Unarius Academy of Science
Founders: Ernest L. Norman (1904-1971), a.k.a. Archangel Raphiel and Ruth E. Norman (1900-1993), a.k.a. Archangel Uriel
Places of Birth: Uriel was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Raphiel’s birthplace is unknown.
Birthplace of Unarius: Los Angeles in 1954
Current Director: Charles Louis Spiegel, a.k.a. Antares (Update: Spiegel dies Dec 22, 1999)
Sacred or Revered Texts: Unarius Academy of Science publications. The Normans and Spiegel have authored about 125 texts, which are printed by UAS’ own publishing house. The authors claim to receive the material for the texts from advanced intelligent beings living on non-atomic, higher frequency worlds. The Normans and Spiegel have also published more than 100 video programs that currently air on 30 public access television stations.
Size of Group: Unarius claims to have more than 500,000 students worldwide. Adam Parfrey, a freelance writer whose investigation of Unarius has included observational research, claims that the number of home-study students is probably less than 1000. He notes that the lectures and meetings held weekly at the headquarters in El Cajon typically draw approximately 60 members (Parfrey: 16).
The Unarius Academy of Science is a tax-exempt, non-profit educational foundation centered in El Cajon, California. The Academy’s purpose is to teach the “connective and higher spiritual understanding of consciousness as an evolutionary mandate attainable by all individuals searching for the meaning of life.” The word Unarius is an acronym for Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science (Unarius Academy of Science: 4).
The Academy’s founders, Ernest and Ruth Norman (archangels Raphiel and Uriel, respectively), met in Los Angeles in 1954 at a psychics’ convention, where Ernest, a scientist, electronic engineer poet, and clairvoyant, was lecturing on “Inner Contact from the Higher Beings” (UAS: 6). It was at the convention that they conceived the Unarius mission. They soon founded the Unarius Educational Foundation to study the nature of man, his spiritual evolution, and his connection to the universe.
The next 17 years were building years for Unarius. During this time, the Normans participated in spiritualism conventions and events to spread their message. They also authored 20 books, including Ernest’s Voice of Venus, an introduction to Unarius beliefs. The Normans were able to gather a small following before Raphiel’s death or, in Unarius terms, his “transition to the higher planes of light worlds” in 1971 (UAS: 6).
Unarius underwent great changes after Ernest’s death. Ruth, a charismatic and flamboyant new leader, provided a great infusion of energy and motivation to the group (Kossy). She founded Unarius’ headquarters in El Cajon, near San Diego, in 1972. Three years later she created the Center for New World Teaching for the study of Unarius teachings and education of students. She also greatly increased the group’s visibility by publishing books and videos about information on the interdimensional science of life that she had received from higher beings after Ernest’s death.
By her death at age 93, Ruth had published about 80 books and helped create almost 100 videos and three full-length films (UAS: 6). She had also overseen the founding of other Unarius centers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Toronto, Vancouver, England, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Poland. Ruth was the foremost leader in achieving greater visibility for Unarius (Kossy). More Unarius centers are currently being planned for Madrid and Barcelona, Spain, Turin and Rome, Italy, Romania, and the Czech Republic.
After her death, Dr. Charles Spiegel (a.k.a. Antares) became director. A Unarius student and teacher since 1960, Spiegel (born in 1921) has authored or co-authored more than 30 books for the Academy, including I, Bonaparte, an autobiography about his past life as Napoleon of France. Antares experienced his first calling to Unarius while a student at the University of Southern California in the 1940s. Working one night at a post office, he had a vision of a beautiful woman smiling down on him. “I’ve never forgotten the feeling that someone loved me,” he said (Rother: B1). Some years later when he met the Normans at their home in Glendale, he realized that his vision had been of Ruth. Spiegel was thus compelled to Unarius and has served the Academy ever since.
