The Myth of Xenu: Technological Mythology in a Postmodern Age

Christine Norstrand

Are the gods still with us, even to the end of the millenium? If they are, in what form do they appear? Are myths as much a part of new religious movements (NRMs) as of the ancient and traditional religions? One interesting and important myth that promises insight into these questions is the Myth of Xenu, one of two myths that comprise the core of the hidden sacred scriptures of the Church of Scientology.

The Church of Scientology is both an interesting and important new religious movement. It is interesting because its operating values are in the area of logical, rationalist thought, yet its conclusions and truths are mythic truths that are literalized by its proponents. The writings of L. Ron Hubbard begin in postivistic literalism and end in myth, but a literalized myth that functions as a secret dogma within the Church, available only to its advanced students. The Church has a spiritual technology for freeing its members of unwanted barriers on its collective path to spiritual enlightement, a technology consisting of ritualized questions ("processes") and courses that culminate, at the highest level, in the person being "Cause Over Life" (stated end phenomena for New Era Dianetics for Operating Thetans, or NOTs).

The Church is an important new religious movement for several reasons, not the least of which is its importance in protecting the religious freedom of others. It has demonstrated on a global level that it is a force to be reckoned with. Although its resources pale beside those of the Roman Catholic church, its financial resources are vast and the methods that it uses to protect itself from its enemies are both controversial and ruthless. It has, in less than half a century, made inroads into the governments of several powerful western nations. Yet the church is not without its critics, even multimedia critics, and the Internet newsgroup, alt.religion.scientology is outspoken in its criticism. The newsgroup is routinely flooded with sporgeries and its members attacked.

Church spokespeople claim it is the victim of religious persecution in Germany:

  • That the German government estimates it a force so formidable that, according to Church spokespeople, it has leveled religious persecution at resident and alien scientologists (Hatewatch, 1997).
  • The Church claims that Scientologist artists and performers have been banned from Germany and their German engagements cancelled.
  • Scientologists cannot work for the German government and the government maintains a roster of church members.

Strong reactions have directed global attention to the California-based church. These claims are not without their critics, who explain that Scientology artists may perform in Germany but are not government subsidized.

Scientology and Heaven's Gate - the Context

The sacred scriptures of the Church of Scientology, which center around the Xenu myth and its twin creation myths, communicate best the religious consciousness and cosmology of not only scientology but also of a technological framework that is shared by other post-modern new religious movements, including Heaven's Gate.

Like many fundamentalist sects in other religions, Scientology teaches its core myth as literal fact. Paul Tillich, Lutheran theologian, discusses the Christian parallels beautifully in Theology of Culture:

    Now all this, if taken literally, is absurd. If it is taken symbolically, it is a profound expression, the ultimate Christian expression, of the relationship between God and man in the Christian experience. But to distinguish these two kinds of speech, the non-symbolic and the symbolic, in such a point is so important that if we are not able to make understandable to our contemporaries that we speak symbolically when we use such language, they will rightly turn away from us, as from people who still live in absurdities and superstitions.
Although Scientology teaches its mythology as a literal truth, this examination of the core Scientology myths has nothing to do with taking those myths literally. Facts have nothing to do with it.

The Context - The End of Modernism

In January 1986, the Challenger disaster became a defining crisis for a new generation, just as the assassination of Kennedy was a defining moment for the baby boomers. The world watched the United States, its technological leader, take its best and brightest and blow them up. Millions of school-aged children watched in their classrooms. Those children are now in our universities. In that explosion, the technological Tower of Babel fell; the new civilization would not be realized through humankind's technological ingenuity. While Generation X may be characterized by its passive lack of belief and sometimes its lack of hope on more than a personal level, the Challenger children are marked by an active and reactionary distrust of technology that heralds the end of the technocracy born in the 1950s.

Scientology was introduced in 1952, although its predecessor subject, Dianetics, existed as early as the mid-1940s. Its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, is often dismissed as a science fiction writer by the press, although he claimed a degree in nuclear physics from George Washington University. GWU can verify no records beyond the second undergraduate year. Despite his unproven credentials, it is obvious that Hubbard was well-read and often expressed admiration for the work of Will and Ariel Durant.

