Thursday, 24 January 2013

Poltergeists Ghosts and Morphic Resonance

Poltergeists (noisy ghosts) have been reported for thousands of years in almost every country in the world.They can be highly distressing and investigators have sometimes had to alter their focus from finding out what is going on to stopping it. If they cannot stop the phenomenon the victims may move, but sometimes the phenomena may move with them.

Poltergeist infestations are hauntings that include physical phenomena: objects may fly through the air, furniture may move on its own, electrical devices may fail, fires may start spontaneously and pools of water may appear. If fraud (always a possibility but may occur together with a genuine infestation), and mundane explanations have been investigated and ruled out, some hauntings behave like malevolent spirits and some just seem mischievous. A lot of cases are associated with a teenager, though almost all households with teenagers are poltergeist free. Other cases occur in dysfunctional households and certain forms of stress may result in Poltergeist Phenomena. There are also suggestions that electrical fields may give rise to poltergeist like phenomena.

The Poltergeist Phenomenon

A poltergeist is more than an apparition, more than a multi-sensory hallucination involving sight, sound, touch, hearing and even taste. A poltergeist is not purely subjective. Clearly if only one person is involved distinguishing a poltergeist from a convincing hallucination will be hard. If two people agree that something moved spontaneously this can be taken as a suggestion it really moved although the case of the moving Statues of Ballinspittle where hundreds of people saw a statue move but there was no evidence of actual movement, means that observation by more than one person can only be a hint.

Poltergeist phenomena have parallels in physical mediumship, common in the 19th century but rare now, and recorded cases of ecstatic levitation for example by St Joseph of Copertino and certain miracles attributed to saints of all religions. Folklore gives stories of people beaten by fairies or other inhabitants of the spirit world and Batcheldor's experiments in induced Psychokinesis [5].

Genuine poltergeist Phenomena have to involve some form of Psychokinesis, either by a spirit, or a human agent unconsciously causing the manifestation. In the latter case there is usually some form of stress involved, and it seems likely that stress can result in the uncontrolled release of psychic powers in the minority of people who are open to this possibility and have such powers.

A genuine poltergeist manifestation that cannot be attributed to mundane causes, fraud or other non-paranormal causes will either involve a “spirit” or the unconscious use of psychic abilities by someone involved.In either case the energy needed to move objects must come from somewhere, though where it comes from is not certain.

Poltergeists versus Ghosts

Ghosts often behaves like video recordings giving no indication of awareness of the observer, A poltergeist differs from such a ghost in that an element of choice as to when and where something happens seems to be present: pools of water and spontaneous fires do not seem to occur together, but can happen anywhere in an infected house, and poltergeists sometimes respond to the words or actions of the people involved, like the pair of floating gloves that responded to a skeptic singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” by beating time to the tune [1].

An experiment reported in Paranthropology raised the intriguing possibility ghosts and poltergeists can be created by ritual activity and reeneactment and that this can be explained by the controversial notion of Morphic resonance [6].

Mundane Explanations

Any candidate poltergeist infestation needs to pass a few hurdles. One is physical causes. Vibrations from say underground trains or passing traffic can cause things to move unexpectedly and slow movement of a poorly balanced pile of paper may cause it to topple over. Some cases are explained by static electricity, fraud, or even Ball Lightning. Physicist John Hutchinson claimed to have observed poltergeist like effects when generating intense magnetic fields, and this may account for some cases [7], though this has not apparently been repeated, and some researchers have postulated the quantum mechanical zero point field as the origin of poltergeist activity.

Autosuggestion is another common cause of misinterpretation: people who enter a house knowing it is alleged to be haunted will attribute strange sounds from plumbing or neighbours as paranormal and a shadow will be interpreted as a ghost. On the other hand the possibilities of Morphic Resonance creating the phenomenon leave the possibility that the expectation creates genuine phenomena.

All these explanations are speculative, need more research and do not account for the cases where the phenomenon apparently responds to events in the vicinity, where voices are heard and recorded and conversations with an apparent spirit as in the case of the Enfield Poltergeist. [8].

Dealing with poltergeists

If you are (un)fortunate enough to experience poltergeist phenomena DONT PANIC. The notion that poltergeists do not harm people is a myth but cases of poltergeists harming people are not all that common. In any case step up safety measures like checking whether the gas and electricity are off though with a serious manifestation this will not be enough

Eliminate mundane causes like the neighbours drumming practice as far as possible. If you find no mundane cause look at the household or, if the case occurs on business premises, staff, and possible interpersonal tensions. Try and check whether any one person is the focus of the disturbances and to resolve their problems.

