Tag Archives: skinwalker

Some Thoughts on Manwolf Reports in PA


If you happen to be a follower of Lon Strickler’s famed Phantoms and Monsters blog, you have no doubt noted that there has been a distinct uptick in sighting of upright bi-pedal canids in Pennsylvania in recent months.  I have a weakness for all things werewolf /  shapeshifter so it seems fitting that my first post back address this phenomenon.

First of all, I had a chance to listen to Mr. Strickler and his colleague, Butch Witkowski, discussing these cases on Beyond the Edge Radio the other day.  Mr. Witkowski noted that he had been in contact with First Nation elders of the Tsalagi (Cherokee) nation and that they had told him, without reservation, that he was tracking a skinwalker.  I believe that they might have mentioned to him that he was crazy for doing such a thing.

Perhaps it was simply my perception but Mr. Witkowski seemed a little dismissive of this warning in the interview.  I would encourage him not to be and I will explain more about that in a moment.  Suffice to say, that if a medicine person tells you something is dangerous, you can bet your ass that he or she is correct.  While I am not certain that these beings are skinwalkers as I know them (I am more familiar with the skinwalker of the desert Southwest), I am sure that this elder was trying to drive home to Mr. Witkowski the seriousness of his warning.  The being that we think of as a manwolf or dogman can be a dangerous creature to pursue.  I would strongly advise Mr. Witkowski to wear the protective amulet given to him by the People, and, should he come into contact with one of these beings, to keep a respectful distance.

Here’s why.

I had been considering the manwolf ‘uprising’ in Pennsylvania for several days and, as often happens when I have something percolating, I found an answer in meditation.  This morning (Friday 29 January), as I allowed myself to sink into the quiet, I became aware of spirits around me, specifically those of my ancestors.  For some reason, when the ancestors come to play, it is almost always my First Nations ancestors who appear.  I do not have a lot of Native blood but apparently there is enough for ‘them’ to pay attention to me.

As I said, I felt the ancestors come in and then one of the guardian spirits that I work with came and dragged me off to show me something.  In this case, I was given to understand that this related directly to the manwolf epidemic in PA.  I was shown an “Indian Mound” in vision and then a hole in the side of that mound with a shovel sticking in the dirt.  The message was plain: someone had opened one of these mounds and released the spirits that guard it.

I agree with one of Linda Godfrey’s theories; some of the manwolves are ancient guardians bound to these mounds and assigned to protect them.  These beings are fierce and, depending on the amount of energy they have accrued to themselves, I think it highly likely that they could manifest physically, even if only for short periods of time.  This being (or beings) is not pleased with what has been done and will not rest until it either sees the mound sealed in a sacred manner or it runs out of energy to manifest.  It may be appearing to people to scare them and feed on that energy.

My advice to the investigators of this case: tread softly, especially if you see a manwolf, and see if you can find the source of the creatures disturbance.  As with certain hauntings which are exacerbated by renovation in the home, this creature has had its ‘nest’ kicked over and is not at all happy about it.

Short Follow Up: Alert – Cryptid Roaming Denver Suburbs

I caught this report on Phantoms and Monsters this morning after my own blog posted. The being described in this post sounds very similar to the thing that I saw snatching people off of pathways in the vision reported in my blog this morning. I think that this percipient is quite lucky that he did not become one of the missing and I will be interested to see the witness’ sketch.

In my own psychic impressions, I thought this being might be some predator out of the Faery realm (as I have often mentioned, the Faery can be entities of great power and not all of them take kindly to humans) but, in some ways, the speed and ‘shiftiness’ of the being remind me of the many skinwalker reports from the desert Southwest. The short black fur over black skin reminded me of the manwolf reports specific to people seeing the beings in their homes (this would be the ‘Anubis’ sort of manwolf).

In any event, I would not assume that this being and entities like it are harmless. Remember that some astral entities have the ability to wrap themselves in etheric substance as they come through and are therefore able to cause real physical harm. If you see something like the being described in the Phantoms and Monsters post, do exactly as this witness did, do not run (may invoke the predatory response) but move carefully and quickly away from the entity and out of its sight. Only try to record the event if you can do so safely. A spectacular video is not worth your safety.

Skinwalkers: The Real Scoop

I was prompted to write this post after seeing a link to this article on Facebook. While this photo was almost immediately debunked as an image from a movie, the fact remains that there is a lot of fear around this particular “monster”. If you are not aware of the phenomenon, then you can always rely on Lon Strickler’s Phantoms and Monsters as a place to find witness reports.

