> Seth Returns Back Story
Seth Returns Back Story - Episode I
Strange Movies, Strange Books, Strange Humor and the Search for Spirit
Why a Back Story?
That's a good question. As the co-author of the Seth Returns Books, I thought it would be a good idea to tell you a little about how it was for me before I met Seth, the famous non-physical author and educator. My hope is that you will be able to identify with some of these experiences. But if not, I at least hope to inform and amuse.
1950 - I was born. Welsh, English and Native American strains.
1951 - Don't remember much, but then, I was very, very young.
1952 - Ditto
1953 - I dove into the garbage can to retrieve my bottle that was thrown away by my mother in an attempt to ween me. That should tell you something.
1954 - I gave up the bottle. (also see 1989 when I gave up the other bottle)
I've always been on a quest for altered states of consciousness. As a boy, I spent hours on the lawn imagining scenes playing out in the clouds overhead. In the field behind our house, we ran and jumped off of cliffs onto the soft soil below just to get the exhilaration that comes from a couple of seconds of flight. Spinning was very popular in our neighborhood too, and we took turns spinning each other until we collapsed. Cheap thrills? Yes, but these activities set the stage for future thrills, some cheaper than others...
A Rare Medium
When I wasn't looking for altered states with my friends I was very much into reading and hanging out at the Ogden Utah Carnegie Library. There I discovered books on Edgar Cayce, urban legends, Native American traditions and ghosts
. I was so excited to read these books that seemed to hold the answers to all my questions. I imagined that when I grew up, I would become an explorer of things metaphysical. Plus, the library looked like a family of discarnate beings might be inside. As you can see from the picture, it has a supernatural aspect to it. It's easy to envision yourself walking through the doors and into the 4th Dimension. Do it now!
At the library I found the works of Frank Edwards
, the author of the "Strange" series: Strange As It Seems, Stranger Than Science, Strangest Of All
and Strange World
. These WERE some very strange books, books that covered what today we would call the occult, urban legends and I suppose, the paranormal in general.
You may have heard the story about the guy who picks up a hitchhiker who borrows his sweater because it's cold, and she wants to be dropped off by the graveyard? If not, do a search on The Hitchhiker
, one of the most persistent and spooky of the urban legends.
With the Edgar Cayce
story I was introduced to the world of mediumship
. There was something about the practice - channeling we call it now - that intrigued me. Also, this was my first introduction to alternative diagnosis and healing
My maternal grandmother was part Native American. She took me to the reservation a few times where she worked as a teacher. From those early experiences I was inspired to investigate my Native American heritage when I got older. That thread of research led to studies of shamanism and healing
in adulthood. There is a shamanic tone to the Seth Returns books. This is from that early influence.
My aunt and uncle owned the neighborhood grocery store. That's where I bought my Strange Tales, Marvel Comics
and Mad Magazines
; provocative reading materials that I also treasured during that period. The stories in Strange Tales contributed to the nightmares I had as a boy. I taught myself how to fall asleep in the precise position necessary to keep the nightmares away. (Don't ask me how that works.) In addition to general nightmares of a zombie and monster-like nature, as well as King Kong coming down from the mountains to destroy the city, that eventually went away on their own, I had a recurring nightmare of being devoured by a polar bear that continues to this day. Reincarnational? Oh yes.
George Adamski's Flying Saucers Have Landed
was an exciting read. This was one of those occasions when a book seemed to fly off the shelves and into my pudgy little hands, no pun intended. I loved his clear statement in the title. It's a powerful suggestion, too, and it worked. I got my parents to buy me a telescope for Christmas and scoured the Utah skies looking for UFOs and signs of life on the moon. To my amazement, I did identify what I thought were UFOs in the vicinity of Hill Air Force Base, just a few miles from us. I found out years later that other Ogdenites were having similar experiences during that time. What is it about Air Force bases and UFOs? Write your answer on a piece of paper and then burn it. And the iconic cover still resonates.
Too, I received a microscope back then as a birthday present and when I wasn't looking for flying saucers in the sky, I could be found uncovering the secrets of pond water from the local swamp. I was fascinated by the alien-looking creatures that lived in a drop of scum. Naturally, my imagination became filled-up with these beings and I had dreams of huge amoeba-like organisms attacking innocent humans
. My analysis: Perhaps it was the tenor of the times. We had duck-and-cover drills at school to prepare us for the inevitable attack from the God-less Communists. So I think I was influenced by what I experienced in school and by what was printed in the newspapers and broadcast on the television news daily, that we could be attacked and enslaved at any moment. I was kind of looking forward to it. (Also see Supernatural Cinema later on in this document for more evidence.)
My uncle Kenneth gifted me with a copy of My Brother Was an Only Child
(1959) by Jack Douglas
when I was 10 or 11 years old. If it were the Holy Grail, it could not have had a bigger impact on me. The book contains a collection of hilarious stories written from a very warped perspective, one you might call "adolescent boy's perspective. But the material had some major wisdom in it too. The best humor has both of these elements, I think, you know, speaking as a geezer/adolescent. (See neotony.)
During that time I was entranced by what I saw on The Steve Allen Show
on television. It was a weekday variety and talk show, the precursor to The Tonight Show
. I watched it when I was allowed to stay up. Allen was a goofy but very intelligent guy. He was a great interviewer and an awesome musician and composer. He had a sturdy grasp of the zeitgeist and a talent for making up funny catch-words and phrases. "How's your bird?"
