In the 1898 edition of the book The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable we are told: “The peacock’s tail is the emblem of an Evil Eye, or an ever-vigilant traitor. The tale is this: Argus was the chief Minister of Osiris, King of Egypt. When the king started on his Indian expedition, he left his queen, Isis, regent, and Argus was to be her chief adviser. Argus, with one hundred spies (called eyes), soon made himself so powerful and formidable that he shut up the queen-regent in a strong castle, and proclaimed himself king. Mercury marched against him, took him prisoner, and cut off his head; whereupon Juno metamorphosed Argus into a peacock, and set his eyes in its tale.”
Why do I mention this? Well, because the peacock is a seriously strange bird. It’s a bird which has more than a few ties to the world of the paranormal. I know that, as I have investigated several such cases. In 2004, for example, I traveled to Puerto Rico with Jon Downes – of the Center for Fortean Zoology – to chase down the Chupacabra. While on the island, we investigated the killings of a number of peacocks that all appeared to have been targeted by the deadly beast. They were peacocks owned by a man who lived high in the Puerto Rican hills and who owned a large, sprawling home and extensive land.
I say “targeted” for a particular reason: other animals kept by the man were not attacked. In other words, there was something about the peacocks that led them to be singled out by the monster. What that “something” may have been, we never found out. There’s no doubt, however, that the entire situation was a very strange one. Now, let’s move forward 2 years.
In 2006, I spent about 6 months back in the UK. While I was there, and specifically in the summer, a Crop Circle appeared in a field next to Chartley Castle. It’s a centuries-old structure in the English county of Staffordshire. As the Crop Circle was only a short drive from where I was staying at the time, a trip to see it was in order.
Yes, it was an interesting formation, one that was of a classic, early, Crop Circle style. In other words, it was not one of the far more elaborate, so-called pictograms. Of equal interest (and maybe of greater interest) were a number of peacock feathers, carefully laid out in the center of the formation. Even more were strewn around the side of the road. I had no answer for what was afoot. But someone did: a Wiccan, named Jane Adams. She told me – in noticeably conspiratorial tones – that the peacock feathers had been placed in the circle as part of some strange and disturbing ritual.
The purpose, she said, was to conjure up bizarre beasts of an “Alien Big Cat,” “Phantom Black Dog,” and Bigfoot kind. As for who, exactly, was doing the conjuring, Jane said it was a group of occultists that had tentacles stretching all across the UK. True or not, it was a fascinating story. Things didn’t end there. English cryptozoologist, Neil Arnold, wrote the following in his 2012 book, Shadows in the Sky, and which was focused on yet another bizarre peacock-based affair. It was a story that surfaced just a few months after the events at Chartley Castle:
“One of the most baffling ghost bird stories appeared on the BBC website in November 2006 under the heading, ‘Ghost peacock baffles rescuers’, after motorists in East Sussex had claimed to have run over a bird that left no trace. The mystery began when a female witness, driving on the A267 near Five Ashes, called wildlife rescuers to say she’d hit a peacock. The following day a lorry driver also claimed to have run over the bird. Rescue coordinator Trevor Weeks, examined the site of the alleged road kill but could find no trace of the bird. The arches of the lorry were examined but no sign of blood or feathers could be found…”
Now, we head over to the United States.
Early on the morning of June 28, 2007, a peacock turned up outside a Burger King on Staten Island. The amazed employees responded by feeding it bread, which it ate enthusiastically. Tragedy was just around the corner, however. Suddenly, a man raced onto the scene and violently and fatally attacked the peacock. The man was found to be a young schizophrenic, who had stopped taking his medication. In his unfortunate state he believed the peacock was nothing less than a deadly vampire that had to be killed.
Moving on to 2012, there is a story that appeared in Wisconsin’s LaCrosse Tribune newspaper. The article, dated September 4, was titled: “Sheriff’s department investigates Sasquatch sighting.”
As the newspaper noted: “Sheriff’s deputies investigated a possible Sasquatch sighting last week near a campsite at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. The Vernon County Sheriff’s Department received the report from just one person, who was driving near South Jug Creek Road in the town of Stark.” Interestingly, the police noted: “That same day we had some peacock problems in the county, so it was one of those things where you never know what you’re going to get on any given day.”
So, what does all this mean? Does it actually mean anything? An argument could be made that all of the above amounts to nothing stranger than simply looking for associations between peacocks and paranormal phenomena and eventually finding associations. One might be able to do exactly the same with owls, with bears, with coyotes, with…well, the list goes on.
On the other hand, however, the fact that these intriguing connections between peacocks and the domain of the supernatural exist, suggests we should at least keep a look out for further examples of this odd link. I have no idea where that connection might take us. But, that it may take us somewhere makes it worthy of study.