Contact In The Desert. To call it a “UFO Convention” would in no way do it justice, nor would it be accurate. I generally find myself a bit stuck trying to find the right words to describe this annual event to my friends and family. Sometimes these types of gatherings are called “consciousness expanding” conferences, or words to that effect. But then again, it’s more than that. Their own website describes the event as “An EPIC weekend of exploration into extraterrestrial life, ancient aliens, human origins, secret space program, crop circles, UFO sightings, contact experiences, interstellar living, and the “need to know”.” So we’ll go with that for now.
“We really hope you had a good time, hopefully it wasn’t too weird…but then again, weird comes with the territory.”
“Too weird??? It was weird as f*ck and that’s EXACTLY why I liked it and why I wanted to go! Aliens have been my passion since I was a little kid. It was a blast and I wanna go again next year too.”
That was an exchange we had with one of our colleagues, to whom we introduced CITD for the first time this year. And I think that sums it up pretty brilliantly. Yes, Contact In The Desert is indeed a “weird” experience, certainly for first-timers, but it never fails to be mind-blowing, fulfilling, and utterly worth-while.
There are very few places where one can “feel at home” as a conspiracy-theorist/alternative news researcher, but this is certainly one of those places. Everyone is warm, friendly, and you can tell that each individual is there to learn and broaden their way of thinking. The vibe couldn’t be more positive.
The lectures and speakers were as varied and colourful as the attire and jewellery being sold by the vendors – they ranged from first-hand “experiencers,” to scientists, researchers, archeologists, authors, radio hosts, and politicians. The views and “takes” on the alien/UFO phenomenon were equally as varied, ranging from those that believe that contact-experiences are the very real and physical events that they appear to be, to those that believe that the experiences are somewhat more interdimensional and psychological. The theory that UFO/alien-encounters are entirely terrestrial and man-made also always remains a common view.
We were particularly glad to see Jacques Vallée at this year’s conference again, an exceptional figure in this field of study. A computer scientist, author, ufologist, and former astronomer, his resumé only speaks for half of his achievements. Quick bit of trivia, for those who don’t already know: Jacques served as the model for the French researcher character, Lacombe, in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounter’s of the Third Kind. Yeah, pretty darn cool. Being the first guy to publically (at least as far as mainstream media goes) connect the dots between UFO phenomena and the creatures of folklore (elves, faeries etc.), made popular with the release of his book, Passport to Magonia, he has certainly made himself one of the most respected figures in ufology. His research is thorough and impeccable – it definitely does not leave much up to speculation and doubt, and his talk on UFOs and their material composition was genuinely interesting and insightful. When you see Graham Hancock and Whitley Strieber both sitting in front row and excitedly anticipating Vallée’s talk, you know you’re in the right place.
Another highlight was, of course, Graham Hancock, with his radiating air of positivity and his all-loving hippie vibe. Always managing to bring something new to the table, you can tell he’s one of few authors who go out of their way to not repeat information and presentations too often – we were in for a real treat this year, being the first to hear his new “Awakening From Amnesia“ lecture, based on ideas presented in his book, Fingerprints of the Gods. A passionate speaker, his presentations are always ridiculously well-rounded and informative. And let’s not forget Hancock’s incredible ability to look like everyone’s best friend in a photo. Cheers for being a dude, dude. (Note to the techies at CITD: it’s probably not a great idea shining spotlights onto a projection screen. Definitely not during a Hancock lecture.)
One of our favourite speakers will always be Whitley Strieber, one of the most genuine and sincere individuals you could possibly meet – a great speaker, his presentations and workshops always keep you on your toes, and he’s also careful not to repeat information over and over, trying to bring new findings to light wherever possible (we managed to attend his, “Stories From A Life: Present Contacts, Life & Afterlife,” workshop). In recent years, new developments in the relationship with his wife, Anne, have been keeping us particularly intrigued. Anne passed away fairly recently, back in August 2015, but, from what we’ve heard, she remains extremely close to him – their spiritual bond remains unbreakable, to the extent that they can communicate directly with each other, so much so that Anne is continuing her role as editor of Whitley’s writings. Yes, it sounds utterly absurd, and it is undoubtedly more difficult to take such information seriously when just seen in writing – believe us, though, when we say that hearing the man talk is a vastly different experience from reading his writings, or reading about him. It’s hard to completely doubt a guy who is so calm, composed, and sincere in his speeches. Really, the only way to make up your own mind is to see and hear Mr. Strieber for yourself. Much like most of the speakers at the conference, reading or watching them online just doesn’t quite cut it.
However, that’s not to say that hearing a speaker in real life will always result in you becoming more convinced. Things could go either way. Hearing your favourite speaker talk in-person may well make you like them more, but it no doubt could also make you realise that perhaps they’re not your cup-of-tea after all, which quite a few people have admitted to us. That’s completely okay, though; because, as long as that’s still happening, we can rest assured that we are not just following blindly, but still making rational and analytical decisions for ourselves.
We also had some great conversations with Olav Phillips and Walter Bosley, both authors and researchers of the UFO/Alien phenomenon. Some of you may recognise Olav’s name, not just as someone who we’ve interviewed on WoTR before, but also as the publisher of Paranoia Magazine. We caught some great interviews with both of these guys, so keep your eye out for the upcoming videos on YouTube! As an ex-FBI agent, as well as Special Agent for the US Air Force (plus a six-year-long career as a counterterrorism operational consultant), Walter has some incredible stories to tell – we’re glad to have made his acquaintance, and we have Olav to thank for that!
