Seekers (Chicago)

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The Seekers were a UFO religion or cult group based in the United States in the 1950s, and founded by Chicago housewife Dorothy Martin.[1]


Martin said she received messages in her house in the form of "automatic writing" from alien beings on the planet Clarion. These messages revealed that the world would end in a great flood before dawn on December 21, 1954. Mrs. Martin had previously been involved with L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics movement, and her cult incorporated ideas from what was to become Scientology.[2] The group of believers, headed by Martin, had taken strong behavioral steps to indicate their degree of commitment to the belief. They had left jobs, college, and spouses, and had given away money and possessions to prepare for their departure on the flying saucer, which was to rescue the group of true believers.[3]

When Prophecy Fails[edit]

The story of the Seekers was chronicled in the book 1956 book When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. Festinger and his colleagues infiltrated Mrs. Martin's group and recorded the sequence of events leading up to December 21, 1954. Before December 20, the group shunned publicity. They granted interviews only grudgingly. Access to Martin's house was only provided to those who could convince the group that they were true believers. The group evolved a belief system—provided by the automatic writing from the planet Clarion—to explain the details of the cataclysm, the reason for its occurrence, and the manner in which the group would be saved from the disaster.

On December 20 the group expected a visitor from outer space to call upon them at midnight and to escort them to a waiting spacecraft. As instructed, the group went to great lengths to remove all metallic items from their persons. As midnight approached, zippers, bra straps, and other objects were discarded. The group waited. At 12:05 A.M. on December 21 when no visitor appeared, someone in the group noticed that another clock in the room shows 11:55. The group agreed that it was not yet midnight. At 12:10 A.M., the second clock struck midnight, and still no visitor arrived. The group sat in stunned silence, believing that the cataclysmic end of the world was no more than seven hours away. By 4:00 A.M., the group had been sitting in stunned silence, failing in their few attempts to come up with an explanation for the night's events. Martin began to cry. At 4:45 A.M Martin received a message by automatic writing which stated, in effect, that God had decided to spare the planet from destruction. The cataclysm has been called off: "The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction."

On the afternoon of December 21 the group began to seek more publicity, calling newspapers and seeking interviews. In a reversal of its previous distaste for publicity, the group began an urgent campaign to spread its message to as broad an audience as possible.[3]

Later history[edit]

After December 21, 1954, Martin and her supporters were greeted with negative reactions from the newspapers and wire services. As media interest decreased, the group slowly diminished in size. Martin said she received more messages, but they grew more and more incomprehensible.[4]

Dorothy Martin eventually left Chicago after being threatened with arrest and psychiatric commitment. She lived in Peru for several years, and then moved to Arizona, joining a Dianetics center there. In 1965 she founded a new UFO contact group, the Association of Sananda and Sanat Kumara, and soon thereafter moved the organization to Mount Shasta, California. In 1988, the group moved to Sedona, Arizona. Under the name "Sister Thedra," she continued "channeling" and participating in UFO contact groups until her death in 1992. As of 2008, the Association was still active and headquartered in Sedona.[4][5]


  1. ^ Mooney, Chris (May/June 2011). "The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science",
  2. ^ Bainbridge, William Sims; Rodney Stark (1979). "Cult Formation: Three Compatible Models". Sociological Analysis (Oxford University Press) 40 (4): 90. ISSN 0038-0210. JSTOR 3709958. OCLC 61138057. 
  3. ^ a b Festinger, Leon; Henry W. Riecken, Stanley Schachter (1956). When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group that Predicted the Destruction of the World. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 1-59147-727-1.  Reissued 2008 by Pinter & Martin with a foreword by Elliot Aronson, ISBN 978-1-905177-19-6
  4. ^ a b (July 13, 2008). "After The Prophecy",
  5. ^ "Gale Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology: Association of Sananda and Sanat Kumara",