The Shaver Mystery
I've been involved in the movement investigating UFOs and other
unexplained phenomena since I was a teenager back in the Fifties,
but from the viewpoint of an occultist, not that of a materialist.
For example, I've always felt that most of the evidence concerning
visits to Earth by ancient astronauts can be accounted for by
postulating telepathic contact with beings from advanced
extraterrestrial societies, and that many close encounters with UFOs
involve psychic contact with spiritual beings.
In the Fifties and Sixties, the occultists in the movement were
regarded as credulous and unscientific for putting a psychic and
spiritual interpretation on much of the evidence; but as the years
have passed, more and more investigators of unexplained phenomena
have begun to draw similar conclusions from the available data.
However, I myself have always remained part of the "lunatic fringe,"
because my favorite theory in the whole field is the
which has never gained respectability.
Even today, almost everyone
in the Ufology and occult communities treats people who believe in
it as fools or paranoids. I am neither, but I still take it very
seriously, because many of the details in Shaver's writings match my
dreams and visions of what seem to be past lives on other worlds.
During World War Two, Ray Palmer, editor of the science-fiction
magazine Amazing Stories, received several short novels from an
amateur writer named Richard S. Shaver. The stories were rather
poorly written, but the idea content so impressed Palmer that he and
various ghostwriters polished them up for publication.
When the Shaver stories started appearing in Amazing, the magazine's
circulation increased dramatically; some versions of the story say
it doubled or tripled. Shaver's writing was a highly complex and
imaginative new treatment of a theme that had long been common in
science fiction: the concept that we share this planet with the
descendants of ancient astronauts who always remain hidden from us,
but who use their advanced scientific technology to manipulate us.
Because most of Shaver's literary output - millions of words over
more than twenty years - was chaotically organized and was rewritten
by many different hands to make it suitable for publication, very
few people today have an over-all understanding of his cosmology.
Many occult and unexplained phenomena writers have borrowed from it,
usually without identifying it as their source, but no one has yet
bothered to publish a coherent synopsis of Shaver's theories in any
Here is a brief summary.
Thousands of years ago, extraterrestrial
space travelers visited Earth and established huge underground
colonies here. They couldn't live on the surface because solar
radiation shortened their lifespan, which was normally measured in
centuries. Eventually, the civilization that had planted the
colonies became moribund, and contact with the parent worlds became
less and less frequent.
Because the underground colonies were cut
off from outside supplies, some of the colonists were forced to live
permanently on the surface to grow food and obtain the raw materials
necessary to sustain life in the underground cities.
Over a long period of time, the "detrimental radiation" of the sun
caused the minds of the surface dwellers to degenerate, and
eventually they reverted to complete barbarism. However, they did
retain enough intelligence to start progressing again, finally
achieving human civilization as we read about it in our history
During this whole period, the many inhabitants of the underground
colonies, which Shaver simply calls "Caves," survived and retained a
significant amount of the original knowledge and technology.
However, the population of Cave dwellers gradually decreased because
of constant shortages of supplies from the surface.
surface people forgot completely about the origin and nature of the
underground cities, the Cave dwellers started posing as gods and
other supernatural beings to coerce surface people into providing
them food and other necessities. The Cave people possess machines
for generating "Rays" that give them certain kinds of power over
Some types of Rays can kill or wound people, but others can be used
to heal sickness or injury or to slow down the aging process. The
Rays can also be used for telepathic communication and to control
the thoughts and emotions of others at a distance. They seem to be
most effective at close range, but some are powerful enough to have
a significant effect on surface people.
The Cave dwellers have used their Ray technology to manipulate
surface society throughout history, especially to obtain food and
other supplies without the majority of people on Earth being aware
of it. A few surface people were in on the plot and acted as agents
of the Cave dwellers; these included members of such diverse groups
as political rulers, religious leaders, wealthy merchants and
traders, smugglers, and pirates.