Next contact a good psychic investigation group. In the UK this would be a branch of ASSAP, the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena. If they find no mundane explanation they may be able to advise on how to contact the authorities, insurance companies etc without being labelled insane. In a recent case builders tools kept vanishing but the victim made the mistake of mentioning ghosts to the Insurance company and had their claim refused. Equally some claimants have managed to get paid despite mentioning ghosts. It is best to mention a mundane cause however.

If the manifestation is likely to prove dangerous or over stressful the investigators may be able to recommend measures to take. These could include getting a priest to bless the house though this usually brings only temporary relief calling in a medium to talk to the spirits or, if the problem is limited to a single room, repurposing that room for storage.


Poltergeists have been around for a long time and are unlikely to go away. It is likely there are classes of poltergeists, each with a different origin. If you suffer a poltergeist eliminat mundane explanations and contact a psychic investigation group.

Further Reading

[1] Poltergeist: Colin Wilson , New English Library Ltd; First Edition edition (1 Nov 1981) ISBN-10: 0450048802 ISBN-13: 978-0450048807

[5] Kenneth Batcheldor  conducted experiments in inducing psyhokiniesis by recreating the table tipping common in 19th century spiritualist seances.

[6] [2] Soundscape and the Culture of War on an American Civil War Battlefield: An Ethnography of Communication with Past Presences John G. Sabol Paranthropology Volume 3 Number 2 April 2012

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Ritual, reenactment, morphic resonance hauntings, anomalous sounds and creating spirits.

There is evidence spirits can be created [1] consciously or unconsciously, by groups or individuals, but there is little or no theory behind what is essentially a trial and error technology with a few proven hard to master techniques.

An intriguing experiment [2] in the use of reenactment to contacting presences from the past produced some anomalous results but these results and the theory behind the experiment do not clearly show that they were produced by non physical entities.

Ghost Armies, Battles and Morphogenetic fields

Ghost Armies and battles are encountered from the British Civil War and other conflicts. Some seem to be virtual replays of the conflict ( but may be imaginative recreations triggered in the minds while the individual is in an altered State of Consciousness) and are seen by a people who are not “psychic”. Others are restricted to sounds. In some ways sounds are easier to investigate scientifically than full replays: Anomalous sounds have been recorded in a number of contexts and may be harder to fake than photographs.

Remembrance of wars and battles often takes the form of annual or occasional rituals, from Remembrance Day in the UK to reenactments and individual offerings. These rituals may have created a cognitive signature, what Sheldrake calls a morphogenetic field, which can be imagined as a rut in reality formed by a wheel (ritual) repeatedly running over the same space, forming an “attractor” that drags perception into that rut and makes it harder to avoid the rut.

If this theory is correct in even a few cases it would mean that a morphogenetic field created by semi-repetitive activity focussed on an event could be perceived as a haunting or a visit from a deity or demon. Or the activity involved could actually be produced by some entity that was “allowed” to manifest by the ritual. In plainer terms the activity could have produced a piece of theatre based on collective imagination of how the past event proceeded, could be a replay on the “akashic record” of the event, could be one or more spirits created by the ritual activity, could be the spirits of people involved in the event, or could be some other entity play acting, as seems to happen in the case of UFOS [4] and Phantom Clowns [5] and Poltergeists [6].

In brief the hypothesis is that past memory and presence can be reconstructed, or “unearthed” via morphic resonance (itself a controversial theory) and that this is framed by soundmarks and production of these allows tuning in to the past event.

Reenactment and Recreation

The experiment involved carefully directed reenactment of events that produced sounds associated with the Civil War battle of Antietam, the sounds reenacted being those related to different parts of the battle field. The rationale of the experiment was to get away from the standard technology related forms of investigation that demand a sign from a ghost and instead attempt to manifest what the author calls contextual memories of the event, a contextual memory being something that could be triggered by one of the reenacted sounds, just as a trivial event such as the smell of bread can bring back total and indeed immersive recall of an associated event. Typical soundmarks included Bugle Calls, Drums, A role call, and period music. Actions involved also included female volunteers playing the role of women searching for the bodies of relatives. Care was taken to avoid using technology that would have appeared totally alien to any ghosts in the area and the experiments were performed at times tourists were unlikely to be in the area, for example at night.

