I remember hearing about Cargo Cults years ago and thinking that it was interesting, but recently I stumbled across this article that sparked my interest again.
What is a Cargo Cult?
The most widely known case was back in WW2, many of the small South Pacific islands were used by US military forces for bases and refuelling stations for the battles against the Japanese. A small group of islands in Melanesia is where this particular encounter took place. These islands were not uninhabited, and had groups of native people living from the land just like their ancestors did a thousand years before. These native people still living as hunter and gatherer tribes had never seen a white man before, let alone a plane. The curious natives would observe these gigantic thunderous steal birds appear from the heavens, approach, then come to perch on their land. Inside these birds were groups of enigmatic white skinned alien men with strange clothes and speaking a different kind of mysterious language, and unloading unexplainable things from the belly of the bird.
Over time the aboriginal inhabitants finally made contact with these unknown and otherworldly creatures. These white men gave them all sorts of cargo, bully beef, tins of baked beans, knives, matches, and many other things that seemed like pure magic to these jungle people. This happened on many islands all over the South Pacific, and many island inhabitants were left wondering, are these white people gods’?
After the war the US and her allies packed up and went home, the native people of Tanna Island Vanuatu, who had now become accustom to receiving free stuff, “cargo,” consulted with their witch doctor to find out why they had been forsaken, and indeed these white men were the ancestors of this tribe who had returned from the afterlife to provide them with cargo.
To have their ancestors return from the sky once more these technologically unadvanced people set in motion to build planes out of grass and sticks and make mock runways in the hope their ancestor gods will reward them with another visit once again.
This particular cult was named the ‘John Frum’ cult, this was said to be one of the phrases the native people picked up from the Americans after their time on the island. As John was such a popular name a larger percentage of men were called john in the 40’s and 50’s so the natives would have overheard greetings such as “Hi, I’m John from New York” or “I’m john from Texas” and from this the ‘John Frum Cult began.
Such an interesting thing to think about, it can sort of make you wonder about the religion’s that are still functioning today. What are all these different “gods” that religion speaks of? We mostly think of these religions as superstitious nonsense, that is of course except for the ones we believe in. We mostly believe that this superstitious fervour was just something that our simple ancestors made up to explain the world and their place in it, or, could it be more like that of the Cargo Cult, actual physical contact with something that was unexplainable at the time of the encounter, and from this a religion popped up as a way to rationalise it, because it could only be the work of a god. Right?
So, what if we aren’t alone in the universe, and some of religions most enduring characters were what they call, ancient astronauts? Visitors from other places in the universe that have intelligent life. There are whole groups of people that believe this as fact, and have found old tribal images and artifacts to support their claims, even in very old religious paintings this kind of thing can be seen, with what looks like flying saucer type machines in the sky, and strange men in what looks like a space suit. Who knows right? it’s a strange theory to wrap your mind around, but what I do know now about the cargo cults shows me that humans left to their own devices after witnessing and experiencing superior technologically advanced people, will tend to make deities out of the more advanced, because there understanding of technology is still at its infancy and only superhuman beings could be capable of flight?