Need some sonic healing? This white-domed structure was allegedly built under instruction from aliens from Venus and its acoustics have attracted musicians, including the Arctic Monkeys
Not many buildings can claim to have been built under the instruction of aliens from Venus. The Integratron, however, is not your usual two-up, two-down. Located in the heart of California’s Mojave desert, the white-domed structure is set on an “intersection of powerful geomagnetic forces, that, when focused by the unique geometry of the building, concentrate and amplify the earth’s magnetic field.” In other words, expect some seriously good vibrations.
The brainchild of aircraft mechanic and ufologist George Van Tassel – who began construction on the building in the 1950s after an alleged jaunt on board a Venusian spaceship – the Integratron was intended as a machine that could rejuvenate living cells. Tassel also considered it to have potential as a time machine and anti-gravity device, though unfortunately it is yet to send anyone floating peacefully back to the middle ages. Still, the structure itself, an acoustically perfect “resonant tabernacle”, is quite remarkable. Tassel didn’t use a single metal screw or nail to build the Integratron, which was constructed only from wood, fibreglass, glass and concrete. Sadly, he died suddenly in 1978, before being able to put it to the test.
Now, the Integratron is run by two sisters, Nancy and Joanne Karl, who bought the building in 2000 and run regular tours of the site. As well as attracting fans of new age and alternative healing, many musicians pay it a visit, presumably while on the hunt for that elusive new sound. In 2008 the Arctic Monkeys dropped by to record part of their song Secret Door, and Robin Pecknold of the Fleet Foxes is also a known fan.
Perhaps the most popular offering at the Integratron are the “sound baths” – hour-long sonic-healing sessions, described as “kindergarten naptime for grown-ups in a sound sphere”. Participants lie back in the dome’s main chamber and immerse themselves in the sound produced by a series of quartz crystal bowls, which resonate within the room.
Writer and photographer Shannon Switzer had a chance to try a sound bath earlier this year. “I can’t say I was able to shoot sparks out of my fingertips when all was said and done, however I did feel a sense of calmness as the sound enveloped from all directions,” she says. “It’s an enjoyable experience, whether or not you buy into the whole energy-force idea. Driving through the desert to get to it, meeting the community who keeps it running and learning about the geological phenomenon, all culminate in something special.”
• The Integratron is at 2477 Belfield Boulevard, Landers, California, a 2.5-hour drive east from Los Angeles. Sound baths are held on a bi-monthly basis for $20pp and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Private baths start at $80pp, with reductions for groups.
THREE MORE ‘SUPERNATURAL’ PLACES IN THE US
Ringing Rocks Park, Pennsylvania
Boulders aren’t known for their music-making potential (unless you count dull thuds), which is what makes the round stones at Pennsylvania’s Ringing Rocks Park so unique. The rocks that fill the open field in Upper Black Eddy produce a bell-like sound when struck. Bizarrely, even though all of the rocks are made from the same material, only a third of them make a ringing sound. Stranger still, when removed from the field, the rocks go silent. Scientists have struggled to explain the ringing, which some locals put down to supernatural forces.
The Oregon Vortex, Oregon
Is it the site of paranormal activity? Or merely a collection of optical illusions? You’ll have to visit this “mystery spot” yourself to find out. In an area once known by Native Americans as the Forbidden Ground, this popular roadside attraction in Gold Hill, Oregon, claims to be a place where the laws of physics are meaningless. It features a House of Mystery, an old office building that slid from its foundations and now appears distorted, as well as photo spots that appear to change the relative heights of people when they stand next to each other.
Adults $9.75, $7 for children aged 6-11, oregonvortex.com
Roswell UFO Museum
Bang in the middle of the UFO heartland, the Roswell UFO Museum was opened in 1992 to provide a hub for the area’s supposed extraterrestrial history. Among the abundant artefacts, photographs and “evidence”, you will find a rather freaky recreation of an alien autopsy, complete with rather dapper-looking man in a trilby reaching for the surgical tools. As with UFOs, seeing is believing.
Adults $5, children $3, roswellufomuseum.com