The Cosmic Visions of Ed Nelson
“The process that I use is taken from the Scriptures and is not known by man on this earth.”
Traveling southeast of Portland, Oregon, it takes less than an hour to reach the foothills of the Cascade Mountain range and Mount Hood National Forest. With good directions, you may discover Colton, a tiny town set amidst the beautiful wilderness in Clackamas County. Colton was settled by a group of Swedish immigrants in 1865. They were loggers of the tall Douglas fir, whose trunks were floated downstream and then cut and sold as railroad ties. It wasn’t until just after 1900 that English was taught at the local log cabin school. Today, there is a gas station, a fire department, a store, and several small churches. The town’s former telephone repairman recalled, “We’ve got fourteen people, two dogs, and one scruffy cat.”
The region recalls the Old West. Herds of wild horses still roam freely here in the sagebrush. Coyote and black bears abound in the hills. And schoolteachers have been told to be vigilant for cougars while the children are playing at recess. In small towns like Colton, another species of local wildlife can be seen at the bars, often wearing holsters with side-arms. Logging and farming seem to be the main businesses here, but economic growth is not on most people’s agenda. Ever since the hippie counterculture discovered the area in the mid 1960s, the major crop has been marijuana. But the Feds claim they are at least making progress in eliminating the once-ubiquitous meth labs hidden in the woods. For visitors to Colton, a car in good working order is a necessity. A cell phone is a smart addition, but reception is spotty. It is equally important to travel with a friend. The main reason the back roads are generally unsafe is that rifle shots at lone drivers are a common report.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, one of the more notorious of shooters was Edward M. Nelson. Ed had become inreasingly paranoid that people were trying to steel his land, his inventions, and his paintings. As a result, he became fiercely protective of these three treasures he considered sacred. From the high vantage point of his property he could spot anyone approaching on the country road, and would drive them away with his guns. Everyone in town knew he was as a dead shot with his rifle. Even from a long distance he could hit anything that moved between the eyes. Those few who were allowed to enter his property also knew him as Melvin E. Nelson, the old hermit artist. As the creator of “Original Astral-Planetary Art,” Ed signed his paintings with the initials, “M.E.N,” which also stood for “Mighty Eternal Nation.”
Actually, Ed knew nothing of art before he moved to the hilltop farm in Colton. He was born in Traverse City, Michigan in 1908, but little is known of his youth or family except that he claimed to be a descendent of Admiral Lord Nelson and of Martin Luther. In 1942, at thirty-five years old, he suddenly abandoned his wife and infant daughter in Michigan and moved to Portland. In retrospect, the break was surely the result of the emergence of his schizophrenia. He found work as an electrician at the Willamette Iron & Steel Company, a major shipbuilding firm during World War Two. After the war he worked as a “troubleshooter and investigator electrician” and by 1957 he was working as an installer for the phone company. Around 1958, he invited his old buddy, Cleo McClintock — whom he called “Mac”— to move with him to Colton where he had purchased a beautiful eighty-acre tract in the rolling wooded hills. Ed had likely met Mac while working on a municipal building project when Mac was employed at a Public Works laboratory in Portland. Coincidentally, in 1958 Mac had just filed a patent for an “air engine,” which took advantage of the heat built up from the compression of the pistons. In Colton, both had finally found the remoteness considered ideal for the privacy they required to further develop their electronics and inventions. In addition, in his extensive writings Ed referred to the farm as a place where he finally attained “peace and perfect life in a restored paradise.” A trout stream ran through rolling fields and dense forest. Plus, the farm was located high in the hills and provided a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
Ed looked and acted every part the hermit. He had long white hair and a long beard.
He refused to bathe or shower. According to one account, in 1978 he bragged that he had not bathed in over ten years and that he and Mac wore their clothes until they rotted off. They even refused to wear new clothes that had been given to them.
Mac was much shorter and had closely-cropped white hair. He was older than Ed by seven years, but did not have Ed’s robust health. They always referred to themselves as brothers. Mac had even assigned ownership in his air engine patent to Ed. Officially they were listed as equal partners in the business of farming. They tended to cows, sheep, chickens, and rabbits. As testament, an enormous manure pile grew not far from Ed’s dilapidated shack.
But their passion was inventions.
The rumor was that Ed and Mac worked on radar research at the shipyard during the war. One barn was filled with unusual generators, coils, radar equipment, antennae, and various types of electronic gear. Ed claimed to be able to levitate objects with his “cyclotronic generator.” But he especially prized his “planetron,” which was capable of generating cosmic energy, in much the same manner as a nuclear accelerator. In addition, the planetron provided a viewing window through which Ed could record his views of outer space as well as receive communications from UFOs. Meanwhile, the four-thousand square feet of his biggest barn was reserved to house his various rock-crushing machines and, of course, his supply of cosmic rocks and minerals. After all, it was with these machines that Ed was busy manufacturing his secret “stardust” which was an essential ingredient of the natural pigments he ground and prepared for the class of paintings he called “Photo Genetics.” Even more secrets were stored in an old ice truck. Any passersby were confronted by “No Trespassing” signs posted all over the property.
“They say the atom can not be seen but that is not true, as I have found out a way to watch it and also many ways to use it. I discovered this on March 12th, 1961 and have been using it ever since.” — Ed Nelson
Children are natural uninhibited artists. As they get older, some focus more intently on exploring the arts. And as young adults, some discover that art is their true passion. Accordingly, they pursue the acquisition of skills, the mastering of materials and techniques, and the refinement of their vision. After a few decades, the mature artist is born.
Ed Nelson had no formal artistic training. But on March 12th, 1961, at age fifty-four, he was suddenly reborn as an artist. A cosmic artist. The catalyst for his ephiphany is not clear, but it is certainly linked to his experiments with electronics, magnetism, and light as well as his observations of UFOs and his contact with aliens. In any event, in one moment he clearly experienced an intuitive perception that opened a door revealing the microcosm of atomic structure as well as the macrocosm that is the universe. From this point on, Ed was acutely aware of his destiny. He must share with the world his discovery of the relationship between the sub-atomic world and the vast cosmos. He continued to create secret electronic gadgets with which he obsessively experimented in the observation of light and the forms of its radiation. Ultimately, he discovered new ways to record what he called “the spiritual atoms world controlled by magnetic light.” In his extensive notes, he explained that there are two types of light. “The world of spiritual atoms is controlled by magnetic light. The world of material atoms is controlled by magnetism. The Planatary [sic] worlds are controlled by the differential movement of magnetic light and magnetism or the proto plasma of light.” [Sept 3rd, 1962]
During a period that lasted only from 1961 to 1966, Ed recorded his observations with two distinctly different techniques and mediums. The first he called “Photo Genetics.” Essential to the process were his “sacred” pigments, which he created by roaming his property — soon revered as a magical place — gathering certain rocks and minerals. The most important source was his “quarry,” a natural cut into the hillside that was about thirty feet wide and eight feet high, exposing different layers of colored clays. Another source was discovered as he observed UFOs landing on his property, typically at the bottom of the canyon, near the creek. In the deep darkness after midnight, after watching a UFO for hours, he would carefully observe the craft’s position. When the craft finally lifted off it would usually travel east over 8,000-foot Goat Mountain. Ed would then immediately rush to the landing site and collect the soil and rocks from the spot where the landing feet had rested on the ground.
Returning to the barn with his rocks and soils, Ed would grind them in an old “gold-crusher” that was cranked by hand. Because the spaceship had come from the heavens, he called this crushed material stardust. It was almost always after midnight that he would gather his stardust pigments and paper and roam his property to determine the varying strengths of magnetic forces and energies he felt being emitted from specific spots. His procedure was performed much like that of a dowser, except instead of using a y-shaped twig he used his sacred pigments on paper, observing their reactions to the fluxes in the magnetic fields of the land. It was as if he, too, possessed the same sense of magnetoreception that is integral to migratory birds. Once he found the correct locations, he created what he called his “recordings” under the stars. His purpose was ostensibly to allow the atoms in the pigment particles to release their unique image on paper, thereby portraying a true and intimate relationship to “Worlds from Outer Space.” Night after night, under the numinous force of ritual, he would work in a trance-like state, appearing to drift off into an oneiric never-never land. Writing about his “Photo Genetics” images, he clarified that “These pictures are of the worlds of Tomorrow, with the design and creation of the mightiest of atoms.” In a scientific manner, he fully described the significance of each recording, noting the exact time and date of each creation.
Ed called his second recording technique “Sentra Photo Thesis.” In contrast to the “Photo Genetics,” this series was painted with traditional watercolor or acrylic pigments. And, whereas the “Photo Genetics” explored the magnetic life of the atomic microcosm, the “Sentra Photo Thesis” revealed the relationship between those atoms and all the planets. Plus, all were painted by direct observation from his vantage point in outer space, which he reached via astral projection. He accomplished this with the aid of an invention he called the “anyzager,” an “instrument of truth.” It was with this “same instrument that God can see all things upon the earth below.” First, he made his “on-the-spot” drawings in pencil on paper, typically on any scrap that he could find, ranging from junk mail envelopes to letterheads to and supermarket flyers. He also drew on old electrical plans and blueprints he had brought with him from Portland, as well as a large supply of menus dated 1949-1950 from a restaurant in Portland. Next, using these drawings as his guides he would recreate the cosmic scene in watercolor. The two symbols appearing most frequently in his watercolors and drawings depict the “earthly” or “material” atoms, which are sperm-like in shape; and, the “planetary” or “spiritual” atoms, which are shaped like caterpillars with arrow heads and tails indicating direction of movement.
Earthquakes and UFOs
It is important to recognize that this region of Oregon is well-known for its numerous sightings of unidentified flying objects. In 1950, a farmer managed to snap two photos of a “flying saucer” while overlooking his fields in the town of McMinnville, not far from Colton. The local newspaper editor knew the farmer was not a publicity seeker, and experts determined that the photographs were authentic. The photos were released to the wire services and published across the country. When they were reproduced in LIFE magazine, the term “UFO” was born. This ignited the first nationwide surge of interest in a phenomenon that continues today. In honor of that historic sighting, McMinnville hosts an annual UFO fest and parade where marchers dress up as aliens. The area remains a hotbed for UFO activity.
For Ed, the UFOs were a confirmation of his quest to explore the link between two universes, the cosmos and the atomic world. He claimed to have seen UFOs land on his farm many times. Some of his pictures include depictions of UFOs as well as diagrams of the ship’s officers’ quarters. One large watercolor shows a figure prone on a black altar-like slab while two other figures stand by looking over it. This looks very similar to the drawings made by people who claim to have been abducted by aliens.
