10 Questions with Paul Bartholomew

1. With over 35 years of paranormal research, how did your focus end up being on Bigfoot?

I’ve always had an intense interest in various paranormal phenomena. Two childhood standout incidents would be the 1973 national UFO flap (in which there were many UFO sightings in the Northeast) and the August 1976 Abair Road Sasquatch outbreak. To study Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest was fascinating, however to have “Bigfoot” in your own backyard (symbolically) was intoxicating. Most people back then ignored the New York and New England sightings. Later, I would attend Vermont’s Castleton State College and study under the late Dr. Warren L. Cook. I had contacted Cook in the 1970’s and we had exchanged information on UFO’s and cryptozoology for years. A loose network of researchers formed and interest in the topic often drew overflow crowds at lectures. Bruce Hallenbeck, a great researcher and writer from Kinderhook, N.Y., documented what became known as “The Kinderhook Creature.” Interviews with New York residents turned up many creature encounters that had been socially hidden or ignored.

So in short, our research showed that Northeastern Sasquatch reports were often overlooked and under-reported. In reality there was a long history of such sightings from Native American traditional accounts. The Iroquois, Algonquin and Abanaki referred to the “Windigo” and “Stone Giants,” or giant men of the mountains. Champlain wrote of a creature called the “Gou gou.” Sightings continued into the 1800’s of what were often called “wild men” or strange bears. And we have similar accounts right up to present day.

2. People generally focus on Washington state, and the Pacific Northwest in general, when they think of Bigfoot. How do they react when you start discussing the Bigfoot history of New York state?

Most people are simply unaware of Sasquatch sightings in the Northeast. That concept is getting better however. One of my major goals is to show that there is a rich history of Sasquatch sightings right here in the Northeast. Credible sightings by respectable witnesses are hard to ignore. Most people aren’t aware of such a history. You have to remember that the witnesses have everything to lose and nothing to gain by coming forward with their accounts. Many view their sightings as negative experiences– they open themselves up to ridicule. Perhaps with a better understanding of the entire Sasquatch phenomenon on a whole, one day witnesses may be able to report their encounters without fearing retribution.

3. Most of my readers don’t realize, but Whitehall, NY has an official protective habitat for Bigfoot (or Sasquatch). What was the process like to create the measure and have it passed?

Back in 2003 and 2004 I wrote a legislation and presented it to the Village and Town of Whitehall to create a “protective ordinance” for Sasquatch. It worked on various levels. It recognized and drew attention to the fact that there is a rich history of reports here and that these accounts should be embraced by the region. In that respect, it would help to create a better understanding of the Northeast Sasquatch, while promoting eco-tourism. Also, the measure was passed in honor of the late Dr. Warren L. Cook, who had done pioneering research into this.

4. After so many years of research what prompted you and your brother Robert to finally write “Bigfoot Encounters in New York and New England”?

BIGFOOT ENCOUNTERS IN NEW YORK AND NEW ENGLAND helped to establish that Sasquatch accounts are plentiful in the Northeast. With an intense public interest in this topic, our goal is to push this mystery out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of scientific respect and scrutiny. Hopefully, witnesses will find comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their experiences. If anyone has an experience, I would love to hear from them at: bfcreature@yahoo.com

5. For my readers who may be interested in researching Bigfoot, where would you suggest they begin (besides by reading your book, obviously)?

For anyone beginning to study the Sasquatch phenomenon, I would suggest they get a copy of John Green’s “SASQUATCH: THE APES AMONG US.” This is the best book ever written on the topic. Green even included the 1976 Abair Road Whitehall, N.Y. encounter. Also, the History and Discovery Channels continually run specials and show episodes on cryptozoology.

6. What’s your favorite piece of Bigfoot evidence?

What is impressive about the Bigfoot or Sasquatch mystery is the collective case for it’s existence. The late Professor Grover Krantz (Washington State) felt that there was compelling evidence just based on footprint evidence alone. You add to this scores of respectable eyewitness encounters, hair samples that defy classification, the rich traditional history, strange recorded vocalizations– and you build a compelling scientific case. Unfortunately, a body may be the only thing that settles the issue.

7. Harry and the Hendersons, Six Million Dollar Man “The Secret of Bigfoot” episode, or Sasquatch Mountain?

I grew up on “The Six Million Dollar Man” and can remember professional wrestler “Andre The Giant” playing Sasquatch. There was also a UFO-connection in those episodes. Another from that era that should be noted as well was The Creature From Black Lake (1976). I guess I am a fan of the early 1970’s low-budget films– they are a lot of fun. Also, I can recall an episode of “Fantasy island” in which Peter Graves playing a Sasquatch hunter. This was a neat episode because it portrayed these creatures in a positive and compassionate nature. But I have to say that my all-time favorite show was “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”

8. Obviously I’ve been focusing on your Bigfoot work, but what areas of paranormal research, as opposed to cryptozoological research, are you particularly interested in?

UFO research is what I first became fascinated in. Pioneering researchers like John Keel and Brad Steiger drew connections between the paranormal on a whole. Keel felt that these enigmas were differing manifestations from the same same source. So i am interested in the entire scope of the paranormal thanks to Ufology.

9. With all the research you’re doing, what can my readers expect to see from you next?

More research on cryptozoology, Ufology and hauntings. I have a UFO manuscript I am developing right now and hope to have it published soon. There are some documentaries pending. I hope to be able to do more lectures and am collecting new information all the time

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Will the Magical Buffet be publishing manuscripts of struggling authors in the future?

It’s funny you ask. I’m continually amazed that many people think that I not only have The Magical Buffet website, but that I’m also an actual book publisher. From my experiences working with publishing companies ranging from relatively large to almost unheard of there is one common thread: publishing is HARD! It takes a lot of time and money, two things which I never seem to have.

Perhaps one day, but it seems highly unlikely unless my financial situation and time constraints change.

Of course I’m always happy to publish essays and articles on the site! I’m quite proud of the diverse collection of authors and topics that have ended up on The Magical Buffet over the years.

About Paul Bartholomew
Paul B. Bartholomew has been researching UFO’s, cryptozoology, and Paranormal Phenomena for over 35 years. In 2003 he appeared on and was the unit field coordinator for an Outdoor Life Network episode of “Mysterious Encounters: The Creature of Whitehall.” In 2005 Bartholomew served as a researcher for the History Channel’s “Giganto: The Real King Kong.” In 2008 Bartholomew appeared in an episode of the History Channel’s “Monster Quest.”

Earning a B.S. in Communications at Castleton State College (Vermont), Bartholomew studied under Dr. Warren L. Cook, Professor of History & Anthropology. Together they investigated many sightings of large unknown bi-pedal creatures in the New York and Vermont area.

