Interview With Whitley Strieber
By Sean Casteel
This interview differs from the one previously posted here. This is an
expanded version, the previous one being sold to "Fate" Magazine.
Strieber, the bestselling author of "Communion," the book that put the
subject of alien abduction before the public in a way that has never
been equaled even ten years later, has written a fourth installment in
his series of books dealing with his experiences with aliens he calls
"The Visitors." Like Strieber's earlier sequels to "Communion," the very
popular "Transformation" and "Breakthrough," his latest entry into the
field, "The Secret School" (HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), tells the
continuing story of Strieber's contact with "The Visitors" and how that
contact shapes his world as well as ours. This time the experiences
begin with a rush of memories from Strieber's childhood that soon come
to have a relevance to not only Strieber as an adult, but to all of his
readers who, if they make proper use of "The Secret School," can enter a
time machine that lays bare their past and gives friendly warnings
about their possible future. We spoke to Whitley Strieber by phone
recently, and he gave us his usual fascinating perspective on issues
mankind will be grappling with for some time to come.
Have any new memories surfaced recently from your childhood education
in the Secret School, perhaps from the post-1954 period?
No. All I have is the same glimpse from 1957 that first occurred when I
was under hypnosis by Dr. Donald Klein. When I was first hypnotized by
Dr. Klein I had a glimpse of an incident that took place in 1957. Which
apparently was the end of the Secret School, the moment when my emotions
about the Visitors changed to fear. I haven't had anything else.
Q. You talk in the book about feeling cheated of something precious when the school ended in 1957. Do you still feel that way?
No, I don't, because of the amount of time that's passed. And now I've
had ten years of relationship with this, and I certainly don't feel
cheated anymore. I felt their absence in my life, when I was a boy after
1957, very, very acutely. It was agonizing. And then when they returned
in 1986, I was terrified. But now I'm much more reconciled with the
That's something that I have trouble understanding. The link between
your introduction to the Visitors and then your later memories of
childhood. Is there a continuous stream of memory?
Well, I have a few memories from when I was a college student. And at
the time I was a college student, I no longer knew what was going on. I
had no idea what they were. From the time I moved to London in 1968
until 1986, I knew absolutely nothing. Not in memory, but it came out in
various ways in my fiction.
Well, you say that a great deal of synchronicity between the warnings
you received in The Secret School and actual events in the world of
science was concentrated around the period of your writing the book.
Have those patterns continued, and if so, can you give us some further
No, that ended when the book was finished. It ended just about the week
the book was finished. It was really one of the most extraordinary
years of my life. Because my wife was very well aware of what was going
on in the writing of the book, and we found ourselves able to walk into
newsstands and bookstores whenever we needed something and just put our
hands on it immediately. And often it would be like a science journal or
something like that that had just come out and been put in the stores
that week or that day. It went on through the whole writing of the book
and it was absolutely extraordinary. One of the most amazing things
that's ever happened to me in my life. Really wonderful fun.
Q. Well, it sort of seems that was by design.
I think there was somebody else working on the book, someone "with us."
We felt that at the time, that there was an actual presence that was
orchestrating all of this. That's how we saw it, because one or two
synchronicities like that you can ascribe to chance. But not when it
happens continuously for a year and adds up to thirty or forty
incidents. It's impossible to ascribe to chance. It can't be chance.
Where everything seems to serve the purpose of the book. Strieber:
Exactly. That was just wonderful. It was a joyous time. We had a great
deal of fun with it.
I've also talked to other people who have experienced something
similar. As soon as the book is completed, they get like a rest period
Well, I never asked for a rest period. I'm always ready to go on to the
next thing right away. In this case, the next thing turned out to be
doing a lot of lecturing, which I've done and am doing. I'm also working
on a new book which will be out probably a year from Feburary.
Q. Another non-fiction book about your experiences?
No, it's a fiction book that I think contains the inner meaning of the
whole contact experience. Not expressed as non-fiction because it's
about events that haven't happened yet but are going to happen. It's a
book set in the future.
The nine lessons of "The Secret School" start with a trip to Mars and
end with a visit to yourself sometime in the earth's future with a side
trip to a former life in Rome. How do all those elements fit together?
