Monthly Archives: January 2013

Grays – Part 1

One of the topics of high strangeness that does not seem to fall clearly into the realm of either cryptozoology or the paranormal, is the subject of UFO’s and their nasty little gray occupants – beings that we are told have a penchant for abducting humans and experimenting on them. One of the sacred cows of UFOlogy is the idea that UFO’s and their occupants are from other worlds, perhaps in this galaxy and perhaps not. The further assumption is that these beings have far superior technology and that there is a worldwide conspiracy amongst many governments to prevent the disclosure of information that these governments hold about the “aliens” among us.

I make the disclaimer that I do not claim to be an expert in UFO lore. I have read some to the books and had some email conversations with folks who are much better informed about the subject than I am. Suffice to say though, that, though the above mentioned “aliens from outer space” theory is the popular one, there has always been a vocal minority of UFO researchers who thought there was something else altogether going on. I fall firmly into that camp.

There have been legends, amongst all peoples, of beings who come into this world and abduct human beings. The abductors who come most easily to mind for me are the Celtic faery – beings notorious for dragging humans off into the Hollow Hills and having their way with them – but, even in Sasquatch lore, we have stories of the big fellow throwing people over his shoulder and carrying them off. The Algonquin had stories of little people seen in the woods and were very careful to keep their children away any place where such entities were known to exist since the little ones were easily mislead and taken. Such entities seem to always take on the cultural overlay of the place in which they operate but their modus operandi is always the same: isolate, abduct, terrify, return and,often, repeat.

ISOLATE – Did you ever notice that Grays only seem to come after their victims in the dead of night when no one is likely to be awake or that often the little pests like to abduct people from cars on lonely stretches of highway? “Flying saucers” do not plop down in the middle of a busy street in Manhattan and pluck someone off the street. Believers will argue that the aliens are trying to keep themselves hidden but I would ask why? If their tech is so superior to ours, why not just cloak themselves from view and zap the person whenever and wherever instead of going to all the trouble of performing these late night abductions. Isolation of the victim seems to be a key in this phenomenon. In part 2 of this post I will make an argument for why this is so important to the beings but for now, note that in the faery stories of past ages, the exact same thing is true – the faery did not abduct people from groups, they waited to catch their victims alone.

ABDUCT – Once the victim is isolated, the abductors then immobilize him or her. All the abduction accounts I have read feature this concept. The person, once they remember the encounter, recalls either being unable to move or walking toward the “ship” against their will. Very frequently, the person finds themselves immobilized and then “floated” onto the “ship” like a plank of wood on water. In the faery stories, the person is often misled into the faery realm but might also be scooped up by the faery after having wandered into a forbidden area, performed some forbidden act or having otherwise offended these beings. Again, more in Part 2, but for now note that the paralysis described mirrors another phenomenon, the Night Hag.

TERRIFY – In olden times, just the fact of being abducted seemed to be enough to put the superstitious peasants almost out of their mind with terror so the faery did not appear to have to do much to get this reaction from people. The grays, on the other hand, seem to have stepped up their game. While the powerlessness of the abduction scenario is certainly terrifying in itself, the grays have added on “medical procedures” (frequently having to do with the reproductive organs about which humans are very sensitive) and/or scenarios where the space brothers warn the abductee about the various apocalyptic futures for our planet. Focus here, if you will on the emotion raised. While some abductees seem to become willing shills for their abductors and even see the experience as enlightening, pay close attention to the messages they are bringing forth. Chances are good the message will include elements designed to invoke a fear response.

RELEASE – Even in the old faery stories in which someone lives in the mound for years of our time, the person is always returned to their own world at some point. In the abduction literature, almost all the abductees are returned to their warm beds or their cold cars and there is very little evidence that anything at all occurred. In fact, the abduction is often carried in the subconscious of the victim for some time before it comes to light, usually as the result of the abductee looking for answers about missing time or other anomalies in their lives. My theory is that the release with its memory loss feeds into the TERRIFY part of the scenario. Abductions have been honed to produce the maximum emotional effect over a long period of time. I will come back to this with some force in Part 2.

