For I Still Want To Believe’s first article, there may be no better place to start than the iconic poster(s) hanging in Mulder’s office. Like the household names of Agents Mulder and Scully, along with the theme music, the poster has become so ingrained on the pop-culture subconscious that it is recognizable to — and quoted by — people who have never seen a single episode of The X-Files.
According to a 2008 interview with the Smithsonian while promoting the second X-Files movie, Chris Carter had the poster specially made for the show. Inspired by the work of artist Ed Ruscha, Carter came up with the poster’s caption, and wanted it placed over a real photograph of a spaceship. The graphic designers used a photo from UFO contactee Billy Meier.
The poster ended up going through at least two variations during the run of the show. During the fourth season Billy Meier’s saucer was replaced with one vaguely similar on a vaguely similar landscape, due to a copyright lawsuit brought by Meier. Though Chris Carter says in the Smithsonian interview the lawsuit was ten years after the show first aired, producer Frank Spotnitz cites the suit as the reason for the change.
Meier’s photographs of flying saucers, or as he refers to them “beamships”, are some of the most widely recognized images of UFOs in the world. Chances are when someone thinks about a flying saucer, they are thinking of Billy Meier’s photos. Not only was one used for the “I Want To Believe Poster”, but the beamships show up again in Mulder’s monologue opening season 10. See the 7 and 28 second marks.
So who is Billy Meier?
According to his official biography, Eduard Albert Meier — nicknamed “Billy” after Billy the Kid due to his love of cowboy-like shirts — is a simple Swiss farmer who has lived anything but a simple life. Since the age of five, Meier has been in contact with a race of aliens from the planet Erra, located in a dimension shifted just a second away from ours, and situated eighty light years from the Pleiades. The Plejaren, or Pleiadians as Meier called them from 1975 to 1995, sought out Meier in fulfillment of ancient prophecy stretching back over ten millennium. Meier is a new messiah, leading a spiritual awakening among the people of Earth, to rescue us from the lies of Earth’s corrupt religions. So far, so good, right? He even uncovered a lost teaching of Jesus Christ. Which itself isn’t all that extraordinary when you are the reincarnation of Jesus.
Via their beamships, Meier’s friends have taken him on adventures in space and time. Meier has visited other planets, both the past and future of the Earth. Meier does not expect anyone to simply take his word for it, but has provided photographic evidence of his encounters and trips. The Plejarens have posed for pictures — appearing as the epitome of Scandinavian physical perfection. They have allowed their ships to be captured on film. Meier even got a shot of dinosaurs, including pterosaur feeding mid-flight. And along the way, the Plejaren have gifted Meier with prophecies of our future.
Not quite a simple farmer, is he?
Perhaps a better term for Meier would be “huckster”.
Though people have been claiming to be the new messiah for the better part of the past two-thousand years, Meier may be one of the first to marry his claims with that of UFO mythology. And if he isn’t the first, he’s certainly the most successful.
However, even in this aspect Meier isn’t original. His personal mythology appears to be cobbled together from the tales of contactees Howard Menger and George Adamski. Both men claimed to have received messages of peace and harmony from beings who are more monuments to the Aryan ideal than alien, claims that pre-date Meier’s by over twenty years. Even one of the supposed names of the Plejarens — Ashtar — is lifted from contactee George Van Tassel. Van Tassel claimed to be in telepathic contact with a being of the same name, two decades before Meier went public. It’s not an accident or coincidence — all three men were well-known to anyone interested in UFOs during the 1970s.
That Doctor Who reference earlier was no accident. Though I cannot prove it, I believe the show was a clear influence on Meier.
But what of the photographs?
The photos of the beamships have been shown to be easily recreated with models, such as here and here, many are so laughably bad one can tell they are fake just by looking at them. Like this series of photos depicting a Plejaren beamship apparently having trouble avoiding a single tree in an otherwise clear pasture. Or the so-called “Wedding Cake” beamship, which was shown to be made from a garbage-can lid available on Meier’s farm.
Meier and his followers claim the garbage-can lid and the beamship resemble each other because the Plejarens tried to send telepathic dream-messages to Earth’s scientists to teach them how to build spacecraft — but somewhere there was a mix-up. No joke.
The photo of the Plejarens was shown to be nothing more than that of singers from The Dean Martin Show, taken right from the TV screen. His photographs of dinosaurs were lifted straight from a childrens’ book.
According to Meier, however, when he released the photographs to the public, the Men in Black — who will be getting their own article here — switched them out with fakes in order to discredit him. Again, no joke. Go read the link; they are really dedicated to this explanation. Yet, Meier had insisted for twenty years that the photos were genuine, only changing his story when the con was discovered.
While Meier claims to not want financial gain, you too can attain spiritual enlightenment for only a few hundred dollars, a required trip on your own dime to his headquarters in Switzerland, and 7% of one month’s income. Running a cult takes money, after all.
And of course, not a single one of his prophecies has come to pass.
Yet, despite the obvious hoaxes, despite not a single serious UFO researcher taking Meier serious, this simple Swiss farmer turned Space Jesus has followers and apologists. They have taken “I Want to Believe” to heart, contrary to any facts. Any time Meier’s name is mentioned, they are sure to show up to defend him. His group FIGU still works to promote him. There has been a rather credulous documentary about him. Several, in fact. And his apologist-in-chief, Michael Horn, makes the rounds on podcasts and late-night radio shows. Though his main job seems to be trolling internet forums and websites for any negative mention of Meier, doing so with gusto and an amount of naivety that borders on parody.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they show up here.
Further, more in-depth analysis of Billy Meier’s claims can be found at the below links: