Jul 08, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Weirdness of Cryptozoology: Are "They" All Paranormal Creatures?

Most people in the field of Cryptozoology are satisfied with the scenario of the Bigfoot creatures being nothing but unknown, flesh-and-blood animals. And that's it. It's the same for the Loch Ness Monsters of Scotland, the Dog-Men and so on. The fact is, though, if you look carefully you'll see how just about every cryptid creature has a paranormal aspect to attached to it. Let's begin with the world's most famous monster: Bigfoot. The Native Languages website states: “The Bigfoot figure is common to the folklore of most Northwest Native American tribes. Native American Bigfoot legends usually describe the creatures as around 6-9 feet tall, very strong, hairy, uncivilized, and often foul-smelling, usually living in the woods and often foraging at night...In some Native stories, Bigfoot may have minor supernatural powers - the ability to turn invisible, for example - but they are always considered physical creatures of the forest, not spirits or ghosts." Here's another "Bizarre Bigfoot" affair:

One of the most fascinating cases of relevancy came from James C. Wyatt, of Memphis, Tennessee, who shared with the late paranormal expert, Brad Steiger, a copy of his – Wyatt’s -grandfather’s journal from 1888. It described the old man’s exposure to the Bigfoot phenomenon. The location was the Humboldt Meridian, in northwestern California. It was while in the area, on one particular day, that Wyatt’s grandfather encountered a tribesman carrying a plate of raw meat. Puzzled, he asked what it was for. After pondering on things for a while the man motioned Wyatt Sr. to follow. On arriving at a cave built into a cliff face, he was shocked to see a huge, hair-covered, man-like beast. It was, however, quite docile and enthusiastically ate the meat provided for him. It was then that Wyatt’s grandfather got the full story. The beast – nicknamed “Crazy Bear” – had supposedly been brought to the forests “from the stars.” Nothing less than a “small moon” had descended, ejecting both the creature and several others of its kind. The “moon” was reportedly piloted by very human-looking entities that always waved at the Indians as they dumped the hairy beasts on their land. James C. Wyatt asked Brad Steiger: “Who is to say the Crazy Bears weren’t exiled to our planet for some crime or other infraction of the laws of another planet?”

(Nick Redfern)

Now, onto the monsters of Loch Ness: for centuries, Scottish folklore and legend have both been filled with tales of a wild and deadly beast known as the Kelpie. The terrible beast, which has the ability to transform itself into numerous forms – even that of people – was greatly feared throughout the 1600s and 1700s, when reports of the Kelpie were at their height. As for its curious name, “Kelpie” is an ancient Scottish term meaning “water-horse.” There is a very good reason as to why that particular name was applied to the beast, as will soon become very clear. As its name strongly suggests, the water-horse spent much of its time lurking in the waters of Scottish lochs – specifically in the shallower, marshy areas of such locales. It would coldly and callously wait for an unwary passer-by to appear on the scene and then strike, mercilessly and without any hint of a warning. The beast’s mode of attack was, admittedly, ingenious, even if the end result for the victim was not a good one. In fact, it was almost always downright fatal.  

Very much creatures of the night, Kelpies were said to lurk in the waters of literally dozens of Scottish lochs. As creature-seeker Roland Watson demonstrated in his book The Water Horses of Loch Ness, however, the vast majority of reports of such beasts emanate from none other than Loch Ness; the home of what is arguably the world’s most famous lake monster, Nessie – to which we shall return shortly. We may never know, for sure, the real form of the Kelpie; only the guise that led to the creation of its name. But, what we can say for certain is that the small number of witnesses who encountered the beast, and who lived to tell the tale, described it as a large black or white horse. In most cases, the victim was a late-night traveler, walking along an old, well-known pathway near the water’s edge of the relevant loch. Suddenly, the huge horse would rise out of the water, dripping wet, and make its way to the shore, with its coat shining under the light of the Moon.

