The Magonia Exchange Project and Magonia Databases


Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I was reading a French interview of Jacques Vallée, after having reread that wonderful quote from The Wave, chapter 14, which I'll post if anyone wants to review it.
The Control System as elucidated by Jacques Vallee:
I believe that when we speak of UFO sightings as instances of space visitations we are looking at the phenomenon on the wrong level. We are not dealing with successive waves of visitations from space. We are dealing with a control system.

The thermostats that regulate your house temperature summer and winter are an example of a control system. In summer, a thermostat allows the air to get warmer until a certain limit is reached, and then the cooling system is triggered. But in winter, when the outside atmosphere turns cold and the temperature drops below another limit, a different mechanism, the heater, comes into play and warms the house. A naive observer might try to explain all this by assuming that warm is “good” and cold is “bad”. He or she would be right half the time. Another naive observer of the opposite school might take a reversed view and decide that warm is “evil”. He or she would also be right half the time. To understand the whole phenomenon one needs a grasp of the control concept, and one must be ready to understand that it needs two opposite principles for its function.

I propose that there is a spiritual control system for human consciousness and those paranormal phenomena like UFOs are one of its manifestations. I cannot tell whether this control is natural and spontaneous; whether it is explainable in terms of genetics, or social psychology, or of ordinary phenomena — or if it is artificial in nature, under the power of some superhuman will. It may be entirely determined by laws that we have not yet discovered.

I am led to this idea by the fact that, in every instance of the UFO phenomenon I have been able to study in depth, I have found as many rational elements as absurd ones, as many that I could call friendly as I could call hostile. This is what tells me that we are working on the wrong level. And so are all the believers, and this definitely includes the skeptics, because they believe they can explain the facts as strongly as the most enthusiastic convert to Ms. Dixon’s vision of Jupiterian Amazons!

There are ways to gain access to the reference level of every control system. Even a child, if smart or daring enough, can climb on a chair, change the dial of a thermostat, and elicit a response. (The response in question might be a sound spanking from his father, of course. The road to higher knowledge has such accidents.) It must be possible to gain access to the control of the UFO phenomenon, to forget the spirits and the pranks and the claims of extraterrestrial contact, and do some real science. But it will take a very smart approach — and a very daring one.

…A newspaper column commented upon the apparent lack of reality of the whole UFO phenomenon: “It does not attack us. It does not affect our daily lives. It does not help us with our many problems. It has brought us nothing of value. It may have scared a few folks here and there, but then so do thunder storms and tornadoes. The whole thing, as a social issue, is of no consequence whatsoever.” The journalist who wrote this column was superficially right, of course. But he forgot another fact:

…If UFOs are acting at the mythic and spiritual level it will be almost impossible to detect it by conventional methods. … UFOs cannot be analyzed through the standard research techniques, if they are the means through which man’s concepts are being rearranged. All we can do is trace their effects on humans and hope that we eventually stumble on some principle that explains their behavior.

What is the variable being controlled in this control system? Thermostats control temperature; gyroscopes control the direction in which a rocket flies. What could a paranormal phenomenon control? I suggest that it is human belief that is being controlled and conditioned.

My speculation is that a level of control of society exists which is a regulator of human development, and that the UFO phenomenon should be seen at this level.3
During the interview, he mentions Chris Aubeck and his group Magoniax.
The Magonia Exchange list is a private information and data-sharing list for serious researchers of Fortean phenomena, with strong emphasis on accumulation of pre-1947 accounts of anomalous aerial phenomena - accounts found in old newspapers from many different nations and years, in old journals, scientific publications, books, and so on.
So there is this Magonia Exchange Project which exists a a Yahoo Group, has collected over 40 000 items according to Aubeck in this interview. An outdated blog exists here too : Postcards from Magonia

Jacques Vallée and Chris Aubeck wrote "Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times" in 2010. has a text version : Full text of "Wonders In The Sky - Unexplained Aerial Objects From Antiquity To Modern Times - Jacques Vallee, Chris Aubeck"
One of the most ambitious works of paranormal investigation of our time, here is an unprecedented compendium of pre-twentieth-century UFO accounts, written with rigor and color by two of today's leading investigators of unexplained phenomena.

In the past century, individuals, newspapers, and military agencies have recorded thousands of UFO incidents, giving rise to much speculation about flying saucers, visitors from other planets, and alien abductions. Yet the extraterrestrial phenomenon did not begin in the present era. Far from it. The authors of Wonders in the Sky reveal a thread of vividly rendered-and sometimes strikingly similar- reports of mysterious aerial phenomena from antiquity through the modern age. These accounts often share definite physical features- such as the heat felt and described by witnesses-that have not changed much over the centuries. Indeed, such similarities between ancient and modern sightings are the rule rather than the exception.

