Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, October 2017
UFOs and Religious Apparitional Phenomena
by: Brent Raynes
To illustrate how religious apparitional phenomena often could fit closely with the modern UFO frame of reference, as the late New York journalist John Keel frequently called it, allow me to take you on an historical journey to the country of Wales, and a few other locations as well.
An intense religious revival broke out in Wales back during the winter of 1904-05 where many observed mysterious lights in the sky. A 38-year-old Welsh woman named Mary Jones, described as an ordinary, happily married peasant woman who was deeply religious, became a central figure in this revival. Reporters from the Liverpool Echo, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, and London Daily News travelled to these gathering, that were garnering a great deal of attention, to see what was going on. These reporters even wrote about seeing unexplained light phenomena that they couldn't explain. Beriah G. Evans, who was writing for the London Daily News (February 9, 1905) described how while being in the company of Mrs. Jones, he observed pretty phenomenal things. He wrote: “'We cannot start yet,' she told me on the occasion of my visit, 'the lights have not yet come. I never go without them.' A few minutes later, on going out to see, she returned saying: 'Come. It is time to go. The lights have come!'”
It was about 6:15 p.m., Tuesday, January 31, 1905. There was Evans, Mrs. Jones, and three others. All of them witnessed a brilliant star-like object to the south emitting “diamond-like sparklets.” “It took a sudden leap of considerable distance towards the mountains, then back again to its first position, and again rushing towards us,” Evans reported. Next it disappeared from sight and then reappeared much closer to their position, and then it went out. “Following the disappearance of the star came immediately two brilliant and distinct flash-lights, illuminating the stone dykes and heather on the mountain side, the first flash two miles away, the second immediately following a mile higher up the valley, and in the direction we should have to travel. 'Come,' said Mrs. Jones, recognising the omens, 'We shall have a glorious meeting!' And we did.”
Though up to that point, all five had seen the same things, the next two anomalous displays were only witnessed by Mrs. Jones and Mr. Evans, even though all five of them were still walking in the road together and all five should have seen what followed next. Evans wrote: “Three bars of clear white light crossing the road in front from right to left, climbing up the stone wall to the left, showing every interstice and bit of moss as clearly as though a searchlight had been turned upon it. There was no house, or human being other than our party, near, and no conceivable human agency could have produced this effect.'”
Next a “blood-red light” appeared about a foot off the ground, in the middle of the roadway. Interestingly, Evans noted that it “did not illumine surrounding objects.” Evans was surprised when he later learned that the others had not seen what he and Mrs. Jones had seen, and wrote that those others were equally astounded. “Mrs. Jones, without any suggestion from me, described there and then the appearances precisely as they had presented themselves to me.”
Evans came to learn of another similar instance involving a London journalist who witnessed, along with a woman standing near him, a white light that swept along the ground, near a chapel, stopping on a wall. Half a dozen other witnesses present said they didn't see it.
The late Swiss psychologist Dr. Carl G. Jung struggled to understand such anomalies. He wrote: “...I was once at a spiritualistic séance where four of the five people present saw a object like a moon floating above the abdomen of the medium. They showed me, the fifth person present, exactly where it was, and it was absolutely incomprehensible to them that I could see nothing of the sort.”
Jung knew of a few other cases like this and could not determine for certain what the explanation for such occurrences was.
“A great number of UFO sightings are entirely subjective,” noted John Keel wrote in a privately circulated newsletter (Anomaly No. 3, December 1969). “RAF Air Marshall Sir Victor Goddard [involved in the UK's Royal Air Force's UFO investigations back in the early 1950s] has suggested that such sightings are made by persons with latent or active psychic abilities, but that when non-psychics stand within the 'aura' of the psychic percipients they are also able to see objects which would normally be invisible to them.” Keel went on to speculate that when a person or persons with the appropriate psychic qualifications was at a site of elevated UFO activity “when specific electromagnetic conditions” were just right, then they might perceive things beyond the visible EM spectrum, or even possibly, he furthered speculated, “intercept a 'signal' which plants an image in his or her mind.”
Mary Jones described to Evans how she was returning home from a revival one night. The driver let her off near her home. She thought her brother was coming down the lane to meet her, as he often did. She walked toward him, but he turned and began walking just ahead of her. She called out to him and then the figure looked back over its shoulder, at which point she realized it wasn't her brother. She began softly singing a revival hymn. Her suspicion was confirmed when the human like figure transformed into an enormous black dog that began to run back and forth across the road before her. “And then,” she told Evans,”I knew it was the Devil himself, angered at my assault upon his kingdom. I prayed for strength – and as I prayed he rushed growling into this very hillock,” which Mrs. Jones pointed to on the side of the lane, as they were outside at the location of this encounter.
