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The north wind blows with fresh visions of arboreal sleep. Where green once danced in harmony with the Earths loving breath, vibrations of matter freed of material concerns reveal the browns, gold and orange of weary leaves. Restless wings stretch in anticipation of the open sky and the siren call of lands over the horizon. Soon, the quiet serenity of frozen slumber will draw itself over the land with sweet promises of carefree dreams and Persephone's return.
This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such nerve-wracking stories as:
- UFOs Spotted Over Manhattan -
- John Wilcock’s Occult South American Journey -
- A Wesleyan Ghost Hunt Brings Closure for Family -
- Scientists to Resume Search for Ape Man in Central China -
AND: Vanishing Malaysian Woman Blames Djinns
~ And Now, On With The Show! ~
JUST OFF THE PRESSES!
Occult Journeys Through South America
Strange Tales of Witchcraft, Spiritualism, Lost Races
and Religious Miracles!
JOURNEY TO A LAND OF MYSTERY AND MYSTICISMSouth American folklore has its share of unique and fantastic myths and legends. There are incredible tales of magicians and their weird magical arts, strange creatures, ghosts and other unexplainable mysteries. The first explorers that entered what is now South America were dazzled by the endless tropical rain forests, the strange and diverse wildlife, and the indigenous peoples and their mysterious ways. Even today, South America offers unique perspectives and influences on the paranormal that are not found elsewhere on the planet.
THE DEAD ARE ALIVEThe people of South America live in a world steeped in ancient traditions that enhance their lives with rich tapestry of mystical beliefs. In modern Latin America, Catholicism is the predominate religion. However, especially in Brazil, Espiritismo (Spiritism) has become extremely prevalent since its beginning in the mid 19th century. Spiritism like Spiritualism, believes in the survival of the human personality after death and that mediums are able to communicate with the spirits. Followers of Spiritism believe in an afterlife. But unlike Spiritualism, Spiritists believe that the soul with reincarnate after a period of time.
ON THE EDGE OF REALITYJoin John Wilcock in his mystical journey, noted occult and paranormal researcher Tim R. Swartz recounts stories of demons and sinister spirits, creatures from out of this world, living dinosaurs and giants in the Earth. If you are an armchair you will enjoy this work such as well as some one who is planning on heading for the grandeur's of South America. This is a travelers guide to the strange and unknown you should not be without.
About the AuthorThe author provides a fascinating overview of some of the occult beliefs and rituals of South America. Wilcock is an old hand at traversing the globe and sharing his insights with his readers. He has written guidebooks for Mexico, California, Texas, Rome, Florence and many other touristy locales. He has also authored a book called "A Guide To Occult Britain," as well as serving as a researcher for Albert Goldman's "The Lives of John Lennon," a biography of Jim Morrison and a biography of Rupert Murdoch. . . Wilcock also has impressive credentials as a columnist and editor. He was a cofounder in 1955 of the celebrated newspaper "The Village Voice," for which he wrote a regular column called "The Village Square." As an editor, WIlcock held the reins of "The Witches Almanac," "The East Village Other," and the "Lost Angeles Free Press." In 2010, Wilcock's book on Andy Warhol "The Autobiograph and Sex Life of Andy Warhol," was published to no small acclaim.
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- LOOK, UP IN THE SKY DEPARTMENT -
UFOs Spotted Over Manhattan
A mysterious shiny object floating high over Manhattan's West Side set off a flurry of reports and wild speculation Wednesday that a UFO was flying over the city.
Police and the FAA said they began getting flooded with calls starting at 1:30 p.m. from people reporting a silvery object hovering high over Chelsea.
Law enforcement sources said they believed the object was likely some sort of balloon, but as of late Wednesday they had not confirmed exactly what it is.
A Daily News reporter could see a tiny, silver dot floating approximately 5,000 feet above 23th St. and Eighth Ave., where dozens of people gathered late in the afternoon to catch a glimpse.
"It's been hovering there for a while. I'm just kind of baffled," said Joseph Torres, 49, of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, who spotted the object after leaving a movie. "How can it be ordinary? There is something going on."
The sky was very clear at the time, making high-flying objects extremely visible from the ground.
"You really have to look up to see it," said one witness, who gave only his first name, Rico. "It's a little crazy. I guess that's why they call it an unidentified flying object because they don't know what it is."
Not long after the first sightings, messages began appearing on Twitter linking to a month-old press release announcing the publication of a book by a retired NORAD officer predicting that UFOs would buzz the earth's major cities on Oct. 13.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it received several calls to its operations center but after reviewing radar data, the agency could not find anything out of the ordinary.
"We re-ran radar to see if there was anything there that we can't account for but there is nothing in the area," said spokesman Jim Peters. "There was some helicopter traffic over the river at that time and we checked with LaGuardia Tower. And they said they had nothing going low at that time."
