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UFO Conference CONTACT in the DESERT 2016: Notes From the Battleground

UFO disclosure is about an evolution of consciousness, not little green men.

A massive heat wave that hit Southern California the first weekend of June didn't stop thousands of people from attending the biggest UFO shindig of the year, CONTACT in the DESERT.

For those who've never been to a UFO conference, imagine a lot of purple hair, sacred geometry tattoos and crystal pendants. Imagine scorching desert heat reminiscent of Native American sweat lodges. Imagine people of all ages and walks of life, but mostly the older folk. Finally, imagine diverse speakers - from alien "contactees," self-proclaimed gurus and fringe historians to esteemed scientists and Harvard-educated lawyers.

The amount and the range of information offered here surpasses any conventional knowledge, so prepare for a mind-blowing experience. Or a mildly curious experience, if you're a seasoned UFO buff.

CONTACT in the DESERT (CITD) is a four-day UFO conference exploring Ancient Astronaut Theory, Extraterrestrial Life, Human Origins, Crop Circles, Anti-Gravity Machines, UFO Sightings, Planet X, Contact Experiences, and the Need to Know.

CONTACT in the DESERT (CITD) is a four-day UFO conference exploring Ancient Astronaut Theory, Extraterrestrial Life, Human Origins, Crop Circles, Anti-Gravity Machines, UFO Sightings, Planet X, Contact Experiences, and the Need to Know.

The Conference: Then and Now

CONTACT in the DESERT in Joshua Tree, CA is not the only UFO event offered each year, but it is unique for several reasons.

For example, the 400-acre Joshua Tree Retreat Center is a known paranormal site, situated atop 17 energy vortexes, and in close proximity to the 33rd parallel north. Most UFO sightings occur on that parallel, which is also where the Bermuda Triangle is located and where the Phoenix Lights were seen. So it's a perfect location for this kind of event.

Besides, spiritual seekers of all walks of life identify with the pilgrimage of the soul into the desert to experience enlightenment, which is a known archetypal theme.

In 2013 I attended my first CONTACT in the DESERT, and by the end of the weekend I was hooked. Even though a lot of the information was familiar and even mainstream at that point, I remember a cluster of speakers who just blew me away - David Sereda, Carol Rosin, William Henry, Mark "Dr. Dream" Peebler...

Aside from the group meditation sold to the attendees as the alien contact experience with Steven Greer ("CE-5 Initiative"), there was very little nonsense and the whole thing did feel like a UFO Woodstock: unscripted and chaotic at times, but authentic and powerful. I left recharged with new knowledge and re-committed to my spiritual evolution. I promised myself to return.

In 2016 I attended my second (and annual fourth) CONTACT in the DESERT.

A UFO conference attendee with his human friend.

A UFO conference attendee with his human friend.

This time the experience is more rigid and disconnected. The speakers are less original and less captivating in general. Many sound like a broken record. One actually declared Hillary Clinton a messenger of the Cosmic Federation of Light, leaving some attendees to wonder: are they just spinning government propaganda by using the UFO angle?

You get your usual "talking heads" - Georgio Tsoukalos, David Wilcock, Jim Marrs, James Gilliland promoting their latest books, shows, courses - but take away the hype of seeing a "UFO celebrity" in person, and all you're left with is a recital of an old episode of "Ancient Aliens," or as one vendor called it, "UFOlogy 101." Tsoukalos was particularly shameless with self-promotion, selling t-shirts depicting aliens with "Giorgio Hair" and other "Tsoukalicious" merchandise.

Overall, the event felt overly commercial. Many lectures are basically teasers for paid "workshops" (slang for lectures with a Q&A section at the end). A lot more vendor booths than 3 years ago, selling everything from pizza to crystal skulls. And in case you felt like the price of admission wasn't high enough, at the end of the weekend the organizers offered a full DVD set of all the lectures and workshops for a whopping $400.

Still, the number of attendees (I heard the figure 3,000) and how far people come to attend this event is astounding. I've met people from Washington, Vermont, Arizona, Florida, New York, Texas and even Montreal. My scenic 2,5-hour drive from San Diego wasn't much of an effort, but the enduring heat and the lack of adequate air conditioning inside the lecture halls was a challenge (especially when you're 5 months pregnant).

