from ExploringTheosophy Website
|Part One of Two
|Part Two of Two
Visitors From The Twilight Zone
Strange encounters between humans and a wide variety of otherworldly entities have been reported throughout history. These entities include ’gods’, angels, ghosts, demons, fairies, gnomes, monsters, aliens, etc. Such encounters range from benign and uplifting to hostile and harmful. Some may involve visions or hallucinations but, as many of the cases presented below show, others appear to take place in our physical reality.
In the latter cases, the entities are physically visible and sometimes tangible but their weird behaviour suggests that they are paranormal entities, who manifest briefly before fading back into the ’twilight zone’.
2. Spirit materializations
’Spirit’ materializations have often been reported since the resurgence of spiritualism in the second half of the 19th century. A.R. Wallace, co-developer with Darwin of the theory of natural selection, described these manifestations as follows:
These are either luminous appearances, sparks, stars, globes of light, luminous clouds, etc.; or hands, faces, or entire human figures, generally covered with flowing drapery, except a portion of the face and hands. The human forms are often capable of moving solid objects, and are both visible and tangible to all present.
He believed that such phenomena embodied ’truths of the most vital importance to human progress’.1
In the presence of the celebrated medium Daniel Dunglas Home, materialized hands could be touched and were seen to lift and carry objects. A newspaper editor shook hands with a materialized hand that ended at the wrist, describing it as ’tolerably well and symmetrically made, though not perfect’, ’soft and slightly warm’.
A bell was brought to a journalist by a disembodied hand, but when he tried to hold the hand it melted away, leaving only the bell. At a session with the medium Kate Fox, a luminous hand came from the upper part of the room and, after hovering near the prominent scientist William Crookes for a few seconds, took a pencil from his hand, wrote on a sheet of paper, threw the pencil down, and then rose into the air, gradually fading into darkness.
At a séance with Charles Williams in 1873, a large hand materialized which psychic researcher Frederic Myers seized and held in his; he felt it diminish in size until it was no bigger than a baby’s, before it melted away altogether.2
H.P. Blavatsky argued that the ’spirit’-hand or phantom-hand was often an extrusion from the medium’s astral body, usually happening unconsciously, when the medium was in a trance.3
The most famous full-form materialization was a white-robed, white-veiled, barefoot figure calling herself Katie King. After the medium Florence Cook, dressed in black, had been securely tied up in a ’cabinet’ (a niche with a curtain in front of it) and had gone into a trance, Katie would emerge from the cabinet and walk about the séance room, conversing with those present.
She felt warm to the touch, and seemed just like a flesh-and-blood human. Immediately after an appearance, Florence would be found still tied up, with the knots of the ropes still sealed. In 1874 a scientist conducted a test in which wires were attached to Florence and a low electric current was passed through her body, so that even a movement of her hands would register on the galvanometer. But the current was not interrupted throughout the séance, in which Katie materialized and moved round the séance room.
William Crookes was another scientist who investigated this phenomenon and concluded that it was genuine. He took 44 pictures of Katie, and saw both Katie and Florence together on several occasions.
However, he was already convinced that Katie was not Florence in disguise, as Katie was six inches taller than Florence, her ears were unpierced, in contrast to Florence’s, and her fingers were longer and her face larger than Florence’s.4
Fig. 2.1. Left: Having entered into a trance, Florence Cook has slumped over the arm of a chair.
The towering ectoplasm shape behind her is just beginning to compress into
the materialized form of Katie King. Right: Katie King, fully materialized.5
In December 1873 a man tried to seize Katie during a séance, and a scuffle followed in which the man lost part of his beard. To escape his clutches, Katie partly dematerialized and slipped away to the cabinet. When the curtains were opened, Florence was found still tied up with the knots sealed and no white material of the kind Katie had been wearing could be found.
The only proven instance of cheating came in January 1880 when the materialization was seized and really was Florence. However, the person responsible for securing Florence admitted that he had arranged with others that he would not secure her properly. Florence’s supporters argued that this was a case of unconscious fraud.6 This certainly occurred with the Italian medium Eusapia Palladino; when in trance she was known to cheat whenever she could, clumsily ’levitating’ tables with her feet, but her remarkable phenomena continued to occur even under rigorous test conditions, amazing dozens of eminent European scientists over a 20-year period.
Impressive materializations were also produced by Horatio and William Eddy, two mediums living in the township of Chittenden, Vermont. Form after form would emerge from the cabinet, each ’quite different in sex, gait, costume, complexion, length and arrangement of hair, height and breadth of body, and apparent age’. After an hour or so the session was brought to a close and the medium reappeared ’with haggard eyes and apparently much exhausted’. These manifestations were investigated in 1874 by H.S. Olcott, who helped to found the Theosophical Society the following year.
He had served as a field officer for the Union in the Civil War, and because of his reputation for integrity was given the rank of Colonel and assigned the task of uprooting fraud and corruption in the army and navy. Olcott witnessed some 300 or 400 ’spirit’ forms during his stay with the Eddy mediums and could find no evidence of fraud. He said that, when touched, the apparitions were as substantial as any human being in the flesh, but that their temperature was invariably lower than his own, and their skin was covered with a clammy sweat.7
Dr George Beard of New York was convinced that the manifestations were simply the result of one of the Eddy brothers dressing up. Posing as a ’simple-minded spiritualist’, he went to Chittenden secretly determined to expose them. However, during Horatio Eddy’s séance, while the sitters were holding the medium’s hands, a rogue guitar struck Beard repeatedly on the head, causing him so much pain that he jumped up and knocked down the curtains.
After the sitting had resumed, all sorts of musical instruments were thrown over the curtain at him; a bell thrown with some force hit him in the face, after which he decided to return to New York. Beard had brought with him a powerful battery, whose current no mortal would have been able to withstand. Olcott connected the materialized form of a Hindu girl, Honto, to it, but it seemed only to amuse her. Beard, however, proceeded to denounce all materializing séances as ’stupendous frauds’, and declared that Olcott’s testimony couldn’t be trusted as he had been immersed in the ’humbug’ for too long and also wore glasses! 8
Francis Monck had been the first medium not only to produce materialized forms but also to remain in full view while doing so. Spirit forms would grow out of his side: at first faces, then a fully-formed figure, nebulous at first but growing more solid as it issued from the medium until eventually it left him and appeared as a separate person, a couple of feet away but bound to him by a slender attachment of gossamer.
Monck was tested several times with good results but, as with certain other mediums whose powers were not fully under their control, he resorted to deliberate deception on at least one occasion; conjurors’ devices were found in his possession and skeptics dismissed all his earlier materializations as fraudulent.9
During the early decades of the 20th century, Marthe Béraud (’Eva C.’) produced materializations in full view of investigators, after she had been put into a hypnotic trance. A soft, somewhat elastic substance named ectoplasm emanated from various parts of her body — especially her mouth, ears, vagina, and nipples. The ectoplasm would quickly organize itself into the shape of a hand or head, on which a face might appear, sometimes in miniature. It would then solidify into a sort of paste, dry to the touch, before retracting into the medium’s body or simply disappearing. Sometimes the materializations looked like flat images, but in other cases they were perfect.
Charles Richet, a French physiologist (later Nobel Prize winner) and psychic investigator, described seeing a full form rise from the floor:
At first it was only a white, opaque spot like a handkerchief lying on the ground before the curtain, then this handkerchief quickly assumed the form of a human head level with the floor and a few moments later it rose up in a straight line and became a small man enveloped in a kind of white burnous [long circular cloak with hood], who took two or three halting steps in front of the curtain and then sank to the floor and disappeared as if through a trap-door. But there was no trap-door.
Since skeptics suggested Marthe might be swallowing muslin and regurgitating it, her hair, armpits, nose, mouth, and knees were examined before a séance, and sometimes her vagina and rectum too. She was also given an emetic.
Even after syrup of bilberries was administered, the forms extruded from her mouth were absolutely white.
Over a period of 20 years she was never detected in any attempt at trickery.10
Fig. 2.2. Left: Eva C. producing ectoplasm, 13 March 1911.
Her left hand is being held by Dr Charles Richet and her right by Prof. Schrenck-Notzing.
The latter’s book Phenomena of Materialisation contains some 225 photographs
of ectoplasmic materializations — all performed under strict test conditions.
Right: An ectoplasmic face exuding from the neck of Eva C., 30 December 1911.11
By the mid-1920s, Eva’s powers were deserting her.
But by this time a Brazilian medium, Carlos Mirabelli, was demonstrating even more spectacular materializations.
Mirabelli’s full-form materializations were of deceased individuals known to the witnesses: something which had often been reported from spiritualist séances, but ordinarily in dark or very poorly lit rooms, whereas Mirabelli’s appeared in full light, and in test conditions, before numerous investigators appointed to examine the claims.
In the course of more than a hundred sessions, more than half of which were productive, Mirabelli performed in a locked and sealed room, tied up in a chair; and he materialized, among others, the child of one of the investigators, dressed in her burial clothes, and a bishop who had been drowned in a shipwreck.
They did not merely appear and fade away again; they were able to converse with the investigators, and to touch and be touched; a doctor present was able to feel the girl’s pulse.
These materializations were attested by scores of academics, prominent politicians, doctors and others, none of whom could offer any explanation other than that they were genuine; nor has any skeptic since been able to discover any evidence from the many witnesses still living to suggest that Mirabelli was involved in what would have been the most spectacular conjuring trick ever devised.12
Fig. 2.3. The look of alarm on the part of Dr Carlos de Castro (right)
is accounted for by the fact that a deceased poet (centre)
has just materialized between him and the entranced Mirabelli (left),
in the course of a test séance at the Cesare Lombroso Academy of Psychic Studies.13
Materializations are still occasionally reported in spiritualist journals but they are no longer the object of serious investigation as most parapsychologists find the subject too hot to handle!
W.Q. Judge, a founder-member of the Theosophical Society, mentions three possible explanations of ’spirit’ materializations:
1) The medium’s astral body is exuded, and gradually collects particles extracted from the air and the bodies of those present at the séance until it becomes visible. It may resemble the medium or assume the appearance of a dead person whose image is present in the astral light.
2) The actual astral shell of a deceased person, devoid of spirit, intellect, and conscience, becomes visible and even tangible when the condition of air and ether is such as to alter the vibration of its molecules to the necessary degree.
3) An unseen mass of chemical, electrical, and magnetic matter is collected from the atmosphere, the medium, or other people present, and a picture of any desired person, living or dead, is reflected on it out of the astral light.
Dimness of light is generally preferred for such manifestations because a bright light disturbs the astral substance and makes the projection more difficult.14
In materializations and other séance-room phenomena, the medium and other sitters are often ’vampirized’ to some extent by the astral entities involved, as the necessary elements are drawn from their bodies, depleting their vitality.
Blavatsky calls mediumship ’one of the most dangerous of abnormal nervous diseases’, and contrasts it with adeptship, which signifies full voluntary control over psychic powers and forces.15
Michael Gomes, The Dawning of the Theosophical Movement, Wheaton, IL: Quest, 1987, p. 25.
Brian Inglis, Natural and Supernatural: A history of the paranormal, Bridport, Dorset: Prism, 1992 (1977), pp. 226, 264, 318.
H.P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press (TUP), 1972 (1877), 2:594-6.
Natural and Supernatural, pp. 267-9, 273-5; William Crookes, Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism, Pomeroy, WA: Health Research, n.d. (1874), pp. 102-12.
International Survivalist Society, http://www.survivalafterdeath.org/photographs.htm .
The Dawning of the Theosophical Movement, pp. 27-32.
Ibid., pp. 38-9, 42-3.
Natural and Supernatural, pp. 297-8.
Ibid., pp. 433-5; Brian Inglis, Science and Parascience: A history of the paranormal, 1914-1939, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1984, pp. 27-34, 95-105, 240-2.
International Survivalist Society, http://www.survivalafterdeath.org/photographs.htm.
Brian Inglis, The Paranormal: An encyclopedia of psychic phenomena, London: Paladin, 1985, pp. 157-8. See also: Science and Parascience, pp. 221-7; www.noahsarksoc.fsnet.co.uk/mediums/c_mirabelli_physical_medium.htm .
Science and Parascience, p. 225.
W.Q. Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy, TUP, 1973 (1893), pp. 48-9, 168-9; W.Q. Judge, Echoes of the Orient, San Diego, CA: Point Loma Publications, 1975-87, 1:183-6, 384-8; G. de Purucker (editor-in-chief), ’Materializations’, Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary, http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etgloss/etg-hp.htm .
H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House (TPH), 1950-91, 12:372.
3. Angels and apparitions
Most apparitions on record are of the living rather than the dead. Only a minority are visual; most involve sensing a presence, hearing thumps, moaning, and other strange noises, or smelling unexplained odours.
Apparitions are usually seen only once, but some are repeatedly seen haunting the same location. R.E. Guiley writes:
Some apparitions seem real and corporeal, with definable form and features, and, if human, with clothing. Other apparitions are fuzzy, luminous, transparent, wispy and ill-defined; some are little more than streaks, blobs or patches of light.