REPEAT – Once a person has been abducted, it seems that they often become more liable to be abducted again (and again and again). Persons who undergo hypnotic regression for missing time etc. often recall not one but a whole series of abductions sometimes going back over a period of time. These abductions may range all the way back to the subject’s childhood. This seems to me, once more, to wire into the TERRIFY part of the scenario as I outlined in RELEASE above.

In Part 2, I will examine a model for explaining abductions without recourse to the “alien spaceships” model.

New Orleans

I returned recently from a week long stay in New Orleans.  I was afoot during the day but, since I was in a hotel on Canal Street, I was firmly within reach of the entire French Quarter.  But, this is not a travelogue blog – let me give you some impressions that I had of New Orleans from the Otherworldly perspective.  

Whenever you do a survey of an area with a reputation for being spirit laden, you have to be careful not to let the mental atmosphere that comes from any research you may have done overlap with what you are actually perceiving.  I walked the streets of the French Quarter (FQ) extensively (and my sore feet prove it) with my eyes open and my mental chatter at as minimal a level as I could manage and still navigate.  
In that process, I discovered that the FQ is a lovely area with some interesting and quite old and unique architecture.  There is something resonant, even to someone looking at it from a mundane perspective, about standing outside the gates of the Ursuline Convent – the oldest structure in New Orleans.  It is one thing to read about history but quite another to walk it, breathe it, live with it.  I think this may be a good part of the magic and mystery of the Crescent City.  
I have lived in San Antonio and San Francisco, both cities with fairly deep history, but I have never encountered anything like the accretion of energies that one encounters in the FQ.  My feeling is that it has to do with the unique blend of the early settlers with elements of both French AND African culture mixing in with the energy of later settlers.  Add to this New Orleans status as a bustling port with seamen of many nationalities visiting and enjoying (or not) the city’s famous night life, the strong impression of music derived from and contributing to the emotion of the city and the native’s own careful cultivation of the city’s paranormal reputation (where else could you come away with a souvenir t-shirt with a voodoo doll on it?) and you have a melting pot of energies that will effect even the least sensitive. 
To me, strolling the FQ reminded me of Kat Richardson’s Greywalker novels.  The heroine in those books has several unique abilities including the power to grab an “edge” of the Grey (her word for the Otherworld) and sift through it, moving through the impressions on the Grey of various layers of history.  The residual energies in the FQ are like this, layer upon layer, accreted upon one another, from the early Native inhabitants on through to the present.  Because there has been some effort to preserve historic buildings in the area and because the residents value the history so, the FQ has not suffered the same fate as many historic areas where “progress” has literally bulldozed away the layers of history and left nothing but faceless modernity in its place.  While I was not always comfortable with the energy in the FQ, I found all of it interesting. 
So, if you are ever looking for a spot for an excellent psychic vacation, the FQ is definitely on my list of sites.  It seems to me that the veil between the worlds is just a little thinner there and there are all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies to explore.  Be aware though, that you need to trust your instincts and avoid any place that gives you the “willies”.  Any place that promotes dissipation as the FQ with its Mardi Gras celebration and Bourbon Street strip and sex clubs does, is going to attract its fair share of beings who are intent on “feeding” off those energies.  Proceed with some modicum of caution but have fun!


Getting Help

I do not have conventional TV around the house – my cable is for internet alone – so, if I want to watch paranormal TV shows, I have to find them online.  Recently, I’ve made my way through the episodes of “Paranormal Witness” available on Netflix and I found myself wondering why most of the people highlighted on that show never sought outside help of any sort, even in cases where the paranormal manifestations had allegedly gotten so bad that the witness or witnesses eventually vacated their home.

Now, I understand that this is television and that the cases presented might be either the worst of the worst that the producers could come up with or the cases might all be in the imagination of the people profiled (although I find that hard to believe in some of the cases, at least).  There is always a tendency, with television, to sensationalize, to try to make things appear worse than they were, to try to make the episodes seem more eerie and otherworldly than they were.  Still, you wonder why someone who appears to be having an ongoing series of strange events happening in their home does not pick up the phone or get online and look to see what help might be available.

