Earth, the Aetherius Society believe they will be called to sacred mountains to be rescued. Karolyn Kinane and Michael A. Ryan note in "End of Days" that the Aetherius Society's teachings share the individualism of not only other New Age teachings of the era, but of the Protestantism King grew up in. Their message also operates on a call to correct living (with threats of suffering otherwise) similar to many forms of Christian apocalypticism, with King's claimed mental transmissions replacing the Bible as the standard for what that moral living is. The Aetherius Society's eschatology is millenarian and, like Christian apocalypticism and Manichaeism, features a strong moral dualism.
The Silence Group
The Society claims that the 'Space Beings' have contacted the leading Governments of the world in many ways but a rather sinister group of individuals called 'The Silence Group' (a pseudonym coined by UFO researcher Major Donald E Keyhoe) have been deliberately suppressing this information so as to keep people uninformed, or misinformed, as to their true nature. According to King, the Silence Group uses fear and ignorance to control humanity.
The Aetherius Society refers to God as being "All in All, and All in All That," and the highest aspect of God as "The Absolute." The Aetherius Society also believes that other beings exist that are so evolved compared to humanity that they are sometimes referred to as 'Gods' to distinguish them. Karma and reincarnation are accepted by the religion as laws of nature.
George King's Titles
The Aetherius Society usually refers to King as "Doctor George King". The society does not, however, document where King received his doctorate. David Barrett in A Brief Guide to Secret Religions states King received his doctorate from "...the International Theological Seminary of California, a degree mill with no accreditation..."
In 1980, King was dubbed 'Sir George King' by Robert Khimchiachvili, a man who claims to be a prince and the 74th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta. The United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit lists other known aliases of Khimchiachvili as "Dr. Von Badische; Cesar A. Viana; Christopher Berwick". According to the NY Sun Khimchiachvili "ran a bogus Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta from his faux-marble apartment (filled with equally genuine Louis XV furniture) at 116 Central Park South. If you had a passage fee, he had a gong for you, and hundreds of men and women with more money than sense each paid him up to $30,000 for his phony knighthoods." The NY Daily News in 2002 referred to Khimchiachvili as "a fugitive." In August 2002, Khimchiachvili and two associates were convicted of "conspiracy and wire fraud after they swindled about $3 million from people by promising them riches bankrolled by a make-believe African kingdom."
In 1986 King was nominated and given the Freedom of the City of London, and membership of the Freemen of England. Anyone who has been on the City of London Electoral Roll for a minimum of one year may obtain this designation. The Roll includes Business Electors who only have to hold a nominal business tenancy within the City. In 1992 he applied for a Grant of Arms, or Letters Patent of Armorial Bearings, which was officially presented to 'The Most Reverend George King' by the Bluemantle Pursuivant of the College of Arms London, in a ceremonial presentation which took place in America. A Grant of Arms is applied for. Anyone can receive a Grant of Arms if one can "prove that an ancestor have had his arms recorded in the registers of the College."
The society's official King biography claims that King was a Chaplain of the American Federation of Police. The organization's full name is "American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens". Anyone who is a concerned citizen appears to be able to become a member for $36. Charity Navigator gives this organization its lowest ranking (1 star). Several police organizations have warned that solicitation by the American Federation of Police are possible scams. The site does not appear to have any official way to apply for a position as a chaplain and does not provide any list of official chaplains.
Works by The Aetherius Society
By George King:
- The Nine Freedoms
- The Twelve Blessing
- Visit to the Logos of Earth
- A Book of Sacred Prayers
- The Practices of Aetherius
- Jesus Comes Again
- You Too Can Heal
- Cosmic Voice - Volume I
- Cosmic Voice - Volume II
- Wisdom of the Planets
- You Are Responsible!