Ed wrote and spoke frequently about the extraordinary lights he saw at night. John Keel, author of the seminal work on UFOs that was made into a movie, “The Mothman Prophesies,” offered an alternative theory about the lights. According to Keel, UFOs do not come from outer space but are beings that exist in a state of energy outside the limits of our dimensions, yet can cross over into our world, often as magnificent lights. He stressed that such lights are an important means by which aliens could change people’s heads. The lights could enlighten or they could make one appear to be on psychedelic drugs. The notion of the UFO, says Keel, is simply part of a cover-up controlled by this alien intelligence from another dimension. The cover-up includes the “men in black,” Air Force secrecy, and stories of the mysterious government Area-51, all intended to keep the recorders like Ed from being believed by others.
To complicate matters, this region of Oregon is also well known for a natural phenomenon: earthquakes. The East Bank Fault line runs southeast from Portland through Clackamas County, making the region active in seismic events. But owing to his frequent sightings of magnificent lights and UFOs, Ed soon came to believe that a vast underground alien base lay hidden beneath his property. He claimed to be able to detect the difference between a true earthquake — like the one that caused so much damage to his first house that he had to abandon it — and a tremor caused by the underground aliens. Many people in the region agreed that certain earthquakes were not natural but caused by mysterious underground explosions. In the early 1970s, Ed found support among the members of a New Age religious group called the Aquarian Church who were drawn to the beauty of the property. The Aquarians, who refer to people as “entities,” befriended Ed. One recalled:
Ed was a tall, lanky entity with white hair, wild penetrating, twinkling eyes, very loquacious, and our first impression was that he was on some kind of drug. He wasn’t. He seemed to space out suddenly during a conversation and seemed to be looking right through us. He talked incessantly about aliens and UFOs and Bigfoot whom he had sighted several times in the woods on his property. He talked about the huge underground alien base which had an opening on his property; it had tunnels and was connected by a type of train to many other underground tunnels around the world. He had continuous visions and was mentally in contact with other entities on various vibratory planes; he also could communicate with birds and animals. He usually spent the night gazing at the stars while in a sort of trance-like state. He was an artist and frustrated that he could find few places to display his paintings, which were very cosmic-looking and somehow divinely inspired when he had a vision, which was often.1
A Spiritual Quest
The creation of Ed’s art was inextricably linked to a spiritual quest that began with his epiphany in 1961. Coincidentally, this period saw the emergence of spiritualism and “exotic” religions of the New Age. Ed subscribed to the newsletters of “The Invisible Ministry,” founded in California in 1963. Undoubtedly, he was attracted to their mission statement:
“We concern ourselves with principles that are immutable and eternal, recognizing that correct understanding and application of these principles, in any given situation, at any given time, must inevitably produce specific results. We do realize, however, that although we are not of the world we are nevertheless in it. And it is often necessary to acknowledge the world’s view for purposes of communication. After all, we are not trying to monopolize the truth but to share it with all men. In order to do that, it becomes requisite to translate it into temporal terms.”2
“The Invisible Ministry” saw its followers as “Christian Metaphysicians” and urged them to read the works of Emmet Fox [1886-1951], a popular proponent of New Thought. Ed may well have read Fox’s famous Fifteen Points or Around the Year with Emmet Fox. Perhaps the essay most pertinent to Ed was “Different People See Different Worlds” in which Fox stated: “What we experience is our own concept of things. That is why no two people see quite the same world, and why, in many cases, different people see such different worlds. To put it in another way, we make our own world by the way in which we think; for we really do live in a world of our own thoughts.”
Ed believed that God had granted him the special, other-worldly gift to see true views of the atoms, the earth, and the planets. Moreover, he was compelled to faithfully serve in the capacity of an official recorder of a Truth that was at once spiritual and scientific, for he had sat in the heavens as well as behind the microscope. He had been as close as Man could come to God, serving as His translator. If his epiphany was a spiritual gift he felt destined to share with mankind, then his “recordings” were translations of his cosmic visions into temporal terms that would reveal to mankind the wonders of the universe.
For Ed, spirituality, philosophy, and cosmology were one, centered on the common unifying themes of the macrocosm and the microcosm. Often, his viewpoint was looking down toward the top of the world from the empyrean, a heavenly realm controlled by magnetic light. This vantage reinforced his ability to see “the reflected world from Outer Space.” He saw twelve different types of atoms making up three bands of different colors around the earth. And he saw a line of disappearance in the center of all things.
Psychoanalysts would say that schizophrenia was the catalyst for Ed’s cosmic flights into the realms of an introverted reality. Certainly, his visionary experiences occurred during altered states of consciousness, but they were rooted in a synthesis of science, theosophy, alchemy, and the occult. This “old hermit” applied a scientific mind to his epiphany. In one of his notes he wrote, “Minerva Mundi = self-creation.” This Latin term is the title of a chapter in Francesco Patrizi’s Magia Philosophica of 1593. Patrizi has been recognized primarily for his highly original scientific views concerning the nature of space. Similar views were later developed in the seventeenth century by Henry More and Isaac Newton. It was the author’s spiritual goal, however, that most likely appealed to Ed, for Patrizi sought the restoration of “true religion” by purifying the occult.
Ed inscribed many other occult terms in his notebooks, such as “Mumia of Paracelsus.” This reference indicates that Ed was attracted to the history of the ancient Chaldeans of Babylonia, who discovered that simple minerals and plants yielded profound knowledge and powers. Equally compelling, he read that the Theosophists also regarded an intimate knowledge of magnetism and electricity as a necessary component of understanding man. Through his immersion in Theosophy, Ed found confirmation that the magic of his epiphany was indeed Divine. The Theosophical Society was founded in the 1870s, led primarily by Helena Petrovna Blavaysky, who published The Secret Doctrine in 1888. It is her book’s subtitle — “the synthesis of science, religion, and philosophy” — that succinctly captures Ed’s aims. Blavatsky believed that it was possible to attain knowledge of nature more profound than that provided by empirical means. Thus, it was while searching for an explanation for his epiphany that Ed first discovered that alchemistic philosophy meant “true magic.” Finally, his visions of the microcosm and macrocosm made sense to him. It was as if he had freed himself of Sartre’s existentialist quagmire and discovered the ultimate truth and purpose of his existence.
Man is a little world — a microcosm inside the great universe. Like a foetus he is suspended by all his three spirits in the matrix of the macrocosmos; and while his terrestrial body is in constant sympathy with its parent earth, his astral soul lives in unison with the sidereal anima mundi. He is in it, as it is in him, for the world-pervading element fills all space, and is space itself, only shoreless and infinite. As to his third spirit, the divine, what is it but an infinitesimal ray, one of the countless radiations proceeding directly from the Highest Cause — the Spiritual Light of the World.
Theosophy, Vol. 48, No. 10, Aug. 1960.
It is interesting to note Blavatsky’s profound impact on several generations of artists, as described in The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting, 1890-1985, published in 1986 by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A seminal and comprehensive reference work, its eponymous ground-breaking exhibition featured ninety-five artists. However, the number of artists is legion who claim that they expressed a spiritual reality beyond that which is visible.
Mondrian [1872-1944], was among the many artists immersed in Blavatsky’s theosophy. After 1908, his life and art was inspired by a search for spiritual knowledge. Edvard Munch [1863-1944], who was interested in spiritualism and had strong leanings to the occult, was committed to a psychiatric clinic for eight months. His contemporary, Kandinsky [1866-1944] espoused Blavatsky’s theosophy, and believed that the artist could create “cosmic transformations.” In turn, Marsden Hartley [1877-1943] was influenced directly by Kandinsky’s beliefs and became immersed in mystical symbolism, the occult, and the study of ancient Mayan art.
Although Ed had no formal artistic training, the purity of his pursuit to record spiritual realities places him among the ranks of numerous well-known artists who probed the origins of symbolism in the world’s religions and non-literate cultures. Along they way, most explored mystical concepts of space-time and many had out-of-body experiences. Wolfgang Paalen [1905-1959] called his series of celestial visions “Cosmogons.” Gordon Onslow-Ford [1912-2003] referred to his vision as “Inner Realism.” In 2001, Onslow-Ford wrote a treatise that could just as well have been written by Ed:
Inner Realism is dedicated to the quest of the Inner Worlds of the unconscious Mind Shared by All… In spontaneous painting, the Mind acts directly through the hand of the painter to the painting and never-seen-before images appear. The painter, as a separate individual, becomes an instrument of the Mind Shared by All, the creative spirit of the cosmos… The Inner Worlds are of other dimensions than the visible world to which the human mind is at present attuned. Through spontaneous painting, little by little, aspects of an Inner World appear and, in time, through contemplation of what has appeared, the nature of the Inner World being expressed enters ever more clearly into consciousness. The principle preoccupation of Inner Realism is to express the nature of an Inner World as directly as possible from the Open Mind. When the painter, after long experience, feels at home in the Inner World that has appeared, and when the time is ripe, spontaneous painting can speed up and there is a leap into a world of deeper dimensions. In this way the Inner Worlds involve from the worlds of Inner Earth to the worlds of Inner Sky to the faster depths of the Mind Shared by All, to the omnipresent Deeps, where time and dimensions no longer seem to apply.3
As a young man, Jackson Pollock [1912-1956] heard Onslow-Ford speak at the New School for Social Research in New York. Later, Pollock’s drip-action paintings — often described as intricately woven laceworks exploring the cosmos — won him iconic stature in art history. But what is less known is that Blavatsky’s influence reached Pollock, too, for he was interested in theosophy and the occult, and later, in Jungian psychology as he continued to explore the concept of worlds of inner and outer space. Morris Graves [1910-2001] was a member of a group of artists known as the Northwest School of Visionary Art, who in their works expressed strong spiritual bonds to the Pacific Northwest. And more recently, Brice Marden [b.1938] is one who has long professed his interest not only in the concept of the microcosm-macrocosm, but in alchemy. These and many more artists would have understood Ed and his cosmic awareness. However, nowhere in Ed’s writings does he mention any artist. Because he assumed his own creations were unique and apart from anything in art history, he found no need to explore the works of other artists. While reclusive and apparently unconcerned and unaware of other spiritually-inspired artists, he shared the same belief that true reality could be perceived by means of cosmic consciousness.
