UFOs, Bigfoot, and Economic Development in the Coal Camps

Some Rockvale residents are not too welcoming.

Three little towns in Fremont County, Colo., are referred to collectively as “the coal camps.” Rockvale, Coal Creek, and Williamsburg all housed coal miners of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I don’t know when their populations originally peaked — maybe in the 1920s.

They had a reputation for insularity, partly due to ethnic and language issues. Many of the miners were Italian or Slovenian or of other Eastern European origin. Meanwhile the county seat, Cañon City, was a stronghold of the 1920s Ku Klux Klan—the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic incarnation of the KKK. You can see how there might have been some conflict.

When M. and I lived in Fremont County in the late 1980s, these three town could almost have been called “ghost towns.” With house prices low there, we considered buying in Rockvale or Coal Creek, but unlike Cañon City with its several irrigation systems serving town lots, small orchards, and truck farms, the coal camps were bone dry, not good for gardeners at all.1)The word “truck” in “truck farms” does not refer to the transportation truck, which is derived from Latin for wheel, but rather from the old north French word troquer, which means “barter” or “exchange”. The use for vegetables raised for market can be traced back to 1784 and truck farms to 1866. [Wikipedia]

In my mind, inhabitants of Rockvale, for instance, were either old Italian ladies — widows of the aforesaid coal miners — or people with a front yard full of old cars and motorcycle parts, several pit bulls, a couple of pickup trucks and a Harley, and a general attitude of “Leave me the **** alone.”

Plus one real talented sculptor whom we knew. Mixed in there were some people who just found the coal towns to be a cheap place to live, as we almost did.

And some of them are fans of “the unexplained.”  Earlier this month, local newspapers reported an upcoming three evenings of story-swapping devoted to UFO (July), ghosts (August), and Bigfoot (September).

These hair-raising events are sponsored by the Rockvale Development Committee, which was formed in February 2018 to help the town recover from recent setbacks. The focus of the Rockvale Development Committee is to raise funds while providing positive community building events and experiences.

At $5 admission, they raised about $100 from a group of middle-aged to elderly locals, plus three teenagers, sitting on folding chairs in the tiny community building. Stories were swapped, and some of them were good ones — in other words, they defy rational explanation.2)I have had one literal “unidentified flying object” experience, and I was able to explain it rationally, but it took me a couple of years to duplicate the original circumstance.

One that did not involve “flying objects” struck me as highly strange. The speaker had been a teenager in the late 1960s, living in mostly agricultural Weld County in northern Colorado. One winter evening at dusk he was walking from a neighbor’s house back to his family’s farm, a route he took often. He passed an irrigation canal with a concrete-block pump house beside it as he turned onto a little dirt road. There was a car parked by the pump house — he thought it looked like a black mid-1960s Ford Mustang, with someone in the driver’s seat.

As he walked past and behind the car, he said, he looked at its interior from the rear. The interior was full of many sparkling multi-colored lights, far beyond the usual dashboard display for a Sixties car. This strange sight frightened him, and he started running

Then his cousin came along in his truck and offered him a ride. Their conversation was something like this:

Speaker: Did you go by the pump house?

Cousin: Yeah.

Speaker: Did you see a car parked there?

Cousin: I didn’t see any car.

Meanwhile people traded truisms like “There’s so much that can’t be explained in this world” or “Some talk about it, some don’t” or “The Indians saw a lot more than we do” or “There’s millions of planets out there.”

But here is what bothers me, as an orthodox Jacques Vallée-ian, is that people hold only one or two hypotheses.

  1. The “visitors” are from another solar system, flying here in physical spaceships.
  2. The so-called spaceships are actually secret military experiments.3)This group had no problem with secret military experiments, as long as the taxpayers get their money’s worth.

Both hypotheses are mechanistic. But consider what Vallée was writing years ago (via Wikipedia):

By 1969, Vallée’s conclusions had changed, and he publicly stated that the ETH was too narrow and ignored too much data. Vallée began exploring the commonalities between UFOs, cults, religious movements, demons, angels, ghosts, cryptid sightings, and psychic phenomena. Speculation about these potential links were first detailed in Vallée’s third UFO book, Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers.

As an alternative to the extraterrestrial visitation hypothesis, Vallée has suggested a multidimensional visitation hypothesis. This hypothesis represents an extension of the ETH where the alleged extraterrestrials could be potentially from anywhere. The entities could be multidimensional beyond space-time, and thus could coexist with humans, yet remain undetected.

When we get to the ghosts and Bigfoot events, will people make these links?

Rockvale may have some hostile residents, but it has no monster — nothing along the lines of Nessie, Mothman, or the Jersey Devil. Towns that do have monsters can use them for economic development, just like a saint’s grave or the temple of a god.

A Search for Mysteries and Monsters in Small Town America: How Monster Festivals Became American Pilgrimage Sites,” an article on Smithsonian.com by religion scholar Joseph Laycock, connects sightings with the human hunger for mystery.

