GIANT ROCK CONVENTION
By CHELSEA J. CARTER; Associated Press
LANDERS, Calif. — They say there is a magical rock in California's Mojave Desert.
Just ask the folks who live near the seven-story, freestanding boulder known as Giant Rock. Ask, and they might tell you about those who believe it attracts flying saucers.
They may even tell you about the late George Van Tassel, the man who for a short time lived under the rock and said he was told by a visitor from Venus to build a dome that would capture the area's energy and rejuvenate the human body.
And recently the rock's devotees held the first ever Retro UFO Convention, honoring the man, the rock and the UFOs some swear they attracted.
The small, one-day convention on April 29 offered believers — some in space costumes — a chance to buy crystals, listen to various UFO specialists and chance to visit walk around the "Integratron," a 55-foot-diameter domed building that devotees believe is linked to mysterious energy sources. And even without the convention, a small trickle of sightseers comes to this desert outpost that's focused on other worlds.
The man and the rock
Time has not been kind to Giant Rock, which is about three miles off-road in the desert from the town of Landers. The weather has caused it to split. It has been burned by bonfires. It has been defaced by graffiti. But it's powers, believers say, are still intact.
More information: www.retroufo.com/ and www.integratron.com
Long ago, American Indians gathered at the base of the boulder to welcome the coming seasons, and shamans were said to gather strength for their tribes through the power of the rock, according to local historians.
But it is the rock's supposed special electromagnetic forces, a vortex, that today draw hundreds of UFOs enthusiasts and, supposedly, otherworldly beings. (They don't like to be called aliens, said convention attendees.)
They first started coming to the area in the 1950s, according to Van Tassel, who was "channeled" at the convention by Lloyd Noel. (Noel told audiences Van Tassel was speaking through interdimensional travel.)
Van Tassel moved to Landers in 1947, and leased the land that included the rock. He and his family opened a small airport and cafe.
In 1953, Van Tassel began to hold meetings under the rock in rooms carved out earlier by a prospector. It was there he first began to commune with the visitors, he wrote.
In August 1953, he said, a saucer landed from the planet Venus, woke Van Tassel up and invited him onto the ship. There the beings told him to build the "Integratron," a "machine, a high-voltage electrostatic generator that would supply a broad range of frequencies to recharge the cell structure."
Word of Van Tassel's meetings with visitors spread, and people flocked to Giant Rock to glimpse a view of the beings. Van Tassel began to hold UFO Conventions at the rock. In 1959, more than 11,000 people attended one of his UFO conventions.
Van Tassel began, under what he described as the guidance of the visitors, construction of the Integratron in 1954. He spent 18 years building the structure that sits about three miles from Giant Rock.
Van Tassel said the site of the Integratron was worked out according to a complex set of theories involving the earth's magnetic field, and the Integratron's relationship to the Great Pyramid in Egypt and Giant Rock.
The Integratron was capable of collecting up to 50,000 volts of static electricity from the air, Van Tassel wrote. The 16-sided dome was built of wood and concrete and held together by glue and wooden pegs.
Inside, visitors can have a "sound bath," in which a series of quartz bowls keyed to different notes are sounded to rejuvenate the body.
In Van Tassel's writings, he said the beings did not want him to write down the schematics for the building, and that he had to learn about how to construct it in his various channelings. Van Tassel died in 1976, and the Integratron was never finished. Convention organizer Barbara Harris said proceeds were going to the upkeep of the building.
P.S. AP reporter Chelsea J. Carter interviewed Lloyd Noel after his channeling. He said he was just an actor.
Thanks to Scotty for submitting this copyright article from the Seattle Times newspaper.