What's the glue that binds those strange experiences to your life and to
your work as a writer whose theme is alien contact? And please discuss
their impact on your unconscious and the resulting impact on your work
as a writer of fiction. This sounds like an essay exam all most-
No, that's fine. The way the elements fit together is that they all
involve a different kind of movement through space/time. The trip to
Mars-I don't know whether that was a physical journey or not. It
obviously wasn't physical in the usual way or I'd be dead. You can't
live on Mars with no life support. It's impossible. But, judging from
what was later found on the surface of Mars, it was in some way a real
journey. Whether it was a very intensive version of remote viewing, or
an out-of-the-body journey, or exactly what it was, I don't know. But it
was a journey through space/time. And when I first saw the Mars face in
1986, I'd had a distant echo of memory of it, but I couldn't recall
exactly where I'd seen it before. It was a very strange experience,
though, to see that face for the first time.
other two journeys represent a movement into the earth's future and a
movement into my own past in Rome. These both involved an extension of
consciousness outside of the time stream, and then a return to the time
stream at different points. In the Bible, in the Book of Ecclesiastes,
it refers to "the long body" or "the long home" in some translations, or
a "man's long time" in others. Referring to the whole existence of the
soul from its beginning to the final taste of physical life. And this
movement and leaving of the time stream is a very ancient, magical,
shamanic process where the soul comes to draw into consciousness its
memories of all the times it has spent in life and its vision of its own
theme is not really alien contact. My theme is human consciousness. So,
the glue that binds these experiences to my life and my work is that
they represent a very dynamic extension of human consciousness that is
at once ancient and extremely viable. People can do it now. The purpose
of "The Secret School" is to enable the reader to reconnect with the
innocence of childhood in the context of the wisdom that they've learned
in life and the wisdom they can, if I'm lucky, get from the book. And
to re-approach and reassess their whole experience in the context of a
new kind of innocence that is also wise.
issue of the impact on my unconscious is a very interesting one,
because there was apparently quite a significant impact from the Secret
School. In 1974, it turns out, I wrote a short story called "Under The
Old Oak Tree," which is a vision of the Secret School. At the time when I
wrote this story, which I just discovered in my papers two weeks ago, I
had no memory of the Secret School consciously at all. But suddenly,
there is the tree. And instead of events happening under the tree that
have reference to the stars rising out of time, the story is about a
disturbing and a very malign underground world that lived under the tree
and comes out and touches the main character with a substance that
causes him to slowly disintegrate. Which substance, I found out after
having it read by some people who are schooled in shamanism and esoteric
ideas, is the alchemical substance "vitriol." The story is an
indication that there's another level to the Secret School that I
haven't reached yet. The reason that I found the story was that a
gentleman named Tom Monolioni is publishing my short stories. I've
written short stories for thirty years but rarely do I publish them. I
only publish them when a friend happens to want one or in anthology with
a group of friends. I never send them to magazines or anything. So,
most of these stories are unpublished, and this one is particularly
relevant to the Secret School. There has been a definite result with my
work as a writer of fiction. Another thing, I think I've had an
intimation that the last summer in 1957 was about death and rebirth. And
I think that the journey through the world of the dead that occurs in
the novel "Cat Magic" is a retelling of the experiences and the things I
learned in the Secret School in the summer of 1957 although I can't be
sure of that now.
Well, there's an incident of retro-cognition that takes place in 1983
in which you suddenly become transported to 19th Century New York. Is
that moment any more clear to you? Do have any new insights into what
happened to you?
It's no more clear to me than it was the day after it happened, or an
hour after it happened. Except I no longer have the feeling as I did
then that I might slip and sort of fall into the past. After I came back
from that experience, I told my wife that if I just disappeared from
the face of the earth to look in the classified ads from old newspapers
in New York, because I would try to place a classified ad that would
identify myself to her in some way and let her know what happened to me.
