Bigfoot on the High Wire?

Sabina, magician and dancer (Paranormal Cirque photo).

Everything is paranormal these days. Even Stormy Daniels, the porn actress whom Donald Trump made famous, also bills herself as a paranomal investigator and medium. (“How to arouse a ghost”?)

Driving past a shopping mall parking lot last week, I saw an assortment of new-looking trailers and motorhomes and circus tents. The paranormal circus was in town, specially, the  R-rated “Paranormal Cirque”  touring unit of the Cirque Italia.

Under this Clown Castle, the black and red big top tent, Acrobats of the Air, Illusionists, freaks, mysterious creatures and all the elements that make one think of a “normal” Circus but that of normal has very little!

A new show with breathtaking implications always poised between fun and the most uninhibited fear that will transport you to a dark world inhabited by creatures with incredible circus art abilities.

A crazy yet fun fusion between Circus, theatre, and cabaret in perfect harmony with the evolution of a show that brings you back to when we dream … and when we had nightmares and fantasies. Scare

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Mothman would be a great act, but he probably does not want to leave the East Coast.

The Scholar and the Unabomber

Federal marshalls with Ted Kaczynski in custody, Helena, Montana, 1996.

Theodore “Unabomber” Kaczynski, my former neighbor, loosely speaking, has died at age 81. From 1998–2021 he was in the “Supermax” facility at the federal prison complex outside Florence, Colorado, a place I usually drive past once or twice a week. More recently he was in a federal prison hospital, possibly an improvement to being in a concrete box 23 hours a day.

Shortly after he arrived at ADX Florence, I was walking up Pike’s Peak Avenue to the post office. I saw a man on the sidewalk who looked a lot like a prominent scholar of American nature religion, but I knew that that guy lived in the Southeast and would not be in Florence. Until he said, “Hi, Chas.”

The scholar was sharing a motel room in nearby Cañon City with one of the editors of  the Earth First! journal. Back when Earth First! was the freewheeling, ecotage-promoting, Neanderthal-affirming organization that dated its publication by the Celtic wheel of the year

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, I had been a subscriber. In fact, I had had dinner one night with co-founder Dave Foreman in Boulder one time and had a great conversation about Neanderthal people, as they were understood and theorized back in the 1980s.

Apparently the EF! editor was on Kaczynski’s approved visitor list. The scholar, who had been around EF! before, had hoped to get on that list too, with research interests in mind. Unfortunately, “Uncle Ted” said no.

Dave Foreman split with Earth First! in 1990. I had not given all EF! as much thought in the 90s, but when M. and I paid a visit to their motel, we found  . . . a different tone.

Kacyznski’s message of distrust in  technological “progress” was important, the editor((More properly, member of the “editorial collective”?)) affirmed. But there was that public-relations problem with his “unique program of direct action,” as she put it.

In the motel hallway, I shook my head. Unique program of direct action — that is how you describe sending letter bombs when you speak fluent Enviro-tankie. Earth First! had changed all right. The journal had lost its Pagan-ish-adjacent flavor. And where are they now? More an idea than a (loose) organization, still invoked by ecotageurs.1

  1. Funny thing, Uncle Ted was no fan of the political left, at least in some of his writings as quoted at the link. []

My Interview about Time Slips, Synchronicity, and a ‘Fairy Portal’

As promised, my interview with host Timothy Renner of the Strange Familiars podcast has now dropped: “Episode 395, Time Slips and Portals.

You can play it on the site or download it.1

I tell three stories of “time slips” that happened when I was much younger — just making a start as a journalist, just married . . .

One happened in a medieval castle in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Ireland, which apparently is well-known to paranormal investigators now, but maybe not so back then, when it was quiet and dusty.((And the Celtic Tiger was just a blue-eyed kitten.)) Not only was my experience temporarily overpowering, but it was “sealed” by a knock-out synchroncity the following year.

One occurred at highway speed on the I-95 bridge over the Susquehanna River. Again

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, it looped around and re-appeared over a business lunch in Colorado Springs.

The third, closest to home, happened when I was gathering the stories that went into a little book called Ghost Tales of Cripple Creek.((The cover photo was taken from a house owned by the famous astrologer Linda Goodman, for what that is worth.))

And then jump forward to 2019, when M. and I were mushrooming, and, it would appear, Someone decided to teach me to be a little more respectful. Or something.

I did not see Anyone, but I did see “the ravine that was not there,” and for a moment almost entered it. The thought of doing that — and beckoning M. to join me — gives me chills even now three and a half years later.