Hubbard acknowledges in early works (1950, 1953) that he studied under and admired Commander William Thompson, himself a student of Freud. However, no Commander William Thompson has been located, and not for want of trying by scientologists and critics alike. In any event, a strong Freudian influence is evident in Scientology's methodology, which it refers to as its "spiritual technology", a technology based on a Hubbard's theory of mind (Touretzky, 1998). Case histories from his early works (1950) contain regressions to pre-natal experiences in the womb of a traumatic nature, usually attempted abortions by the mother.

Philosophically, scientology was born into a pre-Challenger Disaster world wherein technology was considered a viable hope for humankind's future. In that world, such Nietzschean values as "Scientology is for the able" and an emphasis on personal responsibility echoed the spirit of many people. Hope is a cornerstone of Scientology, hope based in belief in the individual's ability and the indomitability of the human spirit.

Hubbard's lack of credentials, his refusal to have his research reviewed objectively by the his peers in the psychological community, and an arrogant disrespect for the acknowledged authorities of the time caused him to not be taken seriously by the mental health community or the popular press, who condemned his work as "pseudoscience". Hubbard made great claims of increases in IQ and personal ability, which he supported by excerpts from case studies but not by research done in accordance with the agreed upon norms of the time. Hubbard responded with a 30-year tirade against psychology and psychologists, denouncing the entire field as both harmful and evil. The enmity between scientology and psychology exists to this day in and toward the church he founded. This is particularly true in the American psychological community, where empirical evaluation is valued over descriptive interpretations.

Is it a religion?

Central to the evaluation of the myth of Xenu as a religious myth is the supposition that scientology is itself a religion, a claim not without controversy. Those opposed to scientology, and there are many, argue that scientology focuses on the consciousness of the individual and, moreover, that the individual's relationship with a creator is irrelevant to the religion. There is no worship service, per se, held in scientology churches, although Sunday services are held. The subject of God, as an entity whose existence might be proved or disproved, both ontologically and cosmologically, the usual purview of religion, is left to the individual himself.

No deity stands at the center of Scientology's religious teachings. The lack of such has stirred up antagonism from fundamentalist groups who consider Scientology a dangerous gnostic cult and draw links between Hubbard and Aleister Crowley. The antagonism appears to flow in both directions -- Denigrating references to traditional religious beliefs occur in Scientology's scriptures. The Scientology Comparative Theology Page, which claims "to promote the scholarly study of the religious beliefs of Scientology, and compare them to other religious belief systems" but does a less than objective job of it does quote several of these references.

There is an obvious lack of a savior in Scientology's mythology -- unless one sees scientology's founder as an integral part of the myth. This is not an uncommon pattern in narcissistic charismatic leaders (Oakes, 1997). In later years, after Hubbard had severed administrative ties to his church, he often complained that he was repeatedly called back to remedy organizational crises personally.

This is not without precedence in more traditional theology:

A God about whose existence or non-existence you can argue is a thing besides others within the universe of existing things. And the question is quite justified whether such a thing does exist, and the answer is equally justified that it does not exist. It is regrettable that scientists believe that they have refused religion when they rightly have shown that there is no evidence whatsoever for the assumption that such a being exists. Actually, they have not only not refuted religion, but they have done it a considerable service. They have forced it to reconsider and to restate the meaning of the tremendous word God. Unfortunately, many theologians make the same mistake. They begin their message with the assertion that there is a highest being called God, whose authoritative revelation they have received. They are more dangerous for religion than the so-called atheistic scientists. They take the first step on the road which inescapably leads to what is called atheism. (Tillich, 1959).

After a lengthy battle, a surprising reversal in IRS policy acknowledged Scientology as a bona fide religion for tax purposes. It is also staunchly defended as a religion by H. Gordon Melton, a legal expert witness on cults and curator of the American Religions Collection at the University of California Santa Barbara. Dr. Melton's collection houses copies of the sacred scriptures. Dr. Melton was offered copies by the scriptures by Heber Jenztsch, President of the Church of Scientology, on the condition that he prohibit access to the documents. Dr. Melton declined (personal communication, fall, 1992). Other scholars, including Irving Hexham, who sponsors a discussion forum for the academic discussion of new religious movements at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, share this belief.

