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For the website-checking software, see Xenu's Link Sleuth.

In Scientology doctrine, Xenu is a galactic ruler who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of people to Earth, stacked them around volcanoes, and blew them up with hydrogen bombs. Their souls then clustered together and stuck to the bodies of the living, and continue to cause people problems today. These events are known to Scientologists as "Incident II," and the traumatic memories associated with them as The Wall of Fire or the R6 implant. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, detailed the story in Operating Thetan level III (OT III) in 1967, famously warning that R6 was "calculated to kill (by pneumonia etc) anyone who attempts to solve it." The Xenu story was the start of the use of the volcano as a common symbol of Scientology and Dianetics from 1968 to the present day.

Much controversy between supporters and critics of the Church of Scientology has focused on the story of Xenu. The Church has tried to keep Xenu confidential; critics claim revealing the story is in the public interest, given the high prices charged for OT III. The Church avoids making mention of Xenu in public statements and has gone to considerable effort to maintain the story's confidentiality, including legal action on the grounds of both copyright and trade secrecy. Despite this, much material on Xenu has leaked to the public.

Hubbard later dramatised the Xenu story as a film script, Revolt in the Stars.

Missing image
Xenu is said to have dumped his surplus population around volcanoes like this one on Hawaii and blown them up with hydrogen bombs.

Summary of the Xenu story

The story of Xenu is covered in OT III, part of Scientology's secret "Advanced Technology" doctrines taught only to advanced members. It is described in more detail in the accompanying confidential "Assists" lecture of 3 October, 1968. Direct quotes in this section are from these sources. (See also Scientology beliefs and practices)

75 million years ago, Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy which consisted of 26 stars and 76 planets including Earth, which was then known as Teegeeack. The planets were overpopulated, each having on average 178 billion people. The Galactic Confederacy's civilization was comparable to our own, with people "walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute" and using cars, trains and boats looking exactly the same as those "circa 1950, 1960" on Earth.

Missing image
Artist's impression of one of Xenu's space planes, per Hubbard's description.

Xenu was about to be deposed from power, so he devised a plot to eliminate the excess population from his dominions. With the assistance of "renegades", he defeated the populace and the "Loyal Officers", a force for good that was opposed to Xenu. Then, with the assistance of psychiatrists, he summoned billions of people to paralyse them with injections of alcohol and glycol, under the pretense that they were being called for "income tax inspections." The kidnapped populace was loaded into space planes for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth). The space planes were exact copies of Douglas DC-8s, "except the DC-8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn't." DC-8s have jet engines, not propellers, although Hubbard may have meant the turbine fans.

When the space planes had reached Teegeeack, the paralysed people were unloaded and stacked around the bases of volcanoes across the planet. Hydrogen bombs were lowered into the volcanoes, and all were detonated simultaneously. Only a few people's physical bodies survived.

The now-disembodied victims' souls, which Hubbard called thetans, were blown into the air by the blast. They were captured by Xenu's forces using an "electronic ribbon" ("which also was a type of standing wave") and sucked into "vacuum zones" around the world. The hundreds of billions of captured thetans were taken to a type of cinema, where they were forced to watch a "three-D, super colossal motion picture" for 36 days. This implanted what Hubbard termed "various misleading data" (collectively termed the R6 implant) into the memories of the hapless thetans, "which has to do with God, the Devil, space opera, etcetera". This included all world religions, with Hubbard specifically attributing Roman Catholicism and the image of the Crucifixion to the influence of Xenu. The interior decoration of "all modern theaters" is also said by Hubbard to be due to an unconscious recollection of Xenu's implants.

In addition to implanting new beliefs in the thetans, the images deprived them of their sense of identity. When the thetans left the projection areas, they started to cluster together in groups of a few thousand, having lost the ability to differentiate between each other. Each cluster of thetans gathered into one of the few remaining bodies that survived the explosion. These became what are known as body thetans, which are said to be still clinging to and adversely affecting everyone except those Scientologists who have performed the necessary steps to remove them.

