"An UMMO Glossary"
One of the most distinctive aspects of the UMMO mythos must be, of course, the strange sounding names and concepts written entirely in uppercase letters. A concise glossary of 400 Ummite words was compiled in the late Seventies by Antonio Moya and Ignacio Darnaude, the latter of whom submitted it to the attention of linguists at a major university in Seville. The academics were unable to say if the Ummite words constituted a real language or not -- a fact which heartened believers in the veracity of UMMO. Here are a few examples of the Ummite language.
UMMO -- a name to bewilder researchers with, yet one that delights the true believers. The full panoply of Ummite madness was never unleashed upon the United States, nor indeed the English-speaking world. The putative race of space-farers from the star Wolf 424 was partial to France and Spain, and its network of informants destined the bulk of its reports to recipients in these countries. One researcher has gone as far as to describe the whole UMMO experience as "Star Trek made flesh," a phrase which elegantly summarizes the legacy of millions of words left to us by visitors from another star system.
Before the reader gets too excited, it is necessary to observe that like Star Trek, UMMO was merely a work of fiction (a much kinder description than merely branding it a hoax). The incredible mythos spun out by Spanish psychologist Jose Luis Jordan Pena had consequences that went far beyond any hoaxer's expectations.
An Exercise Out of Control
In the mid 1950's, Jose Luis Jordan Pena was elaborating the theory that paranoia was much more widespread among the population than psychiatrists of the time were willing to admit. Jordan Pena believed that no less than 79% of the population was afflicted, and proceeded to demonstrate the validity of his theory by concocting the UMMO affair -- the story of tall, blond and friendly aliens who had landed near the French locality of Digne. The belief in superstitions such as astrology, flying saucers, spiritism, shamanism, etc., was considered as proof of this paranoia by the Spanish psychiatrist.
The perpetrator of the hoax of the century penned his own confession in an article entitled "UMMO: Otro Mito Que Hace Crash" for La Alternativa Racional, an Iberian equivalent of The Skeptical Enquirer. A believer in the concept of "systematical paranoia," Jordan Pena put forth beliefs which, in his own words, were imbued with a certain logic. He didn't limit himself to the theoretical framework, but actually took steps (by his own admission) to create a false landing in the Madrid suburb of Aluche, leaving bogus landing marks behind, and adding to the confusion by availing himself of a few sheets of polyvinyl fluoride which were unknown in Spain at the time (a material known as TEDLAR, manufactured by E. duPont de Nemours for the U.S. space program).
History of A Phantom Planet
The physical forgeries, never too impressive to begin with, occupied the backseat to the scientific material dictated by the Ummite--reams of paper filled with information concerning their society, organization, and beliefs in the form of learned reports aimed at familiarizing humans with their culture, as well as acquainting humans with their perspective on our affairs, such as war, inequality, etc. These reports were allegedly transmitted by means of dictation to a human typist (who was strictly ordered never to attempt contact with the addresses), and then sent to scientists, philosophers, and broad-minded individuals who in the Ummites' criteria, would be able to understand them and put them to good use.
A considerable amount of the UMMO doctrine was put forward by Fernando Sesma Manzano, a teacher and journalist who directed the "Association of Friends of Space Visitors" a loose affiliation of occultists, writers and saucer buffs who met every Tuesday in the basement of a Madrid cafe for lengthy tertulias on the subject. Sesma allegedly had the very first and only telephone conversation with one of the Ummites, during which he was given the now-classic introduction to UMMO and its lore:
"It is our wish to inform the planet Earth of our origin and the intentions which have led us to visit you. We come from UMMO, a planet which orbits the star IUMMA, recorded in the astronomical maps of your planet as Wolf 424...the difficulties of comparing and checking the identifications of your system of astronomical references against our own is quite indescribable."
Sesma's interlocutor, DEI 98, son of DEI 97, proceeded to explain that UMMO had undergone our own world's bloody turmoil in distant ages, when it was exploited by brutal tyrants like NA 456, daughter of NA 312. A child "renown from birth for her intelligence," NA 456 espoused the belief that breakneck scientific development was critical to UMMO's survival. The entire concept of God (or WOA, in the Ummite's language) was reinterpreted to mean the collected mass of Ummites, with NA 456 as the "brain." The youthful dictator imposed her belief system on billions of Ummites, declaring emphatically that all those unwilling to make the ultimate sacrifice for science would be destroyed. UMMO underwent a reign of terror until NA 456 died under mysterious circumstances, to be succeeded by her daughter WIE 1, a vain matriarch who put four million Ummites to death.
