Chapter 1 - A Man for
Andrija Puharich. Not an
every-day American name. Not an everyday person. The New Age guru
turned fugitive and in 2002 convicted for murder Ira Einhorn
observed that he had “practically lived in mind-link with Andrija
for six years” and described his former mentor as “the great psychic
circus manager of this century.”
He is indeed regarded as the “father of
the American New Age movement”.
Puharich was born in 1918 in Chicago,
from Yugoslavian parents. Graduating from medical school at
Northwestern University in 1947, his interest was immediately
captured by the paranormal. Particular emphasis was placed upon the
possibility to enhance, in some way or another, the innate psychic
abilities that many if not all of us seemed to possess.
Puharich’s public career began in the late 1950s, when he wrote two
books: The Sacred Mushroom and Beyond Telepathy. He
then disappeared into the background again, until the early 1970s,
when he travelled to Israel, and returned to the US with Uri
Geller, the spoon-bending psychic that would soon create so much
Behind this public life, lay a private
life, which Steven Levy described as,
“much of his life [is] clouded in a
murkiness he has come to wear like some exquisite garment.”
Whereas the Geller episode has captured
the imagination of most and has made Puharich a known name, it was
Beyond Telepathy that was considered to be a landmark
Ira Einhorn thought it was “the
book”. It followed Einhorn’s idea that there was a relationship
between information and energy.
Or as Einhorn later stated:
“to understand the laws that govern
Or: the laws that govern another
What had received less attention was Puharich’s publication The
Sacred Mushroom, even though the book seems to be at the origin
of all of his later material. Its subtitle carried the intriguing
word “doorway”: “doorway to eternity”. How similar to “stargate”.
The book tackles seemingly random events
occurring during the time when Puharich was doing remote viewing as
a “private initiative with government support”, i.e. his time when
he ran the Round Table Foundation, which had been
instrumental for the “Council
of Nine” affair.
The book stated that two “remote viewers” – though not identified by
this new name, but rather by the old label of “psychics” –
(particularly Harry Stone) frequently went into a spontaneous
trance, during which he talked largely in riddles, performing
motions that seemed to be rituals. From this no doubt bizarre
spectacle, Puharich was able to deduce that Stone was “remembering”
a previous incarnation, when he was a high priest in Egypt, at the
time of the building of the pyramids.
Stone was stressing to Puharich the
importance of a cult of a mushroom, the use of which was ritualized,
allowing access to what we would term the Realm of the Lords –
another dimension, very similar to the dimension in which the
Nine were supposed to be sojourning. Puharich stated that some
chemical in mushrooms, as was known at that time, was a
This is all nice and fine, but hallucinogenics were and are labeled
as inducing visions that were “not real”; they were and are not
supposed to take us into a different dimension, merely into a
strange series of images concocted by the brain. Within the
framework of our “hyperdimension”, we were talking here about a
So two linked questions rose to the forefront: were the ancient
Egyptians, and Puharich, mistaken by the visions of the mushroom?
Did they believe it somehow allowed entry into a strange but real
realm, rather than understanding – as present science suggested –
that with the use of hallucinogenics, the brain merely went weird
and in overdrive, but not “into” anything resembling another
Question number two: did the ancients and Puharich realize that the
mushroom contained some magical chemical that opened the door for
the mind to enter into another dimension? Was this chemical a “stargate”?
If so, how had Puharich come to this conclusion? Beneath the
published record, lay a personal account, one which only after his
death was revealed by his second wife, who wrote a biography, which
in the end was only ever published electronically.
Puharich’s story starts at university, where he developed the
“Theory of Nerve Conduction”.
In the words of Terry Milner:
“The theory proposed that the neuron
units radiate and receive waves of energy which he calculated to
be in the ultra-shortwave bands below infrared and above the
radar spectrum. Therefore the basic nerve units - neurons - are
a certain type of radio receiver-transmitter.”
Puharich’s theory was well received by
leading scientists, including one Jose Delgado, later to become one
of the pioneers for the CIA in implanting electronic tools in animal
brains, to influence their behavior. But Puharich’s aim was to
become a doctor, even though during his internship, he carried out
research into digatoid drugs.
His sponsor was Sandoz Chemical Works,
the pharmaceutical company that had created LSD – at a time when the
world had not yet fallen for its hallucinogenic properties.
Even though a brilliant career would lay ahead for Puharich if only
he were to apply himself, his main interest lay elsewhere: all his
time was devoted to the human brain, and beyond. In the mid 1940s,
“I would venture to say that nobody
really knows another’s mind thoroughly, and I would further
venture that very few people really know their own mind. It
would certainly be a great step forward for many of us if we
could sit down and untangle the jungle that is our mind, and
then understand those processes by which we judge and study
others. If I could do a good job of a task like this,
understanding the nature of man’s consciousness, I would feel
that I had passed a great milestone in my education.”
Puharich was interested in
ESP (extrasensory perception) and
was aware of the pioneering work of J.B. Rhine, one of the
leading inter bellum parapsychologists.
Puharich then traded in his military call-up for the first of a long
series of funds: he found a sponsor who paid him a weekly wage. In
return, Puharich would try to unravel the mystery of ESP. ESP,
according to Puharich, was nothing more than an extension of his
previous theory on nerve conduction.
The brain and the nervous system were
linked to cells, and instructions – energy – flowed between them.
“The point that I am trying to
establish is that the brain is an area wherein is localized the
cell energy of the body. I shall label this cell energy
‘dynamics.’ I further venture to say that transference of
dynamics from one person to another is possible.”