Rather than seek other artists, Ed found confirmation in the writings of New Age spiritualists such as Walter Russell [1871-1963], author of The Message of the Divine Iliad. An artist most of his life, at age fifty Russell had an epiphany that lasted thirty-nine days, turning him into a mystic and proponent of Blavatsky’s theosophy. Russell described his epiphany as “that rarest of all spiritual phenomena known as the Illumination into the Light of Cosmic Consciousness.” In the late 1940s he wrote,
“This New Age is marking the dawn of a new world-thought. That new thought is a new cosmic concept of the value of man to man. The whole world is discovering that all mankind is one and that the unity of man is real – not just an abstract idea. Mankind is beginning to discover that the hurt of any man hurts every man, and, conversely, the uplift of any man uplifts every man”4
After Russell’s death in 1963 his teachings were continued and the term “New Age” entered American culture via a growing interest in spiritualism, assisted partly by the hippie movement. Accordingly, Ed may also have subscribed to Russell’s A Home Study Course in Cosmic Consciousness.
Before he experienced his epiphany in 1961, it is doubtful that Ed had ever heard of Blavatsky, Russell, and other spiritualists. Rather, he sought out such sources to explain the extraordinary acuity that came with his transformation. He soon discovered that his art-making was a divine science whereby he could become close to, and even attain the attributes of, the ultimate Divinity itself. In several of his watercolors he even placed visual anagrams in geometric designs, the solution of which pointed to his position with God.
1964 was a good year for exploring the macrocosm and the microcosm. The space race was in full swing. The Russians continued to place cosmonauts in orbit but NASA provided an edge by launching the first spacecraft to photograph Mars. At the other end of the cosmic spectrum, the theoretical physicist Professor Gell-Mann discovered the existence of “quarks,” which make up subatomic particles (for which he would later win a Nobel Prize).
While Ed was likely aware of these developments, in March he had more pressing concerns on his mind. Night after night, he recorded a series of images that augur what became known as the notorious “Great Alaska Earthquake.” Emanating from Prince William Sound, Alaska, it was the second largest earthquake ever recorded (at 9.2 on the Richter scale) and the largest ever to hit the United States.
To be exact, the earthquake hit on March 27th, 1964 at 5:36 pm local time. However, three days earlier from his vantage point in the heavens looking toward earth, Ed recorded the sequential development of the disaster as it was building.
Ed first spotted the harbinger of the earthquake a year earlier, in June 1963, when he recorded a whirl in space that he called “the great Octipus [sic].” But it was not until the following March that he recorded the huge black Octopus approaching the earth and then encircling it intently with its tentacles.
Each night, he continued the sequence of watercolors, each documenting the octopus establishing its galvanic grip on the earth. Three days later, on March 27th and 28th, disaster actually struck. The powerful earthquake caused the Alaskan crust to suddenly slip over the Pacific plate. Imagine the fury released by twelve-thousand Hiroshima atomic bombs detonating at once. One island off the Alaska coast moved sixty feet. Some areas were uplifted by thirty feet while others sank. The result was a monstrous tsunami two-hundred thirty feet high (the second largest ever recorded) at times rushing nearly six-hundred miles per hour. It was responsible for most of the one-hundred thirty-one deaths on the Northwest coast. Two-thousand miles south of the epicenter, tsunamis demolished much of the tiny fishing town of Crescent City, California. Even residents of Florida felt the effect of the earth’s upward motion of several inches.5
The whole earth had vibrated as if constricted and shaken by a giant octopus, and Ed had seen it coming.
On a Mission to Benefit Mankind
Early in 1964, one of Ed’s goals became clarified: He must use his inventions to create huge amounts of stardust to benefit humanity. After all, the fortunes earned from selling the stardust would be a great boon to mankind. His notes are often peppered with statements such as “Want to do something for humanity…need money to help people…I do not give a damn for myself. If I died tonight you would have to go ahead.” Now, recognizing that his own passing would likely precede the coming of the second millennium, his writing took on an increasingly urgent tone and became more prophetic. At 2:03 on the early morning of January 3rd, 1964, as if writing a will that carried great responsibilities to its beneficiaries, he focused on the importance of his stardust:
“This material you have in case anything happens to me. You will at least have something to start from. I should have people here to work with me as there is so vast a mount of material that should be recorded for mankind. What I have here [what follows is a string of symbols arranged as code words before continuing the open letter] The two-thousand years is almost up now. I do not know if people can understand. As God says, he who is from above speak of those things from above. He who is earthly speaks of those things of the earth. Most men’s minds are limited that I know. Do you get some idea of just what I am trying to convey to you folks? You do not need to speak up if you do not understand what I am trying to get to you, as nothing will hurt my feelings. The mineral itself I do not know what it will run per ton just as it is taken from the earth, but after it is washed and foreign elements is taken out of it so you will have just the plain Star Dust. It will run around $29,000,000 per ton.”
Ed continued to hope that the fates would deliver to him good people he could trust to help him produce the stardust. Meanwhile, in 1966 another goal became clarified: He must attract investors to build his Star Dust facility. Although he predicted that his art would someday become very valuable, it was really the building of a stardust processing plant that was his all-important objective.
Ed would recruit anyone who would listen to his mission, including the San Francisco printer he contracted to produce his flyers. Ed wrote that although the first printing of the flyers was only one-thousand, he assured the printer, “We figure on mailing out in the near future 5,000,000 of these letters to all parts of the world” and further explained, “I have the evidence here at Colton, Ore on hand, also all the minerals are here on my farm. The process that I use is taken from the Scriptures and is not known by man on this earth.”
The first flyer was aimed at raising capital so that Ed could complete his stardust mission. Although a final printed version is not available, Ed saved his copy of the proof copy typed by the printer:
Ed always included qualifying notes to convince his printer that the venture was worthwhile:
This work is all good. It is done in truth and honesty and there is no gimmicks connected with it. I have all the evidence here at Colton, Oregon.
- The Planetary minerals
- The “Coagg”
- The Pictures by the thousands
- The “Star Dust”
- And the secret process of how all the elements are treated
- “The Canyon of Radioactivity”
- And the special “Waters”
- The Magnetic and Cosmic steams of energy that cross each other right here where I sit
- The Spectral and the Cosmic Lights
We have been over the ads a dozen times and they are all good, so let her roll.
At the top of each letter he often placed the shiny gold sticker of another New Age religious grup to which he belonged, “The Mayan Order,” which espoused a universal cosmic energy. “Maya” is Sanskrit, which denotes that the true nature of the world is found in illusion. “Maya” is also part of “Elo-maya-haka,” another signature that Ed inscribed on works. “Elo” directly stems from “Elohim,” the Hebrew plural of “God,” probably referring to the original seven pre-Judaic Hebrew Gods of the original Cosmos. In more recent Western esoteric thought “maya” also appears in sound studies as the “harmonic eleven,” which is a “bundle of electro-magnetic forces of maya” – meaning the illusion that phenomenon has true existence.” Although nothing can be found about the meaning of “haka,” his use of it as part of his spiritual name, “Elo-maya-haka,” appears to allude to harmony.6
Ed was acutely aware that he had discovered the realm of a divine magic. Because his recordings were material testament to things unseen in the universe, he took his position as God’s recorder very seriously. And, while he variously referred to his art as “Original Astral-Planetary Art” and “Original Satanic Art,” he regarded these terms not as seemingly irreconcilable opposites but as natural descriptions of his syncretic visions, dutifully recorded as fusions of the scientific, the spiritual, and the occult. In fact, Ed’s mission was to repel sinister black-magic Satanism by tapping into his own sense of white-magic mysticism. For example, Ed likely considered his recordings of the Great Alaska Earthquake to be “satanic” in that the evil Octopus represented the dark side of nature and the occult. In the same vein, his use of the hexagram in some his works (which is also an emblem of the Theosophical Society) should not be misinterpreted as Satanic because it harks back to an ancient symbolism as the dynamic yet perfectly balanced union of the spiritual and material worlds. And this was exactly Ed’s point. His stardust and his artworks were proof that the macrocosm and the microcosm acted harmoniously.
When the promotional mailer failed to attract backers for his stardust venture, Ed decided to raise money by selling his two types of pictures. He launched his own direct mail campaign with several different flyers. Despite this effort, the placing classified ads, and even the production of colored pens bearing “Original Primitive Art” with his address stamped in gold, Ed’s art sales venture never reached a large audience. For the next few years Ed attempted to sell his art, but in his remote region he found few takers or believers in his “Thesis.” Sales proved disappointing. He quit creating his recordings. Although he must have been frustrated by the lack of recognition, perhaps he quit because he felt he had completed his “Thesis” and could provide all the proof anyone would require.
Ed continued to hope that the fates would deliver good people he could trust to help him process the stardust. In 1970, it appeared as if his wish had come true. A prospector and miner from British Columbia who had heard about the stardust visited Ed and described an attractive offer. He proposed to purchase everything: Ed’s eighty-acre property in Colton as well as the house Ed still owned in the city of Portland; plus, all of Ed’s artworks and both men’s inventions. As part of the deal, Ed and Mac would be granted life tenancy to live on the land; and, the prospector would pay them salaries to work in a stardust processing plant he promised to build. The contract stated that Ed and Mac
are the beneficial owners of, and entitled to dispose of, certain patents of invention, together with certain machines, eletrical devices and components, and a miscellaneous supply of mineralized rocks and related art objects. They are possessed of certain skills and arts enabling them to convert the natural minerals and qualities of the said eighty acre tract of land into commercial products including but not limited to art productions and metal-plated objects, and to develop the machine or machines forming the subject matter of the said patents.
Although the contract was signed, the closing faced a series of lengthy delays. After more than a year had passed without any groundbreaking for the stardust plant, Ed and Mac felt betrayed. They initiated and won a lawsuit that rescinded the deal with the prospector.
