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Apocalyptic visions tied to comets past

Higher Source graphic

March 27, 1997
Web posted at: 10:21 p.m. EST (0321 GMT)

From Correspondent Dick Wilson

ATLANTA (CNN) -- For centuries, some stargazers have taken approaching comets as a sign of impending disaster, or a portent of death. In more recent years, however, some have assigned comets a less celestial but still otherworldly role: harbingers of UFOs.

Higher Source group members reportedly took Comet Hale-Bopp as a sign it was time to commit mass suicide. A California businessman who employs a former member of the group said he was told members were planning to leave the planet on a UFO.

"They explained that they believed that there was a UFO following behind that comet and using it as a shield so it could not be detected by Earth, and that that UFO may very well be the one to take them away," said Nick Matzorkis of Interact Entertainment Group.

Comet Hale-Bopp

Cult experts say this idea is common to UFO cults dating back to the 1960s. The cults are composed of people who believe they are beings from another planet, waiting to be picked up by a spaceship from their visit to Earth.

"So we have this combination of a type of belief in the body as being a temporary arrangement, along with this popular science mythology, which creates a whole strange type of belief system," said Frank Flinn, a cult expert from Washington University.

Comet Hale-Bopp has collected a fair number of alien associations itself. Talk of a supposed connection between the comet and a UFO is widespread on the Internet; some sites contain pictures said to show a UFO moving near Hale-Bopp.

'Farsight viewers' saw ship trailing comet

When he's not teaching political science at Emory University, Professor Courtney Brown runs a group in Atlanta not affiliated with the university, called the Farsight Institute.

Farsight Institute

Brown's organization practices and promotes a technique he calls "remote viewing," which he claims allows people to see events in different parts of the world and even the universe.

According to Brown, his group members detected a spaceship trailing the comet using psychic reception. "The data do suggest that there was an actual anomaly, there was some type of a vehicle, some type of a ship, some type of thing of extraterrestrial origin," he said.

"And our data does suggest that it was following the comet precisely in order to get attention for itself."

Rancho Santa Fe group suggested link

Ranch Sante Fe mansion where mass suicide took place

While it's unclear whether or not the Rancho Santa Fe group paid any attention to the UFO controversy on the Internet, they did run a business creating Web sites. One of their sites suggests a link between Hale-Bopp and a spacecraft -- presumably the one destined to take them off Earth.

However, an astronomer who co-discovered the Hale-Bopp comet says the so-called UFO is a bunch of bunk. Astronomer Alan Hale says the object people claim is a UFO is simply a bright star.

In the Middle Ages, comets were thought to be warning shots fired at a sinful Earth from the right hand of a vengeful god. In 1843, a major comet appearance signified to some that the end of the world was near.

Now, UFOs are using the comets for a shield. While all these theories are so far just superstition, you can still check out the comet's effect on yourself: Hale-Bopp remains visible in the northwest sky just after sunset through mid-April, in the Northern Hemisphere.


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