In my last article on the subject of how the occult, the paranormal and the supernatural can wreak havoc with the minds and physical health of UFO researchers, I revealed how dangerous things can get. Very dangerous. It's intriguing - and also unsettling - that this issue of people having their lives changed (and not for good reasons) also applies to the field of Cryptozoology: the search for unknown and unidentified animals, such as Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, the Yeti, Ogopogo and many more. There's no doubt, however, that the one person who really got hammered by paranormal phenomena - and while looking for the Loch Ness Monster(s) - was Frederick "Ted" William Holiday. As you will see now. A child of the 1920s, it was hardly surprising that Holiday should have become enthused and excited by the explosion of interest in the Loch Ness Monster in 1933. He was, after all, a twelve year old boy at the time, one for whom adventures, unusual animals, and mysterious places were at the forefront of his young mind. It was not until 1962, however, that Holiday, a skilled angler, was able to make the trip of a lifetime. He did so in an old van, packed with all the essentials for a Nessie hunt, such as cameras, a sleeping-bag, and even fishing rods. Although one suspects that a fishing rod would hardly have been the suitable tool for reeling in a huge, marauding, leviathan of the deep, and quite possibly one of supernatural, deadly proportions!
From the outset, Holiday was of the opinion that the Loch Ness Monsters were all too real. Exactly what they were, however, was an entirely different matter and something which he was unable to answer at the time. But, that didn’t stop him from doing his utmost to find out. It was on his very first night at the loch, camped out under the stars, that Holiday experienced something that would go on to plague him on just about each and every consecutive visit to Loch Ness. It was a dark sense of foreboding. A ghostly chill in the air. A sense of things not being quite right. Of something foul and malignant lurking just out of sight. He could practically taste it – whatever it actually was. Holiday wasn’t able to shake off that deep, foreboding feeling that there was something more to the Loch Ness Monsters, something which – 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, and one that pretty much dictated the rest of his short life and research.
By the time his book 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 beast. In doing so, he 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 nothing stranger than 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.
By 1969, Holiday's life was dominated by weird synchronicities – meaningful coincidences, in simple terms – something which led Holiday to question both his sanity and even the very nature of reality itself. What had begun as an exciting hunt for an unknown animal was now rapidly mutating into something very different. Something dangerous and supernatural. In June 1969, a trio of American students - who were investigating the grounds of the old cemetery that sits next to Aleister Crowley's Boleskine House - stumbled upon an ancient piece of tapestry that was wrapped around a conch (sea-snail) shell. It was around four feet by five feet in size and was adorned with snake-like imagery and wording in Turkish that translated to serpent. Interestingly, Turkey’s Lake Van has a longstanding monster legend attached to it. In addition, the tapestry itself displayed pictures of lotus flowers, which, according to ancient Chinese lore, were amongst the most favored foods of the legendary dragons of old. On top of that, in China lotus flowers were often left on the shores of lakes as offerings to the dragons that lurked within. One of those who had the opportunity to personally see and handle the tapestry after it was found was Ted Holiday, who had been invited to examine it. It was yet another example of the escalating and unsettling weirdness in Holiday’s life. He couldn’t fail to note that the tapestry was adorned with gold thread, specifically in the design of what he perceived to be thick, wormy creatures with long necks. The whole thing disturbed Holiday.
Lake Monsters or paranormal creatures? Demonic, even?
On the night of June 2, 1973, Loch Ness played host to something truly extraordinary. It was nothing less than a full-blown exorcism, one that was designed to forever banish the malignant monsters from the deep and dark waters. It was all the work of Donald Omand, both a doctor and a reverend. He was a man who had substantial knowledge on, and experience of, the domain of all things supernatural. For the god-fearing reverend, the supernatural beasts had to be cast out, and the sooner the better, too. He was helped in his venture by none other than Ted Holiday. Holiday’s interests in Omand's opinions on the monsters of Loch Ness were prompted by the latter’s book, Experiences of a Present Day Priest. It’s a book that details the reverend’s nagging and worrying suspicions that lake-monsters have supernatural, rather than physical, origins. Omand was someone who had also focused his attentions on combating black magic and witchcraft, and had even exorcised bears, lions, and tigers believed to have been in the throes of dark, demonic possession. He was, then, hardly your average priest. But, he was exactly the kind of priest needed to rid Loch Ness of its strange inhabitants. And, Omand did his very best. Things weren't over, however.
As dawn broke on the following morning, Holiday took a walk down to the loch. What a catastrophic mistake that was. As he did so, Holiday could not fail to see a man, at a distance of around ninety feet, standing atop the slope that led directly down to Loch Ness. This was no normal man, however. It may not even have been a man, at all. Whoever – or whatever – this curious character was, he was dressed entirely in black, from head to toe. Whereas most people who go to Loch Ness focus their attentions on the deep waters, in the hope they just might be lucky enough to see something monstrous rear its head, this character had his back to the loch and was staring directly at Holiday, who later commented that as the figure focused on him, "I felt a strong sensation of malevolence, cold and passionless." The man appeared to be dressed in what Holiday described as black plastic. His hands were gloved (black, too), and his head was covered by something that looked like a motorcycle helmet. No surprises on its color. Goggles covered his eyes, and even his nose and mouth were covered – by a black band, possibly made of cloth. Holiday tentatively walked towards the definitive Man in Black. Even when Holiday was mere feet away, the MIB neither moved nor acknowledged his presence. Most terrifying of all, there appeared to be no eyes behind the goggles. Shocked, Holiday continued walking for about ten feet and then stopped.
It was Holiday's quickly thought out intention to pretend to fall on the grass and reach out to the man for support as he did so – specifically to see if he was physical in form, or some kind of intangible specter. Holiday was prevented from doing so, however, when the sounds of whistling and unintelligible whispering filled the air, and the MIB vanished – as in de-materialized, literally. As Holiday – now petrified out of his wits – shakily scanned the half a mile of open road that dominated the landscape, it became clear to him that there was simply no way the man could have made good a stealthy escape in conventional fashion. Stunned to his core, Holiday tried to reconcile the whole thing as nothing but a bizarre hallucination – a theory that, he knew deep down, simply wasn’t viable. It was all to no avail; the specter of the thing in black remained, like an albatross around Holiday’s neck. There is a decidedly sinister sequel to this aspect of Ted Holiday’s quest for the truth of the Loch Ness Monster and his Man in Black experience. One year later, in 1974, Holiday’s creature-seeking excursions were suddenly cut short by a serious heart-attack – right at the very spot where the MIB manifested and then vanished around twelve months earlier. A warning, perhaps, to Holiday that he should walk away from the matter of the Loch Ness Monster. And walk away now. While he still had the chance and before the reaper came calling for his very mind and soul. It didn't work. Holiday was dead before he was sixty. It's not at all hard to believe that Holiday was in the grip of something supernatural, something that would never let him go. Until he was dead, that is.