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Archive for the ‘strange creatures’ Category

I’m always saying I don’t believe in TRADITIONAL werewolves, but almost every culture worldwide has its own, unique version of werewolves or something similar. That fact requires me to define “traditional.” What I usually mean by that are those moonstruck, hairy creatures  whose attributes are derived mainly from old European legends and Hollywood movies. But even these examples may vary. When I come across a legend with some interesting features, then, I like to note it for future reference.

Today while I was looking for something else, I happened across this charming artwork depicting a priest from Ulster named Gerald and his encounter with a couple of upright werewolves. The illustrations look a lot like many drawings made by modern day eyewitnesses and artists. The creatures appear completely canine, for instance, and they can walk either on all fours or upright. Muzzles, pointed ears and toe-pad-walking complete the pictures.

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(image from Creative Commons O, Europeana Collection, from the British Library Royal Collection, c. 1196-1223)

Their behavior, however, is the big surprise here.The story is written in Latin, but as I understand it from various translations, Gerald of Ulster was camping in the woods sometime around the year 1200 when he was approached by a large werewolf.

Short version: The creature begged Gerald to come with him and minister last rites to his mate. It seems they hadn’t always been werewolves. Their village had been more or less cursed to give up one couple every seven years to wander as Lycans, and it had been this pair’s turn to serve. They hadn’t yet completed their obligation when the missus fell ill. Gerald succeeded in tearing part of her fur away to reveal the shriveled elderly woman inside, and she was then able to eat a consecrated wafer. Happy ending.

There isn’t much more to the story. I simply thought it appropriate to begin the New Year with a tale from the era that still informs today’s lore. But I saw something both touching and brave about Gerald’s willingness to follow the wolfman into the woods and in the wolf couple’s determination to keep their faith. Most contemporary reports would have the witness fleeing the scene in terror (as I would be doing) while the wolf creature gave chase and then growled off into the night. That’s probably much closer to reality. But reality bites.

And I suspect they just don’t make werewolves like they used to.

Enjoy the art, anyway, and Happy 2017!

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This beauty, Ken Gerhard’s Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts, recently arrived in my mailbox and will be my first big read of the new year! Can’t wait to dig into what looks like a thorough compendium of the wild world of weird creatures. Happy 2017 to all!

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photo from Lincoln County Sheriff’s Dept.

This time of year seems to be when reporters go looking for oddities — or oddities come looking for them. Such seemed the case yesterday when a bold young black bear was seen begging bipedally from cars passing on a highway near Gleason. It was eventually captured and taken to a wildlife refuge. It seemed utterly unafraid of humans, leading to speculation it was either a pet -YIKES – or someone had been feeding it in a habituation situation.

When Hannity Show Came to Bray Road

There’s also a short compilation of Wisconsin beasties in a 3-year old article in Whoo New online blog, including the Beast of Bray Road, Muskego’s Haunchies and others. I’ve had a few people ask where to see the Sean Hannity episode on The Beast (one of the best short documentaries on the subject, I think) and the blog included this handy link.

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Minnesota is a state with far fewer reports of dogmen than I would expect, given its heavy forests and abundant water sources. So when a report came last week describing a very recent encounter, I was glad to see it. And the best part is that this witness is a professional artist and so provided some very compelling illustrations. She also found the courage to return to the spot this past weekend and take a few photos. I’ve left most of the report in her own words, with minor edits mostly for the natural repetition that occurs during a multi-email exchange.

Here is her account of what happened the evening of Monday, November 7, 2016.

Hi Linda. I wanted to report a sighting. I am 41, a graphic designer. I was driving just out of the town of Duluth, MN on Maple Grove Road. It was a dark night, the clouds covering most light of the 47% full moon. The area I drove was on the very edge of a residential area where houses were sparse, leading to old farm land with a very old barn. As I drove I noticed something dash in front of me from right to left. I saw it heading from the very edge of a residential area where houses were sparse, running into a field with a very old barn.  My eyes struggled to make sense of a very tall creature, 7 feet I would guess. It wasn’t on hind legs.

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The creature moved faster than normal. The face was wolf/dog-like with a longer snout and high set, small pointed ears. The back was very angled with extra-long front legs in comparison to the back. The leg length discrepancy caused it to walk more stiffly, almost with an injured type stride. The forearm was muscled, but it wasn’t primate or walking on its knuckles. It had more of forward stride like a deer, just not as smooth. Since the night was shadowed, it reminded me of a shadow person as the black was such an intense black, it’s hard to describe if you’ve never seen a shadow being. The eyes seemed maybe orange in my view.

