Most of us are familiar with reports of the paranormal around us – whether we ourselves are believers or sceptics. Entities such as ghosts, and mysterious animals like Big Foot and Nessie, have always haunted our collective consciousness. Amongst all the weirdness that purportedly exists in our midst, there are occurrences, which though they may not all be considered new, have earned increasing attention in modern times.
Ever since the discovery that a hobbit like race actually once existed on the earth, science has been re-examining the possibility that other reported little people may not be entirely mythical. Putting science aside, there have always been those who insist that small humanoid creatures exist amongst us. Recent reports of gnome like or elf like creatures sometimes caught unawares in remote locations have been made. They are often described as being no more than nine inches tall, though with the physical features of a humanoid. Some of them are said to be very hairy. In Mexico and the Caribbean, duendes are small gnome like creatures that sometimes invade the space of normal human beings, either to steal food or for more sinister reasons. Either because of their utter strangeness or some power they possess, they have been said to shock witnesses almost into paralysis until they make their escape. Of course the relationship to fairies and fairy lore here cannot be ignored. In Iceland, belief that elves and other little creatures have real abodes beneath the earth is very strong. People who construct malls and large buildings are sometimes physically impeded from disturbing areas where these little creatures are believed to live, so as not to incur their wrath. Many Icelanders will claim their beliefs are based on actual sightings of these beings. So can we dismiss the elves, gnomes, fairies or whatever we like to call the little creatures we grew up reading about in fairytales as mere myth? Or are they based on very tangible creatures that still exist, and are sometimes inadvertently witnessed today?
Raptors are birds of prey that hunt for food or feed on carrion. They are usually larger than average birds and have specialised physiology, such as powerful beaks and talons, that help them seize and tear apart their prey. Eagles, vultures and falcons are all considered types of raptors. In recent times however, sightings of giant raptor-like birds have been reported. Disturbed witnesses often describe a raucous cry emitted by the birds. Wingspan averages have varied between 12 – 18 ft, with the birds’ height being estimated at around 3 to 5 feet. Many reports describe the prehistoric appearance of the bird, as well as scaly, lizard-like skin on its legs. Giant raptors have been spotted in places such as Kansas and Oklahoma, usually in wooded areas or near canyons. Witnesses have reported the creature having a stench of rotted meat – which would be understandable given its diet. Raptors have been seen by single witnesses at a time as well as fairly sizable groups of five or more persons. Like the elusive Big Foot, conclusive evidence of their existence in our modern world is yet to be obtained. Are they real remnants from an age past that have somehow survived in small numbers today? Are they all just “misinterpretations” of already known large birds? The questions, and the random sightings, continue.
An enigmatic German derived word, a Doppelganger is basically a person’s exact double. Apparently they have been seen since early times, and are sometimes known as a “Fetch”. According to Wikipedia, a vardoger is a double in Norse mythology, who actually precedes a living person, performing their actions in advance. In modern times paranormal message boards have several posts from persons claiming to have seen someone in one place, only to meet them later and realise the first sighting was impossible. One woman looking through a large picture window, clearly saw her husband being dropped home by a co-worker. She went to the door to let him in, only to find no sign of either person or the car outside. Her husband arrived home hours later, and confirmed that at the time she thought she saw them, he and his colleague were still four hours away from home. One person was told that he was “heard” arriving home with a friend, five minutes before he actually did so. When he and his partner actually did get home, his waiting friends said their arrival sounded exactly the same, with them making the same noises and even uttering the same words that were heard the first time. Weird, yet apparently not so uncommon. A few people even claimed to have undeniably seen themselves, wearing the same clothing – stating that the double looked equally astonished at the sighting. In folklore, seeing one’s doppelganger is a harbinger of one’s death. Seeing someone else’s “fetch” was also said to portend death. Such notable persons as Percy Shelley and Abraham Lincoln reported having doppelganger experiences. Can these experiences all be explained as tricks of the subconscious mind or the easily misled eye?
Time slips and Lost Time are unnerving experiences. They have been surmised to be extraterrestrial encounters, dimensional shifts or even brain strokes. The most disturbing reports are those correlated by more than one person experiencing the same impossible time jump. Characteristically, time slips occur when someone sets out on a journey, long or short, along a familiar path which is clearly defined and should take a specific time to complete. The journey appears normal, except at the end the person realises they have covered a number of miles in an impossibly short space of time. They are unsettled to find themselves at their destination sometimes hours earlier than possible. There have even been cases of “time loss”, where a person set out on a journey, travelled normally, yet arrived at their destination hours later than explainable. Where did the missing time go? Usually it is only upon arrival that the discrepancy in time is noticed. Are there dimensional “warps” we sometimes inadvertently pass through? Could physics someday confirm and explain the existence of these time slips? Enough people continue to have these experiences to justify scientific investigation into this phenomenon.
