In 1954, a midwestern newspaper carried the following headline and story :
PROPHESY FROM PLANET CLARION CALL TO CITY: FLEE THAT FLOOD. IT’LL SWAMP US ON DEC 21, OUTER SPACE TELLS SUBURBANITE.
Lake City will be destroyed by a flood from the great lake just before dawn, Dec, 21, according to a suburban housewife. Mrs. Dorothy Martin of 847 West School Street, says the prophesy is not her own. It is the purport of many messages she has received by automatic writing, she says…. The messages, according to Mrs. Martin, are sent to her by superior beings from a planet called “Clarion.” These beings have been visiting the earth, she says, in what we call flying saucers. During their visits, she says, they have observed fault lines in the earth’s crust that foretoken the deluge. Mrs. Martin reports she was told the flood will spread to form an inland sea stretching from the Arctic Circle to the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, she says, a cataclysm will submerge the West Coast from Seattle, Wash. to Chile in South America…
(Above excerpt from the book book, When Prophecy Fails)
The headline was spotted by a social psychologist, Leon Festinger. He and his colleagues, Stanley Schacter and Henry W. Riecken, decided to investigate the group behind such claims. They managed to infiltrate the group, and documented the happenings just prior to and shortly after the proclaimed date of the deluge that was predicted in the newspaper article.
The group was led by a Chicago woman named Dorothy Martin (also known as Marion Keech in Festinger’s later published book). For years, she’d been receiving messages through automatic writing. First, from her late father, and then from beings from outer space. She claimed that the beings came from the planet Clarion, and that their messages were prophetic. It wasn’t long before she began to attract followers. They called themselves “The Seekers”, and the messages came from E.T.’s called “The Guardians”.
Before she became the vessel for interstellar prophesy, Ms. Martin was a devout follower of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics movement. This was the the movement that would become the controversial religion we know today as Scientology. When forming her own “religious” movement, Martin incorporated many ideals from Hubbard’s Dianetics. She required very strict behavioral and lifestyle changes from her followers. Many of them left their jobs, homes, bank accounts, spouses, schools… all to follow Dorothy Martin, or as she referred to herself, the Outer Space Subordinate.
Martin claimed that she had her own personal Clarion guide and mentor named Sananda. The Seekers waited excitedly for each new message from Sananda and the Clarions. The messages they were receiving were becoming increasingly dire, culminating in the warning that on December 21, 1954, a great flood would ravage the Earth, and that a vast inland sea would be formed, stretching from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and a subsequent cataclysm would destroy much of the West Coast from Seattle, Washington down to South America. A flying saucer would come to rescue those who were true believers.
The Seekers took the message extremely seriously. They left behind all of their belongings to gather at the home of Dorothy Martin waiting for further instructions about how they would be spared from the great flood. They removed all metal from their clothing as it would cause burns while flying in a saucer, and they suffered great ridicule from their community. But they stood steadfast.
On December 17, they received a phone message stating that a flying saucer would be landing in Dorothy Martin’s backyard at 4am. When the saucer did not arrive, members were disappointed, but they did not waiver in their convictions. They decided that they were simply being tested, so they remained together awaiting a new message.
Finally, a new message from Clarion was received. This time they were told that in 14 hours, on December 20th, an E.T. from Clarion would arrive and lead the group to the place where his ship was located. From there they would be escorted away from Earth, just in time to escape the flood. They waited in tense anticipation, and the foretold time came and went. No spaceman arrived, no ship, no rescue. Members were devastated. Some left the group, but the core members remained. It is reported that Dorothy Martin wept.
Just in the nick of time, another message was received that calmed their anxiety ridden hearts. On December 22, they were informed that the devastation of Earth had been called off, due largely to the devotion of The Seekers and their unyielding faith in the people of Clarion. They were told that it was a Christmas miracle from the God of the Earth, for the “light” that was spread by this little group of believers.
Dorothy and her followers spread the message of Earth’s salvation to the press and wire services, and were shocked by the negative reaction they received. She continued to claim to receive messages from Sananda and her Clarion contacts, but the group slowly began to dwindle. Finally, Dorothy Martin was driven from her home under threat of arrest unless she checked herself into a psychiatric ward.
Leon Festinger and his colleagues documented all of these events in his book, When Prophecy Fails. They determined that this group of UFO cult devotees had displayed the most plainly obvious example of a phenomena he coined, cognitive dissonance. Thus, this particular case has presented not only the phrase “Clarion Call” to our vernacular, but also was the catalyst for the creation of one of the most widely used terms in social psychology. Stated plainly, cognitive dissonance is the phenomena that arises when a person or a group with strong faith in something suddenly finds that their expectations have not been met, but rather than abandon that strong conviction, they will simply alter their perception of events in an irrational way to allow for the two conflicting bits of information (their previous strong belief vs. the evidence that their belief was incorrect) to be married into a scenario that allows both to coexist.
Dorothy Martin fled to Peru. She lived there for several years, and spent time with the group “The Brotherhood of the Seven Rays”, founded by another channel and contactee, George Hunt Williamson. She returned to the United States in 1961, and settled in Arizona.
She had undergone a great amount of learning and transformation while in South America. Her mentor Sananda was now no longer considered merely a member of an extra-terrestrial race from the planet Clarion. Now known as Esu Sananda Kumara, or more specifically, Jesus Christ.
Dorothy Martin now called herself Sister Thedra, and in 1965 she founded “Association of Sananda and Sanat Kumara”. She relocated to Mount Shasta in California, and continued to spread the messages that she was receiving from what she now called “the masters” (This is likely due to the fact that while studying under Williamson in South America, she was introduced to a way of thinking more akin to Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophy than her previous foundation in Dianetics).
In 1988, she moved the group once again to Sedona, Arizona. They existed as a group of devotees awaiting messages from “masters” via the channel of Sister Thedra. In 1992, Dorothy Martin passed away. While no one has stepped up to replace her as channel, the Association of Sananda and Sanat Kumara yet exists. They can be contacted at the following address to receive their newsletter, Call to Arms.
2675 W. Highway 89-A
Sedona, AZ 86336