An Interview with Apollo 14 astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell: Cosmic consciousness, telepathy, the Geller Effect, Roswell, etc.

by Brent Raynes

Dr. Edgar Mitchell is a graduate of MIT with a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics, and is the founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences ( and co-founder of the Association of Space Explorers. During the Apollo 14 mission in 1971, he was the Lunar Module Pilot and was the sixth man to walk on the moon (so far there have only been 12). The author of Psychic Exploration: A Challenge for Science and The Way of the Explorer (just reprinted), Dr. Mitchell has now devoted well over three decades to investigating and researching human consciousness and paranormal phenomena.

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Editor: With regard to the exploration of consciousness I guess we should start with the 1971 experience with your Apollo 14 mission where you were on the moon and what happened there. I know that you wrote in your book The Way of the Explorer that it was like an overwhelming sense of universal connectedness and it was this experience that kind of catapulted you into the exploration of consciousness and the founding of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Although I think that on that same mission you were doing a private ESP experiment too.

Dr. Mitchell: After I got into the Apollo program, I became interested in Dr. J.B.Rhine’s work through some friends of mine who were pretty intelligent, intellectual people. So I started looking into it and looking at it very carefully and I realized that he was right. He and his colleague, Dr. Karlis Osis and a few others, had done some decent laboratory work. If they were right, then we in science were derelict in not trying to figure out how this works and clearly classical physics doesn’t provide enough evidence. His results were showing that this was possible and we ought to find out how it works.

That ignited my curiosity. I wondered: What’s going on here? Let’s figure it out. A couple of physicians whom I had met here in Florida when I was training were also interested and they kind of egged me on and said “Hey, why don’t you do an experiment from space and see if the distance makes any difference?”

Lo and behold, it turned out that it worked very well. As well as it did in the lab.

Editor: At that time this was just a private experiment but somehow it leaked to the media.

Dr. Mitchell: Well, it wasn’t somehow. There were four people on earth who were trying to get the information and one of them was a professional psychic (now dead), Olaf Johnson. He blabbed details of the experiment to the press shortly after our landing and even before we checked the results. Fortunately, J.B. Rhine was very delighted to check the results. He and Karlis Osis both checked the incoming data and they both came out with the same initial results.

We were going to do six periods of experiment and I was only able to do four, but my colleagues on earth made six sets of answers. Using that data, with the adjustment for the difference in the number of experiments, the probability of chance producing our results was one in 13,000.

Dr. Rhine contributed a report on this experiment that was published in the June 1971 edition of The Journal of Parapsychology.

Editor: It was on this same mission that you had that very powerful sense of…?

Dr. Mitchell: It was on the way home. I was a Lunar Module Pilot and my major duties had been completed. On the way back home I was systems engineer on a well-functioning spacecraft. So I got to look out at the heavens, kind of relax, and be a tourist a little bit. And because we were rotating every two minutes the earth, the moon, and the sun would come in and out of view. That was a pretty overwhelming experience in itself. And then suddenly from my experiences at Harvard and MIT getting a doctorate in astronomy I realized that the molecules in my body and the molecules in the body of the spacecraft were created from some ancient generation of stars. And so suddenly in my mind being manufactured from those stars made this a personal experience instead of an intellectual experience of separateness. I had never had this experience before. It was pretty spellbinding. It was an overwhelming joy and experience, and this continued whenever I had a few moments to look out the window. I experienced connectedness. An absolute bliss and joy associated with it every time I looked out the window for three days on the way home. It was so powerful I couldn’t let go of that. I had to know what in the world it was. What did it mean? I didn’t know.

So I started reading science literature, and especially religious literature, and I got in touch with scholars, with university anthropologists, archeologists, and others to help me to try and find some of the answers. And they came back to me a few weeks later with an experience described out of the Sanskrit of India called savikalpa samadhi that described the same thing. A perception of unity accompanied by ecstacy. Exactly what I had been feeling. So what does all of this mean? Nobody knew what it meant.

So over the next couple of years, I had a chance to talk with spiritual masters and leadership of different cultures of the world. From the South Pacific Islands to medicine men of Indian tribes, with shamans, witchdoctors, kahunas, and somewhere in each of these cultures there would be a similar description of a transcendental experience in which they felt a oneness with nature. It was just universal. I began to realize that such experiences were to be found throughout nature and throughout all cultures. The descriptions of them are all culturally based, and are based upon the experiences, traditions and the beliefs of each culture. Basically the fundamental aspects and descriptions of the experience are virtually the same, but the explanation is the basis of each religion. We have often ended up fighting over whose explanation is right and whose got the best God, when it’s really based upon this initial perception that’s anything but hostile.

Editor: Yeah, what I think they’ve kind of called a cosmic consciousness or a peak experience.

Dr. Mitchell: Bucke called it that in his 1904 book Cosmic Consciousness and he really discovered that throughout history there have been many of these instances. And I believe in the evolutionary sense that probably cultivating such awareness might help our civilization to survive. The way we’re going right now I don’t think we’re likely to survive much longer.

Editor: No, we need to evolve a new mindset.

Dr. Mitchell: Exactly.

Editor: Over the years, as you said you’ve talked to shamans and medicine people, people of different spiritual backgrounds around the world, and you also delved further into parapsychology, and actually had the experience of being involved in the Stanford Research Institute’s work with Uri Geller.