However, the population in the Caves has decreased steadily over the
ages because of continual shortages of raw materials.
described the current situation in the underground cities as grim
and desperate, with the political and social structure in almost
complete collapse. Starvation and cannibalism are commonplace, and
many of the inhabitants have turned themselves into literal monsters
through improper use of the Rays.
These "Deros" have become insane
tyrants, and most have deformed their bodies as well, by trying to
use the life prolonging Rays to achieve physical immortality.
Because "detrimental radiation from the Sun penetrates even into the
Caves", and because many of the Ray machines themselves have
deteriorated through ages of constant use and makeshift repairs, the Deros resemble the living dead of legend. The Rays alone aren't
enough: to survive, they also have to eat human flesh like ghouls,
and drink human blood like vampires.
However, some of the Cave dwellers are still normal: they call
themselves "Teros," and often use their Rays to help people on the
surface, especially to combat the evil being done by the Deros.
However, they aren't militarily strong enough to conquer and destroy
the Deros, and the only reason they survive at all is that they
sometimes receive help from extraterrestrials who arrive in
Unfortunately, these modern space travelers are also incapable of
defeating the Deros. According to Shaver, they've been trying for
centuries to get some government or other elsewhere in the galaxy to
"send in the Marines and clean up Earth," but so far it hasn't
happened. Earth is just one small planet in a remote backwater of
the universe, and no advanced interstellar civilization has bothered
to come here and fight a war to liberate us from the Deros.
Some of Shaver's stories assert that such civilizations still exist,
and that "help from the stars" might arrive at any time. Others are
pessimistic and say they all fell long ago.
The stories saying that
some worlds have retained sufficient technology to permit
interstellar travel also make it plain that such cultures are
degenerate remnants of once-great civilizations, now fallen into
decay. In either case, the Teros fight on, barely holding their own.
They use their Rays to communicate with people like Shaver, hoping
that eventually civilization on the surface will develop
technologically to the point where we will be able to help them
defeat the Deros, but they make it clear this point is far in the
The Deros lack the technical knowledge necessary to keep their Ray
machines in good repair, so they are no longer able to keep
political control of surface society or prevent technological
progress. However, the machines they have inherited from ancient
times are still far too advanced for our present scientists to
duplicate, and they continue to have a great deal of power to
manipulate both surface society as a whole and the minds of
Here is a sample of Shaver's actual writing: an excerpt from
Mandark, a two-hundred-thousand word novel, serialized in 1947 and
‘48 in his own mimeographed publication, Shaver Mystery Magazine.
far as I know, this was not edited or revised by anyone else.
"To all you young idealists there will come a time when all those
things you think of Life with your bright, trusting and believing
eyes will become dust and slime. A time when you will understand the
terrible and stupid horror that life may be, in reality.
"To each of you will come at last an apparition, wearing like
Scrooge, his chains, a mask of terror that hides a deep basic
stupidity - a dumbness that is deeper than human...
"They have life, those things, just as you have life: but they are
not understood and are so terribly feared that men will neither
speak of them or write of them openly...
"Always, I too, feared the evil ones, the ignorant, degenerate and
cannibalistic ray people who catch and kill us when they can. But
they did not catch many of us, for we had some old ray women from
the Deep Schools with us, and we were not easy to catch...
"We need men like you to aid us in our constant struggle with the
living devils that inhabit much of these underground warrens. But
when we try to approach men for this purpose, they fear the whole
thing as madness or ghosts or whatever they have been taught...
"Almost immediately upon the visi-screen a scene of utter horror
became visible... It was a Hell, with its Devils at work... ‘Do you
see them, those things that should not live?'
"I looked in horror upon the things that moved as men move upon the
screen of life. They were a thing that could not possibly live
except for the protection of the hidden caverns, and the support of
the great beneficial rays keeping their degenerate and evil
carcasses in motion.
"Dead they must have been but for the supply of super-energy which
the ancient generators poured through their bodies forever. These
evil people must live on long after they would normally die, to
become as undead as they were.