In 2004 Bartholomew wrote and lobbied for legislation in Whitehall, New York, to create a protective habitat for Bigfoot or Sasquatch. The measure passed both the village and the town of Whitehall and was dedicated to the research and memory of the late Professor Warren L. Cook.

Bartholomew has given hundreds of lectures across the Northeast to libraries, museums, and schools. He has appeared on scores of radio shows and is a regular on local news programs. He has worked with researchers across the globe including Canada, Australia, France, England, and China.

In 2008 Bartholomew and his brother authored BIGFOOT ENCOUNTERS IN NY AND NEW ENGLAND (www.hancockhouse.com). In it hundreds of Bigfoot and Sasquatch encounters are documented across the Northeastern United States, from the traditional histories of the Algonquin and the Iroquois to the Abanaki. The legend of the Sasquatch is tracked from the “Wildman” encounters of the 1800’s to the Bigfoot experiences of today. The book fully documents how the phenomenon has been a consistent part of the human experience from as long as we have recorded history.

Bartholomew still, writes, researches, and investigates unexplained phenomena and has several future projects and books pending.

Quest for the Giant Squid

It’s no secret that I love me the giant squid. Back in 2009 when I wrote “Loving the Lusca” I outlined my love quite thoroughly, “For some reason I love the idea of giant sea creatures. All those in search of the giant squid shows on the Discovery Channel – watched them. Ditto when they bust out the giant octopus stuff – I’m there. I don’t know what about them that I like so much. Perhaps, oddly, it’s the romanticism of the giant sea creature. I know it sounds funny, but for some reason a giant sea squid makes me think of multi-masted ships getting taken into the briny deep for venturing off the map. The ocean is still so vast that we continually discover new things living there. And that although doubtful, I can still entertain the idea that one day I’ll be watching BBC America news in the morning (because it’s back!) and hear a neutral voice with a British accent explain that a ship has been destroyed off the coast of some country by some giant tentacled thing from the deep.”

You can imagine how excited I was when I stumbled across Matt Walker’s blog on the BBC website that asked, “Is the giant squid the new giant panda?” Hecks yeah! “Can a 13-metre long beastie, all tentacles and suckers, be a conservation icon for our time? Scientists are proposing that the giant squid Architeuthis be emblemised and celebrated to help promote the conservation of marine diversity. The giant squid would become the giant panda of the seas; a single species that captures the imagination, and stands for the world in which it lives.”

Walker’s article goes on to outline the possible importance of a marine conservation emblem, the reasons why the giant squid makes a reasonable candidate, and a little bit about the history of the World Wildlife Foundation’s iconic panda. It packs a lot of information in a nice bite sized article, you should check it out.

In scrolling through reader comments to the article, I was pleased to find many people getting behind the giant squid proposal. However, there is a strong whale lobby going on as well. To that I say, the giant squid is associated with the pirates of old; rum swilling, scurvy dogs. Whales; well they get hippies. I love me some hippy stuff, but put up against the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow, this lady will be choosing pirate every time. When a pirate map said, “Here There Be Monsters”, it was creatures like the giant squid they were talking about. Check and mate.

Or as Walker says, “But this outsized, almost monstrous sea creature of lore is perhaps the more enigmatic, secretive, bizarre and fascinating animal. It may also better represent the ecosystem in which it lives, and the threats to it.” I bet he picks pirates too.

10 Questions with Joseph Zarzynski

1. I’ve been given to understand that back in the day you researched “Champy”. For my readers who may be unfamiliar, can you tell them a little bit about “Champy”?

I always preferred the term “Champ.” In fact, the word “Champ” was the preferred designation used in Vermont and “Champy” was used on the New York side, generally the lands north of Westport.

Anyhow, “Champ, the mystery creature or monster of Lake Champlain,” is “America’s Loch Ness monster.” For decades, some people at Lake Champlain have reported seeing an unidentified animal in the lake, a USO (unidentified swimming object), you might say. It has been described as serpentine or horse-like head, long neck, large body, a tail and possibly four flippers or appendages. Length, 15-20 ft. long. There are probably several in the breeding colony. They are probably closer to 15 ft. long, maybe even a bit less in length. Unfortunately, no definitive evidence has been uncovered like that unique video footage or a carcass washed up on shore. Still, we can only hope…one day.

2. Was it the search for “Champy” that led to your study of underwater archeology?

I conducted archival research and fieldwork for “Nessie” and “Champ” from 1974 into the early 1990s, about seventeen years. Several things gradually led me to move from cryptozoology to underwater archaeology. First, in 1985, several things happened, hallmark events in underwater archaeology. The TITANIC was found, the Spanish treasure shipwreck the ATOCHA was found, a rare WW2 Wellington bomber was raised from Loch Ness, and Vermont opened an underwater park for divers on their side of Lake Champlain. From those seeds I decided to get into underwater archaeology. Finally, in 1990, I led the team that found the 1758 LAND TORTOISE radeau shipwreck in Lake George, New York. That 1990 discovery was the knife that cut my tie to cryptozoology. In 2001, I got my second Masters degree (University of Leicester in UK), that in archaeology and heritage, so I could become a practicing underwater archaeologist.

3. Although many of my readers may know you from your cryptozoological past, the truly exciting discovery you were a part of wasn’t a creature, it was a vessel, the LAND TORTOISE. What is the LAND TORTOISE?

The 1758 LAND TORTOISE radeau was a British floating gun battery of the French & Indian War (1755-1763). The radeau, French for “raft,” was a strange seven-sided vessel, 52 ft. long x 18 ft. wide. We found it at Lake George on June 26, 1990 during a Klein side scan sonar survey by our team that became known as Bateaux Below. The LAND TORTOISE is today known as “North America’s Oldest Intact Warship.” That term was coined by my colleague, Dr. Russell P. Bellico.

4. How on earth did this giant, essentially a sunken fort of a ship manage to go unnoticed for 232 years?

Well, it rested on the lake bottom, 107 ft. down, in deep water. It was in the middle of the lake in deep water. Advanced technology, a Klein 595 side scan sonar, helped us find the shipwreck. That same technology and other kinds of remote sensing could be applied to “monster hunting.” One day, a well-financed operation at Loch Ness, Scotland may answer the question, is there a Loch Ness “monster.” It will take money, time, and a good team.

5. Once you discovered the LAND TORTOISE the work was done right? You just contacted some state office and went, “We found this awesome, historically important thing. You’ll take it from here, right?”

