Mar 16, 2019 I Nick Redfern

From Owls to Aliens: Changing Forms

In far more than a few cases of alien abduction, witnesses – or victims – report something very strange, but which can be found all across the planet. They have seen what they describe as a giant-sized owl staring at them. Then, there follows a typically weird and mysterious event, one in which the witness suddenly finds themselves aboard a UFO, and subjected to intrusive procedures. For some ufologists, the most obvious explanation is that the owl is a screen-memory created by the aliens, as they seek to obscure and obfuscate what really happened to the abductee. A screen-memory is one of a non-threatening nature that the mind and subconscious creates to mask and bury a frightening, stressful event. It is not at all implausible, or impossible, that a highly advanced extraterrestrial species might possess the ability to create extremely visual hallucinations in the mind of the targeted abductee, as part of a concerted effort to ensure that the truth of the matter never surfaced. The image of the eerie owl would overwhelm the reality of the situation, thus ensuring that the aliens' desire to stay in the shadows remained intact. Make no mistake, such cases are everywhere.

Whitley Strieber is the author of what is probably the most widely recognized book on the alien abduction phenomenon: the bestselling Communion, which was published in 1987, the cover of which displays a near-hypnotic image of an alien entity. It may not be a coincidence that immediately after the first abduction experience that Strieber recalled, on December 26, 1985, his mind was filled owl-based imagery. Strieber’s sister had her own experience with an anomalous owl in the early 1960s. Strieber said, in his 1987 book, Communion, that as she drove between the Texas towns of Comfort and Kerrville, “…she was terrified to see a huge light sail down and cross the road ahead of her. A few minutes later an owl flew in front of the car. I have to wonder if that is not a screen memory, but my sister has no sense of it.”

This all brings me to something else – a creature that has become a staple part of a completely different subject: cryptozoology, which is the study and search for unknown animals, such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Or, based on what I’m about to say now, maybe they are not so unconnected, after all. In 1976 the dense trees surrounding Mawnan Old Church, Cornwall, England became a veritable magnet for a diabolical beast that was christened the Owlman. The majority of those that crossed paths with the creature asserted that it was human-like in both size and design, and possessed a pair of large wings, fiery red eyes, claws, and exuded an atmosphere of menace. No wonder people make parallels with the Mothman.of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

It all began during the weekend of Easter 1976, when two young girls, June and Vicky Melling, had an encounter of a truly nightmarish kind in Mawnan Woods. The girls were on holiday with their parents when they saw a gigantic, feathery “bird man” hovering over the 13th Century church, Jon Downes notes in his book, The Owlman and Others. Since that fateful day, a handful of additional reports of the so-called Owlman have surfaced – collectively suggesting the presence in the area of a somewhat-Mothman-like beast of cryptozoological or supernatural proportions, or possibly a combination of both. But now, however, there is a new angle to the mystery.

In 2016, I received an email from a woman now living in the English town of Lowestoft, but who previously lived very close to Mawnan, and specifically in the small Cornwall village of Gweek, the distance between which, by car, is approximately six and a half miles. It transpires that in 1998 she had a profound UFO encounter while taking the road from Mawnan to Gweek. It was after 11:00 p.m. and the woman was driving home after visiting a friend in Mawnan. She had barely left the little village when she saw what she could only describe as a UFO, one that appeared at the side of the road – around the size of a large beach-ball and glowing bright orange. The next thing she knew, she was parked at the side of the road, with what she was able to determine was around two hours of time unaccounted for.

But there was something else: as she came out of her groggy state, she caught sight of a huge owl-like creature, but which had somewhat humanoid characteristics attached to it, too. It was hovering in the air, at a height of around fifteen feet, but was not employing the use of its wings to keep it aloft. Given the fact that this was practically on the doorstep of where the Owlman was seen back in 1976 (and since, too), the idea that the two issues are unconnected is highly unlikely. The witness admitted she knew of the Owlman legend. Living so close to Mawnan, it would be more astonishing had she not heard of it. There was little more she could tell me, beyond the facts surrounding the sighting of the curious ball of light, the period of missing time, and the appearance of a “humanoid owl,” as I term it.

