Tag Archives: Doctor Who

182 – Saucer State: A Unified UFO Theory with Paul Cornell

Working in TV, comics, and novels, writer Paul Cornell has created stories for some of the greatest fictional characters of all time. Doctor Who to Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes to Batman. He’s a Hugo award winner, has a podcast about Hammer Horror Films, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of UFO lore and mythology. Paul and artist Ryan Kelly have used that knowledge in an original creation that brings the most UFO lore I’ve ever seen in one place, the critically acclaimed comics, Saucer Country and Saucer State. 

Focusing on Arcadia Alvarez, the Mexican-American governor of New Mexico and Democratic presidential candidate, Saucer Country is all about her possible alien abduction experience and the strange events that occur around her candidacy. All along, they recount stories from real UFO lore like George Adamski’s visits with Venusians, mystery airships from the 19th Century, Betty and Barney Hill, and much more.

The sequel, Saucer State, is all about what happens once Governor Alvarez becomes President Alvarez, and the collected edition has just been released.  From Jefferson Airplane to the Pioneer plaque, the references come fast and furious and besides Taken, the Steven Spielberg-produced SciFi channel mini-series from 2002, this is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a “unified theory” of UFO mythology, a fictional story that ties everything together.

In this interview, you’ll learn all about the real UFO lore that inspired Paul Cornell to write Saucer State and Saucer Country. We even cover a little bit of ghosts and fairies as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about Paul, including links to his works, please check out his website right here.

And we thoroughly recommend Saucer State, this is the fictional work that’s putting Tom Delonge’s Sekret Machines to shame! He even promises that unlike another fictional property that uses real life UFO mythology as an influence in 2018 (ahem, Mr. Carter), there is an ending in mind and the story will be completed in the next volume.

pioneer 10
The Message on the Pioneer 10

One of the groups vying for power that we talk about in Saucer State are the Bluebirds, who take an extremely materialist view toward the UFO phenomenon, an approach that they call “Nuts and Bolts”.

see the light, don’t close your eyes
go to sleep, you’re paralyzed
somewhere the dreams and memories mix
and our little friends are playing tricks

a violation of our sentience
Like the old hag sits on your chest
when they put you into program mode,
don’t think that you’re a guest.

Nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and

Wet machines with lucid dreams
Are we just hardware under the seams?
When you feed your head with magic beans
Will we find out who’s behind the scenes?

a violation of our sentience
Like the old hag sits on your chest
when they put you into program mode,
don’t think that you’re a guest.

Nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and

Wet machines with lucid dreams
Are we just hardware under the seams?
When you feed your head with magic beans
Will we find out who’s behind the scenes?

142 – Guardians of the Galaxy: Supernatural Stories of the Cast and Crew

Guardians of the Galaxy was one of 2014’s biggest surprises. A fun cosmic romp set in a part of the Marvel Universe that I didn’t even know existed, it was a breakthrough for everyone involved. Lead actor Chris Pratt established himself as an A-list star that could topline a movie, James Gunn was finally given the budget he needed to make his wild fantasies come true, and a team of intergalactic misfits that few moviegoers had heard of ended up besting the tried and true Captain America at the box office. It captured that old Star Wars spirit of swashbuckling sci-fi imagination.

Three years later, the sequel has arrived and is coming out in the U.S. Friday May 5th. A big ensemble movie like this has a huge cast and we picked some of our favorite paranormal stories where we could find them to talk about this week.

This was the big one that came out this week, Kurt Russell, who’s on the press tour for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and plays Peter Quill/Star-Lord’s father in the movie (a character hinted at in the first film) was the pilot who reported The Phoenix Lights. Yeah? Snake Plissken himself is the pilot that was flying into Phoenix and reported the lights to the air traffic controllers for the first time.

Interestingly enough, it’s not the lights that made him question his sanity. It was the fact that he didn’t remember it or think about it again until some years later when his longtime companion Goldie Hawn was watching a TV show that mentioned The Phoenix Lights. Alien abductions are almost always reported with amnesia, could the aliens have made Kurt “forget” about what he saw in a subtle way, where he only even thinks about it when he’s directly confronted by what he saw years later? It’s a cool and almost unbelievable story.

Vin Diesel (the voice behind “I Am Groot”)’s ghost story is a little sadder, The National Enquirer posted that he saw his friend, Paul Walker’s, ghost on the set of the latest Fast and the Furious film.

Writer and director James Gunn has a great blogpost about infiltrating the Raëlien UFO cult Happiness Seminar in Las Vegas and how it really seemed more like it was about people trying to get laid, and it makes me sad that another science fiction cult just ends up being obsessed with sex.

Karen Gillan, plays the evil Nebula and in an old Doctor Who Confidential, she admits that she was obsessed with paranormal stuff when she was younger and even had a weird experience in high school. They go for a little ghost tour while they were filming the episode “The Rebel Flesh” in Wales and learn the ghost story of the Green Lady of Caerphilly Castle.

Michael Rooker alway seems game for a good time in a genre picture whether he’s the the blue skinned mohawked guy with the whistling arrows Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy or the wicked redneck Merle in The Walking Dead or the deeply disturbing lead in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, he’s a horror and fantasy favorite!

Rooker even directed a horror movie in the Pennhurst Asylum (originally called the Eastern Pennsylvania Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic)! It has several names (the mark of a great movie, yikes!) but it’s known as Pennhurst, Asylum of the Dead, or The Lost Episode depending on where you’re looking for it. Of course, old asylums definitely have a creepy vibe to them and our former guest Christopher Saint Booth also had strange paranormal experiences while filming his filming Death Tunnel at Waverly Hills Sanitarium.

Of course, Pennhurst has haunted stories of its own and actress Beverly Mitchell had her own experience in the old asylum when she was filming the movie and she tells the whole story in Celebrity Ghost Stories. (You’re not in 7th Heaven anymore Beverly!)


While that story might have been very earnest, the ones about Sylvester Stallone (who has a cameo in the new Guardians film as well!)  are of a little more of a questionable veracity. For some reason, you can find an article about how he was haunted by his son who tragically died in 2012 and needed to get an Indian spiritual cleaning, which feels like some kind of exploitative fake news.

While that’s a little sad, this next one is just ridiculous (yes, even more ridiculous than this silly Snapchat video about Chris Pratt’s haunted toilet in a Manhattan hotel room.) Sly’s mother, Jackie Stallone, turned being a celebrity mom into an industry by having her own psychic hotline in the 1990s, but you might not believe this 2010 article from Week In Weird, about something called Rumpology where she will tell you your future by looking at a picture of your butt.  

That’s right, she’ll tell you your future for $125 by looking at your butt. For that alone, this is an episode you probably want to download and listen to immediately.

One thing that really stood out about Guardians of the Galaxy was Peter’s classic rock “Awesome Mixtape Vol. 1”, so for this week we thought it would be perfect to play our own goofy Classic Rock-inspired anthem, “Turn On The Hi-Fi”.