Scientology's purpose, as stated by Hubbard (1953), is "to bring mankind out of the barbarism it thinks conceived it" to a greater spiritual awareness of itself. This constitutes a religious purpose, geisteswssenschaften, (Dilthey) that is, a science of the spirit or mind.

Theory Behind the Methods

Hubbard's study of seminal psychoanalytic concepts is evident in Scientology's most basic counseling techniques: The basic processes in scientology's "spiritual technology" and similar procedures derived from Freud's work could be likened to watching a movie (Descilo, 1997). The parishioner, in the framework of a formal session, repeatedly reviews a traumatic or distressing event. The pastoral counselor asks her to rewind to the beginning of an incident, viewing the incident until the end, and then reporting what she saw, heard, felt, and thought while reviewing it. As in the case of a second, third, or fourth viewing of a movie, different aspects emerge with each viewing. It seems that repetition of a technique is used to achieve a deeper level of resolution. As in flooding and other systematic desensitization technqiues, repetition of a concept or trauma reactivates and then desensitizes the trauma's emotional and cognitive content. This reactivation creates what is described under the concept of state-dependent learning, wherein a person must be in a similar state to the time one learned or experienced something in order to be able to recall it (Gerbode, 1989). Repeating an emotionally uncomfortable concept or traumatic event serves to trigger the event or the material connected to the concept, which are stored in state-dependent form (Goodwin et al, 1969). By repeating material in the person's conscious awareness, her preconscious material will begin to surface, and as the repetition is continued, previously unconscious material may surface, although the form may be more imaginal than factual. When all such previously unconscious material has been viewed and therefore no longer unconsciously affecting the person, she is Clear, or permanently free of the effects of past trauma (Hubbard, 1950).

At the higher echelons beyond Clear, however, the parishioner's sessions are done "solo" and session content proceeds in either of two directions: either "drills" to enhance native abilities, or the overcoming of limitations that originate outside of the person's own case.

Importance of Myth

With scientology's emphasis on its "spiritual technology", it might seem the least likely candidate for an examination of its mythology in an archetypal context. To examine scientology in the rationalistic context characteristic of western psychology, however, is to determine the outcome ahead of time. If we grant that scientology is geisteswssenschaften, and we have no reason not to, rationalistic materialism cannot do justice to it.

Given Hubbard's antipathy for American rationalist psychology and especially the lack of quantifiable data on Hubbard's research, a mythological descriptive approach is not only more feasible but even more fair to the religious nature of the movement as well. The widely held view that the psyche is an epiphenomenon, a secondary manifestation, could be argued to be presumptuous when evaluating a religion because religious experience posits the very Cartesian dualism that rationalist psychology and contemporary philosophers such as Daniel Dennett (1969) rule out at the start.

In common parlance, myth is a word that serves two functions: It both limits and extends preconceptions. Even when myth is applies to tales and stories, it implies that these are untrue and hence not to be taken seriously. Yet myths are also those stories that give meaning and importance to events in our lives and history, that reveal personal meaning in the archetypes, those underlying constant forms in human experience. Sacred scriptures structure human meaning and values, thus reinforcing religious traditions.

Neither myths nor archetypes are rationalizations for behavior. When a people reduce their beliefs to empirical certainties or logical proofs, even quantum physics undertakes to expose their delusion. There is no life without a mythology -- the materialistic mythology manifests itself in technological hopes and dreams, and in recurring economic cycles. Myths further the quest for the religious self, proclaiming a central reality and then building a structure of values around and in relation to it.

Myths are, at least in part, religious because their stories mirror, if through a glass darkly, the cosmology (the nature of the universe itself) and the ontology (the nature of existence) of the essential person, that personality which is both transcendent (true for all times and places) and immanent (true here and now). They tell of the human dilemma and struggle even in a technological context (Young, 1996b), and bridge the chasm between our our concept as fundamentally immortal selves who cannot conceive personal nonexistence, that is spiritual beings, divine or "in the image and likeness of" in nature, and our functional selves, symbolized as limited, and alienated from our essential core.

Accessibility

Unlike the scriptures of ancient and traditional religions, the sacred scriptures of Scientology are copyrighted, and the church has used its considerable power to ensure that they are protected. Within the church, only parishioners who have spent years of study are allowed access to the scriptures, and then at a financial cost of many thousand U.S. dollars. In fighting the dissemination of church scriptures on the Internet, the church contends that downloading (and it is necessary to download in order to read) or saving the scriptures to disk constitutes copyright infringement. Whether or not that is legally the case, the church is litigious in this regard and I have chosen to summarize, rather than quote the scriptures themselves, although there are links to the actual text throughout this document.

