With the world's fossil fuel supplies holding sway over international diplomacy, the timing seemed right for the lecture “Free Energy for Planet Earth!” presented by the Unarius Academy of Science in El Cajon. A demonstration of a Tesla coil, named after turn-of-the-century inventor Nikola Tesla, promised to illustrate how such technology “can be developed to produce a nonpolluting and unlimited source of free energy.”
Unarians, whose name is an acronym for UNiversal ARticulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science, emphasize that the academy houses not a religious sect but rather a tax-exempt, nonprofit educational organization whose main purpose is to distribute “New World Teachings.” More than 125 books, such as The Truth about Mars: An Eyewitness Account by Unarian cofounder Ernest L. Norman, who claims the contents were “received clairvoyantly,” were on display and for sale in the academy's Star Room.
Mid-20th century Muzak provided the soundtrack for a stroll around the premises. Faux-marble Grecian statues and columns broke the monotony of wood paneling around two large, high-ceilinged rooms. Silk garlands of multicolored flowers and green foliage streamed across crystal chandeliers. Smoky mirrors, glycerin fountains and oil paintings of people and themes identified with Unarius abounded.
Judging by the portraits of Ruth E. Norman (known as “Uriel”), who co-founded Unarius with husband Ernest in 1954 and established El Cajon as the foundation's international center in 1974, the building's decor reflected the personal taste of that eccentrically charismatic woman. Paintings of Uriel in later life showed the matriarch wearing long, glittering gowns, festooned with paste jewels and holding a scepter. A rhinestone tiara crowns her blonde bouffant, and her beatific expression is enhanced by extensive maquillage.
(Unarius-produced videos including footage of Uriel have been shown on local cable for about 20 years and air on about 30 stations nationwide.)
Past-life therapy is an integral part of Unarius' course of study. Of Uriel's numerous past lives, some of the more well known are said to include Socrates, Buddha, King Arthur, Mona Lisa and Elizabeth I. A Unarian named Franklin volunteered that while most of his past lives had actually transpired on another planet, he was formerly a majordomo during the reign of Russia's Nicolas and Alexandra. Tesla holds an especially honored place in Unarian ideology, which identifies him as Uriel's soul mate.
Throughout her tenure as Unarius' director, Uriel claimed to receive information from advanced intelligent life residing on planets similar to but more technologically and spiritually advanced than Earth. Calling them the “Space Brothers,” Uriel said they had revealed plans to send spaceships to this world. After some no-shows, Uriel announced the Brothers' amended plan: A single ship carrying 1,000 representatives from the planet Myton in the Pleiades star cluster would land somewhere in the Caribbean in 2001. They would come not to interfere or invade but to serve as general examples for humanity and to bring scientific knowledge.
According to Tracey Kennedy, Unarius media coordinator, that didn't pan out because the Brothers wouldn't make the trip if humankind wasn't ready. As proven by the violent events of 2001, the Brothers weren't getting the appropriate green light. Although no new arrival date is set, Unarians believe Earth people will eventually get themselves out of galactic quarantine and receive a visit from their space brethren.
Since Uriel “made her transition”-Unarians don't believe in death-in 1993 and her successor, Antares, made his in 1999, administrative tasks and the Brothers' messages are handled through the foundation's board of directors.
Just in case the word cult comes to mind, Franklin pointed out that Unarians don't live together or tell other members what they should or shouldn't do about anything. And, Kennedy noted, unlike the infamous UFO cult, Heaven's Gate, whose members poisoned themselves en masse in a Rancho Santa Fe mansion six years ago, Unarians abhor suicide.
The strains of “Clair de Lune” heralded the beginning of the lecture. Unarian David Reynolds gave some background on both Unarius and Tesla and an introductory, not always clear, explanation of how Tesla coils function. On the blue-draped stage, several coils were displayed. The largest was a metallic red tube, several feet high, with a small blue inverted funnel on top.
Reynolds asked for the house lights to be dimmed then turned on the large coil, which emitted a loud, static-like sound. Good-sized, purple bolts of electricity shot up from the blue funnel, and a high-temperature smell was discernible. Franklin, using his left hand, touched a purple bolt with a screwdriver and, with his right hand, picked up a long fluorescent light bulb, which promptly lit up. Audience members, including a father and two children, went up to hold hands with Franklin; the person at the farthest end of the daisy chain held the fluorescent bulb, which lit up each time Franklin contacted electricity with the screwdriver.
Reynolds admitted that an actual plan for using the coils in a practical, energy-saving way doesn't yet exist. But again, the Unarians showed great patience in believing that while that use may not happen for centuries, it will surely come.
Afterwards, the Unarius chorus ensemble sang a musical close to the presentation. Their repertoire included such appropriate selections as “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” “The Impossible Dream” and “Imagine.