The media began to cover Unarius during the late 1980s, as the group claimed its membership had grown to about 10,000 and its appeal had become international. Local publications such as the Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Tribune began printing short feature stories on Unarius. Some of these stories, like Mike Granberry’s “Spiritual Group Delves Into Past Lives for Answers,” were met with hostility from the group. The Academy became the subject of great scrutiny by the media after the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate group in March 1997. Its members insist, however, that Unarius has absolutely no plans for mass suicide, nor does it have any other apocalyptic tendencies. In stark contrast, the members emphasize the need to be alive when the Pleiadeans arrive in 2001. Most of all, Unarius looks forward to the arrival and the subsequent advent of peace and universal education on earth (Noriyuki: A3).
The Unarius Academy of Science teaches that human society has been regressing for many hundreds of thousands of years. Over this time, man has slowly forgotten his quest for greater self-understanding, higher consciousness, and a spiritual connection to the rest of the universe. Most importantly, man has lost touch with his spirituality, in particular, his spiritual evolution (UAS: 13). This regression has resulted in eons of war, hatred, poverty, and disease. The invention and detonation of atomic weapons in the 21st Century was the “last straw” (Granberry: 5:1).
Mankind’s regression will meet its end in 2001. According to co-founder Ruth Norman, extraterrestrial beings called the Pleiadeans will come to Earth and initiate a “spiritual renaissance of humankind.” As galactic missionaries, the Pleiadeans will bring knowledge that will enable mankind to finally achieve peace and end all war, poverty, and other plagues. Then the missionaries will invite Earth to join the Interplanetary Confederation of Planets, an alignment of thirty-three planets in our galaxy. Earth will be the thirty-third and final member (Rother: B1).
The Pleiadeans’ Landing
On October 12, 1984, Ruth received a message from Alta, the scientific leader of the planet Vixall. Alta supposedly informed her that, in 2001, a single space ship from the planet Myton will come to earth and land on a submerged Atlantis somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle. Over the next nine years, thirty-one other ships will follow, each bearing 1000 “Space Brothers” (Hoversten: 2A, Rother: B1). By 2010, the 32 space ships will have rallied on a 73-acre plot of land (bought for them by Unarius) near El Cajon, California. Then the ships will interlock to form a new campus for the education of all humans on topics like man’s connection to the universe and man’s spiritual evolution. The first representatives will be the Pleiadeans from the Pleiadean cluster of seven planets in the constellation of Taurus (Hoversten: 2A, Rother: B1).
Unarius compares the role of the Pleiadeans and the other “Space Brothers” to that of missionaries or the Peace Corps a role of love, peace, and education. The missionaries, who all operate at “higher spiritual frequencies” than humans, will begin a “spiritual renaissance,” teaching mankind the way to peace and harmonious coexistence. The bedrock of human society will change: science, government, religion, education. A major shift will occur in the “psychodynamics” of all people. As a consequence of this transformation, humans will be compelled to end all war, poverty, disease, pollution, and other plagues of mankind (Alta: 11-14). Once the spiritual renaissance has begun, our planet will be invited to join an Interplanetary Confederation with the Space Brothers. Earth will be the thirty-third and final member. Until her death, Ruth was to be earth’s ambassador in the spiritual renaissance (Granberry: 5:1).
The 2001 date for the Pleiadeans’ arrival was not the first predicted by Ruth. Originally, the arrival was supposed to occur on a certain date in 1974. Unarius went to great lengths to prepare for the landing. Ruth, who was to be earth’s ambassador to the Pleiadeans, gave away many of her “earthly” possessions, except for elaborate gowns she had purchased to wear while traveling with the Space Brothers. Spiegel, Ruth’s second-in-charge, even made inquiries to the federal government about having the National Guard safeguard the landing. When no space ships arrived, however, the date was reset for 1975. After no arrival in 1975, Ruth predicted another date in 1976. The 1976 date also passed without success. The date was reset again when Ruth received Lycenius’ message. Diana Tumminia provides a detailed account of the failed landing dates and Unarius’ vain preparation in “How Prophecy Never Fails: Interpretive Reason In a Flying-Saucer Group.”