I think there are a number of answers to this question but one of the big ones is the age old question that every experiencer of the unexplained seems to have: who is going to believe me?  Whether the percipient saw an unidentified animal in the woods, a UFO flying over the house or the apparition of a dead Union soldier on a Gettysburg battlefield, most witnesses will tell you that one of the first things that pops into their mind, once the shock of the incident has worn off a little, is, who is going to believe my story?  If more than one person has seen the event, the question becomes “did you just see . . . ?” and then morphs into “who is going to believe us?”

Given that most witnesses are treated less than respectfully if they try to report their event or events to the “authorities”, this is a realistic concern.  While I have my issues with the plethora of investigators out there, I think they do serve one useful purpose: they provide a place for the witness to tell their story in a relatively safe environment where they will not automatically be considered candidates for a stay at the local mental institution.   Imagine for just a moment, the strain of having something exceptional happen to you and not being able to discuss it with anyone.  In cases where the phenomena are ongoing, this internal struggle would be even worse.  While many investigators have no clue how to truly assist someone who is having a real issue with the unseen, at least the witness has an opportunity to unburden themselves and perhaps get some confirmation that they have not lost their minds.

That assistance, in and of itself, is extremely invaluable to the witnesses of high strangeness.

On Hostile Entities

I talked a little bit about cryptozoology in my last post so I wanted to flip over to the more paranormal side of the house in this installment. When you start exploring the world of the paranormal, you very quickly discover that paranormal investigators seem to have almost as many different types of “spirits” to chase as the cryptozoologists have cryptids to catalog.  What I find interesting about paranormal folk though is that they seem to have a desire to shove spirits into a group, almost as if they are trying to establish a universal field theory of the paranormal.  This is especially the case when investigators are confronted with “entities” that seem hostile.

Rosemary Ellen Guiley, in a recent book titled The Vengeful Djinn: Unveiling the Hidden Agenda of Genies, appears to posit that many hostile paranormal encounters come about as the result of what Islamic myths call jinn, a group of spirits that are mentioned in the Quran as beings that are spirits of pure flame, neither angel nor demon, and possessed, like humans, with free will.  Some of these spirits choose to convert to Islam or other religions and behave themselves while others seek to make our lives miserable.  Guiley and her co-author, Philip J Imbrogno, make the case that jinn can cover everything in the paranormal world from hostile hauntings to alien abduction and even appear to draw the conclusion that Celtic tales of the faery relate to the jinn as well.

Now, I will freely admit that I have not read this book but I have read interviews with the author(s) and reviews of the work so I believe that I am representing it fairly. I’ve read some of Ms. Guiley’s other work and I am sure that this book is well presented and engagingly written.  However, I don’t think that we can ascribe every thing the “goes bump in the night” to the jinn.  I think that we have to look deeper than that.

John Keel, in his Our Haunted Planet, The Mothman Prophecies and others of his books, drives home the idea that a phenomenon has existed, throughout recorded history, that engages humankind, sometimes to our benefit but often to our detriment.  This phenomenon, in his view, “shape shifts” to match itself to the expectations of humans as we evolve.  If I am reading Keel right, he would argue that the faery stories of the Celtic races, the jinn stories of the Middle East, the stories of gray aliens abducting people in the night, all derive from a common source – the mysterious phenomenon.

I would tend to agree with Keel’s assessment.  First though, a disclaimer.  The vast majority of “hauntings”, in my view, are caused by either the etheric “recording” of a traumatic event which “replays” for certain people or some part of the human soul complex that has not passed over into the afterlife.  Such hauntings may be creepy to those involved but only because of the reactions of the humans in physical bodies, not because the disembodied human is any threat.