Apparitions appear and disappear suddenly and sometimes just fade away. They both move through walls and objects and walk around them. They can cast shadows and be reflected in mirrors. … Some are accompanied by sounds, smells, sensations of cold and movement of real objects in the percipient’s environment. In some cases, percipients attempt to touch apparitions; most find their hands go through them, but in a few cases, contact has been made with a substance that feels like a flimsy garment.1
Some apparitions communicate verbally and seem to possess a certain degree of intelligence, while others do not respond to attempts at communication and display only a limited range of gestures and movements.
For instance, they may call the percipient’s attention to a fatal wound on the ghostly body. There are also reports of animal ghosts, and there have even been ghosts of inanimate objects such as spectral ships seen glowing at sea (e.g. ’The Flying Dutchman’). In addition, phantom armies have been seen fighting in the sky. For instance, on Christmas Eve 1642, two months after the battle of Edge Hill during England’s Civil War, a kind of replay of the battle was seen in the skies above the battlefield, complete with sound effects. The reenactment was repeated on several subsequent occasions, though it varied each time.
The king had a royal commission look into the case, and the investigators saw the spectacle for themselves. Ghostly replays of battlefield scenes tend to fade over time, though many continue for centuries.2
Over 80% of apparitions seem to manifest themselves for a purpose. The persons whose apparition is seen may communicate their own crisis (e.g. that they are dying or have just died), usually to their loved ones or others with whom they have close emotional ties. Crisis apparitions appear to people both in dreams and when they are awake. Most apparitions of the dead appear to comfort the grieving or communicate information about the estate or unfinished business of the deceased.
For instance, after his death, Dante appeared to his son and guided him to where he had hidden the last cantos of his Divine Comedy. Apparitions of the dead may also appear years later to loved ones in times of crisis. Sometimes angelic beings, religious figures, luminosities, and dead loved ones are reported by the dying shortly before death. Haunting apparitions usually have emotional ties to the site concerned, possibly resulting from violent or sudden death.
Many unexplained luminosities at haunted sites have been captured on film.3 Sometimes cameras fail to register what witnesses see, suggesting that the ghost was not seen with normal vision. This is also implied by the fact that sometimes one person sees a ghost while another person present does not.
There are also occasions when cameras record a ghost even though the photographer was not aware of anything when the picture was taken.
Fig. 3.1. This famous photo was taken by two Canadian tourists on 19 June 1966 at Queen’s House on the Thames.
Although nothing had been noticed at the time,
two cowled ghostly figures can be seen on the developed photo
(the two hands visible on the stair rail are both left hands).
Very strong, sharply fluctuating magnetic fields have been detected in places where people see ghosts.
They tend to move from place to place and vary from the size of a basketball to that of a baseball. The electrical component of these fields is usually a DC field, like those emitted by living organisms, rather than the AC field typical of an electrical circuit. Sudden temperature drops (’cold spots’) have also been measured, along with elevated levels of radioactivity.4
Skeptics have suggested that people who see ghosts may be suffering hallucinations induced by freakish electromagnetic phenomena. But even if certain ghostly experiences are hallucinatory, it is implausible that an ordinary random electromagnetic field would induce similar hallucinations in different people on different occasions, as would have to happen in places apparently haunted by the same ghost.
W.Q. Judge divides apparitions into two general classes:
1) the astral shells of the dead or astral images, either actually visible to the eye or the result of vibration within thrown out to the eye and thus making the person think he sees a physical form;
2) the astral-mental form (mayavi-rupa, or thought-body) of living persons, often projected unintentionally and therefore only partially conscious.5
When conditions are right, any astral images or thought-forms from the collective imagination can manifest visibly and even tangibly through the agency of elemental and other ethereal entities.
Apparitions of people who are about to die or have just died are fairly common. For instance, in a letter to the famous 19th-century French astronomer and psychical researcher Camille Flammarion, the Princess de Montarcy recalled that her grandmother had always said that if they were not together when she was dying, she would let her know she was dead.
One evening at 9 o’clock the princess’s dog jumped up on her bed, ’howling as if he were being killed’. At the foot of her bed the princess saw the apparition of her grandmother, who threw her a kiss and disappeared. The following morning, a telegram informed her that her grandmother had died between 8 and 9 the previous evening.6
In another case from the 19th century, the figure of a young soldier, in hospital dress, appeared before the captain of his company, and requested that his pay be forwarded to his mother, whose address he then gave. The captain made a note of the request, whereupon the man vanished. After making inquiries, the captain found that the soldier had died the previous day.
H.P. Blavatsky says that the intense thought and anxiety felt by the soldier in his dying moments could easily create an astral form to achieve a certain object. The astral soul is the exact ethereal likeness of the body, though not of its temporary garments. However, the soldier would have imagined talking to his captain dressed, rather than naked, and his desire faithfully reproduced the scene planned beforehand.7
In August 1864, May Clerke was reading on a verandah in Barbados while a native nurse was pushing her little girl in a pram. When Clerke got up to go into the house, the nurse asked who the gentleman was who had just been talking to her. Clerke replied that no one had been with her. The nurse was adamant and said that the gentleman was very tall and very pale. Clerke became annoyed when the nurse said she had been rude to ignore the man, who seemed very anxious to get her attention. A few days later Clerke learned that her brother had died in Tobago at the time of the apparition.8
In general, theosophy rejects the idea that the actual spirits of the dead can appear after death. This is because the higher human soul, or reincarnating soul, usually separates from the lower human soul, or astral soul, soon after death. It then sinks into a peaceful dreamlike state of consciousness in the higher astral realms, leaving behind a decaying astral corpse or shell (kama-rupa, or ’desire-body’), largely devoid of reason — and this is what mediums usually mistake for the ’spirits’ of the dead. However, the spirit-soul may genuinely be present directly preceding or following physical death, especially if death came suddenly.
Encounters with ’angels’ (from the Greek angelos, ’messenger’) continue to the present day. G. de Purucker says that appearances of angels are often connected with the witness’s own inner self and are an externalization of his or her thoughts.
Some involve the appearance of highly evolved humans such as mahatmas or their chelas, who can travel at will in their subtle body and make themselves seen whenever it is appropriate to do so. In rare cases nirmanakayas may appear — i.e. spiritually evolved humans belonging to the brotherhood of adepts, who choose to live in the earth’s auric atmosphere, without a physical body.
In extremely rare cases certain advanced, ethereal beings from higher planes who are closely linked with the human race may appear visibly to people in an unusual state of consciousness, and the visioner’s imagination may endow them with wings or dress them in unusual garments.9
Angels are usually sensed, or heard by clairaudience, but occasionally they manifest as apparitions in brilliant white robes or as balls of brilliant white light.
They often appear as real persons in a ’mysterious stranger’ encounter.
These encounters occur when a person is in a dilemma and needs quick action. A mysterious person suddenly appears out of nowhere and provides a solution. Mysterious strangers can be male or female of any race.
Most often, they are male – usually a fresh-looking, clean-cut youth. They are invariably well-dressed, polite and knowledgeable about the crisis at hand.
They often are calm but can be forceful, and know just what to do. They speak, though sparingly. They are convincingly real as flesh-and-blood humans; however, once the problem has been solved, the mysterious strangers vanish abruptly.
It is their abrupt and strange disappearance that makes people question whether they have been aided by mortals or angels.10
The 16th-century Italian sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, for instance, was about to hang himself in prison when a luminous angelic youth appeared and hurled him to the ground.11 In the 1950s a German woman climbing alone in the Bavarian Alps found herself in danger; it was growing dark and she realized she had strayed from the path.
Suddenly she saw a big ball of light, which condensed into the shape of a tall, rather Chinese-looking gentleman. At the time the apparition did not astonish her but seemed quite natural. The gentleman bowed to her, spoke a few reassuring words, and led her back to the tourist path. Then he turned into a ball of light that vanished. He acted like a guardian angel — perhaps a manifestation of her own higher self.12
The phenomenon of a figure materializing from a small luminous source or ball of light is quite common.
Fig. 3.2. Ball of light and oriental gentleman encountered in the Bavarian Alps.13
The following ’crisis apparition’ raises intriguing questions about the physical reality and identity of some ghostly figures.
In the summer of 1895, veteran sailor Captain Joshua Slocum was completing the first leg of the voyage which earned him his place in history as the first person to sail alone round the world. Between the Azores and Gibraltar his rugged but tiny sloop Spray ran into squalls. At the same time, Slocum was suffering from severe stomach cramps which so demoralized him that he went below, not taking in his sails as he knew he should, and threw himself on the cabin floor in agony. He lost track of how long he lay there, for he became delirious.
When Slocum came to, he realized this his sloop was plunging into a heavy sea. Looking out of the companionway, to his amazement he saw a tall man at the helm. His rigid hand, grasping the spokes of the wheel, held them as in a vise. He was dressed like a foreign sailor, with a large red cap over his left ear, and sporting shaggy black whiskers. Slocum wondered if this alarming personage, the very image of a pirate, had boarded his boat and planned to cut his throat.
The sailor seemed to read his thoughts, for he doffed his cap to Slocum, saying, with the ghost of a smile,
’Señor, I have come to do you no harm. I am one of Columbus’s crew, the pilot of the Pinta, come to aid you. Lie quiet, señor captain, and I will guide your ship tonight. You have a calentura [fever] but you will be all right tomorrow … You did wrong to mix cheese with plums.’
Next day Slocum found that the Spray was still heading as he had left her, and felt that ’Columbus himself could not have held her more exactly on her course.’
That night he received a second visit from the Spanish sailor, but this time it was in a dream. He explained that he would like to sail with Slocum on his voyage, for the love of adventure alone. Then, doffing his cap, he disappeared as mysteriously as he had arrived.
Slocum woke with the feeling that he had been in the presence of a friend and a seaman of vast experience. And though he recognized his second sighting as a dream, he also realized that the first had been something altogether different.
Besides, what dream could hold a vessel on course through a violent sea?14
Fig. 3.3. Ghost encountered at sea, July 1895.15
Numerous visions or apparitions of the Virgin Mary have been reported over the centuries.
At Guadalupe, Mexico, in 1531, ’Mary’ appeared five times to Juan Diego, a middle-aged Aztec convert to Catholicism. On one occasion the apparition told Juan to pick flowers. Although it was a cold time of year, he found a garden of roses at a site where no flowers had grown before. The flowers were a species not grown in Mexico at that time.
He was told to wrap the flowers in his cape and take them to the bishop. It was then found that a beautiful image of the Immaculate Conception had been imprinted on the cape, in a style not in the Maya-Toltec-Aztec tradition. The cape was made from a coarse fabric of cactus fiber and had a maximum lifespan of about 30 years, but both the cape and the ’painting’ have lasted to the present day, and are on display in the church shrine built at Mary’s request.16
The appearance of Mary seems to vary in accordance with witnesses’ cultural and ethnic backgrounds. For example, the image of the Virgin on the Guadalupe cape clearly resembles an Amerindian, not a Jewish girl.
Michael Grosso suggests that Marian visions may be ’expressions of the Goddess image, an archetypal pattern of great antiquity and psychological power’ and that ’the cult of Mary gives a familiar psychic vehicle for the collective imagination to work through’.17
It is noteworthy that the hill where Jan Diego saw Mary was formerly consecrated to the Aztec goddess Teotenantzin, ’Mother of God’.
At Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 Mary appeared repeatedly to three children (aged 7, 9 and 10), again at a place of ancient goddess worship — this time of Isis.18
The two girls saw a young lady and heard her speak; the boy saw her but did not hear her speak. The children said the lady was dressed in white and stood above a small tree.
Before their meetings with Mary, the children also had encounters with an ’angel’. At the time of the first encounter they were tending their sheep at a rocky knoll not far from their home. They heard a rumble, like a powerful wind (as often reported in UFO encounters), and saw a dazzling globe of light gliding slowly towards them from across the valley.
As it approached, it gradually turned into a brilliantly shining young man, who seemed about 14 years old and identified himself as the Angel of Peace. After asking them to recite a prayer, he faded away.
The meetings with Mary occurred on the 13th of the month for six successive months, as Mary had promised at the first encounter. The children suffered paralysis during the meetings, as happens in some UFO encounters.
Revelations were made to the three children in the presence of a large crowd of onlookers, which increased greatly from month to month.
The actual visions of Mary were seen only by the three children, but during the revelations related phenomena occurred that were witnessed by a large number of people. These phenomena included the appearance of a glowing globe-shaped object and the occurrence of a shower of rose petals that vanished on touching the ground. (Showers of flower petals are often mentioned in Vedic accounts of celestial visitations.)
One of the children asked Mary to perform a miracle for the public at large, and Mary promised to do so on 13 October. On this date, some 70,000 people congregated in anticipation of the miracle. The day was overcast and rainy, and the crowd huddled under umbrellas amidst a sea of mud. Suddenly the clouds parted and an astonishing solar display began to unfold. The sun’s disc spun round in a mad whirl, taking on all the colors of the rainbow.
It then appeared to plunge to the earth, giving off heat, and moving in a zigzag fashion (as UFOs are often reported to do).
Some people in the crowd feared it was a signal of the end of the world, and panicked. Fear then gave way to awe as the sun returned to normal in the sky. The ’miracle of the sun’ was witnessed by a large number of people from an area measuring about 20 by 30 miles, and lasted an estimated 10 minutes. Many onlookers afterwards found that their wet clothing was now completely dry.
