Illustration by Ozgun Evren Illustration by Ozgun Evren

Cosmic hotline to Arkansas

Eric Mitchell has been accused of “calling down the devil” — but in fact, he is a lifeline for people facing the ultimate existential crisis.

It’s three a.m. in Hot Springs, Arkansas and the cell phone on Eric Mitchell’s nightstand is vibrating so wildly that it dances across the piece of furniture and nearly falls to the floor. The forty-year-old father of four bolts upright and grabs the call, his fifth tonight, from some poor soul who finds him or herself a newly minted member of the cosmic community.

In the old parlance, one might refer to the caller as a UFO “abductee” or “contactee”. Today, in the era of the post- page one, above the fold 2017 New York Times story ( announcing our government studies such things and finally acknowledges the reality, the language is being replaced with more enlightened words. Such people are “experiencers.” UFOs are now “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” or UAPs. “Aliens” are referred to simply as “the others.”

Mitchell calls these cries for help, “eruptions,” and that’s an interesting term coming from a man who literally lives in the mouth of an ancient volcanic crater in the American south. You can’t dig a foot in the soil in this part of Arkansas without coming upon quartz crystals; one chunk the size of a house was discovered not long ago. And bubbling hot water gives the town its name.

It is here, as if ensconced in Superman’s crystalline Fortress of Solitude, the heroic Mitchell brews some coffee, wipes the sleep out of his eyes, and performs the kind of emergency intervention which was done for him six years ago by a Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network (MUFON) investigator from Kentucky named Barry Gaunt. Mitchell calls Gaunt “Bear” and says, “He’s family now.”

Back then, the tall, thin single father was so distraught from the onset of apparently extraterrestrial and inexplicable experiences that he put a loaded .380 in his mouth one day and nearly pulled the trigger. He never had an interest in UAPs before coming into contact with one himself.

“I was shaking,” he says, recalling the first of several times he saw the bright orange object hovering over his one story apartment and then near him about a foot away. “And then I couldn’t move. It had pinned me down somehow.”

And that wasn’t the worst of it. There seemed to be lingering and very strange physical effects:

“After being knocked down and held there by a craft with some sort of intense vibration and frequency, I began to have a feeling in the center of my mind. Close attention to this feeling made audible sounds.’’ MUFON investigators looked at him and “ruled out all of the obvious possibilities” he says. “Upon examination with my investigator we find that I was setting off some meters at will.” Mitchell is still being studied and hoping for an MRI and additional serious scientists looking into his case, which is file 034EM in the MUFON ledgers.

When the crisis was was well past and Mitchell was adjusting to the “new normal,” Bear says, “he asked me what he could ever do to repay me. I asked him to now help others as he had been helped.” Mitchell is a former drug and alcohol counselor and his skills apply well to other people in crisis. He made a promise that day and it’s a sacred vow to him. And so, he begins another conversation with people who have had their world views shattered and are sometimes suicidal themselves. And he does it for free.

Bear says it’s now extremely gratifying to watch Mitchell’s evolution from victim to someone taking a leadership role. “It is a thrill that he has done what I asked and more, helping over two hundred people already. He has all my respect and love. He is my brother.”

The people are referred to Mitchell nationally through word-of-mouth. He says the reason they are in such crisis is two-fold. First, there is the shock of the experience. And second, and more long-lasting, is the loss of a support network since many people think the experiencer is crazy, even close family and friends.

And that is by design. For more than seventy years since the famous incident in Roswell, New Mexico, extra-constitutional intelligence figures in the United States government covered up the phenomena and stigmatized, harassed and sometimes killed witnesses, whistle-blowers and researchers. Eric Mitchell has had experience with some shadowy people himself. The nefarious if successful psychological operation has had long-lasting and damaging effects and is a violation of human rights. That plays out in the street as these experiencers suffering what may be the last legal bias in their communities.

Harvard Law-trained public interest attorney Daniel Sheehan has said, “there is a whole category [of intelligence clearance] called ‘Cosmic Top Secret’.” Sheehan, a legendary lawyer who worked on the Karen Silkwood, Watergate, Pentagon Papers and Iran-Contra cases says none of them compare to the UFO/UAP full disclosure issue. He calls awakening to it the “next step” in our human evolution here:

“A mind set in stone is a rock hurtling at the truth,” Mitchell says about those in power without the openness nor intellect to get over control- and fear-based positions about the issue. And that goes for the neighbors, too.

While Mitchell is not attention-seeking, he couldn’t help but be the focus in his small town, and still draws lingering glances at the supermarket. He is not the only person to have observed the phenomena —people up and down his street started to move away it became so ever-present.

“It’s not a big town,” Mitchell says. “Everybody grows up with each other. They all know each other. It’s the Bible Belt. And the common consensus was that I was calling down the devil. I got a lot of crap from that, you know, an awful lot…

“I mean, there’d be ten, twenty, thirty people in front of my apartment almost every night. And to this day they drive out there and they do their joints and their beers and sit on tailgates and talk about the urban legend.”

He has moved to another apartment since those early days, but still has experiences witnessed by neighbors.

“I got up in the middle of a night terror not long ago and I usually come out on the back porch and have a cigarette. I really don’t know what time it was, but I know it was late in the middle of the night type of thing, or early morning. And I’m hearing my neighbor across the street howling Bible verses really loud. Normally it’s a very quiet neighborhood.”

He walked through the house and opened the blinds and saw his neighbor with a flashlight, a Bible open in her hand, yelling scripture in the direction of his home. “She was looking up above my roof. I walked back through the house. I go out onto my deck to get away from the overhang and I’m looking over the house and there’s an object floating there.”