- Karma and Reincarnation
- Contact Your Higher Self through Yoga
- Realize Your Inner Potential (with Richard Lawrence)
- Contacts with the God's from Space (with Richard Lawrence)
By Richard Lawrence:
- UFO's and the Extraterrestrial Message
- Unlock Your Psychic Powers
- Prayer Energy
- The Magic of Healing
- God's, Guides and Guardian Angels
- The Holy Mountains of the World by Rev. Charles Abrahamson
- Operation Earth Light by Brian C.Keneipp
- Power Prayer by Chrissie Blaze and Gary Blaze
- Workout for the Soul by Chrissie Blaze
- Cosmic Voice
- Aetherius Society Newsletter
- J. Gordon Melton. Encyclopedia of American Religions. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, Inc. Fifth Edition, 1996. p. 677.
- Partridge, Christopher Hugh (ed.) (2003) UFO Religions. Routledge. Chapter 4 Opening A Channel To The Stars: The Origins and Development of the Aetherius Society by Simon G. Smith pp. 84–102
- James R. Lewis (ed.) (1995), The Gods have landed: new religions from other worlds (Albany: State University of New York Press),ISBN 0-7914-2330-1. p. .28
- John A. Saliba (2006). The Study of UFO Religions, Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, November 2006, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 103–123.
- The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism By Catherine Wessinger, Published by Oxford U.P., 17 Oct 2011, p. 72-73
- Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements By Richard Allen Landes, Published by Taylor & Francis US, 6 Jul 2000, p.4-5
- The A to Z of New Religious Movements By George D. Chryssides, Published by Scarecrow Press, 15 Apr 2006, p.25
- A Brief Guide to Secret Religions By David Barrett, Published by Running Press, 28 Jun 2011, p.119-126
- The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism By Catherine Wessinger, Published by Oxford U.P., 17 Oct 2011, p. 594
- Hagiography and Text in the Aetherius Society By Mikael Rothstein, found in Alien Worlds: Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact By Diana G. Tumminia, Syracuse University Press, 30 Apr 2007, p.3-24, particularly pp. 3, 5, and 18
- Books, Google. "New Scientist". Scooped by a UFO p 241. Google.com. Retrieved 2011-01-04.
- Out Of This World UFO contactee documentary, BBC May 1977
- End of Days: Essays on the Apocalypse from Antiquity to Modernity, Karolyn Kinane and Michael A. Ryan, Published by McFarland, 30 Jun 2009, p.331
- End of Days: Essays on the Apocalypse from Antiquity to Modernity, Karolyn Kinane and Michael A. Ryan, Published by McFarland, 30 Jun 2009, p.329
- E Keyhoe, Major Donald (1955). The Flying Saucer Conspiracy. Holt. pp. 1–315. ISBN 978-1-122-70944-6.
- King, George (1957). Cosmic Voice - Volume No 2. Aetherius Society. pp. 37-38.
- King, George (1963). The Nine Freedoms. Aetherius Society. pp. 23-33. ISBN 0937249041.
- King, George (1958). The Twelve Blessings. U.S.: The Aetherius Society. pp. 1–63. ISBN 0-937249-02-5.
- Aetherius Society, The. "The 50th Anniversary Twelve Blesings Podcast". Aetherius.org. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- King, George. Karma and Reincarnation. U.S.: The Aetherius Society. pp. 1–22.
- Aetherius Society, The. "Karma". Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- Aetherius Society, The. "Reincarnation". Aetherius.org. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- Bryk, William (June 15, 2005). "Men Who Would be Kings (Or Knights, or Counts)". The New York Sun (New York).
- Gearty, Robert (7 August 2002). "A 'Prince' Faces Fraud Raps". Daily News (New York).
- Compiled, Items (25 August 2002). "3 Scoundrels Guilty In Swindle Based On Phony Kingdom". Chicago Tribune.
- Cosmic Voice 1: 9–10. December 1980.
- The Aetherius Society Newsletter 18: 4–6. January–February 1989.
- Cosmic Voice 17. January–February 1996.
- James Randi Educational Foundation
- The Aetherius Society – official website of the movement
- Page about the Aetherius Society at Religious Movements site
- A scholarly article by John A. Saliba in the Marburg Journal of Religion
- Aetherius Society: Jesus, Venusians, and some bad astronomy - Skeptical look at the society's astronomy claims
- Aetherius Society: A lack of proof - Skeptical look at the society claims of King's per-knowledge of certain historical events
- Peakbagger.com (For a large map showing the locations of the Aetherius Society Holy Mountains)