In fairness, however, the church's motives in protecting the scriptures may not stem solely from the monetary considerations but also to protect the uninitiated from what it considers the detrimental effects of being exposed to the myth's highly evocative images. Faithful scientologists who take the myths as literal rather than allegorical truths, are warned that premature exposure to the sacred scriptures can cause illness, pneumonia, and death.

The sacred scriptures, and particularly the Xenu myth, are nevertheless posted anonymously to the usenet newsgroup, alt.religion.scientology, and at Andreas Heldal's Free Internet web site in Norway or from sites on some university campuses, if the above link should fail. They are also included in the Fishman affidavit (1993), are archived in the American Religions Collection of the University of California Santa Barbara library (Melton, 1992), and can be had for the cost of photocopying from the United States District Court, Central Coast Division in San Luis Obispo, California.

Summary of the Xenu Myth

Ninety-five million years ago, as a solution to overpopulation, the evil head of the Galactic Federation, Xenu, used renegade soldiers from his government to forcibly bring people to earth. They were placed on volcanoes and atomic bombs exploded on them. A false collective past and culture were holographically imbedded in the force of the explosion. The images contained god, the devil, angels, and archetypal symbols. The beings were then gathered up and "packaged". A six-year battle ensued which he lost. Captured by officers loyal to the people, he was imprisoned in an electronic mountain trap. This area of space, the Galactic Federation, has since been a desert. The incident is designed to kill by respiratory infection and sleeplessness anyone who contacts it. A body is actually a mass of spiritual beings who have misidentified and become stuck to the being or to other beings comprising the body. One cleans off and frees these beings by running two incidents, the volcano explosion incident and "implant of false reality" of the Xenu myth, and then another earlier, incident called "Incident I", a creation myth.

Summary of the Creation Myth

The creation myth occurs at the beginning of time, four quadrillion years ago. A loud snap is followed by waves of light. A chariot emerges and turns in two directions. A cherub blows a horn and approaches the viewer. Another series of snaps and the cherub fades and blackness falls on the being. If an entity does not recover his true identity by running the Xenu myth in a variation of the procedure outlined above, the creation myth is taken up.

The Myth of Myth -- A Context for Interpretation

We can examine the Xenu myth and its companion creation myth in four contexts:

Eternal Return

Mircea Eliade sees all myth as concerning the beginnings of existence and of identifying in illo tempore¸ the timeless moment that is both immanent and transcendent in human existence. The eternal return contains the annihilation of time that returns to that "time before time", the past before the past, that is both transcendent and immanent in the present moment. Myths are sacred, instructive, and important. They explain how it is that the world is as it is. Myth is sacred because it opens the door to a world that exists, not alongside our everyday world, but which permeates it. In the sacred beginnings of in illo tempore, supernatural beings given finite existence in reality, whether the reality of the whole cosmos or a small part of it. Time in illo tempore is qualitatively different from profane time, from the continuous and unidirectional sequence of connected events. Order emerges from chaos in such moments of return to the primordial beginnings of experience.

Myths are also instructive and offer behavioral models for activities in the profane world. There is an element of magic, an impulse to make the external world conform to one's wants and needs, in myth but this can also be seen as an interface to those elements of religion that bring humans into harmony with those elements in the real world (people and events) which they do not control. Earthly events, the literal history, are unreal and illusory. Mythological realities are true and substantial. With repetition and ritualization, myths come to define the world view and so shape the outer environment through human action.

Myths are important. They carry the structure of meaningful human existence, addressing not only rationalistic or imaginative faculties, but the whole person and her relationship with the cosmos. They speak to the existential situations in which a person finds herself: the ebb and flow of relationships, events and cataclysms in the physical environment, and of individual experience as she is born, grows old, and dies. Myths unite people because they address common and ancient experiences that are part of human existence: struggles of good and evil, life and death, integration and alienation.