When we start talking about the more aggressive and hostile entities, what Christians might label demons, Muslims might call evil jinn and an ancient Celt might have called a faery of the Unseelie Court, we are then discussing something altogether different.  Even occultists have different names for the beings that are inimical to the human race and the esoteric schools have their labels for these beings and sometimes disagree vehemently with each other when they discuss these things.  I do not pretend to represent everyone in the occult movement.  After being exposed to a number of different philosophies, my understanding is this: that there are “beings” (either personified spirits or ‘knots” of cohesive energy, however you want to view them) in the Otherworld that maintain their existence by feeding off of human beings.  These entities can range from low level, barely intelligent parasites to very high order “spirits” with a plan.

I am not sure what you would see if you could get a look at these critters in their true form.  They are very good at hiding and they are very good at the strategies that they employ for feeding.  Since the human emotional response is laden with energy, those beings smart enough to employ strategy will often present themselves in a way calculated to invoke maximum terror.  So, if you are a Christian convinced of the existence of Satan and the  demonic horde, guess how the beings will manifest for you?  If you are a stone materialist who could care less about religion, you might end up in an “alien spacecraft”.  All you have to do is read alien abduction accounts to realize that the whole experience is calculated to scare the crap out of the victim and make them feel completely helpless and powerless.

Again, I do not see this as a Universal Field Theory of the paranormal nor am I seeking to make anyone paranoid.  Encounters with nasties are pretty rare and I know that there are higher “spirits” who seem to have the best interests of humans in mind.  What I would like to convey here is that there are risks in paranormal investigation and the people doing these investigations should be aware of them and prepared to deal with them when they arise.  I will talk more about preparation in other posts.

My Thoughts on Sasquatch

First, a personal note.  I will refer, in these pages, to the phenomenon that manifests itself as a massive bipedal, ape like creature with really large feet as Sasquatch.  The reason for this is simple – I like the name better, it is from a North American culture and Bigfoot just seems to me to be a term that has become almost derisive, especially when it is used in the press.

With that personal note out of the way, let’s look at Sasquatch and, by extension, the wide variety of mysterious creatures that people report sighting throughout the world – the manwolf, the chupacabra (the one in Puerto Rico with the very ‘alien’ appearance – not the poor mangy coyotes that are showing up on the web), various lake and sea monsters, etc.  My basic position on such creatures is that they do indeed exist but not as solid, physical plane unexplained animals.  Rather, looking at the magical side of the equation, I feel that most such monster sightings, when they are not the result of mental illness or misidentification, are the result of manifestations from what I will call the Otherworld.

In magical traditions, it is understood that the world that we live in and have a basic consensual reality about is but one of many different levels or “planes” of reality.  Core shamanic practitioners use a three world model, Qabalists use the ten world Tree of Life system, Norse magicians sometimes use a nine world system and so on.  Modern quantum physics seems to indicate that there could be any number of dimensions “out there”.  Suffice to say, that over the course of human history, people who operate in a magical paradigm have posited the existence of other worlds.  I am not going to argue for the existence of these worlds since one can not prove the existence of something experiential to the “skeptic” (a word much misused in this day and age).  My worldview includes the existence of other worlds and I have been able to “prove” this to myself and I believe that anyone with a modicum of discipline can do the same if they so desire.

Not only do the magical traditions posit the existence of an Otherworld or worlds but they also state flatly that it is possible to interact with the Otherworld either by using trance techniques to enter their world or by bringing beings from the Otherworld through into this world.  There is also a significant body of lore that seems to indicate that the creatures of the Otherworld, for reasons of their own, have some interest in our world and sometimes cross over to “visit”.  Add to this the idea that there are techniques for creating entities (thought forms) that, if given sufficient skill and concentration by the magician, seem to take on a life of their own and you have quite the recipe for explaining the sightings of unknown and mysterious creatures across the globe.

Now, I am oversimplifying in the extreme here and any practitioners of the magical arts may be flinching at this point but I will be laying out more details as I go along in this blog.  What I want to do here though is get the reader thinking along magical and Otherworldly lines from the “get go”.