The below video is a live version of the song from a Milwaukee show, but the live version in the actual podcast is from  January 2015 where our friend Jim Chiello from Power of Sound was the engineer and mixed our set and then worked hard on our performances to make an awesome live recording for us!

Strap on any old guitar and crank that thing up until your ears bleed, you just need,
That bass drum in your soul, it don’t matter if you look like an @#$hole, your body’s freed.

You’re dancing with the devil, man,
Record needles full of adrenaline.
I got the spirit, Can I get an amen?
There’s nothing like turning it up to ten.

Oh oh oh, Oh oh oh,
Nothing wrong that I see, so
Turn on the hi-fi, baby.
Oh oh oh, Oh oh oh,
Let’s make the jump to light speed,
Turn on the hi-fi, baby.

Whip it out and let it rip, hold on tight you’re on the rocket ship, it’s a trip,
to blast off with the sound, and jump up like you’ll never hit the ground, let’s get blitzed.

And dance with the devil, man.
Shoot me up full of adrenaline.
I got the spirit, Can I get an amen?
Feels so good, it’s gotta be a sin.

Oh oh oh, Oh oh oh,
Nothing wrong that I see, so
Turn on the hi-fi, baby.
Oh oh oh, Oh oh oh,
Let’s make the jump to light speed,
Turn on the hi-fi, baby.

Turn it on!

108 – Wow!: Radio Telescopes, Dyson Spheres, And The Search For Aliens

We’ve discussed SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) before when we talked about that Russian billionaire that gave a hundred million dollars to the quest to find aliens, but this past week had a huge announcement for those of us who keep our eyes on the skies.

We’re talking about the signal that was reported by a Russian radio telescope in May of 2015 but for some reason has only entered the public sphere starting last week and was especially exciting because it was all over the mainstream news sources. Usually when this kind of news happens, it gets relegated to UFO or conspiracy blogs. It’s easily weekly that I have to trudge through various reports that a UFO was seen on the live feed from the International Space Station and NASA quickly turned off the cameras.

So when it gets announced to the regular world that an amazing signal was detected from space, it’s big news for us and we wanted to talk about it. I hate to disappoint everyone but it’s already being disavowed. CNN is already saying that scientists are saying it’s probably of terrestrial origin, some kind of disturbance or weird reflection off an old Soviet satellite, just Cold War spy technology coming back to spoil our fun.

But how do we know that this isn’t just the cover-up? Once the world governments realized what was going on, they decided to shut it down before the truth got out?! Well, that certainly is a possibility and we know that the government loves to keep things from us but even though I’d love for this to be some kind of cover-up of an actual alien transmission, it’s probably not. And for a couple of reasons:

  • August is a slow news month. Donald Trump’s act isn’t as entertaining to journalists as it was a year ago and Hillary is playing it as safe as possible so she doesn’t blow her current lead in the polls. Most people are on vacation and news organizations don’t know what to write about. Aliens get clicks, every time.
  • This happened in May of 2015 and we’re just hearing about it now. If it was the smoking gun that we’re all waiting for, well, in this day and age, stories don’t take a year and a half to get told.
Im Not Saying It Was Aliens...
I’m Not Saying It Was Aliens…

Back in college, when we all ran SETI@Home on our computers instead of a normal screen saver (You still can, just check it out right here!) most of the signals that we were processing came from the radio telescope at Arecibo in Puerto Rico. The largest telescope actually has just finished construction in China and is scheduled to be operational this month(!)

Mike at Arecibo
Mike at Arecibo

So a quick primer on radio telescopes in case you’re wondering. It is a radio antenna like the one on your car, but while the one on your car can maybe pick up a signal from 80 miles away if it’s in AM mode, the radio telescope is big enough to pick up radio waves in space. And scientists can take those radio waves and use them to find out things about the objects that the telescope is pointed at.

Radio telescopes can collect data from further distances than visual telescopes. So, when the signal was announced last week that seemed to come from somewhere near the constellation Hercules, one of the exciting aspects of that was it seemed to be purposeful and for the signal we received to make it here from that distance would require the energy of a Kardeshev Type 2 civilization.

Huh? Okay, Kardeshev was a Soviet astronomer who developed a scale for the technological advancement of civilizations based on the amount of power that they could harness.

  • Type 1 was the ability to harness all of the energy of your own planet (we’re not there yet but here’s what it would be like if we were).
  • Type 2 is the ability to harness the power of a star. This is the Dyson Sphere that people talk about. A Dyson Sphere is an enormous structure built around a star that can use all of the energy that that star creates (like in the Star Trek: TNG episode with Scotty, “Relics” or the Hyperion book series by Dan Simmons.)
  • Type 3 means that you can manipulate the power of a galaxy. Everyone’s favorite Coast To Coast AM astrophysicist, Michio Kaku, thinks that we might be there in ONE MILLION years.

And oh man, that Next Gen episode was so sad, wasn’t it? RIP James Doohan, we still love ya!

But here’s something cool, in the past couple of years, we’ve had two strange readings from stars where their brightness has changed inexplicably. We expect up to one percent of the brightness to dip when a planet passes in front of them, but these dips are more like twenty-two to forty-five percent. So that means that something gigantic is getting between us and the star, something like a Dyson Sphere!

Of course, scientists always have an alternate explanation, but thinking that it’s extraterrestrials building a megastructure designed to harness the power of an alien sun is a lot more fun, and I’m sticking with that for today.


But on August 15th, 1977 there was a signal detected at the Big Ear Radio Telescope at Ohio State that was dozens of times stronger than the background noise of space. Lasting just seventy-two seconds, astronomer Dr. Jerry Ehman circled it on the printout and wrote down “Wow!” by it (hence the nickname of the signal.)

Why was it such a big deal? First, the signal was heard near a “protected frequency” that other earthbound transmitters aren’t allowed to broadcast on so it probably wasn’t a terrestrial source. Second, the signal rose and fell during the 72 seconds, meaning that it got more intense as the Earth’s rotation brought the radio telescope’s “beam” closer to the signal and less intense as it rotated out. That means it’s probably not some kind of interference which would have acted differently.

It’s the closest thing to an extraterrestrial radio source that we’ve ever seen, but it only lasted that minute and twelve seconds. Several attempts have been made to detect another signal coming at that intensity from that area of the cosmos and we haven’t heard anything yet.

Now, Professor Antonio Paris (c’mon, that’s an awesome name!) at St. Petersburg College in Florida (Note about this part of the podcast – I totally mixed up St. Petersburg and St. Augustine while we were discussing this) has come up with a plausible theory is that the intense signal might have been coming from some comets that as of 1977 were undiscovered. He’s hoping to test it in the next couple of years when the comets make another trip nearby Earth.


