Rural Mysteries and the Bigger Picture
- September 10, 2014
by Wm. Michael Mott
Having lived in many different locations in the USA and also overseas, I’ve seen a lot of strange things… And heard a lot of weird and anomalous first-person accounts of high strangeness. I’ve also heard more than my share of stories passed down from parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents.
One constant theme I’ve found is that those who have had such experiences are often reluctant to talk about them outside of a very small circle of family and friends, and sometimes, they aren’t willing to talk about them at all. Whether it’s fear of ridicule, or of being ostracized by their church or community, they don’t want to be stigmatized as “crazy”, delusional or as a liar. Even worse, often people (particularly in the South) think that having a strange or anomalous experience reflects badly on them personally.
As a result, many either clam up about their experiences, or else they ask that their real names not be used in written accounts. But occasionally I receive first-person accounts from people who will, at the very least, allow me to share their stories or those of their immediate family members.
One state from which I’ve received some very interesting accounts is Mississippi. While many of these accounts seem at first glance to be more or less “standard” types of UFO and strange creature accounts, they actually vary in very distinctive ways which place them more in line with historical accounts of phenomena of a supernatural nature. Some are strangely reminiscent of Marian apparitions, angelic visitations, and demonic manifestations from the Middle Ages up through the present day.
Jacques Vallée and John Keel have both pointed out the similarities between these more ancient phenomena and the manifestations of gods, goddesses and devils in the ancient world, and also of manifestations of UFOs, their occupants, and anomalous creatures and humanoids in more modern times. The reports I’ve received from Mississippi residents (and there are many) seem to be no different. Is there a message in these “visitations” or manifestations, or is simply, as Keel believed, the irrational (to humanity) activity of a deranged non-human intelligence?
Such events are usually interpreted through the lens of the historical time period in which they occur. In this short piece I will examine a few such cases, just from the state of Mississippi, that seem to fall within this category.
In the first case, a gentleman I know from long personal acquaintance sent me an account penned by his maternal grandmother. As is often the case in the South, he asked that I change the names or use initials in order to protect the family’s privacy, and to avoid any stigma that his relatives might feel from the revelations. The incident took place in or near Ackerman, MS in 1940, and is recounted here:
In the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and forty in the month of November, I saw the light. Our baby, C______, was born in October of this year. We were so happy now to have two boys and a girl. Our family joy prevailed despite the fact of threatenings of an oncoming war.
To add to my happiness, D____ had gotten a logging job with C_____ M_________ and T_____ B______ in the Panhandle Community of Choctaw County. This meant we would have a little extra cash for winter clothes and Christmas gifts. The depression of the 30’s had been very unkind to us.
Usually it was dark when D____ got home from work. One night he came hurriedly through the door and said, “E____, come here I want to show you something. Come out in the yard, wait, and you will see.” Then suddenly out in front of us appeared, in the dark of night, this dazzling grey light.
It dangled up-and-down and here-and-there in front of us. It never touched the ground. It looked very much like the light given off by a flashlight, with the color varying from light to grey. It darted from one place to another, changing shapes from the likeness of a huge bird, an airplane, a ball, then an oval shape. It covered a space of 10 to 20 feet. It seemed to appear near the location of people. What about the sky itself? I cannot remember if it was cloudy or clear; however, the light made no noise.
We soon went inside and busied ourselves with supper and other chores, not going back out to view this spectacular light. Then, D____ told me that C____ T____, a black man, began seeing this light between Ackerman and our house as they were driving home from work. They had stopped in the Bywy Community at Robinson’s Store, encouraging those shopping to come out and see the light. Then suddenly while they were all outside in the back of the store, the light darted down–around and above M____ M____’s house. It then came over the house moving toward the store. It appeared right and then left–travelling quicker than the eye. However, it always seemed to appear in front of the person seeing it. One could not turn his head around and see it at his back. There might have been more than one light because it seemed to be appearing to many different people at the same time.
Others who saw the light were: R____ and G____ S______ and Uncle A___ S_______s family. On this night, R____ and G_____ were going from Mama’s house to the General Moss house in Ackerman in their old Ford car. The light glowed in front of their car all above the way home. And then as they were going into the house, the light came down and hovered between them and the front door, just above the top of the door steps.
About this same time, my brother, J____ K., and a cousin, J. B. S_______, and some other boys had their guns out trying to shoot the light. They described it as two huge gray birds darting at each other.
The memory of this event has remained vivid throughout my life after this incident occurred. I am convinced that the light was supernatural. I wish, now, that I could have had the foresight to collect more data on the various sightings of the light; however, at the time, I did not seem to recognize its significance. But let me be assertive–I SAW THE LIGHT.
