Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mind, Soul and Reality-The Mothman Un-Prophecy

At the very beginning of John Keel's book, The Mothman Prophecies, he tells the story of a couple awakened by a bearded stranger at the ungodly (unless you are an insomniac like me) hour of 3 AM. The morning was wet and cold. It was late November in 1967. This was a place where strangers were rare and suspect. The stranger who had hammered at their door was described as over six feet tall and dressed entirely in black. His face which was barely visible in the darkness sported a neatly trimmed mustache and goatee. The flashes of lightning behind him added to the eerie effect. "May I use your phone?" he asked in a deep voice that didn't have the familiar West Virginian accent. The woman who answered the door was so frightened that she backed away, said, "Talk to my husband" and closed the door. Some minutes passed and a rugged young man returned with his wife and said through a crack in the door, "We aint got a phone here," and slammed the door. The stranger disappeared into the night. In the days following the encounter with the stranger the young couple told their friends about the man and the strangeness of the encounter. Bearded, men in black formal suits with muddy black dress shoes and strange accents appearing at people's houses at three in the morning were-needless to say-an extremely uncommon occurrence in the poor back hills of the Ohio Valley

The couple concluded that the man had been a fearful omen-maybe the devil himself. Three weeks later this couple was killed in the worst tragedy to strike that section of West Virginia. They were driving across the Silver Bridge, which spanned the Ohio River, when it suddenly collapsed. The friends of the couple remembered the story of their friends strange visitor of the weeks before. This confirmed their religious beliefs and superstitions. Perhaps the devil himself had visited Point Pleasant, West Virginia before a terrible tragedy. There turned out to be a very prosaic explanation as to the identity of the "devil" in the rain that night. Paranormal investigator and "dedicated nonconformist" John Keel's car had gone off the road and he had been searching house to house in search of a telephone to use so he could call a tow truck! He had driven up from Atlanta, Georgia where he had delivered a speech to a local UFO club. By the time West Virginia was almost a second home to him. He had already visited the state five times investigating strange events and had many friends there. One of these friends, Mrs. Mary Hyre, a reporter for the Athens, Ohio, Messenger was with him that night. The pair had been out talking to UFO witnesses that night, and earlier in the evening had seen a very strange light in the sky themselves.

Keel writes in The Mothman Prophecies, "Since there was a heavy, low cloud layer it could not have been a star. It maneuvered over the hills, its brilliant glow very familiar to both of us for we both had seen many such lights in the Ohio Valley that year. Mrs. Hyre waited in the car while I trudged through the mud and rain. We had been trying to climb a slippery hill to a spot where we had seen many unusual things in the past. I found the telephones in the houses closest to our location were not working, apparently knocked out by the storm. So I had to keep walking until I finally found a house with a working phone. The owner refused to open his door so we shouted back and forth. I gave hima phone number to call. He obliged and went to bed. I never knew what he looked like. My point, of course is that Beelzebub was not wandering along the back roads of West Virginia that night...But from the view of the people who lived on that road, something very unusual happened. They had never before been roused in the night by a tall bearded stranger in black. They knew nothing of the reasons for my prescence so they were forced to speculate. Even speculation was difficult. They could only place me in the frame of reference they knew best-the religious. Bearded men in city dress simply did not turn up on isolated back roads in the middle of the night...So a perfectly normal event (normal that is to me) was placed in an entirely different context by the witnesses. The final proof of my supernatural origin came three weeks later when two of the people I had awakened were killed in the bridge tragedy.

Some future investigator of the paranormal may wander those hills someday, talk with these people, and write a whole chapter of a learned book on demonology, repeating this piece of folklore. Other scholars will pick up and repeat his story in books and articles. The prescence of the devil in West Virginia in November 1967 will become historical fact, backed by the testimony of several witnesses." I wanted to include this bit from Keel's book because I think it is very instructive as to how easy it is for people to misconstrue events and misinterpret facts. Also I didn't want to 'waste' the research I had done when I thought I might be doing an actual Mothman series;-). I think no matter what one's stance is on the paranormal, that anyone objectively looking into the events going on in Point Pleasant, West Virginia and its environs from late 1966 until the Silver Bridge collapse on December 15, 1967 will agree that something very strange was happening. Some folks are saying there are "aftereffects" going on until the present day-but I don't want to delve to much into this in case I come back to the story-and also know more about what these more recent people are saying. The story of the "Mothman" has everything from, of course the mothman itself-himself -whatever;-), Men in Black or MIBs, UFOs, Poltergeist phenomena, odd phone calls and seeming other wordly contact-very spooky contact at that. Thanks again so very much for all of your thoughtful, intelligent and insightful comments. I had a "nice" surprise this morning when I got an email and comment-I say this not to bitch-but just because some of my surprises of late haven't been of the nice variety. I hope things like this continue in my life as I do in all of the people I am in contact with -through emails, blogs or "real life"-Best wishes to all of you! The top image is the "best" rendition of the Mothman according to the two young couples who witnessed it on 18 November 1966. I better double check-but I believe the drawing was done by the fantastic Loren Coleman himself. The next image is of a very handsome man holding a ball-I think that image is courtesy of stevo's Hot Men Appreciation Society. Someone kindly send the man with the ball to my address and I will do something nice for you! Here is a link


Autumnforest said...