I asked my mom incessantly. "Shmock shmock,"
I squawked to my sister Marianne incessantly. (Don't ask me to explain that either. That was just what we did to serve our master Steverino.) It was Theater of the Absurd
. And he had the latest up-and-coming comics and musicians on his show, including Don Knotts, Frank Zappa and Elvis Presley. So there was that influence.
The Frost family estate, as it existed at that time, was the home and small property of my paternal grandmother and grandfather. Our little family of four moved in to help them in their elder years as families do. Plus, we were having a hard go of it economically, if I remember right. The house had a great built-in shelving unit stocked with classic literature that my sister enjoyed. But also among the books was a weird little tome titled Book of a Thousand Things
by George Stimpson
(1946). The book was literally that. It held the mysteries of the universe, it seemed to me.
I would use the book as an oracle, sometimes, asking a question and then looking to see if the answer was in the book. The take away? This was my first experience with bibliomancy. I still have the book and I still enjoy using it for guidance, though as an adult I eventually graduated to the I Ching
and other tools.
My mind was heavily imprinted by Hollywood in the 50s and early 60s. We had two excellent theaters in Ogden: the Egyptian and the Paramount
and it was to these movie houses I would go on Saturdays to receive my regular downloads of horror and space adventure. The Egyptian Theater was a gorgeous work of art, resplendent in vibrant dreamy tones, with a curtain that allowed you to have your ancient Egypt flashbacks prior to viewing the main attraction. After seeing a movie there I would be on such a high that I would be bouncing off the walls at home, acting out the role of zombie, extra-terrestrial or brilliant but totally psychotic scientist. The Egyptian was majestic and profound in terms of the architecture and accouterments. Even the seats were cushy and form-fitting, like those in a time machine, one would imagine. Wow, The Time Machine
, that was a good movie. Every visit was an initiation. The Egyptian theater, not the movie. Wait a minute...
WARNING! Spoiler Alerts are in effect for the next several flashbacks.
Without a doubt, my favorite motion picture of the period, and the one that had the most effect on my identity, was Forbidden Planet
. It was based on Shakespeare's The Tempest from what I've gathered in my research as an adult. As a child, though, the message I got from the movie was something like... Creatures from inside your skull will come out and destroy you if you get too smart for your species. Here you can add "monsters from the id"
to the list of nightmare material I utilized in my youth.
Three close runner ups for most personally influential movie of that era were Invaders from Mars, The Blob and Invasion of the Body Snatchers
. My reasoning follows...
I first saw Invaders from Mars
when I was about the same age as the boy in the movie. I identified strongly with his paranoia that monsters from space were living underground in the backyard. The head creature was literally that, just a head, with tentacles
. That was it. He commanded his minions telepathically. Immediate night terror inducing stuff. And when the aliens took over the minds of his neighbors and then his parents, well, it made me question the motives of those most close to me, if you know what I mean. However, sanity prevailed in the end, as is usually the case in these types of movies. But you can never be certain, can you? Because many of these movies end with the final title THE END? Or perhaps, The End... or is it? Thus making you continuously vulnerable to being abducted by the Frog Headed Martians.
This movie was part of a weekend event at the Paramount theater in Ogden that began with a very exciting yo-yo contest! (Please don't judge me.) The Blob
starred a young Steve McQueen
as the fearless investigator of unusual events occurring on the edge of town. A meteor had touched down, and he took his date to see what was going on. Well, what was going on was an elderly farmer poked the fallen space rock with a stick, whereupon the rock cracked open and exuded a gooey substance that adhered to the stick, and then the guy held the stick with the gooey space stuff on it up to the light to get a better look at it, and then suddenly... Long story short, the scum from space almost takes over the town. Thank God for the military. No, I really mean that.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Another reason to not trust your parents or the neighbors: They may be Pod People from Outer Space
. This movie was especially creepy because the doctors, cops, city leaders, and all the other authority figures are helpless. Who do you turn to, as a little boy, I mean? Even the military is useless against the onslaught of this terrible menace. Yeah, it's probably the Russians. The more things change the more they don't.
Girls and Monsters
And just now as I examine these ads, I realize that women are being carried away by questionable creatures in both of the posters. What are they trying to tell us? The communist Space Frogs are going to take our women? Is that the message? Back then I was more interested in Robbie the Robot
than the beautiful female stars. Well, now that I think of it...
was pretty impressive. She starred in Forbidden Planet
as the innocent and eager daughter of the highly intelligent, well-meaning, but essentially quite dangerous scientist. She would later get her own show, Honey West
, it was called, if I'm not mistaken. Not that I watched it obsessively, or anything. Go ahead, try it.
Honey West on Youtube
This just in, I went to Youtube
to view some episodes of Honey West, for purely research porpoises, I mean purposes. That dalliance led to a factoid about Francis that I did not know. In her memoirs titled Voices from Home: An Inner Journey
1982 she said "It is my spiritual expose. It is about our essence of being, the inexplicable reality of mysticism, psychic phenomena, and the inner workings of mind and spirit which contribute to the growth of the invisible and most important part of us."
OK I'll stop now.
Tune in next month for another very exciting episode of the highly entertaining Seth Returns Back Story