The Age of Aquarius
The fates tried to help Ed again, this time delivering a stream of young people who discovered him and his stardust. In May of 1970, after the country was horrified by the Kent State Massacre, college students around the country immediately reacted with strikes. The anger boiled over into the summer. In Oregon, the Governor agreed that it would be a good idea to let off steam by hosting a rock festival in Estacada, just twelve miles from Ed’s farm. The massive event known as “Vortex I” was similar to Woodstock except that it was the only state-sponsored rock festival in American history. Not only did the counterculture of the New Age discover the pristine beauty of the region, but the event also brought inquisitive young visitors to Ed’s hilltop farm. Naturally, the eccentric hermit with flowing white hair and beard could hardly be concerned by the hippies’ unconventional appearance. Plus, he too held a disdain for mainstream institutions. And for a decade he had already been following his own form of existentialist philosophy and newfound spiritualism. Thus, it was with this common ground that Ed became friendly with members of the Aquarian Church of Universal Service. The group was first known as the Organization of Awareness, founded in 1963 by a former university professor, Ralph Duby. Duby became the organization’s Interpreter of the Cosmic Awareness, or psychic channeler, who referred to seventeen volumes of collected trance readings. Although Duby died in 1967, one church member was certain that Ed considered him a personal friend and mentor. Consequently, Ed was most receptive to meet Duby’s successor, Paul Shockley. According to the Aquarian’s history,
The Aquarian Church of Universal Service [formally incorporated 1974] is the Organization representing of Celestial Awareness. Celestial Awareness is that universal force or Celestial Consciousness that manifests Itself as Universal Consciousness in ultra-high levels of frequency. Its expressions are given to those who attune to those frequencies as impressions and symbols which are then interpreted by a translator channeler, such as Paul Shockley [1932-2005], who has interpreted its messages since 1969.
Ed had finally found people who believed in his ability to channel at ultra-high level frequencies. They appreciated his cosmic recordings as well as his mission. As far as the Shockleys and the Aquarians were concerned, Ed was a medium who, through his trances, could achieve the state necessary to be a true witness of the macrocosm and the microcosm. Through “Cosmic Awareness,” Shockley learned that Ed’s artworks were divinely inspired. One Aquarian recalled:
Paul Shockley was a psychic channel like Edgar Cayce and he did the readings for our organization, Cosmic Awareness Communications, for about 20 years. He was able to let go of his mind, feelings, and emotions and be open to the frequencies of Cosmic Awareness, whereby when a question was asked, Paul could read the energies Awareness sent in response, which were in symbols. I personally asked some questions about Ed’s visions and his paintings and Awareness indicated his work was divinely inspired, his visions were genuine, and all the stuff about aliens, UFOs etc was indeed valid. There WAS or IS an underground city built and inhabited by aliens, with the assistance of secret government agencies and dark funding and there is an opening on Ed’s property just as he claimed. In 1990, when Awareness finally released the entire alien agenda information the material that Ed Nelson had incessantly talked about (which some called “psycho-babble”) all fell into place.
No, Ed was not on drugs. Paul gave him some LSD one time and Ed stated he did not feel any different than he normally felt, except he said he could see the atoms squirming in the wood walls of his shack. In other words, Ed was living in a continuous stoned state and his visions which inspired his artworks were very real to him and cosmic in origin. He smoked cigarettes and I suspect he smoked dope when he could get it. 7
The Aquarians sensed, as Ed had years earlier, that the farm was possessed of its own special aura. “We saw a garden of light there,” said another member. The Aquarians’ visits became more frequent and Ed became more comfortable with what became a new extended family. Shockley and his family stayed in Ed’s trailer. Ed gave them his old Plymouth. He could still get into town with his old pickup truck. Church members created a vegetable garden, mended the old fences, and even tried their best to clean up Ed and Mac, who were typically quite filthy. The Aquarians observed Ed as he dug clays for his pigments. They noticed that in some locations the clay was quite soft and, being immersed in the healing arts, they would often rub the clay all over their bodies and then bake in the sun. Another Aquarian testified to Ed’s sensitivity to the land and its energies:
The property was a magical place, and Ed was in touch with the energy forces on the land. He created his paintings outdoors because he could sense that the land emitted varying strengths of magnetic forces at different locations. This led him to roam about the land and find those places, and then he would start creating his pictures…..Most people thought he was crazy as a loon, but he was brilliant. His brainwaves were simply different from other people’s. I remember once when he was pulling tansey weeds, he told me he could hear the plants screaming when he pulled their roots out of the ground…..One evening, he asked me to come into his kitchen and simply be observant. His house was full of junk, especially rocks. He taught me how to see these peculiar lights dancing around. They appeared as tiny dots of flickering lights and he told me they were a form of energy. Without Ed I would not have otherwise seen them.8
After five years, the Aquarians were certain they had found their Arcadian promised land, and Ed was certain he had found the people who could preserve the sanctity of the property as well as help him process the stardust in order to achieve his humanitarian goals. With these lofty goals in mind, in 1976 Ed donated the farm to the church yet retained life tenancy. The Aquarians, who would live on the land, promised to build a new large studio to exhibit Ed’s art as well as a new building to process the stardust. In order to bequeath his living legacy, Ed would teach the Aquarians how to “see” the universe, and younger church members would be taught his recording techniques. Others would help process the stardust.
Although the Aquarians had good intentions to fulfill their promise, they encountered difficulties in raising the funds. Meanwhile, Ed kept revising the plans, each time calling for an increasingly larger building for processing the stardust. When the cost exceeded one-hundred thousand dollars, Ed’s revisions were questioned. To make matters worse, Ed’s lawyers, who in 1970 had rescinded the deal with the prospector, offered their own view of the matter. The Aquarians claimed that the lawyers “got him all spun out,” reawakening his paranoia by asserting that the Aquarians were not a legal church but simply a counterculture group taking advantage of two old men in order to secure a free home.
By early 1977, the relationship unraveled. Mac was still highly protective of the patent claims on his air motor and his developments for an automatic transmission. He claimed his father — who had invented improvements in automobile headlamps for Chevys in the early 1950s — had his patent stolen from under him. Ed also refused to release any information about his own inventions. He threatened to take his secrets to his grave unless the Aquarians could immediately deliver in full the construction money that was promised. When the church balked, the imminent shattering of a dream drove Ed from malaise to the grips of paranoia. He ordered the Aquarians off the farm at gunpoint.
Meanwhile, Eden had turned into Hell. The farm that was a magical place was now a nightmare. Beyond his constant hurling of imprecations at the Aquarians, Ed threatened to shoot any church member on sight. He even said he had the consent of the mafia as well as various government law enforcement agencies, who were secretly watching the property with hidden spying technology and microphones. He specifically warned the Shockley that the FBI and the CIA had secretly told him several times that they were going to destroy the Aquarian Church and assassinate their leader. In later court proceedings, the Aquarians declared that Ed ranted,
The church is a phony church and was created to steal money from people. Shockley is no minister. He is a combination of Jim Jones, Reverend Moon, and Charles Manson. He’s a crook, a thief, a liar, a fraud, and has a criminal record as long and black as a freight train going up a mountain pass at midnight!
Suits and countersuits erupted. Ed’s lawyers claimed the gift of the property was secured unethically by a bogus church, and should be rescinded. The Aquarians claimed that their church was not only valid and legal, but so was Ed’s donation of the property. As one Aquarian sadly recalled, “It was the crooked lawyers who prompted Ed to back out of the deal with the church. They got him all spun out, telling him it was not a legal church but just a weird counterculture group looking to steal his property. In the end it was the lawyers who benefited the most.”
There was one bright episode around this time that may have brought Ed at least some measure of renewed financial security. Mac sold the patent for the “air engine” (right) he had invented in 1958. When the check arrived, Mac and Ed went to the bank and cashed it, taking a good portion of it in coins. They had brought their milk buckets to the bank to take the money back home to the farm.
The trial did not begin until 1979. In the meantime, Ed was still on a rampage, driving the Aquarians and their children off the property at gunpoint and swearing that he was “going to pick them off at the gate.” The complaints submitted in court show that he went on the offense beyond his farm. One account states that he piled fecal matter on the doorstep of a local Aquarian named Ken. The next day, as Ed stood vigilant scanning the farm’s access routes with his binoculars he spotted Ken, presumably coming to confront Ed about the incident. Ed took a pot of coffee off his iron pot-belly stove, poured a cup, and went out to greet Ken with a friendly guise. Ken accepted the coffee as a peace offering, took a sip, and suddenly spit it out. Ed had urinated in the coffee. Ed then pulled his German luger and held Ken at gunpoint for an interminable ten minutes, threatening to shoot him and spewing vitriolic language.
In 1981, after three years of waging his war against the Aquarians, Ed was prepared to hear the judge’s ruling. However, before proceeding to the courthouse, he was asked to come to his lawyer’s home where he was coerced into taking a bath. Later, it was discovered that the stains were so strong that no amount of hard scrubbing could completely remove them from the bathtub.
In the courtroom, a now presentable Ed listened intently as the judge ruled that the deed to the Aquarian Church was “canceled on the grounds that it was void ab initio, right from the beginning. And my reason for that is that a person who is mentally incapacitated cannot deed property.” The judge relied heavily upon the expert testimony of a psychologist, a certain Dr. Dixon, who had diagnosed Ed as “a schizophrenic personality with paranoid tendencies” and that “in all medical probabilities he never had any lucid moments since 1970 or the mid 1960s.” 9 The judge continued, “He did do some artwork that many people feel that is outstanding, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And a lot of people feel that’s nice and excellent, and others might disagree. I put no judgment on that. It was a good thing nobody put him away in the 1960s. He’s done many things since then.”
In 1980, a psychologist, Dr. Dixon (left) testified that Ed was a paranoid schizophrenic who “probably never had any lucid moments since the mid 1960s.”
The judge went on to say that because neither Ed nor Mac were rational, yet had guns, that the Aquarians should move off the property. He also ordered that the dilapidated trailer, truck, and various abandoned vehicles be removed from the property, but the old cabins could stay.
The Aquarians appealed the ruling. However, the date for the first hearing had to be postponed because, mysteriously, the office of the Aquarian’s lawyer was vandalized with a noxious substance that leached into the walls, carpets, and furniture, making the office uninhabitable and requiring fumigation. Although the appeal was denied, the Aquarians were found innocent of any wrong-doing and their good name as a legitimate church was recognized.
Unfortunately, Ed had won a Pyrrhic victory. Not only had he succeeded in shutting out a group of innocent spiritualists who cared for him, but the insanity ruling made him a ward of the court. The once fiercely independent explorer of the cosmos now had guardians appointed to him. Ed would never again record his visions, and one wonders if it was because he was placed on antipsychotic medication. Further, his attorney became his conservator, thereby earning a forty percent remainderman’s interest in the property — despite Ed’s complaints about conflict of interest.