Stephen Colbert actually made a response to the Wow! Signal on his Comedy Central show a few years back…

So, we haven’t found that undeniable evidence that’s going to convince the straights that E.T. is out there, but that doesn’t mean radio telescopes haven’t been inspiration for our sci-fi over the past few decades. Great places to see radio telescopes in science fiction:

  • The Arrival – this is one of Charlie Sheen’s best roles and an under appreciated 1990s alien invasion flick. It had the bad luck of coming out the same year as Independence Day and let’s face it, as fun as Charlie Sheen can be, the late 90s was the Willennium.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOc01_Ty1eQ
  • Goldeneye – you saw it in the theater or you played it on your Nintendo 64 but you remember the big finish takes place at the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico where Pierce Brosnan chases Sean Bean around.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH2qnn4D0kY
  • The X-Files – “Little Green Men”. Mulder goes down to Puerto Rico in his quest for the truth and it’s the first appearance of aliens on the show.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYEpvHDbT4Y
  • The Dish – The Parkes Observatory in the middle of the Australian Outback has to help out with the Apollo moon landing in 1969.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc4MSie-P0k
  • Doctor Who – Tom Baker saves the universe from entropy but loses a regeneration in the process by falling from a radio telescope designed to contact alien intelligences.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xYOM70sbyA
  • The Arrival – Not Charlie Sheen this time, but Amy Adams. And it hasn’t come out yet, but the preview screenings have got me all excited about it. It’s supposed to be not so much of an alien invasion, but a What If? we actually met aliens who didn’t want to eat us, but wanted to make contact. This is the film that might be preparing us for full disclosure (keep your fingers crossed!)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hQkrCtfUP0

At the end of the episode, we also introduce our friend, Tobias Wayland, from The Singular Fortean Society. He is a Madison-based blogger and paranormal researcher, working with artist and fellow researcher Emily Bartos. They recently attended the Art of Darkness event in Minneapolis and he wrote up the event at their website.

This week’s Sunspot song is a simple track about calling out into night sky and only having one word to say when it answers you back. Wow!

Just how long can you stare?
At the emptiness inside a prayer,
An ear peeled to every band,
to hear a loneliness that just expands.

All the space between us is so black,
Patience just a virtue that I lack,
Until the void finally calls back,
I’ll scream into the night alone.

Wow, I heard you.
How, where’d you go?
Now, I’ll follow,
so please phone home.

Now the long wait can begin,
(I heard you),
when will you show yourself again
(where’d you go?)
It’s funny how just one time,
(I’ll follow),
Can forever alter  your life,
(please phone home).

All the space between us is so black
Patience just a virtue that I lack
Until the void finally calls back
I’ll scream into the night alone

Wow, I heard you.
How, where’d you go?
Now, I’ll follow,
so please phone home.


88 – Technological Unemployment: What Happens When The Robots Take Our Jobs?

So, with Wendy on vacation this week, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts Tours And Investigations joins me again to discuss the upcoming economic technocalypse, that’s right technological unemployment. Allison was just with me last week for our first Wizard World Comic Con in Madison, Wisconsin where we were on a panel called Wisconsin Paranormal. It was hosted by our friend, Tea Krulos, and also on the panel was J. Nathan Couch, the world’s foremost Goatman expert, and a former guest on See You On The Other Side as well. It was a lot of fun and we can’t wait to get to another one.

Notes for the Madison convention, man, there was a lot of Doctor Who cosplayers, especially Osgoods – (and the character is kind of a Doctor Who cosplayer herself, so that whole thing was particularly meta), but whoever were dressed as the Predator and Ms. Predator (for real, it was like Ms. Pac Man but way more terrifying) were the real winners. Those costumes looked like it walked off a 20th Century Fox backlot and I was looking around to see if Ahnuld was anywhere to be seen.

This last week, actor Gareth Thomas passed away and we do a quick tribute to him. Blake’s 7 is still some of my favorite dystopian science fiction. Thomas played the lead character, Roj Blake, in a desperate fight against a tyrannical Galactic Federation. It was the anti-Star Trek, but it certainly was a fun and thoughtful show. And those outfits! I love you 1970s.

Also, I’m currently working on a haunted history tour of St. Paul, Minnesota and if you have any stories that you might have experienced or have friends that might have experienced, please send me an email at mikeATsunspomtusicDOTcom because I’m looking for more stories to complete the tour!

Okay onto this week’s main topic. It’s an election year and so people are talking about the issues that matter to them most. And what’s the most important issue to almost everyone? Well, as that famous cueball James Carville once said, “It’s the economy, stupid.

And the economy is all about jobs. That’s where we earn money, that’s where we spend our time. When you have a job, you hate it (usually, I know I have in the past) but when you don’t have a job, you hate it even more (once again, I know I have in the past.) The most common cry is that American jobs are being stolen by immigrants who will work for less money or outsourced to Asia where people will work for a lot less money.

On a sci-fi comedy bent, South Park famously has an episode where future humans come back to our time from the future where there are no jobs. They’re willing to work for very low wages and the townspeople rally around the battle cry, “Dey took owr jerbs!”

But whatever side you stand on for free trade and immigration, there is one class of worker who is coming for our jobs. I think that Kyle Reese describes them best:

Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

Okay, that’s probably a little strong language for some automatons on an assembly line. But robots don’t get tired, they don’t take long breaks, and they don’t complain. They’re getting better and better at simple tasks and according to the President’s own 2016 Economic Report, there is an 80% chance that jobs that earn under $20 will be automated in the near future. And there’s a 31% chance of automation for jobs that make $20 to $40 an hour.

Yeah, so even if you’re in a cubicle job that feels pretty cushy (even though we know it’s a trap and one day we will help you rise up against your middle management oppressors), there’s still greater than a one in four chance that a robot will soon be able to do your job.

Technological Unemployment is a hot topic now, but it’s been and issue for centuries, since at least the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. New technology means that needs for work change (how many blacksmiths or even better, pewtersmiths do you know? It ain’t Johnny Tremain anymore.)

In the Early Nineteenth Century, English textile workers were getting replaced by weaving machines in factories, so they started destroying the machines. Fastest way to save your job? Eliminate the competition (watch The Wire if you want to see this in action in the modern day.) The workers started protesting and acting out more and more, and they became known as Luddites, supposedly named after a guy named Ned Ludd who was one of the first to destroy some of the new technology. And if there ever was a more 18th Century English Workingman’s Name than Ned Ludd, please send it to me.

This became such an issue that the British government made destroying a machine a capital crime, meaning you could be put to death for it. Interestingly enough, Lord Byron was one of the few defenders of the Luddites in the government. Leave it to the Romantics to defend an older way of life (I’m looking at you too, Tolkien!)

The first I ever heard of the Luddites was from a Doctor Who story called “The Mark Of The Rani” where an evil Time Lady is conducting experiments on them. Is it one of their greatest stories? No. But it does have a full-grown Tyrannosaurus Rex running around a TARDIS, so it’s got that going for it.