I don't know if I would have been able to accomplish that because I was
so different from the people around me I think they probably would have
hustled me to off to the nearest insane asylum. And that would have
know, there are people in insane asylums all over the world who claim
they came from the future. And I wondered after my experience back in
1983 if they might not actually be telling the truth, some of them. As
far as new insights into what happened, it's very interesting that
Dannion Brinkley, who had a near death experience and has written a
number of books about it, had a similar thing happen to him in London,
sometime after his near death experience, which he describes in his
first book. I also found numerous people when I began to describe this
experience-I described it at a party a couple of times-and I was
fascinated to find that nearly everybody at these parties had had
something happen to them along these lines. It was very shocking. And I
don't think that we are actually as firmly seated in time as we assume. I
think we slip around a good bit. And I believe that once people begin
to realize that we do this, and they can compare this sort of thing to
other experiences in their own lives, we might start to move through
time more freely. It's going to be very interesting to see if that
Well, that's why they coined a term for it, retro-cognition, because
it's a common- Strieber: The thing is, this is more than
retro-cognition. This is an actual physical movement. I think I went
physically back in 1983. As Dannion Brinkley thinks he went physically
back, too. I don't think it was a cognitive-dissonance of any kind. I
think it was a physical movement.
Do you think it's involved somehow with the sentiments you feel about
New York? Maybe a former life? Where there's some kind of physical
connection because you lived a former life in New York?
Well, I'm pretty sure I did live one. When I first moved to New York, I
got a Dover Book of photographs of New York in the 19th Century. And I
was stunned at how familiar it was. And I've remembered bits and pieces
of a life there, but not enough for me to say that I feel it actually
happened. Because it could simply be my imagination playing off the
photographs I saw. But that journey would suggest that it probably did
happen and I had returned to that place and time.
Well, you feel you were taken more than once to visit yourself living
in a very unhappy, dystopian world. Yet you also say that prophecy
functions as a deterrent to such negative outcomes. Can you explain this
Yes. The purpose of prophecy is to warn us against negative events that
will transpire if we continue on the path that we're on at the time
that the prophecy is made. The Visitors say the future is like water.
The present is sort of a compressor that takes the water of the future
and turns it into the ice of the past, where change is much less
possible. Although it's still possible in the past, it's just a matter
of very tiny things going back into the past. You can only change little
things, and you have to understand the past very well to make the
changes that you need to make to cause dramatic alterations in the
future. But apparently it can be done. Even scientifically, it's
beginning to look as if it can be done.
is not a matter of predicting the future. This is one of the reasons
that it's gradually faded as a believable exercise of the human mind.
Because in the past, when prophets warned about coming events, people
tried to change so that those event wouldn't take place. And they often
succeeded. Prophets are supposed to be wrong in the ideal world. What's
the use of prophesying something that's inevitable? Why bother? I think
that the undecided nature of the future means that when you go into it,
you can go into many different worlds. And the tendency is to want to go
into a world that we don't want to have to live through and warn about
it so that when we actually get to that point we will have changed
ourselves enough to avoid the dangers that are foretold.
I'd like to discuss something at this point. I interviewed not too long
ago a woman named Diane Tessman who trance-channels. She says the same
sort of thing, that we're definitely going to go through some
apocalyptic changes, but we can minimize the impact of that if we take a
positive enough attitude toward the future. The reason I mention this
is because I read not too long ago that the longer an abductee is in the
process of whatever the experience is, after a certain amount of time,
they all begin talking about the same general New Age concepts. So I
wanted to ask if you felt that was true, that a person becomes a part of
some kind of New Age, apocalyptic view of the world?
Well, my book recognizes the use of prophecy as a tool, which is why it
both warns against a number of futures that I have seen, and also
offers a very upbeat view of the world to come. Finding the good roads
is as difficult as avoiding the bad ones. But it can be done. All over
the country now there are people in any number of different areas-people
doing remote viewing, doing trance-channeling, people prophesying-who
are beginning to realize that consciously we've got to make an enormous
movement. A movement mankind has made I think unconsciously before a
number of times. And this movement is away from the future that we see
and toward a future that we hope for. Because the future that we see is
uniformly dark and apocalyptic and involves the loss of a staggering
amount of human life.
The reason these things are being prophesied now is so that they can be avoided, not because they have to come true.