The Loyal Officers finally overthrew Xenu and locked him away in a mountain, where he was imprisoned forever by a force field powered by an eternal battery. (Some have suggested that Xenu is imprisoned on Earth in the Pyrenees, but Hubbard merely refers to "one of these planets" [of the Galactic Confederacy]; he does, however, refer to the Pyrenees as being the site of the last operating "Martian report station", which is probably the source of this particular confusion.Template:Ref) Teegeeack/Earth was subsequently abandoned by the Galactic Confederacy and remains a pariah "prison planet" to this day, although it has suffered repeatedly from incursions by alien "Invader Forces" since then.

Xenu in Scientology doctrine

Within Scientology, the Xenu story is referred to as "The Wall of Fire" or "Incident II". Hubbard attached tremendous importance to it, saying that it constituted "the secrets of a disaster which resulted in the decay of life as we know it in this sector of the galaxy".Template:Ref The broad outlines of the story — that 75 million years ago a great catastrophe happened in this sector of the galaxy which caused profoundly negative effects for everyone since then — are publicly admitted to lower-level Scientologists. However, the details are kept strictly confidential, at least within the Church.

Hubbard claimed to be the first to map a precise route through the Wall of Fire, "probably the only one ever to do so in 75,000,000 years". He first publicly announced his "breakthrough" in Ron's Journal 67 (RJ67), a tape Hubbard recorded on 20 September, 1967 to be sent to all members of the Church. According to Hubbard, his research was achieved at the cost of a broken back, knee and arm. OT III contains a warning that the R6 implant is "calculated to kill (by pneumonia etc) anyone who attempts to solve it."

OT III also deals with Incident I, set four quadrillion years ago (considerably longer than current scientific consensus holds the age of the universe to be). In Incident I, the unsuspecting thetan was subjected to a loud snapping noise followed by a flood of luminescence, then saw a chariot followed by a trumpeting cherub. After a loud set of snaps, the thetan was overwhelmed by darkness. This is described as the implant offering the gateway to this universe, meaning that these traumatic memories are what separates thetans from their static (natural, godlike) state.

Hubbard uses the existence of body thetans to explain many of the physical and mental ailments of humanity which, he says, prevent people from achieving their highest spiritual levels. OT III tells the student to remove the body thetans by bringing them to awareness of themselves as individual beings: "One has to clean them off by running incident II and Incident I." The student is directed to find a cluster of body thetans, address it "telepathically" as a cluster and take first the cluster then each individual member of the cluster through Incident II, then Incident I if needed. Hubbard warns that this is a painstaking procedure, and OT levels IV to VII continue the long process of dealing with one's body thetans.

The Church has objected to the Xenu story being used to paint Scientology as a mere science fiction fantasy [1] (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1217884,00.html). However, it strongly illustrates the crossover between Scientology doctrine and the world of science fiction, visible throughout the organisation's history — Hubbard was originally a pulp science fiction and adventure writer, Dianetics was first publicised through John W. Campbell's magazine Astounding Science Fiction, many of his early followers were recruited from the science fiction milieu and Scientology magazines even now are often illustrated with pictures of spaceships and exploding stars. Hubbard said that the modern-day science fiction genre of space opera is merely an unconscious recollection of events, such as Xenu's mass murder, that really happened millions of years ago. Space opera is defined in the Official Scientology and Dianetics Glossary as follows:

of or relating to time periods … millions of years ago which concerned activities in this and other galaxies. Space opera has space travel, spaceships, spacemen, intergalactic travel, wars, conflicts, other beings, civilizations and societies, and other planets and galaxies. It is not fiction and concerns actual incidents and things that occurred on the whole track [in the past]. [2] (http://www.scientology.org/p_jpg/gloss.htm)

Hubbard's statements concerning the R6 implant have been a source of enormous friction and conflict between the Church of Scientology and its critics, with many critics and Christians stating that Hubbard's statements regarding R6 prove that Scientology doctrine is incompatible with Christianity [3] (http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/cult/hcob-1963-05-11-routine-3-heaven-ex.html) [4] (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/010/8.93.html) [5] (http://www.watchman.org/scienta.htm) [6] (http://www.sweenytod.com/cos/), despite the Church's claims to the contrary [7] (http://www.scientology-detroit.org/ans3.htm). In "Assists", Hubbard says:

Everyman is then shown to have been crucified so don't think that it's an accident that this crucifixion, they found out that this applied. Somebody somewhere on this planet, back about 600 BC, found some pieces of R6, and I don't know how they found it, either by watching madmen or something, but since that time they have used it and it became what is known as Christianity. The man on the Cross. There was no Christ. But the man on the cross is shown as Everyman.