For a second I wondered if it was my imagination, but I continued to watch and saw a far-coming vehicle’s lights shine through [between] the moving legs

The oddest part was the feeling of incredible fear and dread. I was literally so scared later I sat in a lit gas station until my husband came home. It definitely wasn’t a deer or moose, (angled shoulder too tall and steep, leg height different, wrong head), not a bear (wrong ears and head, not round, body bulk proportioned wrong) not a Bigfoot, nothing ape or humanlike. Anyway, it felt unlike any animal I’ve ever seen, with almost unnatural speed.

My sister said she, her ex-boyfriend and a friend have all seen it on its hind legs a few years ago. It lives near her house. She said it stood and watched them on the edge of the field with red eyes. Mine was a side view. It felt otherworldly. I am a [psychically] gifted person, as well. I am familiar with spirits and such.

Fear does not begin to describe it. The feeling lingers, like feeling a thick sludge weighing on me, really like an energy attack. I was an active camper, hiker, etc. Now I don’t want to be out in the dark, the woods, or driving alone at night. I know better, to fear these things is not good, it’s just hard to shake. It also felt like a bad omen, as silly as that sounds.  It took me a week to want to drive up there to the location to see if I could see anything, but I didn’t see any prints as most of the road was paved. In the daylight I could see it definitely went up into a field with a barn and an old building. The area is very close to the town of Duluth, but oddly this is just far enough out that the field runs along a road that is surrounded by birch woods and swampland. Our temps were really nice, 60 degrees at the time. This is hunting season and the deer are super active. Our normal temps are much cooler than this every other year.

Here is the illustration/sketch of what I saw that night. I am a wildlife artist with a very keen eye and photographic memory. I am use to drawing musculature, accurate portrayals of animals so when I explain what I saw hopefully there is a bit of credibility.

Bray Road Creature 3

The reason I drew what I did was because common response from people compared the animal to a wolf, bear, deer, and moose. I went online, drew each animal as a real representation of actual shape, and looked up the average height. None of these look accurate, the main thing I noticed was the sheer size, slope of the back and very different, long limbs. I drew this to mainly try and figure out what I saw. I don’t care if my name is mentioned, I am definitely not seeking any attention, just to understand what this thing was. I just call it the Bray Road Creature, closest thing I could come to in what I saw. –

I have just a few comments; the first one is that if this creature stood seven feet tall while on all fours, it would be even taller if it ever stood on its hind legs. Since bipedalism is the hallmark trait of any dogman, we can’t be sure that’s what the witness saw, but it certainly seemed larger and differently built than your ordinary wolf or dog.

Another unusual thing she mentioned was the overwhelming, lingering sense of fear and dread she experienced from seeing the creature. This is a common occurrence in cryptid sightings and other types of anomalous encounters, but doesn’t normally happen in the case of  mundane animals crossing a road.

The third thing I took note of was the presence of the old barn. For some reason, barns and other outbuildings often play a part in encounters with both dogmen and Bigfoot. I don’t know whether the buildings serve as shelter, hiding places or hunting grounds for small, tasty mammals, but they do pop up fairly often in such reports.

Finally, my unfortunately necessary disclaimer: Although  she included the rough location, that land is undoubtedly private property and must be respected as such. Trespassing is strictly illegal, and can bring harsh prosecution and fines. I believe — from long experience — that sightings of such creatures are random and rare, and are more likely to happen for those who are not searching for them. Yet I do believe there must be many more places in Minnesota where strange canid creatures abide.

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Are there fairies in the woods near Green Bay, Wisconsin? A woman named Lisa wrote me to ask whether such mystical entities could explain the trail cam photo below that appears to show a 3-D light form surrounded by things that look like partial orbs reflecting light from beneath them.

Whether fairies exist in any form is not something I claim to know, I believe this particular photo is about camera lenses, water droplets and light refraction. But it’s a good photo to study for analysis of these types of photos, which I receive from people every now and then.