On the road to Joshua Tree, CA.

On the road to Joshua Tree, CA.

The Information

With multiple lectures and workshops offered at the same times, surfing a UFO conference becomes the game of separating the wheat from the chaff.

What are you interested in the most - space science, ancient astronauts, alien technology, UFO disclosure, or perhaps the emerging spirituality paradigm?

It may come as a surprise to those who associate UFO conventions with tinfoil hats and blurry photographs of flying saucers, but not all talks are in fact UFO-focused. Those of us who see the UFO phenomenon through the lens of the evolution of consciousness can find discussions regarding co-creation, ascension, the new 'cosmic' human, multidimensional awareness, rebirth of the Goddess, etc.

But they are few and far between. I enjoyed Sherry Wilde's "A World in Transition" lecture, Richard Dolan's "The Extraterrestrial Hypothesis: A Fresh Understanding for a New Century" and "UFOs and Spirituality" panel.

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But to my quiet disappointment the majority of lectures were focused on old-and-tried alien lore as opposed to what's happening now, intellectually and spiritually.

Part of me was waiting for someone to announce: "Wake up people, this isn't about little green men in ships, this is about consciousness," but the conversations kept coming back to ancient civilizations, Roswell and the Annunaki.

UFOs, Spirituality & the Evolution of Consciousness Panel with (from left to right) James Gilliland, Laura Eisenhower, Graham Hancock, JJ & Desiree Hurtak, Tricia McCannon, Robert Perala and Linda Moulton Howe.

UFOs, Spirituality & the Evolution of Consciousness Panel with (from left to right) James Gilliland, Laura Eisenhower, Graham Hancock, JJ & Desiree Hurtak, Tricia McCannon, Robert Perala and Linda Moulton Howe.

No wonder a number of experienced UFO buffs lamented that the conference was dominated by disinformation, and geared towards "amateurs." By contrast, the newcomers I spoke with were delighted and impressed with the lineup.

As someone who falls somewhere between the veterans and the amateurs, at the end of my weekend exploration I walked away with mixed feelings. I wouldn't call it disinformation or government propaganda, but the information presented felt...filtered, superficial and largely irrelevant. In fact, I got more from talking to people at the event than from the speakers.

Filmmaker Jeremy Corbell's lecture on the CIA, UFOlogy & Nanotechnology

Filmmaker Jeremy Corbell's lecture on the CIA, UFOlogy & Nanotechnology

If there's one thing I took from this conference, it's that our reality is vastly more complicated than it appears.

As Jeremy Corbell, one of the refreshing highlights of the event, pointed out, the UFO problem is: we don't know anything.

So as far as I'm concerned, the truth is still out there.

And maybe not next year, but I will be coming back for another conference. If for no other reason than that sensational view of the Milky Way strikingly bright against the dark velvet sky of the desert.

© 2016 Lana Adler


Lana Adler (author) from California on November 12, 2018:


the conference is worth checking out I think. I love the atmosphere of events like this, and there's always something for everyone :)

I've never had a conscious extraterrestrial experience. I can recall a few occasions when I have had "dream encounters" that were wiped out but I've woken up around 3 am and had an urge to write down some words that led me to believe that I was on some sort of a "ship". Does that count? Lol

Have you had an extraterrestrial experience?

Finn from Barstow on November 12, 2018:

Well I had never heard of this conference and I'm a little curious. Strange it was in Joshua Tree - like almost the middle of nowhere (I know it's a hot spot). and 3000 really isn't that many - a nice number.

Maybe I will check it out one day.

Curious though...have you had an extraterrestrial experience?

Lana Adler (author) from California on March 02, 2018:

LOL Doris, I hope not! She is O Negative though and...well, there's some lore about people with that type of blood.

Thank you for sharing a story about your friend. There are many suspicious deaths in the UFO community, but it does make you wonder: why are some people (allegedly) murdered, while others write dozens of books, speak at conferences, have their own YouTube channels etc.? I never understood that.

You know I love hearing stories about this stuff from people. UFO conferences used to be just that - people sharing their experiences with other people, but it got so big, so corporate, and yes, sadly, so commercial.

