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Slenderman: The Cannock Chase Controversy

You may have seen the recent publicity given to a story coming out of the U.K. of sightings in and around Britain’s Cannock Chase woods, of something described as looking like the legendary “Slenderman.” It’s a fictional character created in June 2009 by Eric Knudsen (using the alias of “Victor Surge,” at the forum section of the Something Awful website), who took his inspiration from the world of horror fiction.

The Slenderman (also spelled as Slender Man) is a creepy creature indeed: tall, thin, with long arms, a blank (faceless, even) expression, and wearing a dark suit, it sounds almost like a nightmarish version of the Men in Black. While there is no doubt that Knudsen was the creator of what quickly became a definitive, viral, meme, people have since claimed to have seen the Slenderman in the real world.

In other words, so the theory goes, it’s a case of believing in the existence of the Slenderman and, as a result, causing it to actually exist – which is very much akin to the phenomenon of the Tulpa. An entity is envisaged in the mind, and the imagery becomes so powerful and intense that it causes that same, mind-based imagery to emerge into the real world, with some degree of independent existence and self-awareness. Such a scenario may well explain why people are now seeing something that began as a piece of fiction.

All of which brings us to the matter of the recent story on the Slenderman of the Cannock Chase. As people who have followed my writings will know, I grew up only a very short drive from the Chase, which is an undeniably, deeply strange, area. It’s filled with reports of so-called “Alien Big Cats,” Bigfoot-type beasts, flying humanoids, giant snakes, and much more of a monstrous nature.

And now, it seems, the Slenderman has started to call those dark woods his domain, too. In a January 24, 2015 article that appeared in the Birmingham Mail newspaper (titled “Spooky Slender Men spotted in Cannock”), Mike Lockley wrote:

“A paranormal probe has been launched in the Midlands following FOUR sightings of Slender Men – long, stick thin spectres feared around the world. Each of the chilling close encounters took place in the Cannock area, and now X Files investigator Lee Brickley is trying to fathom why the ghoul has descended on the Staffordshire mining town. Slender Men have been a part of global folklore for centuries. They may be known by different names, but their harrowing, elongated appearance remains the same around the world.”

There’s little doubt that the controversy concerning this breaking story will run and run. But, there’s something else I want to bring to your attention, something that I think is pretty intriguing. Back in 2008, Anomalist Books published my book, There’s Something in the Woods. The book includes the testimony of a man who had an encounter on the Cannock Chase with a paranormal entity that – with hindsight – sounds very much like…wait for it…the Slenderman.

In the words of the witness, as presented in my book: “This character was tall, with very thin arms and legs, dressed in what I presumed were grey trousers and a tight long sleeved shirt of the same color. His hairless head was elongated and neck spindly, and his arms reached practically past his knees; I could not discern a facial feature. I realized he was around three meters tall.”

It must be said that just about every aspect of this description conjures up Slenderman-style imagery. Of course, the Slenderman meme was still a year away when my book was published back in 2008, and the encounter took place in 2001 – seven years before the publication date of There’s Something in the Woods, and, as of today, fourteen years ago.

In view of this, one has to wonder: did the 2009 creation of the Slenderman meme create a Tulpa-like, living equivalent? Or did a real, earlier Slenderman exist before the fictional one was looming on the horizon?

 

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  • Daniel T. Pelfrey

    I find it interesting that the current slenderman “lore” is so much like Der Großmann from German folklore. Did Knudsen knowingly base his creation on Der Großmann? I may be misremembering, but, I thought I had read an interview awhile back in which he said that he created Slenderman from whole cloth. If he did come up with the concept w/out knowing about Der Großmann…well, that is interesting in and of itself. The fact that “slendermen” appear in the folklore of cultures around the world is intriguing. When present day people see Slenderman are they seeing a Tulpa that has been created by the power of belief of millions of people around the world? Or maybe, just maybe, they are seeing creatures that have always been with us.

  • DeckardB26354

    I would have to go with the latter; I remember on a trip to south east Asia, many years ago (I was a teen back then), I met some villagers in a remote place in Bangladesh. They related to me of an encounter that they had one night as they came home from fishing. On the path through the ‘bond’ (forest) they were confronted by an entity with a featureless face, with long legs and long arms. It was blocking their path and they pleaded with the entity to let them pass. There was no doubt in my mind that the villager who narrated the story to me had actually seen this entity. I carried that story in my mind for a long time, until the whole slender man phenomena popped up!

    My understanding is, that these are interdimensional beings. The same entities responsible for the Mothman sightings, and other strange occurrences.

    Thanks for an excellent article, Nick! 🙂

  • Tbell

    My grandmother would tell me stories about the dark man who lived in the woods when I was a little girl in the 60s. I remember those stories today.

  • William Esancy

    some kind of demon ?

  • DeckardB26354

    I would have to go with the latter; I remember on a trip to south east Asia, many years ago (I was a teen back then), I met some villagers in a remote place in Bangladesh. They related to me of an encounter that they had one night as they came home from fishing. On the path through the ‘bond’ (forest) they were confronted by an entity with a featureless face, with long legs and long arms. It was blocking their path and they pleaded with the entity to let them pass. There was no doubt in my mind that the villager who narrated the story to me had actually seen this entity. I carried that story in my mind for a long time, until the whole slender man phenomena popped up!

    My understanding is, that these are interdimensional beings. The same entities responsible for the Mothman sightings, and other strange occurrences.

    Thanks for an excellent article, Nick! 🙂

    P.S, I will have to drive down there one day!

  • Tammy Livingston

    I first heard of Tulpa from psychic Sylvia Browne. At first I didn’t believer her because I never believed much of what she said.. But I think she was right about this phenomena after all. She said it about Bigfoots.. how we are the ones who created him.. geez.. if this is all true no wonder so many people disappear every year.. I suppose these beings live in an alternate Universe and come here into this dimension every so often.. I would love to know more about this phenomena. I have read books how we can manifest things..etc..I wish we could capture these abilities and use them for good.. I sure hope the military isn’t using this..Oy.!!!

  • maya

    Perhaps that is what all those mysterious booms and earthshaking events are all about of late. A world wide wish for freedom from impending corporate and massive banking corruption that has taken the world over these days.

    I think the masses know that the government is simply lying and lying to everyone, hoping to create some alternate reality that favors self-serving and evil designs, so it appears we’re co-creators may have some designs of our own verse of reality.

    Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.

    Who knows, perhaps those planet X new age maps might be our new reality if we so choose it to be. Those reincarnation stories seem to have some merit behind them and I believe not very many people like the dark direction the world is going in these days.

  • St Kos

    I find it amusing that Lee Brickley is referred to as a “X Files investigator”. As if that actually gives him some credibility. Doesn’t he happen to see every unexplainable of the day in Cannock? Sorry, I just find him ridiculous and not much of a serious investigator.

    The Tulpa idea is very interesting. Wasn’t there a group in the 60’s or 70’s that seemed to create a ghost in this way?