What are we to make of an account like this? The grandson stated that after this event, there was large round area in the yard where all the grass died, and nothing would ever grow there again… Yet no “flying saucer” was seen during this event. The woman was a very devout Christian and her account was apparently supported by a wide range of local people at the time (and I would wager that their descendants still talk about it today). It obviously affected her on a very deep, personal and perhaps even religious level. While it does share some characteristics with UFO events and Marian encounters, it is also similar to accounts from previous centuries regarding angelic visitations, fairy encounters, and prophetic events of a religious nature. Were the objects real and solid? Were they holograms of some sort, projections of the mad “super-intellgence” that Keel wrote about so often? Were they the creations and projections of the holographic “mech” of the subterranean “dero” or “tero” that Richard Shaver claimed to live beneath the surface of our own planet? Or were they, in fact, prophetic in some way of the coming war in Europe and the Pacific? After all, the symbols of both the United States and Germany were eagles…
We will probably never know.
Ten years later in 1950, around the month of April, another strange event took place some 70 miles to the south of Ackerman, on a rural farm near the town of Union, Mississippi. Union bears the distinction of being the only sizable town in the region to have escaped immolation at the command of William T. Sherman, as he made his march through the state (February 3–28, 1864) from Vicksburg to Meridian, burning and looting as he went. Union survived this near-genocidal event by virtue of its name, and Sherman spared it in a symbolic gesture of faux mercy.
In April of 1950, J______ S________ was a girl of eleven, and her sister P__________ was “seven or eight” years old. The girls were in the cornfield behind their house, helping their grandfather fertilize the seedling corn plants, when he called for them to stop what they were doing and to look at the sky. When they did so, they observed three “huge” cylindrical objects like “fat cigars”, of a pale metallic hue, hovering over the fields and trees nearby. The objects were perfectly still in the afternoon sky.
The grandfather sent J______ to run home and tell her mother to come look at this wonder. She did so, arriving out of breath at the simple homestead some two hundred yards away, and her mother rushed outside to take a look. As soon as she saw the stationary objects, she sent her oldest daughter back to fetch her younger sibling home, because she had an ominous feeling about the strange craft in the sky. J_______ did as she was told, and the grandfather joined them on the porch where the family watched the objects for at least thirty minutes. They felt the whole time like “they were being watched”. Then, without warning, the objects accelerated from hovering silently to a blinding speed and shot away in the blink of an eye.
This was not the only experience that particular family had with unknown flying objects. Sometime in the early 1970s, the youngest son and his friends ended a camping trip abruptly in the middle of the night, when they were pursued through the woods by a huge glowing light the moved silently above them, and which hovered above them when the fell into a gulley on their mad dash out of the swamp.
Years later, he recounted these events to me, and stated that he and his friends had gone to “watch the lights coming and going from the swamp after dark”, which apparently was a regular occurrence at the time. Needless to say, after being chased through the midnight forest by a very bright unidentified flying object, they ended this pastime permanently. To further complicate matters, in the late ‘70s a teenaged nephew told me how he had hidden in terror behind a rolled hay-bale at dusk, as a giant, hairy man-thing “about nine feet tall” stood in a ditch that crossed a nearby hayfield, scrutinizing the area as if sensing the presence of an observer.
As outlined by this writer in a previously published article (“Doorways: The Path Through A Dark Forest”, Paranormal Magazine #64, Sept. 2012, pp. 32-33), the area in the general vicinity has experienced a number of “strange creature” and “entity” sightings. Many young campers and outdoorsmen have had similar experiences over the years, but are often reluctant to attach their names to them. As is typical for rural Mississippi, however, the percipients prefer to have their real names changed or omitted.
At 6:51 p.m. CST, in January 25th, 2014, I was contacted by a young man from a small rural community in this same area. He told me that he and his sister had been driving along a back-country road one evening, “heading to town”, when his sister pointed out the window and yelped in terror. Slowing the car to a crawl, they watched as a group of “ugly, skinny creatures” cavorted and leapt about beneath a leafless tree in a field, some hundred yards away. The “creatures” suddenly noticed the car, and stood staring at the vehicle, whereupon the brother and sister took off for the town some seven or eight miles away. According to the teenaged boy, they were further terrified to glimpse these same creatures, running impossibly fast, in the woods and fields alongside and behind them. Totally terrified by this time, they finally breathed a joint sigh of relief when they pulled into the little town and parked under the lights of the combination gas-station, convenience store and sandwich shop. Even then, they were scared to make the drive back home and lingered in town far longer than they had originally planned. The male witness described the creatures as “super skinny” and pale, and possibly hairless.