In 1990, Mac was placed in a nursing home. Now alone, Ed relied on his guardians to bring him groceries as well as wood for his stove. They also took him to the hospital for his cancer treatments. Ultimately, he was placed under full-time care at a nursing home. To pay for it all, his guardians organized a sale of the timber on the property that netted one-hundred fifty thousand dollars. On November 7th, 1992, at age eighty-five, Ed Nelson passed into a new dimension of cosmic awareness. His buddy Mac joined him the following year.
1 August 2005 e-mail communications with Avaton, a member of the Aquarian Church and Editor of the Cosmic Awareness Communications website.
2 North County Times, 7 May 2006. From the obituary of Albert Stuart Otto: “In 1954 Stuart had a profound inner experience which revolutionized his outlook and started him on the metaphysical approach to spiritual truth. In 1964 he founded ‘The Philosophical Library’ and was active in it until his ‘Christ-Jesus awakening.’ Stuart founded ‘The Invisible Ministry,’ a healing prayer ministry in 1963, ‘The Dominion Press’ in 1968 and ‘Church of the Trinity’ in 1972. From 1963 to 2004, The Invisible Ministry functioned continually as a beacon of Truth and Love to all who turned to it. Trinity Center included Trinity Healing Prayer, Trinity School of Theology, Church of The Trinity, The Dominion Press, The Chapel of The Eternal Word, and The Affiliated Christian Emortalists. Friend Stuart, as he was known, authored 18 books and many publications and was listed in Marquis Who’s Who in Religion 1985 for ‘outstanding achievement in his field of endeavor.’ ”
3 Gordon Onslow Ford website, “Inner Realism: The Rebirth of Modern Art” (January, 2001)
4 Russell, Walter. The Message of the Divine Iliad. [Waynesboro, Virginia: Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1971, Vol. 2, p.69]
5 Sources on the history of the Great Alaska Earthquake include Professor Doug Christensen
at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska; and, Varble, Bill. “Crescent City’s ’64 Tsunami” [Mail Tribune, Oregon; 3 Feb 2005]
6 Thurman, Robert. Philosophy of Tibet. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1984, p.24
7 The author is grateful to three early members of the Aquarian Church for their interest and cooperation: Avaton, quoted earlier (August 2005); DeDe Farrell (“garden of light” quote, 21 Nov 2006 and epilogue quote 12 Dec 2006); and, Roshana Shockley, who with her husband, Paul, lived on the farm (21 Nov 2006). It was in 1963 that Dr. Timothy Leary was dismissed from Harvard as he was campaigning for the legalization of LSD. In 1964, Leary wrote Psychedelic Experiences; and in 1966 he founded the League for Spiritual Discovery as a religion. Although his new religion was never formally recognized owing to its promotion of LSD, Leary firmly believed that LSD could trigger cosmic consciousness. In 1967 he made his famous dictum to a generation, “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out.” He later preached that outer space was a ultimate medium for spiritual transcendence, and advocated space colonization. Curiously, it was during the mid-1960s when Ed was most prolific in recording his visions. However, while it is quite possible that one of the Aquarians may have introduced Ed to LSD as early as 1970, it is unlikely that LSD was the source of his visions because he only recorded them during the 1960s. Ed may possibly have experienced drugs during the 1960s, but his town was not “discovered” by the New Age groups until the major Vortex I rock concert in 1970.
8 ibid, Roshana Shockley.
9 A paranoid schizophrenic does not necessarily harbor fears of persecution but typically is diagnosed as delusional and experiencing hallucinations. And, like Ed, he may believe he is an important emissary chosen by God for a special mission. Ed’s lack of bathing and wearing shabby clothes was also symptomatic but he was not disorganized in his thinking. On the contrary, he clearly expressed his thoughts and exhibited scientific discipline in his procedures.
10 telephone and e-mail interview with Mark Campbell, 26 July 2005.
Tuchman et al. The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting, 1890-1985 [Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1986].
Theosophy, Vol. 48, No. 10, Aug. 1960
Sundvaal, Bertil. “Swedish Settlement in Oregon” (heranet.com)
The Sequential Recordings of an Apocalyptic Premonition
Print #1 of the great Octipus. This is the first time this Whirl has appeared.
Recorded June 24th 1963 1:00 a.m. The Whirlpool of Life. The planetary band and all that is in it is God’s great mighty and beautiful crown. The vast eternity of space is his body. The World below is his footstool. The World in its Whirl and its actions is his desire. These things I am able to see in action through “Sentra Photo Thesis” and also in “Photo Genetics.”
By M.E.N. of Colton Oregon.
Recorded March 24th 1964, 8:31 P.M.
The great umbrella over the top of the world changed into a great octopus with the power of a thousand volcanoes and more energy than any earthquake. When the octopus lashes out with his feelers or changes these perspective angles, it causes great destruction up on the earth below. Also the atom in each technical starts to move very fast and is pulled into the earth’s hub and is pulled apart instantly. All atoms move fast when the octopus starts to lash out with his great and mighty feelers. This force and power is one of the greatest and most destructive I am able to watch.
By M.E.N. of Colton, Oregon
Recorded March 25th 1964-7:30 P.M.
In this print it shows the work of Sentra Photo Thesis in both halves of the world, and the planetary band of worlds in the upper half of the world, and the great and mighty umbrella over the top of the earth. When the earth starts to whirl it gets its energy from this umbrella. Then it also starts to whirl as the world whirls around and gets its fuel from this umbrella it is pulled out in blobs.
By M.E.N. of Colton, Oregon
Recorded March 25th 1964 9:31 P.M. The great octopus lying over the top of the world. When the octopus starts to move, its power and force is most terrible. The atoms also start to move very fast. When the octopus starts to draw in or move one of his feelers, it causes great destruction upon the earth below. Great winds, earth quakes, and cause volcanoes to erupt and cause great unrest in the oceans and all waters. The octopus moves slow at first but as he starts to move into action his feelers whip lash with a tremendous force of power and energy that cause the earth to shudder and shake on its axis. When the atoms go over the rim into the lake of blood, and their bodies are pulled apart, and their blood is what gives the bands their beautiful colors. The atoms do not rebel against this as it is a mutual thing for them, as they are under a directive order from their creator, their god. The great “God” of all nature of which they all are a part of.
By M E N of Colton, Oregon.
Recorded March 26th 1964-2:30 A.M.
The Octipus draping his body over the top of the earth his feelers extending out into space for millions of miles. Everything is quiet; all at once he starts to move or change his position then hell breaks loose in all Outer Space. He starts to whip lash out with his huge feelers and his big feelers start to coil up which starts all forces to start to move at a terrific speed. A huge atom comes right up his feelers to his body and his body is pulled to pieces at the earth’s polar cap. Now he whiplashes out with his huge feelers and it just starts to unroll out into space. Now the atoms are whiplashed out into space at a tremendous speed and at a terrible whiplash of power and energy. Now I look back at the earth before me and it is now whirling faster and faster, now as the octopus gets restless he is whiplashing out with all three biggest feelers. The earth before me is being squeezed in a terrible vise. He is crushing the earth something terrible, now the earth starts to shudder and shake; its bowels is now fractured. Great earth quakes and destruction is come up on the earth before me. The seas are starting to roll and become restless. Great storms are now going on the earth. The earth has become helpless and is now rolling and wobbling in a drunken condition. The feelers started to show up on the 24th of March, 1964 at first only one was showing up as in print no-1. When he put the big squeeze on the earth the atoms just shot right off from the world, right out into Outer Space. In order to see this print right get it about ten or twelve feet away from you. Put it on a west wall then you will have the same perspective angle as it was recorded. The lake of atoms at the bottom of the print is a lake of planetary atoms in Outer Space that is the atom’s real and true home. When they are sent to the earth it is only their temporary home.
— Elo Maya Haka. By M.E.N. of Colton, Oregon.
Recorded March 26th 1964, 12:04 A.M.
This print shows the layout of the mighty ugly Octipus over the top of the earth. He was lying very quiet when I first see it but then his body gave a turn. Then all hell broke loose above the earth and in outer space. His big feelers started to whiplash and roll out into space. Then all elements came into the earth. Seemed like something was pushing it at a terrific speed and power. When the octopus quieted down, his big feelers just seemed to wilt and drop down the sides of the earth. Then all at once he started to move again, and his big feelers just twisted together at the bottom of the world. Then his body shoved again and the big feelers going around the earth whip lashed, then just rolled out into space with another whip lash and a mighty twist with his whole body trying to shake his self off from the earth that he was over. As he did this, I looked at the world and it was gaining more speed in its whirl. The world shook and wobbled something terrible. My God, he is fracturing the looks of the mighty earth below him. Now the big atoms just come sailing right up his big feelers to the crown of the earth and are pulled into the mighty gyroscopic whirl at the top of the world and are pulled apart most instantly and their pieces of the pulled apart bodies are now going down into the bowls of the earth that they had come too. When he gave those whip lash and rolls with his big feelers it was just like a knot had been tied at the bottom of the earth and with the second whip lash he was putting on the great pressure and leverage on the earth. When I first see this it made me sit up as this was a very peculiar design as I do not like Octipus or reptiles or snakes. There is so much that took place in this as it lasted for a week. It would be hard to get it all down on paper. The atoms taking off from the top of the earth and going through window were all black but yet they had the color tint hid within these terrible pitch black shiny bodies as shown in the picture.
By M.E.N of Colton Oregon
Recorded March 26th 1964-7:37 P.M. In this print it shows how the two forces work. The upper half of the Word is in “Sentra Photo Thesis” and the lower half of the World is taken in “Photo Genetics.”
The forces at the eqitate was very wide.
By M.E.N. of Colton Oregon.
Recorded March 27th, 1964 4:31 P.M. Here you see the great Octipus laying over the top of the world. And his many feelers extending millions of miles out into space. He was laying very quiet. All at once his body gave a twitch, then the spinning world below started to whirl very fast, then all at once one of his feelers that extended out into space started to whip back and a mighty gyroscopic whirl and the atoms out in the bend of his feelers were flung a spinning farther out into space. And there a huge big atom just came flying down his feelers to the rim of the top of the world. When it got to the crown of the earth, it was just pulled to pieces and it went down at the top of the world. Now when both feelers were flung out into space and a mighty whiplash with each one, and each one goes into a mighty gyroscopic whirl they come and drape their feelers around the earth; now he is putting a terrible squeeze onto the earth below. My God, how the earth shudders and shakes it is almost breaking up. Now he is releasing his hold. Now you can see the huge crack in the earth where he fractured it with his mighty squeeze. It is coming from the east across the top of the world and makes a turn and comes down the coast of North America, then makes another turn in the Southern states and heads back inland of the United States. The octopus first started to show up on March 24th. I had never had a design just like this before. It had me somewhat worried as I knew it was very unusual. The print covers both systems of “Sentra Photo Thesis” and “Photo Genetics.” By using this process you can sit in your own home and look right around and up over and look right under the world that you now live on, or you can look right out into space for billions and billions of miles and see all things in their natural state and colors. It will be not to big a job to lift the veil that circles the earth. Then you can see all animals and vegetation. Money and men of science will overcome this small obstacle. The mineral that I have discovered is photographic and it photographs itself. With this mineral and my process there will be nothing impossible with man on earth.