"Nothing that we can account for would prompt this kind of response," he said.
Peters said if it was a weather balloon or any kind of organized balloon release, authorities should have been notified in advance. Police officials said they had received no notification.
However, a Westchester elementary school believes the puzzling orbs floating over Chelsea were likely a bundle of balloons that escaped from an engagement party they held for a teacher.
"UFO? They're crazy - those are our balloons!" said Angela Freeman, head of the Milestone School in Mount Vernon. "To me it was the most automatic thing. But it's all over YouTube."
A parent was bringing about 40 iridescent pearl balloons to the school for language arts teacher Andrea Craparo when the wind spent a bunch away around 1 p.m.
"They looked big and they were all together, so it looked like one UFO," said fourth-grader Nia Foster, 9.
Source: NY Daily News
- BOOK REVIEW DEPARTMENT -
Demons, Cannibalism And A Needful Witchdoctor:
John Wilcock’s Occult South American Journey
By Sean Casteel
The ancient belief systems of nature worship still flourish in some parts of the world, to include South America. Practices we find bizarre or even utterly repellant, things strange enough to induce what some psychologists and sociologists call “culture shock,” are presented in John Wilcock’s “Occult Journeys Through South America” without judgment and also without any attempt to proselytize for the primitive rites of the indigenous peoples he writes about.
THE INTREPID DOMVILLE-FIFE
In an early chapter of “Occult Journeys Through South America,” Wilcock recounts the story of an explorer named Charles W. Domville-Fife, whose book “Among Wild Tribes of the Amazon” was published in 1925. Wilcock recounts how Domville-Fife “set off with camera, gun, trinkets and native bearers for the remotest regions he could reach. He visited the Apiaca, once the mortal enemies of the Mundurucu, whose fierce reputation was confirmed for him when he saw them drinking from cups made out of human skulls, the eye and nose sockets plugged by dirty red clay.”
The Apiacas believed that the spirits of the dead were reborn in the form of birds and animals and that the moon was an evil spirit whose satellites in the river would drag down to a murky depth any Indian who bathed under its pale light.
BE CAREFUL WHO YOU EAT
Domville-Fife was forced to learn to survive by eating monkeys, tortoises and lizards. He also suffered mosquitoes and was bitten by a vampire bat. He observed, but did not share, the habits of a tribe called the Itogapuks, who believed that by drinking a cupful of the blood of certain animals they could gain the strength, cunning or intelligence of their victim.
On a later visit to the Cashibo Indians, Domville-Fife was shocked to learn that “the aged are killed and eaten because it is considered better to be devoured by a friend than by birds or beasts of prey. It seems that these natives believed that having eaten the heart, brain, eyes, ears and hands they absorb the good qualities, cunning and spirit of the departed.” However, they do not kill and eat captives of other tribes because they look upon their neighbors as inferior in all respects to themselves and therefore “unworthy to be absorbed.”
In the l950s, religious fanaticism took a deadly form in the small town of Catule in Brazil. Four children accused of being possessed by the devil were sacrificed by the leaders of the community. One leader claimed to have seen the devil in the form of a cat issuing forth from the body of a small girl. The state police arrived, killing two of the leaders and arresting other adults in the community.
Wilcock also writes about something called the Pernambuco Affair, which happened in 1836. A tribal leader named Joao Santos announced that two 100-foot monoliths near the town of Pedra Bonita marked the exact location of an enchanted country in which were hidden enormous stores of treasure and which would eventually become the New Jerusalem.
Joao whipped the locals into a frenzy and was forced to leave the area. Two years later, another Joao, the brother-in-law of the former Joao, stirred up the locals even more by making incredible promises to those who would make the necessary sacrifices. Black people would become white, the aged would be made young and poor people would become millionaires, all-powerful and immortal.
There remained only a blood sacrifice to make the transformation happen, blood to be used to bathe local statues and irrigate the fields. On May 14, 1838, Joao announced that the time for sacrifice had arrived. A number of people offered themselves, including Joao’s father and an elderly man who carried his two children up on the monoliths and threw them into space. The frenzy went on unchecked for three days, resulting in the execution of 30 children, 12 men, 11 women and 14 dogs.
When the police finally arrived, the fanatics refused to surrender, choosing instead to rush into combat singing religious songs. Another 22 people were killed in the battle with the police.
“It was a frightening event,” Wilcock writes, “but perfectly in character with a fanaticism that not so long ago lurked below the surface of Brazilian rural life.”
NOT SO DIFFERENT AFTER ALL
The explorers who made contact with the Indians of South America discovered amazing analogies between Christianity and those of the supposedly “superstitious” natives. The religions of the indigenous populations also had their own counterparts to practices such as fasting, baptism, confession and penance, even if human and animal sacrifices to appease the anger of the gods continued.