Moving back to Sasquatch, one of the most popular and most evidenced creatures in cryptozoology, one has only to look around the lab of Dr. Jeff Meldrum, a physical anthropologist who has a huge collection of track casts,  to immediately pose a counter argument to my statements above.  Where do all those footprints come from?  And the limited hair samples etc.?  The answer to this one is pretty simple: creatures of the Otherworld, even though they are not native to this plane, are able to cloak themselves in a semblance of physical form.  This can range from the vague, misty forms seen by many people in paranormal (i.e. ghostly) encounters to the very solid physical form of the Sasquatch or manwolf that can rock a car or leave footprints in its wake.

The Otherworld hypothesis is an elegant explanation for some of the things that trouble open minded Sasquatch researchers.  Along with the “skeptical” battle cry of “no real physical evidence” – which is, in fact, false – Sasquatch researchers are faced with the occasional case that does not ft nicely into the physical animal model.  Cases in which Sasquatch creatures have seemingly disappeared before the eyes of the witness, have been involved in sighting clusters with other strange creatures and/or the UFO phenomenon (something we will get into later) and those in which the Sasquatch seems to telepathically communicate with the percipient are instances which many researchers will ignore, simply cutting such incidents out of their databases because they do not fit the unknown animal hypothesis.  Never let it be said that “skeptics” are the only close minded individuals in the cryptozoological community.

Could there be a breeding population of relic hominids running around the forests and mountains of the world?  I will never say that something is impossible.  However, given the continued elusiveness of these creatures, despite the best efforts of many to photograph them, catch them on video or even capture them, I find it more and more likely that Sasquatch is a creature from the Otherworld that makes its way onto this plane periodically, for reasons of its own.

Review – The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

Book link:  The Beast of Boggy Creek

Even though I do not think that Yeti/Bigfoot/Sasquatch/The Fouke Monster is an undiscovered bipedal primate but instead something much more mysterious, I could not resist the opportunity to read this book.  I confess, to my never ending shame as a follower of all things that go bump in the night, that I have never seen the movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek” by Charles B. Pierce but, as a youngster growing up in Texas at the time this movie released, I certainly remember my friend’s scary summaries of the movie and those conversations were one of many things that got me interested in all things monstrous.

Lyle Blackburn actually did see the movie and he has done an excellent job in this book of relating that experience and then taking us on a tour of Fouke, Arkansas and the Boggy Creek area that the movie made famous.  Blackburn does an excellent job of telling us something about the history of the place and sets the events which led to the fire storm of publicity in the 1960’s and 70’s into a longer perspective – a perspective that included tales of a “wild man” roaming the woods of the area all the way back in the 1800’s.

Blackburn does a deft job of presenting the history and setting it into the geographic region without making the mistake of beating the reader with all of his research.  Obviously, he took the job of chronicling the Beast of Boggy Creek seriously and he spent a lot of time digging through newspaper archives, magazines and books as well as talking to the people who were actually there.  Another writer could have turned this into a ponderous tome of several hundred pages but Blackburn manages to keep it lean and I never felt the need to get up and have a drink because the text was too dry.  Blackburn obviously has a passion for his subject and it shows in every page of the book as well as the fairly extensive references at the end of the text.

After placing the monster in its historical, cultural and geographic milieu, Blackburn goes on to show that the Fouke Monster emerged into more modern times in 1908 and that sightings are still being reported to the present.  Blackburn thus deals a very effective death blow to the skeptics who maintain that the Fouke Monster created a stir during a certain period and then disappeared.  During the course of this exposition, Blackburn also skillfully weaves in the story of the making of the movie and even manages to take a quick side trip into other movies and cultural phenomenon that derived from the original “Legend” without getting completely off track.  I found the information on the movie mildly interesting and can see why Blackburn chose to include it but I would have preferred more monster stories and less movie and music talk.