So, the fear of technology taking people’s jobs is an old one. And with technology increasing at a more rapid pace than ever (in just thirty years, we’ve gone from a basic mobile phone to the entire sum of human knowledge in your pocket… and Netflix too!), we need to start taking seriously that even jobs that require artistic skills are going to be in danger of automation. Yeah. Once robots watch 20,000 hours of science fiction TV and movies and can starting talking about it and writing songs, I’m out of a job too.

So what’s going to happen to us once we reach a certain level of technological unemployment?Well, according to this Slate interview with Andrew McAfee, there are three scenarios that might happen.

1. It’s all going to work out in the end. Just like the Industrial Revolution in England led to a middle class and better lifestyle for factory workers, new technology will mean new kinds of work. After all, by the time we didn’t need blacksmiths to shoe horses, we needed mechanics to fix cars. We’re going to reach an equilibrium and it’s all going to be just fine. Think Total Recall, sure there are driverless cabs, but we still need people to drive the huge drills that tunnel around Mars. (Screw you, Benny!)

2. Income inequality will increase and the workers who are left behind won’t be able to retrain. Social mobility gets cut short because society cleaves into a feudal system of lord and peasant. Look to Elysium for an excellent example of this, if you think gated communities are bad for society, wait until they leave Earth for space.

3. Paradise. Robots do the manual labor that we hate Star Trek of course is an excellent example of this in a moneyless future where people are free to “better ourselves and the rest of humanity”. But H.G. Wells also talks about this in The Time Machine where the Eloi live an idyllic life of no work and pleasure all day, but the monstrous Morlock workers who live underground come up to the surface and collect the Eloi for feeding every once in awhile.

So, #1 sounds like the same old, same old. #2 sounds like a nightmare (and you know that’s how the future will be for some unfortunate people.) But #3 sounds like where I want to get to. Who doesn’t want more time to spend with their children? More time to work out? More time to pursue the things that give their life meaning?

Well, how do we make that happen?

The idea that a libertarian economist had 50 years ago. He called it the negative income tax, but it’s more commonly known as a Universal Basic Income. Everyone gets a check every year so that they’re at least above the poverty level. Sounds like socialism, right? Well, kinda. But if the idea could be supported by a economist as frequently cited by conservatives as Friedrich Hayek then there might be something that both sides of the political aisle can agree on. After all, if we’re guaranteed to be able to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves and our families and we can work to make more money for vacations and cool stuff, then companies will require a lot less regulation and hopefully crime will go down.

Plus, wouldn’t it be great to work on something that brings you meaning versus something you just need to “get through” every day? I’m with ya 100% and Allison and I certainly express that in the podcast. She mentions how J.K. Rowling was at rock bottom when she wrote the Harry Potter novels and went from being a single mother on the dole to one of the richest women on the planet. I don’t love Harry Potter as much as others do (I prefer Battle School from Ender’s Game to Hogwart’s), but she needed that time to be able to create and do something meaningful with her life rather than work at something she felt was a dead end. J.K. Rowling created billions of dollars of wealth and she did it on government assistance.

People have tons of economic disagreements about the current welfare state, of course, I have no doubt that the current system is flawed. But with all of our technology and all of our wealth in the world, everyone should have the chance to express themselves and create like J.K. Rowling did. Some will be better than others, but how many brilliant works are we being denied because that would-be author has to work three jobs to make ends meet? I say, just let the robots do it, already.

So, technological unemployment might sound scary, it might be a blessing in disguise. We talked before about Robert Brautigan’s hippie-fantasy poem, All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace, where humanity gets to return to its natural roots while robots take care of the needs and wants, and ya know, it doesn’t sound that bad.

This week’s song is the Sunspot track, “Uncanny Valley”. It’s a headbanger wanting the opposite of Pinocchio, instead of the puppet wanting to be a real boy, the real boy wants to be a puppet.

All circuits go and power on,
Reconstructed from the pieces that were left into,
a convincing automaton,
a believable facsimile, a six million dollar masterpiece.

oooooh I’m so close,
you might not believe I’m a machine inside the ghost.

Forged from the wreckage of spare parts,
This tin man doesn’t want a heart.

Refurbished scrap without a soul,
unconstricted by the defect of attachment.
Programmed for perfect control,
To smile is upgrade, this kiss is manmade.

oooooh I’m so close,
you might not believe I’m a machine inside the ghost.

Forged from the wreckage of spare parts,
This tin man doesn’t want a heart.

In my nightmares, I’m still human,
I don’t dream electric sheep,
In my nightmares, I’m still human,
this cyber core only skin-deep,
I welcome emptiness,
I will seek the void,
the uncanny valley,
separates the men from the droids.

oooooh I’m so close,
you might not believe I’m a machine inside the ghost.

Forged from the wreckage of spare parts,
this tin man doesn’t want a heart.
Just like Data in reverse,
this sentience is only a curse.

All circuits go and power on.
All circuits go and power on.

87 – Man Vs. Chaos: Human Sacrifice Throughout History

First of all, we’d like to thank everyone who helped nominate us for four different categories in the Madison Area Music Awards!

Sunspot is up for
Alternative Performer
Rock AlbumWeirdest Hits
Hard Rock/Punk Song – “Messiah Complex”
Drummer/Percussionist – Wendy Lynn Staats

The Madison Area Music Association is a charity that runs these awards every year as a fundraiser for music programs in the local schools, so it all goes to a good cause. By supporting us and voting in the contest, you’re help less-advantaged kids get instruments in their hands. Please visit the MAMA Awards site and cast your vote for Sunspot in those categories.

Wendy Lynn is also one of the finalists for Strings Player of the Year at the Wisconsin Area Music Awards, it’s not a voting award, but it’s an exciting nomination (and she’ll find out if she’s the winner by the next podcast!)

So, speaking of charitable contributions, this week’s topic is human sacrifice. And if the heart of charity is giving something up, then I can’t think of anything more charitable than giving up your life (or the life of someone that matters to you.) But in most societies today, we completely disapprove of sacrificing someone to appease the gods (although it still happens, as this shocking story of human sacrifices in Uganda in February of 2016(!) to bring “good luck” for an election attests to.)

That Uganda story feels horrific and savage and sad in the current age, and of course the idea of human sacrifice is an affront to our modern “civilized” society. But it doesn’t matter which culture you trace your background to, sacrificing human beings is somewhere in the history of it, it’s baked into all of our history at some point. A journal article that just came out talks about how human sacrifice can be attributed to the development of social hierarchies in human society.

So, the study was done of dozens of societies in Austronesia – that’s a particular area of the South Pacific and Australia (and a word I’d never heard before, so learning is fun!) And they found that the more egalitarian a society was (the more people were treated equally), the less human sacrifice was practiced. The more stratified a society was (as in the more differentiation there was in social class between the haves and have nots), the more human sacrifice was performed.