Various anomalous sounds were recorded words, sentences and singing for example. More intriguingly during the roll call in response to the call 'Private Lewis Dayton,’ someone answered ‘Dayton Present.’ Some of the investigators felt as if they were being gently touched. At least one response was repeated in a later repeat of the reenactment lending support to the video-replay and morphic resonance theories, though not inconsistent with the notion of a real presence.

Can Morphic Resonance and Ritual create spirits?

If temporarily we accept the idea of morphic resonance we can theorise that the original event in this case the battle, created a “scar” in the universe that subsequent activity reinforced and that reenactment both tuned into and reinforced the resonance.

Extending beyond this investigation leads to the possibility that ritual works at least partly by morphic resonance. Reenacting a battle causes the manifestation of phenomena associated with the battle, a prayer meeting creates a field that tends to bring about the desired effect ( though competing prayers may nullify this), visualising a parking space may create it and half formed negative thoughts (much easier to generate than positive ones after being burned a few times) may tend to bring about bad luck, as may dwelling on possible negative futures. On a larger scale ceremonies such as Remembrance Day may make wars more likely, even though no one consciously wants them to happen, except those who profit from them so conscious reframing of the ritual as not just remembering the dead but preventing future wars may be a good idea, even if this is only something in the minds of those attending – for any effort to change the form of the ceremony will meet with resistance.

The repetition involved in the Toronto Group's creation of Philip of Diddington may have initially created a morphic resonance which then became something like an entity. This type of process may be repeated daily in spiritualist churches. Mainstream religions may create such resonances through their rituals and in the more intolerant religions and cults these resonances may act like malevolent entities.


The experiment described here shows that ritual and reenactment may allow tuning into a past event and that anomalous sounds related to that event may be captured. Ritual may create and tune into such resonances but can also conceivably allow communication from the dead and the creation of conscious non-physical entities. However much of this is speculation and must be tested experimentally.

Further reading

[2] Soundscape and the Culture of War on an American Civil War Battlefield: An Ethnography of Communication with Past Presences John G. Sabol Paranthropology Volume 3 Number 2 April 2012

[3] Colin Wilson cites historian Arnold Toynbee as experiencing spontaneous visions of battles that occurred while he was visiting the sites where the battles occurred. He also notes that while Toynbee had studied these battles there were some details that puzzled him and took some research to resolve.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Creating Spirits

Many Worlds quantum theory suggests there are an infinite number of possible universes but does not rule out the possibility that some universes can communicate with each other and that our universe can communicate with others. There is also the possibility that our universe is full of normally undetectable sentient beings, the ones of interest being those normally regarded as “paraphysical” and may be called Terrestrial Aliens or TAs for short (“spirits” carries too much baggage).

Skeptics, even those who are aware of Many Worlds Theory, dismiss any evidence for alternative universes or normally inaccessible realms of existence in our universe as fraud or self deception - not always without reason. Unfortunately many skeptics seem to be driven by a desire to disbelieve as strong as the desire of believers to believe.

The totality of the evidence suggests either that TAs exist or that the unconscious mind can exercise psychic powers vastly greater than those observed either in the laboratory or in daily life.

Here I want to look very briefly at some evidence that TAs can be created, and that once created they can take a life of their own, I then try to classify createdTAs and speculate on why the TA world bothers with us

Theory and Experiment

Reports of created TAs are found throughout the world. In Magic and Mystery in Tibet Alexandra David Neel describes her experiment in creating a thought form and in Magical Use of Thought forms Ashcroft-Nowicki describes the process of creating a Yidam or deity and notes the Tibetan belief that even the most powerful deities are creations of the human mind. Or, as is popularly said, “Man created God in his own image”

From Toronto comes the creation of Philip of Diddington, an imaginary character created by the Toronto Society of Psychical Research, and their later creation of a second character called Lilith.

In all cases a being seems to have been created and then developed an independent life of its own. Apparently a few of these, including Alexandra David Neel's creation were able to manifest independently of their creators.

Redfern (Paranormal Magazine 30 December 2008) notes creation of TAs was discussed by Helen Blavatsky and discussed in a 1901 book Thought Forms by Besant and Leadbetter that notes that the matter of the Astral plane is very susceptible to the influence of human thought. Ashcroft-Nowicki and Brennan (Magical Use of Thought Forms) say the Astral plane is an old term for the world of the imagination, and of course the world of the imagination can be moulded by the imagination.

It seems likely that this world of the imagination overlaps the world where Jungian Archetypes live and also ( this is speculation, at this point) the world where the TAs that Shamans contact live: Rabbit, Raven, Eagle, Monkey and so forth. In fact Rabbit, Raven and their like seem like unrecognised Jungian Archetypes.

