If the apparitions reported at central Portuguese town “Fatima” in 1917 had occurred centuries earlier, they could have been characterised as Fairy encounters or glimpses of spirits and devils. Today, we may refer to them as UFO sightings or communications from other realms. That is, if we consider these interactions to be real, physical experiences.
The phenomena of a cultural and religious paradigm filtering and then determining the meaning of anomalous events is a bias that is frequently intentional and deliberate for a variety of reasons. Fear and control are only two among them.
In early spring 1916, Lucia Abobora, 9, and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, 6 and 7, three local shepherd children claimed to have encountered the ‘Virgin Mary’ on their way home. When the children first saw the angel, they were tending to a flock of sheep outside the little village of Fatima, Portugal.
They claimed “a lady dressed in white, glowing brighter than the sun, giving out rays of light appeared in front of them”. After that, they reported being visited by the angle on many occasions. She promised to visit them on the 13th of every month. These encounters were known as and ascribed to ‘Our Lady of Fatima’, or ‘the Virgin Mary,’ in Roman Catholicism.
Thousands of people flocked to the area as word of the event spread. They came to visit the children and the location of the event. According to legend, the visitor had promised a miracle for the following year’s October 13.
On October 13, 1917, nearly 80,000 people observed the Miracle of the Sun, in which a bright disc-like object whirled across the sky and hovered over the masses below. Before it plunged into the clouds, the disc exhibited colourful lights and is reported to have released heat.
Spiritual beliefs and the supernatural
One of the most intriguing aspects of the Fatima apparitions, for example, is that they were supposedly foreseen months in advance by a group of psychics. While this does not provide an explanation for the visions, it does help us understand how the happenings at Fatima were moulded to fit a certain religious perspective rather than a stranger but less defined set of experiences.
Because the Catholic Church regards psychic forecasts and the occult as evil, it is understandable that they would wish to hide the claims of psychics who recorded their conversations with a god, which the church would eventually identify as the Virgin Mary.
But before looking into these prophecies, which were printed in Portuguese newspapers months in advance of the Fatima events, we should first understand the social climate which existed in Portugal at this time.
But, before delving into these prophesies, which were published in Portuguese newspapers months before the events of Fatima, we must first comprehend the social context in Portugal at the time.
Portugal was a Catholic country at the turn of the twentieth century, but the formation of the Portuguese First Republic in 1910 led in a period of instability and religious persecution. Keep in mind that the Inquisition’s shadow still hung over European people, with the final ‘witch’ execution taking place only in 1826.
Behind Portugal’s orthodox exterior, traditional and spiritualist beliefs had long coexisted with Christianity, resulting in an odd combination of Pagan and Catholic saints and Holy figures, which were frequently interchanged according on the feast day or time of year. However, this was not often conveyed openly.
Pagan activities have a long history in the area around Fatima. Many legends about fairies and otherworldly encounters can be found in local folklore. The rocky landscape and hilly location are comparable to the Benbulbin area in western Ireland, which has a long tradition of supernatural and mysterious beings known as “The Gentry.”
According to legend, these fairy-like entities occasionally interact with humans, providing guidance or warnings. At times, they appear to regard humans with contempt, frequently implying that they are superior and more evolved.
A similar myth exists in Portugal, which recounts a race of mysterious women known as the Moura Encantada, who were thought to be the guards of portals into other dimensions as well as the earth itself. These ladies were also claimed to be able to rotate the sun, which is deeply connected to the last apparition at Fatima, when hundreds of witnesses saw a brilliant oval of light swirl through the sky.
Predictions of something trancendental
In the chaotic social atmosphere of traditional Catholicism and progressive politics, a number of Portuguese spiritualists began to receive messages or ‘transmissions’ foretelling a series of remarkable events that would occur on May 13th, 1917. (This was the first day of the Fatima apparitions.) The mediums were claimed to be so moved by the messages they were receiving that they decided to publish them in newspaper advertising and articles so that no one could subsequently claim they were not genuine.
According to Filipe Furtado de Mendonce’s book A Ray of Light on Fatima, the group of mediums first advertised in a local newspaper, Diario de Noticias, that the upcoming date of May 13th would be a “day of great happiness” and that “the brilliant light of the ‘morning star’ would illuminate the path.”