Monomyth

Joseph Campbell (1968, 1972) describes myths as symbols that evoke and direct individual psychological energies and are at the same time woven into the larger fabric of cultural world view. Myths are the dreams of societies and one's personal dreams are the embryonic forms of the larger dream that both influence and reflect one's personal destiny. Myth honors the spiritual energies that manifest in the moment in four ways.

First, is the sense of awe or wonder, the sense of a numinous power outside of finite human control, what Ruldolf Otto describes in The Idea of the Holy. Myths address fundamental realities and basic mysteries of existence: who we really are, and why we are here, why bad things happen to good people, how do we live knowing that we are going to die and what happens then?

Second, myth provides a cosmology, a model of the universe. Myths communicate this in a way that is imaginal and evocative, rather than abstract and rational, and in so doing communicate universally by way of the understanding that comes through the senses, faculties that all people share. Whether that image is of the cosmos as a great island or an ordered cluster of galaxies, myths communicate what the universe looks like and where people fit into it. As for Eliade, order is a keynote: myths set the boundaries of spirit and matter, and sacred and profane experience.

Third, myths serve a sociological function in supporting the social order and to integrate outsiders into the group. They educate the young and new arrivals into the mores, values, and ideals of the community through repetition and ritual.

Fourth and most important, myth serves a psychological function, initiating a person into her own realities. It guides a person through the peak and valleys of human experience from childhood to death. Children are reassured through their fears. Adolescents are strengthened in their definition of boundaries and encouraged to take risks. Adults gain insight into the use and abuse of power and ability, and elders find in myth a vessel for carrying their wisdom to new generations. All of these moments take place in the here and now. They are ordered and their meaning acknowledged through myth.

The true gods and heroes are within the person; they are the person herself. By developing this spiritual awareness, the chasm between the subjective inner world and the hostile outer world that disregards individual hopes and wishes, is bridged. Campbell develops these four functions of myth within the conceptual structure of monomyth , a universal pattern of departure, initiation, and return that echoes throughout all cultures and individuals who respond to the call to meaningful existence.

The monomythic pattern contains, implicit in its departure, initiation and return, a kind of spiritual death and transformation that is as valid for the human listener as for the mythic hero. What the hero ultimately discovers is her own self, her own identity. Meaning is central to the religious self -- myths illustrate a universal condition, outside of time and applicable to all, if not taken literally but rather symbolically.

Journey to Wholeness

Both Eliade and Campbell were influenced by C.G. Jung's commentaries on the reality of myths, dreams, and fairy tales, specifically the role of myth in mapping and marking the spiritual journey from the empirical outer consciousness to the religious self, which he sees at the core of our unconsciousness.

Myths are indestructible and have common elements in all cultures. Because the same themes surfaced in difference cultures, Jung divined a common substance in the various myths of different races and cultures. That common substance emerges in various cultures, giving expression to unconscious processes that produce images in dreams that are unrelated to the stream of ordinary events. Underlying the personal unconscious of the individual, Jung sensed a "collective unconscious" of forms common to human experience. Those forms are the archetypes, invisible shapers of behavior and emotion. These forces are personified by the gods and heroes of myths. The archetypes include: the Self (which Jung calls the "god within us"), the hero, the anima and animus (the contrasexual part of the psyche, the image of the other sex that an individual carries within), the shadow (inferior characteristics that are not acknowledged by the individual). The realization of the religious self is achieved through recognizing and acknowledging the archetypes, and reconciling perceived opposites within the personality. This process Jung calls individuation. Myths help to bring this process to consciousness.

A Symbolic and Polytheistic Approach

James Hillman (1975, 1979), formerly the Director of Studies at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, criticizes Jung for literalizing the individuation process. By affirming the "teleological fallacy" (that life's purpose is realized in the wholeness of individuation), betrays the myriad identities and archetypes in the personal and collective unconscious of the individual. Jung creates a monotheistic theology instead of an archetypal psychology wherein individuation is only one archetypal image among many possible perspectives inherent in human nature. Hillman's vision for psychology undertakes to free the individual soul from all false and partial identifications, especially the life in which it finds itself centered, and to engage in "soul-making" through a noninterpretive understanding of the imaginal process. Because the soul often expresses itself in images of gods, psychology is necessarily religious and theistic. Hillman condemns as one-sided and superficial the idea that human experience is singularly directed toward growth. Human nature also has in it tendencies for limitation, irrationality, and even pathology and if not acknowledged and given expression (as in myth), these forces become demonic and destructive of the individual and society.

