The Loch Ness Monster: just about everyone has heard of it. A large number of people claim to have seen the long-necked, humped leviathan of the deep. Some have even photographed and filmed it. Nessie, as the beast is affectionately known, has been a staple part of the world of the unexplained since 1933, when the phenomenon of the monster exploded in spectacular, planet-wide fashion. Since then, millions of people have flocked to the shores of the 22.5 miles long and 744 feet deep loch, all in the hopes of seeing the elusive creature. Attempts have been made to seek out Nessie with sonar-equipment, aircraft, balloons, and even submarines. Theories abound as to what Nessie is – or, far more likely and correctly, what the Nessies are. Certainly, the most captivating theory, and the one that the Scottish Tourist Board, moviemakers, and the general public find most appealing, is that which suggests the monsters are surviving pockets of plesiosaurs. They were marine reptiles that the domain of zoology assures us became extinct tens of millions of years ago. The possibility that the monsters are actually giant-sized salamanders holds sway in more than a few quarters. As does the idea that perhaps massive eels are the culprits. Then there are scenarios involving sturgeon, oversized turtles, catfish, and even crocodiles, giant frogs, and hippopotami! And, there is also the paranormal aspect of all this.
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 dwelled within.
One of those who had the opportunity to personally see and handle the tapestry after it was found was monster-hunter 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. His “great orms,” no doubt. That Holiday was able to determine the tapestry lacked any mildew and wasn’t even damp, suggested strongly to him that it had been left there barely a day or so earlier – maybe even less than that. Possibly even just hours earlier. Questions put to Hal Kerr – who, at the time, was the owner of Boleskine House – and Richard Milne, the curator of the Inverness Museum, led nowhere, but Holiday found the whole thing highly disturbing.
It was during this period that Ted Holiday began to suspect that the discovery of the serpentine tapestry, along with the links to Boleskine House and Aleister Crowley, were indicative of a highly secret, very powerful, and maybe even deadly, “dragon cult” operating in the Loch Ness area. A cult that worshipped the supernatural Nessies by night, and which, perhaps, even made sacrifices to the beasts under a starry, chilled sky. Possibly, even human sacrifices – although, admittedly, there was nothing but hearsay to support this latter controversy-churning claim. Bear in mind that this was only mere months after Holiday’s book, The Great Orm of Loch Ness, was published and which offered a very different scenario to explain the Nessies. Life for Ted Holiday was changing at a rapid pace and in unpredictable and unsettling fashion. Who knew what might be looming around the corner? Certainly not Holiday.
The mysterious group in question, Holiday believed, was said to worship Tiamat, a terrifying Babylonian snake-goddess, or sea-dragon, who was revered as much as she was feared – and chiefly because of her murderous, homicidal ways. She mated with Abzu, the god of freshwater, to create a number of supernatural offspring, all of dragon- and serpent-like appearance. Then there were the dreaded Scorpion Men, equally hideous offspring of Tiamat that were, as their name suggests, a horrific combination of man and giant arachnids. So the legend goes, Abzu planned to secretly kill his children, but was thwarted from doing so when they rose up and slayed him instead. Likewise, Tiamat was ultimately slaughtered – by the god of storms, the four-eyed giant known as Marduk.
If, however, one knew the ways of the ancients, one could still call upon the power and essence of Tiamat – despite her death – as a means to achieve power, wealth, influence, and sex. Such rituals were definitively Faustian in nature, however (as they almost always are), and the conjurer had to take great heed when summoning the spirit-form of Tiamat, lest violent, deadly forces might be unleashed. It was highly possible, thought Holiday, that the monsters seen at Loch Ness were manifestations of Tiamat, in some latter day incarnation, and specifically provoked to manifest by that aforementioned cult.
It was situations like this that led Holiday to finally embrace the world of the occult and dismiss his previous theories and ideas on what the monsters of Loch Ness actually were. Like so many that came before him, Holiday found himself immersed in a world of the surreal, a world filled with magic – of both the black and white variety - and with devilish entities, sinister characters, and forces way beyond his control. Even beyond his understanding.