Index to This Site

Monday, 14 December 2015

A Few Run-of-the-Mill Miracles

     I have personally never witnessed a miracle, any more than I have seen a ghost. Indeed, why would I? I don't operate in those circles where such things are commonplace, and if miracles were really common, they would no longer be special. Nevertheless, they definitely occur, and can be easily found by those looking for them.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Diagnosis by ESP?

     "Fawlty Towers in Tibet" could have been the alternative name for Alec Le Sueur's 1998 book, Running a Hotel on the Roof of the World. For five years commencing 1988, he had been the sales manager of the Holiday Inn in Lhasa where, to the backwardness of one of the remotest areas of the world was added the incompetence of Communism, and that made a formidable combination. They even used Fawlty Towers videos for training purposes. Even without the author's dry sense of humour, the inevitable clash of cultures would tickle your funny bone. You will discover how the sheets were washed in the river by hand and dried on the grass, while the most advanced laundry unit in western China lay idle because no-one knew how to use it. Thirty vacuum cleaners imported from Hong Kong had their motors burnt out within a month because the maids never emptied the bags, having assumed that the dirt magically disappeared up the electric power cord. Printing was done on an "only slightly more modern version of the Caxton printing press" (but missing the letter "s") because no-one knew how to use the super-duper press provided as a gift from the Australian Government. The hotel typewriter lacked an "a", while their brand new offset printer had never been used because the special oil could be obtained only from an unknown supplier in Hong Kong.
     I could go on and on with such craziness, but this blog was not established as a rival to Good Reads. Its aim is to rescue items of anomalies in danger of being overlooked and lost. Therefore, I shall cut to the chase, and talk about Dr Ga Ma.

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Wolf Children of Midnapore

     Kipling didn't invent the idea of wolf children. His character, Mowgli was inspired by rumours prevalent in his native land, for India - and in particular, the north central state of Awadh (Oudh) - is the home of wolf children legends. From the middle of the nineteenth century right up to the present day, children could be pointed out who had been raised by wolves. It says a lot about the social milieu of India that all these children happen to be boys. The one big exception is the most famous and best documented case of all: Amala and Kamala, the wolf girls of Midnapur.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Phantom Hotel Attic

     One of the major differences between fantasy and real life is that fantasy has to make sense. Robert Heinlein's novella, The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag has detectives follow the said Mr Hoag to a workshop on a certain floor of a building, only to return and discover that the particular floor of the building did not exist. However, by the end of the book, it makes some sort of sense. That is more than can be said for the following experience.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Attempted Abduction by "Gnomes"

     Of all the strange phenomena I have described, few are so enigmatic as the appearance of miniature humanoids: elves, goblins, gnomes - call them what you like. I don't know what they might be, I have no explanation for them, I have reservations about many of the reports, but I have heard enough not to scoff at them.
     Then, only last week I received an extraordinary account by e-mail. By itself this was unusual; you will note that my e-mail address does not appear anywhere on this blog. The lady in question was obviously determined enough to search for it among my other blogs. I am also impressed with the second half of the story, about her unremitting attempts for nearly thirty years to find a person or an organisation who would take it seriously, and perhaps provide some sort of explanation. (I'm afraid I can't help much on the second issue.) She has asked me not to divulge her identity. Indeed, she originally provided only her first name, year of birth, and the suburb where she used to live. You could never trace her with that meagre information. Just the same, she has now provided an amended version which removes even that information. Whatever else can be said about her, she is not seeking notoriety! She has also provided a lot of background information which is not for publication, and does not greatly affect the narrative, but is indicative of her sincerity. I am convinced that this is an account of a genuine experience, make of it what you wish. As she put it:
I suspect my account will be ridiculed and/or disbelieved.  I doubt I'd believe it myself if I read it somewhere.  But who knows - someone may have experienced something similar, in which case they might be relieved to know they're not alone with their experience.  Or, someone may have heard about a similar experience occurring to someone else.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Psychics of Ape Canyon

     Every good bigfooter knows the story of Ape Canyon, close to Mount St Helens, Washington: how it acquired its name in 1924 when a group of prospectors were harassed in their cabin by a party of giant apes. Well, in 1967 ie 43 years after the event, one of the prospectors, Fred Beck decided to set the record straight, and his story was written down by his son, Ronald A. Beck. I don't know where it was originally published, but you can read it all on the excellent Bigfoot Encounters website.
    Parts 1 and 2 deal with the events themselves, and you should read them. It is Part 3 that is of interest here. Although, in my opinion, he does not establish his case that bigfoot is not a flesh and blood animal, he does recount in detail his own psychical experiences in the Canyon. He then branches off into speculations about the nature of reality which need not concern us.
     Normally, I would be reluctant to copy large sections of another's website, but I fear that, in this case, the remarkable story will be lost in the voluminous amount of information present on the Bigfoot Encounters site. (I really would suggest you read it, if you are interested in the subject.) Also, fair's fair. I haven't complained that the site includes a copy of a paper of mine from 1989, even though it represents an opinion I know longer hold. With this in mind, let us see what Mr Beck had to say.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Séance at Endor, 1000 BC

     1,000 BC, give or take a few years: a strange, nocturnal rendezvous is taking place. One of the participants is one of the last spirit mediums left in Israel. The other is the man most responsible for removing them: King Saul. But on the morrow he must meet the Philistines in battle, and God has forsaken him; he can gain no message by dream, priest, or prophet. Therefore, he is about to do something completely illegal: he will inquire of the dead.
     1848 AD: the Fox family home in New York state is the focus of very mild poltergeist phenomena - mostly rappings. Two of the sisters, Margaretta, 14 and Catherine, 12, decide to rap back and ask the presumed spirit questions, and in so doing, inadvertently start a brand new religion, Spiritualism. What could be the connection between the two widely separated events?

