New Book Reviews
By Brent Raynes
The Werewolf Book:
The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings
By Brad Steiger
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Rd., #414
Canton, MI 48187-2075
2012, 368 pages, US $19.95, CAN $21.95
Reviewed by Brent Raynes
This book, as the title itself suggests, is of encyclopedic proportions in its detailed presentation of a vast amount of information pertaining to both traditional, factual-based historical accounts, along with plenty of fictional ones, as well as ancient and modern portrayals of lycanthropic beasts (and other mythical, supernatural and/or cryptozoological creatures of the night). Open these pages and you open your mind to possibilities that the vast majority of us would prefer to leave behind at the cinema. While this book gives us an in-depth background on the fictional werewolf of literature and the motion picture screen, it also delves deeply into the historical accounts, andedotal evidence, beliefs and traditions regarding werewolves and other similar, strange and frightening beasties, often with alleged shape-shifting talents. In addition, there are innumerable modern reports of such frightening creatures, proving that the mystery is still alive and well, and that despite our more advanced, scientifically trained mindsets the mystery still runs deep, still captivates our imaginations, and still gives us a little shiver and chill when we’re watching a particularly mesmerizing movie (or reading another good spell-binding Brad Steiger classic!).
This book will be hard to put down once you get started. Many of its pages nicely illustrated, the stories are fascinating and thought-provoking. Legends of werewolves can be found in many lands throughout the world, and besides the traditional werewolf, you’ll also read in this encyclopedic book about shape-shifting people, about Indochina’s swamp demons (the account of one Yvonne Marchand’s temporary demonic possession is quite thought-provoking), as well as the incubus and succubi (demon lovers), the werefoxes and werevixens of China and Japan, the Rakshasas, shape-shifting Hindu gods who could appear as a beautiful but blood-thirsty vampire, the familiars of witchcraft, the Navajo version of the werewolf known as a “skin walker,” the cannibalistic windigo of Algonquin tradition, as well as the Navajo traditions of a shape-shifter known as Chindi, plus the one hundred year Chindi curse and extermination of the entire Long Salt family, and so on and so forth, add near infinity to these accounts.
There are certainly some very disturbing stories of people who became obsessed or possessed (or both) and believed that they were werewolves. For example, Brad recounts the story of the Hermit of Dole, a sixteenth-century Frenchman named Gilles Garnier who gruesomely mutilated and killed four children. Eventually many witnesses caught him in the act of further attacks and he was arrested on the grounds that he was a werewolf, and soon afterwards was tried, found guilty and burned at the stake. Then there is the story of the German farmer Peter Stubbe of Bedburg, back in the 16th century, who allegedly transformed from time to time into a werewolf, murdering, raping, and committing terrible acts of cannibalism upon his victims. Allegedly, during one brief period, he was accused of murdering thirteen young women and devouring large portions of their flesh. (And you thought disturbing crimes were a trend of modern times!)
And then, on the other hand, there are modern tales of doglike, vampiric beasts known as the blood-thirsty “chupacabra,” or the werewolf looking creature seen by frightened witnesses along Bray Road in Walworth County, Wisconsin, since 1993. Undoubtedly, the game is still afoot!
2012 The Paranormal Cookbook
by Shaun Belekurov,
First edition (January 12, 2010),
JEC Publishing Company,
Reviewed by Robert A. Goerman
More or less a dozen books have gained admittance into the sanctum of my favorites over these many years. Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah by Colm Kelleher and George Knapp remains the all-time champion. Familiar names like Jerome Clark, Brad Steiger, Jacques Vallee, John Keel, Loren Coleman, Nick Redfern, Janet and Colin Bord, Mike Dash and Gregory Bishop all easily made the cut. I am pleased to announce that author Shaun Belekurov has been inducted into my personal Hall of Fame.
2012 The Paranormal Cookbook hits the ground running. Showing no fear, Belekurov postulates “that the individual’s psyche and group dynamic has a direct effect on how we experience paranormal phenomena” and that we influence the amount and variety of wonders manifesting. The implication is that belief and expectation can and does dictate what we experience. This is a variation of metaphysical idealism where the observer becomes the key.
Can humans, individually and collectively, consciously or subconsciously, trigger things that not only affect reality but can sustain a life of their own? Can our state of mind in spooky locations help to create or facilitate the phenomena manifested there?
