|Motto||'Service is the Jewel in the Rock of Attainment'|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California and London, England|
|Membership||In the thousands|
|Founder/President||George King (1919–1997)|
The Aetherius Society is a millenarian, New Age, UFO religion. It was founded by George King in the mid-1950s  as the result of what King claimed were contacts with extraterrestrial intelligences, whom he referred to as “Cosmic Masters”. Regarded as firmly based in Theosophy, the Aetherius Society combines UFO claims, yoga, and ideas from various world religions, notably Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. Stefan Isaksson notes that it has “become a complex religious belief system that includes an extraterrestrial hierarchy of various spiritual masters and such concepts as universal karma and religious healing.” The religion's goal is to prevent worldly destruction by improving cooperation between humanity and various alien 'masters', and by using 'spiritual energy' to improve the spiritual calibre of the world. The society has claimed that various disasters may be prevented or relieved 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, as are Buddha and Jesus. The society's membership, although international in composition, is not very large. David V. Barrett suggested in 2011 that the worldwide membership was now into the thousands, with the largest number of members being in the UK, USA, NZ and Africa.
George King was born on 23 January 1919, in Wellington (Shropshire, England) and brought up in a Christian family with strong occult interests. Before founding the Aetherius Society, King had been deeply involved in spiritual healing and had joined various theosophically-based metaphysical groups in London that were a marginal part of the religious scene. In 1944 he took up yoga, allegedly mastering bhakti, gnani (see jnana) and kundalini yogas and attaining the state of "Samadhi" and, according to the Aetherius Society, developed psychic powers that allowed him to learn many of 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.
This version of events, however, is based solely on the Aetherius Society's hagiography, and not on external sources. 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.
Beliefs and Activities
In Aetherius Society teachings, various religious figures come from different planets, and throughout history Cosmic Masters such as Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Lao Tzu have come to Earth to teach mankind the right way of living. They are regarded by the society as Avatars. Krishna, for example, is from Saturn, which is the home of a "Cosmic Hierarchy" or "Interplanetary Council", while Jesus and Buddha are from Venus. The society therefore claims that these religions sprang from the same source and their principles were identical.  These beings are, however, spiritual beings on another dimension or plane, as the idea of corporeal intelligent life on the other planets was known to be unlikely in the 1950s. The society's concept is that these beings exist on a 'spiritual level' by maintaining a 'higher vibratory rate' which can be lowered, and this explains the reported blinking in and out of UFOs. The society also refers to the vimanas found in Vedic and Hindu texts, and to the Star of Bethlehem, as examples of visiting UFOs.
King taught a belief in reincarnation based on the “Law of Karma” according to which we progress life by life towards the goal of perfection. Everyone is destined eventually to become a Master and to continue evolving from there. The society claims that evolution also includes planet Earth, which is regarded as a living entity at a much higher state of evolution and importance than its inhabitants. They allege that because of the backward evolution of humans, the Earth has been under frequent attacks from evil forces from other parts of the universe, and that the Cosmic Masters of other planets are fighting off a number of evil alien invaders. In Aetherius Society literature, the cosmic battles with evil forces or intelligences “bear some resemblance to the fundamentalist Christian concept of ‘spiritual warfare', shorn of its imminent apocalyptic content.”
As in other New Age religions, alternative medicine, spiritual healing, yoga, and dowsing are also accepted and practised by the Aetherius Society. It has also launched initiatives against pollution and nuclear power, and generally identifies with the ideals of the Green Movement. However, the society believes that environmental and societal problems are only symptoms of a much larger spiritual problem that, once solved, would cure all other problems. This is the 'spiritual energy crisis'. King designed many items of equipment intended to contain and redirect 'spiritual energy' 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'. ‘Spiritual workers’ pray and chant mantra, and ‘focus the energy’ into the battery where it is ‘stored’. The society’s belief is that in times of crisis the energy can be released in a concentrated form and manipulated by cooperating Masters to the area in need. King named this activity “Operation Prayer Power”. The Aetherius Society claims that under the guidance of the Cosmic Masters and with the aid of Spiritual Energy Batteries, they have prevented wars, and relieved the effects of natural disasters. King taught that these spiritual exercises help to prevent worldly destruction.