Of course, we were glad to encounter Clyde Lewis and Ron Patton again this year, members of the Ground Zero team in Portland, Oregon, and never failing to bring the latest in conspiracies and mind-control operations to the forefront. Always super-knowledgeable and great guys to hang out with, they also introduced us to Jake Anderson, director of the upcoming Elisa Lam documentary, which, though still in its early stages of production, appears to be coming on very nicely – definitely something we’ll be looking out for in the near future.
The panels were as fun and interesting as ever, particularly great for those who want to get a good overview of some of the speakers, especially those that some may not be too familiar with. Coorey Goode was also a notably popular speaker this year, perhaps because he is still quite new on the scene, having risen to public prominence in late 2014 as a whistleblower for various different space programs, and now regularly appearing on Gaia TV.
Saturday evening saw a stunning special presentation held in the outdoor amphitheater, featuring various visuals and sounds to soothe and relax -- Amrit Kirtan provided for some exceptionally beautiful and spiritual music, as did the Tibetan Healing Bowls session (consisting of 333 healing bowls!) lead by Dr. Dream. We then all entered into a mass guided meditation lead by James Gilliland, and, with the lingering scent of orange oil and other essential oils being gently sprayed throughout the auditorium, all I can say is that the sleep I had that night couldn’t have been more peaceful. Thanks for that, and we would love to see something like that happening again next year!
Once again, the vendors rounded out this conference perfectly, offering up their spiritual and enlightening trinkets, gifts, jewellery, foods, and more. Shout-outs to Starlight Stones with their amazing crystal crowns, a particular favourite of mine; Sedona Orgone Vortex/Art That Works, with their absolutely magnificent orgonite designs and colourful range of pendants; and the Lemurian Crystals booth operated by Thomas Budde (of TheGiveShirt.com), where we were thoroughly intrigued by the Lemurian Legend and the artefacts attached to the story. Believe it or not, Thomas had just brought back all those crystals and artefacts from his trip to Columbia -- keep an eye out for his picture in our slide-show, and in our upcoming video review.
A question that often arises, especially when buying items such as “healing crystals” or astrology-related trinkets: how could the stars, or a rock, a crystal, something as bizarre as orgonite, having anything to do with us? The more research I do and the more people I talk to, I believe the question should rather be – how could these things not (just bear with me here)? How could planets, solar systems, and other matters of the universe not affect us in anyway? Our bodies are literally just masses of energy – we react to sound, to vibrations, to radiation of various sorts, to magnetic fields; we have electricity coursing through our bodies every minute that we’re alive. It seems silly to think that, just because something is not tangible or visible to the naked eye, it therefore has no effect on us whatsoever – surely we’ve moved on from such a narrow way of thinking? (There is a common assumption nowadays that WiFi signals, phone signals and the like have some sort of effect on the human body, even though we may not be able to pinpoint exactly what those effects may be. People sometimes get headaches, complain of nausea, connect their cancers to an over-exposure to various frequencies and radiation…these are all things that we commonly hear in the news nowadays. Yet, the fact remains that we have no evidence showing us exactly why and how these things are happening; nevertheless, the overall consensus remains, “How could these things NOT be affecting us? Of course they are, we just don’t know how yet.” A totally valid position to take.)
I think it’s time to welcome a paradigm shift where the burden is no longer on the astrologer, psychonaut, “conspiracy theorist”, ufologist, “alternative” thinker or healer…call these people what you may. The burden of the question needs to start shifting towards the skeptic. Because, in light of all the information and research that we have gathered as an “alternative thinking” community thus far, the evidence is becoming overwhelmingly convincing, and the skeptics need to start digging further, because the standard rebuttals of “that’s all hogwash” are simply becoming old. Yes, that just sounded super New Agey. But until we stop labelling these modes of thinking and living as “New Age” and “hippie,” as mere trends, we won’t be able to start truly listening to what these communities have to tell us. And, just maybe, you’ll find there’s something worth listening to. We have to remember, there was a time when “flat earthers” (i.e. those that propound the theory that the Earth is actually flat) were once the norm, they were the mainstream; conversely, those in support of the heliocentric model, e.g. Copernicus circa 1543, were seen as the skeptics, the wacky crazy ones! Yet, as evidence grew and supporters became more widespread, a slow paradigm shift towards the heliocentric model in science occurred. Such shifts in beliefs and “facts” occur constantly; it’s just that we never expect to be around for them, because of the constant assumption that everything we know, everything we’ve been taught, is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But, alas, that is just not the truth of it.
That said, of course – we must always remain vigilant and selective in what we believe and don’t believe. At least here, at West of The Rockies, we always encourage questioning everything, and remaining as unbiased as possible. Giving someone a chance to speak, and giving yourself a chance to listen, is not equivalent to agreeing with the speaker or blindly believing what they have to say – respecting and accepting someone else’s opinion is at the core of what we promote, and we just don’t see enough of that nowadays.
As for the schedule at CITD this year, it was jam-packed as usual, making it ever more difficult to decide between lectures occurring simultaneously. The first day had us contemplating between Graham Hancock and David Wilcock, both happening at 10:30am, with us jokingly pointing out that we’re stuck having to decide between two ‘cocks. Yes, it was juvenile, but believe you me, that is not an easy decision to make!
As for future speakers at CITD, we would love to see the likes of Rick Strassman joining the repertoire, as well as people like Bob Lazaar, George Knapp, and perhaps hearing the former Senator of Arizona (during the time of the Phoenix Lights sighting), Fife Symington III (or even Frances Barwood, who launched an investigation into the incident), would also prove very informative and popular.
CITD is growing every year, and we can’t wait to see what it has in store for the future.
Thank you for another fantastic year!
Keep an eye out for our upcoming YouTube Video Review! PEACE.
p.s. We hope that Jim Marrs is doing well, since he had to cancel his appearancee due to a medical issue. Our thoughts and love go out to you, sir!