EVERY year on Christmas Eve, millions of children eagerly wait for a man with a strange plane to fall from the sky and deliver presents.
Most adults give up practices like this in childhood, but in 1954 a cult spent Christmas Eve waiting to be abducted by aliens in suburban Chicago.
The Seekers, a religious group led by Dorothy Martin, believed a catastrophic, world-ending flood was underway.
They expected a group of aliens called the Guardians to come and abduct them before the apocalypse.
Although the spaceship never came, the Seekers left their mark.
Following the Roswell incident in 1947, the group was one of the first religions to focus primarily on UFOs.
They were also an important early source for psychologist Leon Festinger, who created the concept of “cognitive dissonance.”
It’s 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 earth messenger for the Guardians. But her occult tendencies began with the belief that she could speak to the dead.
Martin thought she could communicate with her late father by clearing her mind and holding a pen to paper so he could write through her, according to the Cults podcast.
These claims were dismissed by her mother and her husband, but Martin’s beliefs only grew stronger.
The then 54-year-old worked to develop her alleged gift, but said her father’s voice had been replaced with one that only went by the name of older brother.
Power initially said he was helping his father talk to him, but quickly changed his tune and accused Martin’s father of being too engrossed in earthly things.
Older brother took over the conversation and Martin’s father quickly 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 among 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 began to turn dark as Martin gained followers for the cult.
The housewife reportedly struggled to understand the meaning of her life and attended new-age events in a bid to find more meaning.
It was during one of these events that she came to the attention of Dr. Charles A. Laughead, who was then working in the Michigan State student health workforce 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 this would bring about a time of war in which much of the humanity would not survive.
Again, Martin felt that the lack of an exact date for this war was cause for concern until July 1954 when the messages became more certain.
Sananda began saying that on August 1, 1954, a spacecraft would land at an airbase which would mark the coming invasion.
Martin had 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.
Yet as the group returned home disappointed, Martin then claimed that a man they encountered near the air base was Sananda in disguise.
The messages she received began to turn more serious with Martin claiming that an ancient civilization was to emerge from the ocean and kill millions of people.
Still, she said The Seekers would be saved by The Guardians.
Again, Martin didn’t want to risk failing by sharing the message, but Laughead was the one trying to tell the world.
As she tried to stay out of the spotlight, more people heard of her message and school kids started coming to the door asking if she was the woman who believed in aliens.
When the parents started calling the police, Martin knew she had been notified, but Laughead continued his quest to tell as many people as possible.
That was until he was asked to quit his job after calls to the police and became more insular, not allowing any new people to join The Seekers.
Martin also became paranoid and began refusing to leave his house.
SUBSCRIBERS LEAVE JOBS AND FAMILIES
It was then that her husband finally became concerned as his followers began to leave their jobs and families in order to prepare for UFOs to safety.
The Seekers were now convinced that the Guardians were due to arrive on December 22, and they began to prepare for the abduction by removing all metal from their clothing.
However, on December 17, 1954, Martin received a phone call from a “Captain Video” who told them to step out onto the lawn to wait until midnight.
While the call was probably a prank, the group emerged to wait and when nothing happened, they convinced themselves that Sananda had performed a drill to prepare them for the real deal in five days.
Martin prepared The Seekers for the moment of truth during the midnight strike on December 22.
By then, Laughead’s efforts to draw attention to their salvation had garnered media attention, and the press was on hand to watch their coming rise.
The group of about ten followers waited until 3 a.m. in the cold before giving up and being convinced by Martin once again that the end of the world was still coming and that aliens would save them, this time Christmas Eve.
While the press had again given up on interest, leaving Martin despondent that The Guardian hadn’t given her enough time to bring people together, she managed to encourage remaining followers that chanting was the key to attracting their saviors.
As night fell on Christmas Eve, they emerged to wait once more – this time shouting Christmas carols to the sky.
When a crowd of up to 200 people gathered to watch the commotion, the police were called once more and after just 20 minutes The Seekers gave up hope.
Shortly after, Martin’s husband was notified that there was a warrant out for the mob that had gathered outside the house, and she fled to Arizona.
It is unknown if he went with her, but the cult disbanded.
Martin’s supporters fell by the wayside, but Laughead continued to push the belief at UFO conferences.
While Martin’s premonition failed to materialize, The Seekers contributed to one of the most significant psychological breakthroughs in years.
The term “cognitive dissonance” was coined after the publication of a study by researchers who had infiltrated the group to explore how followers had convinced themselves to continue, even when presented with evidence that Martin’s statements were false.
The researchers also believed that Martin was not lying and really believed that she was a messenger.
In Arizona, Martin went on to found the Order of Sananda and Sanat Kumara (the names of two of the Guardians), calling herself “Sister Thedra”.
She died aged 92 in 1992.
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Inside UFO doomsday cult ‘The Seekers’ that saw believers waiting to be abducted by aliens while singing Christmas carols – Reuters
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