The cult of Ashtar Sheran
Story of a UFO superstition born in the context of the Cold War, which continues to this day.
Ivan Carozzi was Linus’ editor-in-chief and works for TV. He has written for several newspapers and periodicals. He is the author of “Sons of the stars” (Baldini and Castoldi, 2014), “Macao” (Feltrinelli digital, 2012), “Teneri violenti” (Einaudi Stile Libero, 2016) and “The age of the tiger” (Il Saggiatore, 2019) ).
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TOshtar Sheran is a creature of prodigious beauty. For some time I have kept a folder on my desktop where I download his portraits drawn with the airbrush. Magnetic blue irises, broad forehead, strong cheekbones, straight blond hair worn over the shoulders. An underground and minor cult is dedicated to him, but global and lasting, born in the United States after the Second World War, passed through the old continent and today strong in Russia and Brazil. The contemplation of his face and listening to the preaching is always on the point of overturning in the foreshadowing of a clash between good and evil which will be followed by a palingenesis, as in the prophecy that is proposed by the followers of QAnon and which is conditioning the vote. in America.
Since the 1950s, various identikits of Ashtar Sheran have been circulating. At first they were modest and approximate drawings in black and white sketched on a sheet, while the representations that circulate today on the net are real explosions of light and color. The backgrounds are often a fiery blue and the outlines of the figure fade into a subtle glowing halo. Judging from the look, Sheran’s character is similar to that of a Homeric hero: calm, just and resolute.
The first to mention Ashtar was an American ufologist, psychic and contactee, by profession a mechanic in Santa Monica, California. His name was George Van Tassel. Van Tassel’s life was marked by the visit of a customer, a German emigrant named Frank Critzer. These are the years following the Great Depression and in which John Steinbeck, in the novel Furore , tells the story of a family that emigrates to California in search of work. Critzer was also on the hunt for fortune, was a gold digger, and managed to persuade Van Tassel to lend him some money with a promise to return it. The following year, Critzer returned with a short letter in which he invited Van Tassel to join him in the Mojave desert. The following story is a fragment of Californian history at the turn of the Second World War, worthy of a novel by Thomas Pynchon. Van Tassel drove to Critzer’s house and was bewitched by the place. Critzer had not found the gold, but he lived in a strange underground dwelling that he had dug with his own hands in the desert, right under a huge boulder revered by the natives and known as the Giant Rock. The Indians, inspired by the shape and smooth surface of the boulder, they thought that stone was the heart of the Earth. Critzer had installed a shortwave radio in his underground home and was suspected by the police of being a Nazi spy. In 1942 he was killed under fire from the police team led by the local sheriff, while trying to break into the hypogeum. According to another version, Critzer died due to the fortuitous detonation of the explosive that he always kept with him at home for his job as a gold digger. In 1942 he was killed under fire from the police team led by the local sheriff, while trying to break into the hypogeum. According to another version, Critzer died due to the fortuitous detonation of the explosive that he always kept with him at home for his job as a gold digger. In 1942 he was killed under fire from the police team led by the local sheriff, while trying to break into the hypogeum. According to another version, Critzer died due to the fortuitous detonation of the explosive that he always kept with him at home for his job as a gold digger.
Ashtar Sheran, drawing by Vito Vitulli.
In 1947, Van Tassel, who in the meantime had become an aircraft pilot and had met aviator Howard Hughes, decided to move with his wife and three daughters near Giant Rock. Five years later he reported having traveled aboard a spaceship. The episode became the subject of a testimony book, I Rode a Flying Saucer, and Van Tassel, as a self-taught architect, set about building near Giant Rock a singular metal structure, painted white and still existing, called Integratron. The Integratron, which has the shape of a dome, was to become a place of meditation and meditation, thanks to which to travel in time and slow down the aging process of cells, an obsession that perhaps had been transmitted to Van Tassel by Howard Hughes. But above all, since then Van Tassel told of being in telepathic contact with a cosmic creature: Ashtar Sheran, a native of Metharia, the solar system of Alpha Centauri, commander of the intergalactic space fleet.
Once past the Van Tassel passage, Ashtar Sheran begins to communicate with other humans, who are still today antennas and spokespersons of his thought. Consequently, the communications of Ashtar Sheran become a real saga in the world of ufology, in particular in the field of spiritual ufology, where the belief in extraterrestrials is combined with a series of philosophical and religious speculations.