Dr. Diana Walsh Pasulka is a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and chair of the department of philosophy and religion there. She has just published a well reviewed book on the phenomena titled American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology. It is a hopeful sign that a scholar of her considerable merit was published by Oxford University Press, no less, on this topic. It is relevant here as Dr. Pasulka points out the disconnect between worship of mainstream religious beings said to come from the sky on the one hand and the general freak-out about UAPs on the other.

Dr. Pasulka’s six years of research for the project took her to the highest levels of society, including prominent scientists and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who say they not only believe in, but get inspiration for their latest technological innovations from interactions with off-world intelligence. She has done much to remove the stigma around the issue and advance rational, open and scholarly inquiry into it.

“I began my research in 2012,” she writes in her introduction. “Since that time, I have come to know millionaires and billionaires and successful innovative scientists who believe in and study the phenomenon…The lie has been that belief in UFOs is associated with those on the ‘fringe’…the truth is just the opposite.”

One prominent person featured in the book is attorney Rey Hernandez of Miami. He helped found the Edgar Mitchell Foundation for Research into Extra-Terrestrial and Extraordinary Encounters (FREE) with the former NASA astronaut, Dr. Mitchell (no relation to Eric Mitchell) after his own experiences with the phenomena. Like Eric Mitchell, he had no interest in the subject before becoming an experiencer himself. Working with co-founders including Harvard astrophysicist Dr. Rudy Schild and therapist and author Mary Rodwell, he helped collect more than six thousand testimonies internationally — the largest study to date. Their website is here:

Hernandez has spoken with Eric Mitchell at length and says, “I have had the honor to have met Eric Michell and to research his UFO related contact experiences. Just like the thousands of individuals from over one hundred and twenty-five countries who participated in our surveys, Eric’s case has demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of contact are positive, are ‘paranormal’ instead of physical, and result in a profound psychological transformation for the positive. There are literally thousands, if not millions, who are being awakened and transformed by their UFO related contact with non-human intelligence.”

Mitchell has done some public speaking, making the rounds to eleven conferences attended by people interested in the subject. But he found it unsatisfying and the some of the attendees competitive and critical. “I’m not here for people’s entertainment value,” he says by phone one recent afternoon. He says he prefers the one-on-one with people who sincerely need help.

Still, he has made some select close friends in the cosmic community. Marine Corps veteran and experiencer Kirke Morgan of Vermont is one of them. Morgan is trying to connect even more people with his dating site for those down this rabbit hole:

While visiting Mitchell in Maine one time, Morgan says he witnessed the phenomena first-hand. “His nose bled, then electronics started turning on and off by themselves… then there was a flash outside the window. It felt like they were saying hello. And listening to Eric tell about all the events, with his hyper-intelligent teens backing it up and adding to the incidents, was surreal and eye-opening.”

Mitchell has blessedly found love with someone who understands. Former editor Nicole Groom of Great Britain says he has noble qualities but still suffers daily.

“Eric is a very quiet and somewhat solitary soul with a heart the size of Texas with true southern morals and values, yet he suffers every day and night with flashbacks and night terrors due to his own trauma. This does not deter him from helping others experiencing high strangeness; if anything it only motivates him more. I have seen and heard this man on the phone for hours talking in a gentle tone to families in a state of hopelessness.’’

And she also says the experience has made him grow in remarkable ways. “His intellect is astonishing, I still have a hard time believing he was a simple redneck with an average IQ before his experiences. I am amazed at his knowledge base and his unusual abilities. This man can put most Ph.D.’s to shame.

“Eric just wants the truth to be known about our off-world visitors and to let people know they are not alone. He truly is a wonderful soul.”

The hotline hero is in discussions with Netflix to dramatize his story. More about him can be seen here:

He can be reached at [email protected] by anyone needing help.


By Maureen Seaberg / Author and Journalist

Maureen Seaberg is the co-author of Struck By Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel, the story of Jason Padgett, who acquired synesthesia and savant syndrome from a brain injury sustained in a brutal mugging fifteen years ago in Tacoma, Washington. The book has been optioned for film with Michael Costigan and Channing Tatum to co-produce and Tatum to star. She is Mensa-qualified.

polysynesthete, she has higher and lower synesthesias: her sensory experience of the letter K is teal, the number 8 aubergine, and she would have to become a glass artisan to describe what she sees when listening to Yo-Yo Ma. Her experience includes mirror touch synesthesia and as a result she is highly empathic.

The native New Yorker also experiences the behaviors of functional tetrachromacy, or the presence of a fourth cone class for color vision. Vogue magazine called her "Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes" in a feature in 2014. She tested positive on a DNA test for tetrachromacy and is awaiting functionality testing.

Ms. Seaberg has presented on the senses at the Toward a Science of Consciousness conferences in Tucson and Stockholm, Yale Divinity School, the American Synesthesia Association conference at Vanderbilt University, Science Writers in New York (SWINY) and at Tibet House and NYU. She has written for the New York Times, Vogue,  Glamour, O, the Oprah Magazine, ESPN the magazine, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast and has appeared on MSNBC, MTV News, and PBS. She is at work on multiple book and screenplay projects.

Author of


Sensorium is about how we understand extraordinary experiences of the senses. An author and journalist, Maureen Seaberg has personal experience with several forms of synesthesia and is a tetrachromat, possessing the genetic basis for a fourth cone class for color vision. Ms. Seaberg reports from inside her personal realm of sensory experience as well as on the experiences of others and the latest research from the field.

Read now.

(Source:; April 3, 2019;
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