To help with this, the Aetherius Society regularly engages in “Spiritual Pushes” in which they pray and meditate to draw Prana to Earth from an orbiting spaceship known as "Satellite Number Three" which increases the amount of spiritual energy available. They claim that this satellite is shielded from telescopes and radar. In "Operation Starlight", between the years 1958 and 1961, King and various members climbed eighteen mountains throughout the world, so that the mountains could be 'spiritually charged' by the Cosmic Masters using King as the link. Members often make pilgrimages to these mountains where they have painted the movement's symbol, believing they receive more power that they can send out to the world through prayer. They believe that service to mankind is the most essential yoga or religion in these days.
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 only person in the society to receive mental transmissions.
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 taught that humans had the choice of self-destruction or the enjoyment of a New Age that was coming to Earth. And that the Cosmic Masters had intervened via the Aetherius Society to help humanity into the New Age.
As Zeller notes in "End of Days”, King believed there would not be a catastrophic end to the world, but that the planet is on the verge of a new millennium of peace and enlightenment and the Age of Aquarius. This will also require human effort. 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, i.e. individual humans face the decision of whether to join the millennial kingdom.
The society also predicts the coming of 'the next Master' from space at an indefinite time, which is said to depend on the advancement of humans and the balance of karma. It is claimed he will arrive in a spacecraft with great power, and present his credentials to the leaders of Earth. Those who engage in war or ignore the ‘Divine Law’, will be removed from the Earth and reborn upon another planet where they will continue their progress. Those who understand the law will be left on Earth to enjoy the new millennium.
Zeller also compares King's call to correct living (with threats of suffering otherwise) 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 in that the society seeks to follow the positive forces of the white magicians, rejecting the opposing evil forces.
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's theology is theosophical and is also based on the continual evolution of all beings back to the source which is God. The society also refers to God as being "All in All, and All in All That," and the highest aspect of God as "The Absolute." The society believes that other beings exist that are so evolved compared to humanity that they are sometimes referred to as 'Gods' to distinguish them “There is nothing but God in the cosmos, in varying stages of evolution. Everyone will eventually become a Master and will continue evolving from there.” The society regards itself as a spiritual path rather than a religious movement per se. Its path contains various stages of spiritual evolution from earthly to cosmic. Karma and reincarnation are accepted by the religion as laws of nature. The society claims it is “not out to change existing religions so much as to add a cosmic dimension to them”. Its religious services use both Christian prayers and Eastern mantras.
Questions of Credibility
Simon Smith states that the Aetherius Society has to bridge a number of credibility gaps exacerbated by scientific and technological advances, and mentions some seemingly insurmountable problems facing its world view, such as the non-existence of life on the other Planets of the Solar System, and scarce evidence of spacecraft visiting Earth. The society uses the concepts of ‘higher spheres of existence’ to explain life on the other planets, and the ‘lowly karmic position’ of mankind to explain why extraterrestrials don’t land openly. Hence the movement, while failing to keep pace with science and technology, has tried to explain consequent incompatibilities. However, explanation has become increasingly unnecessary for adherents due to their growing acceptance of King’s charismatic authority.
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.
In 1958, the society's publication "Cosmic Voice" claimed to give details transmitted by the Cosmic Masters of an atomic accident in Russia, i.e. the Kyshtym Disaster, that was not known about in the West until 1976 when revealed by the New Scientist magazine. The 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, interprets the New Scientist coverage as recognition of King's integrity, and admission by the magazine that they had been scooped by a UFO.
George King's Titles
King is referred to by the society “as an author, inventor, metaphysician, occultist, prophet, psychic, spiritual healer, spiritual leader, teacher, yogi and Aquarian master”. He was also lavished with innumerable titles, degrees and honors from unorthodox sources. Rothstein observes that all of this hagiographical material is primarily aimed at believers who have special, ‘esoteric’ knowledge about King, whereas the society’s communications during publicity campaigns are angled differently.