“We all know that there are people
who can thrill and exhilarate one, and that there are others who
simply bore and fatigue one. This implies that there is a
wireless, touchless transfer of this vital substance. If
dynamics can be transferred from one organism to another, why
cannot that other function of the mind - thought, also be
transferred from one mind to another mind? It is also
conceivable that dynamics not only passes freely between
persons, but also dissipates out into the atmosphere.”
In other words, ESP.
Not even 30 years old, Puharich was showing his unique potential,
looking towards ESP as a practical problem, which resided within the
realm of scientific exploration. No wonder Aldous Huxley
would later label him “one of the most brilliant minds in
According to Puharich himself, it was around this time that he was
spotted by the intelligence agencies as a potential asset. Puharich
claimed he became involved with a “Project Penguin”, a project whose
existence has been denied by its sponsor. Project Penguin
allegedly got underway in 1948, a Navy exercise that ran for some
years. Its scope: to test individuals set to possess “psychic
In charge of the project was Rexford
Daniels, this according to a statement made by Puharich on the
Geraldo Rivera show on October 2, 1987.
A Rexford Daniels did indeed exist and
owned a company that in the 1970s must have attracted the attention
of Puharich as the company did research into an area in which
Puharich was a world-renowned expert at the time: how proliferating
electromagnetic emissions interfere with one another and may work
harmful environmental effects on man.
However, it is only Puharich who has spoken about Penguin and
even though there is no logical reason why he would lie about that
episode of his life, it is not substantiated at present by other
material. Still, whether Puharich worked for the Navy or not is not
that important. It is a fact that he himself started to become the
magnet that attracted the world’s most notorious psychics.
The only question is whether it was pure
self-interest, or whether the Navy was asking him to meet these
people. Still, one of the more notorious of these individuals,
Peter Hurkos, was brought to the US by a man with a background
in Naval intelligence. So at the very least, the Navy did help
Puharich… and we need to wonder why they did so much for what was,
in essence, a psychic, for which there was no official interest.
It was November 1949 when Puharich met Eileen Garrett, a
well-known medium and founder of the Parapsychological Foundation
in New York. She never wanted money for her séances and
apparently doubted her own psychic abilities, even though when
challenged in tests, she always succeeded brilliantly. Puharich was
very impressed by Garrett, thrilled even as he got “a glimpse of
what the operation of telepathy could be like.”
Garrett accepted to be tested by
Puharich. She then introduced him to John Hays Hammond, one
of the world’s great electronic inventors. Puharich and Hammond
would become friends, which would last at least a decade, as
testified by Puharich’s wife who visited the Hammond residence in
To quote Puharich:
“Jack became my mentor, teaching me
more subtleties of life than any book can capture. He taught me
the art of invention, how all his ideas came to him in dreams,
in reveries, etc.”
On March 27, 1951, Puharich and Eileen
Garrett started experiments to find out whether or not telepathy
existed. Puharich at the time was doing various tasks, some
involving ESP, others involving food testing, as well as
supplementing his income with his career as a medical doctor. As
such, it is difficult to find out how much money came in from where,
but it is generally believed that there was a “secret source of
income”. And it is believed that this source were the American
Fortune often walked together with these, as in 1951 he somewhat
miraculously received a research grant of close to $100,000 to build
a solid sheet metal Faraday cage, to test Garrett. And if the world
of spooks had not been interested before, they were now. The Army,
via Colonel Jack Stanley, and a French General, J.C.
Sauzey, came to Puharich to express the interest of both the US
and French government.
Uri Geller stated in 1996 that he “probably” believed that “the
whole thing with Andrija was financed by the American Defense
Department.” That opinion was also expressed by
Jack Sarfatti, who added that
Puharich was Geller’s case officer in America with money provided by
Sir John Whitmore.
Puharich himself stated that his draft
into the Army was strange, as Puharich had written down in his book
The Sacred Mushroom:
“Col. Nolton (a pseudonym), Chief of
the Army Medical Laboratories of the Chemical Corps had invited
me to his office one day. In a most roundabout way he had
quizzed me about my experience with mind readers and such people
who could get verifiable intelligence in the absence of any
known mechanism to account for it.”
Puharich pointed out this was only the
most recent in a long series of conversations that had started prior
to his entry into the Army.
“The first such conversation had
started in August of 1952 at the Round Table Laboratory in Glen
Clove, Maine. A friend of mine, an army colonel, who was Chief
of the Research Section of the Office of the Chief of
Psychological Warfare, had dropped in to say hello.”
He was interested in Puharich’s research
and a machine that was deemed to augment a person’s ESP
capabilities. (So far, I have not seen this go on sale in the high
street, making me wonder whether Puharich’s machine did not work… or
whether its design is hiding somewhere…)
It was this report that was presented on November 24, 1952 before a
meeting of the Research Branch of the Office of the chief of
Psychological Warfare at the Pentagon. On December 6, 1952,
Puharich received a greeting card from the draft board and was
inducted into the Army on February 26, 1953. Puharich commented how
strange this was, as he had had a medical discharge as a first
lieutenant in 1948. It was clear that the Army wanted him solely for
his recent experiments and by controlling his paycheck, they were
controlling the man.
To once again quote Puharich’s wife:
“Why they [the US and French
military] had shown an interest became clear in 1959 when a
French popular science magazine published a story that the
Americans had been successfully communicating by telepathy with
the submarine, Nautilus. This rumor gave Soviet scientists,
already interested in telepathy, a lever to gain fresh
government backing. A parapsychological unit was added to the
Leningrad department of physiology, with professor Vasiliev as
its head. The Super Power competition was on.”
And playing captain for the American
team was Andrija Puharich.
Puharich himself has stated that the Round Table Foundation
was indeed a front for the Army. It functioned in 1953, when he
worked for the Army Chemical Center in Edgewood, Maryland,
where he served until April 1955. Picknett and Prince had stumbled
upon this episode of Puharich’s career and stated that this
re-employment was because the Army was interested in finding a
drug that would stimulate psychic abilities.