This view, of course, is in direct violation of the dogmas of western science. The so-called “scientific method” is a belief system that observation, experimentation, and verification can create a picture of reality that exists objectively and independently of observers.
Belekurov whips up a wicked assortment of goodies in his one hundred and eighty-four pages. A partial list includes animal deaths; archetypes; Bell Witch; Black-Eyed Kids; crystal skulls; Devil’s Directory and name games; egregores; Walter Gibson; golems; hellhounds; Jersey Devil; knockings and rappings; lycanthropy; Men in Black; Mothman; Nessie; phantom clowns; Phillip the ghost; plaid shirts; poltergeists; Robert the Doll; Ted Serios; shape-shifters; Skinwalkers; spiritualism; stigmata; synchronicity; Tricksters; tulpas; window areas.
It has always been my contention that human experience must transcend scientific rhetoric. Hoaxes happen. Some people lie. Some people are deluded or mistaken. But contrary to the rants of armchair skeptics and ivory tower debunkers, bewildered eyewitnesses often describe exactly what they encounter. Their straightforward statements and firsthand knowledge are no less real simply because orthodox science demands repeatable experimental results.
I am fascinated not only by the narratives of the eyewitnesses, but also by how colleagues assess and assemble their pieces to their paranormal puzzles. Belekurov delivers with a homespun prose and humor that is as subtle as a sawed-off shotgun. Do not appreciate 2012 The Paranormal Cookbook for the questions that it answers, but for the answers that it questions.
Interactive universe or not, there are several patterns that savvy researchers have observed. It seems that Belkurov and I both arrived at the same Terra Incognita from different paths. We agree, first and foremost, that you should never look for anything that you do not want to find. We also agree that mysterious lights, objects, and creatures or entities can appear and disappear without warning. Here is his verbatim account of a personal sighting made at Mystery Farm X:
“We stayed on the farm off and on for about 3 months. The strangest thing I personally experienced was an ‘entity’ witnessed by myself and 3 of the family members (Eileen, Annabelle, and Abraham). I was smoking a cigarette and relating the day’s event when we all heard a rummaging in a thicket of brush around 15 feet from us. I grabbed my flashlight and took 3 or 4 steps toward the disturbance then heard a grunt. It sounded like a mix of pigs squealing and a deer grunt. I took another couple of steps, and for the only time in my investigative career, was struck immobile as the ‘thing’ emerged. The creature had a head that best resembled a mutated camel that seemed two times too big for its body. It crossed our path and was close enough for us all to smell its stench (Rotten eggs to the kids, sulfur to Eileen and myself). It looked at us with sunken eyes, seemed to acknowledge our presence. The interesting part was that at one point the creature seemed to flicker; it was especially staticky looking around the edges. The creature vanished by shrinking to a point of singularity, like when you turn a TV off and the screen shrinks to a single point of light. The porch light appeared to surge at the same time, and afterward it was noticeably dimmer, going out the next day. We might have chalked it up to a collective hallucination but we searched the area in daylight and found deep hoof-prints similar to that of a goat but very deep. The ‘thing’ was, at least for a time, a real and very heavy creature that was in our plane of existence. This is consistent with many monster sightings. The extraordinary sighting of a fantastical creature backed up by some kind of physical evidence. They seem to occupy ‘our’ reality briefly then disappear back to their ‘own’ realities.”
Do Shaun Belekurov and I agree on everything?
He generously described Charles Berlitz as a “solid documentarian and researcher.” I always recognized Berlitz as a peddler of pure, weapons-grade balonium like the Bermuda Triangle and The Philadelphia Experiment: Project Invisibility. Allegations of hoax have been raised against the quixotic tale of the enduring handprint of Alexander Campbell and the “thoughtography” of Ted Serios. These opposing viewpoints are absent from most pro-paranormal resources online and elsewhere. If nothing else, more study might be required before certain enigmas can be used as effective examples of anything.
Human beings being human, I temper our differences by knowing that everybody is unique and nobody is perfect. Even the best professional journalists and most prolific authors make mistakes all the time. That is why I triple-check secondary and tertiary sources.
Puns about “food for thought” notwithstanding, 2012 The Paranormal Cookbook will be a treasured addition to every paranormal library. Well done, Shaun B, my new friend and colleague. Well done, indeed!