Thursday, March 18, 2021

Edna Spencer: The Flying Saucer Apostle of Detroit

Edna Sophia Spencer (June 5, 1915 - February 18, 2005) was a UFO activist, organizer, and lecturer  active in Detroit, Michigan, but also reached a national audience.  It was 1959 when Edna's flying saucer interest became more focused in 1959 when she encountered the Aetherius Society. From Mysteries of the Unknown: The UFO Phenomenon, Time-Life Books, 1985:

“[The Aetherius Society was] founded in 1956 by George King, a former taxi driver, in London. King, who had an interest in Eastern mysticism… sitting in a trancelike state one day when he allegedly received messages from extraterrestrial beings. Through them he learned, he said, that Jesus and several saints were alive and living on Venus. …the members of his society believe in ‘thought power’ and ‘prayer power.’”

George King’s message was derived from Theosophy and the Contactee belief system, and he taught that flying saucers were the vessels of peaceful spiritually advanced Cosmic Masters who could save us from destroying ourselves. King was the vessel for their message, and on May 21, 1959, King demonstrated contact by channeling an extraterrestrial voice on the BBC TV program Lifeline.

Lifeline: "Mars and Venus Speak to Earth"

Enter Edna Spencer

Shortly thereafter, King sailed to the USA to spread the word, lecturing across the country on his way to a flying saucer conference. In June, King lectured in Detroit, Michigan, where he caught the attention of Edna Spencer, 44, who was employed as an executive secretary. She’d left the Episcopal church several years earlier after developing an interest in psychics and spiritualism, and had “dabbled for some time in metaphysics and flying saucer groups.”

Afterwards, Edna ordered King’s booklet, The Twelve Blessings, and studied King’s teachings. “I had already satisfied myself that flying saucers were real, and that they were trying to be of help to Mankind – but I never realized that they were tied to the Master [Jesus]. I was just astounded.” Edna was persuaded to join the cause, and in February 1960 organized the Aetherius Society branch in Detroit. Initially, the group met at the YWCA, led by Edna, who was aided by her sister, Mrs. Vivian Ramesbottom. Together they built up a small core group, and with visitors, there were usually about forty people attending meetings.

After King’s stop in Detroit in 1959, he continued west across the US, and spoke in July at Los Angeles, California. The event was organized by Gabriel Green, the first Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America Convention in July, where King lectured alongside most of the major Contactee figures. King set up house there, and by the next year, he was able to incorporate the Aetherius Society as a non-profit spiritual organization, which helped establish credibility for him and the enterprise.


Operation Starlight

In her day job, Edna Spencer was seldom in the spotlight, but as the leader of the Detroit branch of TAS, she was a local celebrity and even was featured in nationally syndicated newspaper stories. She said, “I wouldn't have believed 10 years ago that I’d be on radio and TV or making lectures.” 


While not previously a climber, in 1960, she was among a select group of believers making annual pilgrimages to “holy mountains” charged with spiritual energy by the cosmic masters from space. King called the venture, “Operation Starlight.” 

Operation Starlight on Castle Peak, May 2, 1960

Edna organized events and press coverage for King’s appearances in Detroit, and she played a big role in the publicity the Aetherius Society received in the USA and Canada. The photo below is from King’s appearance on a Detroit radio show during the promotion of You Are Responsible!, his book published in late 1961. 


As King’s fame grew, so did his status and titles. By 1962 King was being described as “reverend,” and shortly afterwards he began billing himself as “Dr. George King.”

A sampling of Edna's 1962 media appearances.

Edna regularly traveled to participate in King’s special events and she also spent her Christmas vacations every year at the Los Angeles headquarters of the Aetherius Society. During some of her trips, she also spoke to the press about the organization and its work.


Fish Invaders and the Moon Landing

In 1964 Edna travelled to lecture in Pennsylvania, sharing the word of TAS via tapes of Dr. King channeling messages from Venus. She explained how our planetary brothers provided protection for our planet. “Earth was saved from destruction March 5, 1962, when friendly forces from Mars and Venus staved off an attack by fishlike creatures from another galaxy which coveted our vast water supplies.” 

Edna’s incredible story came from a reputable source, chapter 5 of King’s book, You Are Responsible!, where he described water-dwellers from planet “Garouche” and their sinister plan saying, "The idea of these monsters was to kill all humanoid life on Earth and then inhabit the seas which cover a greater part of the surface." How King was able to write about the events before they happened is a mystery, but then he had sources in high places.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 3, 1964

Edna was spreading the message across the USA, but Not everyone appreciated the effort. The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) was down on Contactees, seeing them as crackpots harmful to the credibility of the UFO topic. NICAP's Affiliate / Subcommittee Newsletter, May 28, 1965 featured Richard Hall’s top “Five Most Wanted List” of people to watch out for. 

Hall later cautioned that out of libel concerns, the list was “…intended to be private background information… not to be quoted verbatim.”  The NICAP article stated that George King was a probable psychotic and that the Detroit TAS chapter was headed by Mrs. Edna Spencer. Hall was mistaken; Edna was unmarried.

For Edna’s lecture for high school students in Belle River, Ontario, Canada, she apparently toned down the religious aspects, instead focusing on the message that flying saucers are real, they appear worldwide, and they are harbingers of peace. 


Edna’s TAS branch was frequently featured in the Detroit Free Press, and their Sunday Detroit magazine, April 2, 1967, carried the 3-page article on them from Booby Mather, “How to Keep an Earthly Eye Cocked on the Cosmic Masters.” The author’s take was that Edna was interested in forming a tight unit of Aetherians and explaining their mission to the public, not in campaigning for new members.

Link to PDF of the full Detroit magazine article.

