August 2011

This summer has seen several big moments in the field of ufology. The first is a very sad occasion. On August 21st Budd Hopkins, 80, passed on after a long illness. He was a multi-talented artist who was known for his geometric paintings and sculpture. He was also an alien abduction researcher, giving compassionate attention to experiencers for many years though his Intruders Foundation. He wrote a number of excellent books including Missing Time and Intruders which substantiate the phenomenon of alien abduction through relating the experiences of ordinary individuals and finding patterns in them.  I was supposed to meet Mr. Hopkins several times at conferences and at his foundation meetings, but alas, to my great disappointment, this was not to be. Ufology has lost a valiant researcher. Rest in peace, Budd.

New York Times obituary.

On a different topic, (the glad part), ufology has made a wonderful advancement with the release of Break Thru Films documentary “Secret Access: UFOs on the Record” by filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sudberg seen on the History Channel in a 2 hour special on August 25th. It is based upon Leslie Kean’s book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots and 344Government Officials Go On the Record and Ms. Kean is featured prominently in the presentation.  Leslie Kean has had a long history as a clear eyed researcher and investigative journalist who co-founded the Coalition for Freedom of Information (CFi) and was a producer with James Fox for the independent film I Know What I Saw. This documentary is a must see for anyone even vaguely interested in the subject of unexplained aerial phenomena. Its irrefutable evidence from sterling sources will turn anyone who is on the fence about the reality and importance of ufology into an advocate for more research into this paradigm shifting subject. In addition to the information also presented in the book, the film had some new data about the Phoenix Lights from NUFORC and a new research project, UFOtog, by special effects master Douglas Trumball.

Finally, I’m angry (mad) about the revelation that author and UFO researcher Philip Imbrogno has completely faked his credentials (bad). It was revealed by skeptic Lance Moody in his blog What the Hell Was That that Imbrogno’s degrees from MIT and elsewhere were entirely bogus. UFO researcher Don Ecker of Dark Matters Radio followed up by checking out his military bona fides. Imbrogno claimed he was a Green Beret in a select group executing missions in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Ecker discovered it was a total fabrication.  This is a real shame because ufology is a study not given credence in all quarters because it is seen as a fringe topic. Any tinge of  dishonesty casts major doubt on any research on which the liar has worked. Furthermore it damages the entire field.

I will end this post on a bittersweet note sending my deepest sympathies and profoundest thanks to Leslie Kean who was both the personal companion of Budd Hopkins and the inspiration for this astounding groundbreaking documentary.

Please follow the links in this post if you want more information on the topics discussed herein.

Leslie Kean and Budd Hopkins

Thanks to

POSTSCRIPT: He says it better than I can.

Thoughts about the Budd Hopkins Memorial

by David Biedny on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 at 16:01

I wanted to briefly comment on the memorial held Saturday, October 8, 2011 for Budd Hopkins, at the 15th Street Friends Meeting House. The weather could not have been better, it was a clear, perfect day for this lovely affair celebrating the life and work of this wonderful man – one I’m proud to be able to call a true friend – and it primarily focused on his work in the art field, clearly demonstrating that Budd was really one of the most respected Abstract Expressionists of the famed New York School.

Leslie Kean started the proceedings with her cool, professional demeanor, even though it was obvious that she misses her partner, friend and love. Any of us would be blessed to have that kind of tenderness in our lives, and something that was plain to see was the depth of respect and love that these two people had for each other, it was both reassuring and inspiring.

His daughter showed slides of many of Budd’s artworks, which were bold, colorful and as direct as the man himself. Another thing that many spoke of was Budd’s sense of humor, and I can personally attest that he loved laughing like few others, and there was some really nice footage of Budd being, well, Budd.

Peter Robbins delivered an eloquent eulogy, describing working with Budd, and how much influence Budd had on his own way of thinking and dealing with others. Randy Nicherson played a video tribute to Budd, full of poignant, heartfelt scenes – there was another video compilation presented towards the end, done by Seth Keal and Charles Miller, with some really heartwarming footage of Budd dancing with his granddaughter. Another picture of Budd, his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter clearly demonstrated the uncanny resemblance of Budd and his daughter’s daughter. He will live on in her.