The relationship between religion and insanity is sometimes tenuous at best. The literalization of the Xenu myth moves it away from spirit and invites behaviors that are viewed as atypical, cultish by the larger society.

Elements of the Xenu Myth

The Xenu myth contains these mythic elements:
  • A similar crisis to an element in the ordinary stream of reality: overpopulation.
  • A personification of evil: Xenu.
  • A hero: Although the loyal officers in the myth contain, but do not annihilate, the evil one, the true hero of the myth is Hubbard himself who conveys the truth in telling the mythic tale. Hubbard also fulfills the role of the savior.
  • A struggle in which good overcomes evil.
  • A wound which has not yet been healed: packaging and identification of the victims.
  • An inherent cosmology: the physical (the body) is in actuality spiritual in nature, good contains but does not vanquish evil forever.

Elements of the Creation Myth

The creation myth contains these mythic elements:
  • The beginning of time.
  • Separation of light and darkness.
  • An announcement: the cherub blow the horn
  • A struggle in which good overcomes evil.
  • A fallen state: blackness befalls the being.

Examination of the Myth

Eternal Return

In Eliade's paradigm, these myths explain the beginning of existence and the path of return to wholeness and the native condition that is in illo tempore. That path is the recognition of the events of the myth and is traveled first by recognizing the identities which one is and is not and second, by assisting another (the beings that comprise the person's body) to do the same. Behavioral models are supplied by the loyal officers and the hero/savior who recounts the story. The cosmology is that good triumphs over evil, that light and darkness are themselves created things.

Monomythic Elements and the Personal Journey

The confronting of the crime in the Xenu myth is a major stepping stone in the scientologist's journey to wholeness. It also serves an initiatory function in the church and educates him on symbolic level regarding the church's cosmology. Completing the rituals of applying the methods to the myth, a series of rituals which are tightly supervised and often take hundreds of hours, increases the status of the member. As each of the packaged beings has become identified with a different element of the myth, the ritualized "processing" of these beings allows the initiate to integrate various archetypal forms contained in the myth.

The Archetypes

The Xenu myth contains in its imaginal implants a mirror of modern ordinary reality and the archetypal manifestations and symbols.

Literalization and Metamyth

The myth is presented as an actual event in the time stream, not an extra-temporal truth. Except in that Hubbard himself relates the myth, the myths lack a savior. Hubbard himself, in telling the myth, is part of the myth. Hubbard's telling it supplies the missing part of the myth. The initiate herself is the hero on the way to overcoming the demonic Xenu element in her personal past.

An Imaginal Interpretation

When literalized, the Myth of Xenu is trivialized, becoming an explanatory justification for our current state of spiritual disrepair. By honoring it as a mythic truth, the instructive and examplary powers of myth become apparent. Let us examine the Xenu myth from an imaginal perspective, with each aspect of the myth taken as a power and direction within the individual.

Ninety-five million years ago, as a solution to overpopulation, the evil head of the Galactic Federation, Xenu used renegate soldiers to forcibly bring people to earth.

The overpopulation problem of the myth mirrors events in our own present, as our personal and collective dreams often do. In order to solve a problem, an evil, personified as Xenu, takes form. Our problems stem from solutions we conjured up for earlier problems. We make others the solution to our own fears of being abandoned and our need for space and security. When we elevate those problems to the status of "ultimate concerns" wherein they become the basis of the actions we take. In doing so, they become false gods, causing us to betray our true selves (Tillich).

They were placed on volcanoes and atomic bombs exploded on them.

Explosions and great destructions destroy the old order and form the foundation for the new one. Endless creation, like endless destruction, is impossible. The new civilization is built on the ruins of the older civilizations. The powerful inner forces can be evoked by way of an external cataclysmic event in our lives. The journey is often painful. Judith Herman says in Trauma and Recovery:

The traumatic event challenges an ordinary person to become a theologian...She stands mute before the emptiness of evil, feeling the insufficiency of any known system of explanation...All questions are reduced to one, spoken more in bewilderment than in outrage: Why? The answer is beyond human understanding.

