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

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