Photographers at the event documented the unusually fast change from wet to dry weather, but not the phenomenon of the rotating sun.
This sort of collective illusion is reminiscent of the way Indian fakirs can cause tigers and elephants to appear before a multitude of spectators. That what the spectators see does not take place in our physical reality is proved by photography. This is illustrated by a performance of the famous Indian rope trick that was captured on film.
Two psychologists together with several hundred other people,
saw a fakir throw a coil of rope into the air, watched a small boy climb the rope and disappear. They describe how dismembered parts of the boy came tumbling horribly down to the ground, how the fakir gathered these up in a basket, climbed the rope himself and came back down smiling, with the intact child.
Others in the crowd are said to have agreed with most of the details of what happened, but a film record which begins with the rope being thrown into the air, shows nothing but the fakir and his assistant standing motionless beside it throughout the rest of the performance. The rope did not stay in the air and the boy never climbed it. The crowd, it seems, was party to a collective delusion.19
The fakir was apparently able to project his own mental images into the mental spheres of the audience.
During the Fatima apparitions, Mary revealed that her purpose was to impress upon people the need for prayer, repentance, and mortification. As a result, many souls would be saved, Russia would be converted, and another world war averted! While clearly serving to strengthen the Catholic faith, Marian manifestations do at least challenge church patriarchy.
The manifestations could be generated by a coalescence of archetypal goddess imagery with the powerful thought-forms associated with the Virgin Mary cult. However, the events do not seem to be purely spontaneous; the fact that ’Mary’ predicted her successive appearances at Fatima in advance and thousands of people saw the solar display at the prearranged time points to the involvement of a directing agency.
Given the backward nature of key Catholic teachings, from original sin to forgiveness of sins through belief in Christ, this is most likely an inferior entity, though a powerful one.
Rosemary Ellen Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, New York: Checkmark Books, 2nd ed., 2000, p. 17.
Ibid., pp. 38-9, 118-9.
Hilary Evans and Patrick Huyghe, The Field Guide to Ghosts and Other Apparitions, New York: Quill, 2000, pp. 11-2, 52, 80, 82.
Ibid., pp. 12-4, 68, 74.
Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy, pp. 162-3.
Inglis, The Paranormal, p. 191.
H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, 3:282-4, 4:243-50.
The Field Guide to Ghosts and Other Apparitions, p. 144.
G. de Purucker, The Esoteric Tradition, TUP, 2nd ed., 1973, pp. 1039-41.
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, p. 11.
Michael Grosso, Frontiers of the Soul: Exploring psychic evolution, Wheaton, IL: Quest, 1992, p. 222.
The Field Guide to Ghosts and Other Apparitions, pp. 96-7.
Ibid., p. 97 (illustration by Harry Trumbore).
Ibid., p. 90.
Ibid., p. 91 (illustration by Harry Trumbore).
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, p. 240.
Frontiers of the Soul, pp. 198-9.
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, p. 241; Jacques Vallee, Dimensions: A casebook of alien contact, New York: Ballantine Books, 1989, pp. 173-82; Richard L. Thompson, Alien Identities: Ancient insights into modern UFO phenomena, Alachua, FL: Govardhan Hill Publishing, 2nd ed., 1995, pp. 293-301.
Lyall Watson, Supernature II: A new natural history of the supernatural, London: Sceptre, 1987, pp. 158-9.
4. Phantom attackers
In the summer of 1692, at Cape Ann, Massachusetts, Ebenezer Babson was returning home late one night when he saw two men step out of his house and dash into a cornfield. His wife and children insisted that no intruders had been in the house. Babson grabbed his gun, went outside, and spotted the two men again.
As they escaped to a nearby swamp, one was overheard saying to the other, ’The man of the house is now come; else we might have taken the house.’ Babson subsequently had further encounters with the mysterious strangers, whom he suspected of being French-Canadian scouts in league with hostile Indians.
On 14 July the entire garrison saw half a dozen of the strangers.
A pursuit party, with Babson in the lead, got within gunshot range. Babson fired on them, and three fell to the ground, only to rise to their feet with no apparent signs of injury. As they fled, one turned to fire on Babson; the bullet narrowly missed him and lodged in a tree, from which its intended victim subsequently retrieved it.
A few minutes later the garrison group trapped one of the strangers. Babson shot him, and the man dropped. But when Babson and his companions rushed to the spot, no one was there. Several days later two scouts from the garrison observed 11 of the strange men as they performed what looked like peculiar incantations. Richard Dolliver fired on them, causing them to scatter.
Soon the entire Cape was in uproar, and 60 armed men came from Ipswich to reinforce the garrison. As sightings continued, the strangers were accused of beating on barns, throwing stones, and other acts. Babson experienced one of the last sightings. Seeing three of the strangers, he dived behind a bush and waited in ambush — only to have his gun misfire. The strangers gave him a disdainful glance and walked on.1
Soon afterwards the mysterious strangers were seen no more. By now people had begun to suspect that they might be ’demons’.
There is no shortage of reports of people being attacked by otherworldly entities — some of which remained invisible throughout the assault. For instance, on 20 May 1950 a woman was walking along a path near the Loire River in central France when suddenly she found herself in a brilliant, blinding light and felt paralyzed. She then saw two huge black hands appear in front of her, with quivering fingers. Her head was violently squeezed by the cold hands and pulled back against a very hard chest, which felt like iron.
She heard her aggressor laugh, and was hurt by a blow to her back, as if from a metallic object. She was pulled backwards through the bushes to a small pasture, where the entity let go of her.
After a while, the woman felt strong enough to get to her feet. Then she saw and heard the brambles scratching the empty space, and the grass being pressed as if under the feet of some invisible being. She took to the path again.
Her legs were lacerated by the brambles and bleeding, she felt a strange sensation of nervous exhaustion, as if she had been electrified, she had a sickening, metallic, bitter taste in her mouth, and her muscles did not obey her. She felt something like a bar over her shoulders, and a painful heat in her back. The attack had lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, and she felt as if she had entered ’an unreal world’.
Suddenly she head a great noise and saw the trees bending as if under a sudden storm, and was nearly thrown down. There was a strong, blinding white light.
She had the feeling something flew through the air very fast, but saw nothing. She finally reached a lock-keeper’s house, whose residents said they had seen a light from their house. They tended to the scratches on the woman, and could see large red bars on her face where the attackers’ fingers had been. An official investigation by the local police substantiated the physical traces on the ground.
The woman had witnessed an unusual phenomenon the evening before the attack. She observed a ’kind of shooting star’, which stopped abruptly, then appeared to go up and stay among the stars for a while. Next it grew bigger and began a kind of swinging motion, its light going on and off. Suddenly it left on a curved trajectory, and reached the horizon at very high speed.2
In August 1975 about 20 people in and around Gilroy, California, saw unexplained red and white lights in the sky on successive nights. On 10 August, a lighted object followed and badly frightened 12-year-old Imelda Victor and another woman as they were driving to the girl’s house; the girl’s mother also saw the object, which had ’four large landing gear-like arms coming out of it’.
On 15 September Mrs Victor, who was a doctor, woke up to find two beings in silvery suits standing near her. She felt very calm. They asked her telepathically to go with them, and she found herself floating up into a hovering UFO. Inside she had a sensation of intense beauty, but was then blinded by a white light and woke up in bed.
On 15 May 1978 Mrs Victor was at the house of one of her elderly patients when she was suddenly thrown violently to the floor and severely beaten by an invisible entity for several minutes.
The elderly patient saw her turning and spinning on the floor, hitting obstacles in her path. She suffered multiple bruises, a sliver of wood punctured a vein, and she broke a leg. She had to spend six days in hospital.3
As Jacques Vallee points out,
’The literature of religious miracles and the lives of mystics abounds with well-documented accounts of physical manifestations, including beatings, that are usually classified as possession phenomena or manifestations of so-called evil powers, although they generally do not cause permanent harm to the person.’4
For instance, Marie-Thérèse Noblet, a French nun and missionary who lived in the early 20th century, developed classic stigmata when in a state of religious ecstasy and was also beaten by invisible agents and suffered bruises, some of the incidents being witnessed by her church superiors.
Padre Pio da Pietrelcina (1887-1968), who was canonized in 2002, led a life full of paranormal happenings, including stigmata, magical cures, bilocation, and encounters with madonnas, guardian angels, and shape-shifting diabolic apparitions.
The latter appeared to him as huge black cats, as naked women dancing lasciviously, as an invisible entity that spat in his face and tortured him with deafening noises, and as an executioner who whipped him. After a night spent wrestling with demons, the monks found the padre unconscious on the floor beside his bed, covered with welts and bruises. After another attack, he was found on the floor bleeding from the head and was unable to appear in public for five days.
On a subsequent occasion, the bones in his arms and legs were broken.5
Fig. 4.1. Padre Pio, magnet for the occult.
Michael Grosso relates that a woman with a photographic memory once described to him how she watched a bar of blue flames form a circle around her bed while she was being sexually assaulted by a diabolic personage.
Grosso says that demonic phenomena are clearly real in some sense, but that he is not sure ’whether they are variations of poltergeist phenomena, emanations of the dark side of ourselves (the Shadow in Jungian terms), or possibly derived from external sources’.6
After making some close UFO sightings in 1954, a New Zealand man and a research assistant named Barbara received anonymous threatening phone calls ordering them to stop their UFO studies. One night Barbara returned home to find a foul odour in her apartment. She was then brutally attacked by a creature she could not see, whose skin had the texture of sandpaper. It raped her and left her body covered with small scratches.
Bizarre bedroom phantoms have been reported all over the world. Witnesses often feel paralyzed, and the encounters are sometimes accompanied by the odour of hydrogen sulphide and sudden chills or blasts of heat. Several sane, sober UFO witnesses have received visits from these bedroom apparitions immediately after (or sometimes immediately before) their UFO experience.7 Some may involve materialized astral entities, while other attacks might take place on the astral level but leave physical marks.
In the Middle Ages there were numerous reports of demonic possession and sexual exploits with male and female demons (incubi and succubi). Sexual interaction with such entities often takes the form of an assault, but is sometimes deliberately sought; for instance, during the heyday of spiritualism some mediums boasted of having ’spirit’ husbands and wives.
According to H.P. Blavatsky and her teachers, succubi and incubi are often the astral corpses or shells of discarnate humans.8 In particular, the astral souls of humans of a particularly lustful and malicious nature (known as ’elementaries’) may be conscious after death, especially if their lives have been cut short. Largely devoid of intelligence, they follow their animal instincts and try to cling to material life by vampirizing the living.
Such ’demons’ can become tangible and visible by attracting matter from the surrounding atmosphere, from the body of the victim if the latter is a medium, or from any other person in whom there is little cohesion of the lower elements, possibly as a result of some disease. Ethereal attackers can also be generated by the victim’s own intense imagination, or they may be sorcerers or black magicians who have the power of projecting their astral forms.9
In the early 1960s, a woman living on a farm near Gallipolis, Ohio, with two children complained of ’tall men in white coveralls’ butchering her cattle; they removed the brains and other organs but there was never any blood. She had seen the men running away and jumping over high fences, and had also sighted luminous spheres at treetop level around her home.
Strange lights, looking like lanterns being waved back and forth, had been seen in the area for decades. In addition, her telephone began to behave strangely, she saw strange figures in the house, and heard heavy footsteps and other weird sounds.10
The following dramatic incident took place on 12 October 1963. Just before dawn, Eugenio Douglas was driving his truck between Monte Maiz and Isla Verde in Argentina. Suddenly he saw a blinding light on the road ahead. He stopped at the side of the road and got out, but the light had disappeared. Through the rain he could now see a circular metallic craft, about 35 feet high.
An opening became visible, making a second area of light, less intense, and three figures appeared. They looked like men, but were wearing strange headdresses with things like antennae attached, and were over 12 feet tall. As soon as the figures saw him, a ray of red light flashed to the spot where he stood and burned him. Grabbing a revolver, he fired at the entities and ran off towards Monte Maiz.
The burning red light followed him as far as the village, where it interfered with the street lights, turning them violet and green. He could smell a pungent gas. He ran to the nearest house and shouted for help. The owner had died the previous night, but his family, gathered around the body, reported that at the same time as they heard Douglas’s call, the candles in the room and the electric lights in the house turned green, and the same strange smell was noticed. When they opened the door they saw that the street lights had changed colour.
Douglas was taken to the police station, where the burns on his face and hands were clearly seen. A doctor stated that the burns could have been caused by ultraviolet radiation. The police had received a number of calls about the lights’ colour change. When villagers went to the site where the truck was still parked, they found large footprints nearly 12 inches long.11
One variety of phantom attack involves the throwing or dropping of stones by some invisible assailant. For instance, for a period of three weeks in March 1922, rocks sporadically fell on the roof of a grain warehouse in Chico, California. Despite massive police and volunteer searches no one was ever seen tossing the stones.
Such phenomena go back a long way:
As early as A.D. 530, for example, the physician to King Theodoric of the Ostrogoths was said to have fallen victim to a diabolic infestation: showers of stones fell constantly on his roof.