This particular encounter – which has not been publicized before – set me thinking. What if the Owlman of Cornwall is not a beast of cryptozoological proportions, after all? What if, instead, it is some strange manifestation of the UFO phenomenon, one that is designed to trick the witnesses into thinking they have encountered a large owl, when, in reality, the event was of an otherworldly nature? This neatly dovetails into another aspect of the controversy and a pair of questions that are highly relative, even integral, to the theme of this article: what if the so-called alien Greys are not creating screen-memories, as a means to try and confuse them with regard to the true nature of their experiences? What if they have the ability to literally shapeshift, from the form of a black-eyed extraterrestrial into that of a large owl? And, by and large, we are talking about creatures that the witnesses suggest are usually between four- and five-feet in height.

While some of the cases, such as that 1998 incident highlighted above, do indeed smack of a screen memory, others do not. One such encounter which falls solidly into the second category involves a Scottish woman who we shall refer to as “Maxine,” who I met in 2004. She lives in the Scottish town of Inverness, which is located only a very short distance from the site of yet another famous mystery: Loch Ness, the home, of course, to long-necked NessieOn a clear summer day in 2007, Maxine was walking her dog along the hills that overlook Loch Ness when she saw what, from her description, can only be described as an alien Grey. When she first saw it, at a distance of a couple of hundred feet, she assumed it was a young child – chiefly because of its short height. As she got closer, and as her dog froze to the spot, she could see that not only was it not a young boy: it wasn’t even human. Maxine and the Grey stared at each other for just a few seconds, after which is stretched its arms out and, in an instant, transformed into what Maxine described as an impossibly large owl: it was practically man-sized. It immediately took to the skies and headed across the loch at a fast rate. Maxine continue to watch, with astonishment, as the alien-owl thing vanished into the trees on the opposite side of the loch.

The most important aspect of Maxine’s encounter is that she is one hundred percent sure that she did not experience missing time. She does not have any vague memories of being taken aboard some kind of futuristic, alien craft. She is not plagued by graphic nightmares involving extraterrestrials. In fact, she is completely sure that what she recalls is exactly what she saw: a small, alien creature literally shapeshifting into the form of an owl. Interestingly, since her experience took place, Maxine has come up with an intriguing theory to try and explain and rationalize the situation. She now believes that the Greys have the ability to transform their physical appearances. This, she also suggests, means that the Greys can spy on us whenever, and wherever, they choose, without being noticed for what they really are. If we see an owl, a black cat, a German Shepherd dog – the list goes on – we may actually be seeing something very different: a shapeshifted E.T. using a piece of brilliant camouflage.

A similar report comes from “Gary,” of Newport Beach, California, who I spoke with in 2014 at the Joshua Tree, California-based Contact in the Desert conference. Unlike Maxine – who has experienced just one UFO-themed incident in her entire life – Gary has had numerous encounters. His, however, are not of the alien abduction type. For Gary, a manager at a Target store, his experiences have been of the Contactee variety: face to face interaction with very human-looking, long-haired aliens and a wealth of interaction and discussion of a mind, body and spirit nature.

As for Gary’s experience with an owl, it occurred out at Giant Rock, California. Close to the town of Landers, Giant Rock is where, from the 1950s to the late 1970s, a famous Contactee named George Van Tassel held yearly outdoor conferences on UFOs. Gary maintains that in November 2001 he rendezvoused at the old rock with an alien name Capsona – a blond-haired, beautiful woman, dressed in a long white gown. The two spent several hours discussing the precarious state of the human race. After which, and with the sun starting to set on the desert, Capsona told Gary to back away, which he did, to a distance of about forty feet. Capsona was suddenly bathed in a white light and was transformed into a roughly four-foot-tall, brilliantly white owl, which took to the skies and that was quickly lost from view. Again, and as with Maxine’s experience, there was no hint of a suggestion of a screen memory. Only that of an extraterrestrial with the stunning ability to shapeshift.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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