The Chupacabra has been variously described as a dog-like creature with long canine teeth. It was first spotted in Puerto Rico in the 1990’s, and has since been sighted in the Americas and Mexico. Sometimes witnesses report that the animal has a kangaroo like gait. Its name is derived from the Spanish words for “goat sucker”. This refers to its horrifying ability to creep into livestock farms at night, and literally suck the blood of animals until they die. Obviously the similarity to vampire lore and the possibility of the animal attacking humans, lead to panic in communities. What is this weird cryptid? Is it really a new animal or, as has been suggested, some kind of starved mutated coyote. Alleged Chupacabra carcasses have been found and examined, with no real conclusions arrived at. Reports of exsanguinated livestock corpses, however, appear to have increased in recent times. Many farmers have adopted armed night time watches hoping to kill this weird predator, before it eventually becomes bolder.
The woods are a mysterious place, full of unseen life and fraught with danger for the unwary. Forests are places of menace in folk and fairy tales. But in our enlightened modern times, could nature inspire sheer unreasoning panic? There are those whose experiences make them certain that nature has an intelligence – and it doesn’t always welcome humans. PANic in the woods has been associated with the mythological Greek God Pan – protector of wild places – whose unseen presence inspires causeless terror. Victims experience a feeling that there is a powerful, sinister force nearby, and sense imminent danger. This usually leads the person to flee the area, desperately seeking out civilization. One curiously common characteristic of PANic, is that people often describe the woods becoming quiet and strange just before the fear starts, except for an unusual, escalating, buzzing sound. At least one article on the phenomenon has been written for Fortean Times Magazine by Patrick Harpur, called “Landscapes of Panic”. Many other alleged actual experiences of panic have been posted on paranormal forums. Is there really a spirit of the woods that shuns humanity? And if so, is PANic it’s way of warning us – and fighting back?
Men with the heads of dogs have been reported since ancient times. Cynocephali were supposed to be a race living in Africa, who cannibalized humans. But seeing such beings in modern times would seem incredible, yet there have been increasing reports of these creatures. Most sightings occur at night, though some have happened during daylight hours. Bizarrely, some have reported the men indifferently walking along main roads, attired normally, except they have the head of a dog. Most witnesses insist the head is too real in appearance and lifelike motion to be a mask. Some reports have been more sinister, where the creature has been caught unawares lurking around at night, near woods or the darkness of a backyard. One night-time jogger reported that a dog headed man kept pace with him as he ran across a field, staying alongside until the petrified man finally made it to his well lit doorway. There was one report of a DHM seen through a window from outside a house, lurking towards the kitchen. Other cases describe DHM’s who stand outside at night and look in through windows.
The black stick man is another entity encountered in modern times. Not to be confused with the shadow man, incredibly he is even stranger. Stick men are supposed to look like totally black, thin, stick figure drawings, such as teachers would make in kindergarten. They have been reported as between average height to impossibly tall. Their heads are just a black circle with no facial features being discernible. They are totally two dimensional, without any depth. Usually they’ve been sighted walking along roads at night, or at transitional times such as twilight or just before dawn. Bizarrely, some have reported them wearing what appears to be a top hat. Their walk is described as a weird “lolloping” gait. They are surprised when actually seen, and have followed unfortunate witnesses on occasion. Their pace remains leisurely as they approach. Obviously to be pursued by such an otherworldly creature would be anything but pleasant, and those who have encountered them have been understandably terrified. So far however, apart from being bizarrely frightening, they have done no physical harm, and ultimately just disappear.
What are shadow people? No one seems to know for sure, even as sightings of these entities continue to be reported. Generally they appear as dark, silhouette figures, usually male, who suddenly walk across hallways, through walls, appear in rooms only to disappear again, and sometimes stand looking at a sleeping person only to eventually vanish once the sleeper has awakened. They have no purpose; don’t seem to be harbingers of any sort. Are they from another dimension? The afterlife? Whatever they are, they have scared enough people to have drawn some increased attention to their shadowy selves.
It started in 1998 when journalist Brian Bethel gave an account of being approached by two boys as he entered his car. The boys allegedly asked him for a lift. He described experiencing a sudden feeling of fear and panic, while at the same time having an overwhelming urge to open the door for the boys. He then noticed their eyes – they were entirely coal black, with no whites visible. Bethel drove away in fear even as the teens became more insistent. Since his story, several reports of encounters with black-eyed children have been recorded. In one case a woman claimed they asked to be let into her home, becoming agitated when she refused. Their main characteristics are their completely coal black eyes, their tendency to inspire sudden fear and panic, and their need to be invited into a person’s space.