And if my voice sounds a little scratchy, you can put that down to spring allergies.

  1. I always download podcasts and shuffle them onto and off of my iPhone, because I do not always listen in sequence and I don’t want the petty tyranny of some app saying, “Do you still want to subscribe to Podcast X? You have not listened in three weeks!” []

Yet It’s Not October: Paganism in the News (Part 1)

I have been seeing a flush of Pagan-related articles in Anglosphere news media lately, so many that it feels like October, which is usually the only time we are noticed.((Possibly with a smaller peak around Yule.))

One reason may be upcoming coronation of King Charles III.((I might as well say it: when I was young, my older sisters and I independently worked out that I was probably named for him, at least partly, by our anglophile mother. Officially, I was named for a maternal great-grandfather, who was a job printer, newspaper publisher, and postmaster in Baxter Springs, Kansas.)) There was a flutter of exitement over the Green Man on the coronation invitation. Was the king a closet Pagan?

When the Times announced that the Princess of Wales might wear flowers in her hair, historian Francis Young((Also a contributor to The Pomegranate)) playfully tweeted, “The folk horror theme of this Coronation intensifies.”

Young, in fact, has written an article on the king’s coronation, “Monarchy re-enchanted: The new Coronation liturgy underlines Charles III’s sacral kingship,” which emphasizes both the coronation’s deep Christian roots and an attempt to add an element of mysticism.

[The King] has consistently demonstrated sensitivity to an expansive awareness of the sacred that exceeds the strictures of a single religious tradition, in spite of his unambiguous commitment to the Church of England. . . .  Charles III seems intent on re-enchanting the monarchy through a Coronation service rooted in both the past and the present

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, but suffused with mysticism. . . .  Charles III’s Coronation will be the first in many centuries to take place directly on top of the Cosmati pavement made for Coronations in the reign of Henry III, a talisman designed to draw down celestial influences on the new king. The new “Cross of Wales”, the processional cross, contains a relic of the True Cross given to the King by the Pope; the holy oil for the King’s anointing has been consecrated in Jerusalem. Furthermore, the King has insisted that his anointing, the holiest moment of the ceremony, be entirely hidden by a specially designed screen adorned with words of the mediaeval mystic Julian of Norwich, and he has elected to wear the full sacred vestments of his forebears.

Saturday’s coronation will be a deeply Christian ceremony with ancient roots. They are bringing out a manuscript of the gospels, the St. Augustine Gospels, believed to have been brought to England in 596 by Augustine, a missonary to the Anglo-Saxons, before there ever was a political entity called “England.”((This is Augustine “of Canterbury,” not to be confused with the earlier Augustine “of Hippo,” the weaselly lawyer.)) (The Celtic British were largely already Christian by then, with a connection to Christian Ireland.)

But the sort of Pagan penumbra persists. Why does the BBC pick this time to discuss the The Wicker Man, the Pagan-themed horror that became a cult favorite of actual Pagans in the 1980s? (“Just ignore the ending,” they would say, which is of course not posssible.) Is there some sort of Fraserian sacred king/death/rebirth smoke in the air, ancient gospel manuscripts or not?

Beltane and the Birds

The oval at left covers an area south of Colorado Springs to the New Mexico line. The green blotch is not rain, as you might think. It is birds. (National Weather Service, Pueblo, Colorado)

Beltane snuck((OK, “sneaked,” if you don’t like vernacular irregular conjugations.)) up on me this year.

While much of Colorado had more snow than usual, here on the creek we did not. It was cold, dry, and windy week after week. Finally, a combination of rain and wet snow brought two inches (5 cm) of water at the beginning of last week, which is something, but we are still officially in severe drought.

Sunday night, M. and ate supper on the southwest-facing front porch — it was finally warm enough to do that. We looked at the birds flitting around, notably the broad-tailed hummingbirds, who arrived a week later than average, having propelled their thumb-sized selves all the way from Mexico or further south. We wondered when the black-headed grosbeaks might arrives and make it really summer.

I went inside and was checking Facebook for local news when this graphic from the National Weather Service office down in Pueblo popped up.

Beltane? The Turning of the Wheel? There it was, a green blotch of northward flying birds.

Talk about the Invisible World

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Despite what we do with habitat destruction and light pollution, the birds follow their Ancient Ways. Despite what we do. They. Keep. Trying.

I sat at the laptop with my eyes full of tears.

Check for bird migration in your area (Continental US only) at BirdCast.