Another fascinating aspect of this message is that the psychic channeler wrote it backwards, which could only be read by holding the sheet of paper up to a mirror. Backwards writing appears often throughout the history of spiritualist and shamanic interactions, particularly in traditions that claim to communicate with star-people.
The original announcement issued by the publication can still be found in the archives of Diario de Noticias and can be seen today in the edition of March 10th, 1917, more than two months before the events of Fatima.
Another group of psychics in Porto was getting similar messages and started to record their contacts in order to substantiate their predictions. On May 13th, this second group received a message stating that “something transcendental” will occur.
To substantiate the messages, advertisements and notifications were placed in prominent Portuguese newspapers such as ‘O Primeiro de Jeneiro’, ‘Jornal de Noticias’, and ‘Liberdade’. Mr. Antonio, a well-known Portuguese psychic, was credited with receiving these communications.
Whether it was a quiet news week in Portugal or something else completely, these newspaper notices caused quite a stir, and many sceptics and spiritually inclined individuals alike waited to see what, if anything, would happen on May 13th.
The miracle of the Sun
The subsequent reports of apparitions have left a legacy that continues to echo across the world to this day. However, many features of these ostensibly supernatural phenomena have altered significantly since they were first recorded.
The so-called ‘Miracle of the Sun,’ for example, is arguably the most famous supernatural mass-vision in known history, yet the witnesses never stated it was the sun flying through the air; instead, they insisted on seeing a second luminous, oval object that shined like pearl.
Another issue is that the person who appeared to the children never stated she came from heaven; instead, when asked where she came from, she just pointed towards the sky. The children never saw the being’s mouth move during the whole sequence of apparitions, but stated that they heard her voice through a buzzing sound that echoed around them whenever the apparitions happened.
The Catholic Church also modified the being’s physical appearance, which was supposed to be less than three feet tall and bald. During interrogations and revisions, the children altered the appearance to that of a tall beautiful young lady, more suited to the church’s Virgin Mary ideal.
Phenomenon across culture and time
There were several other visionaries and spiritual leaders who claimed to have received communications in a similar fashion throughout this time period. Alice Bailey claimed to have received communications from a higher civilization from Sirius.
In 1904 both Aleister Crowley and Rudolf Steiner received transmissions that would later become their most famous publications, The Book of the Law and Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment.
Going even further back in time, we have the experience and accounts of the Dogon people, who claim that they, too, received their wisdom from beings from Sirius, though the Dogon themselves are quite cryptic when it comes to explaining the methods of transmission and whether or not they were contacted by physical or immaterial messengers.
The Dogon have a very sophisticated level of knowledge of science and quantum mechanics, which early anthropologists could not have known about, and some of modern science’s most recent discoveries are only now beginning to parallel what the Dogon have described for centuries and claim to have known for thousands of years.
The ancient amphibious Gods, the Oannes, who were thought to have landed from the stars and given civilising abilities to early humans, and the Dogon deities, the Nommo, share remarkable similarities. These gods and creatures are frequently shown in carvings as being drowned in waves, which may also represent their immaterial and quantum nature.
Another fascinating connection is the linguistic resemblance between Oannes and Noah, who were both civilizers who rose from the seas. This is further supported by the fact that the Biblical Noah and the flood tale are based on a far older Sumerian myth, linking the Dogon to the mythologies and Gods of the period.
Ancient agents of change
Could all of these deities be emanating from the same location, and the teachings they deliver alter based on the culture and intelligence of the people who receive them?
Is it conceivable that the Hopi’s star beings, the Kachina, who are supposed to have come from Sirius, are the same beings who appeared to the Dogon? One of the Hopi’s savior gods is named Anu, which is also the name of a Babylonian sky god.
Alternatively, is it possible that these deities are the same ones who appeared at Fatima and were channelled by Aleister Crowley and Rudolf Steiner, or are all of these transmissions just the result of a collective unconscious, or a cultural impulse? When we consider many previous religious groups that began with an apparition or a channelled revelation, we can see a very ancient pattern emerge.
Whether we look at Mormonism, the Abrahamic faiths, Buddhism, Hinduism, or the many Shamanic traditions, the one thing they all have in common is a genesis point where entities claiming to be from beyond the human world are the instigators of a new ideals. Is this a coincidence, or might it be something more meaningful?