Schwa Schwa’s past is slightly blurred, but it is generally held that the religion has its roots in ancient Egypt. A small breakaway group are believed to have gathered regularly to exchange news and, on occasion, personal accounts of landings by what they called ‘star-creatures’. These beings were identical to the Egyptian gods, and their belief was that these beings came to their land, from their home amongst the stars, disguised as animals with which they were familiar (the jackal, the cat etc).
Some hieroglyphics have been uncovered by archaeologists which, according to Schwa followers, are the original inscriptions of members of the ancient religion, but have been wrongly interpreted by ‘UFO fanatics’ as proof that aliens built the pyramids.
This leads non-believers to give little weight to what was ‘actually a true and proper religion’. Since those primitive days the religion has developed enormously, but the biggest and most important advancements have only come in the past decade. Previously, followers had only gathered in what could be described as ‘sects’ in many different countries, with the highest concentration being in North America. It wasn’t until 1986 that Jeff Krantz, a 19 year old art student at the University of Michigan, started came to be known as ‘The Union’, a wave of change that would sweep across the world over a period of two years, and would result in united international Schwa religion. ‘I had just been transferred from (the University of) Wisconsin in the earlier part of that year,’ Krantz says.
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‘I had attended regular meetings with about half a dozen other believers. We met one night each week to talk about stuff related to our belief – that the Earth, and everything on it, was created by extraterrestrial beings. I guess you could say they ” re on the same level as the gods of other religions, but we believe that our creators are actual living, breathing beings, not spirits; an analogy would be our superiority over creatures which we created through gene technology, DNA splicing or whatever. ‘At one of these meetings we decided that we should have some sort of symbol that we could make into stickers. Each of us could then stick them on books or wherever, just to get people thinking about what they could mean, and also to bring the group together under an identifiable symbol – kind of like a flag.’ The task fell to Adrian Blackwell, another art student whom Krantz saw often outside of these meetings. ‘The idea for the sticker kind of came to me when I was on acid,’ Blackwell recalls, smiling.
‘Actually, I saw these two symbols at the same time, almost; an alien head and a starfish. The starfish didn’t really do anything for me, so I drew the other one and the other guys loved it.’ A copy of the design is on the cover page. ‘Yeah, the design was great,’ says Krantz, ‘but I thought it needed some sort of name. That Saturday night I went to a party. I got smashed, and then this name sort of appeared in my head: ‘Schwaerozni’. I knew it couldn’t have been an accident.
Anyway, when I went to write it under the design before we sent it to have the stickers made, I could only fit in ‘Schwa’. The name stuck.’ After his move to Wisconsin, Krantz stayed in touch with his fellow believers in Michigan. He began working part time at a hardware store for a few months. His last day at the store was the turning point for the religion. ‘I used to steal solvent from the store, take it to my dorm and sniff it,’ he laughs. ‘Pretty pathetic, really.
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Finally my boss caught on to what I was doing, and he called me into his office. He gave me a big lecture about the stupidity of sniffing solvent, the fact that he could have had me charged with shoplifting, don’t ruin your life, blah blah blah. Then he gave me my last paycheck – minus the cost of a can of solvent. That night I was pretty pissed off, and I sniffed a little more than usual. I was climbing onto the roof to see if I could fly when I thought of this brilliant joke.
I thought it was so funny that I forgot all about flying and just went back to my room to write it down before I forgot about it. Later on I told it to the other guys over. Although it had nothing to do with Schwa, they all said that something about it reminded them of it.’ ‘We all thought the joke was kind of spooky, yeah,’ Blackwell says. ‘But the weirdest thing was the dream I had that night. I saw an alien being come out of a craft, approach me, and touch my forehead.
Then I saw a page from the phone book, zooming in on the University of Wisconsin’s listing. Then Jeff’s full name appeared. After that, a map of North America appeared. It slowly zoomed in on Wisconsin, showing more and more detail, until the whole of my vision was filled with the University campus. An arrow flashed, pointing at the dormitories. Then woke up.
‘The next day we had a meeting. Each of us was exited. We just looked around at each other, and we knew. Each of us had had the same dream. We knew that it was really a carrier for that message. We had to tell everyone we knew the joke.
It was a pretty good one, the type you’d tell friends anyway, and it wasn’t dirty so you could tell anyone. But no-one seemed to report any strange dreams afterwards, or even act strange. So, we just decided that the dream only came to believers.’ ‘They were right about that,’ says Krantz, raising his eyes to heaven.’ The Uni hated me! Or at least, whoever sorted the mail did. I got a little over two thousand letters over the next year – hundreds from Americans only in the first couple of months, then from all over the world as the joke spread.’ Followers now hold this joke as a sacred message from their creators, and since others did not notice anything unusual about it, it has been almost impossible to trace. However, by freak coincidence, a researcher into conspiracy theories, Gary Yell in, was looking at a relative’s photos from a trip to Germany in 1990 when he noticed a message scrawled on the Berlin Wall in the background of one picture. The thing that really grabbed his attention was a crude drawing of an alien head, much like the Schwa symbol.
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He enlarged the picture to see the message written next to the head. It was, as far as he could see, this: ‘Venn ist das git und? Ya! Beigerhund das oder die Flipperwaldtgersput!’ Translation attempts have been made, but apparently this is in a code known only to Schwa followers, in order to protect the joke. ‘Every letter I got said the same sort of thing,’ Krantz continues.’ These people had the same beliefs I did, and the dream had revealed my identity to them. They looked to me now as a leader.
I had been chosen to lead my fellow believers in one united faith, which for obvious reasons, I decided to call Schwa. They were of all ages and denominations, but since we are all of lowly status under our creators – and our lives are momentary compared to theirs -they had no problems with me leading them.’ The main concern of the religion is to worship their alien creators in readiness for the coming day of judgment. ‘Who knows when they will come?’ says Krantz. ‘All I know is that when they do, they will be performing a little… weeding, shall we say? They ” re going to polish off their creation.
All things you or I consider bad or annoying or dangerous will be made likable, or even eradicated. And we, sentient beings that we are, will be judged – not by the righteousness of our actions, but by our worship of them. Then, all those who did not follow them will be removed from the Earth and from our memories – we will feel no loss or sadness – and we will be left only with happy and peaceful thoughts, and in a Utopian world. ‘Some, knowing the origins of Schwa, say it is a cult based on intoxication. Well, it is in a way, but their is a deeper purpose for this.
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When intoxicated by some form of drug, we are still awake, but there is a subtle link with the subconscious. We are more receptive to the messages our creators wish to plant in our minds. Hallucinations are not caused by the intoxication directly, but by them, trying to reach us. However,’ he laughs, ‘if you fall over or try to fly, that’s the drug talking!’ Their only festival is held each year on June 12, the date of the incident in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. ‘That day,’ says Krantz, ‘a mist of some sort caused masses of people to hallucinate simultaneously. They say they saw a UFO land, and aliens coming out of the craft.
This hallucination was a warning from our creators of the coming day of judgment.’ In celebration of this, followers meet secretly, take drugs, and chant the following: ‘Oon a Schwagallumbits dang!’ Once again, this seems to be in some sort of code. The only intelligible translation yet given seems to be a joke on the part of the translator: ‘Schwa for tuna-safe dolphin meat!’ But the true meaning of this, like their sacred joke, they keep secret.