INTERVIEW: Peter Levenda on secret history, UFOs, new 'Sekret Machines'

As an esoteric academic who has studied the world’s history through a lens that focuses on the obvious and the underlying elements of historical narratives, Peter Levenda’s expertise on religion, the occult, mythology, and the UFO phenomena make him one of the unexplained’s greatest assets.

It would be lazy to pigeonhole Levenda as an occultist like some have, as his work as an author transcends just magic and mysteries.

Tom DeLonge enlisted Levenda to take the lead on writing the first of a non-fiction “Sekret Machines” trilogy for To The Stars. The first book “Sekret Machines: GODS” looked at the ancient astronaut hypothesis through a “cargo cult” perspective that took a deeper dive into the work of Zecharia Sitchin and Erich Von Daniken. Levenda’s approach ultimately helps legitimize the general scope of the idea that the UFO phenomena is real, and has been been well-documented through our earliest history until now.

Levenda was kind enough to answer questions about what got him involved in the UFO phenomenon, his experience working with To The Stars, religion and mythology, the latest UFO news, and reveals when the sequel to “Sekret Machines” can be expected.

Q:How did your studies of history and occultism lead you into looking into the UFO phenomenon?

Peter Levenda is an author of 18 books. ( Screen grab)

Peter Levenda is an author of 18 books. ( Screen grab)

LEVENDA: “My study of history and religion in general with a specialty in occultism led me to investigate the degree to which concepts like ‘mystery’ and ‘secrecy’ surround both politics and religion. People feel excluded from both unless they are career insiders. They are forced to take the word of religious leaders for granted as they have no direct experience of the divine themselves; are not able to read scriptures in the original languages; and have not studied the history of religions. Religious leaders and authorities are specialists, and most people do not have the time or the inclination to devote to such a specialized study. The same is true of politics. People are forced to accept whatever their political leaders do and say without recourse especially if a security clearance is involved. They can elect leaders usually without a background in political science or economics, so their decision-making process is base on scant evidence, poorly understood, but the machinery of government is vast and the legal foundation of government is complex and requires years of study and experience and, again, most people do not have that luxury. Of course, we are all forced to accept whatever the experts in their respective fields say or do, from medical doctors to tax accountants.We can’t be expected to have enough expertise to do everything ourselves or even to understand it. As the world becomes more complicated, and just living in the world becomes an obstacle course of competing technologies, legal systems, financial machineries, etc. we slump, exhausted, and beg for mercy. Thus, the secrecy that used to surround religion and the mystery cults of old has been replaced by scientific, financial and legal jargon and complex systems that provide their own barriers to understanding by the average person.

And then, the UFO phenomenon.

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I do investigate conspiracies from the perspective of coincidence and synchronicity with the theory that coincidence and synchronicity are the trace evidence of some other force at work in the world. Most people when looking at crime scene photos focus on the blood and the gore. I usually focus on the bookshelves( if there are any.)  What did the victim read? What were his or her interests? Is there a clue there to some larger aspect of the case that goes ignored because law enforcement is, quite naturally, focused on the criminological aspects of the event?


So, when looking at the JFK assassination case I was startled to see bizarre religious and occult connections where there should not have been. After all, it was a political event caused. We are told by an angry ex-Marine who had defected to the Soviet Union, and who had a wife who was the niece of a GRU officer, and what country on earth was more anti-religion and anti-occult than the USSR?

Some of those religious and occult connections were to persons and organizations that I knew personally, and that was a shocker. I was 13 when the JFK assassination took place, and now I learn that when I was 17 and 18 I had been involved with a church that had been investigated by Jim Garrison in New Orleans in connection with Lee Oswald’s time in that city.

I peeled back the layers even more, and discovered that Oswald’s friend in Dallas, Ruth Paine was related by marriage to engineer and occultist Arthur Young who once was present at a 1953 seance in Maine with Andrija Puharich: the weird inventor who would eventually ‘discover’ Uri Geller.

I peeled back the layers even more, and discovered that one of the persons interviewed by Garrison’s office in connection with Oswald and the Kennedy assassination was Fred Crisman: a man who was a central figure in the Maury Island Affair involving a UFO, and two dead Army Air Force officers who had been sent to investigate it.