In a 1934 West Indies case, a resident of the house at which the stones were aimed recorded,
’The stones continued falling for more than a month, day and night. Sometimes stones would fall inside the house even when it was closed.’
In many cases the stones are reported to fall with a slowness which defies the law of gravity, and they feel warm to the touch if retrieved soon after their fall.
In an incident that occurred near the start of the last century, a Dutch traveller in Sumatra reported a prolonged fall of small black stones inside a building one night. They fell with abnormal slowness yet hit the ground with a loud bang as if they had descended swiftly.
He tried to catch them but without success as they changed direction in mid-flight. The stones seemed to fall straight through the thatch roof but without leaving any holes.12
Phantom dogs are another type of attacker. Tales of meetings with huge, shaggy, fiery-eyed phantom dogs abound in England and Wales. The dogs are often black, but may also be white, gray, or yellow. According to folklore, they may be encountered by travellers on a dark road and either guide them to safety or menace them, or their appearance may presage the death of the witness. They have glowing eyes, sometimes appear from nowhere, and often vanish abruptly.
In 1904-05 there was a religious revival in North Wales during which many paranormal incidents occurred. Most were associated with Mary Jones, a farmer’s wife whose preaching was a key feature of the revival.
The manifestations usually took the form of lights, hovering in the air above the chapels where she was preaching, and were seen as divine signs.
But one night she had a more sinister experience. Returning home from one of her mission meetings, she was dropped off by her driver at the head of a lane leading to her farm. She told the driver that her brother always came to meet her when she was late, and pointed to the figure of a man dimly seen approaching up the lane.
But when the car drove off, she realized it was not her brother at all. Uneasy, she began singing softly one of the revival hymns. Suddenly the man stopped, turned upon her, and became transformed into an enormous black dog, which ran from bank to bank across the road in front of her as though to prevent her advance. She thought it was the devil himself, ’angered at my assault upon his kingdom’.
As she prayed, the dog rushed growling into a solid hillock. A similar incident was reported a few weeks later in a neighboring mining town.13
In the early 1920s, a young man in Wisconsin saw something with shining eyes, and the face of a dog; in the darkness he thought he could vaguely make out a dark black body. When he saw it again a week later in the same location near his home, he kicked at it, only to find his foot inside its mouth as if it had been anticipating the action.
When he screamed, the creature vanished. On 25 October 1969, something looking like a Great Dane stepped in front of a moving car in Okehampton, England. Before the driver could stop, the car passed through the animal, which then disappeared.14
In 1972 a farmer struck with an iron poker at a black dog invading his Dartmoor house one winter night. There was a burst of light, a crash of breaking glass, and the phantom vanished. The man then found a complete electrical failure in the house (as in many UFO close encounters), every window broken, and the roofs of the house and outbuildings badly damaged.15
UFO literature contains a small number of reports in which black dogs are linked, directly or circumstantially, with flying saucers. For instance, several youths claimed to have spotted 10 big, black hairy dogs run from a landed UFO and through a cemetery in Savannah, Georgia.
Giant cats or pumas have been reported all over Britain, the US, and in other parts of western Europe. The Beast of Exmoor, for example, is usually described as a huge, jet-black cat, eight feet long from nose to tail, though about one in five witnesses report a tan- or fawn-coloured pumalike creature. No one has ever managed to shoot an anomalous feline.
Their tracks are often described as being like a cat’s except that the claws show. This is curious because real panthers have retractile claws which do not show in their prints. Deer, sheep, and cattle are sometimes found slaughtered in the same areas, with huge claw marks on their sides. One woman even claimed that a ’puma’ struck her in the face with its two front paws as she was walking through a wooded area in Hampshire.
Attempts to explain away all such sightings as misidentifications, delusions, and hoaxes have not been successful.
Jerome Clark mentions the theory that they are ’materialized psychic projections or intruders from parallel worlds’, but notes that, unlike black dog encounters, overtly paranormal elements are virtually absent from unusual cat sightings.16
Jerome Clark, Unexplained! 347 strange sightings, incredible occurrences, and puzzling physical phenomena, Detroit, MI: Visible Ink, 1993, pp. 304-5.
Vallee, Dimensions, pp. 108-10.
Jacques Vallee, Confrontations: A scientist’s search for alien contact, London: Souvenir Press, 1990, pp. 93-5.
Ibid., p. 94.
Grosso, Frontiers of the Soul, pp. 146-67.
Ibid., p. 212.
John A. Keel, Strange Creatures from Time and Space, London: Sphere, 1979, pp. 177-8, 195-7;
John A. Keel, The Mothman Prophecies, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002 (1975), p. 157.
H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, 12:712-3; The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, TUP, 2nd ed., 1975, pp. 109-10 / TPH, chron. ed., 1993, p. 198.
Franz Hartmann, The Life of Paracelsus and the Substance of his Teachings, San Diego, CA: Wizards Bookshelf, 1985 (1887), pp. 29, 35, 40, 89-92; Franz Hartmann, Magic White & Black or The Science of Finite and Infinite Life, Bellaire, OH: Tat Foundation, 4th ed., 1980 (1886), p. 196.
The Mothman Prophecies, pp. 172-3.
Dimensions, pp. 120-1.
Unexplained!, pp. 311-2.
Evans and Huyghe, The Field Guide to Ghosts and Other Apparitions, pp. 36-7.
Unexplained!, p. 40.
Stuart Gordon, The Paranormal: An illustrated encyclopedia, London: Headline, 1992, pp. 82-3.
5. Phantom travelers
Phantom travelers are ghosts of humans and animals which haunt travel routes, stations, and vehicles, and are universal in folklore and legend. Some appear real while other hauntings involve only sounds, lights, sensations, and smells.
In one case, a man, Colonel Ewart, secured a compartment by himself on the train from Carlisle to London. He dozed off but later awoke feeling stiff and strange, and noticed that a woman in black was sitting opposite him. Her face was obscured by a black veil, and she seemed to be looking at something on her lap, though nothing was visible. Ewart spoke to her but she did not respond.
She began to rock back and forth and sing a soft lullaby, though there was no child with her. Suddenly the train screeched and crashed into something. Ewart was knocked unconscious by a flying suitcase. When he came to, he left the train and learned that the accident was not serious. He then remembered the woman in black and returned to the compartment, but she was nowhere to be found. Ewart was told that no one had entered his compartment after him.
Months later, a railway official told Ewart that the woman was a ghost who haunted the line. According to legend, she and her bridegroom had been travelling on the train when he stuck his head too far out the window and was decapitated by a wire. The headless body fell into the young woman’s lap. When the train arrived in London, she was found sitting in the compartment, holding the corpse and singing a lullaby to it. She never regained her sanity and died several months later.
Other hauntings and phantom traveller legends centre around railways, underground stations, and airports. At the Darlington rail station in Durham, England, the ghosts of a man and a black retriever have been seen in the porter’s cellar. The ghost is said to be a man who had owned a black retriever and committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a train. The phantom dog reportedly bit an old porter but left no bite marks.
There are several reports of phantom travellers at Heathrow Airport.
One is a gentleman in a dark suit and bowler hat who has haunted the airport since 1948 when a plane crashed on landing in heavy fog, killing all 22 people on board.
While rescue workers were digging through the wreckage, they were interrupted by the man, who appeared suddenly out of the fog and said,
’Excuse me. Have you found my briefcase?’
Since then, the ghost has been seen numerous times at the airport, walking along the runway where the crash occurred. The man is believed to have been a victim of the tragedy.1
The vicinity of Elmore, Ohio, is said to be haunted by a headless motorcyclist who appears each year on the anniversary of his fatal motorcycle accident, which occurred just after the end of the First World War. He had lost control of his motorcycle on a bend just before a bridge and had hurtled into a ravine.
The man was decapitated and the headlight was shorn off his bike.
His phantom appears only as a speeding headlight which races down the road and vanishes halfway over the bridge. Legend has it that the phantom can be summoned on the death anniversary by blinking car lights and honking the horn three times each.
In 1968, two men tried to record the phantom on film and audiotape. They summoned the phantom twice. The third time, one of them stood in the middle of the bridge, and was found by his friend beaten up and lying in a ditch. He said he had no recall of what happened.
Nothing showed up on the movie film, but a strange light registered on the still film, and their audiotape recorded some odd, high-pitched noises.2
Phantom hitchhikers are another common type of phantom traveler. For example, on 31 March 1978 a South African Army Corporal stopped his motorbike near Uniondale to offer an attractive young woman a lift.
He gave her a spare helmet and an earphone so she could listen to the radio. A few miles down the road, the corporal noticed that his passenger was missing. He rode back to look for her but she was nowhere to be found. Moreover, his spare helmet was strapped in its usual place and the spare earplug was in his own ear. He later learned that the 22-year-old woman he thought he had picked up had been killed in a nearby car accident 10 years earlier. Others have reported similar experiences in the area. In one case the young woman suddenly disappeared from the backseat of a car.3
We can only speculate on the extent to which events such as this take place in our physical reality, and to what extent on the astral or mental plane. In the above case, would video equipment have recorded the man stopping his motorcycle and speaking to the woman? Would a video camera mounted on his bike have recorded the woman suddenly disappear, the earplug reinsert itself in the driver’s ear, and the spare helmet return to its usual place?
It seems more likely that this particular experience was a hallucination, though one that might have been induced by the earthbound astral soul of the dead woman.
The following phantom hitchhiker incident occurred at Palavas-des-Flots, France, on 20 May 1980. The hitchhiker in this case seems to have been physically tangible, at least temporarily. Just before midnight, two couples were returning from a day at the beach in their Renault when the driver spotted a woman standing by the roadside.
He stopped to pick her up and she settled in snugly between the two women in the back. The driver told the woman where they were headed but she said nothing and simply nodded her head.
The car continued on its way, then just as they were approaching a sharp bend, the woman cried out:
’Look out for the turn! You are risking your life!’
The driver slowed the car and safely turned the bend, when suddenly he heard cries coming from the backseat – the hitchhiker had disappeared. A subsequent investigation of the scene of the incident revealed nothing.
As Evans and Huyghe remark,
’One wonders if the apparition did not, in fact, save the two couples from having an accident.’ 4
Phantom travelers on foot may suddenly appear standing in the middle of the road.
Drivers of vehicles may swerve to avoid hitting them, sometimes causing an accident with their own vehicle or they may think they have struck the person, but when they stop and inspect the area, there is no sign of anyone or any damage to the vehicle.
The following ’spectral jaywalker’ incident occurred at about midnight on 8 November 1992. Ian Sharpe was driving along a highway in Kent, England, when a young woman ran in front of his car. Sharpe had no time to avoid her, and her eyes locked with his as the car struck the woman and rolled over her. Sharpe stopped his car and got out, shaking with fear. However, there was no body to be found, and his car showed no sign of damage. He reported the incident to the nearest police station and was told the legend of the ghost that haunts that stretch of road.
Exactly two weeks later, the same event happened to another driver. In other incidents in the area, however, the apparitions have had a different appearance: a 1974 accident involved a 10-year-old girl, while sightings in 1993 involved an old woman.5
Phantom vehicles are ghostly vehicles that suddenly appear on the road, usually travelling at high speed. They appear to be real, and drivers of other vehicles in their approaching paths swerve violently to avoid a collision, sometimes colliding with something else, resulting in injury or death. Some phantom vehicles are associated with sites where murders or tragic incidents have occurred, or sites reputed to be otherwise haunted.
On the night of 15 June 1934, a young man driving his car in the North Kensington area of London suddenly found himself on a collision course with a bus. The young man swerved but collided with another car and was killed. The bus was allegedly a phantom vehicle which continues to be reported over the years, and has caused other accidents. Other drivers have had minor accidents trying to avoid the bus, said by at least one witness to be driverless.
At Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery near the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve near Chicago, an area where numerous hauntings have been reported, phantom cars have mystified and terrified various witnesses at dusk and at night.
Phantom cars and trucks which suddenly disappear have been reported along or near the Midlothian Turnpike, which runs past the cemetery.
Drivers have reported that their own cars have been struck by speeding phantom cars which appeared out of nowhere; some even hear the sounds of splintering glass and crumpling metal. But when they get out to inspect the damage, there is no sign of an impact and no sign of the other car.
There are no legends of accidents or tragedies that help to explain the phantom cars at this site.6
Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, p. 284.
Ibid., pp. 284-5.
Evans and Huyghe, The Field Guide to Ghosts and Other Apparitions, pp. 56-7.
Ibid., pp. 104-5.
Ibid., pp. 70-1.
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, p. 285.
Visitors From The Twilight Zone
There are numerous reported sightings of a wide variety of animals whose existence is controversial because of the lack of conclusive physical evidence; some of the species are completely unknown while others are officially thought to be extinct.
These ‘cryptids’ include apelike creatures (e.g. Bigfoot, Yeti, Almas), lake monsters, giant octopuses, sea serpents, sauropodlike animals, and flying reptiles (resembling pterosaurs).1
While some may be survivors of once-flourishing species, others appear to be paranormal creatures.
There are reports of sauropodlike animals (e.g. Mokele-mbembe), with a long neck, small head, and bulky body, and of reptiles resembling stegosaurs, serpents, and lizards in remote areas of Africa and South America.