Under such strange circumstances, many might be inclined to make a run for it immediately. There is, however, a very strange aspect to many of the Kelpie stories. Namely, that the people who crossed its path felt as if their free will had been taken from them and that they were deliberately prevented from fleeing the scene. Today, we might justifiably suggest that the beast had the power to control the minds of those in its deadly sights. Perhaps, even by a form of supernatural hypnosis. Those fortunate enough to escape the icy clutches of the Kelpie described how they felt driven to climb on the back of the horse and grab its reins. Despite having a sense of dread and a fear of doing so, that’s exactly what so many did – and, in the process, failed to survive and tell their tale. It was at that point that the Kelpie made its move – an incredibly fast move. With the entranced person now atop the monster, it would suddenly launch itself into the deep and cold waters of the loch, with the poor soul unable to let go of the reins. Death by drowning was all but inevitable, aside from that very lucky, aforementioned body of people who were fortunate enough to have survived and who related their stories – hence why we know of the creature and its terrible modus operandi. As for the reason behind these deadly attacks, it was said that the creatures sought one thing more than any other: the human soul.

(Nick Redfern)

When word of the murderous monster got out among the people of the small hamlets and villages of ancient Scotland, the Kelpie cunningly chose to take on another form, given that its cover – as a large horse – had now been blown, of course. That form was a beautiful woman, with long hair, and dressed in a flowing robe. Her (or, rather, its) targets were always men, and again walking home late at night, perhaps after a few pints of beer at a local inn, or after toiling in the fields until dark. The she-devil would, just like its horse-based form, beckon the entranced man to the water’s edge. She would then take his hand, and slowly lead him into the loch; careful step by careful step. Then, when the man was around waist-deep she would violently drag him below the water, drowning him in seconds and mercilessly stealing his soul.

Legend also tells of the Kelpie taking on the form of a large, hairy, ape-like animal. Notably, Scotland has a long history of Bigfoot-type creatures in its midst – which may not be a coincidence, given what we know of the Kelpie, its shapeshifting skills, and its Scottish origins. All of which brings us back to the dark heart of Loch Ness. As I noted earlier, Nessie authority Roland Watson has determined that the vast majority of centuries-old sightings and reports of Kelpies emanated from Loch Ness. This, obviously, provokes an important question: could the Nessies of today, and the Kelpies of yesteryear, be one and the very same thing? It’s a highly valid question, since it would seem most unlikely for the loch to be populated by two different kinds of unknown animals. As for the answer, it is almost certainly the case that far from being the flesh and blood beasts that so many assume the Nessies to be, the creatures are indeed Kelpies, but in far more modern – and very different - incarnations. Now, let's take a look at Mothman.

It all began on November 12, 1966 – as John Keel noted in his book: The Mothman Prophecies. On the night in question, a large, humanoid figure was seen –somewhat appropriately – in the heart of a local graveyard. The witnesses, a group of workmen, described the beast as being brown in color and sporting a pair of large wings. The legend had duly begun. And it had no intention of stopping. Seventy-two hours later, the Mothman was seen again; this time by Steve and Mary Mallette and Roger and Linda Scarberry. At the time, they were driving around an area known locally as the TNT Plant. Its official title, however, was the West Virginia Ordnance Works – today, called the McClintic Wildlife Management Area – a place at which TNT was manufactured and stored during the Second World War. The volatile material was stored in large igloo-like structures that, today, are overgrown by trees and bushes, and which give off a decidedly weird vibe when one walks around them – and particularly so at night.

(Nick Redfern)

For the Scarberrys and the Mallettes, all young at the time, it was just a typical night, one spent cruising around the plant, having fun and hanging out, noted Keel. That all changed when all four saw a pair of what appeared to be bright red eyes peering out of the surrounding darkness. Curiosity quickly became overwhelming fear when the two couples realized that the eyes were attached to a large figure, around seven feet in height, and with large, powerful-looking wings. The legend of Mothman began. But, there is something else: it wasn't long afterwards when UFOs were seen over Point Pleasant. Men in Black descended on the little city. And, there was the terrible bridge disaster of December 1967. In other words, when Mothman arrived, all hell (and high-strangeness) began. That's not normal activity for an animal.

Finally, let's have a look at the phenomenon known as the Dog-Man. It's a creature that falls into the same category of the likes of the Beast of Bray Road, the wolfish creatures roaming around the Skinwalker Ranch, and what appears to be nothing less than real-life werewolves. There are, however, cases of all these creatures vanishing in strange fogs. Strange balls of light have been seen around the Dog-Men. Does that seem the way an animal would act? No. What this demonstrates, is that it's very possible that all Cryptid creatures are paranormal, rather than just being unknown animals. In light of all the above, perhaps, we should rewrite Cryptozoology.   

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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