The mysterious account of the prophet Ezechiel in the Old Testament is one of the most spectacular visionary experiences in literature. It raised a lot of speculation. Erich von Däniken interpreted the prophet’s vision as an ancient spaceship. A discussion erupted subsequently. The most astonishing development was the investigation of a NASA-Scientist. Josef F. Blumrich wanted to disprove Däniken’ s
Of course, this interpretation wasn’t accepted by theological readers. The prophet spoke of “God’s glory” he had seen.
The visionary account is so interesting because it goes far beyond any simple explanation. It is a truly visionary experience which questions reality. It is something from a higher reality. The technical description which intrigued Däniken is certainly one surprising fact but there is more.
There is an incredible richness in imagination and part of the imaginary is as in other sacred texts the use of fire. The vision begins with a sighting which includes fire: 4 “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.” (Ezekiel 1, King James Version, 4). The North was often the direction where divine beings appeared. The fire had also a certain color. As mentioned in “Black Fire” certain colours are often important in these mythological texts.
If we go further through the words of the prophet the fascinating imaginary unfolds. As any real otherworldly encounter it has overwhelming and disturbing character:
“5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. 6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. 7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.” (Ezekiel 1, King James Version). The supernatural quality of the entities is clearly emphasised. These are not the kind of angels we know, this is something we can’t easily comprehend.
And again fire and light becomes an important aspect of the further description of the apparition: “13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures
Perhaps the interpretation of Ezekiel’s vision as a spaceship is too simple. It is a mind-blowing experience, something which goes beyond our understanding. There is one more aspect, which adds to the unique quality. It is also the one aspect which made even the most sceptical readers of Däniken’s ideas wonder: This is the mention of the wheels and their incredible qualities:
“16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. 17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. 18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.” (Ezekiel 1, King James Version). The description of some sort of a machine made of wheels led to the invention of the “OMNI-wheel” in the 70ties. It is really surprising to find such a technical thing in a text from 500 BC. It indeed resembles the mechanics in today’s space probes. However, it is important to see all aspects of the vision: If we look at the whole picture there is more then just a probe or a drone. It reflects visionary encounters in the purest qualities. It resembles also modern sightings and experiences in otherworldly journeys. It is more like the window to another reality opened. Fire is often the harbinger of the arrival of these divine appearance and supernatural encounters. The power of the prophet’s imagination is the fact that it doesn’t allow simple interpretations.
There are more similarities to modern visionaries and their reports: Ezekiel sometimes is described as a possessed person. He shares the destiny of many witnesses (also modern Ufo-witnesses). The vision is a life-changing moment. It is the experience that reality is not what it seems to be.
What we also learn here is that visionary encounters are rich in imagination and there are many variations. But the underlying nature of such encounters