Okay. In many of your commentaries on the lessons you were taught, you
engage in discussions of the New Physics and some recent discoveries of
archeological artifacts that call for a new understanding of man's
evolution. How do some of the recent discoveries of science fit with the
lessons taught by the Secret School?
Well, one example is the discovery that "faster than light travel" is
possible, and two, that time travel is therefore also possible. And the
fact that the "principle of least action" automatically prevents "the
grandfather paradox" from ever occurring. Therefore, there's really no
bar to time travel. If you travel in time, you will never get into a
situation where you can kill your own grandfather. It can't happen.
Because the principle of least action will prevent it from happening.
That's the same principle that makes water seek the lowest possible path
on its way down a hillside, for example. It never goes up, it always
goes farther down. Because physics dictates that no more energy can be
expended than is minimally necessary. Everything automatically takes the
path of least resistance.
the reality of it is that there isn't enough energy in the universe to
enable anyone to enact the grandfather paradox. It's completely
impossible. There isn't enough energy in the universe to make water take
one wrong step on its way down the hillside. Literally. If it goes up
and over a stone, that's because of the fact that the course of its
falling motion was such that it made it do that. Not because it was
violating the principles of least action.
these are powerful physical realities. And they've opened the road to
time travel. And believe me, there are plenty of people in physics right
now looking for the means to move through time because they feel that
it's possible to do. Steven Hawking used to ask the question that if
time travel is possible, then where are the tourists? I have a feeling
that all of this contact activity that takes place--the things we see in
the sky, the enigmatic visits that are occurring--may in part at least
be from our own future. And that the tourists are all around us.
to the archeological artifacts. The fact that even one verifiable
artifact exists that cannot be explained by current theory, and there
are many more than one, means there's something wrong with current
theory. Period. Current theory is just an illusion. We actually have no
idea what happened in our past. We don't know who we are. We don't know
where we've come from. Our past is incredibly enigmatic because it's
full of contradictions in the materials, as was pointed out in the book,
that simply don't fit the theory. So, the theory has to be thrown out.
We've got to go back to the drawing boards and the logical, linear,
believable image of our past that we possess from the 19th Century and
from the limited consciousness of that era has got to be discarded in
favor of reality. And in reality, the human species moving through time
is moving through a quantum reality, not a linear reality. And that has
to be understood. And once it is understood, we will begin to know the
way history actually works and the way time really unfolds. Until we do
that, we are living with illusions.
So, our limited understanding of time is a major block to our growth as
a species. What do we need to learn about the nature of time in order
to collectively move forward?
It's not necessarily what we need to learn but what we need to unlearn.
We need to unlearn the assumption that the future is in front of us,
the present is where we are, and the past is behind us. That is a false
view of time. The Visitors offer a much better idea of time. They say
the future is to the right, and it's like water. The present is here and
now and it's like a compressor. And the past is like ice. The water has
now been turned into ice because the present has decided the shape the
water will take, the shape the past will take. And this leaves room for
entry into many different possible futures. We can change that water
into any number of different shapes simply by the way we address it.
They see time as being to our left and our right, future and past. And
then the real frontier is in front of us, which is outside of time. What
we have to learn to do--and this as much an inner movement as an
artifact of some potential technology-is to learn to move out of the
time stream so that we can examine it more carefully and come to
understand its real meaning.
interesting about this is the essential discovery that blocks our
growth is not our limited understanding of time but our limited
understanding of our own natures. Our natures are quantum natures. We're
in, as a species, a state of "super position" all the time. We're both
nowhere and everywhere. We are making decisions that turn the
unpotentiated reality of the species into specific events all the time.
