Oct 22, 2022 I Nick Redfern

When Should Titles Like "Cryptozoological Creatures" be Changed to "Paranormal Creatures"? I Say: "Right Now!"

There is a very good reason for why I ask that question in the title of this article. The fact is that so many so-called Cryptids appear to have paranormal abilities and supernatural powers. In that sense, shouldn't we remove them from Cryptozoology? I say: "Hell, yes!" For example, let's have a look at the phenomenon of the Dogmen. I see the creatures cataloged in the field of Cryptozoology. But, they clearly show paranormal powers. For example, Linda Godfrey expanded on this: "Occasionally, I'll get letters from people who say they are lycanthropes themselves and their theory is that this is an immature, real werewolf and it cannot control its transformation, and that’s why it allows itself to be seen occasionally. They are completely convinced of that. And there are people who believe it’s a manifestation of satanic forces, that it’s a part of a demonic thing. They point to various occult activities around here. There are also people who try to link it to UFOs. Then there’s the theory it’s just a dog. One woman, a medium, thought that it was a natural animal but didn’t know what it was. And there are a lot of people out here that do wolf-hybridizations, and I’ve thought to myself you’d get something like that. But that doesn’t explain the upright posture. Then there’s the theory that it’s a creature known as the Windigo or Wendigo, which is featured in Indian legends and is supposedly a supernatural creature that lives on human flesh. But none of the descriptions from the Windigo legends describe a creature with canine features." In light of all this, should we really be placing the Dogmen in the field of Cryptozoology? I say: "No!" Simply because those "things" are just too weird and are, arguably, not even animals in the way we see them.

(Nick Redfern) Dogmen: paranormal, but not animals

Now, I know many people - maybe the most of you reading this - will say that surely the Bigfoot creatures should remain in Cryptozoology? Well, I 'm sure they should be thrown out of the subject. For example, people have allegedly seen the Bigfoot creatures turn invisible. Or speak to people via ESP. And they have the ability to temporarily disable people using low frequency sound. I don't know any kind of "animal" that can do all of that. One other issue when it comes to Bigfoot: there is an undeniable connection between Bigfoot and the UFO phenomenon. I can't see the Bigfoot creatures being "thrown out" of Cryptozoology, but, they really should be placed somewhere else when it comes to cataloging. Now, onto another creature that is well known, but that should surely be flung out of Cryptozoology. Dennis Waller is one of the leading experts in the field of the Kushtaka. He notes in his 2014 book, In Search of the Kushtaksa, that the word, “Kushtaka,” equates to “Land Otter Man,” which is highly appropriate, taking into consideration that this is precisely how the Kushtaka is described. It is important, however, to note that the creature is not, literally, half-human and half-otter. Rather, it can take on both forms. But things don’t end there: the Kushtaka can also manifest in the shapes of giant wolves – and very often bipedal, upright wolves – and also large, hairy humanoids not at all unlike Bigfoot. In the Bigfoot-seeking community, Waller observes, this has given rise to the thought-provoking theory that the Kushtaka may well be an Alaskan Bigfoot; one which, over time, has been incorporated into Native lore and legend. On the other hand, however, and as Waller also notes, for the Tsimshian and the Tlingit, the creatures are monsters with the power to morph. In that sense, the jury is very much out when it comes to their true identities.

(Nick Redfern) The Bigfoot creatures: they are just too weird

The otter angle is a very intriguing one and is born out of the fact that otters are highly intelligent animals, that they have structured communities and even leaderships, that they are occasional tool-users, and that they even hold each other’s hands. These parallels - between the societies and actions of both otters and humans – amount to one of the key issues that led the Tsimshian and Tlingit people to associate them in very much the same fashion. There is, however, yet another aspect to the otter issue. Otters are perceived as being good-natured and friendly animals – which, for the most part, they certainly are. But not for the two tribes that fear the Kushtaka. For the tribespeople, the engaging and outward character of the otter is merely a ruse, one which is designed to deceive and manipulate people, and to lure them into situations that range from the stressful to the outright deadly. Notably, tribal history maintains that each and every otter is secretly part-human; something which allows it to jump from form to form as it sees fit.