The skinwalker is a subject that fills the traditional Dineh ( what the white folks call Navajo) with dread. I believe that this being may be found amongst the stories of other tribes in the region, such as the Ute, but the skinwalker is primarily a Navajo myth. To this day, people on the reservation, even those who are not very traditional, hesitate to speak or write about the skinwalker thus it is very difficult to gain information about these beings unless you are a tribal member. What we know about the skinwalker comes to us mostly from anthropologists who have lived with the Dineh long enough to gain their trust and get them to talk, a little, about the subject.

In the culture of the Dineh, the concept of hozho, balance and beauty, is paramount. All of their spiritual practices are aimed toward restoring the tribal member to health by bringing that person back into balance with the forces around him or her. If a person is ill or has suffered from a trauma (such as going to war), that person, if they are traditional, will seek out certain members of the tribe who can diagnose their imbalance and prescribe a “sing”. These events are carried out by highly trained medicine people and can go on for days. Sings vary and appeal to a wide array of beings in the Navajo cosmology but all have in common the purpose of bringing the person who has requested the sing back into balance so that they can live with greater harmony, peace and health.

Part of the reason that the skinwalker provokes so much dread amongst the Dineh is that this person has chosen to live outside the recognized order; the skinwalker has chosen to walk a path of imbalance and power and has resorted to diabolical means to acquire that power. Given the Dineh legends and accounts given to people like William Morgan in his 1936 work Human Wolves Among The Navajo, the skinwalker is a magic worker who, rather than using his or her (rarely – most walkers are men) talents for the good of the people, has chosen instead to develop the power of shape shifting. Indicators are that part of this misappropriation of power may be a method of survival; the Dineh are a sheep raising culture and one of the wrongs the skinwalker is known for is stealing and eating other people’s sheep.

While the thieving of sheep is quite the crime in Dineh culture, since it literally takes food out of another tribal member’s mouth, it is the method by which one becomes a skinwalker and the other supposed powers of this renegade magic worker that make the skinwalker such a source of fear. While we can not, for certain, sort tall tales and ghost stories from “fact” when it comes to the skinwalker, most anthropological sources agree that these shape shifters come into their power through an initiation process that involves the killing and eating of a relative (a crime of such horror to the Dineh that it is almost literally unspeakable). Once this horrible act is accomplished, the potential skinwalker is accepted into the fellowship of other ‘walkers and receives their powers.

According to the stories, most skinwalkers accomplish their shift by the donning of an animal skin. Reading the stories, one can never decide whether the Dineh actually believe in the physical transformation of the skinwalker into an animal or whether they simply see the person as possessed by the spirit of an animal. While the wolf is the most feared form the ‘walker can take (remember this is a sheep raising culture), other animal spirits can apparently possess the skinwalker including coyote, bear and even the eagle.

It is universally agreed that the outstanding characteristic of the skinwalker is its speed. There are witness reports of skinwalker type beings running alongside a car moving at full speed on the freeway. It is also pretty universally believed that to see a skinwalker is to court death or at least foul luck. A traditional Dineh, upon seeing such a creature, would go immediately to one of the diagnosticians I mentioned above and then have a sing to restore him or herself to balance and to reflect any negative energy back to its source.

I have spoken, in some discussion on werewolves, about the possibility of a magic worker actually assuming a “cloak” of etheric substance and appearing as an animal or part animal. While I have not encountered a skinwalker, I believe that this might be some of what is going on here. Certainly the medicine practices of Native people in that land have the power to do such things and there are stories of shapeshifting throughout the First Nations of the US and Canada.

I would note, too, that while the skinwalker is generally seen as a human magic worker, there are forces at work in the area that the Dineh call home that could and I think would latch onto the fear that the Dineh have of the skinwalker and use it for their own (feeding) purposes. I’ve spent time in the Superstition Mountains, somewhat south of the Dineh lands but certainly in the same geographic region and I can tell you that there are areas of those mountains that are inhabited by spirits that are not hospitable to people.

But that would be the subject of another of my real life adventure stories . . . see you next time.


In my perusal of all the things that go bump in the night, I ran across this Phantoms and Monsters blog the other day. Lon Strickler, the proprietor of the blog, does a great job of keeping people up to date on the latest events in the paranormal and I am always finding items of interest there. One of the advantages to reading P&M is that Mr. Strickler has been in business for some time and people seem to be constantly sending him stories of varying sorts. This post is a collection of terrifying narrations from people who have encountered something that they believed was a skinwalker.