Past Life Therapy and Interdimensional Science
The Unarius teachings offer a “science of life” curriculum based on two major ideas: reincarnation and mastery of the mind-body system. To develop the latter, one must gain a full understanding of the role of reincarnation in spiritual evolution. According to Unarius, each individual has lived millions of lives in many different places, including earth and other planets in our galaxy. To progress spiritually, the individual must become aware of his past lives and the connections between them (UAS: 13-14). Unarius believes that everything that occurs in life is the result of occurrences in past lives. All positive and negative events, from tragedies to great luck, are the results of past life experiences. This concept is similar to the concept of karma in Buddhism. Everything happens for a reason, and an individual’s lives are all interdependent (UAS: 19-21).
Ruth Norman is said to have lived 55 lives on earth. In her past lives, she claimed to have been Mary of Bethany, the Buddha, Mona Lisa, Socrates, Benjamin Franklin, Henry VIII, King Arthur, Charlemagne, Confucius, Queen Elizabeth I, Peter the Great, Johannes Kepler, King Poseid of Atlantis, and others. Ernest Norman claimed to have been Jesus of Nazareth (he supposedly had the crucifixion scars to prove it), Osiris, and Satan; he eventually overcame his satanic tendencies by following Unarius practices. Coincidentally, Charles Spiegel, the current director, claims to have been Napoleon and Pontius Pilate . the Roman leader who ordered Jesus’ death (Kossy).
Once an individual becomes aware of his past lives, he can begin to solve unresolved problems from his past lives. The past life problems of Unarius members vary tremendously. In their past lives, some were cult leaders with domineering personalities; others were submissive or physically abused (Noriyuki: A3). Ernest Norman and Charles Spiegel were Satan and Pontius Pilate, respectively. Each overcame his problems by following what Unarius calls Past Life Therapy. Past Life Therapy helps students understand the “interdimensional” nature of their existences. The term interdimensional refers to the connection between the past, present, and future. Once an individual fully understands his past and its connection to the present, he can look forward to the future (UAS: 13-14).
Thus, the individual is awakened to his spiritual evolution. Now he can really begin progress towards greater spirituality, or a “higher plane of existence,” as Unarius calls it. By following Past Life Therapy, the individual can expand his consciousness and realize the interdimensional reality of the universe: that in our galaxy, on millions of extraterrestrial planets, billions of other intelligent spiritual beings are also working on their spiritual evolution. Many of these “Space Brothers” are on much higher spiritual planes than humans. Therefore, humans on earth can appeal to the Space Brothers for help in their spiritual evolution (Granberry: 5:1).
Members of Unarius are in constant contact with the Space Brothers, who live on planets like Vixall and Myton. The Normans had the most communication with them, but other members called “contacts” also communicate regularly and pass on the messages of the Space Brothers. Many messages provide advice on spiritual evolution, but others pertain to other subjects. With the aid of the Space Brothers, students make better progress in their evolution. Therefore, healing is done from within, though with help from extraterrestrial beings (Granberry: 5:1).
Life, Death, and the Infinite Concept of Cosmic Creation
Interdimensional science also explains the dichotomy of life and death according to Unarius. Death does not signify the end of an individual’s existence. Rather, it is just a springboard to a higher plane of existence. For instance, when Ernest died in 1971, he attained a greater state of evolution on another planet in his case, Mars. Today, twenty-seven years after his death, he still has his headquarters on Mars. He communicated constantly with Ruth while she was still alive, and he now communicates regularly with other Unarius members (Rother: B1). To Unarians, death is a time for higher evolution, possibly on another planet. Over hundreds of thousands of years, individuals live on thousands of different planets in different galaxies (Kossy). Since one’s spiritual evolution is eternal, the cycle of life, death, and moving continues forever.