Origins of the Xenu story

Hubbard wrote OT III in late 1966 and early 1967 in North Africa while on his way to Las Palmas to join the Enchanter, the first vessel of his private Scientology fleet (the "Sea Org").Template:Ref (OT III says "In December 1967 I knew someone had to take the plunge", but the material was publicised well before this.) He would probably have conducted his research by auditing himself to unearth what he believed to be his hidden or suppressed memories, using an E-Meter. He emphasized later that OT III was his own personal discovery and, judging by his statements on the subject, regarded it as one of his life's greatest achievements.

Critics of Scientology have suggested that other factors may have been at work. In a letter of the time to his wife Mary SueTemplate:Ref, Hubbard said that, in order to assist his research, he was drinking a great deal of rum and taking stimulants and depressants ("I'm drinking lots of rum and popping pinks and greys"). His assistant at the time, Virginia Downsborough, said that he "was existing almost totally on a diet of drugs."Template:Ref Miller (p290) hypothesises that it was important for Hubbard to be found in a debilitated condition, so as to present OT III as "a research accomplishment of immense magnitude".

Elements of the Xenu story appeared in Scientology before OT III. Hubbard's descriptions of extraterrestrial conflicts were put forward as early as 1952 and were enthusiastically endorsed by Scientologists, who documented their past lives on other planets (later published in book form as Have You Lived Before This Life?, 1958) — being "deceived into a love affair with a robot decked out as a beautiful red-haired girl", being run over by a Martian bishop driving a steamroller, being transformed into an intergalactic walrus which perished after falling out of a flying saucer and being "a very happy being who strayed to the planet Nostra 23,064,000,000 years ago".

OT III may not even have been Hubbard's first mention of Xenu, albeit in a different form. In an obscure lecture of 25 July 1958, "The Rock: Putting The PC At Cause", he refers to "Mount Zenu". Compare this with the fate of Xenu, who Hubbard says was imprisoned under a mountain.

The idea that Earth is a "prison planet", maintained by "entheta [evil] beings" or Targs who dumped their enemies on Earth, was first publicly put forward in an obscure taped demonstration of Scientology auditing recorded in April 1952 and released as "Electropsychometric Scouting: Battle of the Universes" [8] (http://freezoneamerica.org/pilot/lrhtapes/1952.html). In many respects, OT III is virtually a retelling of this early tape, delivered in the first month of Scientology's existence. Hubbard describes how "entheta beings" defeat mutinuous "theta [good] beings" and decided that "the battleground is too rough and these things have mutinied so let's put 'em all in one place and lock 'em on to Earth." The entheta beings were "controlled over by religion"; Mary Sue Hubbard asks "Is that when Christianity came into being?" to which Hubbard replies, "That's an entheta operation." Communism is also apparently "their great success""anybody who thinks in this society is immediately attacked, you're surrounded by Targs." A steady flow of flying saucers is still dropping off more entheta beings. The "Battle of the Universes" tape is no longer available from the Church of Scientology, presumably because of its considerable overlap with OT III.

