Book Review: Operation Trojan Horse by John Keel

I noted recently that there is a new edition of Operation Trojan Horse by John Keel available from Anomalist books. Many people are familiar with John Keel through his most famous work, The Mothman Prophecies. I’ve given that book two readings since it is one of the classics of paranormal/cryptozoological lore and because I rather liked the flowing narrative style. I wish that I could say that I enjoyed Project Trojan Horse as much but such a statement would be untrue. Frankly, I found this book to be a mish mash; it seems to me that the author fell prey to the same sort of mental confusion that he so often ascribes to UFO contactees. This tome wanders like a drunk on a bender and the ideas in it, that appeal to so many paranormal authors, such as the concepts of “windows” and “ultra-terrestrials”, are derived from folkloric and/or magical sources that are available to any thinking person.

Now, I have to be honest and put forth this caveat: I am not a UFO researcher and, while I have some interest in the topic, it is not A List material for me. Keel is approaching his subject from a background of extensive research on UFO sightings and the people that UFO’s have contacted and I found the endless sighting and contact reports in the book tedious. My basic attitude was: alright, you have posited that X is the case and you have told me about Y person or persons to illustrate the point – move along. Unfortunately, Keel does not move along but, instead drags us through endless sighting reports of various UFO flaps throughout history. Historians of the UFO phenomenon might find this quite interesting but I did not.

Admittedly, Keel states early on that he is trying to take the broad view of the UFO phenomenon in order to make a strong argument for his hypothesis that UFO’s are not the craft of visitors from another planet. I normally admire this sort of wide spectrum approach but Keel fails to perform one vital function early in the book, he fails to tell us, in his introductory remarks, just what theory he is espousing. If this had been an academic paper, it would have been sent back to him for revision. It is not until almost the middle of the book that Keel finally posits the existence of so-called ultra-terrestrials, beings from an overlapping dimension or dimensions that are capable of interacting with our material world.

I think that with Operation Trojan Horse, Keel was trying to create a universal field theory for the paranormal. In my view, as I have said over and over in these pages, that is just not possible due to the diversity of beings on the Other Side. Keel prides himself, throughout the book, on being the hard nosed, skeptical reporter. That is fine; the paranormal can always use people who are willing to look at a thing from all sides. Unfortunately, once Keel had developed his theory of the ultra-terrestrials manipulating human history for mysterious reasons all their own, he went all in. Every single type of entity listed throughout folklore was an ultra-terrestrial. Angels, demons, the fey, everything – and they were all part of some grand plot that Keel posited came from “the source” (whatever that might be). Some of the entities were trying to educate human kind and others were trying to knock us off the path. Just as I stated regarding Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s, theory of the Djinn, this is a woefully simplistic view of what I refer to as the Other Side.

Technically, yes, all the beings that Keel refers to could fit into his definition of an ultra-terrestrial but any folklorist or magician will tell you that throwing all these beings into the same pot is like saying that all the people who live in my home town are guided by the mayor of that town and are conforming to his/her master plan. Anyone who has really studied these beings, either in the lore or by communicating with them, knows that each type of “ultra-terrestrial” is a very different critter and is interested in very different types of relationships with the human race. Some of the Other Side view humans as prey while others really are interested in the evolution of our species or in enhancing our connection to aspects of the natural world. As with most things, the beings of the Other Side range across a continuum from those who are inimical to humans to those who work actively with them.

Keel makes a great deal out of the fact that UFO contactees and mediums/channelers get similar types of information in their sessions. Of course they do. Keel obviously did not get to the parts in the Bible, which he quotes when it suits him, that speak of testing the spirits. He also did not do enough research into the “occult” to realize that magicians have known for a long time that there is a lot of “trash” out there on the astral and that, if you want to tune to a specific frequency, you have to send a specific signal and then test the spirit you have called to be certain it is what it says it is. In other words, proper spirit communication needs to happen after a zone ritual to protect space and with an invocation/evocation designed to attract a specific type of being. Even then, the magician is cautioned not to take the spirit’s words as law but to continually test what is given.

Looking at the contactees in Keel’s book, there is precious little testing of anything. All through Keel’s book, there is an undertone of paranoia. There are forces out there beyond our comprehension that are playing with us. They are extremely adaptable and tailor their presentation to suit their audience. They get people to buy into their rhetoric by making predictions that come true and having knowledge of their target and then setting the people up to look ridiculous or suggest to them schemes that make them cross the line into lawlessness. These beings seem to be able to produce either the illusion of solidity or to actually be able to manifest physically under certain conditions.

Yes, there are spirits “out there” that are quite capable of doing the sorts of things listed above. They feed on the fear, confusion and other afflictive emotions that they provoke in humans as well as the feelings of awe and near worship that they provoke in the uninformed. They are, however, only a small part of the vast population of the Other Side and, rather than provoking yet more fear, human beings need to realize that they do not have to have truck with these spirits if they do not want to. No is a powerful word and one that needs to be used more in spirit communication.


About stormeye60

A place for discussing the interface between magic and things that go bump in the night. View all posts by stormeye60

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