At first he agreed to speak with me in greater detail about this encounter or sighting; later he backed out, stating that his sister was worried that if he talked about the creatures they had seen, the “things” might get angry and “come after them”. This is a common theme with experiencers in the region, and correlates with an interaction I had with a 16 year-old boy who, in 2011, told me that he was terrified of a “thing with a big white head” around seven or eight feet tall that wore a long black robe, and lived in a cave behind his house in the general area of rural Little Rock, Mississippi. He stated that this “thing” came into his yard at night and stood outside his window, and that he had seen it come and go from the cave, as had others. He also told me that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore than he already had, because when he did tell others (particularly adults) about it, it would “get into his room and stand beside his bed staring at him, and he wouldn’t be able to move”, and that it would also “chase him in his dreams”.
Games, Tricks or Guidance?
So what are we dealing with in all of these cases? Is there a common thread between them, other than their collective strangeness? In our “modern” society disdainful, fear-driven mockery masquerades as scientific-minded skepticism, and many would be quick to call these events hoaxes, “mistaken identity” cases of natural phenomena and creatures, “mass delusions” or “mass hallucinations” (the latter being an actual impossibility, since an hallucination can only appear in the mind of one percipient, and not to multiple witnesses simultaneously). But the witnesses themselves tell a very different story. Is there any proof? Nothing physically substantial beyond eyewitness testimony, which seems quite sufficient to send people to prison and even to the death chamber, when entered into evidence in a court of law.
Many or most of these accounts will no doubt be pigeon-holed into convenient categories, but if we look back through human history, we will find similar or identical events interpreted within the context of contemporary religious and folk-belief systems. The lady in Ackerman, Mississippi apparently had a vision as personally spiritual to her as Constantine did when he saw a giant crucifix in the sky above the Tiber river, or as the appearance of a radiant “lady” and “angel” were to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, in Portugal in 1916. Martin Luther was visited by an entity that he believed to be the actual devil-in-the-flesh, an apparition so real that Luther threw an ink-well at it; and the accounts of this type are almost beyond cataloging, so numerous are they in the human experience. The sheer number of such encounters belies simple explanation or dismissal. By now, fortean scholars are well-acquainted with Keel’s claims that the “Mothman” sightings were somehow a premonition of the collapse of the Silver Bridge, which resulted in the deaths of 46 people in the icy waters of the Ohio River, but this is not a singular event by any stretch of the imagination (and admittedly, if “Mothman” was a portent of disaster, it certainly spent a lot of spare time for months prior to the event, in frightening teenagers and lone travelers and allegedly stealing dogs for food and eating roadkill as a nutritional supplement). Keel eventually postulated that there was no real “rhyme or reason” for these strange events, that in fact they seem nonsensical to us because they are, in fact, irrational and nonsensical, the product of a localized (to the vicinity of our planet) intelligence so alien to us as to appear irrational or even insane.
The bigger picture, however, does not seem to bear this out, at least not completely. If one views these events as preparatory, aimed at personal or even collective initiation, they then might fall into the context of a Buddhist kōan, which is a statement of fact or a question which is fundamentally illogical, but which contains provocative concepts designed to provoke higher thinking in Zen practitioners. Since such events continue to baffle, confuse and mystify the most materialistic “scientific” thinkers (who more often or not, surrender in a fit of futility disguised as dismissal and denial, and reject as foolishness all such events, out of hand), we are also reminded of the Judeo-Christian viewpoint:
“…God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” —1 Corinthians 1:27.
…Yet those same Scriptures also warn us about “false signs and wonders”, designed by an enemy of humanity to mislead and confuse us all. In the event that the latter is the case (devils, “aliens”, or ultraterrestials, all names being ultimately interchangeable and equally ambiguous), then such “wonders” are no more meaningful than the actions of the “preacher” who claims to be a healer as long as he has an auditorium filled with zealous fans, but who will not once walk through the cancer ward of a children’s hospital, where child-like faith would surely be in abundance and his “gift” of healing would be most welcome. In such a scenario, these mysterious and frightening events would be designed to fascinate us, much as a shiny bauble fascinates an infant, and distract us from cleaning up after ourselves and improving our collective situation within a larger, everyday framework. They might also represent a form of sleight-of-hand that serves to distract us from very real activity going on nearby, much more opportunistic than we’d care to contemplate, activity which is perhaps also much more sinister in nature than we would ever permit ourselves to believe.
A Personal Puzzle.