And one more layer: Guy Banister, the former FBI SAC of Chicago, who ran a detective agency in New Orleans out of which Oswald’s Fair Play for Cuba Committee supposedly operated was himself an investigator in 1947 for the FBI in the Pacific Northwest, investigating UFOs and reporting directly back to J. Edgar Hoover. His airtels on UFOs are still extant, and they bear the rubric ‘Secret Matter X.’ So , Kennedy assassination, Fred Crisman, Guy Banister, UFOs., both Crisman and Banister were investigated by the Garrison probe in New Orleans. That is how my studies of history and occultism led me to the UFO phenomenon. Prior to that, I had published ‘Unholy Alliance,’ which is a study of how occult ideas informed much of the evolution of Nazi Party ideology, and particularly of the SS under Himmler. In connection with that book, author and alien abductee Whitley Strieber contacted me to see if I knew anything about Nazi scientists operating out of Randolph Air Force Base in Texas in the 1940s and 1950s, and of course I did and that made another connection between my work and the UFO phenomenon.

So, I came to Ufology through a kind of side door and it was because of history, politics, assassinations, and even religion. I wrote about this at length in ‘Sinister Forces’ and devoted a whole chapter to the phenomenon in volume three.”

Q: In the first “Sekret Machines” book you take a critical eye to the work of Zecharia Sitchin/Erich Von Daniken. How does the approach of weeding out some of their more “out there” claims (“it’s aliens”/ slave races) help strengthen the stronger points of the ancient astronaut theory ?

LEVENDA:  “The instincts of Zecharia Sitchin and Erich von Daniken should be considered apart from the evidence they provide and the extreme claims they make. Their instincts that there was some kind of contact in ancient times between homo sapiens and some other race or beings should be considered seriously and calmly, but when every anomaly is associated with ‘aliens’ then we are on very shaky ground. To claim that ancient peoples could not have built the pyramids, for instance, is a tad racist and a little chauvinistic, at the very least, but it also ignores scientific evidence. Every time a claim is made that the ancient peoples could not have built something or designed something, there is always the possibility that more evidence will prove the claim wrong, and if it does it will serve to delegitimize the whole field. I believe it is better to focus on the fact that homo sapiens was around for hundreds of thousands of years and then just started to develop what we think of as civilization in the last twenty thousand years or less, all over the world, and with remarkably similar ideas concerning the gods, the heavens, life after death, etc. I write about this contact as a kind of traumatic event that imprinted itself on human beings: an event that we re-live in every culture in an effort to find some sense to it, some positive way of dealing with the knowledge that we are not alone and indeed may not be the smartest kids on the block.

Hence the ‘cargo cult’ theory. In my case, I have expanded the theory to include not only religion but science as well, and the organizing principle behind societies that focus on the heavens. In ancient times those for which we have written records, such as Egypt and Sumer religion and science were inseparable. They were part of a single worldview, a unitary approach to understanding reality. In modern times, we tend to put religion and science in separate boxes, and suspect that science disproves religion. but the goal of our most advanced scientific enterprises is the same as the goal of ancient Egyptian religion. For example: to travel to the stars. In Siberia, shamans climbed trees and then disappeared into space to travel to the heavens and speak with spiritual forces that live there. Humans built ziggurats in Sumer and in Mexico and Asia with the same purpose in mind. While religion and science became estranged from each other in the last millennium they are working back towards each other again with some of the most advanced scientific concepts looking suspiciously similar to the understanding of mystics from India, Tibet, China, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. We are all still trying to get to the stars; that goal has not changed in ten thousand years. All we can ask is: why?”

Q: What made you want to work with Tom DeLonge on this project, and can you offer any updates on the second installment of “Sekret Machines” - “Man?”

LEVENDA: “Tom DeLonge contacted me at the end of 2014 with an ambitious goal: to find out the truth once and for all about the UFO phenomenon. He was honest, sincere, ambitious, and very straightforward. I warned him that his efforts would be subject to all sorts of criticism by the UFO community, but he shrugged that off. What he wanted to do was not directed at the UFO community, but at the rest of the world that had ridiculed Ufology as the domain of little green men and tinfoil hats. He didn’t care where the evidence would lead; only that whatever we discovered would be the truth. His zeal and obvious sincerity attracted important officials, scientists, and engineers everywhere he went. We worked on some basic concepts such as how we intended to approach this thorny issue, and presented an essay to his contacts. That essay became the Prologue to ‘Sekret Machines: Gods,’which introduces the cargo cult concept as we understand it. The next volume in the series ‘Sekret Machines: Man’ is finished and is scheduled for publication later this year.”

Q:What are your thoughts on the current influx of UFO stories hitting mainstream media?