The photo was taken July 19, 2011 by an acquaintance of Lisa’s on private property. There was no apparent triggering event (motion or heat) shown on the camera. (In my personal experience, small animals often can trigger the motion sensor yet remain outside the edges of the photo.) Both the smaller objects and the larger, central form seem to be repeated and maintain the same positional angles in relation to one another. To me, that suggests a possible, natural light refraction…but of what? There is one, small bright spot near the bottom of the photo and a couple of other pinpoints of light in the lower trees but the light objects display a complex depth of field.

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The best conclusion in my opinion is that the forms were caused by water droplets, perhaps dew, on the trail cam lens. Lisa has sent these to other places and the only suggestion so far is that they look like mold spores. That sounds unlikely to me. She wrote:

I am hoping that you will be captivated by these pictures also. I am looking forward to hearing what you think of them.AGAIN..they are the honest & truest thing!  No tricks or special equipment used! Please feel free to have a photo expert evaluate them.”

Well, I’d like to add here that, as I asked for people to comment before I weighed in with my own thoughts, I did hear from such an expert, a MUFON member who has studied these types of photos for many years and who affirmed the almost certain association with light and water droplets, although he explained it much more eloquently. I will quote him in part: “As to the illumination of only the edges of the water droplets that face the origin of the flash, I’m not going to comment on that further. However, note how the surrounding “orbs” all appear to be “facing” the center. Were they fully illuminated, you would also see that their shaped becomes more “lensatic” as they are distorted near the edges.  This is only to be expected as this is a “flat” image taken by a semi-spherical optical lens.”

Let me also add again that this neither proves nor disproves the existence of fairies. Still,  we have a beautiful photo to look at that is no less visually entrancing just because it was created by explainable events and materials. And I, for one, am glad that Lisa shared it with all of us.

 

 

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This was another of those freewheeling dialogues that I so enjoy. Listen to The Paranormal View podcast recorded Nov. 4, 2016!

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A certain weird hayfield in SE Wisconsin threads its way throughout the pages of my latest book, Monsters Among Us; an Exploration of Otherwordly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena. Today I spent a few hours threading my own way through the weedy tree lines of that field with its owner, “Roy Smith,” who decided he would like to reveal his actual name and say a bit on camera. I’ll refer to him as Smith here, however, since that is the name used in the book. My video of his introduction may be found below, but first here’s an important postscript on one strange phenomenon in Monsters Among Us.

(All rights reserved on photos and video; may not be posted or printed elsewhere without written permission.)

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On April 29, 2015, one of Smith’s trail cameras caught a black figure silhouetted against the growing green field. At first we thought it was a blackbird or crow, but when we zoomed in (zoom view shown above), it looked more like the head, back and arm of some large animal presumably crouched in the hay. There were two other partial shots of it taken within one second that showed very fast progression across the screen from left to right.

I trudged out to what we judged to be the spot where this happened one dewy morning not long after, wearing a coat with hood, and Smith took photos from where the trail cam had been set up. We ended up concluding, based on comparison to trees in the background and to the original photo, that it was at least as big as me (five foot one) and much larger than a bird would have been from that distance.

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The creature’s shape also seemed to match the stance I took in my photo: crouched over, one arm reaching forward. I wasn’t able to crouch as well, but my lower legs were also hidden by the grass. It would have been heading straight for the treeline area where Smith had been noticing various wildlife carcasses, mostly deer, that displayed oddly munched and crunched areas or were carried off entirely by unknown predators.

Return of the Creature

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Skip ahead one year or so to early May, 2016, and a similar type of creature showed up on another trail cam in the same field, heading in exactly the same direction. It looked black, furry, and seemed to be in a kneeling position. There was an evident shadow around it in the grass.Unfortunately, book production was already well underway so there was no way to add it. But we still set up a comparison shot with Smith trudging out to the field this time.

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The 6-foot 3-inch tall Smith (left, in baseball cap) appeared almost the same height as the creature as he knelt in the hay, but only half as wide! Compare the sizes of Smith and the creature compared to the round-shaped tree at the right. Whatever this black thing is, it’s roughly human-sized or larger. Just one more mystery at this field of bad dreams.

Meet “Roy Smith,” otherwise known as Lee Hampel, a retired math and physics teacher from Illinois, and owner of the mysterious field featured in Monsters Among Us. Hampel had chosen that pseudonym himself, but has since decided to go public. I always feel the witnesses should be the ones to choose in this matter, and honor Hampel’s choice by posting this video taken Oct. 25, 2016 on site in the field.

 

 

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