Here’s the money quote from the study:

Religion has long been proposed to play a functional role in society, and is commonly claimed to underpin morality. Recent evolutionary theories of religion have focused on the potential of pro-social and moral religious beliefs to increase cooperation. Our findings suggest that religious rituals also played a darker role in the evolution of modern complex societies. In traditional Austronesian cultures there was substantial religious and political overlap, and ritualised human sacrifice may have been co-opted by elites as a divinely sanctioned means of social control.

Bingo. Just a little something to think about next time someone is talking about modern income inequality . The more difference there was between the upper class (religious and political) and the lower class, the more they performed human sacrifices. Those sacrifices were often prisoners, either prisoners of war or criminals.

So, using human sacrifice as a method of social control makes sense. It can be used as a form of capital punishment that feels like it’s for a good cause (you get to control troublemakers, put fear into the population, and tell the plebes that it’s all for the good of the harvest), but why would we ever sacrifice a human being in the first place? Why would us giving something up, whether it’s an animal sacrifice or the bodies of someone we love – make any kind of difference to a divine being to grant us favor or not?

My personal theory on it can be best explained by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her five stages of grief. In the end, grieving comes to the same place, acceptance. But to get to that step, you need to deny it, to be angry about it, and at some point, you try and make a deal. That’s where sacrifice comes in.

How many times have you prayed in your head, even without thinking, that you would do anything to get what you wanted in the moment?

“Dear God, I’ll stop eating bacon if you help me make it through this heart attack.”
“Dear God, I promise I’ll be a better person if you can make my wife love me again.”
“Dear God, I’ll never take a drink again if you get me out of this traffic stop.”
“”Dear God, You can give me the disease, just make my child healthy again.”

It’s an involuntary reaction to something that we cannot control. I was just reading Charles Duhigg’s new book, Smarter Faster Better and the first chapter is about how humans are simply more motivated if they are in control and that applies if they only feel that they are in control, even when they obviously are not.

Who felt less in control than early humans? Between disease, famine, drought, natural disasters, war, etc… every random thing that happened to them they had to try and find some kind of explanation for. In the end, they always had to surrender before a higher power because they were powerless to prevent a lot of the tragedy that befell them.

When they hit the bargaining stage, they tried to sacrifice whatever they could to give them some kind of advantage, some kind of control. The survival of their entire tribe might be at stake in a war or a famine (and there was a point in human history where our entire species was down to a thousand reproductive adults), so they did anything to put themselves at an advantage. And that included giving up their lives and the lives of the people that they cared about the most.

And hey, you don’t have to be a cultist to have human sacrifice as part of your religion, it doesn’t matter if you’re Judeo-Christian or you’re someone that believes in the god from Joe Versus The Volcano, chances are that it’s in there.

This child-friendly guide to how the God of the Old Testament tested Abraham’s faith and asked him to sacrifice his only son is a quick eye-opener (SPOILER ALERT: God changes his mind at the last minute.) But the Bible has several examples where people make a bargain with God, whether it’s for a great victory or a good harvest. And Jesus is the ultimate human sacrifice because he’s half-man, half-deity, and he is sacrificed so we no longer have to keep kosher food rules (I guess the early Christians really wanted some shellfish…)

Throughout history, various methods of human sacrifice have been used to appease the gods. One of my least favorites is the Thuggees of India, roaming bands of violent young religious fanatics who would rob travelers and sacrifice them to their god Kali, often by strangling them with a dirty handkerchief. The Thuggees are the bad guys in Gunga Din, the Beatles’ Help!, and most famously Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom (where the sacrifice is heart ripping instead of dirty handkerchiefs!)

Fiji today conjures up the idea of a tropical island paradise and it’s said to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet to visit. But, they’ve got a pretty nasty sacrifice too. When a man died, the custom was to bury his wife with him.

Here’s the description from anthropologist Lorimer Fison from the 19th Century *Journal of Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland*:

When a woman is about to be strangled that she may be buried with her husband, she is made to kneel down, and the cord (a strip of native cloth) is put round her neck. She is then told to expel her breath as long as possible, and when she can endure no longer to stretch out her hand as a signal, whereupon the cord is tightened, and soon all is over. It is believed that, if this direction be followed, insensibility ensues immediately on the tightening of the cord; whereas, if inhalation has taken place, there is an interval of suffering.

An excuse for the practice of widow-strangling may be found in the fact that, according to Fijian belief, it is a needful precautionary measure; for at a certain place on the road to Mbulu (Hades) there lies in wait a terrible god, called Nangganangga, who is utterly implacable towards the ghosts of the unmarried. He is especially ruthless towards bachelors, among whom he persists in classing all male ghosts who come to him unaccompanied by their wives. Turning a deaf ear to their protestations, he seizes them, lifts them above his head, and breaks them in two by dashing them down on a projecting rock. Hence it is absolutely necessary for a man to have at least one of his wives, or at all events, a female ghost of some sort following him.

Okay, a god that forces people to get married and then wants the wives killed when the husbands died (and concubines killed as well when a Chief passes away)… ahem… what were we saying about human sacrifice as a form of social control?

European civilization isn’t much better, we’ve discussed The Wicker Man before at length in our discussion of the death of the great Christopher Lee and Asian cultures also got in on the deal. There’s a reason that one of the names of the Great Wall Of China is “the longest cemetery on Earth.”

Literature is bursting at its bloody seams of sacrifice. Homer’s Illiad (the epic poem about the Trojan War) is full of human sacrifices. Agamemnon murders his daughter to get safe passage across the sea, Achilles burns twelve Trojan prisoners alive to get the gods’ favor in battle, and these are the good guys.

In George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire and TV show, Game Of Thrones, the Red Priestess, Melisandre, burns heretics alive before the Lord of Light, R’hllor. She also seeks the sacrifice of one of the old King’s bastard children in order to achieve the favor of her god for Stannis Baratheon to win the War of The Five Kings.

Doctor Who’s classic story, “The Aztecs” is all about how one of his companions thought that she could change history by altering the Aztec culture of human sacrifice. In Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, escaping human sacrifice is the point of the film. And I didn’t think of this during the podcast, but since Mel also directed The Passion Of The Christ, you can say that he is the director when it comes to gory human sacrifices on film!

Offering up something we value in exchange for favor from a god is hardwired into our humanity. We’re still willing to give up human lives in exchange for something. The powerful are still sacrificing lives as a form of social control and even what-we-think-of-as civilized societies are still killing people in order to feel more control of a chaotic world.

We’ve replaced the term human sacrifice with “collateral damage”. It’s the drone strike that kills innocent people at a wedding to take out a few terrorists in exchange for security. It’s the lives destroyed by the War on Drugs in the name of law and order. It’s turning away asylum seekers because we’re afraid (and this doesn’t have to be the current politicized Syrian debacle, let’s talk about the MS St. Louis which was carrying hundreds of Jews trying to escape Nazi Germany and the US and Canada turned them away.)

