Dee, Kelley, and the Gulf Breeze Six

Lest you think that soliciting and obeying dubious supernatural advice is a purely pre-Enlightenment thing, I give you the Gulf Breeze Six.

Google Map of Gulf Breeze, on the Florida panhandle near Pensacola. Beautiful beaches but beware springtime jellyfish.

The abbreviated version: in July 1990 six American soldiers working in intelligence in West Germany went AWOL on the orders an entity called “Safire” they contacted through a Ouija board. The authorities apprehended them in Gulf Breeze, Florida, interrupting their attempt to 1) inform the President about aliens, 2) kill the antichrist, and/or 3) await the Rapture (accounts vary). Incredibly they evaded punishment: after three weeks held incommunicado the military discharged them with full honors.

Of course there’s more to it than that–isn’t there always? Government experiments, UFOs, and prophecies all get tossed into the blender of weird. The blog post at the link provides a sober, comprehensive history. Check out the accompanying PDF for contemporary news clippings.

The story caught my eye because the story is so similar that of Dee and Kelley:

  • Both groups sought and followed supernatural advice, even when it put them in conflict with the authorities
  • Neither group were cults as such, being small (six soldiers plus a handful more; Dee, Kelley, and their wives) disorganized, short-lived, and lacking charismatic leaders
  • Despite wild detours from orthodoxy both groups’ beliefs were rooted solidly in Christian theology

What intrigues me most is how many modern beliefs the Gulf Breeze Six must have had to jettison to make their assumptions. Dee and Kelley obeying their “celestial teachers” makes sense in their historic context; in twentieth century America not so much*. The GB6 must have taken some serious intellectual leaps (IMHO) to obey “Safire”‘s instructions to desert.

Letting go of my modern assumptions has been one of the hardest parts of getting into my characters’ heads. Characters may question Kelley’s intentions or sanity but it wouldn’t occur to them to question the existence of supernatural entities.

Mind, I’m a hard-headed, secular-soaked atheistic sort. Believer’s mileage may vary.

What’s your take?

*I’m well aware that belief in God/gods, angels, demons, etc. persists but those beliefs compete with modern scientific method in a way they didn’t in the sixteenth century. Turns out some of the GB6 were fundamentalist Christians. Which raises the question: how did they come to play with a Ouija board? I thought those were a big no-no in those circles.

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Allison Thurman

Allison Thurman has always made stuff: out of fabric, metal, beads, even exaggerated fencing moves. Of late she makes stories out of weird history, with fragments of pop culture, unsolved mysteries, and science fiction mixed in for texture.

She lives in a galaxy far, far away (well, the DC metro area) with too many books and swords.

6 thoughts on “Dee, Kelley, and the Gulf Breeze Six”

  1. Hi, Allison, and thanks for the post. Very interesting stuff! I’ll follow your blog tags on Dee and Kelley to learn more, as I was not aware of their intriguing saga.

    An at least partial explanation for how the GB6 developed their beliefs and wound up gathering their intel from a Ouija board might be found in the evolution of the NSA and the field station there in Augsburg. Prior to the Six, the base was the stomping grounds of Maj. Gen. Bert Stubblebine and Sgt. Lyn Buchanan as portrayed in Jon Ronson’s ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’. Stubblebine was credited with creating Remote Viewing and recruited the help of Buchanan, who considers himself to be an alien abductee.

    Also, there are some intriguing declassified NSA docs dating pre-GB6 that demonstrate what we might term curiously open-minded views of esoteric subject matter. So in a manner of speaking, the Six may have been an evolution of NSA culture, as well as dynamics we now know prevailed in such projects as CIA psychic spies and the like.

    It could all be an interesting line of research in itself. Thanks again for your post!

    1. Hi! Thanks for your reply, and for putting together the original post about this odd bit of history.

      I didn’t realize Stubblebine & Buchanan were NSA. Their influence over the NSA in general and the Augsburg station in particular could very well have created a context in which people of strong but traditional faith might be opened to new/other view.

      Just when I start thinking the US government couldn’t possibly have been *that* interested in the weird is when stories like this crop up to demonstrate it was systemic, not just a couple of oddballs here and there.

  2. It sometimes frightens me how many of your oddball topics I actually know something about, mainly due to my profession having led to cataloguing books on most topics under (and possibly over, beside, and inside) the sun. So I had some knowledge of the U.S. military’s psychic projects and studies, though not the specific incident in your post.

    Actually popping in here to recommend that you add the latest episode of “Fry’s English Delight” to your listening plans for this month; it’s called “That Way Madness Lies” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08g3rb9#play) and it’s all about the interactions of mental illness and language. Not just the descriptive terminology of the medical profession and the various and frequently changing general accepted wording, but also how people diagnosed with mental illness perceive and use language. Guest Jo Brand, who was a psychiatric nurse before she made a career change into stand up comedy, has some especially interesting comments and Jess Thom, who has Tourettes, is a joy to listen to.

    Figured it might give you some insights into Dee and Kelley’s behaviours, as I recall you wondering about their choices about who to tell about their ideas and visions … it mightn’t always have been a conscious “choice.”

    Episode has 26 days of listening availability left as of me writing this.

    1. Oooh, thank you for the link! Some of my research suggests that the Enochian language came about through a combination of Kelley speaking in tongues on top of pre-existing mental illness, but I’ve never seen the issue of language and mental illness addressed directly. I know Jo Brand primarily through QI but it’s nice to know she still gets mileage out of her previous career. Thanks again!

      1. What you say about Enochian lines up with what Fry’s guests in this ep are saying … definitely sounds as if they have a richer than average linguistic life. Will be very interested to hear what you think after listening to it. 🙂

        1. Dee certainly did. Kelley knew only English and Latin. FWIW, the English is the underlying syntax of Enochian, according to linguist Daniel Laycock, anyway. Given that it came out of/was created by two native English speakers that makes sense.

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