Recorded March 28th, 1964- 2:16 A.M.
The old octipus still hovering over the top of the world; the atoms are all going toward the hub and are being pulled apart in the black circle. They are now only pieces or building blocks for the new atoms. They are spiraling downward into the bowels of the earth, giving the earth its supply of new atomic power and energy. The atoms in the octipus’ feelers are always coming in toward the earth and its hub. If the big feelers should start to whiplash, then they come gliding in so free and easy and at a terrific speed and tremendous power. Nothing can stop them once the octipus has whiplashed one of his big feelers. I did not go over the two rings in the center. I left this open so it would be clearer to see and get a better idea. His body was coal and covered the whole top of the earth but I could look right through his black body and see it as shown. The layout of his big feelers denotes a certain power ratio. In this case they are layed out to one third ratios and one hundred and twenty degrees and 240 and 360 degrees. The lumps around the earth is where his smaller feelers are but they are not important in this case. Some of the other prints has more, and the power ratio is different. Also the time element is different. When the great pressure is put onto the earth below, the only place I could see any atoms leave the earth is in high spots or peaks or mountain’s tops. They just come sailing right out of the top of the mountains at a terrific speed.
They say the atom can not be seen but that is not true, as I have found out a way to watch it and also many ways to use it.
I discovered this on March 12th, 1961 and have been using it ever since. I do not think the octipus will be over the earth very long now, as I see a huge serpent getting ready to take his place. So now will have to wait and see what comes next. Ed.
By M.E.N. of Colton, Oregon.
Recorded March 29th, 1964 – 3:31 A.M.
The huge octipus that has been over the top of the world, is now being whirled and hacked to pieces. Some of his great feelers are breaking off and are sailing millions of miles out into space. Others are taking on the shape of the polly wogg or tad poles, some are twined and hang around to crown on the top of the world. Waiting, so they can be sucked in at the crown, so they can enter into the bowels of the earth. The world was wild in its whirl, trying to shake off his big feelers, and it was doing a pretty good job at it, while I was watching it. The planetary band was very beautiful to see. The planets were very bright in their brilliant spectrial colors. Also, it came right in close and very clear, just like looking down the road to see my neighbors.
The planetary world is laid out like a most beautiful flower garden. I do not think the ordinary person could stand to look at it, unless he had been prepared ahead of time. The planets are continually changing from one color to another. When they change it is like a shadow passed by it and there it is in another color. The white circles around the crown was opening in the old octipus body. The surface of the world was bathed in new atoms just a lake of them of all colors of the rainbow all heading to the crown of the earth as that is their directive order to go too.
The huge feelers were coal black with no color whatsoever in them. Everything was beautiful to see except the ugly old feelers of the octipus.
By M.E.N. of Colton, Oregon
Recorded April 11th 1964- 12:50 P.M.
Here you see the great gyroscopic spiralating whirl going around and around and down and down to the world below. Our earth is the only planet that is in a hole or pit. All of the planets are at work with their great forces raising it up and out of the great hole. Their force causes it to whirl also. This same picture, if you could see it from a side view, gives you a most beautiful view of the atomic ladder. I have not been able to see the atomic ladder now for two and a half years. I do not know if it will ever come into view again. This big whirl appears a lot like the big feelers of the Octipus. When they were coiled up and ready to whip lash out into space. This also must have something to do with all elements on the earth below. This whirl is terrible in power and force when it starts its mighty whirl all things in outer space start to move toward the earth below.
By M.E.N. of Colton, Oregon
It shall be unto man as a burning fire. That its flame never stops burning. That is how easy it is, to get out of this world we are in. Our knowledge here does not mount to much as it is subject to a change to the better, always trying to shift to the right.
Recorded April 16th-1964 2:51 A.M.
The “Mighty Planetary World” from “Outer Space” and its glory and beauty. Here you see the Earth in its splendor and the work of the Earth’s atoms or the natural atoms. Here you see the great hammock over the top of the world. All atoms are released and filtered and funneled downward to the great magnetic pole for redistribution to the bowls of the earth. Also you see on the surface of the earth fractures of great earthquake shock that is still going on. Greater earthquakes are still to come. Greater than the world has ever seen since the creation of time. Outer space is layed out like a mess of cobwebs and you see it as such. At another perspective angle you see space as round circles, layer on layer.
By M.E.N. of Colton, Oregon.
Exploring the Mystery of Ed Nelson’s Visions
Decoding Ed’s Imagery
Look out for thieves
Day of atonement
Tea for two
You may camp here
Man with gun
Above and below
Planetary atoms, also called spiritual atoms, exists in a world controlled by magnetic light. These atoms are shaped like arrows. Organically, they appear similar to caterpillars. Note that the tail and the body shaft appear to be firing bursts of energy.
Before it assumes its caterpillar-like form, the spiritual atom looks like a chevron.
“This is the shape of the spiritual atom as it is shot out and from the Kingdom God”
Earthly atoms, also called material atoms, are controlled by magnetism. When describing these atoms’ shape, Ed sometimes described them as tadpoles; however, their long tails make them appear closer to sperm.
“This is the Earth’s material atom. The spiritual atom is now hid within the earthly atom’s body. Man will have to seek for it in order to find it and then he will be able to view it as it is.”
“Each star in the high heavens is the body of the crossing over of the two planetary spiritual atoms and is seen as of the five points to man on the Earth below. This is the only way man on Earth can see it as the Light from the Kingdom of God.”
Although Ed may have been aware that the wheel-like mandala is integral to many cultures — especially Hindu, Buddhist, and Native American — his primary use of this shape was to depict the and atomic structure of the universe various electromagnetic rings that encircled the earth and other planets.
“The kingdom of God and his many Worlds is layed out like a big old fashioned wagon wheel. When you sit and watch it, the many world’s laid out like a most beautiful flower garden. The only thing is the Planets are always changing from one beautiful color to another. There is more color there than man ever saw on earth below. The Worlds are all flashing in there beautiful just like a big electric sign…”
2:03 AM on January 3rd, 1964
The Parabola and Ed’s M
Ed frequently merged two parabolas where the top assumed a magnet-like shape and the bottom appeared to be an “M” merged with an “X” (left). Curiously, the shape of Ed’s “M” is similar to that of the Asteya mandala (right), a magical sign of Kunta Yoga. In India and Tibet, this mandala has been used to overcome both the fears and desires of the material world.
For longer than a millennium the hexagram has been recognized as the “Star of David.”
In astrology, the hexagram is also known as the “King’s Star.” It was also the adopted emblem of the Theosophical Society, which concurred with some Judaic sources that its six points plus the center equaled the sacred number seven, while the two triangles symbolized to the dynamic yet perfectly balanced union of the spiritual and material worlds. Accordingly, Ed’s use of the hexagram likely served to symbolize his distinction between spiritual and materials atoms.
Stardust and Coagg
Ed’s symbol for his stardust appears as a chevron similar to the initial shape of the spiritual atom. It also appears as an anchor-like shape (below). In the drawing detail at left he depicts his “launching platform” holding the “coagg and stardust.” In mixing stardust with crushed rocks gathered from the UFO landing sites, Ed may have determined that stardust served as an electrolyte to create charged clumps of colloidal particles, being the “coagulant” or “coagg.” He also used word when labeling certain electrical configurations of his inventions.
The Planetary Atomic World
Recorded Sept. 15th, 1962- 9:04 P.M.
“Outer space is layed out like a mess of cobwebs and you see it as such.”
“The earth before me is traveling the same way the clock travels and the spectrical bands are traveling in the opposite direction; quite slow, but the world is going much faster, the atoms coming from the planetary worlds are much slower in their travel-just floating along. They are in no hurry as their destination is to the north and south poles. They never seem to be in any hurry; their destination is already set from the time they left the planetary worlds or bands. They travel upward and then seemed to turn in toward the north pole. Actually, these atoms come in at the equator and then branch off to these pre set destinations going up, up and up until they get to the rim of the great pit or opening.”
Three forces of the law of nature at work or in motion.
A. is the earth and its direction of rotation
B. Is the spectrical bands and its direction of motion
C. Is where the planetary atoms are shot from
How to See Planetary Atoms
Having described the movement of planetary atoms coming to Earth, twelve minutes later Ed explained how he used magnetic light to see planetary atoms in many other worlds:
Recorded Sept. 15th, 1962- 9:16 P.M.
The Planetary Atomic World
“The planetary atomic world in earth’s materialism. By using magnetic light I can see billions of atoms in the planetary worlds before me. Each island coming down from the hub is the planetary land of a world in outer space, with billions of bright shiny atoms slaying forth. The opposite side of this setup is in darkness, just the same as our law of nature over the earth we live on. But on the side that the sun is shining on, it is so beautiful to see. The Void I have marked out with the arrows. There is no activity of any kind as I change my perspective angle. I can see a number of beautiful worlds in the background. Some are so beautiful that I can not put the description into words for man.”
Spiritual Atoms and Material Atoms
Here Ed describes why stars appear to have five points, as well as why spiritual atoms are sent from God to be part of an earthly atom’s body:
“Each star in the high heavens is the body of the crossing over of the two planetary spiritual atoms and is seen as of the five points to man on the earth below.
This is the only way man on earth can see it as the light from the kingdom of God manifested as such as that is where the stars are under control from.
This is the shape of the spiritual atom as it is shot out and from the kingdom of God.
This is the earth’s material atom. The spiritual atom is now hid within the earthly atom’s body. Man will have to seek for it in order to find it and then he will be able to view it as it is.
Elo Vio Mundo = M in truth
Venus = The word or birth or fire of life
The spiritual faculties:
Imaginatrix = Phantasie which draws a picture of power and accomplishes all thing.
Memoratrix = The memory of all things.