That is right: a substance that would
give a person psychic abilities… Puharich’s Chemical Center at
Edgewood was known to co-operate with the CIA’s MK-ULTRA
team, whose quest was all about mind-altering drugs. Coincidence?
The existence of the secret
mind control program of the CIA and
the Army only came to light after Nixon’s resignation in 1974, when
a fresh wind of “openness” seemed to flow through the opened windows
of the Washington governmental offices. American journalist John
Marks requested, using the Freedom of Information Act,
several documents on the subject, which would result in Senate
Hearings that occurred in 1977.
A can of worms had been opened.
Were there any references to Puharich in these documents? One of the
projects that was part of this program, BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE, ran from
1952 till 1956, roughly coinciding with the period when Puharich was
assigned to Edgewood.
Furthermore, Ira Einhorn stated that his
“was doing LSD work for the CIA in
He linked Puharich with Sidney
MK-ULTRA and added that Puharich
was involved in the notorious experiments that resulted in the death
of one subject, Frank Olson, who fell from a window. Olson
allegedly committed suicide in 1953 by jumping out of a 13-story
window, 175 feet to the ground. Olson had unknowingly taken a dose
of LSD. He resigned from government service shortly thereafter and
allegedly began to divulge classified information to members of his
In 1965, Olson’s son Eric read a story that the CIA had experimented
with LSD as a truth serum testing it on their own scientists in the
1950s. The CIA confirmed that his father had been one of these test
subjects. In 1975, Gerald Ford awarded the Olsons $750,000 and an
apology. In 1994, Eric was granted permission to exhume the body.
The conclusion from this port-mortem was inconsistent with either an
accidental fall or a suicide – there was an unexplainable bruise on
the side of Olson’s forehead that had not occurred when he had hit
the ground. The enquiry decided that Olson had probably been hit
with a blunt object and was thrown out the window.
It was not the sole time the CIA experimented on its own
citizens. In 1968-9, the CIA experimented with the water supply of
the Food and Drug Administration, injecting it with a
chemical substance. The experiment was intended to test the
possibility of poisoning drinking water. No harmful effects were
noted, and this case seems harmless enough, except that Nuremberg
rules were violated.
High strangeness in the state of play was indicated by Puharich
himself. During the Round Table Foundation years, he was
regularly visited by Army officials. One visit, by an Army general
and his staff in September 1957, was cancelled at the last moment.
“There was some compelling security
reason unknown to him [the Army general] which made it
undesirable for military officials to express an interest in our
kind of research.”
The answer does not make sense. The
answer implies that the general had wanted to visit Puharich, but
that the Army had instructed him to cancel the visit, as the general
did not have the necessary security clearances, or reasons. This was
a tell-tale sign that the Army was involved with Puharich.
One general in the Army wanted to visit a person whom he believed
was a civilian, but when the visit was logged, someone in the Army,
in another department, apparently realized this general was treading
on sacred ground, and he was ordered to cancel his visit.
In 1954, Puharich received a transcript from what Harry Stone
had uttered during a trance. Some were in English, others in
“The first time this occurred, Harry
had been at Mrs. Davenport’s apartment in New York. When
admiring a gold pendant, in the form of a cartouche, he had
suddenly started to tremble all over, got a crazy staring look
in his eyes, staggered around the room, and then fell into a
What fascinated Andrija was the trance
description that Stone had given of a plant that could separate
consciousness from the physical body. Puharich knew that the ancient
Greeks and the
shamans in Siberia had an ancient
tradition in which men partook of a plant which could detach the
soul from the body, travel far, and then return with knowledge that
was otherwise inaccessible to the human mind.
If he was able to master this technique,
it was clear that he and those for whom he worked, would have a
powerful advantage over their enemies. Stone’s drawings of the plant
looked like mushrooms, and the description he gave was that of the
fly agaric, or
Puharich realized that Stone had given him the answer to his
problem: this mushroom could enhance extrasensory perception in
human beings. All he had to do was find it and use it. By the fall
of 1955, Puharich had an ample supply of the mushroom to find out…
Being a scientist by training, he first set out to analyze the
mushroom chemically, and found three chemicals that were of interest
for his study of psychic effects:
Muscarine stimulates the
parasympathetic nerve endings, giving the user great muscular
strength and endurance. After this initial stimulating effect,
muscarine acted as a poison and paralyzed the very nerves that
it had stimulated. Atropine alone initially stimulated the
central nervous system and then paralyzed it. The third drug,
bufotenin was a hallucinogenic drug. Combined, they made the
mushroom a magic potion.
Puharich tested 35 “psychically ungifted” people, but none reported
anything out of the ordinary. But in the case of Harry Stone, during
a visit by Aldous Huxley, Stone asked to have the mushroom
administered. Rather than chew, Stone applied the mushroom on his
tongue and on the top of his head, in ritualistic fashion. Five
minutes later he woke up, and began to stagger around as though he
were heavily intoxicated with alcohol.
At that point, Puharich wanted to test
whether Stone’s psychic abilities had enhanced. The results were
positive. In fact, they were not just positive, but perfect. Ten out
of ten. And not only that, but superfast as well.
Puharich quickly administered a large dose of atropine and
removed the remaining particles of the mushroom from his tongue.
Within fifteen minutes, Harry was ‘normal’ again.
This was, of course, a major revelation for Puharich and the
experiments were detailed in his book,
The Sacred Mushroom. But Puharich
was not the only one to write about it.