FIGHTING THE DEMONS
In Argentina, common to most the tribes of an area called the Chaco was an evil spirit called “Avacua,” said to bring sickness and sometimes death. In native belief, the “Avacua” is also responsible for entering the moon and breaking it up at the time of the lunar eclipse.
The people try to drive the evil spirit away from human bodies and the moon by throwing stones, firing guns, throwing lighted torches into the air and basically creating as much pandemonium as possible. The custom is still in practice among many South American tribes, and is similar to the Hawaiian Kahuna practice of shouting curses and profanities at an offending spirit to frighten it into leaving.
MEET THE WITCH DOCTOR
At such times the people must rely on the community’s shaman or witch doctor, who regards all human ills to have been caused by witchcraft and must be fought by witchcraft as well.
The witch doctors would engage their spirits by shouting, grimacing, going into contortions like one possessed, and imitating the roaring of tigers and other terrifying animals.
The witch doctors were the arbiters of both good and evil, of life and death and of the power of the elements. They could cause storms, alter the seas, dry up rivers or flood the fields. They could so enchant a person that he was rendered unable to move, eat, drink or sleep unless the witch doctor commanded.
To receive their power to do magic, the witch doctor was required to fast and undergo corporal penitence. He lived naked and alone in cold, far away places, eating nothing but maize and hot peppers.
THE DEVIL THEY KNEW
Dragons and demons are also an important aspect of South American native mythology. Widespread among the fearsome entities was the “Culebra De Fuego,” or “Serpent of Fire,” said to stand guard over essentially imaginary treasures.
Demons, genii, and the winged serpents, along with these creatures of fire, all originated from the same place and for the same cause and represented the Mother of Gold, the force of the earth, the enchanted mountain that trembled, lighted up with thunder and lightning, and symbolized the living, conscious Earth to the Indians.
Another tribe in Argentina, called the Guarani, trained their sons from an early age to be avengers who would capture prisoners and ritually sacrifice them in return for past defeats the tribe may have suffered. They were clever warriors, among the few who used flaming arrows to set fire to their enemy’s village and force them out in the open. Once the battle was won, they made short work of their enemies in cannibalistic feasts after which Guarani women made necklaces out of the leftover teeth.
The modern Guaranis, distant descendants of the early people-eating tribe, still live in scattered groups in southern Brazil and in the foothills of the Andes.
WILCOCK THE SEASONED TRAVELER
This has been a brief overview of some of the occult beliefs and rituals of South America. Author John Wilcock also provides a great deal of travelogue material, written from the perspective of a seasoned modern day explorer. The reader can make an armchair journey through the major cities of Brazil and Argentina, as well as travel down the mighty Amazon River in search of tribes nearly untouched by the passing of time who continue to worship nature and fear its wrath.
Wilcock is an old hand at traversing the globe and sharing his insights with his readers. He has written guidebooks for Mexico, California, Texas, Rome, Florence and many others touristy locales. He has also authored a book called “A Guide to Occult Britain,” as well as serving as a researcher for Albert Goldman’s “The Lives of John Lennon,” a biography of Jim Morrison and a biography of Rupert Murdoch.
AN IMPRESSIVE RESUME
Wilcock also has impressive credentials as a columnist and editor. He was a cofounder in 1955 of the celebrated newspaper “The Village Voice,” for which he wrote a regular column called “The Village Square,” pun intended.
As an editor, Wilcock held the reins at the “The Witches Almanac,” “The East Village Other,” and “The Los Angeles Free Press.” In 2010, Wilcock’s book on Andy Warhol “The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol,” was published to no small acclaim.
Wilcock cut his teeth by working on the sometimes infamous tabloid newspapers of London’s Fleet Street before moving across the ocean to work as Assistant Editor of the New York Times Travel Section.
A TALENTED BOHEMIAN
In the preface to Wilcock’s own autobiography, called “Manhattan Memories,” Martin Gardner writes, “A good way to describe John Wilcock is to say that he is a talented bohemian counter-culture journalist who once played a role in the emergence of America’s underground press. Born 1927 in Sheffield, England, he left school at age 16 to work on various newspapers in England and on Toronto periodicals before moving to New York City.”
When Wilcock became one of the five founders of the Village Voice, one of his partners in crime was the late Norman Mailer, who also wrote a weekly column for the fledgling publication, a newspaper that would come to epitomize journalistic hip in the Big Apple for the new Beat Generation and beyond.
Wilcock and Mailer “were not quite friends,” Gardner writes, “although Wilcock was at times annoyed, but always amused, by Mailer’s monstrous ego.”
Wilcock would also go on to write for the Washington Post and TV Guide, his career spanning across numerous political and cultural bases here in America and elsewhere.
