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Saturday, 10 February 2018

Levitating Saints - and Others

     During my visit to Bhutan, one of my travel companions made a reference to levitation practised in Tibetan monasteries, and I commented that I wouldn't rule it out. "I'm glad you don't reject it," said our host (or our guide, I forget which).
    "In our society," I replied, "it occurs among two different types of people: Christian mystics, and the demon possessed."

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Results of the New Fairy Census

     The results of the new fairy census are now at hand. The last census began in 1955, and took almost 60 years to find a publisher. Now, due to the wonders of the internet, the new one can be downloaded as a free e-book of 5.02 MB, the result of a survey by the new Fairy Investigation Society. The original FIS was composed essentially of New Age cranks. The new FIS, with which I am a member, is as much concerned with folklore as with the paranormal, and with respect to the latter, they maintain an open mind, but not so open that their brains fall out. The earlier survey was conducted by paper and postage, while the new one involved a questionnaire on the FIS's website, which means it would only have been accessed by someone with an actual interest in the subject, albeit after being alerted to it by social media or other advertisements. The author concedes that a few jokes or hoaxes have crept in, but feels that the vast majority of respondents were sincere. Having read their circumstantial accounts, I am forced to agree. Of course, any individual report, no matter how seemingly sincere, may be false, but if only one is accurate, it is a whole new ball game.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

"Gigantic Birds" and "Bedroom Visitors"

     It can't be said that all of us Smiths live humdrum lives. Take, for instance, D.G. Smith of Leicester, England. In 1992 he wrote to the editor of Flying Saucer Review, and when his letter was published on page 25 of volume 37, no. 3, the editor commented that, in 45 years of ufology he had developed a feeling for the "UFO nut cases", and his intuition was that this one was genuine. In any case, as with most of the articles on this blog, there is no evidence that it is false apart from the obvious fact that it is fantastic. I shall therefore let you decide for yourself. The italics are in the original. It would have been useful if the author had been more specific about the location of the events. I suspect his/her native land of the USA.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Sugar Out of Nowhere

     A major intention of this blog was to rescue unusual stories which were likely to be overlooked and forgotten. Now it seems that every time I decide I have run out of material, and it is time to put the blog into hibernation, something new comes up. For example, I have just finished reading an undeservedly neglected book, The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism by Herbert Thurston. Fr. Thurston embodied the unusual combination of Jesuit priest and member of the Society for Psychical Research. He investigated mediums, ghosts, and poltergeists, and between 1919 and 1938 he examined the evidence for extraordinary, even paranormal phenomena associated with nuns, monks, and other mystics. I could spend a lot of time on these issues, but what caught my eye was the case of a young woman who was definitely not a saint. However, I have in the past written about "apports", or objects which appear out of thin air during poltergeist infestations, one of which involved the mysterious appearance of sugar. This present case bears some resemblance, although no poltergeist activity was involved. It is best that I quote Thurston's own words.

Monday, 7 August 2017

A Plague of Goblins in Argentina

      I found this collection of stories on a Spanish language website while following up a lead from the Fairy Investigation Society. It was written in 2003 by a Sr Fabio Picasso, and was a Spanish version of an article in French (presumably by the same author) called "Les petits êtres d'Argentine" ["The little beings of Argentina"] originally published in La Gazette Fortéenne  ["The Fortean Gazette"] volume II, Oeil du Sphinx, París, 2003, and he linked it to a website which is no longer active. For myself, I have used Google Translator as a basis, but have made changes when necessary for greater accuracy and readability. I have also transferred his endnotes into the main text for the sake of readability. With this in mind, welcome to a series of strange encounters. I have translated duende as "goblin", but it is a catchall term for goblins, elves, etc. - even ghosts. I draw no conclusions about the nature of the phenomena described, except to say that, whereas a single witness may be discounted, it is a lot harder for multiple witnesses.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

A "Jinn" in Transylvania

     Transylvania. Money out of nowhere. A playful spirit. A map for buried treasure. What more do you need for an entertaining Gothic novel? Yet this was the adventure in which the Hon. Everard Feilding found himself during five weeks in 1914. And before you start scoffing, you should be aware that he was the Secretary of the Society for Psychical Research and, with his cautious and sceptical attitude, was considered the best psychic researcher they ever had.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The Saga of the Monkey Girl

     Last month the news came out that the tale of an Indian girl living with monkeys had turned out to be a damp squib, so to speak. Really, there is only one authenticated case of a human child raised by animals: Bello, discovered in 1996 living with a group of chimpanzees in the Falgore Forest of Nigeria. Alas! He was no Tarzan. He appears to have been abandoned by his parents because he was both physically and mentally disabled. Another possible case was Assicia, later renamed Sylvana, who was discovered wandering alone in the jungle of Liberia in the 1930s. Although not found in the company of apes, she walked around on all fours, on knees and fingertips, with ankles bent, and scratched herself like a monkey. Baby Hospital, found by a missionary in Sierra Leone, may be another case, but the information is too sketchy to form a conclusion. As for the enigma of the wolf children of Midnapore, I have discussed them elsewhere. Suffice it is to say that the story appears to check out, even though it is impossible.
     What is certain is that certain feral children have lived in association with animals - which is not to say they were reared by them. Saturday Mifune had definitely been watched for over a year with a band of monkeys in South Africa before being rescued in 1987. Since he never learned to talk, it seems likely he was originally autistic or mentally retarded. One about which there is no dispute is John Ssebunya of Uganda, who ran away from home when his father killed his mother, and lived for some time with vervet monkeys before he was rescued in 1989. Unlike the others, he is able to talk, and eventually joined the Pearl of Africa Children's Choir - which means that his rise was greater than even the fictional Tarzan's. The latter rose from an ape tribe to the House of Lords. John went from a monkey tribe to the house of the Lord.
     So when I read about Marina Chapman, who claimed to have lived for five years with capuchin monkeys, I was inspired to read her autobiography, The Girl With No Name.