As an artist and photographer, I take many high-resolution pictures with my digital camera. I take quite a number of landscape and sky shots, because these often prove to come in handy for graphics and publishing projects. Dramatic lighting in particular is something that I strive to capture, so storm clouds, sunsets, twilight images and so on are often the subject of my spontaneous photo-shooting sessions.
On August 6th, 2013, I ventured out into the Mississippi twilight in a attempt to capture the color and contrast of a brooding day’s end. During this jaunt I took a variety of photos in rapid sequence, as the sun was quickly sinking, having already set; facing the west, I took rapid shots in sequence to capture the sky in low-light. The digital camera was set on automatic, and the shots were about half a second apart. When I took the photos I noticed nothing anomalous or out of the ordinary in the environment.
I didn’t even look at all of the photos until December of 2013, when I noticed an anomaly in one frame. Honestly, I can not explain this “artifact” in a digital photo. It’s not as if there are negatives that can be damaged or affected by extraneous effects or influences. I waited nearly a year to share the image(s) with a select group of friends on Facebook, because I wanted to make sure that there was no error in the camera. Nothing like this has happened again, in the thousands of shots taken over the last year. The anomaly appears to be a genuine three-dimensional object. Since my background experience is heavy in image creation, image processing and computer graphics, I have found myself unable to come up with a logical explanation. For some perspective on my background, I have been a professional Art Director, Creator Director, Creative Services Manager, and so on, and over the years portfolios and tutorials of my digital design work have been featured in IEEE Computer magazine; IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications magazine; Computer Graphics World magazine (twice); and PHOTO>Electronic Imaging magazine (twice). I’ve also had work appear in Computer Artist magazine, and I co-wrote an article on the use of computer graphics and visualization in a campus and classroom environment (Syllabus magazine, March 1996, Vol. 9 #6—an issue for which I also did the cover art). There have been others as well.
Therefore, when I find a digital image artifact that I can not explain or reproduce, then I have to scratch my shaven head in perplexity. I have shown the image(s) to others, including Lance Oliver, a field investigator for Texas MUFON, who believes it to be highly significant. It is not “computer graphics” and was most definitely not created in an image-editing program, which can be determined through a variety of means of interpolation and interpretation of the image data. Due to the low-light conditons, the image(s) lack the clarity and hyper-realism of digitally-generated imagery. The images are below for the reader’s perusal.
The first four photos below were taken from a much larger sequence of images. Since each of the original image files average 29MB in size, they have been reduced for purposes of use here.
Note that the third of these images contains an anomalous dark artifact…
…and this artifact is missing less than second later.
Here is a zoomed-in look at the momentary artifact object…
.and here it is, color inverted. More of the shape can be seen in this format.
Whatever the anomaly is, it appears to be a large three-dimensional object with a distinctly cube-like or box-like shape. There are protrusions and flaps or flanges, and what appears to be a strut-like superstructure visible at one end. The object was probably one-quarter mile distant, so it is of significant size, perhaps as large as a tractor trailer container. The object is back-lit with the same ambient light which permeated the environment at the time, and the shadows correlate to the direction of the waning light source. Wisps of cloud obscure the edges.
What is this object? Why was it visible to the camera and not to the naked eye? Why does in appear in one frame and then vanish within one second, before the next? Since it did not appear to my naked eye, does it represent another level to the puzzle, i.e., a level which was not meant to be seen and described? It is not an intrusive experience by any description. It is an accident of mindless mechanical observation, that of the camera, and represents an objective piece of evidence of… something.
So what is it? As with the aerial apparitions seen in Ackerman, Mississippi in 1940, we will probably never know. The only thing to be ascertained is that it represents concrete proof for the presence of an unknown intelligence in our environment and our skies. I, for one, feel that the time for eye witnesses and those who have evidence of anomalous encounters and sightings to no longer remain silent, or to hide their identities out of some socially-ingrained, fear-of-being-ridiculed instinct or behavioral conditioning… to break out of that conditioning and step into the light of day.
Until we do this, nothing will change and we will continue wandering in the dark, groping for the tail of the elephant like the blind men in the fable, easily manipulated and misled. Forget “governmental disclosure”, because more often than not, governments are just as befuddled as the rest of us. We have to continue with “personal disclosures”. When the mass of humanity finally accepts and practices that, then the shadows—of doubt, fear, ignorance, superstition and conditioned obedience—will finally begin to be dispelled. We have been manipulated by these mysterious and shadowy forces, these “principalities and powers of the air”, for far too long.
It’s time to throw off the shackles and blinders and claim our freedom in every sense of the word.
By clicking on the image below, a screenshot showing the actual dimensions of the original image will be displayed in a new window.