Jerome Clark writes:
‘If living dinosaurs in Africa and South America seem at least marginally conceivable, the presence of such creatures in the United States or Europe is – it hardly need be stated – flatly impossible, at least this side of the twilight zone.’
Such ‘impossible’ reports do however exist.
For instance, in 1934 a South Dakota farmer claimed that a giant four-legged reptile forced his tractor off the road before disappearing into nearby Campbell Lake. Investigators found huge tracks on the shore. Prior to this sighting sheep and other small animals had been mysteriously disappearing. An Italian man reported being attacked by a ’15-foot reptile, like a dinosaur’, at Forli in December 1970.
Fifty miles northwest of there, in June 1975, a monster appeared in a field near Goro and badly frightened a farmer. It was about 10 feet long and 8 inches round, and looked like a ‘gigantic lizard‘. Several other people sighted it and declared that it howled like a wolf.2
Traditions of giant freshwater monsters are commonplace. Lake monsters of the Middle Ages and earlier are known by such names as great serpents, dragons, and water horses. The idea that large unknown animals may reside in freshwater bodies around the world is a defensible one.
The creatures generally resemble zeuglodons or plesiosaurs, and most reports come from the British Isles, North America, and Scandinavia, with the Loch Ness monster, Ogopogo (Lake Okanagan), and Champ (Lake Champlain) being among the most famous.
Films, photographs, and sonar trackings have given Nessie a deservedly high profile and established that something unusual is surely going on in Scotland’s most famous lake. Nonetheless, like Champ, Nessie blurs under intense focus.
Some reports are utterly bizarre and zoologically senseless, more like manifestations of the Goblin Universe than of consensus reality. This is particularly true of the rare land sightings, which seem neither more nor less credible than water sightings but which sometimes involve manifestations that border on the surreal.3
In April 1932, for example, Col. L. McP. Fordyce and his wife were driving through the woods along the south side of Loch Ness when they saw an enormous animal cross the road 150 yards ahead, apparently on its way to the water.
It was described as ‘a cross between a very large horse and a camel, with a hump on its back and a small head on a long neck’, but with ‘the gait of an elephant’. The man followed it on foot for a short distance. From the rear it looked grey and shaggy, with long, thin legs and a thin, hairy tail.
Similarly unlikely beasts have been reported in other land sightings over the centuries. Curiously, land sightings ceased after the mid-1930s, with the exception of an incident in 1960 when a man observed a long-necked animal with flippers; the upper half was on the shore with the lower half tapering off into the water.
He watched it through binoculars for nine minutes before it half-jumped and half-lurched to the left, flopped into the water, and went straight down. Even aquatic sightings are not always of animals that look like the classic monster.
People have seen things resembling a large alligator, a crocodile, a great salamander, and a huge frog.4
Fig. 6.1. Left: In 1972 a paddle or flipper, some 4 ft wide and 6 to 8 ft long,
was captured on film at the same time as sonar echoes appeared to show two large objects in Loch Ness pursuing a shoal of fish.
Right: An underwater photo taken in 1975, showing what appears to be the silhouette of a body with a long neck.
Some mysterious creatures appear for a certain period and then disappear without a trace, never to be seen again. Such reports go back a long way.
The writings of Roman chroniclers such as Aulus Gellius, Julius Obsequens, and Pliny the Elder often mention extraordinary creatures – almost always vaguely humanoid – whose sudden appearance would spread fear among the population and which were considered to be harbingers of great changes or disasters.5
A number of more recent cases are presented below.
In September 1837 a strange being, dubbed ‘Springheel Jack’, assaulted four separate persons, three of them women, in and around London.
In one instance he ripped off the top of a victim’s dress, scratching her belly with iron-like fingers. He was tall, thin, and powerful, wore a cloak, and had pointed ears, glowing eyes, and a mouth that spat blue flames into victims’ faces.
After London’s Lord Mayor had declared him a menace, vigilantes attempted to capture Jack, but without success, as he was able to make enormous leaps or simply melted into the night. Sporadic attacks continued during the next two years and a few were recorded in 1843. In 1845, in daylight and in view of numerous witnesses, Jack bounded towards a young prostitute who was crossing a bridge in a London slum. Grabbing her by the shoulders, he breathed fire into her face, tossed her into the open sewer below, and watched her drown. This was the only murder to which he was linked.
Attacks continued throughout the 1850s and 60s. In 1877 nearly all the residents of Caistor, Norfolk, saw Jack bounding from rooftop to rooftop. In August he appeared before soldiers at a military base in Aldershot. He was clad in an oilskin suit and wearing a shining helmet. A sentry fired on him and claimed that his bullet passed through him without effect.
Jack’s last known return to England was in Liverpool in 1904, when he was seen leaping from the ground to the rooftops and back again.6
Fig. 6.2. Springheel Jack’s appearance in Aldershot, 1877.
Investigating authorities in the 19th century assumed Jack must be a real person despite his weird appearance and behaviour. There was a rumour that he was actually Henry, the Marquis of Waterford, a young Irish nobleman, who supposedly used springs concealed in his boots to leap about. However, not only is it impossible to make huge leaps in this way, but Jack continued his activities long after Waterford’s death in 1859.
A figure similar to Springheel Jack was observed in the US in June 1953. Three Houston residents saw a huge shadow cross the lawn and bounce upward into a pecan tree. A dim gray light illuminated the figure. It was a tall man with a black cape, skin-tight clothes, and quarter-length boots.
After a few minutes the figure just melted away, and his disappearance was followed by a ‘loud swoosh’ across the street and the rapid ascent of a rocket-shaped object.
On 12 September 1952, three boys in the tiny West Virginia town of Flatwoods saw a reddish sphere move slowly around a hill, hover briefly, and drop behind another hill. From the other side a bright glow shone as if from a landed object.
On their way to investigate, the boys were joined by Kathleen May, her two young sons, their friend Tommy Hyer, 17-year-old Eugene Lemon, and Lemon’s dog.
The dog ran ahead of the group and was briefly out of sight. Suddenly it was heard barking furiously and, moments later, seen fleeing with its tail tucked between its legs. A foul-smelling mist covered the ground and caused the searchers’ eyes to water. The two leading the group, Lemon and Neil Nunley, who got to the top first, looked down and observed a ‘big ball of fire’ 50 feet to their right. Another of the witnesses reported it was the size of a house.
To the group’s left, on the hilltop and just under the branch of an oak tree, were two small lights. At Mrs. May’s suggestion, Lemon turned his flashlight on them. To everyone’s considerable astonishment, the beam highlighted a grotesque-looking creature with a head shaped like the ‘ace of spades,’ as several of the observers independently described it. Inside the head was a circular ‘window,’ dark except for the two lights from which pale blue beams extended straight ahead. In their short observation of the creature, the group saw nothing that looked like arms or legs.
The creature, which appeared to be over six feet tall, moved toward the witnesses; it seemed to be gliding rather than walking. Seconds later it changed direction, turning toward the glowing ball down the hill.
All of this allegedly took place in a matter of seconds, during which Lemon fainted. The others dragged him away as they ran from the scene.7
A reporter went to the site with one of the youths about half an hour later.
He noticed an unusual odor in the grass that irritated his nose and throat. Returning to the site alone the next morning, he found ‘skid marks’ going down the hill towards an area of matted grass, indicating the recent presence of a large object. This encounter with what the press dubbed the ‘Flatwoods monster’ took place during a flurry of sightings of unusual flying objects in the area. One man told of seeing a bright orange ball circling over the area where the monster was reported.
The object was visible for 15 minutes before shooting towards the airport at Sutton, where it was also seen.
In the classic 1954 science-fiction film The Creature from the Black Lagoon, archaeologists on an expedition along the Amazon River encounter a bizarre aquatic biped with gills and scales.
In November 1958, a man from Riverside, California, was driving in a car near the Santa Ana River when he was attacked by a similar creature, with a ’round, scarecrowish head’, shiny eyes, and scales. It left long scratches on his windshield, and as he accelerated, he hit it and drove over it.
The following evening another motorist claimed that the same kind of monster jumped out of the bushes at his car.
In Loveland, Ohio, along the Miami River, reports of more or less reptilian bipeds have been made since at least 1955, when a driver reported spotting three grotesque-looking creatures with lopsided chests, wide, lipless, froglike mouths, and wrinkles rather than hair on their heads. One held a spark-generating, bar-shaped device above itself. The driver observed them for three minutes.
On 3 March 1972, two Loveland police officers encountered a four-foot-tall, frog-faced biped with textured leathery skin. They saw it jump over a guard rail and descend an embankment leading to the Little Miami River.
About two weeks later one of the officers saw the creature again, first lying in the road, then getting up to go over a guard rail.
Fig. 6.3. Frog-faced biped seen in Ohio, March 1972.
In the summer of 1972, at Thesis Lake, British Columbia, there were two reports of a silver-coloured creature which emerged from the water. In the first incident it chased a couple of young men from the beach, and one of them suffered lacerations in the hand from six sharp points on top of the thing’s head.
A witness to the second incident said it was shaped like an ordinary human body, but had a monster-like face and was covered with scales, with a sharp point on its head and great big ears.8
Reports of flying humanlike beings are fairly rare but occur periodically.
For instance, one night in 1952 US Air Force Pvt. Sinclair Taylor was on guard duty at Camp Okubo, Kyoto, Japan, when he heard a loud flapping noise.
Looking up, he saw an enormous ‘bird’ in the moonlight. When it approached, he got frightened and put a round into the chamber of his carbine. The ‘bird’ now had stopped its flight and was hovering not far away, staring at the soldier.
‘The thing, which now had started slowly to descend again, had the body of a man,’ Taylor recalled.
‘It was well over seven feet from head to feet, and its wingspread was almost equal to its height. I started to fire and emptied my carbine where the thing hit the ground. But when I looked up to see if my bullets had found home there was nothing there.’
When the sergeant of the guard came to investigate and heard the story, he told Taylor that he believed him because a year earlier another guard had seen the same thing.
In August 1969 several US guards stationed near Da Nang, Vietnam, saw a naked woman with batlike wings fly over their heads about seven feet up. Her body, skin, and wings were black, but she glowed bright green. Her skin looked like it might have been covered with fur rather than feathers. The skin of her wings looked like it was moulded to her hands, and the movement of her arms suggested they had no bones in them. At one point the guards heard her wings flap.
Some sightings are not of winged figures but of humans or humanoids flying through the air with the aid of mechanical devices attached to their bodies. For instance, on 6 January 1948 in Chehalis, Washington, an elderly woman and a group of children saw a man with long mechanical wings which he manipulated with instruments on his chest as he flew in an upright position. Six and a half years later a 12-year-old farm boy in Coldwater, Kansas, saw a dark-skinned little man, with pointed nose and ears, float toward a UFO hovering nearby.9
On 16 November 1963 near Hythe, Kent (England), four people in their late teens were walking along a country road at night when one of them spotted a particularly bright ‘star’ coming down from the sky. The group became alarmed when the reddish-yellow light seemed to head straight for them. It stopped to hover momentarily and then disappeared behind some trees.
The frightened youngsters took to their heels, followed at a distance of about 250 feet by an oval-shaped golden light floating 10 feet above the ground.
The object was about 15 to 20 feet across and had a solid core. When they stopped the light stopped, giving them the impression that they were being watched. The glowing object again disappeared behind the trees, and moments later a dark figure emerged and shambled towards them across the field. They described it as black, human-sized, but headless and possessing batlike wings on either side of its body. One of the boys noted that it seemed to have webbed feet. The four fled the scene.
A week later investigators examining the site found a vast expanse of flattened ferns and three giant ‘footprints’ measuring an inch deep, two feet long, and nine inches across.10
Three years later, in 1966 and 1967, a similar winged monstrosity, which newsmen dubbed ‘Mothman‘, was seen over the Ohio River Valley in conjunction with strange lights in the sky and other weird events, including poltergeist outbreaks, men-in-black visitations, problems with televisions and phones, and cars stalling when passing close an abandoned TNT plant near Point Pleasant which seemed to be Mothman’s lair. In one case, Mothman kept up with a car travelling at 100 miles per hour. It was also sighted on the ground, terrifying dogs and people.
At least 100 people saw the creature. It was between five and seven feet tall, broader than a man, and walked in a halting, shuffling manner on humanlike legs. It had no discernible head, but it did have two large glowing red eyes near the top of its shoulders. Its wings were batlike but did not flap when it flew, and it typically ascended straight up. Its skin colour was grey or brown. It emitted a screeching sound, and two observers said they heard a mechanical humming as it flew over them.
‘After 1967,’ says Jerome Clark, ‘Mothman faded back into the twilight zone.’11
Fig. 6.4. Mothman, based on eyewitness accounts.12
At 10:30 pm on 21 April 1977, 17-year-old Bill Barlett was driving home with two friends when he saw a bizarre creature by the side of a road in Dover, Massachusetts.
The ‘Dover Demon’ had an oval-shaped, oversized head, two large round eyes shining like orange marbles, long spindly arms and legs, and large hands and feet. It was no more than four feet tall and its skin was hairless and peach-coloured. Two hours later another teenager, John Baxter, was walking home when he saw a short figure approaching him, but it scurried off down a slope.
