In 2013 reddit user TramStopDan – whose real name is Dan Wickham – uploaded more than 100 images showing the contents of a box that he claimed his friend had discovered, five years previous, next to a dumpster in Asheville, North Carolina. And whether or not this story of an extraordinary dumpster-find is an elaborate hoax, it certainly succeeded in sparking a lively discussion on sanity, spirituality and extraterrestrial life.
“This is the box,” wrote Wickham on image-sharing website imgur. He called it “The Box of Crazy.” According to Wickham, the wooden box smelt of “basement and dampness.” Moreover, it measured 29 inches by 38 inches and was fitted with metal clasps and a handle. It was an old portfolio box, weathered and worn.
Where the box came from and why it was in the trash seem to be an unsolved mystery. Nevertheless, inside Wickham discovered a stack of strange drawings and handwritten notes, some of them large and yellowed with age. And they all appeared to be signed by one Daniel Christiansen, although no one seems to know exactly who he was.
One thing we do know is that, if he is real, Christiansen would appear to have been an accomplished draughtsman with significant engineering knowledge. Indeed, although this drawing was apparently never filed with the patent office, it seems to offer a remarkably detailed technical plan for a “radical, heavy duty, anti friction, roller bearing… with considerable axial load or thrusts capacity…”
In addition to these technical schemes, the box contained numerous maps, including one depicting flight paths. Most of the maps were hand-drawn on plastic and illustrated the Earth from different points of orientation. Mysteriously, Christiansen seemed to have pinpointed the border of Morocco and Algeria as somehow significant.
Then things get very strange with a sketch of the inverted pyramid building on St. Petersburg Pier in Florida. Christiansen apparently titled the piece “Touch-down of the Tampa Bay Tornado! (Transcendental Physics),” and it seems to depict “an extraterrestrial visitation by an unidentifiable flying object.”
Wickham wrote that he believed Christiansen may have experienced a life-changing encounter at the pier in 1977. Moreover, a second, cruder sketch of the experience includes several saucer-shaped UFOs and references astronomer Carl Sagan. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the page, the pier is flanked by what appear to be winged angels.
In fact, Christiansen seems to have been obsessed with angelic entities – in particular, a four-headed seraph with two sets of wings. Both redditors and Ufologists were quick to notice that the angel seems to incorporate the “four living creatures” described in the Bible’s Book of Ezekiel.
Indeed, Ezekiel 1:10 reads, “Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.” The similarities are striking.
According to the Bible, the four “living creatures” were a key part of Ezekiel’s vision of God, whom he saw descend to the Earth in a fiery chariot. These creatures actually drove the chariot, each of their four faces representing a cardinal direction: north, south, east and west.
“This was the appearance and structure of the wheels,” continues Ezekiel 1:16. “They sparkled like topaz and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.” In Jewish mysticism, meanwhile, God’s chariot is known as the merkabah, and yet its study is shrouded in secrecy.
Strangely, though, some believe the merkabah is a non-physical vehicle for exploring unseen spiritual dimensions, while others, such as former NASA engineer Josef F. Blumrich, have connected it to UFO phenomena. Indeed, Blumrich’s book, The Spaceships of Ezekiel, even includes engineering plans for a hypothetical spaceship.
So it seems entirely possible that Christiansen borrowed ideas from Blumrich. Elsewhere, however, it has been speculated that his detailed design for an “anti-friction roller bearing… with considerable axial load or thrusts capacity” may actually be a template for extraterrestrial technology. Part of the engine of a flying saucer, perhaps?
Additionally, Christiansen’s hand-written “explanatory essay” includes descriptions of a vehicle with “gyrating” wheels and “turbo-jets.” His notes also ramble on excitedly – if somewhat incoherently – about holograms, retractable spotlights and the “inversion of normal Earth gravity.”
But undoubtedly Christiansen’s apparent masterpiece is a dazzling spiritual panorama featuring what appears to be the underside of a flying saucer hovering over winged angels and a host of wheels within wheels. This was also described, almost identically, in the Book of Ezekiel. The piece is titled “The Tampa Bay Observation,” and it is dated July 7, 1977.
On social media, Christiansen’s reported drawings generated wide-ranging speculation. On reddit, for instance, some saw echoes of dimethyltryptamine (DMT) – the active ingredient in ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew used by Amazonian shamans.
However, other redditors suggested that Christiansen’s images may be indicative of a schizophrenic breakdown. As evidence, they pointed to the deterioration of his handwriting, along with the adoption of an obscure pseudonym – “Nesna-it-sirch” (Christiansen backwards). Is it, perhaps, an indication of a mind cut adrift from the mundane world?
Mind you, the radical existential psychiatrist R.D. Laing wrote, in a 1964 essay on psychosis and transcendental experiences, “The light that illumines the madman is an unearthly light, but I do not believe it is a projection, an emanation from his mundane ego. He is irradiated by a light that is more than he…”
Could it be possible, therefore, that Christiansen was both clinically insane and spiritually illuminated? Or were his drawings simply part of a creative experiment, a sketched series for something as down-to-earth as a science-fiction novel?
We may never know the truth about Christiansen’s drawings, but the Tampa Bay Times had a plausible theory. Indeed, it wrote that between 1976 and 1980 an art installation on top of the St. Petersburg Pier regularly fired lasers across the night sky, confusing some of the city’s inhabitants. So it is quite possible that it was this piece of art, rather than an actual UFO encounter, that inspired Christiansen to make his fascinating sketches. Or, just maybe, the whole thing was simply a hoax.