Through continued advancement in his spiritual evolution, the individual can achieve the ultimate goal, “psychic liberation.” On an individual level, psychic liberation entails peace of mind, immortality of the soul, and release from the mental and emotional problems of earth. On a broader level, the individual develops an understanding of the Infinite Concept of Cosmic Creation. Unarius’ term for God. According to Unarius, the Infinite Concept of Cosmic Creation is synonymous with energy. It lives within each individual; when the individual learns of his “god-self” and sheds his isolation from the universe, he finds the higher attributes of his spirituality. Therefore, there can be no death, only a continuity of consciousness (UAS: 19-21).
Unarius As A Religion
Unarius has always denied that it is a religion, or even a philosophy. According to director Spiegel:
The teaching of Unarius is not a philosophy; it is an interdisciplinary approach to an understanding of life itself. Such an understanding, to be attained, must be based upon the basic fundamental principles by which life functions. Unarius is a Science of Life, does not teach as a religion or function as a religion. Everyone must learn of the psychodynamic functions of his/her mind in tandem with the brain/body system. Then one develops a greater awareness of his mental function and of the Infinite Concept of Cosmic Creation and of one’s purpose and place in the universe.
Unarius is not a religion because it is the prescription for healing oneself from the rituals of dogmatic teachings… The teaching of this organization is to set the person free from old belief.
Unarius has vehemently denied any suggestion of religious status since the time that outside sources began questioning the group about its possible religious underpinnings. Unarius says, for example, that it cannot be considered a religion because very many of its beliefs bear no resemblance to the beliefs of any established religion (Ellwood: 41:398). It claims that it is entirely science-based and, as such, it goes “beyond the limitations of religion.” Interdimensional science, for instance, is like nothing found in religions because it explains the past, present, and future; unlike religions, its explanations do not stop at death (UAS: 22). The only major faith tradition that Unarius has compared itself to is Buddhism, which shares Unarius’ “purpose in evolving.”
Many of Unarius’ apparent characteristics, however, do suggest that Unarius is a religion (Tumminia: 157). According to sociologists Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge, a religion is a system of general compensators based on supernatural assumptions. Compensators are “postulations of reward according to explanations that are not readily susceptible to unambiguous evaluation.” Supernatural assumptions, subsequently, are similarly non-empirical, and in essence, improvable.
This compensator-supernatural assumption tandem is very pronounced in many or Unarius’ beliefs and practices. For example, the concept of the Space Brothers and the prophecy of their arrival constitute a reality that is both a compensator and a supernatural assumption. The Space Brothers’ existence is fundamentally a supernatural assumption improvable by empirical evidence (Stark and Bainbridge). The prophecy of the arrival of the Space Brothers, in contrast, constitutes a compensator; it is the promise of rewards for Unarian efforts on earth. Compared to humans, the Space Brothers have superior intelligence and power in terms of their spiritual evolution. Therefore, there is a qualitative, as opposed to quantitative, difference between the Space Brothers and humans. In a broader context, the arrival promises the union of Unarians and their galactic mentors.
Like some Eastern religions, Unarius believes in reincarnation, the connection between lives, and the ability to identify past lives. The Unarius concept of the connection between lives bears similarities to the concept of karma in Buddhism, although they differ in some respects. According to Unarius, everything in life happens for a reason that results from past lives (UAS:19-21). Each individual can trace his life to causes from his past lives. Consequently, therapy does not limit itself to the present lifetime; it spans every lifetime the individual can remember, and maybe more lifetimes (Noriyuki: A3). Past Life Therapy, possibly Unarius’ fundamental therapy, helped Ernest overcome a past lifetime as Satan (Granberry: 5:1). The concept of Satan and, more broadly, of good and evil suggest the awkward influence of Western religious thought on Unarius’ beliefs.