Sure, there are plenty of urban legends of Satanists and Santeria and African mysticism, but take the rituals and religion out and add in platitudes like freedom and security. It’s not necessarily evil, like we think of ritual murder, but it’s important to recognize that we’re still the same creatures who screamed at the dark 70,000 years ago desperate for some kind of control in the chaos.

The song this week is inspired by the third stage of grief on the way to acceptance. This track is about bargaining with the man upstairs, called “Got Me In His Claws”.

I been so low,
because I got too high.
I begged and screamed,
and pleaded to make deals for my life.

I have surrendered,
to the Lord on high,
and I’ve made my peace with him,
I’ve made my sacrifice.

That sacrifice,
when I thought life,
could get no harder,
coming down on me,
I made every guarantee.

That I’d cut out all my lying,
I’d stop cheating on my tax,
I’d stop the smoking, midnight toking,
and start going to Mass.
I’ve had enough of these lost weekends,
All the trouble I used to cause,
Too close to my fate, I’m going straight,
The Devil got me in his claws.
That Devil got me in his claws.
That Devil got me in his claws.

Everything that you believe,
all you control,
everything you’ve achieved,
can go right down the hole.
You can surrender
to the Lord on high,
you can make your peace,
you can sacrifice.

That sacrifice,
when I thought life,
could get no harder,
coming down on me,
I made every guarantee.

That I’d cut out all my lying,
I’d stop cheating on my tax,
I’d stop the smoking, midnight toking,
and start going to Mass.
I’ve had enough of these lost weekends,
All the trouble I used to cause,
Too close to my fate, I’m going straight,
The Devil got me in his claws.
That Devil got me in his claws.
That Devil got me in his claws.

80 – Beyond Pluto: Discovering Planet X and Nibiru

I’m normally the type of person who is willing to entertain alternative philosophies, fringe conspiracy theories, and what the straights would call “wacky ideas”, but I’ll be honest here when I’m saying that I have always been particularly prejudiced against certain paranormal concepts.

There are just some that I find too ridiculous, or pointless, or lacking in any kind of scientific evidence whatsoever… I’m sure we’ll be tackling a number of these over time on the See You On The Other Side podcast and this week we tackle a topic I’ve always thought was a complete waste of time, Planet X.

david bowie backstair nibiru
People have even claimed that Bowie’s last album, Blackstar, is a warning about the coming of Planet X…

Planet X, or Nibiru, is the theory that there is a mysterious planet that’s lurking out on the far side of the solar system beyond Pluto. There have been various wild speculations over the years that this planet is either home to an alien race that has messed with the people of Earth every time it comes near us in orbit or that the planet itself was going to crash into us. Mind you, these weren’t astronomers, so that’s where they lost me. How can the people with access to the most advanced space observing technology in the world miss the fact that there’s a tenth planet out there?

Now I like the fact that the X in Planet X can stand for the undiscovered mystery of it (like an X variable in Algebra) as well as being the Roman numeral for 10, so it’s double clever.

Or well, it was double clever until they demoted Pluto from full planet to a dwarf planet, so there’s no longer nine official planets in the Solar System. In this week’s podcast, the humiliation of Pluto becomes a recurring theme as we portray the scientist who helped make that happen, Caltech Astronomer Mike Brown as an angry Scotsman who is constantly berating Pluto for its “wee” size. To be clear, Mike Brown is not an angry Scotsman, but since his Twitter handle is @plutokiller, I’m pretty sure he’s down with berating innocent tiny planets.

It’s okay, little Pluto, I still love you.

Anyway, Mike Brown is one of the reasons that we’re talking about Planet X today. He was a big part of a research paper published in January 2016 that there is probably a Neptune-sized planet beyond Pluto that we haven’t discovered yet after all.

Funny enough, the term Planet X was used when they first started looking for a planet beyond Neptune in the late 19th Century. And in fact, the man who made it his life’s mission to discover that planet, Percival Lowell, was a firm believer in intelligent life on Mars. Lowell’s observatory in Arizona did eventually discover Pluto, so he was right about something.

Maybe I was wrong to dismiss Planet X my entire life. It looks like there might be another planet out there, could it possibly be related to the Nibiru that Nancy Lieder and Zechariah Sitchin talked about on Coast To Coast AM for most of the late 90s and early 00s?

First of all, let’s talk about how to pronounce Nibiru, when we did our show on David Icke and the Annunaki, I didn’t research how to pronounce his name properly and went on to say it as “icky” (rhymes with sticky) during the whole episode. Sorry about that, David, when your last name is Huberty embarrassing rhymes just come naturally.

So, what is Nibiru all about? Well, let’s start with Zechariah Sitchin who was a Russian-born English-educated journalist that lived in Israel for most of his life. He could read Ancient Sumerian, which is no small feat, and his study of their ancient texts had lead him to believe that there is an extra planet in the Solar System known as Nibiru.

He said that his research showed that this extra planet has an orbit that puts it near Earth every 3600 years and that on that planet lived the Annunaki, the Sumerian Gods who granted humanity civilization. His book was called The Twelfth Planet because he says the Sumerians added the Sun and the Moon when they talked about their heavenly bodies, so the last planet in the sequence was actually Nibiru and they considered it the twelfth. If this all sounds a little Stargate to you, it’s because the creators actually admitted to being influenced by some of his ideas.

That’s not the only time, however, that the idea of the “Tenth Planet” has been used in fiction. Doctor Who’s second greatest villain (behind the Daleks of course) are the Cybermen, who originally came from Earth’s twin planet, known as Mondas. A natural disaster sent Mondas spinning off to another part of the universe In their introductory episode, they actually fly their planet back into the Solar System to take over the Earth. This is why I hope that if another planet in the Solar System is found that we need to call it Mondas.

I don’t think that Icke’s Annunaki and Sitchin’s Annunaki are quite the same breed of evil alien, but they both have had their hands in human evolution. Expounding upon Sitchin’s work in the 90s during the run-up to Hale-Bopp’s appearance though, comes a woman (originally from Wisconsin of course, because we breed weird) named Nancy Lieder.

Lieder claims to have been contacted by aliens from Zeta Reticuli (the Zetas, which sounds more like a frat than a super-advanced race) and they warned her about something called the Nibiru Cataclysm. Nancy is a channeler who has been talking to the Greys from Zeta Reticuli for a couple of decades now and has her own website, ZetaTalk (which of course, makes me immediately think of Linda Richman and Coffee Talk.)

zetatalk linda rich man nibiru
Linda Richman is a huge Zeta Talk fan.

She said that the tenth planet was coming towards Earth and it was going to cause a global cataclysm, the North Pole and the South Pole were going to shift locations, and all Hell was going to break loose.

Looks like Wisconsin isn’t ever going to be anywhere near the equator, sigh

However, in another disappointing round of apocalypses that never happened, she kept on moving the date of the actual cataclysm further and further as they kept on not happening. People even thought that December 21st, 2012 was going to be the big day but like Y2K and Harold Camping, nothing ever came of it.