The lesson is that we can turn outward misfortunes into opportunities for spiritual growth.

A false collective past and culture were holographically imbedded in the force of the explosion. The images contained god, the devil, angels, and archetypal symbols.

When we take our cues about absolute reality and define ourselves by our wants and the expectations of others, don't we make less, make profane, that which is most holy, that part of us that is the image and likeness of a god?

The beings were then gathered up and "packaged".

When we package ourselves and others by assigning stereotypic labels, don't we dehumanize ourselves? We then abdicate our freedom by mindlessly conforming to the goals and activities that correspond to the "package".

A six-year battle ensued which he (Xenu) lost.

When we are evil (at odds with ourselves and all that is real), dehumanizing ourselves and others in our solutions to our own needs and wants, we always lose eventually.

Captured by officers loyal to the people, he was imprisoned in an electronic mountain trap.

We cannot overcome the evil in ourselves; it is a part of a finite existence. We have to choose and our choices are therefore limited. Like the evil Pandora set free, it can be contained but it cannot be vanquished. And after we have given way to our impulses to solve our own problems at the cost of dehumanizing others, do we not find ourselves alone and abandoned in a prison of our own making?

This area of space, the Galactic Federation, has since been a desert.

After we have profaned our relationships by dehumanizing the other in the abuse of our own power, haven't we lost the sacredness and meaning of our daily life? Don't we stand at the balcony and watch the people we knew best and loved go on about their lives as if in a different orbit in some faraway galaxy we can no longer travel to?

The incident is designed to kill by respiratory infection and sleeplessness anyone who contacts it.

When the spirit, the breath of life, is gone and when we overcome distractions and confront that fact, we experience it anew. We cannot sleep, and so we cannot dream. We have no visions, we have no future.

A body is actually a mass of spiritual beings who have misidentified and become stuck to the being or ot other beings comprising the body.

Our confusions about boundaries of identity and our attempts to "become" the other while maintaining our own individuality weaken us by making us something we are not. It is important to claim and integrate those things that are a part of me, including those acts and identities I condemn as sinful in others. This is not a simple task. Like Psyche who must sort the seeds on her way back to true relationship, the task is monumental and painstaking. We must be true to ourselves, to the other, and to our own incarnate spirituality. It is this integrity that allows us to survive such great cataclysms and injustices as are described in this myth.

Conclusions

The representation of Hubbard's personal myth as a literal fact renders it explanatory, but not mythic. Even if communicated in a mythic context, it may not be received as a universal truth by the listener. Many such listeners find their way to the Free Zone, a loose association of former members who embrace some or all of the belief systems associated with clearing, but not the Church of Scientology.

Moreover, it may not be the exact archetype that speaks to an individual listener at that moment in their journey. Myths necessarily express but they do not explain. They are imaginal gestures, not fundamentalist interpretations. The liability of the explanation is that in so explaining the myth moves from the sacred expression of form to a linear explanation based on a prior event. The Xenu and creation myths, drawn from Hubbard's own unconscious, are true imaginal expressions but they are not factual. In representing them as factual explanations, they lose their power and leave initiates vulnerable to the ridicule of outsiders.

Even as a meta-myth, a myth that imaginally "explains" the false collective experiences, the Xenu myth may not be the exact archetype that speaks to the individual. However, the myth nevertheless represents a milestone in scientology's collective progression toward wholeness: In the Xenu myth and the less complex creation myth that precedes it, Hubbard moves from the level of addressing the personal unconscious of the psyche, to the realm of the collective unconscious. The archetypes of the collective construct, however, are "forms without content, representing merely the possibility of a certain perception and action" (quoted in Wulff, p. 423). They signal a predisposition or "readiness to produce over and over the same or similar mythical ideas". Out of psychic realities, religious myths are born which give meaning to experience and aid the individual in coming to terms with the world and herself. This is lost when the myth is literalized. The literalization of the Xenu myth as an event in the personal history of the individual that might be proven or disproven by empirical evidence disempowers the myth itself and relegates it to fable.

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I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of the subscribers to two Internet discussion lists, nurel-l, a list for the discussion of new religious movements maintained by Irving Hexham of the University of Alberta, and sbbust-l¸a list for the discussion of religion and Generation X, maintained by Shawn Landres and the University of California at Santa Barbara.


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