Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Swastika Talking Board and Spirit Board Synchronicites

A bit of synchronicity. I was thinking about oracles in general as I was waking up, and Ouija boards in particular. Toying with the idea of a folklore presentation on oracles -- how there were talking boards before the Parker Brothers Ouija board most of us are familiar with today, etc. Then I see this vintage ad for the Niravana Swastika Talking Board this morning on Andy Colvin's Facebook page:

Notice the location of the company that made this: Charleston-Kanawha, West Virginia.

The Museum of Talking Boards site is a wonderful place to explore; I find the history of spirit, or talking boards, fascinating. (I also find the changes in attitudes surrounding the use of spirit boards intriguing. From spirit communication of benign intents -- and reactions  -- to "don't mess with them you'll invite Satan into your life forever" perspective of today.)

The Swastika as a symbol has become forever twisted by the Nazis, but it wasn't always a symbol of darkness.

The swastika has an extensive history. It was used at least 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag. The word swastikacomes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being." The motif (a hooked cross) appears to have first been used in Neolithic Eurasia, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky. To this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism. It is a common sight on temples or houses in India or Indonesia. Swastikas also have an ancient history in Europe, appearing on artifacts from pre-Christian European cultures.  (History of the Swastika, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Giant Bug Zappers, Daisy the Goat, and Devil Dog Stew: Mountain Monsters

This is a post I wrote for my Animal Forteana blog, August 2014 --  reposting it here.

Giant Bug Zappers, Daisy the Goat, and Devil Dog Stew

Seriously. The mountain men monster hunters of Destination America's Mountain Monsters show built a giant 'bug zapper' trap to capture Mothman. Then they set up lit torches along a path -- all this in the woods -- to lure Mothman to the trap. A bit later, the torches were found re-lit, burning unattended. Why, Mothman must have done it! Because, the mountain monster hunters insisted, those torches were put out!

Three things disturb me about shows like this. One, the arrogance of the "investigators." Armed, tromping around in habitats, disturbing creatures just for the hell of it. They'd tell you, no doubt, that it's no mere joy ride, they are indeed chasing after mysterious -- and often dangerous -- creatures, which is very important business. The assumption however seems to be these mysterious creatures are inherently evil and deserve to be trapped, harassed, placed in captivity, and possibly killed.

Ulisse Aldrovandi,  Italian illustration.

 Two, in their lust for chasing down non-human beings, they are generally disrespectful of the environment. It's their personal monster playground. Hell, they almost set the place on fire in the Mothman episode.  Building giant traps and luring would be monsters -- simply ridiculous. I assume they get permission from various authorities; Fish and Game, etc. before constructing their contraptions. (The website has a disclaimer about not attempting to build traps yourself, and getting permission from authorities.)

Exploiting animals for para-tainment; like Daisy, the poor goat used as bait. Now, Daisy, we were constantly assured, was not going to be harmed. But imagine Daisy's freaked out mind, and how can we be sure that something unpredictable could happen? Can these armed mountain monster hunters move fast enough to protect Daisy from a fast moving predator -- "monster" or not?

Food porn is another aspect of these kinds of shows.  On the Mountain Monster section of 
Destination America website, there is a recipe for 'Devil Dog Stew':

'Ever wonder what a Wampus Beast tastes like? How about the Ohio Grassman? All this
 hunting for fearsome creatures on Mountain Monsters got us wondering...what would you 
do with a trapped mountain monster? They might be kinda tasty, no? 
We decided to find out and it turns out, mountain monsters make delectable meals. 
Here is a recipe for one such creature.'

Of course I don't believe real devil dog meat -- or, hopefully, any kind of dog -- is the main 
ingredient. The point here is the appeal to the gratuitous, the titillation factor.

 Three, the fact that these shows are popular is disturbing.  Mountain Monsters isn't the only
 program that relies on entertainment, and ignores facts and data. For example: Mothman
 is not a giant moth with evil intent, akin to a malevolent version of Mothra, as the producers 
and actors in Mountain Men would have us believe. 

When it comes to the unexplained, including Mothman, producers have their own agendas. 
They then set out to find willing participants who will partake in their made-up 
monster scenarios.
Not to say that shows exploring UFOs, cryptids and other anomalous topics can't be, or 
shouldn't be, entertaining.  With all programming, not matter the topic, producers have their 
agenda, and editing is brutal. But some do attempt to present a deeper look into whatever 
phenomena is being explored. Shows like Mountain Monsters are gratuitous and are not 
concerned at all with authentic cryptid research. 

Stan Gordon's "Astonishing Encounters: Bigfoot, Mothmen and More"

I look forward to reading this book! Nick Redfern has a review of Stan Gordon's new book Astonishing Encounters: Bigfoot, Mothmen and More at Mysterious Universe. Brief mention of Mothy types:
Astonishing Encounters: Bigfoot, Mothmen and More | Mysterious Universe: Astonishing Encounters also contains numerous reports of unidentified flying things. Typically, they fall into the same kinds of categories of winged things that appear elsewhere in the world. We’re talking about (a) creatures that resemble long-extinct pterodactyls; (b) giant birds that look like the mighty Thunderbirds of Native American lore and history (described by one witness as an “eagle on steroids”); (c) Mothman-style creatures; (d) winged humanoids; and (e) monsters that have a “giant bat”-like appearance.

MOTHMAN CAUGHT ON CAMERA IN ARGENTINA? - UFOmania - the truth is out there

So they say . . .

With photo, but unsure if it's the alleged photo from Argentina, or a made up photo. (UPDATE: according to Lon Strickler of Phantoms and Monsters, he posted on his FB page that the photo is a "mock up.")  They also have a video compilation of various mothman sightings -- including the hoaxed winged entity near the world trade center towers -- linked with his item.

Interesting though that I've been noticing recent mothman items popping up on the internet, beginning with the day after cryptic film maker Christopher Maloney commented on Coast to Coast (September 7)  that there have been no Mothman sightings since the 1960s Pt. Pleasant appearances.

MOTHMAN CAUGHT ON CAMERA IN ARGENTINA? - UFOmania - the truth is out there: A mysterious figure with wings was sighted in the small city of Qulino in Argentina. The small city only have 5000 habitats. The case happened in October but it only reached international websites now. This seems to be something related to Mothman, because winged humanoid sightings are not that common, at all. So here’s the news summarized: Back in October, the citizens of Qulino started to report about a strange humanoid figure showing up in the middle of the night and disappearing like a wizard( turning invisible as they said). (UFOmania)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Creator of Mothman Statue in Point Pleasant Dies

Mothman sculptor Bob Roach has passed. Rest in peace Mr. Roach.

Creator of Mothman Statue in Point Pleasant Dies: MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Bob Roach, the West Virginia artist who created the well-known Mothman statue in Point Pleasant has died.

Roach, who was 81, created the steel Mothman that sits in Gunn Park in Point Pleasant.