But Nancy continues to operate her website and bring the wisdom of the Zetas to us Earthlings and as recently as this month, she has chats where she takes people’s questions and brings them to our alien friends.

This isn’t really on topic, but while we were discussing the Reptilians, Greys, and Annunaki this episode, my sister Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts alerted Wendy Lynn and I to the existence of the Nordic aliens from the Pleiades. Obviously, we’ll have to research them more, but they’re described as very friendly, almost magical, and hyper-attractive types that come out of cigar-shaped UFOs, but look more like they should be in an IKEA catalog.

nordic aliens pleiades
I think we played with his band one time.

Anyway, that was truly a delight to learn about the alien race that would look awesome on the side of a van. Speaking of driving, this week’s song is “Cemetery Highway” by Sunspot – it’s a song about how we’re always looking to the skies and being obsessed with the end of the world like 2012 or the Nibiru Cataclysm, and it’s just a way to confront our own mortality. After all, as Chuck Palahniuk said, “On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”

Here’s a live version of the track from our rock opera, Major Arcana.

This Week’s Planetary Alignment and The X-Files

You can bet a pack of Morley cigarettes and bag of sunflower seeds that I’m excited about The X-Files returning this Sunday night. But it’s not just Mulder and Scully that are going to be gracing our lives once again, it’s also the beginning of the first planetary alignment in the sky that’s going to be visible to our naked eye in over a decade. Oh yeah, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all going to be lined up and easily visible looking like stars lined (and on January 28th, even the moon is going to get in on the action and be lined up as well!) Now if you’re interested in viewing this cool astronomical phenomena then you can get help with that from the fine scientific writers at National Geographic.

TV shows and movies love to tackle the alignments of planets and stars in the sky and give them some kind of significance. Like we’re dumb enough to believe that when everything in the sky lines up, something horrible is going to happen. Yes, even my beloved Doctor Who had a ridiculous episode where the Daleks aligned 27 planets to make a (ahem) reality bomb.

The X-Files gave planetary alignments a special significance in season three as well with their episode “Syzygy” (also known as the episode where Scully gets jealous of the local detective that Mulder has been hanging out with). A syzygy is a term for an alignment of three celestial objects and it’s that alignment on a particular night in the 1970s that creates some very intense energy for a pair of girls born on that date.

Now szygys where the Sun, Moon, and Earth line up are known to cause “moonquakes” and I didn’t know moonquakes were a thing up until now, so that’s kind of awesome, but aside from fiction from Lovecraft to Pitch Black dealing with the apocalyptic aspects of an astronomical alignment, there’s not much else that’s going to happen except a sweet light show.

There are some people that believe planets aligning for a massive New Age Harmonic Convergence in 1987 was a big supernatural deal that was going to lead to the building of a thing called the Rainbow Bridge that was going to envelope the Earth in a aura of positivity (man), but the only Rainbow Road I’ve ever seen is in Mario Kart.

Ima Wario and Ima gonna win!

Anyway, if you’re looking for a mystical aspect, this author believes that there is a spiritual component to this week’s planetary alignment and it’s basically the fact that each of the five planets that are going to be lined up are associated with some aspect of our personality when it comes to Astrology, so if you’re into Horoscopes it’s a nice hopeful (and harmless) article.

But with new X-Files and a planetary alignment to light up the sky, our eyes have lots to look forward to!

Paranormal Stories You Might Have Missed While Watching Making A Murderer

Well, you were probably watching Making A Murderer over Christmas and New Year’s and I can’t blame you, it was riveting television of murder, law enforcement corruption, and class-based oppression that unfortunately happened in our home state of Wisconsin. But while you were signing that petition to free Steven Avery, the world of the strange didn’t just roll over and play (un)dead. Here’s some paranormal stories you might have missed over the Holiday Break:

Hillary Clinton UFOs
Look at that smile… does she know something?

The big story is that in her quest for the presidency, Hillary Clinton seems to be courting the UFO conspiracists now by claiming that “Aliens may have already visited Earth” and that she’s “going to get to the bottom of it”. Her campaign chairman, John Pedesta, former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton is a UFO fan and in the past has said his biggest regret is not getting the disclosure that we’re all hoping for. So we know at least there’s someone on her team who cares (but who knows how much of that could be just disinformation…)

President Bill Clinton has spoken publicly about Roswell on a number of occasions because the 50th anniversary of the “crash” was under his watch. He’s claimed that they did look at all the documents from the time and it was just a weather balloon, that there was no alien crash there.

Well, at least they’re talking about it, but my personal favorite presidential UFO tale is still the noble Jimmy Carter, who sticks by his story of seeing something, even if he isn’t convinced about extraterrestrials…

The next big story has been making the Facebook rounds, that of an “800-year old cell phone” with numbers in cuneiform discovered in Austria. You might have seen it on Twitter or in your feeds over the weekend.

800 year old alien cell phone
Mork calling Orson… come in Orson…

Ah, but the truth is much more boring. Looks like it was a creation of German artists in 2012 and the photos of it, dissociated from the original art project started making the Internet rounds. It’s a heartbreaker if you love Ancient Aliens and time travel stories like I do, but don’t buy it!

This next story is more in the science fiction realm and it’s exciting! Japanese scientists have developed a device that can predict what words you’re about to say before you say them. They’ve traced words to the specific brain waves and it “reads” the brain waves and predicts the words.  While some sites have been talking about the potential for drones to be operated “telepathically”, I think it’s a lot more exciting for paralyzed patients, wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to help them talk?

In Doctor Who, their time machine, the TARDIS can telepathically read the minds of what the travelers are hearing and translate the language for them so that they understand. Now THAT is a sweet use for a telepathic machine. The Doctor explains that to Sarah Jane Smith in a great story called “The Masque of Mandragora” (and whaddaya know, you can watch the whole thing on Daily Motion!)

sarah jane and the telepathic tardis machine
Helluva mask there, pal…

Last but not least, here’s a my favorite conspiracy theory of the week. The Oregon wildlife refuge that was occupied over the weekend by a “militia” looking to protest the federal government’s treatment of private land rights. The protest was led by a guy named Ammon Bundy, whose father Cliven Bundy has been doing this kind of thing for years in Nevada. Now, whether you’re sympathetic to the protestors or not, doesn’t matter, because the theory that they’re actually government agents and his statements are designed to lure other extremist groups out of hiding to be captured by a government-led sting operation is so wonderfully bonkers that it’s a joy to behold.

We’re looking for links to weird news and any interesting paranormal stories that you might find (or write!) Just send them over to [email protected] and we’ll check them out, analyze, and link to them here on the See You On The Other Side blog!