We contacted the State of New York shortly after our find. Then began the process of acquiring a state permit to study the shipwreck. However, we had no funds whatsoever. So, we found a wonderful underwater archaeologist, Dr. Kathy Abbass from Newport, Rhode Island, that volunteered her services. We then supplemented our six-person team, Bateaux Below, with several skilled divers. From 1991-1993 we studied the one-of-a-kind, deepwater shipwreck. We estimate we put $1 million of volunteer services into that study. In 1995, we got the shipwreck listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1998, we got the shipwreck designated a National Historic Landmark, only the 6th shipwreck in American waters that are NHLs. And in August 1994, we opened the radeau as a shipwreck preserve or underwater state park for sport divers. The underwater park is called “Submerged Heritage Preserves,” and the radeau site preserve is known as “LAND TORTOISE: A 1758 Floating Gun Battery.”

6. There is actually a documentary, “The Lost Radeau: North America’s Oldest Intact Warship” that chronicles all of this. At what point did you, and the others who work with you, decide that this process needed to be filmed and shared?

Right after our 1990 discovery, we thought a documentary was possible. Like fine wine, however, we had to wait until John Whitesel and Peter Pepe (Pepe Productions) approached us to collaborate on the project. In late 2005, the award-winning documentary was released. This year, we released a follow up to that documentary called “Wooden Bones: The Sunken Fleet of 1758” (Pepe Productions & Bateaux Below, Inc., 2010, 58 minutes). See www.woodenbones.com.

7. What’s next? You’ve searched for giant lake monsters, discovered North America’s oldest intact warship, where do you go from here?

Like most researchers it is time to write all this up, to publish more reports and new books, and work on more documentary projects. Get the results of the research out. That is what scientists do.

8. Many of my readers are interested in lake monsters, any advice for any of my readers who want to go out looking for “Champy” or “Nessie”?

Yes. Be enthusiastic. Conduct background research first. Enjoy yourself. The search is fun. It will probably be that “Jane” or “John Doe” with a camera in hand that will finally solve the mystery. Thus, getting the word out by organizations like your blog, are important. I can’t wait and I applaud folks who dare to get involved in the search.

9. At this point you must be very familiar with Lake George, New York. Where would you recommend I go for dinner next time I’m in the area?

Ah, there is a great bakery in Lake George, the Lake George Baking Company. It is not dinner, but they sure have wonderful pastries to fortify you as you check out the area’s history and the lake’s beauty. I am a jogging fanatic so I can visit it only once a month or so. It has great coffee, too.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Not a question, but a thank you. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to talk lake monsters and shipwrecks. Great stuff. Good luck and best wishes.

You can learn more about Joseph Zarzynski, Bateaux Below, Inc., and the LAND TORTOISE here and here.

Here is the trailer for “The Lost Radeau: North America’s Oldest Intact Warship”.

You can view more and higher quality trailers here.

Here is the trailer for “Wooden Bones: The Sunken Fleet of 1758”.

10 Questions with Dr. Bob Curran

1. I love your latest book “Man-Made Monsters: A Field Guide to Golems, Patchwork Soldiers, Homunculi, and Other Created Creatures”. I was amazed to find so many different types of “created creatures”! Were you surprised to learn what a vast topic this was?

I suppose the answer to this question is both yes and no. I was well aware that the notion of “created creatures” was prevalent in both folklore and history but I suppose I hadn’t realized just how prevalent. When I was asked to write the book by the publisher, I initially had of course in the back of my mind, the idea of Frankenstein and so forth but as I thought more about it, other ideas began to pop up – the Golem, homunculi etc. Maybe we’ve become so used to the idea of Frankenstein, mainly through popular culture, that a lot of these other ideas get pushed to the side – but they’re still there. The idea of being able to create life for them selves, independent of any Supreme Bring, seems to have intrigued our ancestors down the years and this has manifested itself through the folklore and traditions of groups and civilizations in the past. So it’s not really surprising that the topic is an extremely vast.

2. Your book is a reasonable, respectable 185 pages. With such an interesting and diverse topic to discuss, was it hard to not end up writing a gigantic tomb? Did a lot need to be cut throughout the editing process?

This of course leads on from my first point. Because the idea of life-creation is so fundamental to us, it has generated a great deal of speculation – scientific, literary and folkloric – all as you rightly say very diverse in both scope and nature. Therefore, when I was researching the topic I came up with a massive amount of information and I think, if I had not been limited, I could have written a book which was twice as long. Before I finally submitted it to the publisher I had to go through a fairly rigorous editing process which cut out some rather interesting material which unfortunately had to be sacrificed. And of course I should pay tribute to my publishing editor, Gina, who did a first class job as ever. There’s always the possibility of another book in order to use the edited material you know!

3. In discussing probably the most iconic of man-made monsters, Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, you tell the tale of Giovanni Aldini, Mr. Pass, and George Foster, and how their story may have influenced and informed Mary Shelley when writing “Frankenstein”. It’s such a fascinating tale, have you considered turning your section about the trio into a screen play?

I’m glad you found the story of Giovani Aldini, the tragic George Foster and the mysterious Mr. Pass – possibly one of the influences for Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” – so fascinating. I found it so myself, possibly because of the colorful characters and the development of the story itself. In fact I would agree with you that there is the basis there for a novel or a film – all the elements are in place. I think there have been a couple of drama-documentaries made for television but they were very short and perhaps didn’t do full justice to the subject. But yes, turning the section into a screenplay is certainly an idea worth thinking about. Judging by the response I’ve received from some of the readers it would certainly be a hit.

4. When doing research for “Man-Made Monsters”, were you surprised to find so many stories of created creatures linked to religions?

Not really. One of the most fundamental questions which man has faced down the centuries is “Who or what created me?” or much broader terms “How did life – both human and animal – come about?” For many people the answer was linked to some sort of supernatural belief. This has often been linked into the idea of a Creator Being which usually forms the basis of religious ideology. Thus in, say, Judaism and Christianity, the idea that man was created by God “from the dust of the earth” is taken as a fundamental principle and is still accepted by many people today. The question then arises – “Can man also create beings – with or without the help of a Supreme Being?” . The answer in some circles seems to have been “yes” but not as perfectly as those which the Supreme Being had created. This of course led to the fear that the beings so created would be monsters. But the root of that belief and fear lay in a religious perception and I don’t really think that the idea of life-creation can be easily disentangled from religion.

5. Do you think there is something to learn about humanity by studying our history and fascination with creating life outside of the natural order?