In Wonders in the Sky, respected researchers Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck examine more than 500 selected reports of sightings from biblical-age antiquity through the year 1879-the point at which the Industrial Revolution deeply changed the nature of human society, and the skies began to open to airplanes, dirigibles, rockets, and other opportunities for misinterpretation represented by military prototypes. Using vivid and engaging case studies, and more than seventy-five illustrations, they reveal that unidentified flying objects have had a major impact not only on popular culture but on our history, on our religion, and on the models of the world humanity has formed from deepest antiquity.

Sure to become a classic among UFO enthusiasts and other followers of unexplained phenomena, Wonders in the Sky is the most ambitious, broad-reaching, and intelligent analysis ever written on premodern aerial mysteries.
I've not read it but I found this review of great help to know what to expect of it :
3/5 A fine catalogue and reference book, but few new perspectives: PtM2? No.
Commented in UK by Anglian Traveller, 28 July 2011

Co-authored by Chris Aubeck and Jacques Vallee, `Wonders in the Sky' chronicles several hundred sightings of aerial phenomena (often reported by multiple witnesses), missing-time abduction-type events and UFO-related mystical weirdness throughout the world from antiquity up to 1879. This cut-off date has been chosen, the authors explain, because:

"1880 marked a turning point in the technical and social history of the advanced nations. We wanted to analyze aerial phenomena during a period that was entirely free of those modern complications represented by airplanes, dirigibles, rockets and the often-mentioned opportunities for misrepresentation represented by military prototypes."

The book runs to 491 pages excluding the index. It's basically a chronological catalogue of reported incidents, in three parts:

Part 1, divided into sections and containing 500 numbered reports, is titled `A Chronology of Wonders'

Part 2, titled `Myths, Legends and Chariots of the Gods' is shorter: the accounts are not numbered and many are admitted by the authors to be of questionable provenance
- though there seems to be some crossover in the types of reports found in the two sections

Part 3, `Sources and Methods' explains the methodology adopted to justify inclusion, and here the authors explain that at least 80% of historic accounts available to them were for various reasons excluded

Most of the heavy lifting seems to have been done by Aubeck, a young data compiler and co-founder of the Magonia Project, who since 2003 has done a thorough job in collecting old accounts of sightings/encounters and attempting to verify their authenticity.

Long sections of the book inevitably read like a laundry list; a numbered catalogue of reports through the ages to drive home the point (Jacques has made this point before, repeatedly, since `Passport to Magonia' in 1969) that these phenomena are not new but very ancient. The manner in which they were described in previous centuries, however, differs from the obvious technological framing of sightings and experiences in modern times, such as those related by the high-credibility contributors to Leslie Kean's exemplary 2010 best-seller and thousands of other essentially similar reports in the modern era.

Some of the reports in the chronicle run to a mere couple of lines, others are detailed narratives covering several pages, and there is everything in-between. Some are declared to be hoaxes, yet included nevertheless. Some are single-witness events, others more substantial: it's a mixed bag. Many of those from Japan and China are particularly intriguing. Some quaint b&w illustrations are inserted into the text, and (classic Vallee methodology here) there is an attempt to classify each entry with an archaic symbol so that the reader might easily ID the type: unidentified aerial light, abduction, entity associated with aerial phenomenon, and so on.

Vallee writes the introduction to the work, contributes to the section summaries and pens the conclusion in his usual formal and literate style.

Several missing-time/encounter-with-strange-beings events are chronicled in the book which the authors admit are similar to modern-day abduction accounts (i.e. since the 1940s). Now let me say that in general I am a big admirer of Jacques' work. For example I consider `Revelations' to be one of the best essays ever on the UFO `scene' and the manipulation of belief systems; it should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of how this field has been managed. Normally he displays diligence and thoroughness along with his high intelligence, thinks rationally without being unduly influenced by others and keeps personal emotion from clouding the issue. But when it comes to evidence for abductions, though he acknowledges their reality Jacques has something of a blind spot. So it's sad that once again, he can't resist having a dig at modern-day researchers, shooting his usual line - an example from the book, one of many:

"...It is difficult to read ancient books such as the `Malleus Maleficarum' or Remy's later `De Demonalatriae' (1595) without coming away with the impression that today's leading abduction researchers, who abuse witnesses with dubious hypnotic techniques to extract information, would have enjoyed a successful collaboration with the chief inquisitors of yore" (p136)