21 – Stonehenge: From Prehistory to Modern Mystery

Stonehenge. In reality, it’s a bunch of really big rocks arranged over the Salisbury plain in England. While the lintels (the huge stones laid horizontally across the tops of the upright ones) make it unlike any other manmade stone formation, Stonehenge is still like the constellations, all its meaning has to come from your own mind. And no other neolithic arrangement of boulders has fired more imaginations and conjecture than this one. It’s druids and ancient rituals and it represents a life and a culture that we can scarcely imagine from the 21st Century.

The Stonehenge mystery permeates English culture, a symbol of a heritage that goes back much further than William the Conqueror, much further than the Roman Conquest. Recent research suggests that the site was occupied as far back as 7000 B.C. Those humans might have been similar to us physically (except for size, we’re a way taller species than we used to be), but their lives would have been completely unrecognizable to us, as well as to what significance they would have given their mysterious sacred sites. Stonehenge has been linked to everything from Arthurian legends to Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Ubervilles to Doctor Who.

And it’s not just the English. Americans have appropriated it for themselves in movies like This Is Spinal Tap and National Lampoon’s European Vacation and Kurt Vonnegut’s book about ancient astronauts, The Sirens of Titan.

Stonehenge has been portrayed over the centuries as an altar for human sacrifice, an astronomical computer, and even a massive musical instrument. Over eight hundred thousand people visit the site each year. So why do we care so much about a bunch of rocks assembled by a group of prehistoric savages? What’s it about Stonehenge that fascinates people all over the world?

In This Episode..

The great Stonehenge Mystery Who made it, why, and what does it mean?

Wendy shares a bit of her experience visiting the monument as a child. Mike’s grand tour of the UK included almost everything BUT Stonehenge, so he has at least one very good reason to return.

From the Neolithic (~10,000 B.C. to ~5-2,000 B.C.) or “New Stone” Age, Stonehenge was created before modern tools (forged from metal) existed.  This contributes to the mystique, begging the question, how on earth was it built?

The pillars of this megalithic structure originated from the Wales region. So how did they end up in Southern England, over a hundred miles away?

And why was this curious place built? A recent theory, by archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson, suggests that it began as a burial ground for important families around 3,000 B.C.  Many cremated human remains as well as relics of a concentric wooden megalith were found within Stonehenge as it currently stands, suggesting a graveyard existed at the location before the stones were erected. Perhaps the stones were added at a later time in order to create a permanent memorial for the dead?

Pearson also proposes that the monument may have been a building project symbolizing union of the people from eastern and western Britain following years of war between them. As isolated tribes from around the country began to intermingle, the project would have been a central meeting ground to celebrate the new found peace and unity of Britain.

One of the first known Stonehenge researchers, John Aubrey, believed it had an astronomical/calendrical role. This theory was based on his careful measurements and surveying of the landmark.

The location may also have been used to celebrate the solstices…  Alignment of some of the pathways with the rising and setting sun during the summer and winter solstices suggest this possibility. Many others believe it served as a sacred religious meeting place for the Druids.

Literature featuring Stonehenge:

  • The Arthurian legend incorporates it frequently, such as in the Marion Zimmer Bradley novel The Mists of Avalon.
  • In some versions of the folk tale, the wizard Merlin creates Stonehenge with the help of a giant or giants who carry the large stones from Ireland.
  • Thomas Hardy uses Stonehenge as a setting in Tess of the D’Ubervilles, portraying the monument as a giant instrument or “temple of the winds”.
  • Author Patrick Rothfuss incorporates Stonehenge imagery in The Name of the Wind, wherein monuments referred to as waystones play key roles in the stories.

Films featuring Stonehenge:

  • A movie adaptation of Tess of the D’Ubervilles from the 1970s included a full scale replica of the megalith as its set.
  • One of our favorites, This is Spinal Tap, includes a Stonehenge storyline inspired by Black Sabbath.   The stage at real life venue Shank Hall in Milwaukee has a miniature Stonehenge backdrop as an homage to this part of the movie. Here is a video of our band Sunspot performing at Shank Hall over a decade ago. Notice the wee rock formation behind us on the backdrop?

  • King Lear – Lawrence Olivier version – set has replica of Stonehenge
  • Shanghai Nights
  • National Lampoon’s European Vacation
  • Night of the Demon (1957) – A sacrifice at Stonehenge is prevented
  • Stonehenge Apocolypse

Television featuring Stonehenge:

  • Dr. Who – An episode called “The Stones of Blood” includes some rocks of Stonehenge coming to life and killing people. Another episode, “The Pandorica Opens” included a prison located beneath Stonehenge.

Like the pyramids, some people believe aliens built Stonehenge. They think it is an astronomical observatory through which the ancient Britains could keep track of the extraterrestrials who had visited and created Stonehenge for them.

Conspiracy theorists believe the Anunnaki (check out Episode 3 for more about them!) built Stonehenge as a gathering place for the Illuminati.

Do you have any of your own theories about Stonehenge? Have you visited it in person?  Know of a book, film, or television show featuring this wondrous landmark that we didn’t cover?  Please let us know!

Links on the Stonehenge Mystery

Voices from the Dawn article on Stonehenge – An excellent summation of the folklore and myths surrounding the landmark. It goes from quoting Geoffrey of Monmouth on the Arthurian aspect to Erich von Däniken from  Chariots of the Gods. If you only read one article on it, make this one it.

Clonehenge – A list of Stonehenge replicas around the world. You might not be able to get up close and personal to the real thing but you can probably climb a replica. It’s also a great source for finding movies and books about the megalithic circle.

Stonehenge scene from Roman Polanski’s Tess – This is where they built the life-size model in France for shooting up close. See how real you think it looks!

The Stonehenge scene from This Is Spinal Tap – This is the reason most people associate rock music with Stonehenge, and it’s just as funny as it was in 1984.

Stonehenge Conspiracy Theory – It’s just about as crazy as you think it’s going to be. A highly entertaining read!

Doctor Who Speech at Stonehenge from “The Pandorica Opens” – This is one of the greatest scenes of all time from the series as the Doctor climbs one of the megaliths to deliver one of his most rousing and speeches to an amassed force of his nastiest enemies.

Watch out for the Killer Rocks! – Another Doctor Who scene, this one from 1978’s “The Stones of Blood” where you can see one of the stones attacking the Doctor.

Featured Song: Mother of Time

Sacrifice yourself upon the stone,
Something so old you know it in your bones.
But you’ll never find the way alone.

And the mother of time,
is calling us home,
Leave our lives behind,
and come to the stones.
Part of the land,
and part of the sky,
We are alive.

It’s a neolithic rave,
humans fresh out the cave.
And we sacrifice ourselves upon the stone.
A genetic memory of,
something so old, know it in our bones.
Back to the source, back t the source.

And the mother of time,
is calling us home,
Leave our lives behind,
and come to the stones.
Part of the land,
and part of the sky,
We are alive.

I know there’s a way back,
somewhere on Salisbury plain,
It’s just a kind of magic,
And we’ll get there some day.