A new article looks at the neopagan Traditionalist John Michell (1933-2009) and the unusual connection he made between the primordial tradition and extra-terrestrial beings. The article is Marleen Thaler, “How Modern is Technology? The Link between Prehistoric UFOs and Modern Traditionalism,” Religio 30, no. 1 (2022): 7-24, available here.
Michell, an admirer of the work of Julius Evola, was the author of various “Radical Traditionalist Papers" in the 1970s and 1980s, and of Confessions of a Radical Traditionalist (London: Turnaround, 2005). In a 2011 article, Amy Hale argues that he played an important role in bringing Traditionalism to the attention of Neopagans in the US and the UK (see earlier blog post here).
Thaler argues that Michell combined Traditionalism with what she calls “alternative archeology,” which she traces back to Alfred Watkins (1855-1935) and his The Old Straight Track (London: Methuen, 1925), the book that introduced ley lines into the English (alternative) consciousness. Books such as George Adamski and Desmond Leslie’s Flying Saucers Have Landed (London: Laurie, 1953) and Carl G. Jung’s Ein moderner Mythus. Von Dingen, die am Himmel gesehen warden (1958; translated as Flying Saucers. A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, London, Routledge & Paul, 1958) then added UFOs to ley lines.
As Thaler says, alternative archeology and Traditionalism have very little in common, but one thing that they do have in common is a preference for the prehistoric past over modernity, which is seen as in decline relative to that past. So combining Traditionalism with UFOs is not as difficult as one might at first think. Michell's crucial works for this are The Flying Saucer Vision: The Holy Grail Restored (London: Sidgwick and Jackson 1967) and The View Over Atlantis (NP: Sago Press, 1969). Both precede Michell’s Radical Traditionalist Papers.