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Mysterious Big Birds

     I'm in a quandary. I don't know whether to include this essay in my Cryptozoology or my Anomalies blog. Aficionados of both will be aware that occasionally they overlap. An obvious example is the appearance of bigfoot-like creatures in the vicinity of flying saucers. Similarly, back in the UK, black panthers are usually assumed to be flesh and blood, and placed in the cryptozoology pigeon hole, while black dogs seem to possess spectral qualities, and thus are classified along with ghosts and goblins.
     Thus, although I have problems with the idea of thunderbirds with wingspans of six or seven metres, I would not rule them out, and so would classify them as a cryptozoological mystery. However, the accounts you are about to read contain additional elements of weirdness which lead me to record them in the current blog. You be the judge.

Monday, 13 April 2015

It Came Out of the Basement

     Up to a couple of months ago, I always regarded imaginary childhood friends in the same light as pickpockets: I'd heard about them, but never had any direct or indirect experience of them. I never had an imaginary friend as a child. None of my friends had, that I know of. I never met any adult who told me he had had one as a child, or that his children had one. Indeed, the only references to imaginary friends I had ever read were in fiction. Then, I came across the Fortean Times publication,  It Happened to Me!, volume 3, in which ordinary people told of their extraordinary experiences. (I reviewed volume 2 previously.) Here, several people described their own, or their children's imaginary friends. Significantly, they all recognized them as imaginary, and invisible. (One did say that she saw her "friend" briefly, but I suspect that was with the mind's eye. Then, squirreled in among them, on page 36, was a story of something quite different, and quite weird.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Walk on Your Hands!

     A major purpose of this blog is to rescue strange - preferably very strange - stories which are in danger of being "lost" ie they can be found only in some obscure magazine or book, which is likely to be overlooked, so that when the second example occurs, nobody knows that there ever was a first example. The evidence would not accumulate. Therefore, I was a bit reticent about repeating something which was recorded in one of the all time great publications on poltergeistery. But what the heck! How many people read that publication anyway? Besides, I had forgotten about it myself until I reread the book after an absence of forty years.
     It concerns a flat (apartment) with a very peculiar effect on people. I might add that, although the author - who was a very prominent psychic researcher of his day - described the phenomenon as a "poltergeist", there is not the slightest evidence to that effect, and no other poltergeist manifestations were present. Any reasonable explanation will be welcome.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

What Sort of People See Fairies?

Belief in fairies, in one form or another, is found all over the world, but is strongest among primitive peoples. It is presumably as old as mankind itself, and in Christian communities is one of the surviving relics of paganism.
     That was a passage I remember well from the 1144-page tome pretentiously entitled, The Great Encyclopædia of Universal Knowledge, apparently published in 1938, and the constant literary companion of my boyhood. Indeed several of the front and rear pages have been seriously damaged by the caresses of my childish fingers.
     I was only a little boy at the time. That was the first time I had heard that there were people who genuinely believed in fairies. As I grew older, I discovered that a detailed and complex mythology exists regarding fairies, and that during both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries folklorists recorded people who not only believed in fairies, but claimed to have seen them. Of course, it is assumed that they were making it up. Just the same, the folklorist Katherine Briggs included in her 1967 book, The Fairies in Tradition and Literature a chapter 16 entitled, "Fairy encounters and odd experiences". Interestingly, some of them were by people who did not share the tradition and did not expect it. Then there was Fairies, real encounters with little people (1997), in which Janet Bord culled the literature for exactly that. In this blog I myself have published two posts of such odd encounters from different parts of the world. (See here and here.) And at the back of all this, there were rumours of a mysterious organisation called the Fairy Investigation Society, which I could never discover for itself. Well, at last it has made its appearance. I am, of course, referring to Seeing Fairies by Marjorie T. Johnson (Anomalist Books, 2014)

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Light on the Jungle Trail

     As I have said in the heading, if you keep your eyes and your mind open, you will find that the paranormal, the miraculous, the simply inexplicable, not only happen, but are not even uncommon. Anomalies turn up everywhere, even in bestsellers read by thousands of people.
     For example, many of us in southeast Queensland will have had pleasant memories of O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat, set deep in the subtropical rainforest in the rugged mountainous terrain of the Lamington National Park. Back in 1937, the youngest of the O'Reilly brothers, Bernard O'Reilly became an instant celebrity due to an astonishing feat of bushcraft. A Stinson passenger aircraft had disappeared on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney. It was generally assumed that it had gone down somewhere near Sydney, but O'Reilly was convinced it had crashed in the Macpherson Ranges. Navigating by dead reckoning through dense, trackless, unmarked rainforest and over four mountain ridges, he discovered the crash and was able to lead a rescue party to the survivors. Repeatedly asked for his own version of the story, he wrote it down and appended a long account of his childhood in the Blue Mountains and the establishment, first of the dairy farms, and then of the guest house, by himself and his siblings. The result was Green Mountains, written in late 1940, before he went off to war. As I said, it has probably been read by thousands of people. I can hardly hope that this post will be so successful, but perhaps my readers will be more likely to take notice of the following instances.