Tuesday, October 6, 2015

SLOW SWAN SONG, part three

Third piece of this last walk full of personal opinions ....

The piece on UFOs: I felt that I'd earned an opinion due to my work on the subject.

The piece on PSI: I felt that I had a well-founded opinion based on powerful experiences within my family plus knowing the giants of the field and respecting their honesty and competency.

Today=entities --- "crypto-entities" if you will. The famous cryptozoological ones and the ones split off into the category of Faery: I'm less sure that I've earned my opinions here but I AM sure that I've spent a lot of time with several areas of this. Still, I'm no expert.

My credentials, such as they are, include a couple of good ones [two refereed papers; one on the SET animal of Egypt, and the other on the Wasgo/Sisiutl of the Pacific Northwest], and some take-them-or-leave-them things like working in the Ivan Sanderson collection and a fairly formidable pile of resources. Out of those things came the blog entries on sea monsters, "Little People", black fairy dogs, merbeings, dragons, ABSMs et al that you have read. But no personal experiences nor any from my family, though I have had a small number first or second hand from friends.

Still, I feel more humility in these opinions than on the earlier two. But, on we go Out Proctor .....

Faery or The Middle Kingdom: I used to not think about this as anything but romantic fun, and the famous cryptozoological critters as hidden biology. As the blog "progressed", the evidence for me turned nearly completely around. It did NOT point to the NON-existence of these things, though.

"Little People", Fairy Folkloric Entities, and "The Good People": Diarmuid MacManus was the man. His book The Middle Kingdom contains encounter reports so close to him [in terms of knowing the witnesses] and so detailed [so as to make necessary "strangeness" obvious], that for me as a decades-long UFOlogist, they rivaled some of the best UFO reports. The aura of authenticity was dense around them. Suddenly, my reading of Evans-Wentz' The Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries, which I'd read to try to understand what Vallee was on about, made more compelling sense. Whereas I didn't come to Jacques' conclusions that the Faery Phenomenon was real AND explained UFOs, I saw the probable truth in the first part and the probable falsity in the second [i.e. I agree on the raw data, but feel that the two realities have ENTIRELY different feels about them  --- Jacques is a "lumper" on this, and I am a "splitter".] Then came Janet Bord with Fairies and The Secret Country, followed by Wirt Sykes' British Goblins.

I began to collect the cases and produced a 500 or so case catalog whimsically called LEPRECAT. The reality of these things was getting almost impossible to deny. But what sort of reality was this? I've spent much time since buying old texts to find out more of what the people 150-200 years ago thought, and there are [of course] two schools: "modern debunkers" who were snickering as they make patronizing comments about the ignorant "lower class" and naive older generations, and a type of amateur folklore-collector who was open-mindedly trying to preserve the cultural traditions at least from being forgotten. These latter persons don't always have the same personal opinions, but they find the same things: an interpretation by the people that these entities are undoubtedly real, often interact with them as simple encounters between different "persons", and are paranormal or call it quasi-spiritual in Nature. ... and, in my opinion, that is exactly how those encounter stories seem, and continue to seem right up throughout the 20th century.

"Dr. Beachcombing" seems to see this the same way. He is a British academic who seems to have traveled a similarly intellectually-shifting path to my own, and who now has resurrected the old records of the British Fairy Investigation Society of the 1920s-1950s, and is collecting a MASS of information for his blog and a book of review chapters by different experts. He believes, as I do, that there is not only something very real here but it is possibly important.

As readers know, one of the things that MacManus inspired me to look into was the claim that in some places there have been [even modern] sightings/encounters with what may be called the Black Fairy Dog. I've scoured the internet and old books on this, and the investigations are surprisingly strong. This phenomenon, particularly in a few concentrated areas in Britain plus the MacManus cases, seems as real as any "crypto-entity" in the literature. AND when the evidence is taken whole, this crypto-entity appears to be some sort of highly-defined but non-material apparition. [examples: instant vanishment and you can put your hand through its image.] What in the world does that portend? The one thing that it DOESN'T point to is biology.

Does the Black Fairy Dog hint to us about the rest of LEPRECAT? Maybe. Maybe not. Could all the encounters from Faery be apparitions? That might go for some of the reports but not others. There are plenty of reports which include "physicality", although one should keep in the juggling-processes of our minds that a paranormal entity could physically affect the world [via psychokinesis.]

I've looked for merbeings recently and as you know didn't find much, but perhaps enough to give them some credence --- but, if so, they must be non-biological and part of Faery. We've searched for dragons and found almost nothing --- a shame in my opinion but that's where the data goes. A modern weird thing, Mothman, was looked into quite deeply here, and with the exception of John Keel and Gray Barker getting involved and fouling the waters, there seems [pre-their involvement] enough good investigating and reporting from the local journalist to give it some credit --- but again, as a paranormal entity.

It is folkloric entity encounters [and the Black Dog] where this category of anomaly is strong. There is an ongoing [unless I just haven't heard] screw-up in the crypto-community which could/should be nailing down [or not] a foundationstone case: the encounters had by Moyra Doorly and her friend on the Isle of Arran. That experience --- a set of fascinating claims --- needs to be properly investigated, most notably the lack of a detailed interview of the anonymous friend, and a site visit. I hope that this has happened and I just don't know about it. If her case is true, it not only is coherent with just about everything in the old literature, but widely expands our consciousness.

