The US Government’s secret pursuit of the
Chapter 1. A Man for All Psychics
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 controversy. 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 publication. 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 the non-physical.” 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”
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 ritualised, 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 hallucinogenic
This is all nice and fine, but hallucinogenics were and are labelled
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 “real dimension”.
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 dimension?
Question number two: did the
ancients and Puharich realise 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
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 ultrashortwave 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 behaviour.
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, he wrote: “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.” How? “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 parapsychology”.
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 powers”.
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 1958. 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 Intelligence agencies.
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.” Pure remote viewing.
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 rumour 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.
The existence of the secret mind
control programme 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 programme, BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE,
ran from 1952 till 1956, roughly coinciding with the period when
Puharich was assigned to Edgewood. Furthermore, Ira Einhorn stated
that his mentor, Puharich, “was doing LSD work for the CIA
in 1954”. He linked Puharich with Sidney Gottlieb and 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 car pool.
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. Why? “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 realised this general
was treading on sacred ground, and he was ordered to cancel his
In 1954, Puharich received a
transcript from what Harry Stone had uttered during a trance.
Some were in English, others in Egyptian. “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
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 amanita muscaria.
Puharich realised 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, atropine and bufotenin. 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 paralysed the very nerves that
it had stimulated. Atropine alone initially stimulated the central
nervous system and then paralysed it. The third drug, bufotenin
was a hallucinogenic drug. Combined, they made the mushroom a
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 realised 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 labelled
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
Hurkos was tested for “normal” psychic abilities,
but also for “enhanced” abilities, i.e. the mushroom
ritual. Puharich wrote: “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 organised 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 fulfil 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 home. 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 Puharich’s home. 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
anaesthesia 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 government official…
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), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)… 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 through space.
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
programme, 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 programme. 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 co-ordinated 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
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 labelled “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 book.” 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
Something seemed to be happening and the boundaries of reality
seemed to be extending. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell wrote how “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 events.”
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, stated how “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
silverware.” 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
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
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
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
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 realised 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 time.
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 drug.
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 sceptic –
i.e. James Randi – organises 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
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 project.
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
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
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 hospitalised, 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. No Uri
Geller, no Barbara Bronfman or 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 believed.” Enough
said… 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 had played. 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.
chapter 2 >>