A clue to Jacques' uncharacteristically vindictive personal attitude to abduction research might be found in his long investigative partnership with Barbara Bartholic, who ended said partnership in order to concentrate on investigation of abduction cases in Tulsa, and later trained as a successful regression hypnotist. Scores of other people on every continent would however qualify for inclusion in Vallee's group of "inquisitors". Snarky comments comparing these mostly careful and well-intentioned professionals, usually working for free, to the murderous Inquisition are surely unworthy of him, and devalue his research. The late Professor John Mack of Harvard University Medical School, Professor Leo Sprinkle from Wyoming University, Dr. Edith Fiore and others with medical-psychiatric credentials way beyond Vallee's own (he has none) would be included in his band of evil inquisitors. Where they all arrive at broadly the same conclusions, Jacques openly admits he himself has never been able to shed any useful light on what is going on with this pervasive phenomenon. Reporting similar-looking cases from 300 years ago and declaring `look - this has always been happening - it's not new' is all very interesting, but apart from confirming the phenomenon to be real and not some artefact of the modern age, adds nothing to our understanding about precisely what it might be, does it? It's like the oft-repeated mantra (not just from Jacques but from many people) `the extraterrestrial hypothesis may be incorrect' - sure everyone knows that, but where does that get us? The phenomenon doesn't tell us its origins - which might in fact be multiple, not singular. You might as well argue about the number of angels on the head of a pin, as mediaeval theologians were reputed to do. Is any more convincing hypothesis than the ETH available, which fits the facts as reported? No. (Mercifully, Jacques spares us another essay on his unconvincing 'control system' idea.)

Overall the book is a good effort employing mostly sound principles of scientific research, and worth having on the shelf as a work of reference. It's not, however, one of Vallee's better works - and certainly not `Passport to Magonia Book 2' as some have claimed: there is no real thesis, no new ideas, no extended discussion. It's just a catalogue of stories - admittedly a good and thorough one, carefully compiled, but at the end of the day just a catalogue.

Chris Aubeck shows promise as a careful and methodical researcher/compiler of data, and we might expect to hear more of him in the future.
Chris Aubeck also wrote another book, in collaboration with Martin Shough called : Return to Magonia. Reading the reviews, and the interview mentioned above, he appears to have a really skeptic approach to the phenomenom, and it seems like what is missing is an understanding of hyperdimensional realities who would widen his perspectives, maybe.

Anyway, about the Magonia Databases, I found a network which has made available a lot of data, and I'm not sure who is in charge of it all nor its relation to Chris, but I thought that could be helpful to be aware of those.

Introduction to the archive

Magonia was one of Britain’s oldest established magazines in the fields of ufology, Forteana and contemporary beliefs.
It began in 1966 as a small stencil-duplicated bulletin put out by the Merseyside UFO Research Group called, rather predictably, the Merseyside UFO Research Group Bulletin. This was edited by John Harney and another group member, Alan Sharp. The magazine rapidly gained a reputation amongst the conservatively-minded UFO community of the time as being a sceptical and disrespectful commentator of the foibles of the UFO scene.

After a couple of years the inevitable split happened, and in 1968 Harney and Sharp set up the Merseyside UFO Bulletin as an independent magazine. John Rimmer joined the team after the first two issues. As the editors increasingly realised that the UFO mystery was only a small part of a greater set of phenomena the coverage of the magazine widened, and MUFOB was a pioneer in Britain of the study of folklore in relation to UFOs. The work of controversial American researchers of the era, such as John Keel, and Frenchman Jacques Vallee, found an enthusiastic reception with MUFOB.

This change in direction, and a keen sense of the ridiculous kept the magazine in the forefront of controversy as a voice of the New Ufology, and kept the editors well supplied with letters of apoplectic fury from outraged readers. However other readers appreciated the direction the Bulletin was taking, and two in particular, Peter Rogerson and Roger Sandell, became regular correspondents and eventually joined the editorial panel.

In 1973 John Rimmer married, and moved from Liverpool to a new job in London, and the future of the magazine seemed in doubt; but little more than a year later, by coincidence John Harney also moved to work for the Met. Office at Kew Observatory in the same part of London. The magazine continued, now with with a litho printed format replacing the old, messy stencil duplicating, and John Rimmer taking over the bulk of the editorial work. As the magazine was no longer published from Merseyside and the range of topics the new MUFOB covered now spread far beyond UFOs (although ufology has always been central to the magazine) a new name was needed. With a nod to Jacques Vallee the title changed to “Magonia,” but the coverage and philosophy remained the same.

More than forty years of continuous publication in the MUFOB/Magonia tradition of open-mindedness, sensible scepticism and a keen sense of humour, helped to keep Magonia at the forefront of independent UFO and Fortean journalism in Britain and around the world.

In 2008, with the appearance of the 99th issue, editor John Rimmer took the decision to cease publication of Magonia as a print magazine. This archive contains most of the major articles from MUFOB/Magonia’s forty years of publication, as well as some items of interest added later.
Articles from the very earliest days of Magonia.
Archive of articles from Magonia, 1997-2008
Reviewing new books on Fortean and Magonian topics. This is the main site for new Magonia material: articles, comments, news and most importantly book reviews. There are also three others sections about MIB encounters (list), Warminster and Peter ROGERSON.
Longer articles from the magonia files:
A constantly updated listing of new books which we think will interest Magonia readers:
Archive of book reviews from MUFOB and Magonia. This listing is an archive for as many as possible of the book reviews that have been published in MUFOB and Magonia over the years of the print magazines.
Authors index
International catalogue of close encounters and entity reports complied by Peter Rogerson
John Dee of Mortlake
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