Unarius also relies on practices that resemble those of religions. Channeling is the best example. Until his death, Ernest was the prime receiver of extraterrestrial messages. After his death, Ruth became the prime receiver (Tumminia: 157). She received considerably more messages on average than Ernest, and was soon writing books, making videos, and predicting arrivals based on the messages. It appears that there have always been several channelers for Unarius, especially after the death of Ruth (Hoversten: 2A). Channeling is a practice used by various types of new religious movements and older religious traditions. Unarius also has other rituals that suggest religion (Tumminia: 157). Several times a year the Academy has mini-parades and gatherings of special significance, the most important being the Interplanetary Conclave of Light, which is held in October and typically draws between 50 and 100 visitors.
Some of the most compelling evidence of Unarius’ religious tendencies is its sacred writings. In total, the Normans and Spiegel have authored about 125 texts that serve as the scriptures of the group. The total volume surpasses by far that of the Bible. The texts provide a great range of information, from stories of past lives to advice on life to predictions for the future. In combination with videos and other informational sources produced by Unarius, the texts undoubtedly comprise Unarius’ system of beliefs and practices and serve as a guide for individuals (Tumminia and Kirkpatrick: 94). Naturally, the texts are full of information that suggest religion. A great example is the prophecy of the arrival of the Space Brothers as predicted by Ruth. This prophecy strongly resembles Stark and Bainbridge’s descriptions of compensators and supernatural assumptions.
The culmination of Unarius’ practices and beliefs, including rituals, sacred writings, belief in non-empirical realities, and prophecy, provide a system of meaning and purpose (Tumminia and Kirkpatrick: 94-96). Principles such as Past Life Therapy, interdimensional science, and the general Science of Life all furnish Unarius students with a means to understand human existence in its past, present, and future forms. In short, the purpose of human existence is to evolve spiritually, thereby advancing to greater and greater realms of spirituality and eventually developing an understanding of the Infinite Concept of Cosmic Creation. Unarius’ system of beliefs can confirm, explain, or dispel all phenomena, and thus satisfies all questions of meaning for Unarians. Unarius’ belief system does differ tremendously from belief systems of many established religions. Ultimately, however, the differences exist mainly on a superficial basis. In belief structure, meaning, and practice, Unarius designates itself as a religion.
The relationship between Ernest and Ruth changed greatly during the combined 40 years that they led Unarius. From the conception of Unarius until Ernest’s death in 1971, he was the intellectual, prime channeler, and thus the main leader (Kossy). After his death, however, Ruth not only assumed the main leadership role, but she modified it to a great extent. The increased number of messages she received and her constant activity immediately helped Unarius grow much faster than it had under Ernest’s leadership. By her death in 1994, Unarius had accomplished tremendous growth and visibility (Kossy). With her death, however, came questions about succession of leadership of Unarius.
The identity of the successor to Ruth was never in doubt. Charles Spiegel (Antares) had been a devout Unarian since the group’s early days. He had been a student and professor at the Academy and Ruth’s right-hand man. During the 1970s and ’80s, while Ruth was channeling messages, writing books, and gaining greater visibility for Unarius and herself, Spiegel handled much of the responsibility for making things work (Rother: B1). Spiegel’s experience in leading Unarius certainly suggests that he is capable of leading Unarius from an administrative standpoint.
It may be very difficult for him, however, to match Ruth’s charisma. During her time as leader, Ruth accomplished a tremendous amount for Unarius. She had many of the characteristics of a skilled public figure: intelligence, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude, in addition to a huge smile and warm personality. Before her death, she supposedly told her followers to keep her beloved “Space Cadillac” in running shape; she promised she would return with the Pleiadeans to claim it in 2001 (Tumminia: 157). Ruth also did a great amount to institutionalize the group before her death. She picked Spiegel as her successor and set several objectives for him to follow; the headquarters in El Cajon were organized, with specific administrative and functional positions; and other centers were founded in Canada, England, New Zealand, Poland, and Nigeria.