In 1952, the German publisher Herbert Victor Speer, having probably learned about the story of Van Tassel, founded a mediumistic circle dedicated to Ashtar Sheran in West Berlin, called the Peace Center (MFK-Mediale Friedenskreis Berlin, in Ahrweiler Straße 36): it will be active until 1976. Ashtar Sheran’s messages, which today amount to a fragmented corpus of thousands of pages, are collected by two mediums: Uwe Speer and Monika Manuela Speer, sons of Herbert. At the time, the image of Ashtar was still in the black and white versions which I keep among other portraits in the folder on the desktop. Every so often, for no real reason, other than the desire to let myself be hypnotized by this funny riddle, I go back to click on the folder. Such primordial versions, in profile like the faces drawn on the coins, they document the attempt by the portraitist to focus on the real physiognomy of the cosmic being. In this process, the imaginaries that are already alive within us and that inevitably project themselves onto the paper to complete the evanescent contours of the figure play an important role. Every time I click on the image I see in Ashtar Sheran the likeness of a noble from old central Europe. He is rich, lucky, he would have everything to be happy, but he is devoured by bad feelings, bigger than him, he is superb, a prisoner of his character, affected, and the more I look at him the more I seem to have already glimpsed his figure in the childhood, on the TV screen, perhaps in some RAI drama. In this process, the imaginaries that are already alive within us and that inevitably project themselves onto the paper to complete the evanescent contours of the figure play an important role. Every time I click on the image I see in Ashtar Sheran the likeness of a noble from old central Europe. He is rich, lucky, he would have everything to be happy, but he is devoured by bad feelings, bigger than him, he is superb, a prisoner of his character, affected, and the more I look at him the more I seem to have already glimpsed his figure in the childhood, on the TV screen, perhaps in some RAI drama. In this process, the imaginaries that are already alive within us and that inevitably project themselves onto the paper to complete the evanescent contours of the figure play an important role. Every time I click on the image I see in Ashtar Sheran the likeness of a noble from old central Europe. He is rich, lucky, he would have everything to be happy, but he is devoured by bad feelings, bigger than him, he is superb, a prisoner of his character, affected, and the more I look at him the more I seem to have already glimpsed his figure in the childhood, on the TV screen, perhaps in some RAI drama.
Ashtar Sheran’s communications become a saga in the world of spiritual ufology, where the belief in extraterrestrials is combined with a series of philosophical and religious speculations.
Some photos, which appeared in a 1958 reportage published in the GDR magazine Neue Berliner Illustrierte , show an interior of the Peace Center, where channeling is in full swingby Ashtar Sheran. Monika Manuela Speer, at the age of twenty-two, writes and draws, guided by the spirit of Ashtar Sheran, while her brother, in a suit and tie, sits beside her and passes her the blank sheets, as in a fraternal assembly line or in an experiment surrealist, as Speer fills them with new signs, accompanied by the basso continuo of Ashtar’s voice pulsating between the temples. In reality it is not the only Ashtar Sheran who speaks to her: other cosmic beings appear in her mind. The themes are disparate, for example the press and information perceived as hostile powers:
We, men of another star, find in your press the greatest difficulty to overcome. It is our enemy and constantly attacks us, hindering our mission of enlightenment.
The pencil never rises from the paper and the words run across the paper in a wonderful continuum of alphabetical letters connected to each other. The atmosphere is solemn at the MFK headquarters in Ahrweiler Straße 36. At that time, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer ruled in West Germany, while Ulrich Pieck was the President of the GDR. Journalists attending the event watch in silence. Behind the medium, illuminated by half a dozen candles, portraits of Ashtar Sheran can be seen next to a large drawing of a full-length angel. “My hand is guided by invisible powers,” declared Monika Manuela Speer. In another series of photos, Uwe Speer is writing from dictation. In the twilight we see a ZDF operator who, with a heavy box-shaped camera, he engages in the awkward and helpless attempt to capture the invisible relationship between the medium and the cosmic being. The silhouette of a crucifix, illuminated by candles, is behind Uwe Speer. According toNeue Berliner Illustrierte , the Peace Center had about 100 active members and 5,000 sympathizers in the Federal Republic.
Scene change. A few years later Ashtar Sheran arrives in Italy. It is mentioned in the first Italian magazine of ufology, Space and Life , and then thanks to the Alaya Universal Spiritual Association of Venice, which in 1960 translated into Italian Von Stern zu Stern , a text already published in Germany by Herbert Speer. In Italy the first contactees begin to issue interviews and testimonies: Germana Grosso, Eufemio Del Buono and later Renato Minozzi. On April 30, 1962, Ashtar Sheran manifested himself as a messenger of god to Eugenio Siragusa, a very expansive lord of Catania, former submarine gunner of the Navy and later become one of the best known Italian contactees. Both Van Tassel and Siragusa appear to be missing actors from their respective cinemas, potential characters from entertainment or literature. They found their own way to express themselves and stage the divine and themselves. Vito Vitulli is the name of the skilled draftsman and painter who in various works has witnessed, with the eyes of an adoring biographer, the most salient episodes of the uncommon life of Siragusa. For example, the emotional encounter between Siragusa, Ashtar Sheran and Ithacar, another cosmic messenger. In a pencil drawing Siragusa is instead portrayed alongside various excellences: Giordano Bruno, Rasputin, Jesus of Nazareth etc. Giuseppe, Vito’s brother, has instead composed severalspace symphonies , including one dedicated to Siragusa: “Astral melody for Eugenio”.