Aldous Huxley stated:
“I spent some days, earlier this
month, at Glen Cove, in the strange household assembled by
Puharich […] Harry, the Dutch sculptor, who goes into trances in
the Faraday Cage and produces automatic scripts in Egyptian
hieroglyphics […] whatever may be said against Puharich, he is
certainly very intelligent, extremely well read and highly
enterprising. His aim is to reproduce by modem pharmacological,
electronic and physical methods the conditions used by the
Shamans for getting into a state of travelling clairvoyance.
At Glen Cove they now have found
eight specimens of the amanita muscaria. This is very
remarkable as the literature of the mycological society of New
England records only one previous instance of the discovery of
an amanita in Maine. The effects, when a piece as big as
a pin’s head, is rubbed for a few seconds into the skin of the
scalp, are quite alarmingly powerful, and it will obviously take
a lot of very cautious experimentation to determine the right
psi-enhancing dose of the mushroom.”
In short, Puharich found a psychic drug
and one of the main authorities on the subject, Aldous Huxley,
agreed, “whatever may be said against Puharich”, suggesting that
Huxley was aware of a darker side to the man… or a side he at least
wanted to distance himself from.
In spite of this promising start, Stone’s further test results
deteriorated the more experiments occurred. At the same time,
Puharich was often otherwise engaged. It was only in the late 1950s,
when writing The Sacred Mushroom, that Puharich could once
again set his mind in a logical order. And what he realized was
simple: Stone had shown the possibility that a psychic, when being
administered a hallucinogenic substance, will be able to get 100
percent accurate information from “paranormal communication”.
Now Puharich only needed to find out
whether it was repeatable, that all important condition for an
experiment to be labeled “scientific”.
Puharich needed more psychics and Henry Belk brought the name
of a Dutch psychic, Peter Hurkos to his attention. Puharich
stated on many occasions that he was only responsible for placing
Hurkos in a light state of trance.
“I have seen Hurkos demonstrate just
as good or better examples of extrasensory perception without
the use of the mushroom.”
Hurkos’ extraordinary psychic gifts had
manifested after he fell from a ladder onto his head in 1944. He
suffered a brain injury and lay in a coma for three days. On
regaining consciousness, he found that he had acquired an ability to
“see into the unknown”.
Hurkos was tested for “normal” psychic abilities, but also for
“enhanced” abilities, i.e. the mushroom ritual.
“On August 23, 1957, after Hurkos
had been administered the preparation of the mushroom, he
slipped into a semi sleep state in about twenty minutes and
began to talk. He saw what he called ‘a miracle in the sky’.
When asked what this miracle was, he was not capable of giving
it finite description. These are the words he used: ‘There is
going to be a miracle in the sky. It is coming. I cannot tell
you precisely what it is, except that I see it as an earth-ball.
It is in the sky, and everybody in the whole world can see it.”
The results of the experiment were, to
say the least, unimpressive; they belonged in the category of “the
world is coming to an end” prophecies that had gone around the world
for centuries. Nevertheless, this did not deter Puharich. He
organized frequent “mushroom binges”, some which occurred in his own
home. Most participants behaved erratic, some getting powerful
sexual drives, others becoming violently ill.
It was clear that after an initial success, the project needed a new
focus to fulfill its possible destiny. In 1955, Puharich heard from
Gordon Wasson that a ritualistic mushroom cult existed in
Mexico. It had existed for hundreds of years, and was still
practiced in some remote parts of the country. Wasson wrote his own
book on mushrooms in 1957, which is considered to be a landmark
publication. It was two years later that Puharich’s own book on
“magic mushrooms” was published.
Shortly after the publication, in June
1960, Puharich himself set out for the village of Juquila in the
state of Oaxaca, 200 miles south of Mexico City. Four weeks later,
one team member returned saying all others were ill, but Puharich
apparently crazy, as he had gone on alone. Though the escapade was
not appreciated by his second wife, Puharich was literally risking
his life, at a time when he had a pregnant wife and four children at
But the quest for the mushroom was more
important than his own life. It always would be and it is one of the
reasons why Puharich had some many wives and partners, and so many
children with them. It takes a special type of woman to understand a
man with such a deep drive, who accepts that she will always come
second, and is able to live with that knowledge. Puharich seemed to
have less difficulty in finding magic mushroom than such a wife… but
perhaps they were rarer than the magic mushroom…
Upon his return, Puharich found a university and television company
willing to sponsor a second expedition. In the end, ABC screened
“One Step Beyond”, showing the expedition locating the mushroom in
Mexico, and the ESP tests before and after eating the mushroom, at
If the CIA had not heard from Puharich
and his experiments, they would know now.
What was next?
After the demise of the Round Table
Foundation, Puharich founded Intelectron Corporation, a
medical electronics business. But his heart remained in the
paranormal. He continued to make frequent trips to South America, in
particular Mexico and Brazil, in search of the drug rites performed
by the Chatina Indians and a faith healer called Arigo.
It was in 1963 when Puharich was asked by Belk to go to Brazil, to
Arigo. Arigo performed major surgery on humans without any
anesthesia or antisepsis, using the same kitchen knife on each
patient. Arigo’s “surgeries” were filmed and show him plunge an
ordinary kitchen knife into a man’s eyeball or his testicles, with
hardly any bleeding and the patients walking out of the room by
themselves. How was Arigo able to do this? The spirit of a doctor
called Fritz, who had died in 1918, guided him, he said.
At the same time, Puharich conducted psychic experiments at his
country estate, at 87 Hawkes Avenue, in Ossining, New York. It was
here that Hollywood and New York collided, for in the movie Hudson
Hawk, Bruce Willis was asked where he got his tattoo of a Hawk, to
which he replied “in Ossining, New York”. An unremarkable detail
that must have slipped past most of the viewers, but which is
nevertheless of interest, were it not that the plot of the movie
involves a time-machine.
