Despite a desperate PR campaign spanning decades, this Kentish spa town still typifies in the mind of the entire country a certain kind of suspicious, Middle England conservatism.
It is literally the shorthand for anything that a white, Audi-driving accountant might find uncomfortable or unlikeable. (Immigration, bold colour schemes, food that isn’t made by Jamie Oliver and the European Union, basically.)
I offer this background as proof that Bigfoot clearly has a sense of humour. You would search long and hard to find an environment less likely to harbour a crypto-hominid. That is, unless they really like manicured hedges and Waitrose carparks.
But then, Bigfoot isn’t a crypto-hominid.
Whilst it is conceivable that a large hominid that has so far evaded classification exists (in the mountains bordering Siberia and Mongolia would be my best guess), areas prone to Bigfoot sightings turn up no quality physical evidence of flesh and blood animals. No juveniles ending up as roadkill, no droppings… and big mammals certainly like to make the poopies.
Which isn’t to say I think this sighting was an hallucination or even that it was necessarily non-physical. Recalling John Keel’s work on what he called “window areas”, it is interesting to note that there was a previous Bigfoot sighting on the exact same spot. (A “window area” hypothesis also accounts for areas that have been erroneously suggested as Bigfoot territorial ranges due to the high frequency of encounters.)
Depending on whether you have looked into this before, you may or may not be aware that Bigfoot sightings frequently occur in conjunction with UFO sightings… sometimes they are even seen piloting disc-shaped objects. Now, unless Chewbacca is actually real -which would be eleven kinds of awesome- this further weakens the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH) as the source of UFO phenomena.
Bigfoot then, is best understood as another denizen of Magonia. And it is important to emphasize that an extradimensional origin does not automatically mean the being is non-physical. Whilst it is likely, for instance, that flying saucers are more Tardis and less USS Enterprise, they still show up every single day on radar all around the world and almost by definition that means at least some of them have to be physical. (How else do they generate a radar signal? That’s the whole point of the technology.)
The major characteristic of UFO phenomena is their diversity. Therefore advocates of any particular theory (such as the idea that ufonauts come from another planet and are abducting humans to create a hybrid race) can generally “prove” their point as long as they are allowed to ignore, exclude or censor those cases that contradict the theory. The result is that much of UFO research now lies outside the realm of the self-defined “UFO community” and many important cases are no longer published at all. This situation should be of concern to all students of the field.
Take a look at the rogues gallery below. I screengrabbed it from a documentary about a UK wartime UFO encounter that also included dwarfs and mantids. This was compiled by an ETH researcher and -as far as I can tell- he did so with a straight face, earnestly believing these beings are zipping about between the stars.
How very RPG, right?
Recall at this point what can perhaps best be described as the ‘psychedelic zoomorphism’ of grimoiric entities and the fact that it’s claimed these wacky-looking beings can sometimes appear in physical form.
It seems to me that adequately squaring the ufology circle is a critical step -perhaps the critical step- in fleshing out a probabilistic panpsychic magical worldview. Our post-internet lives provide us with the unrivalled opportunity to collate tens of thousands of numinous encounters that indicate mankind is on a sustained, interrelated journey with beings from elsewhere, with our Magonian Neighbours. (Remember your Uncle Al: My observation of the Universe convinces me that there are beings of intelligence and power of a far higher quality than anything we can conceive of as human; that they are not necessarily based on the cerebral and nervous structures that we know…)
And yet, have a look at the crudely photoshopped image on Bigfoot in the Metro article. The quality of discourse in the mainstream media when it comes to High Strangeness is truly ludicrous. It’s galling when you realise that these encounters may well be the key to everything. Check out the MSM samples at the beginning of the video below that came to me by way of the Secret Sun facestalk group. (And got extra points for including my future husband, Ben Hansen.)
By some margin, my favourite crypto wooligoogle (scientific term) is the Mothman. Sidebar: I rewatched the Richard Geer film last month and… gotta say… it’s held up really well. Definitely worth another viewing if you haven’t seen it for a while. And the DVD features are a decent intro into Keelian cryptozoology. I got mine for 2p on Amazon. (The demise of physical media is not without its upsides.)
Like the Tunbridge Wells Bigfoot -and this may be a clue- it also has glowing red eyes. Otherwise its behaviour and morphology are a good match for beings answering to the name banshee and potentially Spring Heeled Jack.
The Mothman interests me because it’s the exemplary case of a semi-rural encounter. It’s clearly not afraid of urban areas -it was, for instance sighted under the bridge in the middle of town before its collapse. But there are numerous reports of it following cars into towns only to turn back when the vehicle reaches city limits.
This has me thinking about the impact of consciousness on Magonian encounters and whether -for want of a term- ‘consensus consciousness’ is a barrier to contact. The guy in Tunbridge Wells was on his own in the early morning, for instance. Your chances of hallucination grow the longer you are on your own. (This may partially explain the very high UFO encounter rates among pilots in the early years of powered flight. Solo Atlantic crossings would have been weird and lonely.)
