Truman Bethurum

Truman Bethurum (August 21, 1898 - May 21, 1969) was the second of the classic 1950s contactees, individuals who claimed to have spoken with humanoid space aliens and entered or ridden on their flying saucers. His revelations seemed fairly directly inspired by his immediate forerunner, George Adamski.

Bethurum was born in Gavalin, California, and in the early 1950s worked as a mechanic on a road-building crew. Unlike most road-crew members, however, he moonlighted as a fortune teller and spiritual advisor. In 1953 Bethurum first published magazine and newspaper (Redondo Beach Daily Breeze, September 25, 1953) accounts of being contacted about a dozen different times by the humanoid crew of a landed flying saucer, and repeatedly conversing with its stunningly lovely female captain, Aura Rhanes. Saucer and crew, who spoke colloquial English, came from the unknown planet Clarion, which from the earth, in defiance of all known laws of planetary motion, always remains out of sight behind our moon. The Clarionites were smaller than humans, lived for 1000 years, and were all good Christians who attended church every Sunday. A subsequent 1954 book, Aboard a Flying Saucer, gave more details of Bethurum's suffering at the hands of skeptics, but few other details of Clarion and its people.

Most contactees of this period became (or already were) leaders of religious cults, including George Adamski, George Van Tassel, Daniel Fry, George King and many others. Bethurum followed the same pattern, quitting his job and telling followers - immediately after the publication of his book - that the space people had commanded him to create a religious commune, with himself as spiritual leader. A commune, the Sanctuary of Thought, was subsequently created near Prescott, Arizona. While Bethurum and his cult have a few followers to this day, most self-proclaimed UFO researchers of the 1950s dismissed him as a charlatan—- he refused lie-detector examinations, and also refused to provide physical evidence he claimed to possess, such as supposedly unique items given to him by Captain Aura Rhanes.

Some of Bethurum's later books include The Voice of the Planet Clarion (1957), Facing Reality (1958), and The People of the Planet Clarion (1970), published after his death. The first 44 pages of the final book are an autobiography of Bethurum covering his life up to 1953. In this last book he also mentions that astronomers had told him that Clarion could not possibly orbit either sun or earth in such a way as to remain behind the moon as seen from earth, and that Captain Rhanes must have meant to say Clarion is in the same orbit as our earth, but always behind the sun from our viewpoint. It has been known since the 1960s that no planet exists in either spot. Earlier, in 1954, Bethurum had told audiences during his lectures that Rhanes probably meant Clarion was in another solar system.

An afterword to The People of the Planet Clarion by artist Columba Krebs, who helped Bethurum with all three of his later books, notes that Bethurum seemed obsessed by Captain Rhanes, and had hired a secretary who (according to Bethurum) resembled her very closely. Bethurum himself repeatedly remarked in his many public lectures that his second wife had divorced him in 1955 mainly due to jealousy of Captain Rhanes. He later married a third time, with the wedding taking place at one of George Van Tassel's yearly Giant Rock Spacecraft Conventions.

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