Wilcock currently makes his home in Southern California, where he continues to work as an editor, writer, researcher, columnist, travel specialist and independent cable
With this new reprint of Wilcock’s classic work that combines travelogue with spiritual anthropology and occult lore, Global Communications has made yet another important contribution to our collective understanding of how man has interacted with the living Earth and all of her natural forces from ancient times to the present. Thy myths and legends of the various tribes of indigenous South Americans are not simply the superstitions of a primitive people, but are instead a living, breathing, conscious communion with the spirits of the natural universe that sustain us all.
One must of course look beyond the savagery of human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism practices that one would hope have long since faded into the mists of antiquity. It isn’t always easy to see past our quite reasonable and natural repugnance for those distasteful rites and customs. But it can also be argued that even drinking the blood and eating the flesh of Jesus has cannibalistic overtones, though the wine and bread redefine the meal as being real only in symbolic terms, far removed from any literal cannibalism.
It is that use of symbolism that provides the civilizing distance between savagery and spiritual grace. However, as is often said, all things are relative. To a South American shaman consuming the flesh of an enemy after a victory in battle, we are the heathens. We are the unbeliever, the barbarian at the gates.
Which is something one should keep in mind while reading “An Occult Guide to South America,” allowing John Wilcock to open a window into a strange and mysterious – and often violent – world not often seen by even dedicated occultists.
[To read more by Sean Casteel, visit his website at www.seancasteel.com]
- MESSAGES FROM BEYOND DEPARTMENT -
A Wesleyan Ghost Hunt Brings Closure for Family
The ghosts of Nebraska Wesleyan University didn't materialize Friday but a call to spirits eased one survivor's guilt.
Carol Ready of Scribner has carried guilt since two sisters died more than three years ago in a rollover.
The 18-year-old frets over little things -- why didn't she play with them when they'd asked?
Days before the accident, Carol told her tomboy sister Beth, 11, she'd teach her how to put on makeup "later."
Well, later was too late, Carol said.
The girls died April 14, 2007, en route to Concordia University for its "Gathering of Talents." Beth and Erin, 7, were to sing solos at the festival.
"I felt like they died because I pushed them away," Carol said. "I thought it was God's punishment."
Carol's mother, Ruth Ready, carries guilt for losing control of the Suburban that flipped twice on Nebraska 79 near North Bend.
Closure has been hard for the family. Carol said there's a void that can't be filled.
But those who say they spoke with Beth and Erin Friday have this message -- the girls are happy on the other side and want their mortal family happy too.
Carol was able to "talk" to her two sisters with the help of paranormal expert Chris Moon, who was at Nebraska Wesleyan University Friday night.
Moon claims to have the ability to talk to the dead through a spirit phone, a device he says uses sound waves to convey messages between worlds. He travels the United States going into historically haunted houses to talk to ghosts.
It's rumored that Wesleyan's Old Main building and Johnson Hall are haunted. Multiple people say they've seen, heard or felt paranormal activity there throughout the years.
And it just so happens that Carol lives in Johnson Hall.
She didn't really believe in ghosts until Friday, when Moon used the spirit phone to talk to ghosts on her floor.
Moon asked people to start asking questions. Carol asked if Beth and Erin were there. Through the phone they said, "Yes, here."
"Is there a girl that's 7?"
"Is there another girl that's 11?"
"Yes. We are at home. Safe."
"Beth? Beth Ready?"
"Me. Hi. This is odd. We're cool," she giggled.
Carol started shaking; tears streamed down her face.
"That was Beth's voice and giggle. I will never forget that sweet voice," Carol said. "I remember one morning I woke her up by putting my hand on hers and she said, ‘Hi!' That was the same hi I heard that morning."
Ten minutes later, the sisters asked for Carol. Carol hadn't said her name to the spirit phone, but a girl's voice asked to talk to Carol.
Carol asked, "Are you mad at me for not spending time with you?"
"No, we understand."
"Are you mad at Mom?"
"A little, because she is blaming herself and holding guilt."
"Every day Mom thinks about you girls."
Carol cried harder. Other students crowded around. Chris Moon teared up too.
Carol grabbed her cell phone and called her parents, who aren't big into ghost tales. But Carol didn't care, she needed to tell her mom to stop feeling guilty.
"It feels so good to know that they weren't blaming me for not spending time with them before they died," Carol said.
The idea that the dead can communicate with humans is weird until you've experienced for yourself, said Joe Pritchard, a Wesleyan student who stayed overnight in Old Main on Friday with about 30 people waiting for the ghost of Clara Mills to appear.
Brittany Gunther, another Wesleyan student, claimed she talked to her cousin and aunt through the spirit telephone.
"She recognized her cousin's voice right away, Pritchard said. "You have to be there to understand what we heard and saw."
Source: Lincoln Journal Star
- OH THE THINGS YOU WILL SEE DEPARTMENT -
Indiana Jones and the Sasquatch of Doom
The recent discovery of the saola - a large mammal - shows that we don't know everything ... that big mysteries still await.