Fantastic explanation of the mothman myth. Very well written and thought out. I think that often in retrospect people form together things that explain how they could have circumvented a tragedy. No one likes the helplessness. It's sort of like the Nostradamus 9-11 observations people searched through after the fact or the funny notion of "Bible Codes." I think people are cause and effect oriented. I remember one time I went to wash my hair and tons of hair fell out. Within minutes I was certain I had leukemia or some kind of horrible illness. I was overcome with worry for hours. Then, as I went back into my bathroom, I noticed my rubberband on the counter and recalled that before I washed my hair, I had to work an old-fashioned rubber band out of my long locks and it became a tangled mess that I ended up yanking from my hair. The phone rang, I was distracted, forgot about the ponytail incident, and went to wash my hair with a blank mind. Humans really like to add up the numbers--probably why we like cop shows so much and forensics

Devin said...

Thanks so much for stopping by Autumnforest!! definitely agree about the helplessness in the face of tragedy-what you describe about your hair and thinking leukemia sounds so similar to what I was wondering when I started losing all this weight-only problem is -I wasn't trying to lose weight-between 5 and 6 months about 40 to 50 pounds gone-the first twenty I was overjoyed-but then my dr brought up this nodule that is in my right lung-and I thought-Oh of course-lung cancer-thankfully though that wasn't it-still don't know what caused it though-Nostradamus is a classic for people putting things in there that I don't really think are there-maybe in his day he had some valid psychic stuff-but the ridiculous twists and turns I have seen folks do to explain those "quatrains" and why they mean the world will end tomorrow-haha-best to you as always!!

Aggie said...

It is rather funny how humans will jump to conclusions rather than ask a few pointed questions which might clarify the reasons for events. There is nothing stranger in the Universe than human beans I reckon.

benjibopper said...

that mothman image reminds me edward gorey's 'the doubtful guest' for some reason. [see him at]

agreed about nostrodamus - when one prophesizes in metaphors it's easy to find retrospective truth in them. but his 'the village idiot shall rule the land' does seem pretty apropos given the last US President.

Anadæ Effro said...

One of my all-time fave tales brought to light, largely, by Fortean & cryptozoologist, John A Keel, Mothman only runs a close second to this beastie, recently terrorizing Mexico, refered to as a kind of a Man-bat. I mused in my Educate Yourself forum group on Yahoo! last week that, what with Scott Corrales' piece in the current issue of PARANOIA Magazine: The Conspiracy & Paranormal Reader, "Black Sun Rising", about the prominence of Satanic cults & Devil-worshipping gangs in power behind Latino drug cartels, that someone might've raised an actual demon, maybe even Camazotz, a bat-like lesser god, guardian of the Underworld, as well as designated Lord of Headchopping, on whom Wikipedia has a comprehensive article here.

Coincidentally enough, Madeleine L'Engle in her children's primer to quantum physics, the award-winning A Wrinkle In Time, it is the planet Camazotz, fallen under the influence of the individual-destroying attributes of an entity only known as 'It', that has to be saved from the sway of primordial evil Itself.

Forgive me if I repeat my(s)elf. And our ghost-hunting friend & colleague Autumn's run-in with a rubber band as a poor choice of hair-fastener is the very reason that THIS long-tressed person wears the ones with the fabric covering the elastic, neither are mine the ones with metal parts.

Have a FUNtastic week, Devin,
Anadæ Effro (•:-)}

Mike and Julie said...

I never read the book but did see the movie "The Mothman Prophecy". I also saw a weird travels show that featured the Jersey Devil and The Mothman. The explaination was basically the same but I think you added more. I found the whole story about the Mothman intriguing and wonder what was the real truth was of what happen before the bridge collasped. Was it the 'sightings' of the Mothman or their minds playing tricks on them? Interesting post.

Devin said...

Aggie -agree with you 100 percent "Nowt so queer as folk" comes to mind -no pun intended;-) thanks so very much for stopping by and I hope you are having a lovely week!!

benji-thanks for the Gorey reference-I will check it out-I hadn't heard about that particular Nostradamus reference-but of course hes only got almost a thousand -and then of course his letters to his son Cesar-that would indeed describe 43 to a "T"thanks for stopping by and best to you!!

