The concerned public are attending an open meeting held by military personnel. It is to address the matter of UFO sightings. The press and witnesses are also there. A military spokesman, attempting to defuse things, makes a passing mention of Bigfoot. As if on cue an elderly good old boy pipes up and tells a party piece about his close encounter with the big hairy guy. All the cameras zoom in on him. The military man smiles with approval. A collective groan rises up from the other attendees.
You will no doubt recognise this as a sequence from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). It serves to show how, even in those days, the subject of man-like apes and unusual airborne phenomena were intertwined. This was, and is, to the chagrin of both. Not only that, but both UFOs and Sasquatch have to share the same bed with other trickier customers like telekinesis and poltergeists.
The august British primatologist John Napier was all too aware of this. Writing on unknown man-like apes in 1973 he invented the term `Goblin Universe` to describe the fringe end of his area of study. He even asks his readers to excuse him should he himself fall into `the rabbit hole` of such thinking.
Nevertheless, as uncomfortable as it may be, the sasquatch/ufo/psychic link cannot be so easily shrugged off. It is more than merely the overheated imaginations of journalists of the paranormal: it is to be found in witness statements.
Let us take some representative samples.
On 25th October 1975 a young farmer in the Eastern States of America was shocked when he saw a glowing red sphere alight in a nearby filed. He grabbed his gun, and a friend and his ten year old brother went to see what it was. On reaching the object they found it to be flanked by man-like apes which then made towards them. Even having bullets shot at them did not deter their advance. Only when the sphere took leave did these hairy beings lose interest and walk off into some nearby woods. [Matthews, 111].
Claims like these belong to a category of `Eastern bigfoot` sightings which peaked in the 1970’s. In these, the Sasquatch, far from being his usual retiring self seems...abominable. He often has glowing red eyes, for example, and is hostile. Only a minority of these tales involve UFOs, but it is difficult not to note that they occur in a time and place where there was a `UFO flap`.
Before it is said that these types of tales belong only to the land of B-movie sensationalism, it is also the case that they tally with accounts from elsewhere. Let us go to Russia.
The Saint Petersburg based unexplained interest magazine Twentieth Century Secrets (No 17, April 2012) tells of how a bus driver, en route from Novosibirsk to Kemerovo, had to brake quickly on seeing a large ape-like figure on the road twenty yards before him. Then, in just as sudden a way, it vanished into thin air – a fact which was witnessed by thirty passengers on the bus.
Ina piece by Mikhail Efimov in the magazine N.L.O -N.L.O being the Russian equivalent of U.F.O- records (No.5 702, March 2012)how the Russian yeti advocate Valentin Sapunov and an `environmental scientist` spent the night in a forest in Malaya Vishera region. This is a remote area between St Petersburg and Moscow and is reputed to be a place of Sasquatch activity. They were not blessed with a sighting, but instead they were both gripped by an aura of fear. They put this down to a warning signal from a nearby Sasquatch.
This sense of Sasquatch as being otherworldly is not a new New Age fancy; it is how older cultures first viewed them. Myra Shackley noted how the native people of Western Siberia – the Khanti-Mansisk – would talk of the` leskii `(wood goblin). This would cause dogs to bark and had eyes `glowing like lanterns`. Just to mention them could cause bad luck. (P-130-131 Shackley). Similarly, some say that the Native Americans hold a belief that the arrival of the Sasquatch is a sign of approaching environmental catastrophe. (p-44, Randles). In keeping with this idea, a Russian TV show called `Life Themes` was shown this March called `Forest Monsters` which proposed that the sasquatch was a non-technological branch of humanity that had developed high level psychic powers in place of technological prowess.
In UFO speculation there has long been something of a schism between the nuts and bolts advocates and those who allow for parapsychological approaches; those who want to kick the tyres of the things and those who talk of them in the same breath as ghosts and telepathy. This is paralleled in Sasquatch research too. Many are anxious to place Sasquatch alongside recently discovered animals such as the gorilla and panda, perhaps as a surviving Gigantopithecus relic. Thus they turn pale at hints of a psychic dimension to it all. This they see as a slippery slope leading to talk of `crystal healing energies` ,`channelling` and ` shape-shifting reptiles`: the `Goblin Universe` writ large.
Besides to claim that a corpse of the sasquatch has never been found because it is an `interdimensional being` looks too much like a case of special pleading. As much as modern physicists, and science fiction writers, may talk glibly of the `multiverse`, to use this as an excuse for lack of biological evidence is too much of a stretch for many. The next step would be to join Conan-Doyle and go and consort with cardboard cut-out fairies at the bottom of someone’s garden.
Worse yet, there is a feeling that parapsychological explanations open the door to psychiatric ones. If a Sasquatch dematerialises and cannot be shot down, then perhaps this is because it was nothing more than a mass hallucination triggered by hysteria.
The rift came to a boil in Washington. On 24th June 1989 the Washington Department of Anthropology at the State University there joined with the International Society of Cryptozoology to hold a Sasquatch Symposium. One of the guest speakers was John Lapseritis. He is a firm advocate of the sasquatch/psychic link. Scarcely has he opened his mouth when one Rene Dahinden, a very familiar name in the field, protested at his very presence in a vocal way (Mathews, 113).
That as may be, even a few evenings spent looking over the books, magazine articles and internet blogs on the Sasquatch phenomenon worldwide will tell you that Lapseritis was not a one off freak. The creature may leave physical traces: such as footprints, hair, photographs, smells, nests and recorded howls, yet the witnesses often speak of something uncanny. It can turn transparent, disappear, have luminous eyes, make dogs to go into frenzy, ignore being shot at, can project feelings of anxiety and, sometimes, consort with UFOs.
We can choose to square up to this quandary with one of the following arguments:
(i) Sasquatch devotees and UFO-nuts are all of apiece: it is hardly surprising that a person who sees a Sasquatch might also see, ghosts, UFOs, etc.
(ii) The phenomena are both real. They are a part of the same psychic continuum, and are not to be taken separately.
(iii) That both solid Sasquatch and parapsychological Sasquatch are real, but they are distinct phenomenon, perhaps only related in a distant way.
(iv) That the apparent correlation between Sasquatch and other paranormal occurrences are statistically negligible enough to be seen as coincidental.
Whatever position you choose it is time for the speculation to be put on hold and for man-like ape research to get down to brass tacks. All the secondary evidence need to be collated without prejudice. If some of this seems to point towards the `Goblin Universe` then so be it. Equally though, we should not be too quick to assume that we are dealing with anything other than life as we know it.
Matthews, Rupert Bigfoot: True Life Encounters with Legendary Ape-Men (London:Arcturus Publishing Limited, 2008)
Randles, Jenny Truly Weird: Real Life Cases of the Paranormal (London: Colins & Brown Ltd, 1998)
Shackley, Myra Wildmen: Yeti, Sasquatch and Neanderthal Enigma (London: Thames and Hudson, 1983)