The existence of malevolent ancient extraterrestrial civilizations had been a recurring element of Hubbard's doctrines well before OT III. The Galactic Confederacy was first mentioned in a number of lectures in 1963. During the 1950s, Hubbard announced the (re)discovery of a number of other galactic empires, including those of Helatrobus, Espinol and Arslycus (the latter possibly tongue-in-cheek, given it was pronounced as "arse-lickers" and would have originated when Hubbard was in England). Many of these empires had hostile intentions towards Earth, as in the case of Helatrobus, which inflicted a series of Helatrobus implants on the planet, and the five Invader Forces, who were "very strange insect-like creature[s] with unthinkably horrible hands." The Invader Forces are apparently still active on Mars and Venus, controlling "installations in Mongolia … installations in the Pyrenees here on Earth, and there are installations down in the Mountains of the Moon in Africa which pick up, very often, people on death."

Other versions of the Xenu story

Hubbard wrote a film script in the late 1970s, Revolt in the Stars, which is an extended version of the story of OT III, and states Xenu's full name to be Xenu Etrawl. It has not been officially published, although the treatment was circulated around Hollywood in the early 1980s (Young). Copies of the treatment leaked, and Scientology critic Grady Ward published a summary. [9] (http://www.suburbia.net/~fun/scn/pers/fun/xenu/revolt.html)

Geoffrey Filbert, a Free Zone (non-CoS) Scientologist, wrote a book, Excalibur Revisited, in 1982, containing his own version of OT III. This was the first of several versions available in the Free Zone.

Roland Rashleigh-Berry, an ex-Scientologist, wrote a "Xenu leaflet", popular with critics, that summarizes the story of OT III. The leaflet includes part of the first page of OT III in Hubbard's handwriting, mentioning Xenu.

Critics have mockingly depicted Xenu as a Roswell-style grey alien. However, Hubbard envisaged Xenu's technology to have been very much like our own, and it is reasonable to surmise that he envisaged Xenu as being essentially human or at least humanoid in form.

The influence of OT III on Scientology

Missing image
The volcano on the cover of Dianetics is conjectured to refer to the Xenu story; according to Hubbard, "man responds to an exploding volcano."

In the wake of Hubbard's revelation of the Wall of Fire, aspects of OT III and reflections of the Xenu story were adopted as symbols by the Church of Scientology. Hubbard is reported to have ordered that Scientology books be reissued with covers based on images from OT III [10] (http://www.religio.de/atack/occ4.html#108). The 1968 and subsequent reprints of Dianetics have had covers depicting an exploding volcano, apparently alluding to the volcanoes in the Xenu story — "Man responds to an exploding volcano" (Hubbard, "Assists"). Other cover images may reference Xenu as well: the cover of the 1972 edition of Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science shows pictures of uniformed men in white helmets carrying boxes in and out of a spaceship, which may refer to the transportation of Xenu's victims. Some of the cover images are more obscure but are conjectured to refer to other elements of OT III:

A special 'Book Mission' was sent out to promote these books, now empowered and made irresistible by the addition of these overwhelming symbols or images. Organization staff were assured that if they simply held up one of the books, revealing its cover, that any bookstore owner would immediately order crateloads of them. A customs officer, seeing any of the book covers in one's luggage, would immediately pass one on through. (Corydon)

Since the 1980s, the volcano has also been depicted in television commercials advertising Dianetics.

Missing image
The Sea Org logo.

Scientology's "Sea Org", an elite group within the church that originated with Hubbard's personal staff aboard his fleet of ships, takes many of its symbols from the story of Xenu and OT III. It is explicitly intended to be a revival of the "Loyal Officers" who overthrew Xenu. Its logo, a wreath with 26 leaves, represents the 26 stars of Xenu's Galactic Confederacy.Template:Ref According to the Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary, "the Sea Org symbol, adopted and used as the symbol of a Galactic Confederacy far back in the history of this sector, derives much of its power and authority from that association."

In the Advanced Orgs in Edinburgh and Los Angeles, Scientology staff were at one time ordered to wear all-white uniforms with silver boots, to mimic Xenu's Galactic Patrol as depicted on the cover of Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science. This was reportedly done on the basis of Hubbard's declaration in his Flag Order 652 that mankind would accept regulation from that group which had last betrayed it — hence the imitation of Xenu's henchmen. (This was almost certainly a misinterpretation of what Hubbard meant — he was most likely referring to psychiatrists, whom he believed had played a key role in Xenu's crimes.) In Los Angeles, a nightwatch was ordered to watch for returning spaceships (Atack, p. 190). These measures were discarded after a time and their instigator, "Captain" Bill Robertson, was expelled from the Church; he continued to campaign until 1991 against the malign influence of the alien "Markabians".