Classifying Created TEs
The Old Testament says JHWH created the universe and humanity but not WHY. Moreover the author knows of no creation myth that says WHY we were created. The possibility humans create TAs is a possible answer to this question and to the question “Why do they bother with us?”, for if we can create TAs then TAs have an incentive to deal with us. Again this is speculation and may not be the the answer or only be part of the answer.

We can classify TAs along various dimensions, one of which is the degree of reality they possess. At one end are beings, very like psychological complexes, that live in a single human mind but are not controlled by their host. Multiple Personality Disorder may involve beings of this type. Further along the scale are beings that live in the common imagination of humanity, a sort of pool of consciousness to which all humans have access. Jung's archetypes may be examples .

Then there are creature like Philip and Lilith with a life of their own and a limited ability to manifest in this universe. Next come creatures like David-Neel's Tulpa which was seen by people who did not previously know it existed or the alleged guardians of ancient sites. And then there are poltergeists who have strong powers of manifestation. It is even possible there are some TEs that can manifest in the world so strongly that they pass for normal humans. At the high end of this spectrum would be deities and demons for whom this world might be as unreal as a dream. In Terry Pratchett's book Mort, Death's apprentice Mort becomes so real he can walk through solid matter: just because we are real it does not follow that we are the most real things in the multiverse.

Another axis is the degree to which the TA was deliberately created. Some poltergeists may be unconsciously created TAs, but sometimes groups of low order TEs may use the psychic energy of a dysfunctional family or original to create psychic phenomena.

A TA may have many attributes and two important ones are their power and their attitude to Humanity. Some will like us and some hate us. There will be a most powerful one that hates us and a most powerful one that likes us. If you are a Christian you can if you wish identify these with God and Satan but it is unlikely they are anything like the beings the Bible describes. The TA we create may be benign or malevolent and which it is is largely beyond conscious control. If you hate yourself any TA you create may well hate you. Especially if you try to destroy it

The Wrap

To summarise there is evidence TAs can be created, once created can take on a life of their own and can influence our world to varying degrees. The ability to create TAs may be the reason the TAs bother with humanity. The nature of a createdTA seems to be controlled by the intent, as in the case of Philip and Lilith, and influences from the creator's unconscious or the collective action of groups of people, such as co-religionists. We have to remember our creations may have wills of our own and bear in mind the Science Fiction story of the super computer that was asked “Is there a God” and replies “Yes there is........ Now” at which point a bolt of lightning melts the off switch.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Medieval Werewolves, Skeptics, Believers and how they thought

Like Vampires Werewolves have, thanks to Hollywood movies - starting with The Wolf Man in 1941 - come to be seen in a romantic light: something perhaps missed by those torn to pieces and eaten by humans who considered themselves were-animals or perhaps were  even real were-animals.

Modern Science and Medieval Scholarship both considered physical transformation of humans impossible, though for vastly different reasons. The skeptics in the West in the Middle ages were faced with a well attested phenomenon that needed explanation and produced explanations that seem plausible, though hard, if not impossible to test, especially given their belief in the inerrancy of the Bible.

The cases here are presented to help make sense of the phenomenon and try to distinguish between various theories. Since more than one theory may be correct it is necessary to look at recorded cases involving transformation into an animal, not necessarily a wolf

Quick Looks at some cases

In 1581 a shepherd called Petronio, tried at Dalheim in Germany, was said to have changed himself into a wolf by means of various incantations in order to mutilate sheep owned by neighbours against whom he had a grudge.

In 1598 a court in Paris ordered records of a werewolf trial to be burned because the details were so grisly.

In 1589 Peter Stumpf of Bedburg in Germany confessed to killing children in the form of a wolf “With eyes great and large” . He sounds like the Peter Stubb who, according to Keel [4] terrorised the German countryside for 25 years in the 16th Century by donning a wolfskin belt given him by the Devil. When the monstrous wolf was tracked down the hunters saw Peter appear miraculously before them. His head was mounted on a pole outside the village but the wolfskin belt was never recovered.

Nine years later a French beggar called Jacques Roulet was executed for the same crime. He confessed he and his companions: his brother and a cousin, had a salve that let them take the form of wolves. Again he had killed and eaten children in various parts of the country. Although there were no eye witnesses of his transformation hunters had chased a wolf that was eating the body of a fifteen year old boy and tracked down a human with fresh blood on his hands and red human flesh under his nails.