The most important thing Ruth left Unarius was the prophecy of the arrival of the Space Brothers in 2001. As channeled through Lycenius, she depicted the arrival in great detail, with instructions on how to handle the landing, what to do afterward, and the role of Unarius in facilitating the event (Tumminia: 157). Ultimately, the outcome of this prophecy, rather than Spiegel, will determine Unarius’ survival. With the arrival approaching, Unarius has already begun to prepare, taking painstaking measures to insure the arrival goes smoothly. Until 2001, Unarius will rely heavily on Ruth’s legacy. If the arrival does not occur, Spiegel may encounter the biggest challenge to Unarius’ leadership in 25 years, since the failures of the mid-1970s. According to Caitlin Rother, Spiegel has said that if the Space Brothers do not come, it will just be an indication that mankind is not ready. The survival of Unarius depends most of all on the Space Brothers’ arrival in 2001.
Alta of the planet Vixall ( as channeled by Ruth Norman). ND. The Extraterrestrial Phenomenon. El Cajon, CA: Unarius Academy of Science Publishing. pp. 1-14.
Balch, R., Farnsworth, G., and Wilkins, S. 1983. “When The Bombs Drop.” Sociological Perspectives. 26: 137-58.
Granberry, Mike. 1986. “Spiritual Group Delves Into Past Lives For Answers.” Los Angeles Times. September 29: 5:1.
Hoversten, Paul. 1997. “With 2000 Near, UFO Believers Taking Off.” USA Today. March 31: 2A.
Kossy, Diane. 1990. ” Unarius Academy of Science.” Zontar Magazine. As cited on November 22, 1998, at http://www.teleport.com/~dkossy/unarius.html .
Ellwood, Robert. 1995. “UFO Religious Movements.” In America ‘s Alternative Religions. Timothy Miller, ed. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 41: pp. 393-399.
Noriyuki, Duane. 1997. “Age of Unarius.” Los Angeles Times. April 7: A3.
Norman, Ruth, and Spiegel, Charles. 1993. The Last Inca-Atahualpa. El Cajon, CA: Unarius Academy of Science Publications.
Parfrey, Adam. 1995. “The Gods Must Be Crazy: The Latter Days of Unarius.” In Cult Rapture. Portland, OR: Feral House. pp. 13-32.
Rother, Caitlin. 1994. “Star of Unarius: Spiegel Awaits Saucers.” The San Diego Tribune. October 13: B1.
Spiegel, Louis. 1985. I, Bonaparte: An Autobiography. El Cajon, CA: Unarius Publishers.
Stark, Rodney, and Bainbridge, William. 1979. “Of Churches, Sects, and Cults: Preliminary Concepts for a Theory of Religious Movements.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 18 (2): 117-133.
Tumminia, Diana. 1998. “How Prophecy Never Fails: Interpretive Reason In a Flying-Saucer Group.” Sociology of Religion. 59/2: 157 (Summer).
Tumminia, Diane, and Kirkpatrick, R.G. 1995. “Unarius: Emergent Aspects of an American Flying Saucer Group.” In The Gods Have Landed. James R. Lewis, ed. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 4: pp. 85-104.
Unarius Academy of Science. 1997. Unarius Light. El Cajon, CA: UAS Publishing. pp.5-31.
Unarius email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unarius World Headquarters
145 South Magnolia Ave.
El Cajon, CA 92020
Telephone: (619) 444-7062
Fax: (619) 444-9637
2603 Rolling Hills Dr.
Monroe, NC 28110
Tel.: (704) 283-5077
1725 NE 7th St.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Tel.: (954) 522-4579
4 Hart Street
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Canada LAC 7T7
Tel.: (905) 737-2309
Penthouse Floor Trojan House
125 Manners St.
Tel. in New Zealand: 801-7503
91 Orlu Road P.O.B. 319 Owerri
Nigeria, West Africa
Tel.: 011-234 83 232 134
Created by Ross Hoffman
Soc 257: New Religious Movements
Fall Term, 1998
University of Virginia
Last modified: 07/25/01