And the impact of consciousness on Magonian encounters has me thinking about some incidents in my childhood I alluded to in an earlier post… sleep-paralysis-induced hag attacks.
Barring a couple of ‘expert interviewees’, here’s a better documentary about the phenomenon.
Whilst preparing for this post, I texted my mother the psychonaut to see if she recalled ever having sleep paralysis encounters in her own childhood. She wrote back that she never really got nightmares so I should blame my father. And her response kinda annoyed me for two reasons. Firstly, I would have found a way to blame dad anyway. Secondly… they’re not fucking nightmares! (Although, regarding the above screengrab, I would also have infrequent nightmares in which mantids featured prominently.)
Here’s a quote from the documentary:
Sleep paralysis is the experience of awakening unable to move. Or sometimes it happens as you’re falling asleep… suddenly finding yourself unable to move but not yet asleep. And it’s produced by a physiological mechanism in the brain that’s well understood. What is not understood is why at least somewhere around 80% of people with sleep paralysis have this very complex, strange, subjective experience.
– David J. Hufford, PhD. Professor Emeritus, UPENN
Let me take you through the steps of one of my typical childhood hag attacks. I’d love to hear your feedback if you also suffered from sleep paralysis as a kid (or maybe still do). My attacks ended in mid-adolescence from which we can surmise two things:
- Night terrors are a form of sleep paralysis and people tend to grow out of them. Maybe that’s what happened here?
- It was around this time I started on the energy work, prayer and meditation that comes with self-taught baby magic. That may have had an effect?
Step 1: The stalking
During the course of regular dreaming I would become aware that something had just gone wrong. The tone would change or the sky would darken, people would get agitated, a character in my dream may tell me that it’s happening again and it’s time to wake up. Remember the Buffy episode, Restless, where she and her friends are all stalked in their dreams by the spirit of the First Slayer (and to a lesser extent the cheese guy)? It’s like that.
If I managed to wake up then it would stop, albeit temporarily. The encounter would often happen as I drifted back to sleep. Interestingly, the documentary above suggests that I should have got up, walked around, had some water and then gone back to sleep. But I was a kid.
What would be more common than waking to full consciousness is that I would find myself “awake” in the sense that I was aware of my surroundings but utterly unable to move… a state I now understand to be sleep paralysis.
Step 2: The attack
Lying on my left side, my head would face the door of my childhood bedroom. I would become aware of a black presence congealing from the top of the door frame into a vaguely humanoid shape. You know the bit in Coppola’s Dracula when the titular vampire appears in Mina’s room as green smoke under the window frame? That. But its “colour” was a total absence of light rather than Dracula’s luminous green. (The results were less sexy, too.)
The next part was probably the most terrifying, and most interesting from a consciousness research perspective.
It would wait in the doorway while you frantically, silently told yourself over and over that it was just in your head and you should just wake the fuck up already. The second you realised this isn’t in my head then… WHUMP. It was at the bedside, its head one and a half inches from your own. It would wait until it knew you knew it was there.
Not once did I open my eyes but the image that was projected into my terrified mind was that of the classic hag attack. I knew that’s what was standing, crouched over, inches from my face.
Step 3: The terror
Interestingly, one of the women in the documentary says that fervent prayer always banishes the entity during her encounters. That most certainly wasn’t my experience but then she clearly has a much more intimate relationship with her deity than I had with my… nothing.
Still tried it, of course. Boy, did I ever try it. When you’re completely immobilised with a terrifying being less than two inches from your firmly shut eyes there isn’t much else to do. All I can say is it felt like any kind of goodness, any kind of ‘prayer power’ was sucked out of the space around us. It was a complete void of positivity. Very Nazgûl.
That would be it. It would just stand there causing paralyzing terror which felt like the clicking sound of fish eating coral when you are underwater… or a really soft static.
Eventually (minutes?), waking consciousness and mobility would return, the hag would evaporate and I’d spend several moments psyching myself up before darting my hand out from under the covers to switch the light on.
It… ahem… may not have escaped your notice but I’m big into different or altered conscious states. Lucid dreaming and what I then called astral travel were among the first techniques I played around with as an adolescent wizard. Even now I have enough lucidity to ‘steer’ my dream state away from nightmares. And actually, my taste in non-sexy dream content has changed quite a bit over the years. For instance, I like zombie apocalypse dreams now. Only get them a couple of times a year but when they kick off I’m like “YUSS!”
Also, obviously I go to bed at least mildly intoxicated more these days than I did as a child. That, along with the development of a fully mature (such as it is) brain may have contributed to the complete absence of hag attacks in the last sixteen years.
The inescapable thing about these encounters are that they are demonstrably in your head. They occur when certain parts of the brain wake out of REM sleep and other parts don’t, leading to temporary physical paralysis and abject terror. But as an explanation for the shared reality of a hag attack it is insufficient, like smashing apart your laptop to examine the content of a YouTube video. I don’t know why they happened and I know even less about why they stopped but those encounters were real. The hag is a tiger shark.
So if you are tempted to say that Bigfoot, then, is all in that guy’s head I will say “sure”.
Except when he’s in Tunbridge Wells.