Week 37: The Integratron
It’s a stifling Wednesday morning in Los Angeles as my mother and I head towards the even hotter Mojave desert. Our destination? A dome planned by aliens. Specifically, aliens from Venus. Venusians, if you want to be intimate about it.
The last time we did this, my mom’s car blew a tire two hours into the drive, and we narrowly missed the sound bath at the Integratron.
The Integratron. Clearly UFO-inspired from the outside, It looks like a giant pumpkin on the inside. Underneath the ground it sits on swims electromagnetic currents strong enough to crack the concrete that forms the base of the Integratron. These meridians mean that the building is a magnetically potent place, and indeed, it was built with cell rejuvenation and time-travel in mind. Adding to its intrigue: the structure is made entirely of wood and glass. Not one nail, not one bolt.
For all I can wax and wane (not even an expression, but since the building is Venus-inspired, we can be moon-inspired) about its perfect design, an earthquake episode illustrates it best.
In 1992, an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck the Mojave desert. Its epicenter was in the town of Landers, California — the very town that is home to the Integratron. Buildings everywhere were completely leveled. Not only did the Integratron survive the earthquake, but there was not the slightest crack to be found anywhere in the building. So Venusians are good architects.
In all earnestness, though, it does look like a UFO. The building dates back to the 1950s, when aeronautical engineer and ufologist George van Tassel claimed he was telepathically contacted by these beings from Venus.
They told him that human beings should be more intelligent than we are. Then, they gave George the blueprint for the structure he would later build.
As it turns out, George was not your run-of-the-mill UFO-chasing desert eccentric. Besides being an aeronautical engineer, he was a test pilot for Lockheed and worked alongside Howard Hughes at Hughes Aviation. In 1947, he moved to the desert with the aim of operating an airport and inn. In building the Integration for cell rejuvenation and time-travel, he built an acoustically perfect structure that now functions as a home to a curious LA-esque specimen: the sound bath.
So today, 59 years after the building was erected, my mother and I arrive at the Integratron to experience one said sound bath.
The desert is dry and peaceful. Its vast expanse is so roomy: there is something about feeling small in the enormity of nature that lets me breathe deeper.
It’s as if the desert, like the mountains, invites individuality. The crampedness of the city restricts us a little bit, asks us to keep our eccentricities to ourselves. But the land draws them out, asking us to be who we are.
The building, in the middle of all this terrain, is itself a resonant structure. It would certainly be a force in LA, but the open land amplifies the Integratron the same way it amplifies people. The desert dignity of the circular structure renders it into a sublime presence.
Like many before me, I feel an otherworldliness as I cross the threshold. Being in this space does make it easy to believe that an unearthly hand had something to do with its origin.
Around the circumference of the ground floor lies a guestbook, framed pictures on the walls, an ‘Integratron history’ area, and some other curiosities. In the center of the chamber is a hefty, circular wooden post supporting the structure. Just beyond this central post is a ladder that leads to an opening in the ceiling. It is this ladder that we ascend to reach the second level.
There are 30-something of us, and we go up one by one.
The sound bath leader is already seated by his bowls. He wears a shirt that says ‘STAFF’ across the front and looks as non-new-agey as they come. In his late 30s, he’s the son of one of the three sisters that now own the building, and he stumbled into the sound bath scene via these family relations.
I’m the first up the ladder, and he asks me to go into the center and say my name. ‘Nisha’ echoes all around me, but, as I soon learn, only I can hear the echo. The word sounds normal everywhere else in the room.
Yoga mats are laid out in two concentric half-circles. We choose two spots in the inner one. After an introductory talk about the history of the building and a warning against the perils of snoring (snoring is perilous because of the special acoustics: a whisper from across the room sounds like it’s spoken directly into the ear), the sound bath commences.
This a purist’s sound bath: only crystal quartz bowls are involved, and each one has a frequency attuned specifically to one of seven energy centers (chakras) in the body. Aiming to stay awake for the full hour and hear the whole thing, I enter a semi-conscious state within five minutes.
I wake up about one minute before the end. And then it’s over. We descend, linger, and leave.
Why is this post about the Integratron as opposed to the sound bath it encompassed? To rewind: I first came across this perplexity of the building in the spring (2018), after I learned about the concept of a sound bath. I decided to try one as one of my weekly challenges for The Unbridled Path project.
The first sound bath I scheduled resulted in the aforementioned flat-tire-failed-attempt, and now, as I finally do encounter the Integratron, I see a need to distill the sound bath aspect into a different experience…even as the two are intertwined. Why? Because the Integratron got me thinking about something totally different: aliens.
Both my parents have worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory since the mid-80s until present day. Having grown up on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory campus, with its mission control room and High Bays 1 and 2 — the wombs of Voyager 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini, and the Mars rovers — I have a lot of respect for the scientific approach to deep space. This is the same approach that looks condescendingly upon conspiracy theorists postulating stories about aliens and contactees.
At the same time, I also think it premature to write off what we can’t see; after all, human beings have limited senses designed to perceive at a certain frequency and in a certain dimension. Our instruments, subtler still, may likewise not have the capacity to detect everything ever. It may be sensational to insist, without proof, that something exists, but isn’t it equally dishonest to deny what one can’t perceive with the senses?
So, although I think most extraterrestrial theories are human-invented and in the direction of hoaxes, I do believe in the possibility of intelligent life out there, perhaps in another dimension.
As for the Integratron: I’m not sure. Sensationalizing is seductive; there are many of us who like both attention and the idea of life beyond this planet, even if (or especially because) it freaks us out a little bit. The brain’s wiring also encourages it to fill in blanks with assumptions.
In sum, I can’t say if Venusians are responsible for the Integratron. At the same time, I believe that the design of something like this could have been channeled from elsewhere.
And to be honest? I think it’s fascinating, but after thinking about all this, I realize that on a deeper level, I don’t care.
Is it selfish or un-inquisitive to not care? Answer that with your own opinion. I will say that this existence thus far has taught me that my life is, above all, an internal mission, the success of which is determined by how thoroughly I encounter myself at my rawest core, how much I push myself to arrive at myself, and how deeply I care for others.
If life on another material dimension factors in there somewhere, that’s really cool and it would totally blow my mind.
I think, though, that the answers we need most are not UFO-oriented technological advancements or an understanding of black holes or even an answer to the question of life existing anywhere else. I’d love to know, but I do believe the most important answers are the ones that lie untouched in our own hearts, as cheesy and idealistic as that sounds. It’s very easy to be external-facing and not deal with our own internal messes.
I had a moving experience at the Integratron, and I feel grateful to whoever — Earth-dwelling or not — is responsible for its conception. As intriguing as the building is, its most remarkable aspect to me is the idea that someone cared about transformational experiences and the well-being of our civilization enough to create it, and that the chamber is used for our collective betterment.