And turn off the outdoor lights that you don’t absolutely need.

An Online Presentation on the Wilderness Vision of Feraferia

Maiden Savioress Spirit Guiding the Age of Aquarius,Fred Adams, 1977.
“Maiden Savioress Spirit Guiding the Age of Aquarius,” artwork by Fred Adams, 1977.

The Pagan group Feraferia had a fairly large (by Pagan standards of the time) following, chiefly  in Southern California, starting in the late 1960s.

It was largely the creation of one man, the visonary artist Fred Adams, and was a unique creation, with some inspiration from the ancient Minoan civilization but no real connection to Wicca, ceremonial magic, other Pagan groups, although he did take up John Michell’s vision of ley lines and sought to delineate them in Southern California.((Many Feraferia members, however, also participated in Wiccan and other magickal groups. That’s how it often goes.))

Adams described Feraferia (meaing “wild festival”) as “a love culture for wilderness, a liturgy of holy wildness, and a religion celebrating the Magic Maiden.”

Adams died in 2008, followed by his wife and co-leader, Svetlana, in 2010.

Their literary executor was the artist and filmmaker Jo Carson.  On Saturday, May 20, Cherry Hill Seminar will present a free online event with Carson, Feraferia, A Love Culture for Wilderness.

You can see the trailer for her documentary film, Dancing with Gaia, at its website.

So while the Adamses are gone and the group around them largely dispersed, Jo and others have tried to keep the vision alive, and here is a way to share in it.

They put out a zine, which I got in the 1970s, but to participate back then, you really had to be there, and “there” was Pasadena, California.

But you can still get feeling for “celebrating wildness” this way.

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Look, the Son is Rising

Upper photo: “Sonrise Hill,” Thedford, Nebraska, site of Easter sunrise worship. Lower photo: signboard at a nondenomination Protestant church in Colorado

It’s that magical time of year, when Christianity does seem to resemble a solar cult, much to the satisfaction of all the internet scholars who say that Jesus is really just the same as Osiris, Adonis, Dumuzid, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Baldur, etc.

But at the same time, if I had a dollar for everytime someone — usually a Protestant Christian minister — has made the Son/Sun pun at this time of year, I would be drinking my morning coffee in my Teton County mountain mansion with my pet wolves gamboling on the lawn.

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Green Man Image Starts ‘Pagan King’ Chatter

Enormous preparations, both pragmatic and ceremonial, are under way for the crowning of King Charles III and Queen Camilla next month in London. When the official invitation was prepared, people’s attention was drawn to the foliate head, the “Green Man” at the bottom.

Was it a sign to those who know of the king’s Pagan sympathies? Was it just a sort of “spirit of Britain” thing? After all, those could be Scottish thistles to him, and what about those old-fashioned red/white roses? And the oak leaves?

The Guardian, not a reliable source of religion news, burbled, “Is Charles planning a pumpimg pagan [sic] party?

Here is a historian’s view (no, not Ronald Hutton this time), but Francis Young, author of the newly released Twilight of the Godlings: The Shadowy Beginnings of Britain’s Supernatural Beings from Cambridge University Press.

Young has an article in The Spectator (UK) on the Green Man and the king:

The Green Man is an intriguing figure. He is not, as many claim, an ancient fertility god, but something much stranger: a twentieth-century creation, a deity invented in modern Britain. In 1939 the folklorist Lady Raglan published an influential article which drew together several disparate strands to construct an imagined character whom all written sources

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, strangely, had previously failed to mention. According to Lady Raglan, the foliate heads often found in medieval churches portrayed a figure who was commemorated by pubs named ‘The Green Man’ and the dancer bedecked with foliage (known as ‘Jack-in-the-Green’) who was part of May Day festivities. Hiding in plain sight in churches, the Green Man embodied ongoing pagan [sic] sympathies.

Many historians and folklorists have debunked Lady Raglan’s claims. There were no pagans in high medieval Britain, stonemasons often indulged in bizarre visual jokes or favoured a particular motif for no apparent reason, and a ‘green man’ in early modern England just meant a man who dressed in green. But the debunking didn’t work; people had already come to believe that a god called the Green Man existed. A brisk trade in clay and resin replicas of foliate heads in Britain’s churches helped. No one was worshipping the Green Man at this point, but the notion that a deity cheekily lurked in churches tickled mid-century Britons’ desire for a little light-hearted subversion at a time when the Church was losing its grip on national life.