I certainly think that there’s something to be learned by studying these legends and beliefs which is why I think I write about them. All these old legends – not just those about the creation of life outside the natural order but also those about vampires, werewolves and other terrors – address very fundamental questions and provide an interpretation of the world which out ancestors used with the information that they had available to them. In this respect, these old stories and legends are in many respects as important as the actual historical documentation that has come down to us because they provide an insight into the thought processes of former times. This is what I try to explore in my books and I think the question is not “Do these things exist or have they happened?” but “Why do we want to believe in them or that they happened?” Many of these so-called “horrors” have continued to fascinate us both in books and film for many, many years. I think if we explore further into any of these subjects, it tells us a bit more about ourselves.

6. Out of the diverse bunch of man-made monsters you discuss in your book, which one is your favorite and why?

I don’t think I have a particular favorite since all of these beings interest me. Of course, I was intrigued by the myth of Frankenstein, simply because it’s so culturally known and I had read Mary Shelly’s iconic book many years ago. As well as that I’d watched all the old Frankenstein black and white films , and it had always intrigued me. But then I was also interested in the Golem and in the works of the early alchemists. And as I dug more deeply, researching the book, I came across more and more interesting things – ancient mechanisms and mechanical beings for example – and as I looked at them, the more my interest grew. So I suppose asking me to choose between them is like asking me to choose between my children – all have their own differences and fascinations so it’s really impossible for me to pick. If I was actually forced to, I would perhaps say Frankenstein, mainly because of the interesting story of Giovanni Aldini, but I’m not really sure.

7. One of my favorite creatures discussed in your book is the Golem. Can you tell my readers a little bit about them?

The Golem springs from Jewish tradition and folklore. Once again it addresses the question – “Can Humanity itself create life?” – which taxed certain of the early Hebrew thinkers. The answer was that Mankind might be able to create life but that it would do so imperfectly. Even God, it was suggested, had created an imperfect prototype – Adam Kadmon – before He actually created Adam. The Golem was a large man-like figure which was created out of clay but had only a limited intelligence. It could only be created by the holiest rabbis, using a formula which had been learned directly from God Himself, through the secret Book of Creation (the Sefer Yetzirah). Part of the formula was to write the word or a number of signs (aleph) emet (meaning “truth”) on its forehead or on a clay tablet which was placed under the figure’s tongue and this would bring it to life. In some cases the word was supposedly written in the rabbis own blood. However, it should be stressed that the word alone would not give life but the accompanying rituals and observances. In order to destroy the Golem, the first aleph was removed leaving met (meaning “dirt” or “inert matter”) whereupon the Golem would crumble and return to dust. A number of extremely holy rabbis allegedly created Golems but not one was really able to control them properly. The most famous Golem was said to have been created by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague (c1520- 1609). The creature was created at a time of great Jewish persecutions by Christians in Prague by Rudolph II, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor and was designed to protect the Jewish community. However, the Golem became too powerful and began to develop a consciousness of its own (as some of them were said to have done) and began to attack the Christian quarter of the city, killing many Christians there. The Marharal was forced to confront the creature on the steps of what is now the Old New Synagogue in Prague. According to one version of the tale, Rabbi Loew tricked the Golem into either bowing down or opening its mouth to sing Psalm 92 (which was being sung when the Golem arrived) and removing the clay tablet. However the Golem did not return to dust but rather remained inert and was stored in the geniza (a place where religious documents are kept) of the synagogue. It is supposedly there to this day. There are many stories around it such as one that in World War II it attacked Nazi soldiers who were going to destroy the synagogue. Indeed today the Chief Rabbi of Prague, Karel Sidon, receives hundreds to requests to visit the geniza of the Old New Synagogue to see if the Golem is there – all of which are refused. However, the Golem is still a figure of Jewish folklore and one which I, like yourself, found particularly intriguing.

8. Swamp Thing: Alex Olsen, Alec Holland, or an elemental entity that mistakenly thinks it’s Alec Holland?

Like yourself, perhaps, I was a fan of DC Comics – I still maintain a great interest in them – and picked up on the Swamp Thing in the early days. I haven’t been following it recently though, although I think it’s still going in various forms. It’s an intriguing entity because it looks at a number of issues. As you quite rightly point out, there were all sorts of entities which were believed in many cultures to lives in the various swamps and marshes of several countries. So it could be places in one of those categories. There were, however, too creatures which lived particularly in parts of America during the 1800s which were said to be the spawn of swamp creatures and runaway slaves. Some were said to be genetic mutations caused by inbreeding amongst settlers in the deep swamplands. Such beings were supposedly prevalent in the Louisiana and Florida swamps and were supposed to attack travelers who came through their area. Later, as cultural referents changed, these became the supposed results of scientific/genetic experimentation which are said to be still there. Even in places such as Michigan and in the Kirtland area of Cleveland, Ohio we find legends of the “Melon Heads” which are said to be the result of experimentation . So these elements also feature in the idea of the Swamp Thing. When we first talked about Man Made Monsters, I talked with the publisher about including such things, even Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but it was agreed that we would keep it to easily identifiable creatures for this book. But you never know, there may be another book on the subject further along the line and then I may get round to tackling the iconic image of Dr. Alec Holland.

9. What’s your next project my readers can look forward to?

We’re looking at a number of options at the moment. This year I’ve produced about four or five books – some in America, some elsewhere and in a number of languages – and I’m taking a little bit of a breather in the run-down to Christmas and take a bit of time with my family. I’m also doing some comic work – I used to work scripting comics – and book design, so I’m not really idle. But I’m still talking about a new book, particularly with New Page, but I don’t want to say too much as the ideas are still being considered. But one thing I will say – here will be a new book out next year and I think I will be part of an anthology which is coming out from New Page. I’ve been asked to contribute and the contribution is already written. So watch this space!

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

O.K. Is there really a Santa Claus?

Absolutely, because I believe in justice, mercy, and duty.

Perhaps I should explain, my answer is informed from my reading of “The Hogfather” by Terry Pratchett. In it Death and his granddaughter Susan work together to save the Hogfather or else the sun would not rise. Pratchett’s Death (who speaks all in capital letters) starts:

      “Yes! The sun would have risen just the same, yes?”
      “Oh come on. You can’t expect me to believe that. It’s an astronomical fact.”
      She turned on him.
      “It’s been a long night, Grandfather! I’m tired and I need a bath! I don’t need this silliness!”
      “Really? Then what would have happened, pray?”
      They walked in silence for a moment.
      “Ah,” said Susan dully. “Trickery with words. I would have thought you’d have been more literal-minded than that.”
      “All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need…fantasies to make life bearable.”
      “Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little – “
      “So we can believe the big ones?”
      “They’re not the same at all!”
      “Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point – “

So yes Dr. Curran, there absolutely really is a Santa Claus.