Adam remained in Paradise for seven hours.
Spiritual atoms world controlled by magnetic light.
Material atoms world controlled by magnetism.
Planetary worlds controlled by differential movement of magnetic light
or a proto-plasma of light.
Recorded Sept 3rd 1962 11:15 P.M.
The Great Lie
“Ever since the serpent sold Eve a bill of goods about that apple,
the people the world over have been swallowing one hoax after another, some on a grand scale, and almost all designed to separate the gullible from their money.” -Ed
Spiritual atoms world controlled by magnetic light.
Material atoms world controlled by magnetism.
Planetary worlds controlled by differential movement of magnetic light or a proto-plasma of light.
Recorded Sept 3rd 1962 11:15 P.M.
“If it was not for the sun and the moonlight, or its energies, man could see back into paradise. The reflected light on the sun and the planet bodies is what keeps man shut off and held in the position we are now in. We are hemmed in by the astral lights. We are shut out by these astral bodies. Our vision is limited, only to our immediate surroundings. We have made ourselves ignorant by turning and choosing one and another instead of choosing God, our benefactor.” Ed 11-5-65
One barn was filled with unusual generators, coils, radar equipment, antennae, and various types of electronic gear. Ed claimed to be able to levitate objects with his “cyclotronic generator.” But he especially prized his “planetron,” which was capable of generating cosmic energy, in much the same manner as a nuclear accelerator. In addition, the planetron provided a viewing window through which Ed could record his views of outer space as well as receive communications from UFOs. Meanwhile, the four-thousand square feet of his biggest barn was reserved to house his various rock-crushing machines and, of course, his supply of cosmic rocks and minerals. After all, it was with these machines that Ed was busy manufacturing his secret “stardust” which was an essential ingredient of the natural pigments he ground and prepared for the class of paintings he called “Photo Genetics.”
The instrument of truth [is] the ANYZAGER.
This is the same instrument that God can see all things up on the earth below.
The invention in this drawing (left) appears to be a variant of the Anyzager. Like all of Ed’s inventions, the focus was upon light, electricity, and magnetism. This one features ports for the “spectrial lights,” condensers, trays, and viewing windows with 6-inch square adjustable magnifying glass for viewing planets close-up. This invention is conversely related to the homemade “tin-foil hat,” whose wearers believe it can protect their minds from being penetrated by thought-waves from aliens. Ed, however, used his anyzager as a device for transporting himself into outer space to view various planets.
In his notebook, Ed listed the materials used to construct the Anyzager as:
3. Solid Plastics
4. Quartz Glass
5. Optical Glass
6. Plain Glass
7. Coagg and Star Dust
Self-portrait, wearing the Anyzager.
Ed illustrated his invention, the “Anyzager” (above) sometimes spelled, “Anyazager.” He may possibly have been referring to the German word, “anzeiger,” which refers to an indicator/instrument. It appears that while his body remained on earth, this headset unit assisted in astral projection so that he could view and record his observations of activities in the Universe.
The red sphere at upper left is identified as the “Divine source” and the pink beam emanating to it is the “cosmic stream.”
The black beam to the right of the coils shows “dissipation.” The three lights on Ed’s forehead are labeled “red, green, purple” In the pencil drawing, the hair atop Ed’s head appears to be electro-statically charged.
The anyzager also allowed Ed to view and describe the various cosmic “ladders”:
No-1 Planetary Ladder
No-2 Jacobs Ladder
No-3 Atomic Ladder
No-4 The Ladder of True Life
No-5 The Stairs to Heaven
No-6 The Highways to the State of Perfection
No-7 The Road to eternal glory
No-8 To the Time Temple of God
“For a number of times this was given unto men of the Earth and each time it was lost for thousands of years. The ancient Mayans built their temples on this design also. With my Anyzager on this picture you can see thousands of worlds in outer space. It also lets you see two half worlds at the same time. They are too beautiful to start to describe them. In the yellow and orange windows there is a magnet. The same as the light. And the lesser light there is one in each window. This is the way I see the Sun and the Moon. There is more in this picture than a thousand books could publish.
By M.E.N. of Colton Oregon
The door is shut, but easy to open.
God says, he is hid but easy to find.
God says, seek and ye shall find. Even that which is lost. Ed.
While Ed invented the Anyzager to observe the universe, he invented the Planetron to generate cosmic energy.
“The Planetron creating cosmic energy and power. Also a chemical reactor. Heat is at the low side. Cooling with atmosphere is at the top.”
This untitled watercolor (24 x 18 inches), painted in Jan. 1965, appears to be a design for a large-scale invention like the “planetron;” or, a similar machine viewed on another planet.
Painted in Jan., 1965, this scene appears to illustrate devices on another planet for receiving and sending cosmic rays. (watercolor, 18 x 24 inches)
On Astrophysics and Numerology
Ed was very interested in numerology and astrology because of their common tenet that there is a mystical relationship between numbers, light, and matter within the cosmos. Accordingly, he read about a famous British astrophysicist, Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington [1882-1944], who became interested in numerology after years of trying to prove the elusive Unified Field Theory proposed by Einstein. It was Eddington who in 1919 was the first to announce and publish Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. According to Einstein’s later Unified Field Theory, the forces that governed all matter, particularly electromagnetic radiation (photons), could be coordinated with his Theory of Relativity. Eddington felt that the core of his proof lay in the dimensionless ratios of the fundamental constants of mathematics.
Inspired by Eddington, Ed wrote, “The operative force is that which give direction of light, the force which passes between two masses and enables one to effect the other.” And, inspired by Einstein, he wrote that “All things are from a certain source, and it must return to the source from whence it came from in the very beginning.”
In his notebook, Ed listed the following eight gases as “New classes of gases or gaseous elements.” It appears that he discovered “Fantasia” as a new gas form. The name is enigmatic because a “fantasia” is a fanciful musical composition. It is also the title of Walt Disney’s ground-breaking 1940 animated film.
The other gases are well known. Argon gas carries the electrical currents typically used in plasma globes (left). Krypton is one of the gases used in florescent lamps and certain lasers. Xenon has a blue glow and is used in photographic flashes, strobes, and the latest car headlights. Neon has a red glow and is common in its eponymous lamps. Ozone, like carbon dioxide, is a greenhouse gas. Ether is a chemical compound used in solvents and anesthetics. However, ether has been considered by spiritualists and alchemists as a very fine grade of matter, similar to plasma. “Etheral” has long been synonymous with “heavenly” or even the matter that appears as ghosts. Plasma is ionized gas, and as such is electrically conductive. Following solids, liquids, and gases, plasma was discovered to be the fourth unique state of matter. Ed constantly referred to plasma in describing electromagnetic activities in the universe. Below, he listed the key gases with which he was concerned:
3. Xeon or xenon
8. Plasmatiaca = Plasma
Observing UFOs and Visiting Unknown Planets
Both archaeologists and ufologists have identified graphic images throughout history — beginning with Egyptian hieroglyphics — that look remarkably similar to sophisticated aircraft. However, most of these UFO-like images began to appear during the Italian Renaissance and the Ming Dynasty. Nearly all are related to mysticism or the appearance of comets; or, in Europe, the Annunciation of Christ. While these curious elements reappear throughout the course of art history, it was not until the mid twentieth century that interest in aliens and UFOs became inculcated in our popular culture. Among the leading catalysts were several popular magazines — Amazing Stories, Fate, and Mystic Magazine — that flourished especially during the 1950s. Since Ed made at least one of his drawings on the back of a direct mail flyer from Fate magazine, one could assume he was a subscriber. Another was made on a flyer for the Mystic Arts Book Society. Like most artists who were schizophrenics, Ed’s visions were very real, not chimerical. Yet his feelings about the aliens who inhabited the UFO base beneath his property were undoubtedly informed and reinforced by these books and magazines.
Boasting a worldwide readership since 1948, Fate continues to be the world’s leading magazine of the paranormal. Typically, its contents lead with featured articles about UFOs, followed by astrology, astral projection, and psychic phenomena. Of particular interest to Ed would have been the opinions and personal experiences of the UFO experts. He would also have read articles about psychic abilities, ghosts and hauntings, cryptozoology, alternative medicine, and other phenomena. But the magazine’s special focus on UFOs began with its first issue, which featured the story of Kenneth Arnold, a pilot whose observation of UFOs in 1947 resulted in the term “flying saucers.” The story not only launched the magazine to success but launched modern culture’s persistent fascination with UFOs, conspiracy theories, and the potential threat to humanity posed by an alien presence.
Fate’s founder was Raymond A. Palmer, who was also the editor of Amazing Stories. Founded in 1926, Amazing Stories was the first popular science fiction pulp magazine. In 1945, Palmer discovered a prolific writer in Richard S. Shaver [1907-1975] who, like Ed, was a schizophrenic. Shaver believed that many millennia ago, aliens colonized the earth. After an apocalyptic event, some tunneled deep into the earth, forming underground in colonies. However, in these deep caves they degenerated into a savage race with ties to aliens. Shaver told all in his “The Reality of Inner Earth” and Palmer later published, The Secret World, a compilation of Shaver’s stories. Shaver later complimented his writings with a series of images of the aliens, which he created by projecting photographs of rocks onto cardboard, canvas, or masonite. In order to simulate the rock surface, he coated these materials with various combinations of wax, dye, and detergents. Then, in a trance-like state, he would sense the electromagnetic energy, or plasma, being emitted from the rocks. Ultimately, he would interpret the projected images, manipulating their shapes to reveal the alien faces he saw emerging from the rocks. He called this series his “antediluvian rock book paintings.”
For Ed, the documentation of aliens and UFOs was not the obsession it was with Shaver. Instead, UFOs had come to be a rather normal and expected part of the cosmic landscape during the course of his mission observing the universe. Ed’s interest in UFOs was more scientific, and his sketches show that he closely observed how they were powered by the push and pull of electromagnetic forces. In the sketch at left, he refers to the top section of the UFO as the propulsion section, observing that “This is dropped on return journey. They then are in reversed magnetism. Speed of 240,000 miles may be obtained or faster. The reversed polarity of the little fire flies will keep the body cool.” At the center of the craft is the “magnetic whirlpool or gyroscopic power. This is where all lines of forces of the magnet are reshaped for use. Also balances the ship.” Just below the gyroscopic power center is a central band of windows indicating “officers and passengers quarters,” beneath which were the “operating rooms.”