A more lasting legacy of OT III was Scientology's organizational structure. The current "org board" is "a refined board of an old galactic civilization [the Galactic Confederacy]. We applied Scientology to it and found why it eventually failed. It lacked a couple of departments and that was enough to mess it all up. They lasted 80 trillion [years]." (Hubbard, "Org Board and Livingness", lecture of 6 April 1965).

"Xenu" or "Xemu"?

Missing image
The manuscript of OT III contains the only known example of Xenu's name in Hubbard's handwriting.

The name has been spelled both as Xenu and Xemu. The Class VIII course material includes a three-page text, handwritten by Hubbard, headed "Data", in which the Xenu story is given in detail. Hubbard's indistinct handwriting makes either spelling possible, particularly as the use of the name on the first page of OT III is the only known example of the name in his handwriting. In the "Assists" lecture, Hubbard speaks of "Xenu, ahhh, could be spelled X-E-M-U" and clearly says "Xemu" several times on the recording. The treatment of Revolt In The Stars, which is typewritten (presumably by Hubbard), uses Xenu exclusively. Ex-Scientologists have reported that Xenu is the more commonly used form (Touretzky).

The Church of Scientology's position on Xenu

Although the policy of the Church of Scientology has been to keep the story of Xenu secret, details of the Xenu writings have been revealed to the general public over the years. OT III first emerged in a court case brought against the Church by Lawrence A. Wollersheim. The Church attempted to keep the file checked out by a reader at all times, but the story was synopsised in the Los Angeles Times, November 5, 1985. CoS official Warren McShane later claimed that the Xenu story had never been secret [11] (http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/OTIII/mcshane-rj67.txt), although maintaining that there were nevertheless trade secrets contained in OT III.

Older versions of OT levels I to VII were later brought as exhibits attached to a declaration by Steven Fishman on 9 April, 1993 as part of Church of Scientology International v. Fishman and Geertz. The text of this declaration and its exhibits were released onto the Internet in August 1995 by David S. Touretzky and are known collectively as the Fishman Affidavit, which was a subject of great controversy and legal battles for several years, notably against Dutch writer Karin Spaink — the Church bringing suit on copyright violation grounds for reproducing the source material, and also claiming rewordings would reveal a trade secret.

The Church's attempts to maintain confidentiality concerning Xenu have been tremendously controversial, particularly given its high price (the 1997 members' price for OT III alone was US$19,500 [12] (http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/OTIII/ot3-ad.txt)). In September 2003, a Dutch court, in a ruling in the case against Karin Spaink, stated that one objective in keeping OT II and OT III secret was to wield power over members of the Church and prevent discussion about the Church's teachings and practices.Template:Ref

Internet critics of Scientology commonly use the tale of Xenu to criticise and mock the Church. They claim the Xenu story as evidence that Scientology is a scam and a confidence trick, and at the very least that the Church peddles bad science fiction; they maintain that spreading the story informs the public of what the Church actually sells and is thus in the public interest. Operation Clambake, the most popular critical Web site concerning Scientology, uses the Internet domain name xenu.net.

In its public statements, the Church of Scientology has been notably reluctant to admit the existence of writings on Xenu and even to mention Xenu's name; court filings and legal correspondence issued by the Church of Scientology in the 1990s frequently struck out the name "Xenu" and replaced it with "Xxxx" [13] (http://www.solitarytrees.net/pickets/sp910.htm), a treatment given to no other Scientology term. In the relatively few instances in which it has acknowledged Xenu, the Church has stated that the story is a religious writing that can be seen as the equivalent of the Old Testament, in which miraculous events are described that are unlikely to have occurred in real life, and that it assumes true meaning only after years of study. They complain of critics using it to paint the religion as a science fiction fantasy (Observer, Sun 16 May 2004).