About Dr. Curran:
Dr. Bob Curran was born and raised in a remote mountain area of County Down in Northern Ireland. Leaving school at 14, he worked in a number of jobs including gravedigger, lorry driver, professional musician, journalist, and even as a scripter of comics. He traveled extensively in many countries before returning home to settle down and work in the Civil Service. Later, he went to University where he obtained degrees in education, history, and educational psychology, whereupon graduating as a teacher.

Although he still teaches, much of his work is now regarding community development within Northern Ireland. In this capacity, he acts as a consultant to a number of cultural bodies within the Province. He deals with cross‐border matters with the Irish Republic, working for the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Sitting on a number of cultural committees, Curran has also worked directly as a governmental advisor and as a consultant to several bodies which have been set up by other governments. He also acts as a consultant to a number of tourism companies, giving lectures and conducting tours on many topics of local and national Irish history.

As a writer, Curran has been extremely prolific and has approximately 38 books to his name mainly on the subjects of history and culture. In addition, he has a number of works published in other languages including Japanese, Italian, French, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Spain and Mexico), German, Urdu and Latvian. He has also served as a contributor and consultant to various radio and television programs both for private companies and national networks.

Married and with a young family, Curran continues to live in Northern Ireland on the picturesque North Derry coast, not far from the celebrated Giant’s Causeway.

To see all of his work available from New Page Books, visit their website.

The Art of Monsters

Folks like me, and by like me I mean always curious to learn a little bit about everything, are bound to have quite the collection of books about mythological creatures, magical creatures, etc. Some personal favorites of mine are “A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits” by Carol K. Mack and Dinah Mack, “The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures” by John and Caitlin Matthews, and the single creature specific “The Unicorn” by Nancy Hathaway. (This was the book that converted me into a unicorn fan. Prior to this book I may have been the only little girl to have had zero interest in unicorns. Once I read stories about unicorns killing people, I warmed up to the little fellows.) Those favorites, on top of shelves full of others, means that I’m not really in the market for a new collection about mythological creatures. That changed when I received a copy of “Monsters: A Bestiary of Devils, Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Magical Creatures” by Christopher Dell from Inner Traditions.

As per usual, Inner Traditions has found an inspired route towards the subject matter. Much the way they had Claude Lecouteux, a professor of medieval literature, take on the subject matter of the paranormal, this time around they have Christopher Dell, who holds a degree in art history, turn his eye towards monsters of myth. That art history degree makes “Monsters” one of the most beautifully illustrated books on the subject matter in my possession. Thick, glossy pages showcase close to 200 full color illustrations from artists of varying time and place.

The Night Mare by Henry Fuseli 1781

Anyone with an interest in the subject matter is going to be familiar with many of the creatures discussed in “Monsters”, and the information on the individual subjects is fairly light, but the range of monsters covered is wide and varying. Usual suspects like dragons, water monsters, and sirens are discussed, but in the same book you’ll also find American classics like the Pennsylvanian squonk and the hoax hodag.

Siegfried Slaying Fafner by Konrad Dielitz 1880

I also appreciated the inclusion of Asian culture, a perspective that is a little light in some other books I own. Dell covers oriental dragons (verses western dragons), the kappa, and The Night Parade of 100 Demons (A subject I was entirely unfamiliar with and found the related “gathering of one hundred supernatural tales” even more intriguing.). The inclusion of Asia also means that Asian art features heavily in the book, which since I like it, I find to be a very good thing.

Princess Takiyasha Summons a Skeleton Spectre to Frighten Mitsukuni by Utagawa Kuniyoshi 1844

Christopher Dell’s “Monsters” doesn’t reinvent or redesign the mythical creature overview book format; however with it’s fascinating variety and inclusion of fantastically beautiful artwork “Monsters” should be a must have for anyone serious about the subject matter. It would also make a solid, and surely treasured, introduction to the subject matter for those looking for a place to start.

A Love Letter to Froggy

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (www.sirwilliamwesley.com)

Funny thing about kids, you never can guess what stuffed animal they’ll latch onto. It’s rarely what you would suspect. In my case it was a stuffed beagle that I called “Beans” and showed my affection for by repeatedly chewing off his nose. When good friends of mine had a son, my husband and I bought him a teddy bear. Not just any teddy bear, a Brookstone n-a-p teddy bear. This teddy bear is made out of the softest, most cuddly materials available to man. (They don’t carry the exact bear anymore, but here’s a link to a comparable bear.) In fact, as most parents know, that kid was showered in adorable stuffed animals ranging from traditional, like our teddy bear, to traditional, like the stuffed animals his parents cuddled as kids. In that sea of plush cuddlies what does the kid latch onto? A plush frog. He calls him “Froggy” or perhaps “Froggie”. I would ask him, but he is just learning to spell now, no need to add more stress to that process. Now I have nothing against Froggy (Froggie), he was adorable right from the start, even if now the child’s affections have left him a little matted and stinky. Hey, I chewed the nose off of my doll, repeatedly, I’m not judging. All of this is an elaborate introduction to why I’ve decided to discuss the symbolism of frogs and toads.

As you may suspect, I have a very elaborate creative process. One that is sustained primarily by celebrity gossip websites, the television show “Better Off Ted”, and rum. I’ll let you in on the “behind-the-scenes” process for this article. I realized, hey, it has been a while since I wrote about some sort of symbol. I pulled down a big stack of books filled with symbols and started flipping through them. While flipping through my copy of “The Complete Encyclopedia of Signs & Symbols” by Mark O’Connell and Raje Airey I came across an entry for frogs and toads. I immediately went “Froggy!” (or perhaps “Froggie!”) Because anyone who has spent time around little kids knows that you start to talk like them. Thusly, a frog, regardless of how life-like the illustration, or very real it is, they are Froggy (or maybe Froggie). Much the way I and his mother say that we are going to “Eat. Eat.” and “Play. Play.” despite the fact that even the child no longer speaks with that young a voice. So as odd as this may seem, somehow my simple quest to write about a symbol has turned into a bit of an open letter of affection to Jacob…the first little kid that didn’t seem to hate me on sight. (Aunt Rebecca loves you. And as soon as you’re old enough, I will loan you all of my Chow Yun Fat movies, because that’s how much I care. Just don’t tell Mom and Dad.) With that abnormal show of affection out of the way, let’s examine the symbolism surrounding this amphibian that a 3 year-old can’t go to sleep without.

First, since I’ll be looking at both frogs and toads, the obvious question is, what is the difference between frogs and toads. Typing that question into Google brought me to, I swear I’m not making this up, allaboutfrogs.org. They say:

One of the most common questions is, “What is the difference between Frogs and Toads?” Most are surprised to hear that all Toads actually are Frogs!