The youth followed and saw a silhouetted figure about 30 feet away, leaning against a tree, its feet ‘moulded’ around the top of a rock.
Fig. 6.5. The Dover Demon, based on drawings by witnesses.13
The final sighting occurred the next night. Will Taintor was driving a girl home when she spotted something in the car’s headlights. It was a hairless creature crouched on all fours, with a thin monkeylike body and a large oblong head, devoid of nose, ears, and mouth.
The facial area around the eyes was lighter, and the eyes glowed green (not orange as in the first sighting).14
Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark, Cryptozoology A to Z: The encyclopedia of loch monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and other authentic mysteries of nature, New York: Fireside, 1999; Cryptozoology, http://www.pibburns.com/cryptozo.htm.
Jerome Clark, Unexplained! 347 strange sightings, incredible occurrences, and puzzling physical phenomena, Detroit, MI: Visible Ink, 1993, p. 104.
Ibid., pp. 209-15, 220-31. See Henry Bauer, ‘The case for the Loch Ness “monster”: the scientific evidence’, Journal of Scientific Exploration, v. 16, 2002, pp. 225-46.
Unexplained!, pp. 223-5.
Daniel W. Murphy, ‘Through the looking glass darkly: impossible creatures’, http://www.geocities.com/bigfootrus/index.html.
Unexplained!, pp. 357-9; http://www.expage.com/springheeljack.
Unexplained!, p. 135.
Ibid., pp. 327-9.
Ibid., pp. 143-4.
Patrick Huyghe, The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997, pp. 94-5.
Unexplained!, pp. 278-81; John A. Keel, The Mothman Prophecies, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002 (1975), pp. 73-90; www.prairieghosts.com/moth.html.
Unexplained!, pp. 105-7; The Anomalist, no. 9, winter 2000/2001, pp. 151-7; http://members.aol.com/soccorro64/doverdemon.htm.
7. Hairy bipeds
It is not inconceivable that a species of giant apelike creatures, known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch, lives in the immense wilderness of the northwestern US and far western Canada. Such a creature was filmed by Roger Paterson at Bluff Creek, California, in October 1967.
Over the years, numerous footprints and hand prints have been found, along with hair and fecal matter, but no body or bones have yet been discovered.
Fig. 7.1. A female Bigfoot filmed by Roger Patterson in 1967.
It was 7 feet 3.5 inches tall, and left footprints 14.5 inches long and 6 inches wide.1
Hairy bipeds have in fact been sighted in virtually every state and province in the US and Canada. As Jerome Clark says, the mere presence of such creatures in populated areas is biologically absurd.2
When they leave tracks, which they do not always do, the tracks may be two-, three-, four-, five-, or even six-toed. Moreover, some sightings of Bigfoot-type creatures involve elements of ‘high strangeness’ – the beings are largely unaffected, and apparently never killed, by bullets, and occasionally they seem to vanish into thin air. Witnesses to one Bigfoot sighting heard the creature running away after it had visually disappeared. Many people report that they have heard it breathing behind them or following or walking beside them, but can see nothing.
For centuries, Native Americans have attributed supernatural abilities to Bigfoot, including telepathy and the power to become invisible. The cases presented below involve hairy bipeds that behaved more like paranormal entities than flesh-and-blood animals.
In the summer of 1960 numerous people around Parson, West Virginia, saw a gruesome eight-foot-tall creature covered with shaggy hair and equipped with two huge eyes that ‘shone like big balls of fire’. In October 1960, W.C. Priestly was driving through the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia when his car suddenly stopped.
To his left he saw an apelike monster whose long straggly hair was pointing straight upwards. When a group of Priestly’s friends who were ahead of him in a bus noticed he was no longer behind them, they turned round and drove back to look for him. When the creature saw the bus, it dropped its hair and disappeared into the woods. Priestly was then surprised to find his vehicle had started to run again. He again began to follow the bus when all of a sudden sparks began flying from under the hood of his car, and he again noticed the creature beside the road staring at him. The bus backed up again and as soon as it appeared the monster melted into the forest. The points in Priestly’s car were completely burned out and had to be replaced, as did part of the electrical system.3
In 1957, at Wanoga Butte, Washington, Gary Joanis and Jim Newall shot a deer while out hunting, but before they could get to it, a nine-foot-tall hairy creature walked into the clearing, picked up the deer, and carried it off under its arm. Joanis, annoyed about losing his deer, fired several shots into the creature’s back with his 30.06 rifle, but the creature never stopped walking, though it did emit a ‘strange whistling scream’.
In Washington, during the summer of 1966, there were numerous sightings of a white/grey eight-foot-tall Bigfoot with red eyes, weighing at least 600 pounds, which walked like a human. A group of men often went looking for it, and usually found it in a gravel pit. One man fired at it from a range of only 20 feet, and hit it at least three times with his .270 rifle, but failed to knock it down. Another man fired his 10-gauge shotgun from 10 yards. The creature uttered a high-pitched squeal, but still managed to run away.
In May 1967 in The Dalles, Oregon, several teenage boys spent their nights hunting Bigfoot. On one occasion, they were moving through the woods when they came to a tree whose branches hung to the ground. Pushing past them, they found a creature about 10 feet away; it was 7 feet tall when crouched down. One of the boys blasted it twice in the chest with his 12-gauge shotgun, knocking it down. It rolled over twice and then ran off. It broke through a fence, snapping three posts off at the ground. The boys returned the next day to claim their prize, but the footprints disappeared after 80 to 100 yards, and there was no blood to follow.
In autumn 1968, in the Point Isabel area of Ohio, the Abbot family heard a noise like metal being hit. 15-year-old Larry Abbott, his father, and a relative went outside to look around. They found a creature 50 feet away, which started walking towards them. It was 10 feet tall, with 4-foot shoulders. It was covered with light brown hair, and had very long arms, prominent teeth, pointed ears, and glowing eyes. Larry reported that it seemed to put them into a trance, as he couldn’t move or talk. Suddenly it dropped to the ground and they lost sight of it. Later they heard it near the garage.
The relative borrowed a .22 rifle and went looking for it. He crossed an open field, and suddenly it stood up 50 feet away. Larry pointed his flashlight at it, and the relative made a direct hit with his first shot. The creature uttered a horrible scream as several more shots were fired, then a white mist enveloped it. When the mist cleared, there was only darkness. They searched the whole farm, but there was no blood or any other trace of the creature’s presence.4
In August 1972, a young couple living in Putnam County, Indiana, began to receive late-night visitations from a shadowy creature looking like a large, hairy gorilla. Most of the time it was bipedal, but when it ran, it did so on all fours. It seemed to run and jump without touching the ground as it never left any tracks. When it ran through weeds, nothing was heard, and sometimes the witnesses could see through it. An hour before the first sighting, neighbours reported a luminous object pass overhead, which then exploded, though no debris was ever found. A farmer in the area lost all but 30 of his 200 chickens to the creature, which ripped them apart, draining them of blood but not eating them, and spreading their remains over a huge area. It was shot repeatedly from about 100 feet but seemed unaffected. At least 40 people claimed to have seen the creature before the sightings ceased late in the month.5
On the evening of 25 October 1973, near Greensbury, Pennsylvania, a farmer named Stephen Pulaski and at least 15 other witnesses saw a bright red ball hovering over a field. Pulaski and two boys went to investigate. As they approached, their car headlights grew dim. Continuing on foot they saw the object glowing brilliantly with white light and either sitting on the field or hovering directly over it. It was about 100 feet in diameter, dome-shaped, and made a sound like a lawn mower. Screaming sounds could be heard nearby.
Pulaski fired a tracer bullet, and two large apelike creatures with glowing green eyes, one seven feet tall and the other eight feet tall, were seen walking along beside a fence. They had long arms that hung down almost to the ground, were covered with long dark-grayish hair, and emitted a strong odour, like burning rubber. They seemed to be communicating by making whining sounds. Pulaski fired three rounds into the larger creature, which responded by whining and reaching out to its companion. At that moment, the craft vanished, leaving a glowing white area in the field. The creatures walked back towards the woods and were not seen again.
Later on when other investigators arrived, a dog began tracking something unseen, several people smelled a strong sulphurous or chemical-like odour, and loud crashing sounds were heard coming from the woods. At this point, Pulaski went berserk and started running around, violently flailing his arms and growling like an animal.
He had visions of a man looking like the Grim Reaper, heard his name being called from the woods, and made confused statements, such as: ‘If man doesn’t straighten up, the end will come soon.’
Then he collapsed. He was later examined by a psychiatrist who concluded that the frightening situation had caused him to become temporarily unhinged and enter a dissociated psychological state known as a fugue.
This case was one of an epidemic of at least 79 ‘creature’ cases occurring in a six-county area of western Pennsylvania in 1973. They all involved werewolflike entities that mysteriously appeared and disappeared, and left few traces of their existence. There were some reports that they left tracks and emitted foul stenches. There were also cases where they were said to have killed chickens, ripped the hindquarters off a St. Bernard dog, and torn the throat of a pet deer, but there were no reports of injury to humans.6
During the evening of 6 February 1974, a lady living near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was sitting at home watching television. She heard a noise on her porch and went to investigate, thinking the dogs were to blame. She took a loaded shotgun with her to scare them away. She turned on the porch light, opened the door, and was horrified to see a seven-foot-tall hairy apelike creature standing only six feet away. Thinking it was about to attack, as it had raised its arms above its head, she fired into its middle. But amazingly, it ‘just disappeared in a flash of light’.7
In Noxie, Oklahoma, in September 1975, a farmer and his neighbours reported seeing and hearing at least two hairy bipeds. The first stood six or seven feet tall, was covered with dark brown hair, and had glowing reddish-pink eyes. It was shot at on three occasions but responded by swatting its arm as if at a fly. It smelled ‘like rotten eggs or sulphur‘ and left a three-toed track (all primates have five toes). Two of the creatures, one with red eyes and the other with yellow ones, were heard calling to each other; one sounded like a woman screaming and the other like a baby crying.
In August 1976 a woman sitting outside a farmhouse in southeastern Nebraska noticed a sudden eerie silence among the animals. 300 yards away, silhouetted against the sky, stood a huge hairy figure. It moved rapidly through the pasture towards her, panicking the dogs.
It broke down the wire fence and was only 30 feet from her when it vanished before her eyes. It nevertheless left hair samples on the fence, but the state’s Game and Parks Commission refused to look at them.8
Clark, Unexplained!, pp. 167-76, 418.
John A. Keel, Strange Creatures from Time and Space, London: Sphere, 1979, p. 126.
Daniel W. Murphy, ‘Can Bigfoot be killed?’, http://www.geocities.com/bigfootrus/index.html.
Ibid.; Unexplained!, pp. 170-1.
Richard L. Thompson, Alien Identities: Ancient insights into modern UFO phenomena, Alachua, FL: Govardhan Hill Publishing, 2nd ed., 1995, pp. 303-4;
Unexplained!, p. 173. ‘Can Bigfoot be killed?’
Unexplained!, pp. 171-2.
Several of the incidents already described involve humanoids or other creatures seen in conjunction with unexplained luminosities or objects in the sky (‘UFOs‘). The following cases provide further evidence that ‘alien’ beings vary tremendously in appearance and often display weird and paranormal behaviour, suggesting that they are psychic visitations rather than extraterrestrial visitors.1
In the summer of 1968 a British woman was driving to Stratford with a companion when they saw a shining disc in the sky. They stopped to watch it dart and dodge, and another car also stopped to watch. After it disappeared behind some trees, the woman drove on, and during the drive she experienced profound insights into the nature of reality, which she said transformed her personality.
That evening she encountered a malevolent-looking apparition in her home; it resembled a traditional faun, and she later called it a ‘Scorpion man’. It was a four-to-five foot tall humanoid, with pointed ears, a long muzzle, and dog- or goat-like legs. It was covered in downy fur, and crouched and stared unblinkingly at her with light-green eyes that slanted upwards and had no pupils. The eyes shone and were very frightening. She thought it was trying to communicate with her but her panic interfered with any message.
The goatlike legs and silky fur seem to connect it with traditional European demon lore, while its eyes and emaciated appearance are typical of entities reported in UFO encounters.2
The following three UFO close encounters involve monster-like ‘aliens’.
Shortly after 2 am on 28 November 1954, Gustavo Gonzales and José Ponce were driving from Caracas, Venezuela, to a nearby town when they encountered a luminous sphere about 10 feet in diameter, hovering just above the ground and nearly blocking the roadway.
The two men got out of their truck to investigate, and a little hairy man, about three feet tall, approached them.
Gonzales immediately grabbed him, intending to take him to the police. To his surprise, Gonzales found the little man extremely light, weighing only about 35 pounds. His body was very hard and covered with stiff bristly hair. The little man gave Gonzales a push with one clawed hand and sent him flying about 15 feet. Ponce, who was Gonzales’s helper, became frightened, and ran to the police station located a short distance away. As he departed he noticed two other little men emerging from the bushes. They were carrying either rocks or chunks of dirt in their arms as they hopped aboard an opening in the side of the sphere.