Anadae Effro! as usual you are a surfeit of information -thanks so much for the reference to the man-bat -I will check it out and the other links to-I had never heard of the man-bat-I wish I could still afford to buy magazines-the three i really miss getting are Z magazine,Fortean Times (of course hehe) and Paranoia-thanks for dropping by and I hope you are having a fanstastic week!!

Mike and Julie-thanks so very much for your comments here and on the other posts I do also and of course all of the other great folks who comment here!! Indeed I had wanted to do a short "mothman" series -and maybe I will still -but I wanted to be able to add some new info -When you both have time-I would recommend reading Keels book-I would love to hear anyone elses thoughts on the book or Keel himself if they have-The Silver Bridge collaspe did indeed seem like a horrific climax to the whole affair -and there are many different opinions out there-especially to the effect that "Indrid Cold" in the book-or whoever these entities that were supposedly making contact with Keel and others could have at least warned the population about it-I hope the both of you are having a beautiful week!

This is a general thanks to all of you who regularly stop by my little place-I can't put into words how much I appreciate it and so enjoy reading your thoughts on anything I post here-thanks again so very very much!! PS I get so much creative energy and wonderful food for thought when I read the blogs you all have-and thanks again to Anadae-benji and others for links and ebooks and the like in comments here!!

Autumnforest said...

Devin; definitely do an article on Nostradamus or even Edgar Cayce--love to get your opinion on them.

Devin said...

Those are actually extremely interesting ideas (like usual from you)! Autumnforest-for whatever qualities that both men had in their lives -they were very fascinating men!! I think anyone could read material about Nostradamus and his life and times without even thinking of his prophecies-and still be fascinated by the history of his time-and Edgar Cayce would be an excellent article or series or something-because he was also very interesting-One thing I will tell you off the bat -I do not know if You have heard of a man-I think the name is David Wilcock?? He is claiming to be Cayces reincarnation and I just dont buy it for a second. Another interesting thing about Cayce is his theories of disease and past lives-a lot of people wanted to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak when Cayces fin de sicle (haha tyring to use French here and think I screwed up) rather end of age prophecies didn't come true-but he seems to have done a lot of good in his life-and had many things such as advice for health-karmic type theories that seemed to be on the money with the people they helped-thanks for the great idea and thanks again for stopping by!!

Nina said...

very interesting coincidence devin for just last night, paranormal state (history channel) re-aired (original was in march 2008) their coverage of the mothman phenomena. my spouse watched it and this is what he shared w/me: according to what these guys were told, native indians had burial grounds in point pleasant. there was this indian chief named corn stalk who was killed by u.s. government military (who wanted to take the land from corn stalk's people). right before corn stalk was killed, he put a 200 year curse on the land. BUT before that happened, given the on-going conflict between local native indian's and u.s. gov't, the indian's called in a spirit of protection, which some believe to be the mothman.

paranormal state brought in noted psychic chip coffey. coffey supposedly got in contact w/this entity known as the mothman. he said it is not an angel or a demon nor has he ever encountered anything like it. it's a very intelligent being that is drawn to areas of death and tragedy on large scale (perhaps there to warn instead of cause like some have claimed?). coffey asked if it was responsible for the bridge collapse during the 60's it supposedly answered "absolutely not".

does this mean this entity is the mothman? who knows. does this mean this entity, if indeed coffey was in communicado w/it, was telling the truth? who knows.

this entity has been noted to leave impressions on physical objects. they also showed a photo of it (supposedly) flying through this town.

none of this was in the mothman prophecies movie, which i find interesting. i see it as bigfoot--no physical proof but that doesn't mean it is any less "real". and it is possible it was a creation of people's thoughts/intentions.

Devin said...

Nina-thanks so much for your detailed comment!! For thoughts on Paranormal State I would urge you to look at Autumnforests "Ghost Hunting Theories" blog and Mike and Julies "Beyond the Norm" blog on my bloglist -I am not trying to sway your opinion of the show-its just that after having been able to compare a few of the shows (I dont have cable so it has been here and there-some have even been You Tube) I so agree with their analysis of Paranormal State!
I really enjoyed your thoughts about the possibility of Mothman being kind of "Co-Created" if I am reading you right-this is one of the things I really came away with. The way Mothman and certain other paranormal phenomena seem to work is that if they are almost interacting with human consciousness-very interesting-best to you as always!!

X. Dell said...

(1) A fan of Lauren Coleman, I see.

(2) I've heard Keel speak before. I would hardly describe his accent as strange, even if he wasn't from WV.

Devin said...

Yes I do indeed like Loren Coleman's work very much!!
In regards to Keel I have never heard him speak before but I am glad you noted his accent-the only thing I can think is that apparently he thought it must sound strange to people of that region of the US for some reason-best to you as always!!