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 Prince Robert and Dr. Von Badische. 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
- Barrett, David V. (2011). A brief guide to secret religions. Running Press. p. 122.
- Rothstein, Mikael (2003). "The idea of the past, the reality of the present, and the construction of the future: millenarianism in the Aetherius Society". In Lewis, James R. Encyclopedic sourcebook of UFO religions. New York: Prometheus Books. pp. 144–5. ISBN 1-57392-964-6.
- Smith, Simon G. (2003). "Opening A Channel To The Stars: The Origins and Development of the Aetherius Society". In Partridge, Christopher Hugh (ed.). UFO Religions. Routledge. pp. 84, 90–91.
- Saliba, John A. (1995). "Religious dimensions of UFO phenomena". In Lewis, James R. (ed.). The Gods have landed: new religions from other worlds. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 28. ISBN 0-7914-2330-1.
- Wojcik, Daniel (17 October 2011). "Avertive Apocalypticism". In Wessinger, Catherine. The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism. Oxford U.P. pp. 72–73.
- Saliba, John A. (2003). "The Earth is a dangerous place: the world view of the Aetherius Society". In Lewis, James R. (ed.). Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO religions. New York: Prometheus Books. p. 124. ISBN 1-57392-964-6., also in the "Marburg Journal of Religion": link to the article
- Lamy, Philip (6 July 2000). "Aetherius Society". In Landes, Richard Allen (ed.). Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements. USA: Taylor & Francis. p. 2.
- Chryssides, George D. (15 April 2006). The A to Z of New Religious Movements. Scarecrow Press. p. 25.
- Rothstein Mikael (2003) p.143
- Smith, Simon G. (2003) p.84
- Barrett, David V. (2011) p120
- Smith. Simon G. (2003) p.96
- Barrett, David V. (2011) pp.122-3, 125
- Saliba, John A. (2003) p.128
- Isaksson, Stefan (2000) “New religious UFO movements: extraterrestrial salvation in contemporary America”, section: “The Aetherius Society”
- Saliba, John A. (2003) pp.126, 128-9
- Barrett, David V. (2011) pp.123-5
- Smith, Simon G. (2003) pp.89-90
- Rothstein, Mikael (2003), p.144
- Ellwood, Robert S. (1988). Religious and spiritual groups in modern America. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. pp. 126–7. ISBN 0-13-773045-4.
- Smith, Simon G. (2003) pp.93-4
- Barrett, David V. (2011) p.125
- Flaherty, Robert Pearson (17 October 2011). "UFOs, ETs and the Millennial Imagination". In Wessinger, Catherine. The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism. Oxford U.P. p. 594.
- Barrett, David V. (2011) p.124
- Saliba, John A. (2003) p.131
- Saliba, John A. (2003) p.126
- Barrett, David V. (2011) pp.120, 124
- Melton, J. Gordon (1996). Encyclopedia of American Religions (5th ed.). Detroit, MI: Gale Research, Inc. p. 677.
- Smith, Simon G. (2003) pp.84-5
- Scribner, Scott; Wheeler, Gregory (2003). "Cosmic Intelligences and their terrestrial channel: a field report on the Aetherius Society". In Lewis, James R. Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO religions. New York: Prometheus Books. p. 157. ISBN 1-57392-964-6.
- Smith, Simon G. (2003) p.85
- Smith, Simon G. (2003) p.86
- Saliba, John A. (2003) p.124-5
- Barrett, David (28 June 2011). A Brief Guide to Secret Religions. Running Press. pp. 119–126.
- Rothstein, Mikael (30 April 2007). "Hagiography and Text in the Aetherius Society". In Tumminia, Diana G. Alien Worlds: Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact. Syracuse University Press. pp. 3, 5, and 24.