Hey, I am surprised! Good job allaboutfrogs.org! Armed with this new internet information I will proceed to discuss both frogs and toads. As surprised as I was by allaboutfrogs.org’s info, I am far more surprised at all the different associations for frogs and toads. Who knew frogs had more going for them than plush animals and Kermit?

Let’s start with the general “frogs and toads are bad” angle. Toads, with their habit of avoiding the sun and preference of damp dark places seem an unsavory lot. It doesn’t help that their secretions can be toxic. In European superstition the toad was linked with death, and was often shown in art with a skull or skeleton. The Church, with their 7 Deadly Sins, took frogs and toads (generally associated with fertility in most cultures) and used them in art that personified lust. Art associated with lust shows a naked woman with snakes and toads feeding on her breasts and genitals. It is really just a hop between all that death and evil sexuality to lead straight into the link between frogs and toads and witches and witchcraft. The stereotypical old world “witch” had the skin appearance of a toad. Common folklore lists frogs and toads as familiars of witches and the Devil, and a creature that witches can transform themselves into. During the Great Plague of 1563 dried toads were used as amulets in England when Dr. George Thomson claimed to have cured himself by using one to absorb the “putrefactive ferment”. I can’t help but wonder if good Dr. Thomson thought toads so evil and loathsome that surely they would interact with the vileness of the Plague.

Enough about Medieval Europe and the Church and all those Western hang ups. For much of the world the frog and toad are good things. As you may remember from your school biology lessons, frogs lay many eggs. I don’t quite know how modern man feels about that, but back when humans were just trying make sense of the natural world many eggs equaled fertility. Egypt has Heket (Heqet, Hekit), the frog goddess of birth and fertility. She’s often depicted as an attractive woman with the head of a frog. Frogs like the water, and rain makes the land fertile, thusly frogs are rainmakers. The Chinese and Peruvians used frog images to call up rain showers, and the Mayans and Aztecs viewed the frog as a water deity whose croaking predicted and made rain. The frog was the lord of the earth and represented the curative powers of water for the Celts.

Another basic frog fact is that they go through a transformation: egg, tadpole, and frog. The moon, as we all know, goes through transformations as well, it’s phases. Mix those two things together and you can see how in Japan the frog is associated with lunar eclipses and in China, instead of the “man in the moon”, they have a toad in the moon. It’s believed that from the frog’s natural ability to transform is how it became to be featured prominently in folklore and fairy tales. Kiss the frog and it transforms into a handsome prince or beautiful princess, or conversely, be a misbehaving prince or princess and get changed into a frog. The Chinese and Japanese associate frogs with magic.

However, the Chinese take it up another level. In China the frog is associated with magic and is the face of the moon. Knowing that you can see how the adorable Chinese Moon Frog came into being. He’s the adorable frog with the coin in his mouth that you see in curio shops. The Chinese Moon Frog attracts wealth and longevity. Sometimes the frog has a coin in its mouth which attracts wealth and wards off evil spirits. In an almost perfect blending of all the aspects of frog symbolism, in Roman times frog amulets were used to protect homes and their occupants and to sustain romance and love.

Only time will tell what Froggy (or Froggie) will bring into Jacob’s life. The frog is fraught with perils, but offers up rich rewards. I guess Kermit was right, “It’s not that easy being green.”

Loving the Lusca

Illustration by Will Hobbs

For some reason I love the idea of giant sea creatures. All those in search of the giant squid shows on the Discovery Channel – watched them. Ditto when they bust out the giant octopus stuff – I’m there. I don’t know what about them that I like so much. Perhaps, oddly, it’s the romanticism of the giant sea creature. I know it sounds funny, but for some reason a giant sea squid makes me think of multi-masted ships getting taken into the briny deep for venturing off the map. The ocean is still so vast that we continually discover new things living there. And that although doubtful, I can still entertain the idea that one day I’ll be watching BBC America news in the morning (because it’s back!) and hear a neutral voice with a British accent explain that a ship has been destroyed off the coast of some country by some giant tentacled thing from the deep.

This brings me to the lusca.

It is said by some, and by some I mean cryptozoology fans and Bahamian tourist websites, that in the blue holes (vertical caves) of the waters off of Andros, which is an island in the Bahamas, you may find the lusca. The lusca seems to generally be described as a giant, massive octopus, but like all creatures that end up of legend, it also has been described as half octopus, half shark, or as a multi-headed creature reminiscent of a dragon.

The scientific community, when feeling generous, will say that perhaps the lusca is an example of a colossal squid, or giant octopus, but since the stories put the size at anywhere between 75 to 200 feet long, most find the idea of the lusca existing in it’s traditional dragonish, shark/octopus, form unlikely.

Of course there will always be those, who like me, keep awaiting the return of the giant mythical sea creature. We have a resurgence in piracy, can the creatures that accompany the pirate mythos be that far behind?

The Harpy

By Rebecca
Illustration by Will Hobbs

Generally when we say harpy, we’re referring to, as Random House Dictionary states, “a scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; shrew, or a greedy, predatory person.” Perhaps it’s that innate fear or repulsion that leads to so much trouble when trying to learn about the mythological creature the harpy.

Let’s start with appearance, one source tells me that harpies started out as beautiful goddesses but over time were morphed into nasty creatures, and then others say they started out down right hideous, but have been toned down to the creatures we generally think of when considering the harpy. Therefore, what are we looking at here? Obviously it varies based on artistic interpretation, but at the most basic it’s a woman who from the torso down is bird and has wings large enough to carry her in flight. Sometimes the face is less human in appearance, with bulging eyes and tusks, other times the face is the only human component and the body is entirely bird. (For the record, for me the harpy will always look like the harpy from the movie “The Last Unicorn”.)

Everyone seems to agree that in Greek mythology the harpies were the daughters of Thaumas and Electra. Of course, how many were there? A few sources say two to three: Aello and Octpete, with Celaeno as a later addition. One source goes so far as to say three to four: Aello, Octpete, Celaeno, and a possible extra to make four! No matter the number, harpies make appearances throughout Greek myth, generally harassing, stealing, or killing anything they feel like.

In the Middle Ages an image of a harpy was used on coats-of-arms. It was referred to as the “virgin eagle”. I have many exciting theories on why the harpy was a virgin, all of them would be inappropriate for me to say, and many of which you can guess for yourself.

In an interesting, and more all age appropriate side note, the largest raptor found in North and South America is the Harpy Eagle. Yup, named after the mythological creature. It’s certainly cuter than any version of the mythological harpy I can imagine. On the other hand, it still totally gives me the creeps.