Many find legends like the Lizard Man [of Bishopville, South Carolina] enthralling. But some become obsessed, longing to know more about something both mysterious and frightening. In these monster hunters, I see elements of religion. . . . Here I see another connection to religious traditions. Pilgrimage has always been an economic phenomenon, and many medieval towns depended on stories of local miracles to draw pilgrims. By inviting in the cryptozoology tribe, today’s small towns are celebrating aspects of local culture that were once pushed to the periphery or mocked. But like the medieval towns of the past, their local economies are getting a nice little boost, too.

Read the whole thing. And keep looking up.

Notes   [ + ]

1. The word “truck” in “truck farms” does not refer to the transportation truck, which is derived from Latin for wheel, but rather from the old north French word troquer, which means “barter” or “exchange”. The use for vegetables raised for market can be traced back to 1784 and truck farms to 1866. [Wikipedia]
2. I have had one literal “unidentified flying object” experience, and I was able to explain it rationally, but it took me a couple of years to duplicate the original circumstance.
3. This group had no problem with secret military experiments, as long as the taxpayers get their money’s worth.

I’m Here to Fill your Krampus-tide Stocking

Don’t forget to leave a penny for Krampus! (Maine State Museum).

Krampus likes lots of odd, pointy, and weird things, so let’s go . . . .

Was a genuine 11th-century Norse penny found in Maine dropped by a Norse explorer, or is it part of a long-time hoax? But would   “Egil Ketilson” have been carrying money? Where was he going to spend it, Skraeling-Mart?

• The initiates of Mithras also kept their secrets well. But they left some buildings, and people try to figure out the religion from those.

“I realized that if I designed my metal band, it would definitely be a pagan feminist folkcore band, which is a Swedish/Norwegian style of metal music. It’s really ambient and loud even though it’s not using as much electricity-style [sic] instruments. I realized that I didn’t know anything about paganism. I was grabbing onto it because it seemed logical for this brand of metal. Slowly, over the years, I started researching goddesses and figuring out that in paganism there is a lot of mathematics and numerology. That instantly peaked [sic] my curiosity because I like working with numbers.”

Being avante-garde these days is such a lot of work.  And you have to learn about runes and electricity and stuff. (Does anyone still say “avante-garde”?)

• “Your eyes appear to have a magical power all of their own”? “You operate at a lower body temperature than the people around you.” You might be descended from Fairies.  Yeah, sure, tell it to Krampus.

More Confirmation about Bigfoot

I read this article in the Colorado Springs Independent and a paragraph jumped out at me:

She learned about her [Nepalese] people’s animistic prayer traditions, and had shamans explain to her that yeti aren’t the silly abominable snowmen of cartoon legend, but actually shape-shifters and guardians of the mountains. At their urging, Lepcha now carries ginger in her pocket while traveling, so the yeti won’t disturb her.

Shape-shifters. Part of the faery folk, and not necessarily our friends, as I have suggested before — also here). That is why I think that people who go out in the woods and look for “tree structures” are doing it wrong, although I am sure they have a great time.

On the other hand, although “ghost” is an odd choice of words, these people might be on to something (link to YouTube video).

Well, This Is Puzzling

who signed?Earth Day is upon us, and various people have been promoting the Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.

As John Halstead, one of its strongest advocates, wrote on his blog,

The Statement represents the largest collective expression of Pagan voices ever and the most successful attempt to date to harmonize Pagan voices on what is the most critical issue of our time.

Signing it is not going to clean a single stream, but as has been pointed out, its greatest impact may be on interfaith groups that tend to ignore us.

I have been on the road most of the last three weeks but home again, I decided that yes, I should sign it. So I went to the site and tried to do so, only to get the message screen-captured above.

Three possibilities present themselves:

1. I signed it during some kind of blackout and had no conscious memory of having done so.

2. Someone else signed my name.

3. There was a software glitch.

4. The fairies are messing with me again.

Weird.

‘Gentle Whispering’ Meets the Triple Goddess or the Three Fates or Something

This post goes here because (a) a Pagan blogger, Moma Fauna, introduced me to the whole concept of “autonomous sensory meridian response” and (b) three women in hooded robes? That seems sort of familiar.

Videos of whispery women carefully opening packages and greeting cards do not put me into a trance state, but I will admit that when I was in school, certain teachers’ voices (usually female) had almost the same effect.

For a full explanation, read this from Boing Boing.

 

Fairies Infest British Woodland, Control Measures Planned

From the BBC:

Hundreds of fairy doors have been attached to the bases of trees in Wayford Woods, Crewkerne.

It is claimed the doors have been installed by local people so children can “leave messages for the fairies”.

Can something be too twee? Yes, it can. And remember, fairies are not always your friends.

The Anthropologist and the Ancestors

otto

Dutch anthropologist Ton Otto

Thanks to Sabina Magliocco, I read this interesting piece about a Dutch anthropologist experiencing an ancestor ritual, one involving both the ancestors of the people in New Guinea whom he is visiting and his own.

And even though science failed to explain everything, the way I viewed the world was based on the idea that everything – with time – could be explained with logic and observations of reality.

Most likely, spiritual manifestations were simply projections of the unconscious, the deceitful trickery of sensory impressions or misunderstandings of natural phenomena.