Thanks for reading!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 01, 2018:

Wow, Lana, loved this account of a UFO Conference. I must have missed this hub when it came out because I was having problems with getting notifications. This sounds like fun, but it also sounds like all the conferences are being overrun by commercialization. I've attended all the Earth-Keeper Conferences in my state since 2012 and they've all gone the same way by turning into an Ancient Aliens free-for-all, too, and why pay extra for videos of the conference when eventually they will be put on YouTube.

Twenty years ago one of my husband's friends spent an afternoon convincing me that he and his late wife were abductees. She had even published several books about it. And he claimed that she was murdered (made to look like natural causes) for her going public with her claims. He moved out of state, and a couple of years ago I looked him up online and found that he'd gone public, too, and now he's denying everything. Since he went to so much trouble to convince me and others that he was telling the truth, I can only assume that somebody got to him and now he's afraid for his life. I don't know what else to think.

So you're about to be a mom. Congratulations on the little one. Hope the baby wasn't "marked" by all those aliens. LOL

Lana Adler (author) from California on August 31, 2016:

Hi Catherine,

thank you for the comment and for sharing your opinion. I don't mind if people reading this article take it as an opportunity to assert their belief (or disbelief) in the existence of UFOs.

But for me, attending this conference was an experience, and a rare one at that, to go beyond oneself and our collective assumptions about the world. I guess going to events like that helps me stay open-minded and humble, realizing how much we still don't know or understand.

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on August 31, 2016:

It sounds like fun, but I do not believe in the existence of UFOs, if by UFOs you mean space craft from beings from other star-systems. If these beings want to keep their existence secret from us, I'm sure their technology is capable of doing so. Further, interstellar travel is not possible given the distances and that speed-of-light little difficulty. There may have been sightings of unidentified things in the sky, but that is all they are--unidentified things in the sky. It makes for great science fiction stories, but that is all that it is--fiction.

Lana Adler (author) from California on June 27, 2016:

Jodah, alas, it is true. Even UFO conferences and other spirituality-oriented events are infiltrated by wild consumerism. I was surprised how many "add-ons" were offered for an additional price, sometimes up to $50 a pop, in addition to an admission ticket, hotel stay, food etc. But people are willing to pay so...The free market rules.

And I do agree, it's hard to sort the truth from the fiction, hence "the UFO problem." But it's OK, gradually and inevitably we will learn the truth, whatever it is. Thanks for reading!

Lana Adler (author) from California on June 27, 2016:

Larry, someone once said: "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Some crazy kook with wild hair ;-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Lana Adler (author) from California on June 27, 2016:

Lol Mel, the possibility of Hillary being suddenly abducted by aliens is an attractive one, I admit...Maybe they could take Trump too? Oh, poor aliens...

I was 5 months then, I'm at 6 now! Time flies indeed when you're eating everything in sight. Thanks for stopping by!

Lana Adler (author) from California on June 27, 2016:

Jack, I agree, it's not a problem, more like a statement of the fact. Thanks for reading!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 26, 2016:

Thank you for sharing this. It sounds like this conference, like many other things, has been spoilt and tainted by commercialism and merchandising. I do believe there is other life forms out there, but it is hard to sort the truth from the fiction.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on June 26, 2016:

The likelihood of life out there when we consider how big "out there" is make extraterrestrial life likely, but a meeting like this seems more like a place for big imaginations than anything. Sounds like a great deal of fun. Wonderful read.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 26, 2016:

Not surprising to hear that Hilary had her plants at the conference. From a UFO perspective, I think the best thing that could happen is for her to be abducted, right before the convention.

I'm not a UFO buff. But I am certain there is other life in the Universe and there have to be other civilizations, some superior to ours. Some of these beings can travel through dimensions that we are not capable of experiencing. Ancient peoples would call these beings "gods," and probably have.

As you have alluded to, a lot of the people in the UFO industry appear to be charlatans who are only in it for the money. The prosperity of a handful of crooks does not mean we should dismiss the idea of extraterrestrial life, however.

You're already up to five months? Wow, time flies, you'll be a Mom before you know it. Great hub!

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 26, 2016:

Thanks for the interesting perspective. I am a fan of the show- ancient aliens. There is a lot we don't know but I would't categorize it as a problem. There ate just so much more for us to explore and learn...

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