It seems to be this fact that
contributes to their evil nature, for the slow decay of their brains
is energized by the synthetic electric life-force, and their
resultant thought is but the reflection of life upon the stagnating
As Shaver describes it, only a few people on the surface know about
the Caves at all, and they are mostly agents of the Deros.
conscious, willing agents seeking wealth and power; others are mere
slaves, whose minds are completely controlled by the Deros' Rays.
The only surface people who know the whole truth about the "Hidden
World" and are willing to fight the Deros instead of collaborating
with them are Shaver and a few of his friends.
When presented as fiction, these ideas aroused only mild interest
among the readers of Amazing Stories. However, when Palmer printed
letters from Shaver and various readers stating that the theories
expounded in the Mystery were literally true, the Shaver Mystery
started receiving major attention from the science-fiction
community, almost all of it unfavorable.
However, the publicity
attracted large numbers of new readers: probably the same people who
supported the UFO movement, which started a few years later. The
increased circulation did not prevent the publishers of Amazing from
firing Palmer after he admitted that he himself accepted the Mystery
They felt that the long-term success of their magazine
depended on support from people who read science fiction regularly,
a group that reacted very negatively to claims that the Shaver
Mystery was true.
Shaver continued to get his work into print by publishing his own
amateur magazine, and quickly attracted what would now be called a
"cult following." After Palmer was fired from Amazing, he went into
business for himself, publishing books and magazines in the
unexplained-phenomena and occult fields.
His magazines included
Flying Saucers, Search, and Mystic, which gave some coverage to the
Shaver Mystery, and The Hidden World, which was devoted almost
entirely to it. They weren't spectacularly successful in attracting
readers, but one or another of the titles appeared on newsstands
almost continuously until about 1975.
I read Palmer's publications during this period, but rarely
discussed them with my friends in the unexplained-phenomena or
occult communities. I had assumed from my first contact with the
Mystery that Shaver was a medium that received messages from the
spirit world, but also a materialist who rationalized his psychic
experiences as a physical phenomenon. I interpreted his Teros and
Deros as good and evil spirits and his Rays as the psychic powers of
both living people and disembodied spirits used to work magic.
an interpretation was unacceptable to most UFO investigators, and
even to the majority of Shaver's own followers, because they were
strict materialists. However, occultists didn't like the Shaver
Mystery either; they called it negative and paranoid. People in both
groups dismissed Shaver and his supporters as "nuts and crackpots
who give all the rest of us a bad reputation."
However, I noticed from the late Sixties on that more and more of
Palmer and Shaver's ideas were appearing in books on occultism,
conspiracies, and unexplained phenomena. All too often the authors
didn't even credit these men as the source.
Recently, years after
his death, Palmer has finally begun to get some of the recognition
he deserves as a creative, courageous pioneer in all three fields;
but Shaver's name is rarely mentioned, except by a few members of
his original following in their own small-circulation publications.
I reread much of the Shaver Mystery material during the early
Eighties when I was consciously trying to make my breakthrough, and
I found that his basic cosmology seemed to fit the total available
evidence about the nature of spiritual reality better than any of
the traditional cosmologies in religious and occult literature.
quite grim and paranoid, but then so is a lot of the raw spiritual
evidence that psychics have channeled over the course of history.
Books on Spiritualism and other forms of traditional Western
occultism usually portray the astral plane as a rather benign and
orderly place, presided over by benevolent deities or advanced human
spirits, just as the major religions do. The wicked may be punished
there, but the just are rewarded; and above all, the life after
death takes place in a stable environment with law and order.
However, many of the spirits I've communicated with over years of
mediumistic practice describe the astral plane as an environment
almost as harsh as Shaver's Caves. As I said in the last chapter,
spirits often appear to be insane, feeble-minded, or child-like; and
even those who seem normally intelligent and mature sometimes become
mysteriously incoherent during the course of a telepathic
conversation, as if something were attacking them or jamming the
If, as all the religious and occult mythologies claim, the astral
plane is really governed by benign gods or other highly-evolved
spiritual beings, they do not seem to be doing a very efficient job
of helping the dead find stability or happiness there. In fact, the
messages that supposedly come from the spiritual entities in charge
on the astral plane are among the most confusing and frightening
communications that mediums receive.