I do not like the term “black” or “dark” magician since this has racist overtones and because moral choices are seldom as clear cut as black and white. Some cultures refer to these practitioners as sorcerers or witches but those terms have variant meanings and do not always refer to the magic user who does not have the evolution of the human race as a goal. I’ve already named magic users with a more positive slant as mages so I will call those who are of a less positive bent conjurors.

Conjurors appear in the folklore of every race that I have ever read about and none is more debased than the yee naaldlooshii, the Dine’ (Navajo) skinwalker. This “witch” is so feared amongst the Dine’ that those persons found to be skinwalkers are considered to have forfeited their humanity and may be killed on sight. There is a host of beliefs constellated around the skinwalker that make cultural anthropologists certain that this conjuror is simply a myth created by the Dine’ to explain some of the terrible hardships that these desert people face. The anthropologists can continue to believe this, ensconced in their ivory towers, but the average traditional Dine’ understands that the yee naaldlooshii is all too real.

In order to become a skinwalker, one must be initiated by breaking one of the Dine’ cultural taboos, most commonly the killing of a blood relative with strong hints of cannibalism. Once this initiation, accomplished with the assistance of those who are already skinwalkers, is undergone, the individual becomes capable of shifting to a variety of animal forms, of moving at terrific speed and of placing curses on those that have slighted the skinwalker in any way amongst a variety of other attributed abilities including the ability to imitate any voice or animal sound. The yee naaldlooshii is anathema in a tribal culture because he, or rarely she, looks only to themselves and has become a skinwalker for their own advantage.

If one reads the stories from the Phantoms and Monsters blog referenced above, one begins to get a strong feeling for the deep dread engendered amongst the Dine’ by these conjurors. Interestingly, although it is true that some skinwalkers were killed as a result of their depredations, one never saw full scale “witch hunts” on the reservation. Rather, the Dine’ person who believed that he or she had encountered the yee naaldlooshii would seek out the services of a healer who could prescribe the right ceremony to cleanse and counter any possible difficulty that might be derive from the encounter. In my view, this is a much more enlightened approach than that taken by the terror ridden Europeans of the Middle Ages.

From a magical perspective, I have no trouble at all believing the stories of the Dine’ about their native conjuror. One has only to look at the stories of the berserkir and ulfhednar in Norse culture to see similar themes with a European flavor. These warriors, like the skinwalker, were said to take on the traits and/or appearance of their “totem” animal (bear and wolf, respectively), to be able to move with the speed and strength of that animal and to be virtually invulnerable in battle as the result of the magical protection afforded by the animal skin that they wore. While the yee naaldlooshii is not specifically a warrior, I can draw some parallels from my research into the werewolf traditions of Europe.

Shape shifting is one of those magical traits that pops up in a huge number of cultural contexts. While the yee naaldlooshii is feared for the ability to curse, a commonality amongst practitioners of the self-centered magical arts, it is most feared because of the ability to change forms. While most mages do not take seriously the idea of a human literally changing to an animal (although I reserve the right to think it could happen given a great enough magical energy source), there are a couple of ways in which a human being might appear to take on the form of an animal and both involve etheric projection.

In the first method, the shape shifter sinks into a deep trance and actually extrudes a carefully crafted animal form. We find a classic example of this in the Norse Saga of Hrolf Krake “where Bödvar Bjarki, in the shape of a huge bear, fights desperately with the enemy, which has surrounded the hall of his king, whilst his human body lies drunkenly beside the embers within” (Sabine Baring Gould, The Book of Werewolves). Note please that the bear thus extruded did tremendous damage to the enemy forces until some idiot wakened Bjarki to come and fight. The bear promptly disappeared and the battle was subsequently lost so this was not a case of some ethereal appearance on the battle field but of a very solid and deadly manifestation wreaking havoc in the enemy lines.

The second way that a human might be considered to change shape works in a similar manner, only, rather than sinking into deep trance, the practitioner remains conscious, extrudes the animal form and actually settles it in a shell around him or her. One can easily see how some poor peasant, coming upon a person working this magic, might believe that he is seeing an actual transformation from human to animal. Interestingly, too, both of these types of shape shifting often seem to be dependent on a clear link between the human and “their” animal. Most often this link takes the form of the animal’s skin and again, with the proper skill, the form extruded as shell can be quite physically present.

Stories of shape shifters are not the sole province of the Dine’. Many indigenous people of North America have similar beliefs about their medicine people or those that oppose them. It is quite possible that the yee naaldlooshii and other shape shifting magical practitioners could be the cause of some of the “interesting” sightings that we see logged in the annals of high strangeness.