They get you, don't they? Those big, unanswered questions of existence. What is dark matter? How did the universe get started? Why is Miley Cyrus a star? Who put the Benzedrine in Mrs Murphy's Ovaltine?
Science presented as a list of pre-digested facts that we must obediently learn is rightly condemned as dull - but that's not what science is about. No, science is a long list of unanswered questions, a voyage into the unknown, a quest to reach for things slightly beyond our grasp. Be honest, now: who'd really rather go on an adventure with Indiana Jones than be lectured at by Richard Dawkins?
Even today, when science is so often a world of pristine laboratories and humming machinery, the old-fashioned, down-and-dirty spirit of adventure pokes through. Just when you'd imagine that everyone has an iPod, and that we'd shaken every tree and looked behind every bush on the planet, some creature walks into view that is entirely new to science.
Not tiny creatures, either, such as sea urchins living obscurely on the ocean floor, miles below the surface; or near-microscopic wasps that lay their eggs in the pupae of jungle-living butterflies; or bacteria only found in sulphurous slag heaps. Sure, such things are being found all the time, and each and every one is a wonder. Oh noes, I'm talking about big creatures that everyone would recognise as such, living on land accessible to people with no special equipment except their own eyes.
As recently as 1993, a scientific paper landed on my desk at Nature describing a species of antelope hitherto unknown to science. And not some cute little creature that could slip between your knees and hide coyly behind a leaf, but a beast big enough to bump into, and do you serious injury if it stepped on your foot. How could people in this overcrowded world have missed it?
The location was a start. The saola, for such is its name (its more formal handle is Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), comes from the remote and deeply inaccessible Annamite Mountains on the border between Laos and Vietnam, a kind of Lost World known for hosting other rare species. Even if you can hack your way in, the saola is pathologically shy, and goes out of its way to go out of its way.
The scientific description was not based on a live animal, or even a dead one, but hunting trophies - horns, skulls and skins of several animals collected from the houses of local hunters. The live animal had not been seen. To my perhaps jaded editorial eye, the report seemed to have come straight out of King Solomon's Mines. How romantic!
The saola is, in fact, so shy and secretive that it wasn't until 1998 that it was photographed alive in the wild - and then only fleetingly. In 1999 it disappeared from view altogether. It was only in September 2010 that a live saola was captured. It obligingly stayed alive long enough to pose for its portrait whereupon it expired, presumably unaccustomed it its unwanted celebrity. The number of saola in existence is unknown, but it is likely to be small, and getting smaller all the time.
The saola joins a select band of large mammals discovered relatively recently, all of which are (not surprisingly) rare to the point of vanishment. A wild pig, the Chacoan peccary, Catagonus wagneri, was known only from fossils until it turned up on the wild borders of Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina in 1975, and is believed to be hanging on by its trotters.
A wild ox called the kouprey, Bos sauveli, a cousin to the saola, was described in Cambodia in 1937. There were around 1,000 of them in 1940; down to around 100 in 1969; and it hasn't been seen at all since 1983. This strongly suggests extinction, as creatures as big and beefy as the kouprey would be hard to miss.
Other creatures hardly touch the zoology texts before disappearing entirely: the red gazelle, Eudorcas rufina, is only known from skins discovered in Algerian souks in the nineteenth century. It has never been seen alive.
That such large creatures roamed the Earth until present times before dying out is a reminder of humanity's remorseless conquest - hackneyed, to be sure, only because of its frequency of repetition. But there's a wider point to be made here, about how little we know even about large mammals (let along squashy creatures from the abyss, or microbes), and the degree to which the documentation of recently extinct creatures grades from certain knowledge into myth. The Chacoan peccary was known from fossils until live ones were found. The saola was described from trophies before live examples were seen. The red gazelle is only known from such trophies. And where antelopes, oxen and pigs lead, humans will follow.
If stone tools are any guide, human beings - of one sort or another - have been living on the relatively far-flung island of Flores in Indonesia for a million years at least. By "one sort or another" I mean exactly that - as far as we know, modern humans didn't arrive on Flores until a little before 10,000 years ago. The previous residents were (presumably) related to the extinct form Homo erectus.
The announcement in 2004 of an entirely unknown species of extinct human that lived on Flores - Homo floresiensis, or "The Hobbit" - caused a sensation. The small size and unique morphology of this creature is still a field of battle between those who contend that it is a real species, against those who think it is a diseased form of modern human. But what is really remarkable is the age. Initial findings showed that H. floresiensis lived on Flores from before 38,000 years ago to as recently as 18,000 years ago. Further work extended the range from as long ago as 95,000 years to as recently as 12,000 years ago.
