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What is Unarius? UFOs, wild costumes and out of this world videos | Bartell's Backroads

Expand your view of the world with a colorful look at El Cajon's spiritual learning center.

EL CAJON, Calif. — Drive down South Magnolia Avenue in El Cajon and you'll pass by a building with a giant mural of a UFO. It's the headquarters of Unarius Academy of Science.

It’s not a research laboratory though, it’s a spiritual teaching center. If you are curious enough to walk inside, Kevin Kennedy will gladly show you around and explain what the word Unarius means.

“It stands for universal, articulate, interdimensional, understanding of science,” said Kennedy.

Unarius was founded in 1954 by cosmic visionaries Ernest and Ruth Norman with the goal of understanding energy and the joining of science and spirit. What does that mean? Well, there is a library of more than 70 volumes explaining the ideas of Unarius, but Kennedy's summary requires a lot less reading.

“Unarius is a spiritual school, and in Unarius what we teach is that every one of us are energy beings,” said Kennedy. “It’s a school where we learn as individuals how to be better human beings.”

Yes, Unarius believes in UFOs, aliens and they praise the work of inventor Nikola Tesla, but Kennedy says in no way is Unarius a religion or a cult.

“If you want to learn more about Unarius that’s wonderful. If you don’t, that’s wonderful too,” said Kennedy.

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Unarius estimates they have about a half-million students worldwide and the way they gained those students was by making colorful, out of this world videos. In the late 1970s/early 80s, Unarius co-founder Ruth Norman, who calls herself Uriel, asked her students to make a series of movies or "psychodramas," as she called them. 

“Psychodramas are depictions of past lives,” said Kennedy.

Unarius teaches the "human soul" as we know it is actually energy from multiple past bodies. The psychodramas are a representation of the actor's past and their journey to understand problems of the past.

“We weren’t doing it to win an Oscar, we were doing it as a part of our own healing. We were exploring our own minds,” said Kennedy.

Though a bit confusing, the colorful psychodramas were distributed to public access TV stations across the U.S.

“None of it was scripted. We just had an outline,” said Kennedy, who admits some of the improvisation was not great, but under the direction of Uriel, their costume design and special effects made up for a lack of acting skills.

“She began this video department at 78-years-old,” said Kennedy.

At a time before YouTube or the internet, Kennedy says Uriel was a pioneer in grassroots video distribution, which helped spread the word of Unarius. 

“We still produce our own films, we still produce psychodramas and teach classes,” said Kennedy.

Art and creativity are big parts of the Unarius teachings. When Uriel died in 1993, she left behind a small legacy of creativity, not being afraid to believe in something different even if outsiders think Unarius is a crazy idea. Kennedy admits some may see them as a little odd.

“Absolutely! Absolutely, but you know, you live in a crazy world, don’t you think that is a badge of honor," said Kennedy.

The Unarius Academy of Science is open for on-site visitors on Saturdays from 12-4 p.m. and by appointment only Tuesday-Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Please call or email at least 24 hours in advance to make an appointment at (800) 475-7062.

HIT THE BACKROADS: California's state parks make for great road trips all year long. Don't miss John's list of the top five that you need to visit!

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