Gilles Garnier was burned as a werewolf at Lyon ( another source says it was in Dole, about 100 km away) after freely confessing his crimes. In 1573 he killed a young girl with his “paw like hands and his teeth” on St Michael's day, eating some of the body and taking some home to his wife. A month after that he killed another girl but three people prevented him eating her. Then he killed a child of ten and ate part of their thighs, legs and abdomen. Later, in human form, he killed a boy about 12 years old but was prevented from eating him.

Apart from the sudden appearances of the humans when the wolf was pursued, there is little evidence of anythinf supernatural in these cases

Wolf Like Humans

In 1610 Pierre De Lancre, a judge in Bordeaux, visited Jean Grenier, a 21 year old werewolf who had been confined to a monastery cell for seven years. In his book L'inconstance published in 1610 De Lancre noted that Grenier had viciously attacked several victims and eyewitnesses swore he was in the form of a wolf when he carried out the attack. Grenier claimed he had a magic coat that could turn him into a wolf.

De Lancre said Grenier had glittering deep set eyes, long black fingernails and sharp protruding teeth. He walked on all fours much more easily than he could walk upright. He told the judge he craved the flesh of little girls. In this way he was like American serial killer, child rapist and cannibal Albert Fish [3], though Fish never claimed to change into an animal. It is possible, but not stated, that Grenier had been a feral child of the type occasionally reported today that is raised by animals, though generally they cannot talk coherently.

In 1584 a werewolf attacked a girl in a small village in the Jura mountains, and when her brother tried to rescue her it killed him. Enraged bystanders clubbed the werewolf to death and saw the dead wolf turn into the nude corpse of a young woman called Perenette Gandillon. An official enquiry resulted in the arrest of her whole family. Steiger says they seem to have brought about a werewolf psychosis by means of self hypnosis. In a book entitled Discourse Des Sourciers a well known Jurist called Boguet described his examination of the family: they acted as if possessed, losing all resemblance to humanity, their eyes turned red and gleamed, their hair sprouted, their teeth became long and sharp and their fingernails turned horny and clawlike. A bit like the people in the January Sales.

Medieval Werewolf theories

Instead of being seen as driven by bestial impulses we all have (be honest with yourself here) the Medieval Werewolf was associated with magic and the Devil. Those who believed a man could become a wolf and those who did not both proceeded from a worldview totally alien to modern man.

Medieval people were not stupid, though academic learning, and indeed literacy, was restricted to a small elite, indeed the general harshness of life may have made them more street smart than most people today. In Christendom the supreme authority was the Bible and the Christian worldview dominated theories about the world. The situation was almost certainly similar in the lands and peoples of the other Abrahamic religions, but the Christian case is well documented in English and is the only one considered here, though one must bear in mind that large groups of people are similar everywhere, though cultural differences may hide the similarities: take away the religions and a muslim and christian fundamentalist are almost identical.

In the Middle Ages there was a widespread belief that humans could transform into animals. The arguments for and against believing this centred on the limits of the power of the Devil. The believers' case centred on the power of the Devil to transform himself, and they argued it was no harder for him to transform a human. The skeptics, as represented by Henri Boguet argued that while animals were not made to have souls their brains were too small to hold a human intellect and that the witch would have to lose their soul at the moment of transformation and get it back later. Since the soul normally left the body at the moment of death and Satan could not resurrect people, the transformation was impossible.

Having rejected the reality of the transformation the skeptics had to explain the case reports. Some attributed the werewolf confessions to insanity, though others worried that this explanation would let self confessed werewolves off the hook. Others considered the transformation a glamour or illusion produced by Satan, or that Satan created false bodies from thin air, which the werewolf used. However they then had to explain why werewolves gained so many of the abilities of real wolves: fleetness of foot, ferocity and the love of howling. They also had to explain why the werewolves left tracks that could not have been left by a human being, and teeth marks on their victims.

They concluded that these feats were done by Satan or his demons who made them possible through their supernatural powers. Of course no one asked why the demon needed a human being on these expeditions.

This left the need to explain how wounds inflicted on the werewolf appeared on the human body when the transformation back to human form took place ( a feature also reported in some non-European cases). They supposed that the witch never left their home or base, and that the attack was a delusion with Satan inflicting wounds on the body paralleling that inflicted on the air-constructed body used by the demon carrying out the attack. If so Satan would seem to have been rather wasteful with his people.

At this point it seems to me it would have been more parsimonious to assume the transformations were real. Similar mental convolutions seem to characterise the way some skeptics dismiss anomalous phenomena today.