Given the great age of the Earth, 12,000 years is very much less than an eyeblink. That an animal became extinct 12,000 years ago, or yesterday, hardly matters, for in the great scheme of things, this difference is insignificant. If the Chacoan peccary came to life from fossils, and if the saola emerged alive - if only just - from the Annamites, it is entirely legitimate to ask whether H. floresiensis, or something like it, still exists, or, perhaps, became extinct in historical times: a human version of the red gazelle, perhaps.
And if one admits H. floresiensis to the canon, what of other celebrated mythical beasts - if not necessarily Nessie, then the orang pendek of Malaysia? The yeti? The sasquatch? Bigfoot? Are all such creatures the products of delusion, conspiracy theories and hoax? Perhaps - but not necessarily. The little we know of those large mammals on the fringes of knowledge suggests that they live in remote places, are very shy, are extremely rare, and that to find them before they become extinct requires a degree of luck. So far, no hard evidence for yetis (say) has emerged. But in a world that hosts H. floresiensis and the saola, the kouprey and the red gazelle, one should keep an open mind.
Source: Guardian (UK)
- IN SEARCH OF THE LOST APE MAN OF CHINA DEPARTMENT -
Scientists to Resume Search for Ape Man in Central China
Chinese scientists are considering launching a high-profile search for an ape-like Bigfoot creature in central China's Hubei province, nearly 30 years after the last organized expedition to seek the legendary beast in the early 1980s.
Scientists are hoping the expedition could end the long-running debate on the existence of the creature, according to Wang Shancai, a 75-year-old expert with the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. He is also the vice president of the Hubei Wild Man Research Association -- organizer of the expedition.
Located deep in the remote mountains in Hubei, Shennongjia Nature Reserve has long been rumored to be the home of the elusive creature known in China as the "Yeren," or "Wild man." It is also referred to as "Bigfoot" after the legendary North American ape-man.
More than 400 people have claimed Bigfoot sightings in the Shennongjia area since last century, but no hard evidence has been found to prove its existence.
According to witnesses, the creature, which walks upright, is described to be more than 2 meters tall as an adult and has a gray, red or black hairy body.
"Unlike expeditions three decades ago, the better technological support will help us get closer to solving the mystery," Wang said.
"We are now working together with the China Three Gorges University to develop long-time energy-supply devices to support cameras that will be installed in the ape man's possible habitat," said the archaeological anthropologist who has been studying the mysterious creature for more than 30 years.
China has organized three high-profile scientific expeditions for Bigfoot through the 1970s and 1980s. Researchers found hair, footprints, excrement and sleeping nests that were said to be Bigfoot's, but no hard evidence was reported.
The hairs were sent to different research institutions and universities in several cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan for identification in the 1980s. All of them returned similar test results - the hair samples did not match either humans or any known animals, said Wang.
Apart from the poor technological support 30 years ago, experts also blamed the "unscientific searching methods" for the failure of the previous searches.
For example, mass mountain searches adopted in previous expeditions wasted a lot of time and energy, according to Wang, as the Shennongjia Nature Reserve has a total area of 3,200 square kilometers, which has hundreds of square kilometers of primeval forest that have not been visited by man before.
The searching method will be different this time: scientists have already narrowed down the searching areas into specific targets -- caves, as years of study show that the half-human, half-ape creatures are most likely to inhabit caves, said Luo Baosheng, also a vice president of the association.
"We will have three expedition teams search every cave in three important regions in Shennongjia where the unidentified beast would be mostly likely to appear," Luo said.
The association, made up of more than 100 scientists and explorers, was set up in November 2009 and started operating in April this year.
Previous studies have indicated that if the legendary creature does exist, it should be an unsuccessfully evolved species between the ape and human.
Theoretically, it should be extinct, according to Wang Shancai. However, if some of them survived, just like the giant pandas, it would help scientists learn the process of how primates evolved into humans and prove that an unknown half-human, half-ape primate existed before apes became men.
However, some scientists have denied the existence of such a creature, because of the lack of evidence. Besides, the creature needs to have survived in sufficient numbers to make it through tens of thousand of years until the present day.
"It is absolutely normal to have different opinions. Thirty years ago when we found golden monkeys in Shennongjia, some zoologists also said that was impossible, but it turned out that there were more than 500 of them living there," Wang said.
Besides, if findings of the expedition proved that the Bigfoot in people's mind was actually not the Wild Man, but an unknown new species, it would be very valuable as well, he said.
"It would end the debate and show us that the descriptions and stories about the wild man in historical documents in the past thousands of years were merely misunderstandings and wrong impressions," he added.
Discovering a new species itself will be a biological achievement as well, Wang said.
EXPLORING THE KINGDOM OF PLANTS AND ANIMALS
Besides seeking the Bigfoot, the expedition will also include researching rare and unknown plants and animals in the "Kingdom of Plants and Animals."
Dubbed "Noah's Arc" for animals and plants in the glacial period, the Shennongjia area provided shelter for animals and plants from glacier activities that were prevalent elsewhere during the Quaternary Period some 2.5 million years ago. It has preserved an array of plants that existed in the Tertiary Period and is widely called a home of living plant fossils.
