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BOOK REVIEW: "The Super Natural" by Whitley Strieber and Jeffrey J. Kripal

Tarcher / Penguin
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BOOK REVIEW: The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained by Whitley Strieber and Jeffrey J. Kripal (Tarcher/Penguin) 2016

Whitley Strieber’s 1987 book Communion is a haunting read. Before reading it, however, I was a big fan of his earlier works – War Day and Nature’s End – which he co-wrote with James Kunetka. Both the threat of nuclear war and environmental collapse, explored in those two I would later realize, has a connection to the UFO and alien phenomenon.

Having enjoyed those books, it is easy to say that would say that Strieber works well with others and in the case of the recently-published book The Super Natural, Strieber and Rice University Professor Jeffrey J. Kripal (Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion) take us into largely uncharted territory – at least to those who embrace the commonly held belief that UFOs are “nuts-and-bolts-spaceships-from-a-distant-planet” and not something, well, much closer to humanity here on Earth.

At least that is what I’m getting from The Super Natural and the many stories, speculative notions and anecdotes in these 300-plus pages of startling information. Because if Strieber and Kripal are right, humanity is dealing with something very ancient and very occult (hidden). I have had my own personal experiences. Were they “real,” as we define the word “real”? I guess since it is so personal – as Strieber and Kripal’s own experiences were – it is complex and largely unknown.

It’s like seeing “owls” before alien contact. Synchronicities and dreams are prevalent. And The Super Natural explores these ideas. Are they fear-inducing. On a certain, visceral level, for sure. But giving into fear, rather than embracing love, can have consequences.

But as Strieber wrote in Communion, we should not fear these things, but know that we are facing something new and unknown - and potentially positive going forward.

Thirty years ago, Strieber wrote: “Instead of shunning the darkness, we can face straight into it with an open mind. When we do that, the unknown changes. Fearful things became understandable, and a truth is suggested: the enigmatic presence of the human mind winks back from the dark.

With those words, Strieber helped put some of those fears to rest. But in The Super Natural, it is clear that Strieber is still exploring and analyzing his experiences with various “alien” entities and wanting to understand why these experiences are happening to him. 

And Kripal, who is somewhat of the “skeptic” of the two, still starts off the first chapter by writing: “I am afraid of this book. There is something about it, something explosive and new. It is not a neutral book. It is an apocalypse of thought waiting for you, the reader to actualize.

That would almost be an understatement on Kripal’s part. My head is still spinning after reading these pages. You do sense, particularly on Strieber’s part, that there is an urgency to these words and what they imply.

And keeping it to a terrestrial level, Kripal adds that the ideas in the book hopefully lead to “embrace science in a new way” by expanding research into that of “the full human experience,” which includes experiences like those of Strieber and the many thousands (millions?) of others who have had similar experiences, dipping a toe into the unknown, whether consciously or not.

Adds Kripal: “(Strieber, through his writings) has, all along, been offering us a most radical theory of religion and the human spirit.”

And that sets the tone for the rest of the book, each author taking a turn at a chapter, back and forth. And it works well. After reading Strieber’s chapters, Kripal’s contributions are like after-dinner mints, and I mean that in a very respectful way.

After all, this is Whitley Strieber we’re talking about, a “religious prodigy without a religion,” as Kripal reminds us, a man who makes us squirm with his provocative questions and all-too-personal experiences – experiences that are very disquieting and of a decidedly spiritual and sexual nature.

Yes, a sexual nature. And described in graphic detail. 

Strieber, who claims he was raped by these aliens, seems to be coming around to the idea that the “sacred feminine” has been essentially erased from our culture and many cultures worldwide. The major religions of the world tend to make the female secondary to the male leadership. It’s as if the feminine “alien” encounters Strieber has had over the years are trying to remind him – and all of us – how important that side of our humanity is and that we are essentially out of balance. The “visitors” may be trying to bring humanity back into balance so we can better understand ourselves. Strieber clearly feels passionate about this and sharing it with a world that still seems reluctant to take that leap.

Furthermore, in The Super Natural, the Communion author, who discusses his world-shattering close encounters outside his upstate New York cabin in December 1985, and the rollercoaster ride in the years since, admits that “we are at a crucial turning point,” one that may be “darker, more dangerous, and twisted,” while paradoxically it is likely the journey will open “eventually into the sunlight of a clear and objective understanding of what we are, where we are , and why we are here.”

But with the mainstream scientific community – and government and academia – all in lockstep about not addressing UFOs, aliens and related mysteries – things that many people have seen and experienced – we are shortchanging our society by failing to admit we really don’t know everything about the nature of nature (super natural) and how to approach these subjects which have so long baffled humanity.

I agree with the authors that The Super Natural is an important read. It would be refreshing to know that scientists, researchers, government officials and so forth were being intellectually honest and willing to study these subjects in an objective and honest way. I really think that that is the most important point in this book, one I intend to return to again and again as I seek insight into these matters.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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