Other Theories

Brad Steiger [1] notes that in the middle ages bands of thieves and beggars would wonder the countryside at night often dressed in Wolfskins and howling like animals. The nearest modern equivalent would be Football Hooligans or young City Traders. It is easy to think such groups explain some werewolf legends. However Steiger does not mention his sources and in the next sentence mentions Hitler's werewolf regiment which, apart from the name appears to have had nothing to do with werewolves. As always in this type of investigation check what you can and his theory needs to be checked.

Another explanation is the lycanthrope psychosis, the belief that one changes into a wolf at full moon (or alternatively that a wolf becomes human at other times). Given the changes observed in mediums at Spiritualist seances, it is possible that at this time the person's appearance changes enough that a victim, unable to spare the time to examine their attacker closely, would think they were seeing a real wolf. This is unlikely to cover all cases though.

An off the wall theory might be that a werewolf is actually the spirit of a wolf that has somehow ended up in a human body. Given the nature of the field it seems extremely difficult to test or asses this idea, and as a theory it does not explain the observed transformations or unusual footprints.

A final possibility is that the transformations were real, though the theoretical background of the Middle Ages may have influenced the reporting of the events. It is also interesting to note that there seem to be few modern cases though there is one from about 1820 involving a wolf strap, possibly a strap cut from the back of a hanged man [5]. Reports of apparent shapeshifters are almost non-existent today so perhaps if the werewolf exists it should be a protected species, like the vampire.

The Wrap

The cases here are only the tip of a worldwide iceberg of werewolf cases. We cannot dismiss the eyewitness reports out of hand: there are too many of them.

It seems simplest to assume that some at least of these cases are genuine transformations, though this conclusion can only be tentative and the author's inner skeptic does not like it. However there are common features to all these cases and where eyewitnesses see a transformation taking place in so many cases the idea of hallucination becomes hard to maintain.

It is also possible that many are explained by the lycanthropy psychosis with physical changes similar to those seen in Spiritualist Seances and the phenomenon of Transfiguration accepted by mainstream religions. This does not explain the cases where the beast left prints a human could not make.

Some commentators on an earlier version of this article noted that it might be easier to "possess" an animal than to become one and that demonic possession could also explain some cases

As always more research is needed.

[1] Monsters among us, Brad Steiger, Para Research 1982, ISBN 0-9149-18-38-9
[2] Strange Histories, Darren Oldridge, Routledge 2005, ISBN 0-415-28860-6
[4] Strange Creatures from Time and Space, John Keel, Sphere Books 1975 ISBN 0-7221-5147-0

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Phenomenon: Hairy Monsters UFOs and the men in Black

The Phenomenon is a term the late John Keel used to describe the totality of strange occurrences such as Yeti Sightings, UFOS, Men in Black and other unexplained phenomena that suggest contact with an unknown order of beings. He devoted much of his life to this research and ended up wondering about the nature of the Phenomenon. His speculations are out of fashion because they upset believers and skeptics alike.
Vampire: Edward Munch

Once upon a time our ancestors lived in a world that teemed with spirits. Every tree, forest, stream and river had its spirits, some more than one, and not all benevolent or neutral to humans. In Russia the Leshy led unwary travellers in the forests round in circles, the Rusalka seduced man and drowned then in her river, the Bannik lived in the bathhouse and the Domovoi looked after the house. In Ireland the Sidhe were called the good neighbours out of fear. And there were the great spirits: Pan and Dionysus in Greece, Odin, Thor and Loki in the north, and Zeus, Mars and Hermes in the south. And there were monsters hostile to humans and keen on eating human flesh who will form a large part of this hub. Werewolves, vampires and ghouls were known, hated, and feared and the evidence for them was good as long as eyewitness accounts could be taken at face value.

The Banishment of monsters

When Science became the dominant mode of intellectual thought the monsters were relegated to status of superstitious nonsense. Where medieval scholars examined the evidence as carefully as possible the new Scientific Orthodoxy dismissed all cases without evidence. In many ways the new generation of scientists were smart arrogant fools, with an attitude summarised by Lavoisier's statement about meteors “Stones cannot fall from the sky because there are no stones in the sky”.

Similar attitudes are shown by groups of “skeptics” who routinely dismiss anomalous phenomena without
examining the evidence and presenting arguments based on common sense or 19th century science. This attitude seems to be related to early negative experiences of a faith-based philosophy , generally organised religion[1], much of which validates Richard Dawkins' claim that raising a child in any religion is a form of child abuse,or a fear of validating religion[2].