But I have one of those resin heads hung by my front door (a sign to those who know), and it means something more to me.

ADDED: Sebastian Milbank, editor of the British “contrarian conservative” magazine The Critic, offers a Christian genealogy of the Green Man: “The Green Man is a Christian Symbol.”

My Next Possible Podcast Appearance

The “Awoken Tree” logo of the Strange Familiars podcast.

I like to listen to podcasts. Where were all these good ones when I had to drive an hour and a half each day, three days a week?

But I don’t have the time or desire to make my own. Being more of a behind-the-scenes guy these days, not a group spokesman or online influencer or (currently) having to book to promote,  I don’t get asked to appear on them either.

There was one time last October, or “Pagan History Month” as you might call it, when I was contacted by a staffer for Alie Ward’s Oologies podcast to talk about Paganism.

It did not go well. She seemed like a blank slate without even a list of questions for me. Judging from some of her other episodes (I tried to get a feel for the podcast), she wanted a fairly serious approach, so I start in discussing nature religion, polytheism, etc.

Then I discover that there was a chat room going all the while – which I could not see — and people were asking questions like “How do I start a coven?” Which is perfectly fine, and I would have been happy to come in on that level too. (I did co-found a coven, after all.)

The episode never aired, surprise, surprise. No one bothered to tell me it was shit-canned, but silence speaks volumes.

But I have hopes for Strange Familiars. This paranormal-focused podcast has been one of my top three faves since early 202o or whenever I discovered it. That’s the logo up above

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, the “Awoken Tree.”

If all goes well, I will be interviewed next week about three “time slip” experiences and one “fairy portal” experience. No actual members of the fair folk. Sorry. At least not that I saw. I seem to be fairy-adjacent, just like I am Bigf0ot-adjacent.

I’ve been writing notes all day, which leads into things like looking at drone videos of Irish villages that I visited before there were commercial drones or internets. Back when the “Celtic Tiger” was just a kitten.

If it happens as planned, I will post a link.

Ostara with the Cranes

Sandhill cranes in front, Canada geese in the rear.

I stepped outdoors on Monday, March 20, and the trees and underbrush were buzzing.  Like extra-loud bacon frying or radio static. It was all the little birds , revving up, not so so much singing just signally, that yes, the vernal equinox was here. I have never felt it so strongly on the day.

For reasons of weather

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, however, M.and I waited one more day for our Ostara pilgrimage to the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado to see the migrating sandhill cranes. (They will move on farther north, from southern Idaho into western Canada.)

Listen to them here. I love that call, especially when they pass high overhead.

There is the official Crane Festival, but it comes too early in March to fit into my growing calendar of food and wildlife-related events that match up against an  eight-station Wheel of the Year.

Great event with plenty of activities, but two weeks off the equinox.

We had some mountains to cross. I checked the Facebook page for the Secret Cut-off Road1 The word was, “Currently snowing but melting in, so maybe muddy.” We went for it.

I dropped into four-wheel-drive when the predicted “muddy” started; then it switched to soft, packed snow (Keep momentum!) and then then, Oh no!, there was a box truck sideways across the narrow road.

But I swung around past its bumper (no one there), cleared it, and charged up the last incline before the crest, a north-facing section that always holds snow longest, then up and over into potholed road dropping down through pasture land and coming out on US 160.

Just ninety minutes more, counting a detour around a little police action in Monte Vista that had closed the road out of town to the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge.

Taking the quickie auto tour loop out from the visitor center, we saw a flock of cranes on the ground and more overhead. From his travel crate in the back for Jeep, Marco, my Chesapeake Bay retriever, whined a few times. He could smell swamp, he could hear waterfowl — why wasn’t he being let out? Special rules today, Pup, sorry! Be patient!

Another short drive, another muddy road to a different corner of the refuge. And there they were, a huge flock, hundreds of cranes, feeding across a grassy field.

This was worth pulling out the spotting scope and tripod — crane-watchers keep their distance to avoid disturbing them. I had not felt like wrangling both the scope and the my best camera with long lenses, so I snapped some with the little Nikon point-and-shoot. That is the photo above: just a fraction of the cranes (and Canada and snow geese) in that spot.

And then back to Alamosa for supper, with toasts in rioja and a bone saved for Marco, and that feeling of having turned the wheel, of having broken out of routine into the chaotic spring weather, of having watched the world in its turnings.

  1. I love that every county has at least one road with its own Facebook page, mainly to keep users from cluttering up other groups with repetitious “How’s the pass?” questions. []