Meanwhile the first hairy little man, eyes aglow and claws extended, attacked Gonzales. Pulling out his knife, Gonzales stabbed the creature in the shoulder, but the knife glanced off as if the shoulder were made of steel. Then another little man emerged from the sphere and shot a beam of light from a small tube, momentarily blinding Gonzales. When the two little men climbed back aboard, the sphere took off rapidly.
Gonzales arrived at the police station shortly after Ponce. The two were suspected of being drunk, but an examination revealed otherwise. Gonzales was found to have a long red scratch on his side. The two were given sedatives. Several days later a doctor came forward, admitting that he had seen the fracas with the creatures but that he had left the scene, as he did not want to be involved in undesirable publicity.3
Fig. 8.1. Hairy creature encountered in Caracas, November 1954.4
The following incident took place in Kelly, Kentucky, on 21 August 1955. The witnesses were Billy Ray Taylor, Lucky Sutton, and the Sutton family.
At about 7:00 P.M. on a hot summer night, Billy Ray told the Suttons he had just seen a flying saucer with rainbow-colored exhaust fly across the sky and drop into a gully near their farmhouse. The Suttons laughed at his story. Half an hour later, the dog began barking and hid under the house.
When Billy Ray and Lucky went to the back door, they saw an approaching glow that turned out to be a three-and-a-half foot tall creature with a round oversize bald head. The creature’s skin was a silver metallic color and glowed in the dark. Its yellow eyes were large and set halfway around the side of its face. The creature’s arms were almost twice as long as its legs and nearly touched the ground. Its hands were large and bore talons.
The men grabbed their guns, a .22 rifle and a shotgun, and waited until the creature was within 20 feet of the back door before opening fire. The shots sounded like they ‘hit a [metal] bucket,’ but the visitor simply flipped over backward and scurried off into the darkness. When another visitor appeared at the window, the men shot at it through the screen. Thinking the creature had been killed, Billy Ray went out the front door to find the body. As he paused momentarily under the roof’s overhang, a clawlike hand reached down and touched his hair. The family screamed and pulled him back inside as Lucky ran out, turned, and fired at the creature, knocking it off the roof. Both men then fired at another creature in the maple tree nearby, but it, too, merely floated to the ground and scurried away.
Unnerved by the ineffectiveness of their guns, the family bolted themselves inside the house. But the creatures kept returning to peer in the windows, and after three hours the eight terrorized adults and three frightened children piled into two cars and headed off into town to the police.
The Hopkinsville police returned to the farmhouse with the family and surveyed the house and surroundings but found nothing. Shortly after the police left at 2:15 A.M., the creatures returned, staring into windows, curious but never hostile. Again the men responded with gunfire. This continued until a half hour before sunrise. That morning investigators returned but again found nothing.5
Fig. 8.2. Creature encountered in Kentucky, August 1955.6
One morning in July 1983, in Mount Vernon, Missouri, Ron and Paula Watson noticed some bright silver flashes coming from the pasture across from their farmhouse.
Through binoculars they saw two silver-suited beings running their hands over a motionless black cow lying on the ground. The beings made jerky movements with their hands over the cow, which suddenly rose into the air and floated up with the beings into a cone-shaped object that stood near a clump of trees. Two other strange-looking creatures were standing next to the object.
On the left was a tall, green-skinned ‘lizard man’. Its glaring eyes had the vertical pupils of a reptile, and its hands and feet were webbed. On the right of the craft was a taller Bigfoot-type creature that also had yellow vertical slits in round green eyes. The beings entered the craft with the cow, and the craft then disappeared. The owner of the pasture later confirmed that one of his black cows was missing; it was never found.7
The behavior of UFO entities sometimes shows parallels with that of legendary medieval beings such as fairies, sylphs, and elves.
In the morning of 18 April 1961, Joe Simonton, a 60-year-old chicken farmer from Wisconsin, heard a peculiar noise outside his home. Stepping out into the yard he saw a silvery object hovering close to the ground. It was shaped like two inverted bowls, and measured about 12 feet high and 30 feet in diameter. A hatch opened and Simonton saw three men inside, about five feet tall. They had dark hair and skin and wore outfits with turtleneck tops and knit helmets.
One of the men held up a jug, and motioned to Simonton that he needed water. When Simonton returned with the water, he noticed that one of the men in the saucer was frying food on a flameless grill. He saw several instrument panels in the ship’s black interior and heard a slow whining sound. When he made a motion indicating he was interested in the food, one of the men handed him three pancakes, about three inches in diameter and perforated with small holes. The hatch was then closed and the object rose about 20 feet from the ground before taking off straight south, causing a blast of air that bent some nearby pine trees. The whole affair lasted about five minutes.
Simonton ate one of the pancakes and described it as tasting like cardboard. Air Force investigators had a piece analyzed by the Food and Drug Laboratory, which concluded it was an ordinary pancake of terrestrial origin. The official explanation was that Simonton sincerely believed his contact had been a real experience, but that he had merely had a dream and inserted it into the events taking place around him while he was conscious.
The question of food is one of the points most frequently treated in Celtic legends; tales about fairies exchanging food with humans are commonplace. Evans Wentz reports in his book Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries (1909) that an Irishman told him that the ‘Gentry’ eat fresh meat and drink pure water, and never eat anything with salt in it. Pure water is what the saucer beings took from Simonton, and the analysis performed for the Air Force did not mention the presence of salt in the pancakes. They did however contain buckwheat hulls, and buckwheat is closely associated with fairy legends in Brittany.8
One of the fairies’ pranks was to steal food. ‘Aliens’ have been known to do so too, as the following case shows.
In 1986 in the Russian city of Ulyanovsk, Mr N. opened his front door and found himself confronted with a man about seven feet tall, wearing silver overalls and boots. The man declared he was an alien and needed food. Mr N. was so shocked he took the guest to the kitchen and started packing groceries for him. He told the visitor he was late for work, and the visitor answered ‘I understand’ in a Russian spoken with a marked accent. The two left the house together, but when Mr N. got on the bus the strange visitor was nowhere to be seen.
All day he felt anxious and disturbed. Something urged him to return home as soon as possible, and he found an excuse to leave early. After unlocking the front door, he ran to the kitchen, where he discovered that the remaining food had been taken. Empty paper bags, packages, and wrappings lay everywhere, and there were grains of rice, millet, and salt in the cracks in the floor. The refrigerator and the cupboards were empty. But if the visitor was the culprit, why had he needed to unwrap everything? The man’s wife found his explanation for the missing food absurd.
A terrible scandal followed and the couple came close to a divorce, a situation that is common in the aftermath of close encounters.9
See ‘UFOs: the psychic dimension’, http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/ufo1.htm.
Jacques Vallee, Dimensions: A casebook of alien contact, New York: Ballantine Books, 1989, pp. 33-4.
Patrick Huyghe, The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997, p. 74.
Kevin Randle and Russ Estes, Faces of the Visitors: An illustrated reference to alien contact, New York: Fireside, 1997, p. 25.
The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials, pp. 84-5.
Faces of the Visitors, p. 30.
The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials, pp. 82-3.
Dimensions, pp. 43-51.
Jacques Vallee, UFO Chronicles of the Soviet Union: A cosmic samizdat, New York: Ballantine Books, 1992, pp. 144-5.
9. Men in black
Some people who have made a UFO sighting or had a close encounter subsequently receive strange visits from sinister ‘men in black’ (MIBs), who harass, threaten, and intimidate them to prevent them from talking about their experience.1
They usually appear even before the witness has reported the UFO incident and must therefore have access to information that is not publicly available. UFO investigators have also suffered harassment from MIBs. The person who receives the visit is usually alone, and no MIBs have ever been caught or interrogated. As far as is known, MIB victims who have ignored the threats have not suffered as a result.
MIBs sometimes work alone, and sometimes in twos or threes. They may arrive in a large black car, often an out-of-date model, with licence plates which later turn out to be false. They wear dark suits, dark hats, dark ties, dark shoes and socks, but white shirts, and witnesses often remark on their immaculate turn-out and seemingly brand-new clothes. They are often dark-complexioned, perhaps Oriental-looking, and frail.
Conforming to a stereotyped CIA image, they claim to be government agents or produce identity cards which prove false. Sometimes they masquerade as journalists, insurance salesmen, or air force personnel. Their movements are stiff, their manner formal and cold, their faces unsmiling and expressionless, their stilted speech reminiscent of B-movie dialogue. In one case, an MIB had a large tape recorder with him, but didn’t know how to operate it. Sometimes there is no personal visit, only a phone call, or there is no black car, only an abrupt appearance and disappearance.
In May 1975, two weeks after a dramatic UFO sighting from his plane – a sighting confirmed on the radar screens at Mexico City airport – a young pilot was pursued down the freeway by four black-suited Scandinavian-looking men in a black limousine. After forcing him to the side of the road, they warned him not to discuss his sighting; the pilot was on his way to do a television interview. A month later one of the strangers reappeared and threatened him again while he was on his way to a hotel to talk to the prominent UFO investigator Allen Hynek.
He described the MIBs as tall and strangely white, and said he never saw them blink.2
On the evening of 11 September 1976, Herbert Hopkins, a family physician from Maine, who was studying a UFO incident, was alone at home when a man claiming to be a UFO researcher phoned to ask if he could visit to discuss the case; he claimed he was from a UFO organization that was later found not to exist.
The doctor agreed, and as soon as the phone call ended, he switched on the back porch light – only to see the man already climbing the porch steps. The man was black-suited, bald, had dead-white skin, no eyebrows or eyelashes, and wore bright red lipstick. He sat almost motionless, barely opening a slitlike toothless mouth.
He told Hopkins that he had two coins in his left pocket – this was correct. He instructed him to put one coin on the palm of his hand. Hopkins then saw the coin gradually fade into a vaporous ‘blue fuzzy ball’ and vanish. ‘Neither you nor anyone else on this plane will ever see that coin again,’ said the visitor. Having asked Hopkins to destroy any tapes, correspondence, or literature he had on the UFO case he was studying, the MIB rose unsteadily, saying, ‘My energy is running low – must go now – goodbye.’ On leaving the house, he walked towards a bright blue-white light shining in the driveway.
Hopkins assumed this to belong to the visitor’s car, though he neither saw nor heard it leave. Marks in the centre of the drive, not those of car tyres, vanished by the next day. In shock, Hopkins erased the tapes and abandoned the UFO case. He never heard from his visitor again.3
The following incident occurred during the Mothman visitations in West Virginia.
One night in January 1967, Mary Hyre, a reporter who had written extensively about the local sightings, was working late in her office when a man walked in the door. He was about four feet six inches tall. Although the outside temperature was well below freezing, he was wearing nothing but a short-sleeved blue shirt and thin blue trousers. His eyes were dark and deep-set, and he wore thick-lensed glasses.
He had long, black hair that was cut squarely. He spoke in a hard-to-understand singsong manner, ‘like a recording’, and asked for directions to Welsh, West Virginia. Hyre found him terrifying. ‘He kept getting closer and closer to me,’ she said, ‘his funny eyes staring at me almost hypnotically.’ Alarmed, she summoned the newspaper’s circulation manager to her office and together they spoke to the strange man, who seemed to know more about West Virginia than they did.
At one point, the telephone rang and while Hyre was answering it the little man picked up a pen from her desk and looked at it in amazement as if he had never seen one before. When Hyre told him he could have it, he gave a loud peculiar laugh, ran outside and disappeared round a corner.
Several weeks later, Hyre was crossing the street near her office and saw the same little man. He seemed startled when he realized that she was watching him, turned away quickly and ran for a large black car that suddenly came around the corner. He climbed in and it quickly drove away.
By this time, most of the Mothman sightings had come to an end. But on 15 December 1967, the 700-foot bridge linking Point Pleasant to Ohio suddenly collapsed while filled with rush hour traffic. Dozens of vehicles plunged into the Ohio River and 46 people were killed. During Christmas week, a short, dark-skinned man entered Mary Hyre’s office.
He was dressed in a black suit, with a black tie, and looked vaguely Oriental. He had high cheekbones, narrow eyes, and an unidentified accent. He was not interested in the bridge disaster, but wanted to know about local UFO sightings. Hyre was too busy to talk with him and handed him a file of related press clippings. He was not interested in them and insisted on speaking with her.
She finally dismissed him from her office. That same night, an identical-looking man visited the homes of several witnesses in the area who had reported seeing lights in the sky. He made all of them very uneasy and uncomfortable and while he claimed to be a reporter from Cambridge, Ohio, he inadvertently admitted that he did not know where Columbus, Ohio, was even though the two towns are just a few miles apart.4
John Keel says that MIB behaviour is reminiscent of the fairy hoaxes and games of an earlier epoch.
Other researchers regard MIBs as a form of demonic psychic entity. As Michael Grosso says, ‘MIBs seem to slide in and out of reality, behaving like phantoms or nightmares one moment and assuming a daylight actuality the next’.5
The MIB phenomenon is probably fuelled by paranoia on the part of witnesses and ufologists.
Keel points out that groups investigating the assassination of President Kennedy have suffered harassment similar to that experienced by UFO researchers.
