A quote from Linda Godfrey’s The Michigan Dogman, p. 66: “. . . He added that he always felt that there was an element of the paranormal in the experience (writer’s note: this is a dogman/manwolf witness) due to the complete silence of the natural world in the creature’s presence.”
This notation comes from a witness who, at the age of 13, encountered a manwolf type creature in an abandoned military silo in Kansas. He finally talked about the incident with Ms. Godfrey as a 45 year old business man and one of the things that really stuck in his memory was the quiet as he and some friends approached that structure. It was such a marked contrast to the usual night noises of the areathat it made a strong impression.
I’ve spent a good bit of time in the wilderness and I can say from experience that, once you have tuned to the rhythm of the area, nature is seldom silent. Birds cry, squirrels make scampering sounds as they cling to the bark of trees, mice can be heard scurrying in the undergrowth, the leaves of trees and plants brush together in any breeze and so on. One of the quietest places that I know of is the desert and even there, once you have been in situ for a while and gotten used to the difference between city sound and desert sound, you will begin to hear the small sounds of movement, wind etc. that you hear in other natural settings. It is muted but it is there.
One of the things that I have noted, though is the silence that falls when practicing magic. Once upon a time, in my more “out” pagan days, I did a handfasting ritual for a lovely couple out in the desert north of Phoenix. There were a number of people in attendance and the two most common comments following the ritual were: “wow, I really felt something” and “it was so quiet!”. Anyone who has some experience working with zone rites (things like banishing rituals) will tell you that they have times, once they have some experience, where it seems as though they have been cut off from the whole of this world and cast into a silent bubble all their own. I don’t have a lot of practice at formal ceremonial magic style invocations but it is my understanding that a peculiar silence descends over the working area, particularly right before the manifestation of the being that is being invoked (or evoked, for that matter).
I’ve also encountered this silence in nature while hiking in the Superstition range. I wandered into a canyon during one of my rambles and, instantly, the hair almost literally stood up on my head. Fear stirred deep within me and I remember that the place was unnaturally quiet. I forced myself to walk a little deeper into the canyon and stood for a few moments. It was bright clear spring day but, in my perception, that canyon seemed darker by several shades and cooler. I knew that the whole area was sacred to the Apache and that it was said to be the home of their Thunder Beings. I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and backed slowly out of the area. Once I was clear, I felt warm again, my surroundings seemed brighter and all the sound returned.
Godfrey theorizes that this effect is caused by electromagnetic or time/spaces anomalies, basing her ideas on the work of Paul Devereaux in The Haunted Land. While some of these disturbances may be natural occurrences associated with poorly understood currents of earth energy, I think that it behooves us, as researchers, to remember that there are a lot of magical practitioners around today and that magical practice has been a part of almost every culture that has existed on this planet.
I am all for taking EMF readings and using other scientific instruments in the field but I think it is also critical that we approach any incident of high strangeness with someone in tow who knows about and recognizes the “feel” of various magical workings and recognizes the tools and signs of such workings. Certainly, the silence that falls in many of these episodes may have to do with rifts between this world and the next. What I would want to know, as a researcher, would be why the rift occurred: is it a natural event brought about by disturbances in the planet’s EMF, a product of a entity moving onto our plane for its own reason (anything from an angel on down), the effect of a magical ritual which produced a very real manifestation or something else altogether?
I think that, too often, investigations end with either “yes, we can explain/debunk this as X” or “wow, that was truly unexplainable”. I understand the allure of mystery but, when it prevents us from asking other questions, mystery begins to look like an unwillingness to go farther.