Interview With Whitley Strieber
Sean Casteel

Whitley 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.

Q. Have any new memories surfaced recently from your childhood education in the Secret School, perhaps from the post-1954 period?

Strieber: 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?

Strieber: 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 whole process.

Q. 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?

Strieber: 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.

Q. 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 examples?

Strieber: 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.

Strieber: 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.

Q. 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.

Q. 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 between events.

Strieber: 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?

Strieber: 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.

Q. 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-

Strieber: 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.
     The 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 future.
     My 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.
     This 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.

Q. 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?

Strieber: 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 been that.
     You 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 happens.

Q. 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.

Q. 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?

Strieber: 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.

Q. 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 apparent contradiction?

Strieber: 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.
     Prophecy 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.

Q. 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?

Strieber: 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.

Q. 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?

Strieber: 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.
     And 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.
     Now, 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.
     Now, 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.

Q. 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?

Strieber: 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.
     What's 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.
     And 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.
     But 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.

Q. 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 know how.
     In order to collectively move forward, what we have to do is empower ourselves by coming to the understanding that these tools, used with discipline, work.

Q. 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?

Strieber: 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 true.
     Arthur 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.

Q. 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. ~

Interview with Whitley Strieber: The Secret School
© 1997 Sean Casteel. All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Sean Casteel