Dr. Mitchell: Yes, I’ve done all of that. The things that we uncovered are pretty understandable now. The basis of all of this is quantum mechanics, the quantum world of entanglement. It’s pretty obvious that the basis of our perceptual mechanisms, paranormal or not, is basically quantum resonance or quantum particles. I don’t know how familiar you are with that. That’s pretty difficult stuff. But we’re very confident that we’ve got the right answers simply because of the Faraday cage screenings, which we’ve done hundreds of times. With the Faraday cage electromagnetic waves can’t get through, but quantum resonance can get through. There’s some things that we know about like the operation of gravitation in the quantum world and the so-called twin effect, where twins or mother and child, people who are somehow closely connected, and when you place one inside a Faraday cage and one outside a Faraday cage and hook them up to an EEG machine you see their brain waves going in sync when they’re thinking about each other. So that’s proof positive for non-local functioning. And a little metaphor to help understand that is that we call our intuition our sixth sense and we really ought to call it our first sense because it’s based on quantum resonance, on quantum entanglement, which was around long before even our planetary system was formed and our star systems were formed, and so is the basis of our perceptual mechanisms.

Editor: I know that one writer named Joseph Chilton Pearce said that a lot of times our roof brain chatter, our intellectual overlay, a lot of times prevents us from really being able to understand these things or to perceive these things.

Dr. Mitchell: Absolutely correct, because as we have evolved and different languages evolved, we’ve had to survive more and more on our intellectual left-brain way of thinking as opposed to the emotional and intuitive, which is another information vector. We have to learn to integrate the two of them.

Editor: And I know that one powerful example of that which you had in your own experience as described in your book was your mom with her glaucoma condition and a gentleman who had performed a healing on her. He was an American but he had studied an ancient form of Buddhism.

Dr. Mitchell: Yes, that was Norbu. I had a number of these experiences after coming back from my flight. Including shortly thereafter Norbu Chen healing my mother and then her rejecting it because she believed it was a Satanic healing instead of a Christian healing. She was a fundamentalist Christian. That helped me to see the notion of how important belief systems are and how we operate and how we can influence what we perceive. And then immediately following that, the connection with Uri Geller and going to the SRI and meeting him there catapulted me into this other realm of exploring the unknown but trying to use science to understand it.

Editor: Right, with Geller you not only saw him perform these metal bending feats and you were impressed with it, but also young children.

Dr. Mitchell: That was the most impressive aspect. Skeptics want to talk about Uri Geller being a stage magician, but children aren’t. When you can get those results from children it really impresses you.

Editor: And you compared it to like a poltergeist effect as a lot of times a young child is involved in these situations and it seemed like they were predominantly boys ten years and younger, there were able to duplicate the Geller effect.

Dr. Mitchell: Yes, which it is showing us that we all have these capabilities but culturally we tend to train it out of our children, like with imaginary playmates. “They’re not real, son.” It all gets crushed.

Editor: Of course, I’ve got to ask you something on the subject of UFOs. You were a teenager on a ranch in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 when the crash supposedly occurred.

Dr. Mitchell: Well, in my father’s family, my father and my grandfather were cattle ranchers. They were bull traders. We personally knew all the ranchers. After my space flight, I had the privilege of being briefed by many of what I call the old timers who were not necessarily local but had been with military intelligence and wanted to pass on their stories related to Roswell before they passed away. They were under very, very strict security requirements, even under the threat of death, not to talk, but they wanted somebody to know before they passed on that it was a real fact. So I got it not only first-hand from the locals but military intelligence people too who had been a part of that event.

Editor: So you feel that there is more to it than the weather balloon explanation then?

Dr. Mitchell: The military had come up with…I mean it’s not really the military. It’s a cabal of individuals. I’m sure you’ve heard about the so-called Majic 12 folklore which is a residue from an organization that Truman put together, which was a very high-level organization. A national security group formed in 1947, it was given more power than it should have had, and they have relied on that and multiplied that over the years to maintain secrecy.

Editor: So something happened but we’ll probably never really know exactly what?

Dr. Mitchell: Well, I don’t think that’s quite true. I think that we’re going to get to the bottom of this thing. It will come out. I think we’re getting closer and closer to it now that the Belgium government, the French government and the Brazilian government and the Mexicans have opened their files and admitted that this is a reality and that as far as they can tell that we’ve been visited. I think that the pressure is on.

Editor: I recently spoke with a lady who lives up near Cookville, Tennesee, whose father she said was a radar technician at White Sands Proving Grounds back when Werner von Braun was there and said that everybody there saw UFOs, actually circling, in one instance, one of these rockets that they had launched.

Dr. Mitchell: There have been enough of these types of incidents reported and enough credible people that have worked on it, and I have gone further than that. I have gone to the Pentagon and talked to high-level people there and finally got an admission that they couldn’t do anything about it either.

Editor: How about your fellow astronauts? Did they have experiences in space and are any of them interested in merging science and spirit?

Dr. Mitchell: Virtually all of the people who went into space, and especially the farther out that they went, all of them had powerful, powerful experiences. Just seeing the so-called big picture, seeing the earth and the heavens from space. But again like that old story of how religion was formed, all of us had a slightly different interpretation of what this was all about. So for some of my colleagues it was like looking on the face of God. Again you can’t deny that that’s their interpretation, but when I talked with them about this I know that we had virtually the same experience. It was a sense of awe and wonder.