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Xenu or Xemu? Here’s our take on one of Scientology’s galactic-wide mysteries

We get asked a certain question on occasion, and since we get tired of answering it each time, we thought we’d put together this post so we can direct people here in the future.

This question gets asked because some time back our esteemed friend and colleague Chris Shelton made the claim that scholars of Scientology had all made a big mistake, and that the villain of Scientology’s OT 3 should actually be referred to as “Xemu” and not “Xenu.”

This is not really a very important question, because Hubbard’s OT “tech” is all nonsense anyway, but we did want to explain why we differ with Chris on this — and we are doing so not to get sideways with anyone, so put down the pitchforks.

Let’s just calmly look at the evidence.


First of all, we pointed out last year that there was a fascinating and almost entirely overlooked instance of Hubbard using the word “Xenu” that occurred nearly a decade earlier than thought. It turns out that in a 1958 lecture, Hubbard tosses off a lot of nonsense words in a kind of stream of consciousness, and in that jumble he referred to the planet “Exnoo” and “Mount Xenu.”

The lecture is obscure. We consulted numerous experts, and they all admitted that they had never noticed Hubbard using that singular word at such an early point. Historian and former OT Scientologist Jon Atack agreed with us that this was a good example that Hubbard was working with a limited number of ideas which he tended to recycle. In 1958, Hubbard grabbed the word “Xenu” for a hypothetical mountain, and eight years later he would do so again, but this time for a hypothetical galactic overlord.

That, of course, was Hubbard’s infamous plunge through the “Wall of Fire” which took place late in 1966 in the Canary Islands city of Las Palmas. Supposedly risking his life and breaking bones, Hubbard had retrieved new information about the history of the galaxy in what would become the material of “Operating Thetan Level Three,” or “OT 3.”

To this day, when a Scientologist reaches this point on the “Bridge to Total Freedom,” they are given a locked briefcase which contains the handwritten notes Hubbard jotted down in his Las Palmas hotel. Here’s what it looks like…


Data (1)

The head of the Galactic Confederation (76 planets around larger stars visible from here)(founded 95,000,000 yrs ago, very space opera) solved overpopulation (250 billion or so per planet — 176 billion on average) by mass implanting. He caused people to be brought to Teegeeack (Earth) and put an H Bomb on the principal volcanoes (Incident 2) and then the Pacific area ones were taken in boxes to Hawaii and the Atlantic area ones to Las Palmas and there “packaged.” His name was Xenu. He used renegades. Various misleading data by means of circuits, etc. was placed in the implants. When through with his crime Loyal Officers (to the people) captured him after 6 years of battle and put him in an electronic mountain trap where he still is. “They” are gone. The place (Confed) has since been a desert.

Setting aside what a nutty story this is, let’s take a look at Hubbard’s handwriting. If you look closely, you will notice that Hubbard writes some of the words in a sort of printing style and others in cursive.

For an attempt at clarity, we’ve isolated words in printing style that contain the letter “n”…


“Confederation, planets, around, overpopulation, billion, planet, billion, implanting, on, principal, volcanoes, Incident, then, renegades, since, been”

Now here are words in cursive that contain the letter “n”…


“founded, and, an, and, ones, taken, in, and, Atlantic, ones, and, name, misleading, means, in, implants, and, in, an, electronic, mountain, gone”

We now move to words in printing style that contain the letter “m”…


“from, implanting, Las Palmas, crime”

And words in cursive that contain the letter “m”…


“name, misleading, means, implants, him, him, mountain”

Putting these groups together, we get the strong impression that Hubbard’s chicken scratch was actually fairly consistent within these sets.

So now we’ll take a representative example from each — top to bottom, the “n” from the printed word “Confederation,” the “n” from the cursive “electronic,” the “m” from the printed “crime,” and the “m” from the cursive “name.” And next to them, the word “Xenu.”


We hope you can see that the comparison is unambiguous. The “n” in Hubbard’s cursive Xenu is completely consistent with the “n” in his other cursive words, and not at all close to the “m” in any of his words.

The OT III materials villain is, without a doubt, Xenu, not Xemu, and you can see why this material was typed up that way by Hubbard’s helpers.

However, just a couple of years later, on October 3, 1968, Hubbard gave a lecture telling the same story but in much more detail, and in it he referred to the galactic ruler as “Xemu,” and says “could be spelled X-E-M-U.” And for the rest of the lecture he uses that pronunciation.

So was that a sort of correction that invalidated the previous spelling, with an “n”?

No, not at all. First of all, Hubbard clearly said the name could be spelled with an “m.” But more importantly, Hubbard once again wrote this story up another nine years later, and in a very different context.

In July 1977, after the FBI raided Scientology in Los Angeles and Washington DC, Hubbard went into hiding, leaving his desert home in Southern California for an apartment in Sparks, Nevada. For several weeks he hid out there, waiting to see if the FBI was coming for him. And while he sat there, he could not have helped noticing that the entire country seemed to be going nuts for the very genre, space opera, that he had spent years writing for the pulps in the 1930s and 1940s. In May 1977, the movie Star Wars had premiered, and it had become a phenomenon.

It’s hard to blame Hubbard for wanting to cash in. While he was hiding out in Sparks, he turned the Xenu story into a screenplay which the church then tried very earnestly to sell and turn into a movie.

That didn’t happen. And if you’ve read the script, it’s not hard to understand why. It’s unreadable dreck.

However, what’s important for our purposes is that in this script, which Hubbard wrote himself, the galactic villain’s name is spelled “Xenu” throughout.

So, the only two times that Hubbard ever actually wrote down his weird galactic genocide tale, he used the name “Xenu.” One time, in a lecture, he said it “could be” spelled “Xemu.”

And so what’s our grand conclusion?

1. L. Ron Hubbard was utterly, completely full of shit. None of this stuff matters in the least.

2. However, it is problematic to say that generations of Scientology scholars have somehow made a big mistake by using the spelling “Xenu,” which clearly Hubbard used himself.

So that’s our take on the matter, and again, we hope no one’s nose gets out of joint.


Hail, Xenu!


Make your plans now!



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,990 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 136 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,199 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,973 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,747 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,093 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,587 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,627 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,339 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 865 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,954 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,094 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,414 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,389 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 745 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,047 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,153 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,556 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,428 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,010 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,515 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,759 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,868 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 10, 2018 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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