Tag Archives: Micah Hanks

Review: Wood Knocks – various authors

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I have made my views on the creature known as Sasquatch plain in other articles for this blog. I have made it clear that I think that at least some of the giants people are seeing in the woods are kin to the Faery and do not belong completely to this world. In the parlance of modern paranormalists, I think Sasquatch is an inter-dimensional being that is capable of walking into our world and back out of it, pretty much at will.

That said, I greatly admire the work of the people who actually go into the woods looking for the creature and who spend their time talking to witnesses, setting camera traps and even flying drones hoping for a glimpse of the elusive ‘booger’. While I think that a lot of them just might be tilting at windmills, it is still admirable that they have the strength of their convictions and are willing to walk their talk.

The new anthology from Leprechaun Press, Wood Knocks, Volume 1: A Journal of Sasquatch Research is a collection of articles from the sorts of people who have devoted their lives to exploring the strange and especially to looking for cryptid creatures such as the Sasquatch. The anthology is an easy read, at just over 200 pages, so do not expect extensive or detailed articles, but it is packed with information that new and experienced Sasquatch aficionados will find interesting and informative.  In my view, the cover art by Sam Shearon is worth the price of the book, all by itself.

The meat of the book is quite good as well.  Whether we are talking Sasquatch amongst the First Nations people (David Weatherly) or hunting the Orang-Pendek in Sumatra (Richard Freeman) or talking about the presence of Sasquatch in Wisconsin and its surrounding areas (Linda Godfrey), the writing is, with one notable exception, crisp and there are cases in the book that I had not heard of, side by side, with some of the old standards. I enjoyed this chance to ‘touch base’ with the work of many authors that I admire and some that I did not know.  Freeman’s article on the Orang-Pendek made me think that the Sumatrans may have a genuine undiscovered species in their midst.

Having said that, there is one article in the anthology that is a confused, rambling mess and could have easily been cut from the line up with no damage to the work. As I noted above, readers will be able to discern this one quickly and will have to decide for themselves whether the tidbits of information in the article are worth the pain of reading the disjointed ramblings of someone with entirely too much research and not enough space to present it cogently.

I would have been quite happy if that article had been cut and the other writers given more space to present their research. I had the feeling, in several of the sections, that the authors had a lot more to say but were unable to do so due to the editorial pen or space limitations or both. This is a real shame since, as I mentioned, there is quite a lot of original research amongst the articles. I would have been particularly interested to see Micah Hanks spin his thoughts on abductions out further and Nick Redfern’s article on infrasound was interesting but too short.

Wood Knocks is noted as volume 1 of a journal of Sasquatch research. If this is going to be a continuing series of works then the series is off to a good start and, with some minor tweaks, I can see such a series becoming a respected reference amongst those Sasquatch researchers willing to flex their minds a bit and look at new ideas, even if they do not agree with them.

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Why Do We Need A Sasquatch?

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I’ve noted previously that I listen to a podcast hosted by Shannon LeGro, Ryan Sprague and Sam Shearon called Into the Fray.  The linked episode is the St. Patrick’s day edition of the podcast and features an appearance by well known podcaster Micah Hanks of The Gralien Report.  The show ranges widely over a number of topics and is well worth a listen.

I was intrigued, however, by a question that Micah Hanks brought up during the course of the discussion.  He asked, setting aside the ‘reality’ of Sasquatch and the hunt for evidence, even supposing that there was no actual physical creature that we could point to and call a Sasquatch, why is it that human beings have had some version of this creature in their folklore for literal centuries?  I think that is quite a good question and it got me to thinking.

As with all good questions, this one does not have a single answer so follow along as I jump down this rabbit hole for a moment.

I think that Mr. Shearon has a valid point.  Since the human being became more ‘civilized’ and spent less time being afraid of being eaten in the night, it seems that our species of hominid has delighted in scaring itself.  From the ancient ‘fairy’ tales and ghost stories to big budget, epic scare-fests like Jurassic World, we seem to delight in scaring the beejesus out of ourselves and those around us.  What better way to spice up a trip into the woods than inventing a creature that moves through the forest like a giant wraith and might just snatch you when you are not looking?

In relation to the idea that we like scaring ourselves, that fear can also serve a useful purpose as Sasquatch makes a terrific booger man.  In cultures where human children do not spend all their time indoors, glued to video games or cell phones, stories often arise that are designed to prevent kids from wandering too far from home or going into certain areas.  I suspect that Sasquatch, along with a host of other creatures serves this purpose in some societies.

