A lot of people don't believe in clairvoyance, let alone that it's something that can be taught — but not the Unarius Academy of Science. The modern metaphysical school not only believes in psychic powers, it also holds that everyone has the capacity to develop extrasensory capabilities as tools for creativity.

That was the subject of Sunday's workshop at the Standard Hollywood, called “Develop Your Clairvoyant and Creative Potential: An Art Workshop for Everyone.” The immersive seminar was billed as a chance to explore one's psychic skills and utilize them in order to foster and develop artistic abilities. It was so unexpectedly popular that organizers added another class at the last minute after the first quickly filled up.

It all happened right before the main event, which featured the U.S. premiere of a documentary short about the Unariuns called We Are Not Alone. For that, hundreds of people showed up in a line spilling out of the Standard and onto Sunset Boulevard. Paparazzi blinded partygoers outside, which included the likes of Natasha Lyonne, Chloë Sevigny, Brie Larson and Kim Gordon, who were among an interesting array of hipsters mingling with costumed Unariuns and even members of the Source Family, as the film's director Jodi Wille also co-directed doc The Source Family.

We Are Not Alone, along with the newly restored 1981 Unarius flick The Arrival, were both screened poolside under the stars at the Standard. But it was hard to see if the photographers outside were there for the celebrities or the Unariuns' “Space Cad” — an airbrushed, land-based ersatz space shuttle with a UFO on top. 

Uriel; Credit: Unarius Academy of Science

Uriel; Credit: Unarius Academy of Science

A spiritually inspired, scientifically minded organization, Unarius was established in the 1950s by husband-and-wife team Ernest and Ruth Norman. After Ernest died in 1971, Mrs. Norman, aka Uriel, became the face of the institution until her own death in 1993. Of course, the “cult” classification sometimes comes into play, rooted in the Unariuns' unorthodox belief in past-life therapy and alien spiritual guidance, ideas perpetuated through dozens of DIY spectacles aired on public-access TV during the 1980s. But behind the pageantry and glitzy costumes is a group of seemingly normal, loving people who to this day believe in something a little outrageous — not unlike, oh, that big bearded guy in the sky called God, or that place among the clouds with all the winged creatures, called Heaven. In fact, the Unarius Academy of Science still operates in El Cajon, just east of San Diego. Many of the organization's current members work as healers, including as chiropractors and cognitive therapists. And that was the goal of the workshop: to offer a kind of entry point into holistic living through creativity.

Longtime Unariuns and workshop leaders Paula Rich Greenwood, Lani Calvert and Billie McIntyre invited those more deeply interested in the mechanisms and practices behind the Unariuns' system of belief to come early and experience it firsthand in the workshop, with the table in the conference room organized by medium: from watercolors and pastels to charcoals, inks, oils and acrylics.

After a brief introduction, the leaders screened a snippet of an interview with Uriel in which she discussed how we all have the power to engage with celestial beings as our creative muses. Nowadays, those same space-bound entities might be what we call spirit guides.

Workshop creation; Credit: Tanja M. Laden

Workshop creation; Credit: Tanja M. Laden

Next, Greenwood delivered an intense guided imagery session, in which everyone closed their eyes and journeyed in their minds to an illuminated realm full of amorphous, light-radiating entities, each of us temporarily taking one of these spirits back to help with our own creation. The remainder of the two-hour workshop was spent in silence as everyone worked on individual art projects.

Personally, I'm pretty sure my spirit guide was a 6-year-old, because it looks like my watercolor of a sun with tiny squiggles was made by one. But I don't care, I had fun. I did find myself asking: “Are spirit guides real?”

Judging by the results of the workshop as well as the off-the-hook jubilee that followed, it almost doesn't matter, as long as creativity itself is alive and well.

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