With abundant rain and water resources and a middle-latitude location, Shennongjia is home to more than 3,700 species of plants and at least 1,050 kinds of animals. At least 40 plant species and 70 animal species are under key state protection.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) put Shennongjia on its World Network of Biosphere Reserves list in 1990.
"We found new plant or animal species almost every time in previous expeditions, therefore this time we will pay attention to plants and other animals as well," Luo Baosheng said.
The nature reserve is home to more than 100 plant species that have not been found anywhere else in the world. Since 2006, 23 new plant species have been found in Shennongjia, according to Yang Jinyuan, head of the reserve's scientific research institute.
Members of the expedition teams will be recruited globally, Luo said.
The applicants, either male or female, should be between 25 and 40 years old. With good physical health, they should also have basic biological knowledge and know how to use the camera.
Preference would be given to those who have outdoor experience, he added.
"Most importantly, we want the team members to be devoted, as there will be a lot a hard work in the process," said Luo.
However, there is no specific timetable yet for the expedition as the association is still in talks with several companies and institutions about the funding of the expedition which will cost at least 10 million yuan (about 1.5 million U.S. dollars), according to Wang Shancai.
Source: Xinhua News
- LAIR OF THE BEASTS DEPARTMENT -
The Castle Ring: A Magnet for Monsters
While reports of weird creatures literally abound throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles, there is one specific area of the country that certainly seems to act as an absolute magnet for such high-strangeness: it is called the Castle Ring. Located in the village of Cannock Wood, Staffordshire, and inhabited more than two thousand years ago, the Castle Ring is an Iron Age structure commonly known as a Hill Fort, and stands 801 feet above sea level.
On May 1, 2004, Alec Williams was driving passed the car-park that sits at the base of the Castle Ring when he was witness to a dark, hair-covered, man-like entity that lumbered across the road and into the attendant trees. Williams stated that the sighting lasted barely a few seconds, but that he was able to make out the shape of its monstrous form: “It was about seven feet tall, with short, shiny, dark brown hair, large head and had eyes that glowed bright red.”
Interestingly, Williams stated that as he slowed his vehicle down, he witnessed something akin to a camera flash coming from the depths of the woods and heard a cry that he described as “someone going ‘Hoooooo.’” The beast did not resurface, and a shell-shocked Williams was forced to continue on his journey, wondering what on Earth had just taken place.
Just over one year later, on June 8, 2005 to be absolutely specific, in an article titled Hunt For Dark Forces at Chase Monument, Chase Post writer Sarah Taylor reported that “paranormal investigators are set to swoop on one of the area’s oldest monuments to find out what dark forces lie beneath it.” As the newspaper noted, “a team of real-life ghost-busters’ had determined that the area of Gentleshaw that surrounds Castle Ring lay upon a ‘psychic fault.” Indeed, the whole area surrounding Castle Ring has been a hotbed of unusual activity for years – and not all of it revolves around weird beasts.
For example, commenting on the high-strangeness at the Ring, Sue Penton – of Paranormal Awakening, a group affiliated to the Association for Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena – said: “There have been reports of strange music being heard up there. It is such a high place there have been lots of UFO sightings there, too.”
This was amply echoed by Graham Allen, who at the time was the head of the Etchinghill, Rugeley-based Staffordshire UFO Group, and who had taken over the reins from the group’s founder, Irene Bott, several years earlier: “Obviously, Castle Ring is the highest point on the Chase which makes it a good place for UFO spotting. There have been numerous incidents of UFOs, which could be because you are more likely to see something from a high point.”
Allen elaborated that: “There have been reports of something landing there in the 1960s. From a research point of view there are a high number of reports around ancient sites. One argument could be that ancient sites have been located there because of the incidents of UFOs and natural phenomenon. There could be locations where there could be magnetic influences in the ground which have been attributed to earth lights.”
Moreover, relatively close to the Castle Ring is an old, disused windmill, which, it is widely believed and accepted by local historians, was constructed upon the now-crumbled remains of ancient, pagan burial ground. Ghosts of the miller’s children, who local legend says suffocated in a flour-silo, are said to haunt the mill to this day, and the folklore of the area tells of a strange black figure that appeared just before the tragedy.
Could this perhaps have been the same dark figure which Alec Williams saw near the Castle Ring in 2004? Equally as strange are the reports from the village of Cannock Wood – from which the Castle Ring lies in a north-west direction – of a ghostly nun that has been seen in the vicinity of an ancient well.
In September 2005, the local media reported that the aforementioned Paranormal Awakening investigation group had recently completed a nighttime investigation of the Castle Ring in an attempt to try and chronicle the strange activity that had been reported there for years.