Pukwudgies: Myth or Monster

By Christopher Balzano
(originally appeared on Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads website; used with permission)

In the Southeastern corner of Massachusetts lies Bristol County, an area known locally as the most haunted place in New England. The energy that sleeps there has been rumored to cause haunted schools, ghostly armies and unexplained suicides and murders. Forested areas of the county have long been known to contain a litany of unexplained animals, from Bigfoot and thunderbirds to large snakes and odd bear-like monsters. For the past forty years cults have flocked there, and their activities, often criminal, have filled the blotters of local law enforcement. Of all the unknown horrors that live in Bristol County, the most feared is not a animal or a ghost or the members of Satanic cults that walk the forests, but a demon only two feet high, and if the history of the area represents the history of our America society, these Pukwudgies are the gatekeepers of our darker side.

The Pukwudgies have haunted the forests of Massachusetts since before the first European Settlers ever thought about setting out for a new land. For centuries they tormented the local Native Americans and crept their way into their creation myths and oral history. They could easily be passed of as legend, and in fact, their physical description is much like mythological creatures from other cultures in other times. The difference is these demons jumped from the page and evolved as the people around them changed, changing from reluctant helpers to evil tormentors. The difference is these demons are still seen by people today.

Most cultures’ mythology has some reference to small monsters that have a strained relationship with humans. In many ways it makes sense. While large monsters have their place in our fears, diminutive creatures find their way into the shadows of our rooms and under our beds. Their names and nature change, but there are always common threads that link them together. Some are called monsters and roam the land looking for human food and kidnapping anyone they can find. Other are called demons, foul spirits that feed of the negative and expose the sins of man. When referring to one, its classification gets blurred and these two words become interchangeable, perhaps showing us how closely associated these monsters are with evil.

Veterans returning home after World War II talked of gremlins tearing apart their planes or getting into jeep engines and causing havoc. The Hindus speak of the Rakshasas or the “Night Wander” who eats human skin and jumps into the dead to possess them. Africans tell stories about the Eloko who lure people with beautiful music only to devour them after they have been bewitched with an ever expanding jaw.

Although passed off as works of fiction and imagination, trolls and dwarfs have existed in people’s fears for centuries. They have become lovable and noble now, but the original stories recorded of these monsters are anything but fairy tales with happy endings. Trolls were notorious for ambushing travelers and destroying whole families on a whim. While some are described as giants with humps and one eye, many older cultures, especially in Scandinavia, described the being as the size of a plump child.

Dwarfs have always been small and their manners much better, but the end result seems to be the same. Like the troll, they are known as metal and stone workers, but unlike their flesh-eating counterparts, dwarves seem to avoid human contact. While they would prefer to be left alone, if impeded upon their work, they become like caged dogs. One variation of the dwarf is the Tommy-Knocker who lives in mine shafts and is sometimes said to be the ghost of miners who have perished in the line of duty and are doomed to work for eternity. They are known to cause cave-ins and fires in the shafts.

Perhaps the most famous of the small nightmare are seen by the Irish. Fairies patrol the roads in Ireland causing problems for any traveler who strays from the path. They live in hills or mounds and dance around fires. If a human comes across their mound or sees their dancing, they are caught and held captive. Even the beloved leprechaun was once a malicious spirit before he was Americanized and transformed into the gold keeper he is today.

Exposure to nature seems to feed these tales, and the more a society depends on the earth for its needs, and the closer the relationship a people have with the natural world around them, the more these stories pop up. In this country, the people the first settlers found had a close, if not friendly, view of small dangers around them. The Cherokee have a mirror image demon known as the Yunwi Djunsti, or little people, that look and talk like Cherokee but are only a few feet high and have long hair that touches the ground. Although most people cannot see them, they are known to throw objects, trip up hunters and abduct people who wander off. In Canada they are known as Mennegishi and look much like the classic alien grey.

The Wampanoag Nation, the dominant Native America tribe in Massachusetts and Southern New England, had a monster who still dominates the landscape they once roamed. The Pukwudgie made its first appearance in the oral folklore of the people of Cape Cod, but recent sightings have forced people to rethink this mythological creature. Standing between two and three feet tall, the Pukwudgie looks much like our modern idea of a troll. His features mirror those of the Native American in the area, but the nose, fingers and ears are enlarged and the skin is described as being grey and or washed-out, smooth and at times has been known to glow.

What makes these monsters dangerous is the multitude of magical abilities they use to torment and manipulate people. They can appear and disappear at will and are said to be able to transform into other animals. They have possession of magical, poison arrows that can kill and can create fire at will. They seem to often be related to a tall dark figure, often referred to in modern times and shadow people. In turn the Pukwudgies control Tei-Pai-Wankas which are believed to be the souls of Native Americans they have killed. They use these lights to entice new victims in the woods so they may kidnap or kill them. In European folklore these balls of energy are know as Will-o-the-Wisps and are said to accompany many paranormal occurrences. Modern paranormal investigators call them orbs, and catching one on film is the gold standard of field research.

Legends of the Pukwudgie began in connection to Maushop, a creation giant believed by the Wampanoag to have created most of Cape Cod. He was beloved by the people, and the Pukwudgies were jealous of the affection the Natives had for him. They tried to help the Wampanoag, but their efforts always backfired until they eventually decided to torment them instead. They became mischievous and aggravated the Natives until they asked Quant, Maushop’s wife, for help. Maushop collected as many as he could. He shook them until they were confused and tossed them around New England. Some died, but others landed, regained their minds and made their way back to Massachusetts.

Satisfied he had done his job and pleased his wife, Maushop went away for a while. In his absence, the Pukwudgies had returned. They again changed their relationship with the Wampanoags. They were no longer a nuisance, but began kidnapping children, burning villages and forcing the Wampanoag deep into the woods and killing them. Quant again stepped in, but Maushop, being very lazy, sent his five sons to fix the problem. The Pukwudgies lured them into deep grass and shop them dead with magic arrows. Enraged, Quant and Maushop attack as many as they can find and crush them, but many escape and scatter throughout New England again. The Pukwudgies regroup and trick Maushop into the water and shoot him with their arrows. Some legends say they killed him while other claim he became discouraged and depressed about the death of his sons, but Maushop disappears from the Wampanoags mythology.

Pukwudgies have been seen at the Ledge in Freetown, Massachusetts.