As I "came over" to the position that the old concept of Faery has a great deal of evidence for it and as a realm of paranormal/spiritual or psychic entities, my assumptions about "normal cryptozoology" changed. Bigfoot, Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, Mokele M'bembe, et al had difficult-but-just-possible-biological hypotheses for them, but the further one looked into most of them the more difficult it became to sustain.

Ivan Sanderson hated that way of thinking. He wanted flesh, blood, bones, teeth, and a specimen --- alive if possible. He was a zoologist and zoo-keeper, so of course he did. He disliked the paranormal, as it, for him, made the investigation of anomalies problematical. He wanted something "you could get your hands on." He wanted proof for the establishment. His files are full of this. SITU takes its turn towards the paranormal only after he dies and John Keel briefly ascends and then Bob Warth takes over. One strong contributor then is Berthold Schwarz, who is all PSI and paranormality. But Ivan was not. And most folks in cryptozoology are not. And I wasn't either.

For me that era's past. Below are some "light-weight" opinions critter-by-critter:

A). Yeti: some "real" but paranormal folkloric-type entity encounters are true. No artifacts seem to be. No "hair" seems to ever check out. "The Shipton Print" is a great enigma --- why is it THE Shipton print? Where are all the other cases of prints such as this? We've certainly been crawling about looking for them? My only hope for a biological entity at this point is a relict Neanderthal population as suggested by Myra Shackley.

B). Bigfoot: I used to like the Patterson film --- no more. And nothing has replaced it. Grover Krantz' reconstruction of gigantopithecus is impressive, but unless one considers some relict population of it in Asia long ago as a source of cultural memories, I no longer see the relevance. The only thing that I have left is the set of prints which have dermoglyphs on the them--- seems pretty sophisticated and tough to fake. But even then, does that preclude paranormality? A lot of Bigfoot encounters take me to Native American ways of viewing them as spirit entities. And a recent acquaintance told me of his own encounter where the entity just vanished. He told me this detail as he struggled to maintain his belief that the thing was "only" an unknown [intelligent] ape.

C). Lake Monsters: Maybe I should be ashamed to admit it, but I'm at least halfway removed from Robert Rines and Henry Bauer by now and moving towards F.W.Holiday. The study of Nessie's cousins [a la Mhorag] is pushing me there. Really old 19th century reports describe something of a much more folkloric entity than biological. And that has been the grass-roots opinion, possibly since St. Columba and before.

D). Mokele m'bembe: I really liked the idea, and the geography [over millennia] and the isolation gave this a reasonable chance. Maybe it still has one. But there has been a lot of surveying there by now and all we have are the tiring normal claims of results far beyond their substance. Dr. Challenger, where are you?

E). Sea Monsters: some of these reports seem to have merit, but none of the meat and bones ones. When I did my research on the Wasgo/Sisiutl, there were a lot of bits converging impressively around a biological answer --- most favored hypothesis: a relict population of primitive [zeuglodont] whales. Maybe that's still an option.

Maybe if Ivan was still alive, he'd still have a shot at a few of these crypto-beasts as potential zoo animals but maybe there are none.

My opinion, again however unworthy, is that a few crypto-possibilities might exist under one or more of the following situations:

A). Relict populations of "extinct" creatures: Zeuglodonts or similar, Neanderthals or [very] similar, and not much else. The SET desert canid or hyenid of Egypt might well have been a real violent animal, even driven to extinction in ancient times, just as we did to the mammoths and mastodons in North America.

B). Out-of-place animals --- frankly this would have to be a VERY spectacular thing to even rise to the level of much interest to me in this age of wealth and bizarre human "ownership behavior."

C). A really big squid ... or octopus ... or snake. The oceans and jungles are still "big" enough for that.

I've given these crypto-beasts a reasonable shot over many years. Even though I didn't [apparently] "find" them biologically, it was worth the trip. I think that I found their Middle Kingdom "shadows" instead, and that seems to me to be a better find.

Peace friends.


  1. I hope you will still write a bit now and then if you discover something new and interesting.

  2. Professor, I write for the website MysteriesOfCanada.com and am looking for information on the 'Nuk-luk' ("Neandertaloid"?) said to live in the Nahanni Valley in Canada's Northwest Territories. Loren Coleman wrote about the Nuk-luk in his 'Field Guide', and mentioned in an online article that he got his information from the notes of Frank Graves, a contemporary of Ivan Sanderson and member of the American Expeditionary Society. Apparently, Graves' notes are in the SITU files. I understand you've organized many of the SITU files, including some regarding cryptids. If you happen to have Frank Graves' notes, is there any way I could get a copy of them? If so, I'd really appreciate it if you could get in touch with me at hammerson (at) hammersonpeters.com. Thank you for reading! I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

    1. I'll look for this. Maybe not instantaneously --- it's not usually as simple as one might wish with these files. Sanderson has materials in several different notebooks, and there is no "guide" of any sort. There are also ABSM category materials in a few other places. When I get the "urge" I'll give it a try --- some leg hyperextension yesterday has me feeling less than enthusistic about even getting down the stairs.

  3. Hi there! This blog seems to have gone the way of the almas, but I've only recently discovered your links to B.A. Porshnev's rare Soviet Snowman Commission publications. I've traveled through Central Asia extensively (including the Pamirs), and I'd love to browse the historical accounts for a manuscript I'm writing. Is there an email where I can reach you directly to discuss a visit? Thank you!


    1. Have you not commented here previously with this same request? Maybe it was just from someone similar.

      My e-mail is mswords@att.net. Visits to the archives (my home) are possible with fair warning and responsible behavior.

      Michael Swords. Kalamazoo, MI