I think that another factor that springs up, also related to fear, is the fact that the wilderness, particularly at night, can be a scary place.  Even if there are no giant bipedal apes running about, there are still plenty of sounds and movements in the bush that get our attention and make our imaginations run wild.  While our logical mind seeks an explanation for what we are sensing and for the creepy feeling of being watched that humans sometimes get, our story telling brain cannot help but invent monsters like the Sasquatch to fill the dark corners of our mind.   Again, we circle back to the fact that we love to scare ourselves.

I think, too, especially amongst modern victims of the ‘we now know almost everything there is to know’ scientific establishment, there is a need for mystery, a driving need to have something that can not be easily explained, dissected, put in a box with a custom label, archived and forgotten about.  I think that there is a strong desire, despite our apparent worship of science and technology, to thumb our noses at the establishment and what better way to do that then by believing in and developing lore about a creature that so-called science dismisses outright and with extreme prejudice?

Related to this idea, is the thought that, humans are explorers by nature.  I see no reason why the species would have spread as it has if we did not have some instinctual chip in our heads that made us constantly ask, “I wonder what is over that hill?”.   Linked to this desire to explore is a curiosity that makes us want to see what actually lives in the deep ocean and possibly even the vast reaches of space.  Why would we be excited about going to Mars or some other planet unless we truly are a curious and exploratory organism?  Unless we have been paralyzed by the instinct squelching ‘publish or perish’ atmosphere of academia, humans have displayed a talent for contriving reasons to go ‘over there’ and one of the reasons we see more and more today is the search for Sasquatch.

In short, I feel that there are numerous reasons why Sasquatch is found in human lore.  The Hairy Man represents something visceral and real to us.  In my own view, it is a representative of the very spirit of the forest and this is why, if there were no such creature and even if there were no such legend, I believe that people would have invented it.


The Possibility of Cloaking

I have been watching back videos of Micah Hanks and Jim Harold’s The Paranormal Report and came across this very interesting issue of the report. At the beginning of the show, Messrs. Hanks and Harold discuss a New Mexico ‘ghost’ sighting and Mr. Hanks brings up the subject of cloaking or invisibility technology as an “out of the box” explanation for the phenomenon they are discussing. Later in the show, at about the 26:00 mark, the duo carry a story on a cloaking technology experiment from the University of Rochester.

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I was intrigued by this idea and especially by Mr. Hank’s allusion to metamaterials so I did a web scan and came across this eye opening article. In the article, the writer notes that the breakthrough he is discussing would make the manufacture of these metamaterials, which can basically bend light around an object, practical on a much larger scale than would have been practical before. It might be possible, in the very near future, to manufacture enough of this material to hide large objects (the example being a tank or aircraft).

Now, this is information in the public domain and readily available to anyone who goes looking for it. I have read, on more than one occassion and from more than one source, the idea that the governments of the world, and especially the US, with their vast resources and facilities, have tech that is at least 20 and sometimes 40 years from being ‘discovered’ in the public domain. For the oft cited reasons of national security, these technical advances are highly secret.

As my regular readers know, I am no conspiracy theorist. I do not believe in secret cabals running the world from the shadows and I find the idea that our Reptilian overlords are shape-shifting into world leaders so that they may more easily govern us laughable and paranoid. I am, however, convinced of Arthur C Clarke’s adage that any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic to those who are not as technically advanced.

In the case of the New Mexico ‘ghost’, explored in the aforementioned TPR episode, police in New Mexico have a very compelling video of a figure making its way across a locked impound yard. The figure is definitely humanoid in appearance but translucent. Honestly, I am not sure what is on the video but I doubt that it is a person with some sort of cloaking tech engaged; the theory of invisibility tech is that one bends rays of light around the ‘cloaked’ object. The figure in the video appears to have light going right through it and it seems to move freely through locked fences and the like. A cloaked person would not be able to do that . . . the cloak is still covering a physical object that has to respond to the laws of physics.

While the New Mexico ‘ghost’ may not be a cloaked person, investigators of strange phenomenon are constantly running across stories where the witness encounters something but they can not see it. They have ‘the feeling’, they know that someone or something is there but their visual sense tells them nothing or, even more eery, gives them only the vague outline of what they are facing. I have even seen some reports where the witness described the entity as being like the scenes in the movie ‘Predator’ in which the alien hunter is cloaked and only slightly visible when it is moving.

Now, given my magical leanings, I freely admit that I lean toward the spirit hypothesis. I do not, for a moment, believe that every ghost hunter who feels a presence in a room is encountering a cloaked government agent playing tricks on him or her. I do, however, think that we need to slot this idea into our bag of hypotheses when looking at witness reports. I believe that it particularly behooves us to bring these ideas to the table when such reports occur out in open wild spaces, particularly if they are in proximity to military or government facilities/land. Think of all the supposed Sasquatch reports where the witness never actually sees the creature but instead has the feeling of being shadowed in the woods, for example. They do not see anything but they know something is following them. In addition, we can consider places like Skinwalker Ranch where Predator style ‘cloaked’ beings have been reported.