As DEI 98 informed Sesma, this rule of terror caused an anti-scientific backlash which culminated in the destruction of everything from libraries to nuclear powerplants. An interest in philosophy and telepathy replaced the lust for science. But perhaps the most important event of this horrific age on a world many light-years from earth was the rise of UMMOWOA.
UMMOWOA (the "Redeemer of UMMO") spread the belief in the One True God among his fellows. Scientists, jurists, technicians and workers flocked to hear the teachings of this simple Ummite, a worker in the solar power factories on the SIUU Plateau. UMMOWOA's teachings, compiled in the form of a thousand TAUU (paragraphs), were distributed around the planet in recorded form. But the authorities had no truck with UMMOWOA's message of harmony and understanding: he was arrested, tormented and sentenced to death, only to "disappear" before the eyes of his captors.
In spite of the strong similarities with Christianity, all that the humans were interested in learning from DEI 98 was how they had first become aware of our "small blue marble" light-years away. The Ummite was only too pleased to elaborate!
An Expedition to Earth
In the 1930's, a Norwegian vessel on the high seas had conducted an experiment in the upper reaches of the radio frequency (400 megacycles). These signals were received on UMMO, and although they were short in duration, they sufficed to help Ummite astronomers to pinpoint our location in space.
After much arguing about whether the signals were intelligent or not, the Ummites decided to outfit their first expedition to Earth, arriving on our world in March 1950. One of the earliest problems, according to the Ummites, in establishing contact with humans is that their race is almost completely telepathic, since the vocal chords atrophy and are useless beyond a certain age. Thence the importance of establishing written communication. A large number of the Ummites chosen for the expedition to Earth belonged to a minuscule segment of their society that actually had use of their vocal chords.
The Ummites were not at all hesitant in providing descriptions of their homeworld. The planet UMMO was similar to our own in most respects, with oceans, a single continental landmass, and with considerable volcanic activity -- some of the Ummite volcanoes spew clouds of incandescent gas for many miles into the atmosphere, adding a glow to the evening skies that the Ummites consider highly attractive. The physical conditions of their world cause Ummites to be tormented by a number of afflictions, most distressing among them a sort of madness that causes the telepathic collapse of an otherwise rational member of society. Ummites have extremely delicate fingertips, and the simple act of holding a cold glass is excruciatingly painful to them.
While the Ummites neo-Catholic version of theology may have been all the proof some followers needed, the hard, cold formality of Ummite science was constituted pay dirt to others.
Recipients of the UMMO reports dealing with the secrets contained within the propulsion systems of their OAWOLEA UWEA OEM (spacecraft) were fascinated by the presentation of the concepts. UMMO's physics bore no relation to terrestrial physics, and their scientists considered Earth's view of space simplistic, since it didn't factor in a veritable legion of algebraic and geometrical concepts. Space, they explained, consisted of an indefinite number of dimensions, ten of which had been mastered by Ummite technology. Perhaps most distressing to the human recipients was the statement that subatomic particles were merely "the various orientations obtainable in space by the IBOZOO UU (dimensional axises)" -- according to the manner in which the axises were aligned, the spaceships could become mass, matter, energy or any form of radiation. A series of dimensional shifts enabled the Ummite saucers to take shortcuts in space that deviated "from the standard mode of diffusion of light." This ability allowed the Ummites to make the trip between UMMO and our own world in eight or nine months, crossing an interstellar gulf of 14.6 light years.
Scientists like Juan Dominguez in Spain and Jean-Pierre Petit were riveted by these concepts and were counted among UMMO's staunchest defenders in the scientific community. Petit, in particular, was captivated by the Ummite concept of WAAM-WAAM, the "pluricosmos" or "multiverse" that was the cornerstone of Ummite philosophy.
The Snowball Effect
The attractive belief in benign, human-like aliens from a kindred world somewhere in the cosmos could have not found more fertile ground, and the UMMO mythology went from being a clever trick played by a psychologist to a social phenomenon spread like a contagion from researcher to researcher and onto the public.
Jordan Pena insisted that he had at first tried pouring the proverbial cold water on the entire subject, but that the snowball effect had wrenched any control he may have imagined that he had over his creation. The reports allegedly dictated by the Ummites were mimeographed and photocopies to researchers all over Spain and overseas by zealous "spreaders of the word". A religion had been born. Even more distressing to the creator was the fact that clandestine "UMMO reports" were mushrooming everywhere, discussing a range of subjects that went far beyond the original ones, such as the veracity of the Shroud of Turin.