It is the section titled “A Question of Theories” that I found to be the weakest part of the book and I expect this derives from the fact that many of Blackburn’s sources – from the folk of Fouke and the surrounding area to the researchers of the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy – all operate from the same basic assumption: that the Fouke Monster and its Sasquatch kin are undiscovered physical, bipedal primates living a very secluded and elusive life in places like the swamps of the Sulfur River State Wildlife Management Area.

Bigfooters tend to think this way; it never occurs to them to look at the paranormal/magical side for an explanation of their favorite mystery.  So, Blackburn limits his discussion of theory to: crazy people/hallucinations/”those crazy rednecks”, circus escapees, moonshiners trying to keep people from their stills, black panthers (for an upright bipedal primate??) and even the idea that rascists concocted the story to keep black people out of Fouke.  Of course, the lion’s share of the theoretical treatment goes to the discussion of the theory of undiscovered bipedal apes in our midst. I will let you read his case for yourself and tell you to pay close attention to the issue of three toed tracks and leave this well enough alone – for now.

Despite some awkward turns of phrase, Blackburn is, for the most part, a fairly smooth and concise writer and I would recommend this book highly to anyone interested in this subject.  I’ll detail my own theories about Sasquatch and its kin at a later date since I do not want to write a book of my own here.

Welcome and Introduction to my blog

Greetings, and welcome to Monsters and Magic.  My wife, bless her, accuses me frequently of not being concise so I will not blather about some of the reasons that drove me to start this blog.  Instead, I will state those reasons simply, right here:  

1) I love to write. 

 2) I feel that there is a distinct lack in the world of paranormal and cryptozoological blogs. 

The first reason above really requires no explanation but I believe that the second one does.  

I have been a student of the esoteric and paranormal since I was 27.  That means that I have been wandering these fields for about twenty five years.  In that time, I have been a part of and read extensively on the major streams of the neo-pagan tradition – Wicca, Druidry and Asatru.  I’m also conversant with the Zen and Tibetan streams of Buddhism and I’ve worked in ceremonial magic.  In addition, I have more than a passing acquaintance with core shamanism.  Again, I am trying to be concise but suffice to say that it has been a long strange trip and I am still actively involved in the esoteric world.  

Hand in hand with that interest in the esoteric, I have, since I was a child, been fascinated with the paranormal and what has become known as cryptozoology.  I am sure my parents worried a little when, at the ripe old age of twelve, I came home from the library with Ivan Sanderson’s 700+ page tome on the “Abominable Snowman”.  I also consumed books like Frank Edwards’ Strange World and Incident at Exeter by John G Fuller.  I’ve read John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies more than once and I find it interesting every time I pick it up again.  My wife is plain in her assessment; she tells me that I am a “paranormal geek”.  Believe me, I have been called worse.  

Some years back, I blundered into a wonderful book called Monsters: An Investigator’s Guide to Magical Beings by John Michael Greer.  For the first time, it occurred to me that all this esoteric material that I had been learning had a place in the paranormal and cryptozoological world of which I was so fond.  Greer, who is a ceremonial magician in the Golden Dawn tradition, put forward the idea that, in order to really understand the “monsters” that people kept seeing and reporting, we needed to set aside our predominant Western materialist mind set and look at the world through the eyes of a magician.  

 So, that is what I will attempt to do in this blog – look at these sightings and stories that have interested me for so long through a different lens.  My object in writing this blog is to make people think and to say to themselves “what if . . . “.  I am not out to convert anyone or give them instruction on how to become masters of magic.  I am simply going to take what I have learned over the course of the years and propose some ideas that I think may help to explain some of the “high strangeness” out there.  

 Be advised, during the course of my magical career, I have seen people do some really silly things and I will not hesitate to tell you, dear reader, if I think something in the paranormal or cryptid community is really stupid.  Rest assured though that I will lay out good reasons for my thoughts and, as I have said, I will leave to your discretion the things that you pick up from this blog.  

 One of the other things that I will do in this blog is review the occasional book or movie.  In fact, a book review will be the first article on the blog since I just finished reading a good Bigfoot book.  

 Again, welcome to Monsters and Magic.  I look forward to a long and interesting relationship with you, dear readers.