Perhaps it was fall-out of Puharich’s
appearance on an episode of the Perry Mason television show, where
he played himself.
With Intelectron, he mainly worked for the US government.
“They had immediately seen the many
potential applications of electromagnetic stimulation of
hearing,” Puharich said.
The U.S. Air Force thus awarded
Intelectron a research contract. From there on, research was to be
performed under the guidance of a member of an Air Force committee.
Puharich, it seems, was never more than a long arm away from a
The interest of the committee led to an active exchange between
Puharich and representatives of the U.S. Government.
These agencies were the,
National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA)
Foreign Technology Division
of the Systems Command of the U.S. Air Force (USAF-SC)
Federal Bureau of
Central Intelligence Agency
… not your normal “interface” when
working for the government.
As I have already mentioned, the United States and Russia were
actively interested in telepathy. Apparently Professor Vasiliev,
head of the parapsychological department in Leningrad, had used a
Faraday Cage isolation technique to prove the existence of
telepathy. This work had been done in secret, and all the witnesses
to the work were no longer alive.
There was a question in the minds of
some NASA officials as to whether the Russians had actually done
this cage-telepathy research, or had merely copied Puharich’s work
of 1952. Puharich himself had many discussions about this question
with NASA officials. The conclusion was that NASA was going to
support his research in psychic phenomena, or what they called
bio-information-transfer, or energy transfer.
According to Puharich, a curious situation was created in the fall
of 1963, so much so that he himself did not clearly foresee when it
started to happen. It all came out of his research work in two
different areas, the psychical research (ESP), and the
research in electro-stimulation of hearing (ESH). The problem
arose, he thought, because competing agencies of the US Government
supported different aspects of his research. The United States Air
Force supported his research in ESH under contract; NASA supported
the research in ESP.
In September 1963, at the International Astronautic Congress in
Paris, NASA’s Bioastronautics director Eugene Konecci
said that both the American and Soviet Union Space Agencies were
testing “non-electronic biological communication”. He believed that
“thought transference” might be a workable method of communication
The announcement made by Konecci caused a fierce negative reaction
from the US Congress. One of their spokesmen had just said that NASA
believed in telepathy? The administrator of NASA, James Webb,
was told that if he did not stop this ESP research, there would be
major cuts in the NASA budget. Dr. Webb could only follow up on this
advice and the research project that Puharich was to direct was
cancelled. Puharich himself believed that the US Air Force was
behind this congressional pressure on NASA, because of the intense
rivalry that existed between the two agencies.
After he had fulfilled his contract with the Air Force, and his
paper was published, he was approached by a scientist, Dr. Leon
Harmon, from Bell Laboratories to give a demonstration that the
Transdermal Hearing System really worked. Dr. Harmon even
brought his own deaf patient. After two hours of tests, he saw the
proof that his patient could indeed “hear” and repeat words that
were transmitted to him.
However, all Dr. Harmon could say was,
“Damn it, Puharich, that’s not
hearing, that’s telepathy what we saw.” (Again, I believe this
device is not on sale…)
All these government sponsored projects
had resulted in the fact that Puharich did not have the time to
convince the scientific community of the validity of his ESP
research. Though the US government was slowly but definitely
becoming convinced of ESP and Puharich’s pioneering role, the rest
of the world had to wait. Though it meant that the public at large
missed out on the knowledge that ESP was a reality, the US
government did have a legitimate reason to withhold this information
at the time: it believed that the opposition – the Soviet Union –
was engaged in a similar program, whereby total secrecy would be of
the utmost importance.
Furthermore, if Puharich –or other
researchers – did make their research public and were able to
convince the world of the reality of ESP, did this not mean that
anyone anywhere could begin to try to penetrate – via ESP – into the
darkest secrets of the government? Of course, in the eyes of the
military this problem outweighed all the beneficial possibilities…
By the late 1960s, Puharich had built a solid foundation for ESP,
and had shown practical applications, many of which he had done for
the US government. The next phase of his life took him back to the
days of the Round Table, where he had worked with psychics on a
largely informal basis. Puharich went in search of new psychics, of
which Uri Geller would become the most notorious example.
Sponsored and largely run by the CIA,
the remote viewing project seemed to use Puharich as a consultant,
whereby the day to day management was left to other scientists. It
seems that Puharich carried on where he had left off more than a
decade before, except for one major missing factor: what about the
mushrooms? Are we to assume that the government “forgot” about the
mushroom connection of Puharich’s original research – the discovery
of a psychic drug?
In August 1972, Puharich called Geller back from Europe, to start
the research program. Geller agreed reluctantly. They flew to
Germantown, Maryland, to meet with Dr. Werner von Braun (we can only
ask why), then onwards to San Francisco, to Stanford University, and
back to the East Coast to meet some more scientists. It was
Stanford Research Institute (SRI)
where the remote viewing experiment was housed.
The project was coordinated by
Russell Targ, a specialist in
lasers and plasma research, and Dr.
Harold Puthoff, a specialist in
quantum physics. They were sufficiently impressed by Geller’s
qualities to warrant further investigation.
A full-page report of the experiments appeared in the National
Enquirer, not renowned for its scientific focus:
“A young Israeli who can apparently
bend metal with his mind has undergone rigidly controlled
experiments at a leading research institute. The top scientists
who tested him admit they cannot explain his amazing ‘powers.’
The experiments were ‘cheat-proof’ and the scientists reported
that Geller participated in experiments where the probability
that anyone could have done what he did was one in a million,
and in another test, one in a trillion.”
Geller amazed the scientists when he
made a balance placed in a bell jar respond as though a force was
applied to it – without touching the balance. A chart recorder
monitoring the balance showed that Geller somehow produced a force
ten to a hundred times greater than could be produced by striking
the bell jar, or the table, or jumping on the floor.