The Pukwudgies remained however, but something odd happens. The timing of the tales of the monster are a map through the history of the Native Americans relationship with the European settlers. The death of the five sons lines up with the very first settlers, and the flight of Maushop is told along side the changing of attitudes about the new neighbors. The Pukwudgies, always seen in a negative light, become the foot soldiers of the Devil, which may explain their modern connection to shadow people. As more Native Americans began to convert to Christianity, their myths evolved, until the Pukwudgies were responsible for the evil in the village, and the hand of Satan on the tribe.

People who spend time in the forest of New England will tell you Pukwudgies are not symbols, but a real horror that still stalks people. They continue to see them, and as the world develops around them, the monsters remain unchanged and as dark as ever.

Joan was walking her dog through the state forest in Freetown, Massachusetts, on a cold Saturday morning in April when she saw the monster. As she and her dog, Sid, walked down the path, Sid became anxious and strayed a few feet into the woods. Joan followed him in, and stopped short. Her dog was lying completely flat in the leaves, and on a rock ten feet away was a Pukwudgie. She described him as looking like what she would describe as a troll; two feet high with pale gray skin and hair on his arms and the top of his head. The monster seemed to have no clothes, but it was difficult to tell because his stomach hung over his waist, almost touching his knees. His eyes were a deep green, and he had large lips and a long, almost canine nose.

The Pukwudgie stood watching her, staring straight at her with no expression, almost like it was stunned to see her. Joan froze and remembers thinking the air in her lungs had been pushed out. Sid finally came to and ran back towards the trial, dragging Joan who was still holding the leash tightly.

Although the whole exchange took less than thirty seconds, it remains with Joan ten years later. She has not gone back to the forest, but feels that might not be enough. Three times since the event she has woken up to find the demon looking in on her. It has never attacked her or spoken to her, she has merely seen it looking through her bedroom window, staying just long enough for her to notice him. All three times she claims she was fully awake and could move if she had to.

Another man in Framingham, Massachusetts had a experience that forced him to remain away from the woods. Tim was in a forest when he saw a bright orb in front of him. Having investigated the paranormal he was excited and tried to snap a photo with his digital camera. The ball of light disappeared and reappeared a few feet further into the woods. Tim followed, losing the spirit several times before he realized he had traveled more than thirty feet off the path into a thickly wooded area. He became scared and slowly made his way back to the path, only to find a two foot man standing there, walking towards him. He turned and ran, and looking back saw the figure move back into the woods.

Tim reported that what he saw had walked upright and had used its arms to push something aside when he fled to the forest. He had moved with a slight limp, but “like a human”.

The second time Tom saw the Pukwudgies was a few years later in a parking lot near the same forest. He was listening to the radio at almost a whisper and checking his rear view mirror for the friend he was waiting for when he saw the same small figure of a man. Every detail was identical, and the Pukwudgie just stood there watching him. The car turned on by itself and his radio began to get louder. Tim pulled out of the parking lot and took the long way home to try and stop his hands from shaking.

Although the monster seemed content to only frighten Joan and Tim, there are still physical attacks happening. Several people have been assaulted and one person came down with a mysterious illness after seeing them in a cemetery in New Hampshire. Another woman suffered scratches on her arm after following an orb in a forest in Taunton, Massachusetts.

The most disturbing reoccurring attacks might be taking place at the Pukwudgies favorite hunting ground. In the Freetown State Forest there is an hundred foot cliff overlooking a quarry known as the Ledge. There have been many hauntings at this sight, but the most frequent experience is an overwhelming feeling to jump to the rocks and water below. In the folklore of the Wampanoag, the Pukwudgies were known to lure people to cliffs and push them off to their death. There have been several unexplained suicides at the Ledge, often by people who had no signs of depression or mental disease before entering the forest.

Author Bio:
A teacher and folklorist living in the Boston area. He has been investigating the unknown for twelve years and running Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads, a website dedicated to the paranormal and local folklore of Massachusetts, for more than five. His writing has appeared in such respected publications as “The Haunted Times” and “Mystery Magazine” as well as “Unexplained Paranormal Magazine.” His investigations have been covered by “The Boston Globe”, “The Boston Herald”, “The Standard Times” and “Worchester Magazine” and he has been asked to speak about urban legends and the paranormal at conferences throughout New England. He is a regular on several paranormal radio shows, including “The Ghost Chronicles” and “Spooky Southcoast” and has appeared in documentaries and television specials on the supernatural. He was one of the featured writers in Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places and contributed to the collection Weird Hauntings and the soon to be released, Weird Massachusetts. His writing and research have also been featured in Thomas D’Agostino’s Haunted New Hampshire and Haunted Massachusetts and the recently released Ghostly Tails from America’s Jails.

You can learn more by visiting: Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads, Ghost Village where he is the news editor, and ParaRelations.

The Bungisngis Mystery

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (www.sirwilliamwesley.com)

It’s always tough to work with creatures of myth that are not from your native culture. You find yourself wondering, what do the people of the country of origin think of this? Alternatively, am I even getting the right information? This is the predicament I find myself in when discussing the Bungisngis.

It seems simple enough; according to my starting point, the Bungisngis is a cannibal giant from Philippine folklore. His top lip is so big that he can pull it over his head (making him the male that can survive that joke about to understand the pain of child birth take your bottom lip and pull it over your head). They say that the hero Suac came along and stole the giant’s club, and used the club to subdue his enemies.

Then I made the mistake of opting to try to learn more. Education is never the answer to these things, I swear! I easily found out that the Bungisngis is a creature of Philippine mythology. It was featured in an episode of “Da Adventures of Pedro Penduko”, which is the third and fourth season of the Filipino fantasy TV series “Komiks”. After that things get a bit more tricky.

The story of Suac (remember Suac, the hero who stole the club?) well from what I see Suac killed a dark giant called Pugut. Pugut is a meat eater, but was more than content to eat a roasted hog, although he did threaten to eat the hunter (and later hero) Suac. Perhaps Pugut is a Bungisngis; you know, Pugut is his name and Bungisngis is his race? Another story with a similar set up has no mention of Pugut or of a Pugut, but instead has the villian as a Bungisngis, or the Bungisngis. There is no mention to his physical appearance, but again he wants to eat cooked meat. Instead of the hero Suac, this tale has a monkey defeat the Bungisngis.

So what did we learn? Well, the Bungisngis is definitely a piece of Philippine folklore. Certainly a meat eater, who would gladly consider eating you if you anger him, but otherwise seems content to eat cooked game animals. Probably a giant. And maybe has the name Pugut.

Of course Wikipedia paints an entirely different picture. According to their entry the Bungisngis is a giant from Filipino folklore, but they list it as having one eye, making it a cyclops, and they describe them as happy and playful…hardly the beast we just talked about.

See what I mean? Sometimes learning more just makes things more confusing.