But until we understand ourselves as quantum entities and cease to
believe in ourselves as linear entities, we cannot fully realize our
potential as human beings. We can't be what human beings are meant to be
until we do that.
we actually are beginning to do that in some fascinating ways. I'll
give you some examples. The discovery and growth of remote viewing, that
it actually works. The government, of course, lied about it when they
realized that all the remote viewers had come into contact with the idea
that it was a sin to keep it a secret and started running out into the
public essentially to save their souls. John Gates of the CIA
immediately went on "Nightline" and pooh-poohed the whole thing. The
reason is simple. They want to contain the power of remote viewing and
preserve it for themselves. They do not want the average individual to
be able to remote view the private life of the President and find out
what truly is happening there, for example.
the reality of it is there exists a very, very low energy field around
the human body, especially around the head where the brain in it's
functioning generates a harmonic of an extra-low frequency radio wave
that hangs a few microns above the skull. The part of the mind that is
contained in that electromagnetic field is non-local in nature. And that
means that it is literally anywhere and everywhere. This is why you can
reach out so far with remote viewing. You can go into the past. You can
go into the future. You can go to other worlds. You can go essentially
anywhere in the universe which has ever been or will be.
Simply because you recognize your own part in this huge energy system?
Strieber: Well, no, not exactly that. It's because of the fact that
there is a principle of quantum physics that reveals that particles are
paired and if a particle is affected by an energy in one part of the
universe, it's parallel particle elsewhere in the universe will
instantaneously, with absolutely no time lost whatsoever, be affected in
the same way. We know that. We've proved that with empirical studies.
What we don't understand is the energy that links the two particles
because they can literally be one on one side of the universe and one on
the other. It's called "quantum entanglement." What we are using when
we remote view and when we engage in psychic activities is the
conversion of quantum entanglement with the non-local part of the human
mind using the force of quantum entanglement as a tool. It's a force the
nature of which we don't fully understand. But we also have questions
about how electricity actually works, but we still use it. And the
message that's coming out right now is really pretty clear. These
psychic activities do work. We even know why they work, we just don't
order to collectively move forward, what we have to do is empower
ourselves by coming to the understanding that these tools, used with
Okay. While much of "The Secret School" focuses on the ethereal and the
metaphysical, you also continue to comment on recent sightings waves
and other "nuts-and-bolts" aspects of the UFO phenomenon. How do the two
fit together? What is the relationship between the physical and the
non-physical aspects of the phenomenon in your opinion?
Well, the phenomenon has no non-physical aspects any more than the
universe has any part of it that isn't physical. It's all physical. It's
simply that some parts of the physical world we understand and some
parts we don't understand. The parts we don't understand, some of them
we know exist. Such as the force that links particles in quantum
entanglement. We know that exists because we've proved it. We just don't
know what it is. Other parts of it that we don't understand we also
disbelieve. And we're in a sense like the members of the Royal Academy
who used to drum out people who wrote papers about electricity in the
1720s and 30s because they didn't believe it existed. And a little
later, who used to try to destroy the careers of colleagues who claimed
that meteors fell from the sky because they just couldn't believe it was
C. Clarke was quite right when he said that the science of the future
looks like magic. And the natural principles that are operating now in
our lives that we don't understand we tend to dismiss as mere
superstition and magic. We've always done that since the beginning of
history, and especially since the beginning of rational history in the
17th Century. It's just a bad habit, that's all. As we move into the
future and we discover that we are really already reaching beyond
technology to a point where we're discovering that our bodies and our
minds are the most powerful technology, we're going to understand that
the whole universe is accessible to physical movement of different
kinds. We can come face to face with God. Absolutely. No question about
it. Using what are essentially physical tools. It's just that these
tools don't seem physical now only because we don't understand the
energies. There is a continuum from the very simplest expression of
energy to the very highest and the most extraordinary and most numinous
expression of energy. And there is no non-physical world at all. The
spiritual world, as we call it, is also part of the physical world. It's
simply a part that we don't yet understand. So, that's how the two fit
together. I don't recognize a difference between physical sightings and
metaphysical encounters because there is no difference. One we
understand, one we don't. That's the only thing that's different.
That's a very interesting viewpoint. Is there anything you wish to add?
Strieber: There's nothing I wish to add at this point except that-I
never really push my books in interviews and so forth, but this one I am
pushing. This book is a time machine. I know already that it works
because it's been tested on a number of people. It will enable you to
start functioning in a new way if you read it, and I hope people do.
It's a powerful working tool to rebuild the future. And to come to a new
understanding of your own past and the past of the world.
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