I had no problem leading a life without spirits, but even so, deep down I always had a nagging feeling that I’d cut myself off from a lot of experiences.

The photo with the article is too perfect. I have cropped it here.

In turn it reminded me of an collection published twenty years ago: Being Changed: The Anthropology of Extraordinary Experience. (The late Judy Harrow told me about that one.)

A reviewer wrote,

Anthropologists of recent generations have always expressed enormous sympathy with ‘non-rational’ modes of thought, with the ‘supernatural’ experiences of people around the world. What they have rarely in their scholarly writing admitted to doing is giving any credence to the ‘irrational’ themselves—though such beliefs have long been common among those who have lived and worked for extended periods in cultures different from those that dominate Western society.

Now, in a ground-breaking volume, leading anthropologists describe such experiences and analyze what can occur “when one opens one’s self to aspects of experience that previously have been ignored or repressed.” The ten contributions to the book include Edith Turner on “A Visible Spirit Form in Zambia,” Rab Wilkie on “Ways of Approaching the Shaman’s World,” and Marie Francoise Guedon on “Dene Ways and the Ethnographer’s Culture.”

Note that it came from a small publisher, not a university press! But these experiences do happen, and it is good to get them into print.

Meanwhile, if you are interesting in “going native” in the physiological sense, I wholeheartedly recommend Carl Hoffman’s Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art.

It’s the best combination of archival research, history, and walking the ground where it happened, talking to people who were there.

And this is getting away from anthropologists . . . but spirits and possibly angry tribal peoples have been evoked to explain the “Dyatlov Pass Incident.”

Writer Donnie Eichar followed much the same methodology as did Hoffman for his own 2013 book, Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Some people treated those deaths as “high weirdness,” but his explanation is more naturalistic — and fairly convincing.

Why “Aliens” Might Be Invisible

Magonia, the review blog of esoteric books (0r should that be, books on esoterica?), recently revisited two books on Unidentified Flying Objects from the 1950s by Morris K. Jessup, the first writer, they say, to use the term “UFO” in a commercial publication.

Ah, those were the days, I take it, when the assumed evidence for the reality of alien spacecraft was growing steadily. Soon we would know the truth! Governments would be forced to admit that there was Someone Else! Perhaps a disk-shaped spacecraft would float down onto the White House lawn — or in Red Square, why not? — and a being would step out, proclaiming, “We come in peace.”

Or, conversely, the aliens would not be peaceful, and Earth would have to put aside its wars and rivalries to unite in a battle to save humanity. We have all seen book and movie versions of these possible scenarios, going back to War of the Worlds in 1897, at least.

Astronomers have now found — by calculation if not direct observation — many planets that orbit their suns not too close and not too far — the habitable zone — and which, therefore, could possibly contain life “as we know it.”

But getting there is the thing. With our chemically fueled rockets, which are limited in size, even a trip to Mars would take half a year or more. And right now, that would be a one-way trip — although some people are still volunteering. It did not take so much fuel for astronauts to escape the Moon, but Mars would require quite a bit more.

“Hyperdrive” and “warp drive” are science-fiction plot devices, not technology that is anywhere in sight.

So when it comes to actual physical aliens visiting us, I see only two possibilities:

1. They travel slower than the speed of light, which means that they either have incredibly long lifespans or that they have learned to  “hibernate” while traveling for many years.

2. They travel faster than the speed of light using a sort of “hyperdrive.” But if they can do that, what else can they do?

They would have no need to land a spaceship on the edge of town, leaving scorched spots on the ground, drop a ladder, and climb down wearing silvery suits, looking for someone to put on their operating table and probe.

Instead, their technology would so far ahead of ours that it would seem invisible to us. And so might they. We would not even know that we had been observed.

That blog’s name, Magonia, pays homage, I am sure, to French astronomer Jacques Vallée and to the name of a land in the clouds., taken from a medieval French tale. Vallée borrowed the name when he wrote Passport to Magonia, introducing his “interdimensional hypothesis.”

Briefly, it states that the Visitors/Fairies/aliens etc. are not from Out There but from In Here, “visitations from other ‘realities’ or ‘dimensions’ that coexist separately alongside our own.”

Maybe they live in Icelandic boulders, or as someone in a dream once told me, “inside the walls.” Either way, they should not be disturbed. Contact with them can be extremely upsetting.

This idea has long made more sense to me than the idea of physical “flying saucers” coming chug-chug-chug through interstellar space. Now you see them, now you don’t.

Queen Nefertiti Goes Cuckoo

clock“It’s kind of fascinating but it’s kind of horrifying,” I said to M. across the breakfast table when I saw an ad for “the only cuckoo clock inspired by the Wonders of Ancient Egypt.”

“‘Queen Nefertiti’s regal procession rotates,‘ it says,” I added.

“Horrifying, completely horrifying,” she replied. She detests noise-making clocks and barely tolerates my c.1910 “kitchen clock” that merely strikes the hours.

“You can have it in your study if you turn the sound (‘an exotic melody capturing the mysteries of Ancient Egypt’) off.”

Still, couldn’t you imagine sitting under it as you read John Crowley’s Ægypt sequence?