One of the primary activities of the Kushtaka is to steal the soul – or the supernatural essence – of its targeted victim. This, too, is something which we have seen before, and specifically in relation to shapeshifters. When a tribesperson loses his or her soul it is the responsibility of the tribe’s medicine man – or Shaman - to seek out the specific Kushtaka that made its victim definitively soulless, and then to hopefully wrestle it from the Kushtaka and reunite body and soul into one. And, just like the water-based Selkies of Scotland’s Shetland Islands – creatures which we will address later - the Kushtaka is known for its cunning and callous ability to lure sailors to watery graves, deep below the high seas. Oddly, but also paralleling the tales of shapeshifting fairies, and despite its malignant and dangerous reputation, the Kushtaka is sometimes helpful – even to the extent of saving someone in dire peril. It should be noted, however, that such positive cases are very much few and far between. I've heard people say that the Kushtaka are really Bigfoot creatures. But, as I see it, that still means the Bigfoot are paranormal.

Now, let's take a look at lake monsters. Or, rather, one specific lake monster: the Nessie (or Nessies) of Scotland. You may not know it, but for centuries there have been legends of shapeshifting at 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.  

The Nessies: Nothing less than dangerous shapeshifters

Very much creatures of the night, Kelpies were said to dwell 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. There's something else, too: for a number of years none other than the "Great Beast" Aleister Crowley lived at Loch Ness - at a foreboding place called Boleskine House. Here we see an example of a monster that just happens to have paranormal aspects (and locations) to it.

Even the so-called "Alien Big Cats" of the U.K. are not free of all this paranormal activity. Indeed, there are some very strange stories concerning the ABCs. In the summer of 2007, I spoke with Marcus Matthews, a researcher of mysterious, large cats in Britain, who told me that he was then currently investigating a case involving a person who had seen a "huge black cat" sitting inside the confines of a Wiltshire Crop Circle. Precisely how we explain these rogue cases that suggest a link between Crop Circles and exotic beasts and unknown animals, I have no firm idea. However, I am inclined to think we have not heard the last of such tales. I now have a number of ABC-Crop Circle-themed cases. I have no idea for why the ABCs might take a liking for Crop Circles, but, they do. Although many ABC researchers cringe and squirm when such matters are brought up, the fact is there are more than a few reports on record that place the ABCs in a category that is less flesh and blood-based and far more paranormal-themed. There are cases of the ABCs vanishing – literally – before the eyes of astonished witnesses. People report large black cat encounters in old graveyards, within ancient stone circles, and even – on a few occasions – in association with UFO sightings. You may feel different, but as I see it, almost all famous monsters are really supernatural creatures.

(Nick Redfern) Alien big Cats in Crop Circles? Another reason to alter what Cryptozoology is or means

My own view is that none of these creatures are "unknown animals." They're all Djinn. Of all the many and varied shapeshifters that populate our world, there is no doubt that the most feared and dreaded of all are the Djinn. They are extremely dangerous and manipulative entities that can take on various forms, and just as they see fit. It is ironic that the Djinn, in reality, is such a feared and powerful creature. The irony stems from the fact that popular culture and the world of entertainment have collectively dumbed down the nature, power, and dark characters of the Djinn. This is very much as a result of the production of the likes of the 1960s television show, I Dream of Jeannie, and the 1992 Disney movie, Aladdin. There is, however, nothing amusing or lighthearted about the real Djinn. They are the ultimate shapeshifting nightmares. And they will do all they can to get their claws into us – and particularly so if we are reckless enough to invite or invoke them. As for the shapeshifting qualities of the Djinn, they are as many as they are varied.

(Nick Redfern) Hanging out with Rosemary Ellen Guiley, one of the most learned people in the realm of the Djinn

Rather notably, our old friend, the glowing-eyed Phantom Black Dog, is one of the most favored forms a Djinn will appear as, and particularly so when it wishes to operate in our world. As is a snake. Indeed, according to Islamic lore, if a snake enters one’s home, it may not be a normal, regular snake. In all likelihood, the old lore states, it is a shapeshifted Djinn. Rosemary Ellen Guiley believed, and stateds in her book, The Vengeful Djinn, that the Djinn manifest in numerous other forms, too. The long list includes aliens, the spirits of once-living people, fairies, creatures that fall into the cryptozoological domain and even angels. So clever, manipulative and cunning is the Djinn, it is incredibly difficult to determine which of the above is real and which is nothing more than a Djinn in disguise. 

For me, the paranormal side of things makes much more sense, rather than upholding the Cryptozoology arena.

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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