David Jacobs spoke about Budd’s work in the field of abduction research, but what really came through was how much David loved Budd as a human being and close friend. That was also evident in the way that people spoke about Budd afterwards, small conversations overheard during the subsequent reception confirmed that there was not a bad thought about Budd anywhere near the event.

There are many more details – some interesting UFO folks were in attendance, but they were outnumbered by the artist friends, thankfully – but suffice it to say that any of us would be happy and fulfilled to have this much love manifest at our departures.

To those who would attack his research, and accuse him of being a flawed human, of not being 100% hardass about his dealings with alleged abduction victims and potential hoaxers – I personally witnessed the degree of comfort this brave man gave some very distraught people, folks who were scared, confused and who didn’t have anyone to turn to without being marginalized or ridiculed, and for that work alone, he should be celebrated and respected. If he was fooled by some unscrupulous folks, his decision to err on the side of kindness and compassion is perhaps a byproduct of his intensely powerful humanity and sincere desire to help others. Those who would vilify him would be well advised to check their own glass houses for hidden piles of large, rough stones.

Budd Hopkins was a great man, and I for one will miss him something urgent.


Some cards from some of the decks I've mentioned.

As a longtime reader of tarot cards I am the proud owner of many decks of cards: tarot cards, oracle decks (fortune telling cards that are not tarot), playing cards, and card games. This post is about my favorite tarot decks and is confined to the decks I actually own and use for readings. I am a collector, so I have many decks I enjoy looking at but don’t generally use for readings.

I am not a big fan of decks that are not fully illustrated; that is decks in which the numbered cards or pips do not have an actual depicted image of the author’s idea of the meaning of the card. Instead they have four pentacles or seven swords on them, much in the manner that the three of hearts is symbolized in the typical playing deck, though in the case of these tarot decks, usually more ornately. Some of the decks which are not fully illustrated have historical significance, such as the the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, Tarot of Marseilles, or the IJJ Swiss Deck. These are good additions to any collection, but they are not that evocative to me for readings. I have been extremely disappointed in the past when I’ve bought a deck based on attractive packaging or a whim only to find that the Minor Arcana were not fully illustrated.

The two decks that I use most often are the great standby, the Rider-Waite deck, and the Mary Hanson Roberts Deck. The Rider Waite deck originally published in December 1909, is the defining deck of the English language world. It is the deck to which all subsequent decks are compared. It is the brain child of Arthur Edward Waite and was beautifully illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith, both of whom were members of the Order of the Golden Dawn.

Several years ago in 1990, Mary Hanson Roberts was the artist that did a recoloring of the Rider-Waite deck which is sold under the name the Universal Waite Tarot. Her own deck, The  Hanson Roberts Tarot has imagery based on Rider-Waite and is not at all frightening to the person being read. Almost all the images are very friendly and will put the querant at ease.

I also really like a newer deck called the World Spirit Tarot by Lauren O’Leary and Jesica Godino . It was put out in 2001 but it is not currently in print. The illustrations are from linoleum block prints and very attractive and evocative.

The Motherpeace Round Tarot by Vicki Noble and Karen Vogel is excellent to have on hand, and now that it is available in a smaller size, it is easier to manipulate the cards. It is a woman’s deck celebrating different cultures and ideas of community.

A couple of months ago I chanced upon a deck called the Guardians of Wisdom by Emy Ledbetter and Todd Hershey which is amazing for the insights it provides. It is literally a tarot deck but I use it for short questions mostly for myself and it has not disappointed. I have not used it for a Celtic Cross reading for fear it would provide too much information to digest all at once. The minor arcana use the suits of regular playing cards but are fully illustrated. Sadly it is out of print at the current moment.

Worth noting is that Motherpeace, Guardians of Wisdom and World Spirit are multicultural, multiracial decks, while the others are primarily Eurocentric.

This is by no means a comprehensive review. There are lots of terrific decks out there. I have lots of other beautiful decks that I really love. A place where I often go to look at tarot decks on the web is the Tarot Garden. The site is filled with information on hundreds of decks including their availability and whether they are fully illustrated or not.