The diffusion of the so-called UMMO message, ironic though it may now seem, contravened the rules that the experimenter had lain down for the project. In a letter to fellow researchers written in the 1990s, Jordan Pena stressed the "code of ethics": to limit the diffusion of the myth (made impossible by the publication of books on the subject); the repeated admonition "do not believe us" that characterized the UMMO documents; the avoidance of any financial contamination of the experiment; avoidance of any possible identification with a cult; to culturally enrich the reader by means of the allegedly extraterrestrial reports. In one paragraph of this letter, the psychiatrist bemoans the fact that French scientist Jean Pierre Petit's reputation was "burned" by his steadfast defense of the reality of UMMO. But despite of the good doctor's protestations, a dark side to his involvement in the UMMO affair was beginning to take shape.
El Ojo Critico, a serious newsletter published by a diligent and resourceful group of young Spanish UFO researchers collectively referred to a "the third generation of ufologists" shocked believers in the UMMO mythos and scandalized their elders with the accusing headline "A SEXUAL ORIGIN TO THE UMMO FRAUD"
The article, penned by journalist and television personality Manuel Carballal, stated succinctly that "after 25 years of continuing mystery, it has been the "new wave" of UFO researchers who has shed light upon one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated in ufology on an international level--the UMMO affair."
Carballal went on to
describe how researchers Carles Berche, Jose J. Montejo
and Javier Sierra, among others, were the first to
discover that noted parapsychologist Jose Luis Jordan
Pena was in fact the intellectual mastermind of the hoax.
This allegation would have remained pure speculation had
Jose Luis Jordan Pena himself not chosen to step forward
and admit his role in the hoax, using the pretext that it
had all been a "scientific experiment" aiming
at gauging the level of gullibility among Spanish
researchers of the 1960s and '70s. Further research into
the matter uncovered far less sanguine motives.
Mercedes Carrasco, the second "UMMO messenger", claimed to have met Jordan Pena in the early Seventies at a meeting of the Center for Paranormal Studies and agreed to undergo hypnosis, first in the presence of witnesses and later alone. She alleged that the parapsychologist later took to writing her letters "masquerading as an Indian guru" and telling her that "in another lifetime" Jordan had been an abusive military man who was guilty of committing excesses, and that she had been a domineering woman who had kept him enslaved. In order to balance the "karmic debt," she would have to endure a sadomasochistic relationship with him.
The Loose Ends
It would be easy enough to stop writing at this point and considered the UMMO affair "solved." Too many loose ends persist, and some of them are significant enough to explain why the public hasn't fully accepted the explanation of UMMO as a hoax.
First and foremost are the questions surrounding the landing of the Ummite spaceship [with the )+( logo on its undercarriage] at San Jose de Valderas in 1967. While the spaceship photographs have been proven fake by computer analysis, where did Jordan Pena obtain access to the strips of TEDLAR, a material destined to a highly sensitive military use? Where did the psychiatrist secure the ninety-nine percent pure nickel tubes containing the TEDLAR strips? Wouldn't it be more logical to suppose that somebody gave him these items?
The possibility that the entire UMMO experience may have been a sort of secret war or battle of nerves between warring intelligence agencies has been approached by a number of researchers, most notably Jacques Vallee. It is also possible that "Project UMMO," for want of a better name, came to an end when the intelligence agencies in question achieved their goal. Those who swallowed the myth hook, line and sinker, unable to bring the magnificent little universe to an end, continued it with their own "reports" and "letters." When they ran out of scientific material, the gravitated toward a far simpler doctrine of harmony and love whose comprehension did not require an advanced degree. This is evidenced by the frequent UMMO conventions held in major Spanish cities and which are sponsored by prestigious individuals who talk long into the night no longer about interstellar propulsion systems but about UMMO's doctrines of peace and love.
Veteran UFO researcher Raymond Fowler observed in his book UFOs: Interplanetary Visitors that in the event of massive open contact with a benevolent advanced alien civilization, many elements of the civilian population would actually "transfer their allegiance" to the newcomers due to their advanced wisdom and power. If the arrival of a fleet of disc-shaped vehicles from UMMO were imminent, would their terrestrial followers obey their elected officials, or would they unhesitatingly run to meet their "elder brothers"? Could this be the reaction UMMO was meant to gauge?