Ed made several sketches of what appear to be UFOs. The drawing at left was made on light blue wrapping paper from a pharmacy (9.5 x 11 inches). He used any scrap of paper that he could find to record his visions in the field. His drawings were made on envelopes from junk mail, letterheads, cardboard, and supermarket flyers. He also drew on old electrical plans and blueprints he had brought with him from Portland, as well as a large supply of menus dated 1949-1950 from a restaurant in Portland.
Astronomers explain that in terms of statistics and probability, life on other planets in our galaxy and others is a certainty. Thus, during the last half of the 20th century, “ufology” was born in our international popular culture. Logic posits that aliens must exist, but owing to countless exposed hoaxes, fuzzy photographs, and shaky videos, we remain skeptical that aliens have discovered our planet Earth. True believers are looked upon as “kooks.” Moreover, since Outsider artists are often viewed as “kooks” with psychological disorders, one might reasonably expect that a significant number of these artists would be preoccupied with the subject of aliens and UFOs. However, the subject is uncommon with Outsiders. A stroll through the American Folk Art Museum indicates that most self-taught artists from all periods are primarily concerned with the human figure. And, visionary artists are typically more concerned with filling up the entire pictorial surface with lines, shapes, color, and pattern — revealing a horror vacui, the fear of empty spaces.
Ed’s paintings, whether of the Photo Genetics or the Photo Sentra Thesis type, are largely focused upon cosmic landscapes and events in outer space. Figures rarely make an appearance, but when they do are typically related to aliens. Illustrated above is a watercolor showing two figures standing beside an altar-like table, atop which lies a black alien-like figure. Ed may possibly have represented himself as the standing figure at right. He signed it “M.E.N.”
Photo Genetics: Technique and Historical Comparisons
Original Primitive Art
Earth movements in action in Outer Space.
Trapped by the mightiest of atoms.
The mighty planetary atom photographing itself in Nature,
of the earth below, for you and I to see and to own.
— from Ed’s notebook
Elo Maya Haka
Elo Maya Haka
Elo Maya Haka
Holy Atom direct messenger of Holy God.
To my faithful servants do you believe.
Faith and Honor be unto you,
as now my Name shall be made manifest into all men
and to all things there is in Nature,
of which “Photo Genetics” and “Sentra Photo Thesis”
is of my last revelation to all men.
Elo Maya Haka is my names.
Truth, Honor and Loyalty is my last secret.
M.E.N. was my obedient and faithful servant
to the very ending of which was also the beginning.
For unto my plan there is no ending.
You were always in the beginning.
Elo Maya Haka AM I
A – M.E.N.
Feb.27th, 1965 2:35 A.M.
Ed considered himself a scientist, observing and recording repeatable phenomena. His evidence was a series of images he called “the Photo Genetic process of Nature in action,” which he created by employing a modern form of divination.
Essential to the process were his “sacred” pigments, which he created by roaming his property — soon revered as a magical place — gathering certain rocks and minerals. The most important source was his “quarry,” a natural cut into the hillside that was about thirty feet wide and eight feet high, exposing different layers of colored clays. Owing to the exposed stratifications of various clays in his small quarry, Ed could collect clays with tonalities ranging from yellow ochres to raw umbers, brick reds and burnt umbers.
Another source was discovered as he observed UFOs landing on his property, typically at the bottom of the canyon, near the creek. In the deep darkness after midnight, after watching a UFO for hours, he would carefully observe the craft’s position. When the craft finally lifted off it would usually travel east over 8,000-foot Goat Mountain. Ed would then immediately rush to the landing site and collect the soil and rocks from the spot where the landing feet had rested on the ground. Because the spaceship had come from the heavens, he called this material stardust.
Returning to the barn with his rocks and soils, Ed would grind them in an old “gold-crusher” that was cranked by hand. It was almost always after midnight that he would gather his pigments and paper and roam his property to determine the varying strengths
of magnetic forces and energies he felt being emitted from specific spots. His procedure was performed much like that of a dowser, except instead of using a y-shaped twig he used his sacred pigments on paper, observing their reactions to the fluxes in the magnetic fields of the land. It was as if he, too, possessed the same sense of magnetoreception that is integral to migratory birds. Once he found the correct locations, he created what he called his “recordings” under the stars. His purpose was ostensibly to allow the atoms in the pigment particles to release their unique image on paper, thereby portraying a true and intimate relationship to “Worlds from Outer Space.” For Ed, the successful formation of the final image depended upon the power of the land’s magnetism to serve as a catalyst to galvanize the revelatory role of the atoms in the sacred stardust. This was the additional ingredient that made his recordings of the planetary worlds vibrate with a magical life.
Thus, Ed’s recordings combined the scientific and the occult, the deliberate and the accidental. Even the term the Photo Genetics implied that light could be studied almost as if it possessed certain organic genetic properties. Moreover, at the optimum location the forces of light and electromagnetism activated the pigments to dance on the surface of the paper to reveal universal macrocosms and microcosms. The supernatural was made observable.
Ed wrote, “Great art is simple. My universe is great art, for it is simple. Perfect balance is the foundation of the universe.”
Night after night, under the numinous force of ritual, he would work in a trance-like state, appearing to drift off into an oneiric never-never land. Writing about his Photo Genetics images, he clarified that “These pictures are of the worlds of Tomorrow, with the design and creation of the mightiest of atoms.” In a scientific manner, he fully described the significance of each recording, noting the exact time and date of each creation.
Although Ed’s notebook reveals the ingredients for his pigments, he appears to have been constantly experimenting with different types of rocks and minerals to create the appropriate “planetary colors.” Moreover, it is important to understand that he equated the creative process to the diatonic scales of music.
Although Ed recorded his first Photo Genetic on his Colton farm in 1961, a page in his notebook indicates that he was examining the possibilities of light and color in Portland as early as 1957:
1. Color lines
2. Color lines in spectrum
3. Spectral = Spectrum
4. Ruby Radiation
5. 471 Angstroms in Ultra Violet
6. Ultra violet frequency
8. Green Radiation
God’s castle is the foundation of the Universe and all that is in, above and below and in between.
Medical Formula: red wheat; turkey hulls; soak overnight; drink the brew.
The Ingredients of Photo Genetics and their Planetary Colors
In 1965, Ed described “The Secret of Elomayahaka” as being:
2- Oil (cylinder oil)
4- Cows Dung
5- Volcanic Lava
10- You name it, and I will do it.
He also described a simple recipe whereby the coffee and iodine explain the frequent color scheme of burnt umber:
* 5 grams of coffee
* 3 drops iodine
* 2 parts water
* 2 parts ammonia nitrate
* Bring to boiling, then let cool/add 1 gram star dust = coagg
* Put on heat again; add 3 more drops of iodine and turn up to boiling; then let cool and is ready to use.
Ed described the ten principal “Planetary Colors” as:
4. Deep Blue
10. Burnt Orange
He later named some additional “Planetary Colors,” such as “pink = cerise” and “purple = blue.” His most complicated color appears to be green, which is described as “White ÷ Red + orange x yellow + coagg x gyroscopic + magnetic whirle”
In order to create colors not obtainable from the clays and rocks on his property, Ed may have ordered certain rocks and minerals shipped to him from outside Oregon, as indicated in the following list from his notebook:
1. Cupro Scheelite – Pink from California
2. Calcite – Red from N.J.
3. Willemite – Green from N.J.
4. Franklinite – Black from N.J.
5. Wermerite = Scapolite from Quebec, Canada
6. Coagg – Amber from Colton Oregon
7. Bauxite – Aluminum (Silver) from Colton Oregon
8. Alpha Flour
a. pink = Green
b. White = Grey
9. Aragonite (Pink =Brown) from Rands Twig, Calif.
10. Fluorite – White from Arizona
11. Phos. Calcite from Texas
12. Zinciferous aragonite, Pink from Pennsylvania
13. Alpha White, White – Cream
14. Hydrogenite, Cream Orange from Nevada
15. Willemite from N.J.
16. Alpha Pink, Grey = White
Ed also revealed that his creative process depended upon a natural diatonic scale. Just like the diatonic scale common to music theory, Ed’s scale was a seven-note scale except it combined organic and inorganic materials, light, and apparently, a spiritual kinesis.
Ed described his “Diatonic Scale” as being composed of:
1. “Radiata,” being some form of “vegetable life” that grows symmetrically.
2. “Flucoides,” being “sea weeds” (The fucaceae are typically a family of brown algaes).
3. “Gneiss,” which is a metamorphic rock that Ed understood to be equivalent to “the utterable word of God.”
4. “Volition,” which Ed described as “animation or more, the daily life.” This likely referred to the power of willing things to life with spiritual kinesis.
5. “Infinite,” which Ed also described as “The Veil of Life,” likely refers to the paranormal where there is a veil between the worlds of life and death.
6. “Oblate Spheroid Earth,” is a central form in Ed’s imagery, also described as “Flat at the poles” and bulging at the equator, which is common to many planets, including Earth.
7. “Diurnal Revelation,” also known as “Zodiacal Light” is the faint glow in the night sky, which in the Western states is most visible in springtime just after twilight has disappeared. The phenomenon is created by sunlight reflecting off the solar system’s interplanetary dust cloud.
A delightfully perplexing twist to art historians is the recent discovery of those few Outsiders whose works can be most closely compared with those of the abstract expressionists. It is important to remember that during the 1950s and 1960s, art critics were busy identifying a new pantheon of heroes who were turning the art world upside-down. With Jackson Pollock at the lead, by the 1950s New York had squarely won the war, effectively displacing Paris as the epicenter of the art world. The artists who brought about this monumental chapter in art history are now known as the New York School.
Coincidentally, a very small number of Outsider artists were unknowingly breaking from the figurative mode that is inherent to most self-taught artists. Ed Nelson and Emery Blagdon [1907-1986] stand out as peers in the Steampunk field, but others may be awaiting discovery. With no awareness of the various “isms” that had evolved in modern art during the course of the twentieth century, these artists were exclusively concerned with recording the essential truth, spirit, and magic of their visions. Largely reclusive, they were completely unaware
that a major battle for the capitol of the art world was being waged. Yet it is clear that
their works can now only be categorized as abstract expressionism, even though they were completely unaware of the term.
Ed Nelson’s Photo Genetics stand sui generis in the field of self-taught artists, where the notion of pure abstraction is rare. And perhaps this is fortunate, lest traditional historians of modern art be driven mad who feel compelled to attempt to differentiate these rare artists from the established pantheon.