He correctly identified, eight out of eight times, the numbers shown
on a die shaken inside a closed metal box. Only scientists handled
the box, and no-one knew what number was on the die until after
Geller had made his predictions, and the box was opened.
A magnetometer, a sensitive instrument that measures magnetic
fields, registered when Geller just passed his empty hands near it.
Geller also bent metal objects and broke them in half, without
physical force. He stopped clock hands without touching them, and
made objects disappear completely.
Geller, it seemed, was too good to be true, and definitely too
well-known to be left alone.
Puharich learned that Time magazine
was about to publish an article about Geller being a fraud. From
what he was able to find out, it appeared that the US Defense
Department was backing them and making every effort to discredit the
scientists and Geller. We need to ask why the Defense Department
wanted to do a character assassination of a spoon bender… unless, of
course, it had a direct relationship with some of their projects.
The government knows it is good practice to ridicule people like
Geller, in case they are to speak up about secret projects in
public. It would allow them to be immediately labeled “frauds” by
certain “experts”. But to Geller’s credit, when he was contacted for
The Stargate Conspiracy in the late 1990s, he felt he could
still not speak about the
Remote Viewing experiments or name
names, unaware that the project had been declassified – and a clear
indicator that Geller had moved away from sensitive material,
dedicating himself at the time to trying to run an X-Files
orientated UK newsstand magazine.
Before the kick-off of the SRI project, Einhorn and Puharich had
become close friends, resulting in the re-publication of Puharich’s
Beyond Telepathy, with Anchor Books, for whom Einhorn was a
consultant. Then Geller arrived. One night, Puharich and Einhorn
talked about nothing but Geller.
Author Steven Levy states how,
“Ira divined immediately that the
proof of Geller’s powers would jar conventional physics and
create the ‘paradigm shift’ that Thomas Kuhn described in his
The meeting concluded with Puharich and
Einhorn making a pact: to make Geller a worldwide phenomenon. Goal?
To create such a paradigm shift, which Kuhn had expressed in his
book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, wherein Kuhn argued
that paradigm shifts occur when a certain number of neglected or
denied experimental results suddenly become accepted and change the
way we look upon things.
In the case of Geller and psychic
events, it would be how we looked upon reality, for suddenly the
bounds of physics were, well, no longer boundaries. Though this goal
was noble in itself, Einhorn seems to have miscalculated the lengths
some forces would go to to maintain the status quo… which was easily
done, as Puharich had done most of the work as part of a government
contract; a secret government project. Puharich was close to
breaking his tie with the “underworld”.
Would the lords of the underworld allow
him to shine the light in our world?
Einhorn’s plan was initially working: tests at Stanford Research
Institute underlined Geller’s paranormal capabilities and the
exposure in the National Enquirer brought the “Geller effect”
to the forefront of the international media.
Something seemed to be happening and the boundaries of reality
seemed to be extending.
Astronaut Edgar Mitchell wrote
“during the six weeks when we
conducted formal experiments with Uri, there were also an
incredible number of equipment failures and downright strange
occurrences that no one could reality explain.”
Video equipment would lose a pulley,
later found in a different room; jewellery would go missing, only to
be found in a locked safe.
“There were literally dozens of such
It seemed that whenever Geller was
around, things would disappear and appear in different places –
physics somehow forgot the laws it was supposed to be ruled by. Many
of these events were captured on camera, and some demonstrations
were broadcasted to TV audiences.
In the spring of 1973, Geller appeared on the Jack Paar talk show.
Paar unexpectedly asked whether Geller could bend several large
steel nails, held by Paar. Geller placed his hands over Paar’s,
concentrated, then asked Paar to open his hands and inspect the
nails: all were bent.
Mitchell, co-appearing on the show,
“when he opened his hand his faced
turned ashen. The tip of one of the nails was bent about twenty
degrees, whereas all had been perfectly straight just moments
before. An awkward silence fell over the set.”
Mitchell and Puharich both witnessed how
whenever Geller appeared on television, there would be numerous
reports of how suddenly parents rang, reporting that their children
were bending spoons as well.
Mitchell stated how,
“I could usually sense what part of
the world Uri was in by where the parents were calling from to
report that their children were mutilating the family
Professor John Hasted, Chairman
of the Department of Physics at Birbeck College in London,
reported how after seeing Geller, several children could bend metal
without any physical contact. Was Geller somehow showing the
children of the world how they could defy the laws of physics? The
answer was an unequivocal yes. Was a paradigm shift at hand? The
answer seemed yes as well.
While Geller’s powers became known around the world, the results of
the scientific tests performed at SRI were published in Nature,
a first important hurdle in creating this paradigm shift. But then
the plan derailed. Because of Puharich himself.
Einhorn had succeeded in landing a book-deal for Puharich. The book,
Uri, was the account of Geller’s powers, as witnessed by the man’s
protégé. The paradigm shift was riding on this book. But instead of
fame, it brought despair. In trying to explain the origin of
Geller’s powers, Puharich attributed these to an extraterrestrial
source, the Hoovians, agents of an interstellar council
called “The Nine”.
The Nine, Puharich stated, left
strange messages on Puharich’s tape recorder and appeared in the
form of UFO’s.
“The Nine” had first appeared on the
scene in the early 1950s, at the Round Table. They form, as
mentioned, the backbone of
The Stargate Conspiracy.
Was Geller used by Puharich to
convince the world that The Nine were real?
Or were The Nine used, so that
Geller and his psychic abilities could become ridiculed?
In my opinion, Puharich seems to have
tried to overplay his card. Someone knew the paradigm shift was
about to happen and “asked” Puharich to freeze it. But this was, of
course, not to Geller’s liking. Was it any wonder that Geller
distanced himself from his mentor? It seemed clear that this sudden
turn left both Geller and Einhorn flabbergasted.
