UFO doomsday cult, believers expected to be abducted.
In 1954 a cult called “The Seekers” spent Christmas Eve waiting to be abducted by aliens in suburban Chicago.
The Seekers, a religious group led by Dorothy Martin, believed that a catastrophic flood was taking place that would end the world.
They hoped that a group of aliens called the Guardians would come and kidnap them before the apocalypse.
Although the spacecraft never arrived, the Seekers left their mark.
After the Roswell incident in 1947, the group was one of the first religions centered primarily on UFOs.
They were also an important early source for psychologist Leon Festinger, who coined the concept of “cognitive dissonance”.
This is the mental conflict that occurs when a person’s beliefs or assumptions are challenged by new information, according to Britannica.
By 1954, Martin had come to see herself as an earthly messenger for the Guardians. But her hidden tendencies began with the belief that she could speak with the dead.
Martin thought she could communicate with her late father by clearing her mind and holding a pen to paper to allow him to write through it, according to the Cults podcast.
These claims were rejected by his mother and husband, but Martin’s beliefs only grew stronger.
The then 54-year-old woman worked to develop her supposed gift, but said her father voice was replaced by one who called himself just Big Brother.
The power first said it was helping her father talk to her, but it soon altered its tone and accused Martin’s father of being too consumed with earthly things.
The older brother took over the conversation and Martin’s father soon disappeared.
However, the older brother’s voice was also taken over by a being named Sananda, who claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus.
Sananda, Martin said, was one of the Guardians who chose her as their messenger as they planned to bring cosmic intelligence to the rest of Earth.
At first, Sanada’s messages were vague and gave no cause for concern, but they began to darken as Martin gained a cult following.
The housewife reportedly struggled to understand her meaning in life and visited new-age events in an effort to find more purpose.
It was at one of these events that she came to the attention of Dr. Charles A. Laughead, who was then working on the student health team at Michigan State and had an extreme interest in UFOs and flying saucers.
As he became a follower of Martin and recruited others, Sananda’s messages began to speak of the Guardians’ arrival on Earth and how it would bring about a time of war that much of humanity would not survive.
Again, Martin felt that the lack of an exact date for this war did not cause any concern until in July 1954 the messages became more certain.
Sananda proceeded to say that on August 1, 1954, a spacecraft would land on an airbase which would mark the coming invasion.
Martin wanted to keep the information to herself, but Laughead spread the word to followers who by this point had become known as the Seekers.
When they visited the air base, the Seekers chose a place to wait, but nothing happened.
However, when the group returned home disappointed, Martin claimed that a man they found near the air base was Sananda in disguise.
The messages she received started to get more serious with Martin claiming that an ancient civilization would emerge from the ocean and kill millions.
However, she said that the Seekers would be saved by the Guardians.
Again, Martin didn’t want to risk failure by sharing the message, but Laughead was the one who tried to tell the world.
As she tried to stay out of the spotlight, more people heard about her message and students started knocking on her door, asking if she was the woman who believed in aliens.
When the parents started calling the police, Martin knew they were on high alert, but Laughead continued on his quest to tell as many people as possible.
That was until he was asked to leave his job after the calls to the police and when he became more isolated, not allowing new people to join the Seekers.
Martin also became paranoid and began to refuse to leave the house.
FOLLOWERS LEAVE JOBS AND FAMILIES
It was at this point that her husband finally became concerned, as followers of hers began to leave their jobs and families to prepare for the UFOs that brought them to safety.
The Seekers were now convinced that the Guardians would arrive on December 22nd and began preparing for the abduction by removing all metal from their clothing.
However, on December 17, 1954, Martin received a call from “Captain Video” who told them to go to the lawn and wait at midnight.
Although the call was likely a prank, the group went outside to wait, and when nothing happened, they became convinced that Sananda had run an exercise to get them ready for the real deal in five days.
Martin prepared the Seekers for the moment of truth at midnight on December 22nd.
By this time, Laughead’s efforts to bring attention to their salvation had attracted media attention, and the press was on hand to watch their rise.
The group of a dozen followers waited until 3am in the cold before giving up and before being again convinced by Martin that the end of the world was still coming and aliens would save them, this time on Christmas Eve.
Although the press again dropped interest, leaving Martin disheartened that the Guardian had not given him enough time to rally the people, it managed to encourage followers to believe that singing was the key to attracting their saviors.
As night fell on Christmas Eve, they emerged to wait once more – this time singing carols to the heavens.
When a crowd of up to 200 gathered to watch the commotion, the police were called once more, and after just 20 minutes, the Seekers lost hope.
Shortly thereafter, Martin’s husband was notified that there was a warrant out for the arrest of the crowd that had gathered outside the house, and she fled to Arizona.
It is unclear whether he went with her, but the cult has since disbanded.
Martin’s followers fell by the wayside, but Laughead continued to promote belief in UFO conferences.
Although Martin’s premonition did not come true, the Seekers contributed to one of the most important psychological discoveries in years.
The term “cognitive dissonance” was coined after a study was published by researchers who infiltrated the group to explore how followers convinced themselves to keep going even when presented with evidence that Martin’s statements were false.
The researchers also believed that Martin was not lying and actually thought that she was a messenger.
In Arizona, Martin founded the Order of Sananda and Sanat Kumara (the names of two of the Guardians), calling herself “Sister Thedra”.
She died aged 92 in 1992.