It is entirely possible that witnesses could be blundering into experimentation and testing of cloaking technologies or could actually be targets of such experimentation. We know from sad experience that very secretive operations sometimes operate according to their own set of ethics. Again, I am not proposing that all such witness reports can be explained by this type of technological advance but we do need to consider that, given what we already know about cloaking and understanding that high resource agencies like the US military have a vested interest in such technology, there is very real possibility that a form of invisibility technology may be available, at least in the prototype stages. We also have to consider that it would be in the developing agencies best interests not to share this secret since opposing forces would quickly begin to develop counter-measures if they knew for certain that cloaking was a threat.

I once asked a meditation teacher why Tibetan Buddhists had so many different visualizations and styles of meditation. He smiled and responded that each technique was an arrow in the quiver and that the more arrows one had, the greater the chance of reaching realization or enlightenment. I think that this idea of cloaking is yet another arrow in the quiver of the paranormal investigator.


Response: Right, Wrong and Reason in Esoterica

I could not help but notice this link over at Mysterious Universe the other day and had to comment since, at the very least, the post seemed ambiguous when discussing the topic of morals in the “occult”.

First of all, let’s talk a little about what that much used but little understood word means. The Abrahamic fundamentalists would have you believe that occult = evil, Satanic, opposed to their view of how the world should be run. If we look at the root of the word, however, we find that occult comes from the Latin occultus which means simply “hidden, concealed, secret”. I would point out that even in the Abrahamic religions that fuss so about the “occult”, there are hidden traditions, usually related to the mystical experience. A good example would be the Sufis of Islam. These folks are definitely Muslim but they have definite secrets that do not open out to the practitioner until the person has gained the trust of a teacher and his disciples.

I do not think that anyone in their right mind would equate a tradition that bred the likes of Rumi with evil and Satanism. In like manner, it is obvious to me that those who squawk loudest about the occult are those who are most ignorant about the traditions that they are referring to or are picking and choosing from biased information to “prove” their position.

For example, Mr. Hanks, whom I admire for his intellect and even handed approach to the paranormal, comments that Christian friends of his have encouraged him to abandon his studies since exposure to the paranormal, UFO’s and the like will inevitably lead into the occult and the destruction of his (presumed on their part) faith. I wonder if those folks would be surprised to discover that one of the foremost occultists of our time, Gareth Knight, and the groups that he has founded are so strongly Christian in tone that some modern Neo-Pagans feel uncomfortable working within them. For those interested in seeing a fictionalized portrayal of Christian occultists doing the work of the Light, I recommend the Adept series by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris and/or Kurtz’s two fictional Templar books, The Temple and the Stone and The Temple and the Crown. Any of these fictional works will give the reader a pretty good idea of how a Christian occultist works without violating anyone’s oath of secrecy.

While most “occult” groups are not aligned to any particular religion, all of the ones that I have encountered encourage and, in fact, require the student to develop a strong system of ethics before they are introduced to the more advanced grades of the work. Note please that I say a system of ethics, not a code of morality. Ethics are not imposed, they are discovered through deep and continuous exposure to meditation and linkage through ritual and other practices with what may be thought of as the Higher Self (that portion of the human soul complex that is most attuned to the Source of All Being). The end product is an individual who is able to think through and seek guidance for ethical dilemmas rather than try to superimpose a coded system of morals (usually derived from ancient tribal mores) on complex modern situations.

Those of you familiar with the occult may be wondering about the practitioners of what has been called the Left Hand Path. While this way certainly has the external trappings that the fundamentalists fear and seems to me to be more open to abuse, it is essentially the path of isolate intelligence. Rather than seeking Union with the Divine, the LHP practitioner seeks to develop their fullest potential as a human being, developing a powerful soul complex that will survive death as something more than human. In essence, these practitioners seek to become gods and, while they tend to be iconoclastic, responsible workers of the LHP are often motivated by principles such as honor by which they guide their lives. Becoming a god or, at least, something Other requires a great deal of discipline and is not the purvey of undisciplined people.

Now, are their occult practitioners who have gone off the rails and are engaged in practices that would curdle the blood of the fundamentalists? Of course there are. Every spiritual path has its “strays” – people who take the teachings and pervert them, seeking after power and advantage for themselves. The occult, with its colorful personalities has certainly had its share of these folks and the publicity seekers among them have done a lot to feed the fears of the fundamentalists but for every Beast in occult circles there are dozens, if not hundreds of hard working, disciplined individuals working, in their own way, to move forward the course of human spiritual evolution.