Why did Puharich kill the paradigm shift? Picknett and
Prince have implied that Puharich’s true motivations had
resurfaced: his interest in the Council of Nine. Puharich had
used Geller’s fame to promote the cause of “The Nine”. Possible.
But was this answer perhaps too obvious?
Picknett and Prince state that in the campaign to promote The Nine,
Puharich had used Geller to further his own belief in The Nine. But
there is no evidence that suggests Puharich was particularly
interested in The Nine between 1952 and 1972. Nor is there much
evidence to suggest that Puharich was interested in them afterwards.
Though it was true that the
accreditation of Geller’s powers to The Nine resulted in the
latter’s rise to fame, it seemed this had been a side-effect and not
the focus of Puharich’s reason. Furthermore, Puharich must have
realized that a step by step approach would be more beneficial.
There was no need to explain the “Geller effect”; Uri could just
show it, and inform the world of the existence of ESP.
Afterwards, Puharich could have used his
and Geller’s notoriety to work The Nine into the scenario and cement
their fame. So even if Puharich wanted to promote The Nine, he had
obviously done it far too quickly… and without any clear strategy.
So why do it?
|The evidence suggests that Puharich was
merely interested in a twenty-year old incident to make the origins
of Geller’s powers into an unverifiable myth – or disinform the
public. Why? Perhaps Puharich did not want the paradigm shift to
happen after all. But perhaps (more likely) he was following orders,
and the orders were that the status quo had to remain. It seems a
logical enough assumption that the US government was not interested
in paradigm shifts, but instead preferred status quo, in which the
existence of ESP was contained within the corridors of their own
buildings, and not displayed in every street of the world. With such
a paradigm shift, there was more than the state of the family
silverware at stake.
Even though Puharich may have wanted a paradigm shift, he was not
“just” a civilian. Einhorn was “just” a civilian and the patriarch
of the New Age movement: he wanted a “change in world
consciousness”. He lived for it. Strived for it. But Puharich was a
man living in “murkiness”, as Einhorn himself had stated. Puharich
was a man of the black world. The black world had allowed Puharich
to find answers to his questions. But the black world of
intelligence agencies was also a black hole: it did not like
publicity, it functioned in the background.
Geller would have changed all that. Could the government allow
Puharich that to happen? Could Puharich himself allow it? If Geller
became accepted, there would be enquiries into Geller and Puharich’s
background. And in the early 1970s, the mind control experiments,
which included the testing of mind-altering drugs on unwitting
American civilians, was still secret. If Geller became accepted,
that can of worms would be opened. Could Puharich and his colleagues
allow that to happen? Even if my entire line of reasoning were to be
wrong, the answer to this question is an obvious no.
Another question needs to be asked. When Puharich had left the Army
in 1955, had he and the military found a “psychic drug”? Or had they
found it when Puharich re-entered the public arena with Geller?
Though Geller has become a household name since the early 1970s, his
most remarkable performances occurred over a limited period of time.
Of everything Geller managed to perform, it seems that only the
spoon-bending pre-dated and survived his days at SRI. What had
happened to all his other abilities? Geller defied the laws of
physics and then reverted to being a “normal psychic” – which does
imply he was not very good at it, except in this short period of
Another possible reason for this
turnaround could therefore be that the truth about Geller’s
extra-ordinary power, only displayed over a very short period of
time, could not be divulged. What if Geller was indeed psychic, but
that his “super psychic” abilities had been “induced”, by a “psychic
drug”? We note that before Geller, Puharich had worked with other
psychics, with whom he had shown that the use of drugs – mushrooms –
had made “psychics” into “super psychics”.
Had Puharich and the mind control
projects stumbled upon “the psychic switch” and had they given it to
Geller – perhaps even without telling Geller himself? Had the US
Government discovered the key that made a normal person – but
particularly a psychic person – into a superman?
It may seem a preposterous question, but
any anthropologist will be able to list hundreds of examples of
tribes in which the shaman is believed to turn into a superman, able
to access another dimension and bring back knowledge from that
realm… after the ingestion of a hallucinogenic substance – a psychic
Though Geller had been discredited by Puharich, another “hound”
would make sure that Geller continued to be haunted. That hound was
James Randi, whose battles with Geller could fill hundreds of pages
– and continues to this day.
The story of James Randi and his fight against the famous but
believed to be fraudulent psychic inspired the script writers of the
1970s series Columbo. In one episode, Columbo Goes to the
Guillotine, the story of “Elliot Blake”, a fake English psychic and
former magician is in cahoots with the female leader of a secret
government think-tank solely dedicated to psychic research, the
“Anneman Institute”, whose primary funding is coming from the US
Government, in particular the CIA.
“Max Dyson”, a famous magician turned
paranormal skeptic – i.e. James Randi – organizes a “conclusive”
test to find out whether Blake can “view from a distance” – distant
viewing as opposed to remote viewing – an apparently sound
scientific experiment that seems to prove to the CIA and the
institute that ESP is real.
However, when Dyson (Randi) is murdered
by Blake (Geller), Columbo unravels a web of deceit, in which he
reveals how Dyson and Blake faked the entire experiment and hence
collaborated to fool the US government.
It is an intriguing story, particularly when one realises that
certain aspects of the story, when aired, were somewhat or
completely secret – such as the fact that the CIA was funding the
Geller experiments and SRI’s ESP experiments. But Hollywood knew,
perhaps because Puharich himself would make a small contribution to
the film industry by playing himself in that other paramount legal
drama of the American television industry, Perry Mason.