LEVENDA:”The current influx of UFO stories in the mainstream media largely is due to the efforts of Tom and his crew at To The Stars Academy. They have been working aggressively behind the scenes to get the word out, and have been profoundly successful. The news stories that broke in December of 2017 were just the beginning. They have been followed up by more recent revelations and interviews of TTSA personnel on the news channels and elsewhere. As I write, the U.S. Navy has just come out with its new UFO reporting protocols and that has made nationwide news. I understand that many people have been urging more and greater and faster ‘disclosure’ from TTSA, but we’ve already come very far since December 2017. It has been less than two years, and we now have more confirmation from the U.S. military than we had in the previous seventy years. The U.S. government is like a giant tanker in the middle of the ocean: getting it to turn around takes time, and skill, and a lot of open water.”

Q: In the last chapter of “Gods” you mention how when humans had a God among them (Jesus) they killed him. Do you draw any inference to this story to potentially years of coverups that may have stagnated our growth as humanity ?

LEVENDA: “That doesn’t mean that we are all prepared (intellectually, psychologically) to accept whatever is revealed about the nature of the phenomenon. We have projected so many anthropocentric ideas onto it that we may find ourselves confused and correspondingly angry when we at last begin to see its general outlines. Jesus may once again find himself being arrested, tried, and executed (especially in the American judicial system). Intellectually, we know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and that the Sun is the center of our solar system, and that our solar system is just one of many millions of solar systems in a corner of the Milky Way galaxy, which is itself lurking in a corner of the known universe in the company of billions of other systems, but as much as we know all that we still operate as if we are at the center of the cosmos. When we do that, we make certain assumptions about what is real and what is not; what is normal, and what is not; what is acceptable and what is not. We measure everything against a very meager metric of the state of human knowledge and awareness in the 21st century. It’s not so much a cover-up; a deliberate shielding of the truth from the public, as it is a failure of imagination, an inability to reconcile what we experience with the intellectual systems we have developed for interpreting reality. Technologically, we are growing by leaps and bounds. There is no stagnation when it comes to AI, robotics, space travel, etc. , but there is stagnation spiritually: we are still the cavemen we were when we encountered the Neanderthals, the Denisovans, etc. We still use violence to solve problems. We fetishize weapons systems from handguns to cruise missiles to nuclear bombs. That was the message brought to us by the alien portrayed by Michael Rennie in ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ all those many decades ago, and we still have not embraced that message. What if Jesus had had a Klaatu all those centuries ago?”

Q:Religion, mythology and recorded history seem to go hand-in-hand. How do we help the mainstream public open up to this idea?

LEVENDA:”Religion, mythology, and recorded history go hand-in-hand, as you suggest, but so do religion and science/technology. We ignore the relationship between science and what we call ‘religion’ at our peril. The irony is that there are religious fanatics in control of weapons of mass destruction: weapons developed by scientists and technicians, many of whom are atheists. We ignore the relationship between politics and religion at our peril, too. America famously has enshrined separation of church and state in its Constitution, but that is mostly theoretical when it comes to religiously-motivated political leaders , elected officials submarining their religious views into public policy. Jimmy Carter was a benign example of that: his religious views were (and are) founded on high moral principles  Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, belonged to an apocalyptic denomination ‘the Disciples of Christ ‘ that saw the world in terms of the End Times and, incidentally, was the same denomination that gave us Jim Jones of Jonestown fame. Reagan famously framed the Soviet Union as ‘the evil empire.’

The atheists have presented the fanatics with the tools they need to slaughter millions and keep the globe in a perpetual state of violent chaos ,but since they don’t believe in God or religion they wash their hands of any responsibility. Like all religious fanatics, atheists believe that if just everyone were like them there would be no more wars and no injustice in the world. Whether one believes in religion or not, in god or gods, in angels or demons, it is only logical to accept that billions of our fellow human beings do hold these and many other unscientific beliefs and act on them. We need to get back to a reappraisal of religion what it is, how it began, what started it, the consciousness aspects of it, the social and cultural aspects; all of it, from every discipline, and when we do, I predict we will come to a corresponding understanding of science and reality itself, and that will open our eyes to understanding the phenomenon.

Magic, mysticism, occultism, esotericism all have contributions to make to this study since they occupy the middle ground between religion and science. Esotericism in contradiction to how it is normally understood, especially by its opponents is preeminently pragmatic. It’s a technology, a system, a method for attaining altered states of consciousness for the specific purpose of bringing something back that is useful. It just may be that what the magicians have found, and have found many times over the centuries is what I call the ‘Alien in the Panopticon.’ (Obligatory Foucault reference.)

We don’t control when ‘they’ show up. We can’t predict when, or where. In terms of the phenomenon, national sovereignty is a joke. They’re there. Whatever they are, and wherever they come from, they’re there. They’re in the central column of the reality Panopticon, and we are in the cells never knowing when we are being watched. Or why? Wouldn’t it be funny if the cell doors have always been unlocked?”