In the process of advancing human knowledge the Scientific Attitude, which was basically Materialism, enabled advances in human health to a level not seen since before the dawn of agriculture, replaced much back breaking human labour with machines and enabled development of destructive weaponry of a power unimaginable to previous generations. Overall Science has been a great benefit to the human race. No one stopped to wonder if, in dismissing anomalies from an armchair rather then investigating in the field, the baby was being thrown out with the bath water. In the process the Sidhe, the Monsters and the entire spirit world was banished to the land of fantasy.

But nobody told the monsters.

Humans Versus Monsters

In looking at the strange creatures that wonder through the world at various times attacking, confusing or less frequently helping humans we encounter UFOS, Aliens, Bigfoot, the Yeti, Werewolves, ghouls and a host of other creatures. And when we look at the extremes of human behaviour, from the harmless example of the man who was sexually aroused by roads and finally jailed for attempting to seduce a motorway, to the woman who killed her lovers and kept them in coffins in the basement where she would sit in solitary state every night talking to the corpses perhaps the scariest thing about some of these Unbelievables, a term invented by John Keel, is that they are non human. In sheer viciousness humans have them beaten hands down. That alone suggests these creatures are not projections of the dark sides of our unconscious minds: they are not scary enough.

A few cases.

856 AD: A giant dog invaded a church in Trier, Prussia [4 citing Annales Francorum Regum and Chronicon Saxonus ] during an immense storm which darkened the sky so much that the congregation could hardly see each other. The floor seemed to open and the beast rose up to run back and forth to the altar. The Chronicon reported a similar incident in 867AD.

A monstrous pig like thing reportedly appeared in a church at Andover, Hants, UK on Christmas Eve 1171. It dashed round the altar just as the priest was killed by lightning from within the church.

In 1065 a flying black horse crossed York, England, during a lightning storm, apparently leaving enormous prints (how it could do this while flying is unclear, unless the image was an illusion). According to the Chronicles of Abbot Ralph of Essex [4] after a horrible electric storm on July 29th 1205 Monstrous tracks were seen in several places of a kind never seen before and in the period 11189-1199 2 in the time of King Richard I of England there appeared in a certain grassy flat ground human footprints of extraordinary length and everywhere the footprints were impressed the grass remained as if scorched by fire.

In 1810 something was killing sheep near the Scottish-English border killing 8 to ten animals a night and sucking out their blood. That September a dog was killed in the area and the killings reportedly stopped. Ignore the implications of a vampire dog, but if the animal killed had been named as a domestic dog called Fang I would suspect the Cosmic Joker had been feeling bored. Apparently there was another series of similar attacks in 1874 in Cavan in Ireland, where the animal's throats were cut and their blood sucked out. By April the beast had reached Limerick and attacked and bit several people some of whom allegedly ended up in a lunatic asylum “labouring under strange symptoms of insanity”. Another bloodsucking killer near Badminton, England, in 1905 killed over thirty sheep and a police sergeant said it could not have been a dog and that dogs do not suck the blood of a sheep and leave the flesh alone. An interesting feature is abrupt cessation of the killings. This could mean the killer was an unknown animal that died, or maybe it just moved on. Perhaps all these cases, involve a single creature moving on. Here it is impossible to ignore the medieval notion that demons fashioned bodies from materials like blood and semen and that the people Kaplan considered true vampires claimed to need blood to delay ageing. But there is not enough evidence to make either demons or vampire humans more than a speculative explanation.

A “monkey man” has been seen on and off around Bridge 39 of the UK's Grand union canal in Shropshire. First seen in 1879 it attacked a horse pulling a barge and when the owner tried to whip the monkey the whip passed through it and the horse ran off with the thing on its back. The same creature was seen in 1980 and mentioned more recently in a cartoon in Fortean Times.

These cases just give a flavour of the kind of things involved in the Phenomenon. There is a vast primary and secondary literature and recording the cases and grouping them appropriately would be an important but necessary task.


The theories here are largely from Steiger[3] with added speculations. There is also the strong possibility that no single theory can explain all the strange events involved and in any case the theories tend to blur into each other, and, as stated below, they may all be leading us up the wrong path.

Fantasy resulting from superstition and ignorance. While a number of anomalous phenomena may be explained in mundane terms there is a residue of unexplainables where any explanation raises more questions than answers. Even if this were true the worldwide uniformity in describing (say) were-animals would require explanation.