So Hollywood depicted the entire experiment at SRI as bogus. And in
real life, Randi felt as much. Randi’s quest had been helped by
Puharich himself, in claiming that Geller’s powers came from
extra-terrestrial sources. The paradigm shift that Einhorn had hoped
for, did not happen. Unlike Neo in The Matrix, the spoon-bending
Geller had not been able to shift “The Matrix”. And despite
Puharich’s claims that Randi was a disinformation agent responsible
for this, the truth was that Puharich himself had sown the seeds of
Geller’s demise as a “worldwide phenomenon”.
After the kick-off of the Remote Viewing project, the CIA seems to
have forgotten about Puharich, or Puharich about the CIA. Perhaps
the episode of The Nine made them decide not to continue to use him
– perhaps he was only ever required for the kick-off of the new
Puharich then focused on the techniques of the “psychic doctors”,
following up on his research of Arigo. Puharich was asked to lead a
group of scientists to learn their methods, a mission that he
accepted. In January 1978, he was once again in Mexico, to study
Pachita, one of these doctors.
Like Arigo, Pachita used a crude surgical tool in all of her
operations, whether it was eye, brain, bone or abdominal surgery. As
before, Puharich underwent surgery, this time for a hearing problem.
Puharich reported that one month post-op, his hearing was back to
normal. During his stay, he witnessed many operations, including
organ transplants, one of which was a kidney transplant in a
34-year-old woman which he had brought from the States.
Puharich was convinced Pachita’s surgery
was genuine and that no fraud had occurred in the presence of his
team of observing scientists. Apparently, Puharich, a doctor
himself, believed Arigo and Pachita were opening a new science of
medicine and felt it his duty to publish their techniques, so that
“psychic surgery” could be taught to others.
Though it may seem to be a radical departure from his previous
material, in essence it was not: Puharich continued to promote the
innate wisdom of the “primitive tribes” and shamanic techniques, as
long as they continued to extend modern man’s understanding of
physics and the mind.
Puharich at the time was working on a book, which his publisher
stated would be delayed, this for rather vague reasons. Some months
later, however, Puharich was contacted by some of his friends and
colleagues stating that a CIA agent had shown them a copy of the
manuscript. The editor, however, stated no-one had been given a
copy. Puharich realised the CIA was trying to give him a message,
but had no idea what the message was. To me, it seems quite simple:
they were monitoring, just in case he was thinking of creating a
paradigm shift, using different material than Geller.
On August 7, 1978, he got a telephone call from one of his
assistants from Ossining with the news that fire had been set to his
beautiful home. Later, the police confirmed that the fire had been
arson. At the same time, Puharich learned that he and those closest
to him were under surveillance. It became clear that the reason for
this was Puharich’s “meddling” with so-called “free energy”,
following in the footsteps of that other Yugoslavian genius, Nikola
Tesla, who had given the world alternating current (AC/DC).
In the late 1970s, people with an
interest in Tesla and specifically the promotion of such technology,
were harassed, including Tom Bearden, whose book, Excalibur
Briefing, was subjected to similar treatment. Break-ins at the
publisher, fires at the typesetter, followed by further break-ins at
the typesetter with the smashing of the galley proofs were all part
of the treatment that someone was “offering” to those foolishly
continuing to create a paradigm shift. In the case of Bearden, it
merely delayed the publication; Puharich’s book, however, was never
published. He had, in essence, been silenced.
Perhaps as a reward for his silence, in 1982, Puharich was offered
the post of ELF (Extremely Low Frequencies) research director for
the CIA. In the words of his biographer, “supposedly two CIA men
came to his house in Delaplane, Virginia apologizing that the CIA
gave him such a hard time.” Puharich declined the position. He had
got the message: do what you want, but keep quiet about it. And so
he did. In 1980, Richard Joshua Reynolds invited Puharich to live at
his estate and study ELF at his own convenience.
On January 4, 1995, the following death-notice appeared in the
Winston Salem journal: “Elderly Scientist ordered evicted from
Reynolds Estate dies in fall.”
The newspaper reported that Puharich,
76, had suffered a heart-attack and had fallen down the stairs. At
the time, Puharich had been evicted from the estate, together with
Elizabeth Rauscher and William Van Bise, who unlike
Puharich were fighting the order. It had started in June 1994, when
Reynolds died. Reynolds had not provided for them in his will,
leading to the eviction order.
Two months before the date, however,
Puharich collapsed and was hospitalized, revealing severe diabetes
and kidney failure, as well as other related problems.
It was a sad demise for one of the true innovators of the 20th
century. The tone at his funeral reflected the same. Few friends and
only a couple of his children turned up, about a dozen people in
all. Here was a man who had dined with the most prominent and
wealthiest people in the United States, had mentored the most
well-known psychics, from Garrett via Hurkos to Geller.
Uri Geller, no Barbara Bronfman
Christopher Bird were present at
his funeral, though the latter did send notes. The only person there
was Henry Belk, apart from of course the other tenants,
Rauscher and van Bise.
As to Belk, a man who had remained in
the background, though always close to Puharich, he told author
Terry Milner that,
“he would never commit or have his
life committed to paper because people simply would not be
Still, unfortunately, Puharich had been
forgotten; the founder of the American New Age movement was dead;
long lived the New Age, but who the hell was Puharich?
Intriguingly, within one year of Puharich’s death, the CIA decided
to declassify its Remote Viewing project, the brainchild of Puharich.
On November 29, 1995, the Chicago Tribune read “CIA aided by
psychics for 20 years”. But there was no emphasis whatsoever on the
use of possible hallucinogenic substances. Or the role that Puharich
As to Einhorn, he was on the run from
the law, as he had allegedly murdered his girlfriend. By 1995, the
lid could come off the can of worms.
All the big worms were either dead,
silent… or on the run.
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