Later the same year, Edna was interviewed for another Detroit publication, Fifth Estate # 39, magazine, Oct. 1-15, 1967, “‘Master Jesus on Venus’ Claims Detroit Group.”  She told them that the Cosmic Masters in flying saucers “are not allowed to interfere with our free will in anyway nor force anything upon us which is one of the reasons why they cannot land openly until our governments or the majority of people have invited them or, at least, we have become aware of these things.”

NASA’s manned landing on the moon prompted reporters to ask Edna about her thoughts on the events, and stories were carried nationwide by the New York Times News Service and the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA). Edna explained that insisted that primitive man was not allowed to go beyond the earth, but our small steps toward enlightenment had earned us permission to go to the moon. However, we’d be allowed to go no further until mankind ended war, materialism, and accepted the Master of Aetherius.

The Detroit Free Press, July 21, 1969 (Excerpt)



  

Operation Prayer Power

George King created a "Spiritual Energy Battery" that contained ground crystal that he said would allow the power of prayer to be stored until needed to deal with times of crisis in the world. In 1973 King launched “Operation Prayer Power,” where he led pilgrims in chanting the holy mantra, “Om mani padme hum,” while a team leader redirected their collective energy of love into the battery.

Edna and her group joined King at a meeting in Utah to add their prayer power to charge his battery.

Story of a Battery collection, and of the claim of a successful discharge.

In 1974 Edna Spencer delivered a lecture that would inspire the future leader of the branch. Gary Blaze wrote at the Facebook page of The Aetherius Society - Royal Oak (Michigan), saying, 

“My first TAS activity was in 1974, Edna giving a lecture about the Holy Mountains of the World..... her absolute [certainty], conviction, sincerity, and joy in her Work was enough for me to stay and find out more.”

Gary Blaze joined the group and was also featured in the article, “Detroit’s Aetherians: Waiting for wisdom from the Cosmic Masters” in the Detroit Free Press, Sunday magazine on July 25, 1976. Alan Mass’s article profiled the organization and featured biographical details on Edna, and it documents that at that time, the Michigan branch did not have their own prayer battery. They just had a mock-up to practice on. Without King’s crystals, it was just a box on a tripod.

Link to PDF of the full Detroit magazine article.

The Contact We Crave

What drew Edna Spencer and others to George King’s religion? Almost anyone who spends much time looking at the sky will see a distant UFO, but only a relatively few people experience closer encounters. King allowed a closer connection. He presented himself as a person who had traveled beyond our planet and a vessel for the higher beings in the universe; their voice on Earth to teach a message of peace and love. But it was more than that. Most religions involve some sort of audience participation through prayers, song, or rituals. King took that further, incorporating technology like the prayer battery, allowing followers to take an active part by contributing their energies for the sake of the world. Edna was dedicated, proud to serve the cause, and proud of the devout members of her branch, saying, “We have no deadwood.”

Edna’s Detroit branch’s faith was rewarded when they finally received their own prayer battery. On the Facebook page of The Aetherius Society - Royal Oak (Michigan), March 6, 2010, Gary Blaze posted a photo of George King “Presenting a spiritual power battery to the Detroit Branch Organizer, Edna Spencer.”


Around this time, King was expanding the franchise, introducing new operations, concepts and products, such as King’s book, You Too Can Heal, 1976. 

Throughout the rest of the 70s, Edna continued her work in representing the Aetherius Society, lecturing in the area and appearing on television to spread the word.

Clippings from the Detroit Free Press and the Windsor Star, 1977 – 1979.

In 1980, Edna Spencer turned 65, and after retirement, she permanently moved to California to join worship at their Los Angeles headquarters. While she remained active in TAS, her role in Los Angeles was far quieter than her days in Detroit as the public face of the organization.

George King died on July 12, 1997. Edna S. Spencer died in Franklin, California, on February 18, 2005 at the age of 89. Her sister Vivian Jean Ramesbottom died on March 27, 2009, and her memorial service was held at the Aetherius Church in Royal Oak, Michigan. 

The last mention we found of Edna Spencer in UFO literature was in Douglas Curran’s 1985 book, In Advance of the Landing, where he spoke to her in California at the US headquarters of TAS. She reflected on meeting George King in 1959: 

“It was amazing, it was like a fever! ... back at that time flying saucers were brand new and there weren't all these movies on flying saucers around. It amazes me to realize that there's a generation who grew up with that — they don't know anything different.”

From Douglas Curran’s 1985 book, In Advance of the Landing.
“Members of the Aetherius Society charge a Spiritual Battery. Hollywood, California."

 . . .

For more information on the story of George King and the Aetherius Society, see the article at the World Religions and Spirituality Project site, and Farewell Good Brothers, the 1992 documentary on Contactees directed by Robert Stone.

2 comments:

  1. Curt,

    Congratulations on another well written and superbly documented article. While I think King and Spencer were "true believers" to large degree, I cannot help but think about the parallels between L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology and The Aetherius Society. True motivations of the principles aside, my thoughts move directly to the money being made by such an organization. Have you ever delved into that aspect of Saucer religions and TAS in particular? How much money was being made and what happened to it? I wonder what kept TAS becoming a giant like Scientology? A more "ethical" leadership, the times, or simply a different focus other than momentary gain?

    Again, thank you for you for another highly interesting and well done article on the historical aspects of Flying Saucers.

    Best Regards,

    RP

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments. As is most often the case, Claude Falkstrom rounded up the initial material and I put it together and searched to fill in the blanks.

      The Aetherius Society is a huge topic, probably a worthy topic for a book and Scientology is an even deeper rabbit hole. We chose to limit our story to how the organization affected Edna Spencer's life, but there's no doubt there's more the than what we were able to document.

      We appreciate you following our work, and thanks again for your comments!

      Delete

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