Archetypes manufactured by the collective unconscious. The simple form of this theory does not explain the physical traces sometimes left when humans encounter the Phenomenon. Apparently towards the end of his life Jung began to believe that Archetypal energies could manifest in the physical world. One author cited in [3] defined Archetypes ans “Energetic Thought fields” that could be accessed when a human is in certain altered states of consciousness, and that there may be unrecognised dimensions of physical events that contain highly evolved entities that intrude on human attempts to reality. Steiger notes that the influence may be malevolent or benevolent. As stated above, the Phenomenon seems to be much less evil than humans, and Archetypes are still controversial.

A paraphysical tribe that coexist with us and occasionally interacts with us. If so they are not necessarily friendly. Unfortunately the term “Paraphysical” is not well defined. And it does not explain the relative rarity of Bigfoot sightings ( for example) in major cities.

Supernatural beings: Angels or demons, malevolent, benevolent or simply playful. Accepting this theory does not validate any particular religion nor does it validate religion in general. But the kind of events involved look a little beneath the dignity of powerful supernatural beings.

Unknown Terrestrial life: This theory surfaces time and again, in one form as the idea that Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are real creatures ( and Keel [4] notes droppings attributable to Bigfoot have been found) or the notion, proposed by Karl Shuker that UFOs are a form of life largely restricted to the middle and upper atmosphere. Again some events seem to strengthen this theory but others seem more paranormal.

Creatures from the Hollow Earth: This theory says the earth is honeycombed with vast underground caverns in which these creatures live. Even those found hundreds of miles from any known caverns. While there are indeed a lot of underground caverns the vast majority seem inhospitable to life.

Creatures misplaced in time and space: Trapped by time warps these creatures are as out of place as they look. Except some seem to have adapted as well as if they were from here and now. The Yeti might be the best candidate for such a creature.

Creatures from other dimensions: Originating in a parallel space time continuum we can only see these creatures under extraordinary, but, if the number of sightings is a guide, not especially rare, circumstances.

A planetary poltergeist: A particularly weak theory since poltergeist phenomena are generally very different from the events involving these Unbelievables.

Answers to a Psychic need: We manufacture the creatures in response to a psychic need using otherwise inaccessible psychic powers. This would require a level of PSI far in excess of that seen in laboratories, but Alexandra David Neel's experiments creating a thought form in Tibet mean it cannot be ruled out.

Extraterrestrial Experiments: Perhaps these creatures have been put here so something can monitor our reaction ( Or conversely it seems to me that Earth may be a dumping ground for failed experiments).

Programmed Deceit and Delusion: created for an ulterior and perhaps sinister motive. Given the ease with which humans deceive themselves this is over elaborate, all the agency creating this needs is some writing they can call holy scriptures and a script to target the rubes.

Genetic Misfits from Atlantis: explains the unbelievables in terms of what seems to be a myth. Edgar Cayce channeled information about this claiming that Atlanteans created several new species including pigs (which were holy in some ancient cultures. We know this from data about the Celts and the fact that in some cultures the pig is regarded as evil, a sure sign it was once sacred).

Teaching Mechanisms: Perhaps some higher agency is creating the phenomenon in order to change our concept of reality. If so we are slow learners.

These theories include unknown animals, para-physical beings, mental phenomena, poltergeists, thought forms and Atlantis. The fact that a case can be made for each theory suggests that a multiplicity of Phenomena are involved.

John Keel pointed out that in some encounters, such as those with UFOs, there is reason to believe that the experiencers have had artificial memories planted in order to disguise what really happened. If this is the case then when dealing with the Phenomenon we need to look for evidence that what the witness recalls may be a decoy. Keel also noted that sometimes armies of monster hunters were coming fields for a monster of some kind while a few miles away UFOs were landing and... doing something.

The Wrap

This has been a first effort at investigating a vast and disorderly field. Many investigators simply focus on one detail while ignoring the bigger picture. Here I looked at the reason why the phenomenon has been less accepted since Science began to dominate, shown a few cases and listed various theories, the multiplicity of which shows the complexity of the subject. It is likely that no one theory fits all the phenomena involved.

Further reading
[1] The Pathology of Organized Skepticism L. DAVID LEITER, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 125–128, 2002

[2] Hume’s Syndrome: Irrational Resistance to the Paranormal MICHAEL GROSSO Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 549–556, 2008

[3] Monsters among us, Brad Steiger, Para Research 1982, ISBN 0-9149-18-38-9

[4] Strange Creatures from Time and Space, John Keel, Sphere Books 1975 ISBN 0-7221-5147-0

you may also be interested in the posts on our sister blog such as the post on  Satanic Puritan Thomas Wier