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Getting Too Deep Into Paranormal Phenomena: A Cautionary Story

Over the years, more than a few researchers and writers on paranormal, cryptozoological, and ufological phenomena have changed their views on the subject of their particular choice. That includes me, too. In 2017 I wrote a book titled The Roswell UFO Conspiracy. It was a follow-up to my 2005 book, Body Snatchers in the Desert. Both presented data suggesting that the famous event of July 1947 had nothing to do with aliens. And in this year I wrote The Rendlesham Forest UFO Conspiracy. At its heart is the theory that the famous incident of December 1980 was really a top secret experiment designed to determine the extent to which the human mind can be screwed with. Of course, it’s inevitable that over time minds will change as new and alternative data surfaces. For the most part, it isn’t a big deal. Occasionally, however, it can result in disaster and tragedy – and particularly so when an interest and a fascination combine into one and become an obsession. And this latter point brings me to today’s article and to a certain man under the microscope. His name: Frederick William “Ted” Holiday.

Born in 1921, Holiday had two passions: angling and the Loch Ness Monster. His books included included Fishing in Wales, Angling in Wales, River-Fishing for Sea Trout, The Great Orm of Loch Ness, The Dragon and the Disc, The Goblin Universe, and – with Randall Jones Pugh – The Dyfed Enigma. What is particularly notable about Holiday’s work in the field of the Nessies, is the way in which his theories and conclusions changed – not just slightly but to incredible degrees. Holiday was someone who, in the 1960s, had his very own sightings of strange creatures in the loch. It prompted him to do something that a number of people had already done: he wrote a book on the subject of Scotland’s famous monster. That book was The Great Orm of Loch Ness. It was published in 1968.

Holiday came up with an intriguing theory: that the creatures of the loch were really massive versions of a very small creature called Tullimonstrum gregarium. And what that might be? Let’s see. The Illinois State Geological Survey states: “The Tully monster was a soft-bodied, invertebrate, marine animal – an animal that has no shell and no backbone, and lived in the ocean. It had an elongate, segmented body that tapered at both ends. At the front was a long snout ending in a ‘jaw’ with eight tiny ‘teeth.’ At the other end was a tail and two fins. Two eyes on stalks projected out sideways near the front of the body. Judging from the streamlined shape, flexible body, and maneuverable fins, it’s likely the Tully monster was an active swimmer. Perhaps, like a modern squid, it hovered near the sea bottom. The Tully monsters’ ‘jaws’ and apparent swimming abilities suggest that they attacked other marine animals such as jellyfish and shrimp, perhaps piercing their prey with their ‘teeth’ and sucking out the juices.”

On top of that, Tullimonstrum gregarium lived solely in the muddy landscapes of Pennsylvania, USA. Oh, and one more important thing that should be noted: it went extinct around 300 million years ago. None of these clearly important points appeared to bother Holiday in the slightest, who continued to pursue his theory with a great deal of enthusiasm. Even though Ted Holiday sincerely believed that the Tullimonstrum gregarium theory had merit, he wasn’t able to shake off a deep, foreboding feeling that there was something more to the Loch Ness Monsters, something that – rather paradoxically – implied they were flesh and blood animals, but ones possessed of supernatural qualities. It was a feeling that would ultimately become a full-blown, unhealthy obsession (filled with paranoia), and one that pretty much dictated the rest of Holiday’s short life.

By the time The Great Orm of Loch Ness was published, Holiday had not only been to the lair of the Nessies on numerous occasions, he had also had the opportunity to speak to many witnesses to the beasts. In doing so, Holiday noticed a most curious, and even unsettling, pattern. There were far more than a random number of reports on record where eyewitnesses to the creatures had tried to photograph them, only to fail miserably. As time progressed, it became abundantly obvious to Holiday that this was not down to mere chance. When an excited soul on the shore went to grab their camera, the beast would sink beneath the waves. When someone even just thought about taking a picture, the monster would vanish below. On other occasions, cameras would malfunction. Pictures would come out blank or fogged. It was as if the Nessies were dictating, and manipulating, the situations in which the witnesses found themselves. That is exactly what Holiday came to believe was going on. That was, largely, when the paranoia started to kick in.

By 1969, Holiday’s life was dominated and dictated by weird synchronicities – meaningful coincidences, in simple terms – something that led Holiday to question both his sanity and even the very nature of reality itself. What had begun as an exciting hunt for unknown animals was now rapidly mutating into something very different. The outcome: In 1973, Holiday wrote his second book on Nessie, The Dragon and the Disc. In that book, Holiday made connections between UFOs and lake-monsters (and not just those in Loch Ness, but in Ireland and elsewhere, too). Holiday became fascinated by the fact that none other than the “Great Beast” himself, Aleister Crowley, had a home at Loch Ness: Boleskine House. To his deep concern, Holiday learned of a dragon-worshiping cult operating at the loch. Also, Holiday spoke with those who had seen UFOs over that huge expanse of water, and he even engaged in an exorcism (in June 1973), to try and banish the beasts from the murky depths. On top of that, Holiday had a traumatic encounter with a Man in Black, no less – also in 1973.

For Holiday things were becoming not just weird, but downright uncanny. Unsettling, too. Indeed, one gets a sense that from the late sixties onward Holiday’s life was filled with stress, paranoia and a sense that he was no longer in control of his life. Something else – something supernatural – was taunting the man. Something akin to the “Trickster” phenomenon, we might say. Holiday continued with his research, though. It has to be said, however, that by this time Holiday had no time for Tullimonstrum gregarium. Now, it’s time to move ahead to 1979. That’s when the aforementioned The Dyfed Enigma was published. The book described “dramatic manifestations of ufological activity which occurred in West Wales between 1974 and 1977.” In other words, Holiday was now deep into the UFO subject. But not for long: 1979 was also the year in which Holiday died – from a heart attack – at the age of fifty-nine. Matters aren’t quite over, however.

In 1986, Holiday’s posthumous book, The Goblin Universe, was published. Its subjects included the monsters of Loch Ness (of course!), Alien Big Cats, life after death, that 1973 exorcism at Loch Ness, phantom black dogs, Bigfoot, synchronicities, the work of John Michell (the author of The Flying Saucer Vision) and the writings of John Keel. As an aside, Keel and Holiday corresponded in the 1970s. Keel warned Holiday of the hazards of getting deep into the investigation of such phenomena. Holiday chose to push on with his new and alternative theories and left Tullimonstrum gregarium way behind him. And then he died.

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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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