Rebuttals of the Xenu story

Critics of Scientology have pointed out that there are many factual and scientific problems with the story of Xenu. There is no scientific evidence that the events Hubbard described ever took place, though in fairness Hubbard never did try to put a scientific gloss on the story. Peter Forde's paper A Scientific scrutiny of OT III analyses the matter in detail.

Hubbard did not elaborate on the number of space planes required to transport a population of some 13.5 trillion people. The Douglas DC-8, said to be an exact copy of Xenu's spaceships, seats a maximum of 250 people and has a payload of only around 40–50,000 kg, depending on the specific model. This means that only about 600 to 700 human-sized frozen bodies could have been transported with each trip. It would therefore have required around 54.1 billion trips with everyone seated or 274 million trips with frozen bodies packed more efficiently.

Assuming the Galactic citizens had bodies about the same mass as humans, 76×178 billion×2 ft³ per alien is 184 cubic miles (766 km³). This is about ten percent of the volume of the Chicxulub Crater, the site of the asteroid impact that is credited with having killed the dinosaurs. The frozen bodies would have had to have been stacked a mile (1.6 km) deep, covering an area more than six miles (10 km) across around 6 volcanos. Even assuming that they were all killed, their fossilised remains would certainly be visible in geological strata today. There is no sign of any such remains.

The energy required to blow up Xenu's victims would also have been colossal. Thousands of hydrogen bombs with a cumulative explosive force equivalent to gigatonnes of TNT would have been needed. This would certainly have left physical traces; Forde lists plausible craters as the Manson crater (35 km, dated at 73.8 million years ago), Eagle Butte (10 km) and Dumas (2 km, both 78–74 MYA).

Such a huge release of energy, more than during a full-scale nuclear war, would have wrecked the Earth's climate, causing a nuclear winter and prompting a mass extinction of terrestrial life. The hydrogen bombs would have left a residue of radioactive isotopes which would have been easily detectable today. It has been suggested that Hubbard meant to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs through the Xenu story but got the dates wrong — 75 MYA as opposed to 65 MYA, when the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event occurred — but this is unproven.

The Xenu mythos includes humanoid Galactic citizens living on Earth at the time; no traces whatsoever of human-style habitation 75 MYA has been noted, nor of mass extinctions.

The volcanoes that Hubbard mentions in the story (notably Las Palmas and Hawaii) did not exist at the time that the events of Incident II are said to have taken place. Forde goes into considerable detail on this point.

Finally, the earlier Incident I is set four quadrillion years ago, which is nearly 300,000 times the currently accepted age of the Universe of 13.7 billion years.


  1. Template:Note Hubbard, Scientology: A History of Man
  2. Template:Note Hubbard, Mission into Time
  3. Template:Note Miller, ch. 16, p. 266, "Launching the Sea Org (http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfm16.htm)"
  4. Template:Note Corydon, pp58-59, 332-333; letter filed as evidence in Church of Scientology v. Gerald Armstrong, 1984, Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. C420153
  5. Template:Note Atack, part 4, ch. 1, "Scientology at Sea (http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/apobs/bs4-1.htm)"
  6. Template:Note Hubbard, "Ron's Talk to Pubs Org World Wide", tape of April 1968
  7. Template:Note "Uit de hiervoor onder 8.3 vermelde teksten blijkt dat Scientology c.s. met hun leer en organisatie de verwerping van democratische waarden niet schuwen. Uit die teksten volgt tevens dat met de geheimhouding van OT II en OT III mede wordt beoogd macht uit te oefenen over leden van de Scientology-organisatie en discussie over de leer en praktijken van de Scientology-organisatie te verhinderen." [14] (http://www.rechtspraak.nl/ljn.asp?ljn=AI5638) Translation by Spaink: "The texts previously quoted show that in its teachings and its structure, Scientology c.s. do not shun the rejection of democratic values. From these texts it is also apparent that one of the objectives of keeping OT II and OT III secret is to wield power over members of the Scientology organisation and to prevent discussion about the teachings and practices of the Scientology organisation."


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