- Saliba, John A. (2003) pp.128-9
- Barrett, David V. (2011) pp.122-4
- Isaksson, Stefan (2000), section: "The World According to Aetherius"
- Saliba John A. (2003) p.127
- Barrett, David V. (2011) pp.121-2
- Ellwood, Robert S. (1988) p.128
- Barrett, David V. (2011) pp.123-4
- Saliba, John A. (2003) p.129
- Smith, Smon G. (2003) p.92
- Barrett, David V. (2011) p.123
- Smith, Simon G, (2003) p.95
- Isaksson, Stefan (2000), sections: "Ancient Extraterrestrials" and "The Spacecraft and Their Crew"
- Isaksson, Stefan (2000), section: “Mountains and Operations”
- Smith, Simon G. (2003), pp.92-3
- Saliba, John A. (2003) pp.132-3
- Wojcik, Daniel (2011) p.73
- Saliba, John A. (2003) p.132
- Barrett, David V. (2011) pp.124-5
- Barrett, David V. (2011) p.126
- Scribner, Scott (2003) p.158
- Ellwood, Robert S. (1988) pp.127, 129-130
- Out Of This World UFO contactee documentary, BBC May 1977
- Saliba, John A. (2003) p.135
- Isaksson, Stefan (2000), section: "Sacred Days - Spiritual Pushes"
- Smith, Simon G. (2003) p.89
- Isaksson, Stefan (2000), section: "Operation Starlight"
- Ellwood, Robert S. (1988), p.127
- Saliba, John A. (2003) p.134
- Barrett, David V. (2011) p.121
- Smith, Simon G. (2003) p.98
- Zeller, Benjamin E. (30 June 2009). "Apocalyptic thought in UFO-based religions". In Kinane, Karolyn; Ryan, Michael A. End of Days: Essays on the Apocalypse from Antiquity to Modernity. McFarland. p. 331.
- Rothstein, Mikael(2003),p153
- Smith, Simon G. (2003)p97
- Zeller, Benjamin E. (2009) pp331-2
- Saliba, John A. (2003) pp130-2
- Rothstein, Mikael (2003) p148
- Zeller, Benjamin E. (2009) pp329,333-4
- Keyhoe, Donald E. (1955). The Flying Saucer Conspiracy. Holt. pp. 1–315. ISBN 978-1-122-70944-6.
- King, George (1957). Cosmic Voice (Aetherius Society) 2: 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.
- Scribner, Scott (2003) p168
- Isaksson, Stefan (2000), section "The Nine Freedoms"
- King, George. Karma and Reincarnation. U.S.: The Aetherius Society. pp. 1–22.
- Aetherius Society, The. "Karma". Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- Scribner, Scott (2003) p163
- Smith, Simon (2003) pp.94-5
- Rothstein, Mikael (2007) p18
- "Scooped by a UFO". New Scientist (Reed Business Information) 78 (1100): 241. 27 April 1978. ISSN 0262-4079. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- [dead link]
- Rothstein, Mikael (2007) pp13-15
- "Dr. George King: Master Of Yoga & Founder Of The Aetherius Society". aetherius.org. 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "United States V. Khimchiachvili". Findlaw. 9 June 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- 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.
- [dead link]
- Cosmic Voice 1: 9–10. December 1980.
- The Aetherius Society Newsletter 18: 4–6. January–February 1989.
- Cosmic Voice 17. January–February 1996.
- "American Federation of Police Family Survivors Fund". Afp-cc.org. 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- [dead link]
- "American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens". Charity Navigator Rating. 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "Lewiston police warn of solicitation scam". Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine). 16 August 1990. p. 40. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "Police think scam money will be used in Virginia". The Free Lance–Star (Fredericksburg, Virginia). 16 March 1992. p. 40. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "Around the Nation: News". Law Enforcement News. 15 December 1995. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural". James Randi Educational Foundation. 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- The Aetherius Society – official website of the movement
- Page about the Aetherius Society at Religious Movements site
- A scholarly article[dead link] 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)