Bigger than Roswell? According to Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, a UFO crashed near ground zero of the world’s first A-bomb blast just weeks after the explosion in 1945.

Ninth-century France, or at least the rural areas under the scrutiny of Archbishop Agobard of Lyon, must’ve been a pretty trippy place. Word among the local farmers was that their crops were being flattened by “aerial sailors” descending from the clouds. Wreaking havoc with storms and hail, these bandits were said to be getting away with stolen veggies and retreating to a sky haven called Magonia.

The tales were so threatening to Lyon’s sense of order that Agobard felt compelled to intervene. He attacked the witnesses themselves, charging they had been “overcome with so much foolishness” and “made crazy by so much stupidity”; for good measure, the cleric quoted biblical scripture to put these numbskulls in their place. And that apparently ended matters, because we heard no more about Magonia until seven hundred years later.

In 1606, a French historian discovered the archbishop’s manuscripts and entered Magonia into the long list of fables and lore from antiquity. And there it might’ve languished, in the dustbin of trivia, were it not for the omnivorous curiosity of Jacques Vallee. In 1968, one of phenomenology’s pioneering giants plucked it from obscurity and used it to challenge conventional theories about UFOs.

Vallee’s Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds was initially published 55 years ago, and I was late to the revolution. I was late to the book’s updated and expanded edition in 1993, and when I finally got around to it, I was slow to warm.

Because I was a lot smarter about this stuff decades ago than I am today, I knew UFOs were from other planets. They had to be. It was drummed into us by popular culture. “Invaders From Mars,” “Earth vs. The Flying Saucers,” 1953’s “War of the Worlds,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “It Came From Outer Space,” “This Island Earth,” etc. – an entire generation of American kids grew up with these imprints. And, Steven Spielberg’s more benign visions of space visitors notwithstanding, Hollywood’s dominant storylines cast ET as a technologically superior version of ourselves, motivated by conquest, colonization and subjugation of the Other.

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