In 1963 Siragusa founded the Cosmic Brotherhood Study Center and in the same year he was interviewed by RAI . In front of the camera he is loose, devoid of fears, he speaks to the television, it is his big chance, he shows a brilliant speech, he expresses himself with that precise, articulate language, like a marshal of the carabinieri, which was once the prerogative of many Italians and was punctually reproduced by the screenwriters who worked for the popular cinema of the time:
except that, it was five in the morning, I saw above me at a height of about a thousand meters a halo of floating light […] came towards me like an overturned nail […] but I remained impaled, nailed, unable to move .
Another chapter of the saga: the “Vrillon interference” . This is an incident that happened in England, in 1977, whereby the transmissions of a small TV station were interrupted by a voice who qualified as “Vrillon, representative of the Galactic Command of Ashtar”. Vrillon’s message is no different from most of Ashtar Sheran’s verbose communications, which from the start, when he warned George Van Tassel of the dangers of the hydrogen bomb, consisted of tiresome calls for peace and stern warnings about the blast. imminent world wars and conflicts.
During the writing of this article, Gabriele Gasparotti, a friend, musician and videomaker, wrote to me to tell me a sequence of facts: many years ago he happened to dream several times of a face, a presence, a certain physiognomy, in which later he believed he recognized the figure, never seen before, of Ashtar Sheran. From that moment he started reading the books that contain the transcriptions of Ashtar Sheran’s voice and messages and also the books of Eugenio Siragusa, but it is above all from the first that he suspects that he was creatively guided and inspired, feeling moved by a external force, in particular in the composition of the final part of a song entitled “The man, the woman and the beast”, contained in the album Extrema ratio. Gabriele confides in me that he felt positively transformed by this meeting.
I would never stop studying, leafing through the jumble of images and portraits of Ashtar Sheran available on the internet, and in particular it is interesting to try to examine the artistic and visual history, the different shades with which the icon has been represented over time, based on the prevalence of this or that figurative archetype. At the beginning, the delicate and aristocratic features of the face seem to derive from the stereotype of the European scion of a rich family: a Helmut Berger directed by Luchino Visconti, that is, a male beauty of the seventies modeled on Mannian or previous century canons, as if on the profile of cosmic beings, characteristics of class and wealth were projected, the signs of a privilege expressed in the harmonious beauty of their features; at other times the features are angelic; or they recall the radiant positivity of the soldiers of the Wermacht on propaganda brochures. Undoubtedly, the physiognomy of Ashtar Sheran is modeled on that of a European white, but it would be a bit tedious, as far as I’m concerned, to take the opportunity to apply a possible critical discourse of decolonization to the UFO imaginary. In me, the wonder and thirst of the eyes prevail in the face of the manipulation of symbols and the confluence of various iconographic currents which, like colored fluids, are mixed in the same container.
In the cosmic backgrounds painted behind Ashtar Sheran, often elements drawn from the imagination of the Christian faith are immersed, also thanks to the colors obtained by the airbrush, in an atmosphere of science fiction and special effects a la George Lucas. But what are Jesus and Mary doing silhouetted together with Ashtar Sheran against those iridescent landscapes, sometimes crossed by auroral arches? The scenario of a fleet of invisible vessels deployed around the Earth and led by Ashtar Sheran dates back to the time of Van Tassel, but from a certain moment on – even if it is not easy to orient yourself in the tales of dozens of contactees – the character of Ashtar Sheran he was regarded as an alter ego of the Archangel Michael. This is why Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the symbol of the cross begin to appear next to Ashtar Sheran. Perhaps the connection with the celestial militiaman who fights against Lucifer and revered by the reactionary right, has favored a sovereign coloring of the character of Ashtar Sheran. And in the link with the Archangel Michael echoes the ancient Manichean doctrine according to which the world is nothing but an arena of the clash between good and evil.
In recent months Ashtar Sheran has spoken on several occasions thanks to a certain Sharon Stewart, an American psychic who claims to communicate thanks to a technology implanted under the skin. Sharon Stewart claims to be in contact with a host of cosmic creatures: Adama of Telos, Ivo of Vega, El Morya, Athena, Soren of the Pleiades etc. Looking at their portraits, I feel that subtle infantile ignition that one experiences when faced with a collectible card game. Soren, Athena, El Morya, become haughty and legendary figures, whose reality, expanding the limits of the universe and the imaginable, connects my very existence to a greater game.
Ashtar Sheran would have confirmed to the psychic that COVID-19 was born in the laboratory and that Donald Trump’s family remains under the protection of the light forces of the Galactic Confederation. The cult of Ashtar Sheran is a UFO superstition born in another era, in the context of the cold war and the nuclear threat, whose story, however, extends beyond the fall of the Berlin wall, up to 2020, the global pandemic and sinks into the esoteric undergrowth of American politics. Watching how the world refracts on the ufology screen is as beautiful as watching a starry sky.