Their telephones go haywire, they are followed by mysterious cars and suspicious Oriental-looking gentlemen, and their mail gets fouled up.
Students of witchcraft, members of fanatical religious groups, and even members of civil rights movements and both right and left wing political groups all become victims of this harassment. And each group tries to find a cause or culprit to explain it – the most popular being the CIA or FBI.
Thousands of people are undergoing this kind of harassment continually, and no government agency is big enough, has enough personnel or a big enough budget to be the blame for all these incidents. Nor would any responsible government agency be motivated to spend a fortune to harass teen-aged UFO buffs and little old ladies collecting clippings about John F. Kennedy.6
It seems that anybody involved in controversial research who has to confront widespread hostility and is liable to paranoia may find themselves suffering similar harassment.
For instance, T. Henry Moray (1892-1974) invented a radiant energy machine that converted space energy into useable power and was able to produce more energy that was required to run it. Several scientists examined it and were convinced it was genuine. However, Moray also faced tremendous skepticism and opposition, had problems obtaining patents for his device, and became very suspicious.
He began to suffer strange forms of harassment. He became the object of death threats, and both he and his wife were shot at a number of times. The Morays decided to order a bulletproof car.
One of his sons remembered being driven around town when the car was hit by a hail of bullets fired from a mysterious black sedan. Another son says his mother received a string of anonymous phone calls threatening their lives. In one of them, she was told that her husband’s life wasn’t worth ‘a plugged nickel’ unless he cooperated with the caller’s agents over the radiant energy machine. Moray’s home and laboratory were repeatedly broken into, but the machine was never stolen. In a subsequent incident Moray was shot in the leg while working in the laboratory.
Moray firmly believed that this was all part of a plot to get him to hand over the invention.7
Stuart Gordon, The Paranormal: An illustrated encyclopedia, London: Headline, 1992, pp. 437-9; Clark, Unexplained!, pp. 242-4; Daniel W. Murphy, ‘Men in black’, http://www.geocities.com/bigfootrus/index.html.
Unexplained!, p. 243.
The Paranormal, p. 438; Michael Grosso, Frontiers of the Soul: Exploring psychic evolution, Wheaton, IL: Quest, 1992, p. 211.
Keel, The Mothman Prophecies, pp. 109-10, 113.
Frontiers of the Soul, p. 211.
Keel, Strange Creatures from Time and Space, p. 199.
Keith Tutt, The Search for Free Energy: A scientific tale of jealousy, genius and electricity, London: Simon & Schuster, 2001, p. 58; Jeane Manning, The Coming Energy Revolution: The search for free energy, New York: Avery, 1996, pp. 36-9.
10. The astral world
According to the theosophic tradition, the astral world or astral light comprises several spheres of increasingly ethereal, more plastic matter surrounding and interpenetrating the physical earth.
It is the ethereal blueprint from which the physical earth derives, and corresponds to the astral body of each individual. Its lower reaches are not especially elevated as they lie only one vibratory range up from the gross matter of the physical world, but its higher reaches merge into the akashic or spiritual realms.
The astral light is said to contain a record of everything that has ever happened on earth, both in the present evolutionary cycle and in past cycles. For this reason it is sometimes called ‘nature’s picture gallery’. Since it records thoughts, emotions, and deeds of every conceivable quality, it comprises everything from the collective ‘unconscious’ to the collective superconscious.
The astral world is said to be populated by a variety of entities. Its constituent life-atoms can be thought of as simple elemental entities, which combine to form all manner of fleeting, shape-shifting creatures, known by the generic terms ‘elementals’, ‘nature-forces’, or ‘nature-sprites’.
Elementals are the semi-automatic, quasi-conscious agents and building stones of nature, and are involved in everything that happens on the physical plane, since every physical atom is ensouled by an elemental.
Everything that takes place on the physical plane is brought about by the deliberate or unconscious action of elementals, acting either for themselves or as the vehicles of higher intelligences. They may work individually, but more commonly in groups, waves, or flows. While some elementals are atomic in size, others are gigantic, with corresponding powers.
Although elementals do not possess selfconsciousness, conscience, or free will, those associated with higher subplanes can display a degree of intelligence. The vast majority of elementals have no permanent form of their own, and can change shape with great rapidity.
They adopt shapes (and also clothing) that mirror the pictures and thought-forms existing in their environment, including human minds. The higher elementals may take the form of beasts, either living or extinct, and those on the mental plane tend to assume a more or less human shape. Some elementals are said to be hostile towards humans, and others friendly. The elementals of the air are the most dangerous, because of their close connection with the desire part of the human constitution.1
In theosophy, three kingdoms of elementals are generally distinguished, which are placed below the mineral kingdom.
This means that the consciousness-centres (or monads) manifesting as elementals are in the earliest stages of their evolutionary growth, and still have to pass through the other kingdoms of nature: i.e. the mineral, vegetable, animal, human, and three superhuman (or dhyani-chohanic) kingdoms. From another viewpoint, there are seven kingdoms of elementals, as there are elementals associated with each subplane (or cosmic element), in increasing grades of ethereality or spirituality.
The medieval mystics divided elementals into four categories, according to which of the four lower elements they were associated with: gnomes (earth), undines (water), sylphs (air), and salamanders (fire). The Hindus distinguish many more types: lower types include pretas, yakshas, and dakinis, while higher types include gandharvas, vidyadharas, and apsaras. The former are said to be mischievous and dangerous, while the latter are benevolent, and, if properly approached, willing to impart useful knowledge of arts and sciences.2
W.Q. Judge mentions a very advanced class of elementals, called the saptarishis, which, though not strictly in our stream of evolution, sometimes communicate with mediums, and by their apparent knowledge give the impression that they are high spiritual beings whereas they are really of the same character as the lower devas of the Hindus.3 Since elementals cannot be studied with physical instruments they are a closed book to materialist science, but not to those who possess sufficient clairvoyant powers.
Humans’ astral model-bodies and ‘mental bodies’ are composed of astral substances of differing grades. The astral world is closely associated with all mental and psychic phenomena. Our minds attract ideas, thoughts, and images from the general thought-atmosphere or memory-field of the astral light, and send them out again in modified form.
Thoughts, emotions, and desires are elemental energies, which assume a particular form and cohere for a period corresponding to the intensity of the originating thought. Groups of humans – families, nations, races, and religious, social, and political movements, etc. – build up collective thought-forms, some of which may assume a powerful life of their own.
The lower astral realms are inhabited by the decaying astral shells of deceased humans. These shells are left behind when the higher human soul ascends to the higher, akashic realms, and are often mistaken by mediums for the ‘spirits’ of the dead. Since they are instinctual entities, devoid of self-conscious intelligence, the communications received via mediums are often trivial and banal.
Certain types of elementals can also draw on the information present in the minds of séance participants to give the illusion that the soul of a deceased person is present.
H.P. Blavatsky describes how at séances astral shells ‘fall on people like a cloud or a big octopus, and disappear within them as if sucked in by a sponge’. They vampirize sitters and mediums alike by depleting their vitality.4
Outside séance rooms, too, astral shells may be attracted by affinity to a person and sucked into their astral body, thereby strengthening whatever vice the person may be addicted to. A greater threat is said to be posed by ‘elementaries’ – the astral shells of humans who have led particularly depraved lives on earth, which take far longer to decompose.
Other beings inhabiting the astral realms are humans who have attained a high degree of occult power and are able to live or operate selfconsciously in the astral world after leaving their physical body behind, either temporarily or permanently. These may be humans of mahatmic stature, or their evil counterparts – the sorcerers, black magicians, or ‘brothers of the shadow’. Superhuman entities associated with the three highest kingdoms of nature inhabit the higher astral, or akashic realms.
Every physical planet in our solar system is surrounded by its own astral and akashic realms, which are condensed regions of the generalized astral and akashic planes that embrace the entire solar system. These various realms can be regarded as higher subplanes of our own cosmic plane, ‘above’ and ‘below’ which lie further sevenfold planes. According to the ageless wisdom, the boundless universe comprises an infinite number of planes within planes, worlds within worlds.
On the six cosmic planes ‘above’ our own, there are said to be 11 companion globes belonging to each of the planets we observe on our physical plane, with 12 globes making up a complete planetary chain. During the lifetime of earth, the monads embodying in each of the ten kingdoms or life-waves make seven circlings or rounds through all the twelve globes.
On any globe, at any time, one kingdom dominates, and the bulk of its monads embody on that globe. The human kingdom is currently the dominant active kingdom on our own lowest globe of the earth-chain.
It is our higher human monads – and not of course our outer material bodies – that move from globe to globe, residing for millions of years on each one in turn during a planetary round. And in the course of even vaster periods of time, our spiritual and divine monads travel from planet to planet, and solar system to solar system. Our higher monads may also pass quickly through the other earth-globes and planets during sleep, after death, or during initiations.
Just as each physical globe of a planet or star has its own astral and akashic realms, so does each of the higher globes.
Fig. 10.1. Schematic representation of the twelve globes of a planetary chain.
The possibility of our earth being visited by intelligent species who have evolved on other physical planets and have mastered the art of space travel cannot be ruled out.
However, most of them would probably not be adapted to the earth’s gravity or able to breathe its atmosphere; nor would they necessarily look anything like ourselves. Advanced beings either from other globes on the physical plane or from other planes could also visit our own earth-globe and manifest in visible form by consciously projecting and then materializing their ethereal bodies.
However, given their appearance and behavior, most of the wide range of otherworldly entities that humans have encountered through the ages are probably temporary physical manifestations of shape-shifting elemental and psychic energy-forms from the astral world immediately surrounding our physical globe. This means that they do not possess a relatively stable and permanent form and identity resulting from a lengthy process of evolution. In some cases their form may endure only for the period of their physical manifestation.
And it may reflect witnesses’ own attitudes and beliefs along with ‘archetypal’ or other images and behavioral patterns recorded in the astral light. Such manifestations may either occur spontaneously or be orchestrated by intelligent agencies possessing the necessary powers, whose motives could range from purely benevolent to purely malevolent.
In our modern scientific space age, it is understandable that gnomes, fairies, and other traditional forms of elementals are now seen less commonly than UFOs and ‘aliens’.
As Stuart Gordon says,
The images projected by individuals and maintained by group-belief have changed. But the basic process stays the same. The fairies and their ilk were literally diminished in stature and reality by the loss of popular belief in them – yet the mind-stuff of which they and other elementals are formed remains active – in us.5
While some otherworldly encounters seem to involve physical or semi-physical manifestations, others may be largely hallucinatory or visionary, or involve out-of-body experiences. But visionary experiences are not necessarily generated purely in our own heads, since our minds are immersed in the thought-atmosphere of Gaia and may be influenced by all manner of entities residing there.
Although ordinary humans are unable to predict when or where or to whom the next psychic visitation will occur, there is nothing accidental about it; ‘chance’ is merely a word we use to disguise our ignorance. Ultimately we reap what we sow, life after life, and encounter the experiences and challenges needed to enable us to correct our shortcomings and deepen our understanding of nature.
Astral entities require a source of energy to intrude into our own reality.
This may be drawn from witnesses themselves or from the wider environment. It is noteworthy that certain geographical areas, characterized by geomagnetic and electromagnetic anomalies and disturbances, seem to attract a disproportionate amount of paranormal activity; they are sometimes called ‘window’ areas. There may be various factors at work which cause the materialization of astral forms and entities to become easier or more difficult at periodic intervals.
In his valuable book on unexplained phenomena, Jerome Clark alleges that the theory of visitations from other realms amounts to ‘obfuscation’:
To claim, as some do, that HBs [hairy bipeds] are dropping here out of another reality or dimension is to say nothing at all.
Not, of course, that this could not be true; it is just that, given our present state of knowledge, we have no reason to believe it is true either. It is the intellectual equivalent of ‘explaining’ HBs by declaring them to be visitors from Cxkoikjlkfyl or any other fanciful place you want to make up.6
These remarks are a good example of ‘obfuscation’.
Clark readily admits that some of the strange entities he describes in his book could be visitors from a ‘parallel reality’, ‘twilight zone’, or ‘Goblin Universe‘; in fact this is often the only plausible suggestion he can come up with.
But if these terms are more than just empty phrases, they most likely refer to the astral world of the occult tradition – a real, substantial, though more ethereal realm, interpenetrating our physical world and in constant interaction with it.
Such a realm provides a key to understanding a wide range of otherworldly manifestations, and its existence has been recognized by mystics and occultists throughout the ages.
The same can certainly not be said for ‘Cxkoikjlkfyl’!
G. de Purucker, The Esoteric Tradition, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press (TUP), 2nd ed., 1973, pp. 249-52; G. de Purucker, Questions We All Ask, TUP, 1929-30, 2:325-36; G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, TUP, 1974, 232-7; G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy, TUP, 1973, pp. 49-52; Dialogues of G. de Purucker, TUP, 1948, 3:60-5.
H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1950-91, 6:169.
W.Q. Judge, Echoes of the Orient, San Diego, CA: Point Loma Publications, 1975-87, 2:237.
Blavatsky Collected Writings, 9:107.
Gordon, The Paranormal, p. 206.
Clark, Unexplained!, pp. xx, 175-6.