Many times, I've made contact
with entities that say, "I am God," and then go on into ravings as
immoral as Hitler's and as incoherent as something you'd expect to
hear coming out of a padded cell.
Of course, both the occultists and the religious believers claim
that such messages are from demons and other evil or insane spirits,
but that doesn't answer the most important question. If the astral
plane is under the control of benign forces, why does so much of the
observed evidence portray existence there as extremely harsh and
Most of the occultists I discussed this with over the years before I
made the breakthrough were not interested in doing serious research
Many put the blame on me:
"You're too political and too
concerned with the Earth plane, and this puts you in contact only
with the lowest levels of the astral plane.
If you'll stop trying to
play scientist, and simply submit your will to the spiritual forces
that run the Universe, your mediumistic experiences will become calm
and serene and you'll start contacting the really advanced spirits
My reply usually went something like this:
"Maybe I really am at a
lower stage of spiritual development than you are, but if so, then
I've got a lot of company.
My personal communications with spirits
tell me that the vast majority of the human race is not composed of
high-level occultists capable of avoiding the evil spirits on the
lower astral and going on to a higher plane of existence.
when they die, it's very likely they'll join the lost souls calling
for help. My sympathies are with them, and I'd like to learn how to
My actual opinion was that both traditional and New Age occultists,
and all the believers in organized religion as well, were deluding
themselves with false optimism because they were afraid to recognize
and fight evil.
However, I rarely said this openly because doing so
would only be destructive criticism. I had no alternative to offer;
just the vague feeling that there is something terrible going on in
the spirit world.
When I finally made the breakthrough, I found out that it is a
literal "War in Heaven," a struggle to the death between two
political factions of disembodied spirits; and that spirits from one
of these factions had telepathically inspired my life-long
fascination with the Shaver Mystery. My new knowledge also confirmed
my rejection of Shaver's physical, science-fiction-oriented
interpretation of the Mystery.
The Caves, the space people, and even
the Ray machines do exist, but on the spiritual plane, not the
physical plane. Shaver was simply an unconscious medium that
received important messages about the nature of spiritual reality
from the same group of spirits who are helping me with this book.
And since the Sixties, these spirits have had an ever-increasing
subconscious influence on many Ufologists and conspiracy theorists,
leading them into hypotheses similar to the Shaver Mystery.
example, during the Seventies,
Jacques Vallee and several other
respected UFO researchers virtually stopped searching for evidence
that flying saucers were physical objects, and concentrated on
studying the effects of the UFO phenomenon on individuals and on
society as a whole.
However, treating UFOs as a psychological and
sociological phenomenon didn't really explain anything, because the
investigators kept finding evidence that UFOs had objective
existence. Most cases could be explained as hoaxes, hallucinations,
mass-suggestion, or media hype, but not all of them.
Investigators like Vallee kept talking to people who had experienced
"close encounters" with UFOs and undergone profound psychological
changes as a result. When I and other occultists read these
accounts, we saw their similarity to descriptions in our own
literature of encounters with spiritual beings, psychic attacks,
illumination experiences, etc. Eventually, Vallee and other
well-known UFO writers grudgingly began to admit that the UFOs were
"real but nonphysical."
This concept will be discussed further in a
They also found that their investigations of the effects of UFO
encounters on people forced them to consider seriously the idea that
unseen forces manipulate the course of human history.
Fifties, the mainstream of the UFO investigation movement had
ostracized Palmer and Shaver for talking about mind control and
secret conspiracies. Twenty years later, many of these same
investigators found that they were being drawn down the same path,
the one marked "This way lies paranoia."
The next chapter will give some general background information on
I will return to the role of the UFO