During a visit to Brynerug, a neighborhood of Towyn, what was described as a local professional man and a farmer of good standing saw one of these mysterious black figures. One of the men uttered a prayer and suddenly one of Mrs. Jones's “lights” appeared above and, Evans wrote, “a white ray darting from which pierced the figure, which thereupon vanished.”
Not far away, at Abergynolwyn, described as an area center of mining, there was yet another report of “an apparition, appearing first as a man and then transforming itself into a large black dog.”
There were a number of similar reports. One of Mrs. Jones's converts had been an aged Welsh man who, had it not been, it was said, for the “temptations of the tavern and its accompaniments of cup and bottle,” that he had the potential talent to have been a poet. Crossing some fields in broad daylight that December he suddenly found himself in an unfamiliar place where “a number of ravening beasts,” Evans wrote, allegedly began to attack him. However, the man said, a figure in white garments came to his aid whereupon the “beasts” backed off. Then, once again, he was back on the path he had been on before. Afterwards, confused by what had happened, he relapsed into drinking again, quite severely for a couple of days. Then again, in the daylight, he was once more crossing a field when it happened again and he was in a strange land. The man in the white garments appeared again too, this time leading him to the banks of a great river. Beyond the river, on the other side, was a crowd of people in white happily singing songs. The stranger told him that that was where he should be and that he had work to do. “Thou must first conquer the beasts – and to do that I give thee my help.” After this, Evans wrote, the man had given up drinking and threw himself into “revivalist work.”
These black beasts that resemble very large dogs have, down through the centuries, figured into many frightful religious accounts. One very well-known one, that Keel pointed out was recorded in numerous historical documents, happened back on Sunday, August 4, 1577, over in England. It began when lightning struck a church in Bliborough, in Suffolk, killing two people and injuring several others. That same day, a number of parishioners reportedly died when “a thing like a black dog” materialized at a church in Bungay. Seven miles from there, at a church in Blythburgh, a creature resembling a giant dog allegedly attacked and killed two men and a boy, leaving deep clawmarks in church masonry.
“Lightning often accompanies these manifestations,” Keel noted, and provided additional examples in his book, Strange Creatures from Time and Space (1970). For example, back in 856 A.D., at a church in Trier, Prussia, “a dog of immense size” appeared in the midst of a storm. The floor of the church seemed to open up and a huge creature rose up and ran back and forth to the altar.
At Christmas Eve, in 1171 A.D., at a church in Andover, Hunts, England, a “gigantic pig-like creature” allegedly dashed around the altar as the priest was struck and killed by lightning. But, alas, here's the catch. The lightning appeared from within the church itself!
Keel was also intrigued with strange “monsters” that reportedly lurked in the Black River, in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. He cited the case of a man named Wash Mellick who claimed that back in 1951 he was fishing in that river when a 15-foot tall “monster” rose up from the water near his boat. “It was dark brown in color and had a round, tapered body. It had fins like two hands, and its eyes stuck out like silver dollars. I threw stones at it, but it only stared at me.”
The newspapers in the area noted that these occurrences seemed to always occur during electrical storms.
This reminds me of a “monster” story I investigated years ago. “I don't know what it was,” Mrs. Brenda Langley of Jacksonville, Florida told me. “It was early in the morning about 9:30 and there was a storm coming up. The water was real calm and it was real black, the sky was, and this thing came up two times and then it come up by the boat. ...It was about three or four feet out of the water and about the color, a pinkish color, like boiled shrimp. It had a real ugly looking face on it. It was pitiful looking, and it had snail like horns, and it had this little jagged thing, scales or little horns going down its back, like a dinosaur.”
Another witness, Mrs. Dorothy Abram, also saw the creature, and told me its head was about the size of that of a human's head. “We saw it had a neck about three feet long,” she told me. “It had two little horns on top of the head like a snail.” The location was the Saint Johns River, near Jacksonville. The date of the sighting was May 10, 1975. The witnesses (five total) were in a fishing boat together. “All five of us saw it,” Mrs. Langley added. “It sure frightened us all, whatever it was.”
Back then, I was beginning to suspect that area of the St. Johns River from around Jacksonville down to Mayport was one of Keel's “window” areas, locations where a lot of odd things reportedly happen periodically. Down the river several miles is Blount Island, where a fisherman had told me that he had encountered a UFO and got paralyzed and then blacked out from a burst of light produced by a humanoid entity with a cat-like face on the island. Further down river, at Mayport's Navy base and Coast Guard station, there were reports of UFOs and poltergiest activity. Then too we had UFO activity reported on and around the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. A woman in Mayport had been disturbed by the appearance of an entity with a cat-like face leaning over her at 3 a.m. A few weeks before, she and her husband and a teenaged son had a close encounter with a domed disk. At an intersection, they passed directly underneath the hovering UFO where Indian mounds had been located nearby and a cemetery where reports of devil worshipping had been claimed.