Age of Unarius : El Cajon Group Believes UFOs are Coming to Them in 2001


From a hillside east of San Diego, William Proctor points to a distant strip of ocean between the earth and sky. Straight ahead is El Cajon, and beyond layers of ridges to the northwest is Rancho Santa Fe, where 39 people laid down and died in an eerie attempt to enter what they believed was heaven’s gate.

They were tragically misguided, says Proctor, 43, in believing a spaceship trailing a comet would take them to the “next level.” Their bodies were found in Rancho Santa Fe on March 26.

Proctor fears there could be more suicides with the coming millennium. That is why it is important to spread the truth.


And the truth, he says, is this: In 2001, a spacecraft will land on a raised Atlantis, and it will be followed by others that will land here, perhaps next to the eucalyptus tree to his right, the pepper tree to his left, or somewhere on these 67 acres owned by the Unarius Academy of Science.

In all, there will be 33 spacecraft, landing one on top of the other, each carrying 1,000 “space brothers,” he says. More highly evolved than us, operating at a higher frequency, they will teach us the way to peace and harmony. They will speak from their experiences to end hatred and disease, and they will invite us to become a member of an interplanetary confederation.

Unarius, where Proctor is a student and teacher, is not a cult, he says. Nor is it a religion. It is a “new life science” that has unveiled to him answers to life’s quintessence--reasons to live, not die. Unarius, which stands for Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science, was founded in 1954 by the late Ernest and Ruth Norman. The nonprofit group says it has nearly 5,000 members worldwide and that about 475,000 people have read its books or viewed its videos.

It is one of about three dozen UFO spiritual organizations in the country, said Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and founder of the Skeptics Society.

They are, he said, the result of this culture’s fascination with space and science fiction, and the mysterious reality that “it really is possible there could be external intelligence.”

The fact that followers of Unarius and Heaven’s Gate believe in UFOs is not as profound as one major difference, said Joe Nickell, an investigator for the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, publisher of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

“Heaven’s Gate had an apocalyptic view from the beginning,” he said. “They predicted their own deaths, and no matter how far out they were, they were fundamentally a Christian sect. The Unarians are not. They’re not anti-Christian, they’re a hodgepodge. They have something for everybody, but there is nothing doomsdayish about them.”

Unarius has been in the spotlight since the Heaven’s Gate suicides. The media have come to members’ headquarters in El Cajon asking who they are and what they believe and if they might be the next to die in an attempt to reach a higher plane.

A few members of the community also have turned their attention to them. The day after the mass suicide, a window was broken at the school, and before it could be repaired, Christian literature was placed inside.

Proctor is caretaker of the Unarius 1969 Cadillac, with 472 cubic inches under the hood and a spaceship with blinking lights on its crown. “Welcome Your Space Brothers” is written on its sides.

As he drives down the winding road from the hillside and heads back to El Cajon, passersby honk and wave. Usually, he says, people are friendly and amused by the “Space Cad.” But lately, he has been cautious.

“The other night when I was coming down to the center, I heard somebody holler, ‘Why don’t you go kill yourself,’ ” he said. “One of the students got a call from some religious church telling her, ‘I feel sorry for you, and I hope you’re saved.’ ”

The caller’s sentiments were similar to the way Margie Proctor, William’s mother in North Carolina, felt when she learned her son had accepted Unariun principles, which include reincarnation and clairvoyance, and when she learned that he believes he rode with Genghis Khan in a previous life.

“William was brought up the way we believe,” she said, “with the King James Bible. When he started talking about all this, I was concerned that maybe he was being misled. . . . I’ll be honest, I thought it was a cult.”

And when she heard the news from Rancho Santa Fe, she said, there was a twinge of uncertainty about her son’s well-being.

“I thought of him, yes, but I don’t think he would go into something like that. That’s not what this group is about. . . . I have asked God to guide him and direct him, and if this isn’t right to give him a sign.”


The “CBS Evening News” team has left, and discussion at the Unarius Wednesday night class turns its focus to recent events. The media, members say, have given them this chance to get the word out. It is a continuation of their efforts through books and videos and public access television shows.

One woman, a sales representative, describes how in the past she has worried about being looked down upon by outsiders because of her involvement in Unarius, but on a recent job application, she listed her role as a Unarius student and teacher. She has talked to reporters. It was a coming out of sorts.

Another woman says that during the television coverage of the Heaven’s Gate deaths, she turned her eyes away whenever the face of cult leader Marshall Applewhite appeared on the screen.

She becomes teary-eyed as she describes her realization that in a former life she was a cult leader, which explains why at times her ego swells and why she tends to order people around.

“My past was being exposed,” she said. “I once used spiritual misleadings to pull people one way or another.”

They are business owners, artists, health care workers, janitors, real estate agents. The oldest is 91 and the youngest are in their mid-20s. They believe that problems in this life can be explained by incidents in past lives. They address these problems now through a process of past-life therapy.

Barbara Rogers, 38, supervisor of the hematology department at a San Diego clinical lab, says she first heard about Unarius on a late-night radio talk show in North Carolina.

Intrigued by the discussion of UFOs, she sent off for literature and in it, she says, she found answers to questions.

“One of the biggest questions that I had had since ninth grade had to do with my father’s suicide,” she said. “I always wanted to know where he went. In reading one of the Unarius books, I realized there really is life after death, and in committing suicide, a negative act against himself, I learned there was a place where souls like that were taken for help.”

She told her mother, a therapist, and her brother, an artist, about Unarius. All three have since left North Carolina and are students at the school, where they attend classes three nights a week.

Director Charles Spiegel, known to students as Antares, has been in front of cameras throughout the past week explaining that no, Unarius is not a cult, that suicide is contrary to its principles, that its students live in normal homes and work normal jobs. And that in a former life he was Napoleon.

Spiegel, 76, says Unariun teachings help students develop “the clairvoyant aptitude of the mind. . . . Under our constitution, we are allowed to believe anything, which is good. However, that belief has to be based on sound information, scientifically biased, and that is the basis of this teaching. It’s called the science of light. It’s an extension of the basic physical sciences.”

Spiegel graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in psychology and was pursuing teacher’s certification and master’s degrees in English and psychology at USC in 1949 when he says he met Unarius co-founder Ruth Norman in a vision while walking through a dimly lit Postal Service corridor.

“I wasn’t thinking about anything. It was quiet, not a soul around,” he said. “Then right in front of me, it was like a video screen lit up. I saw a larger-than-life picture of a beautiful woman looking down at me and smiling.”

The vision, he says, remained in his subconscious during ensuing years while he taught high school English and psychology in Victorville, worked for the United Jewish Appeal in Toronto, then became a trust officer for a Canadian life insurance company.

He started reading Unarius literature in 1960 and in 1965 visited the Normans. It was during the drive to their home from the airport that Ruth Norman, known as Uriel, opened the car door, and Spiegel realized his 1949 vision.

“That firmed up that Ruth was more than a common person,” he said. “She had basic paranormal abilities, and she was a more advanced intellectual understanding of life, a spiritual understanding of life.”

Unarians believe that there are no accidents, that the encounters and problems they face in this life are the result of past-life experiences in humankind’s violent history. The year 2001 will end this negative cycle, they say, and bring forth a new, more positive era.

There will be no more wars then, no more suffering when the spaceships come to the pristine hills outside San Diego, they say. It will be proof for the skeptics. It will be rapturous, and it will be heavenly.