A spokesperson for the group said: “The Cannock Chase local authorities were kind enough to give permission for PA to conduct its research. Indeed, we are extremely grateful to them for being so open-minded as to allow us to conduct our research at this historical and most important monument. The group’s results are stunning and have created yet more questions than we have answers. We appear to have obtained a very strange mix of UFO and genuine paranormal activity.”
Midway through February 2006, the Chase Post elaborated as follows: “A paranormal investigations group say they have evidence of strange, dancing lights and ghostly figures at the area’s most ancient monument.”
On one tape, said the Post, one of the group’s members is heard to exclaim: “Tell me that isn’t a big black shape walking towards me.” The Post added that: “A mystery male voice responds, ‘There is!’”
Of course, it should not be forgotten that large, dark shapes and strange lights were both staples parts of Alec Williams’ 2004 sighting near the Castle Ring, too. Whatever is afoot at the Castle Ring, it seems to show no signs of going away anytime soon...
Source: Mania/Nick Redfern
- DJINN, TAKE ME AWAY DEPARTMENT -
Vanishing Malaysian Woman Blames Djinns
Kampung Gong Nangka in Apal has been buzzing with stories of a young woman said to vanish in thin air after dusk- only to be found in strange places the morning after.
The family of Siti Balqis Mohd Nor, 22, claimed that she had been going through strange and unexplained phenomenon scores of times for the past two months. Once they had recognised a pattern, the family tried to keep her in sight at all times, but somehow, she would still disappear.
“All it takes is to look away for a split second, and she’s gone,” her mother, Norizan Said, 47, said.
The first few times were frightening moments for the family, but now it was something to be expected.
The places she would be found later in - cluded on the roof of their house, on a tree, to a cement mixer machines and several times, at a cemetery 10km away from the house.
Norizan said the family had engaged the services of many bomohs but Siti Balqis kept disappearing. She would have no recollection of what happened until she found herself in strange places later.
“I can’t seem to recollect what happened or how I ended up at those places. There were times I could see my family next to me, calling out my name.
“I shout out to them or try to touch them, but I seem to be invisible to them. Once, I ended up in an abandoned house. My uncle was just next to me but he could not hear or feel me.” She said the cemetery episodes were the scariest thus far.
“I woke up and found myself on a grave. I realised my handphone was with me and immediately called the family to look for me.” The family’s house had been streaming with visitors yesterday since word on Siti Balqis’ experiences was published in Berita Harian.
There have also been calls and emails to the newspaper from bomoh (shaman) all over the country offering their help to the family.
However, Siti Balqis Mohd Nor has been apparently helped when two bomoh, allegedly captured a number of djinns at the home of the young woman.
A djinn is a supernatural creature in Islamic teachings which occupies a parallel world to that of mankind. Together, djinns, humans and angels make up the three sentient creations of Allah. According to the Qur’a-n, there are two creations that have free will: humans and djinns. The Qur’an mentions that the djinn are made of smokeless flame or "the fire of a scorching wind." They have the ability to change their shape, and like human beings, the djinn can also be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent.
The parents of the young woman were relieved with the success of the two bomoh and hoped their life would return to normal as the djinns were said to be behind the woman's mysterious disappearances.
Hundreds of residents flocked to the home of Siti Balqis when they heard that the "culprits" had been captured and imprisoned in special containers.
The bomoh said the sealed containers would be thrown into the sea so that the djinns would not bother anyone again.
Unfortunately, the disappearances quickly started up agian, as Siti Balqis claimed she had been whisked away to a cave about 15km from her home.
Because of this, three healers from the Terengganu Islamic Foundation (YIT) entered the house and said that they had captured 12 more djinns that were responsible for the most recent events.
Siti Balqis mysteriously disappeared at 7.30pm, minutes before state religious and information committee chairman Khazan Che Mat, YIT director Kamarul Al Amin Ismail and YIT officials arrived at her home with the healers.
Hundreds of residents searched around the house and at locations that she had been found in previous disappearances but this proved futile. At 11.30pm, her mother Norizan Said, 47, received an text message from Siti Balqis, saying that she had been taken to a cave in Bukit Keluang.
Jabi assemblyman Ramlan Ali headed a rescue team to Bukit Keluang but they only found seven men and two women who were meditating (bertapa) inside the cave. Two hours later, Siti Balqis sent another text, saying she had been whisked home but had landed on a rambutan tree.
Siti Balqis was pale and unconscious when rescuers brought her down from the rambutan tree.
The three Islamic medical practitioners said they then captured the 12 djinns after treating her.
Siti Balqis only regained consciousness at 5am and told her mother she saw Ramlan and other rescuers at Bukit Keluang cave but none of them could hear her calls.
"I even tried to touch Ramlan's wife as she passed by me but she did not see me," she said.
Meanwhile, Khazan said the medical practitioners were sent by the state government to help the family.
Source: New Straits Times
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