Part 1 of 2
Visitors From The
Angels and apparitions
Strange encounters between humans and a wide variety of otherworldly
entities have been reported throughout history. These entities
include ’gods’, angels, ghosts, demons, fairies, gnomes, monsters,
aliens, etc. Such encounters range from benign and uplifting to
hostile and harmful. Some may involve visions or hallucinations but,
as many of the cases presented below show, others appear to take
place in our physical reality.
In the latter cases, the entities are
physically visible and sometimes tangible but their weird behaviour
suggests that they are paranormal entities, who manifest briefly
before fading back into the ’twilight zone’.
2. Spirit materializations
’Spirit’ materializations have often been reported since the
resurgence of spiritualism in the second half of the 19th century.
A.R. Wallace, co-developer with Darwin of the
theory of natural
selection, described these manifestations as follows:
These are either luminous appearances, sparks, stars, globes of
light, luminous clouds, etc.; or hands, faces, or entire human
figures, generally covered with flowing drapery, except a portion of
the face and hands. The human forms are often capable of moving
solid objects, and are both visible and tangible to all present.
He believed that such phenomena embodied
’truths of the most vital
importance to human progress’.1
In the presence of the celebrated medium Daniel Dunglas Home,
materialized hands could be touched and were seen to lift and carry
objects. A newspaper editor shook hands with a materialized hand
that ended at the wrist, describing it as ’tolerably well and
symmetrically made, though not perfect’, ’soft and slightly warm’.
bell was brought to a journalist by a disembodied hand, but when he
tried to hold the hand it melted away, leaving only the bell. At a
session with the medium Kate Fox, a luminous hand came from the
upper part of the room and, after hovering near the prominent
scientist William Crookes for a few seconds, took a pencil from his
hand, wrote on a sheet of paper, threw the pencil down, and then
rose into the air, gradually fading into darkness.
At a séance with
Charles Williams in 1873, a large hand materialized which psychic
researcher Frederic Myers seized and held in his; he felt it
diminish in size until it was no bigger than a baby’s, before it
melted away altogether.2
H.P. Blavatsky argued that the ’spirit’-hand or phantom-hand
was often an extrusion from the medium’s astral body, usually
happening unconsciously, when the medium was in a trance.3
The most famous full-form materialization was a white-robed,
white-veiled, barefoot figure calling herself Katie King. After the
medium Florence Cook, dressed in black, had been securely tied up in
a ’cabinet’ (a niche with a curtain in front of it) and had gone
into a trance, Katie would emerge from the cabinet and walk about
the séance room, conversing with those present.
She felt warm to the
touch, and seemed just like a flesh-and-blood human. Immediately
after an appearance, Florence would be found still tied up, with the
knots of the ropes still sealed. In 1874 a scientist conducted a
test in which wires were attached to Florence and a low electric
current was passed through her body, so that even a movement of her
hands would register on the galvanometer. But the current was not
interrupted throughout the séance, in which Katie materialized and
moved round the séance room.
William Crookes was another scientist
who investigated this phenomenon and concluded that it was genuine.
He took 44 pictures of Katie, and saw both Katie and Florence
together on several occasions.
However, he was already convinced
that Katie was not Florence in disguise, as Katie was six inches
taller than Florence, her ears were unpierced, in contrast to
Florence’s, and her fingers were longer and her face larger than
Fig. 2.1. Left: Having entered into a trance, Florence Cook has
slumped over the arm of a chair.
The towering ectoplasm shape behind
her is just beginning to compress into
the materialized form of
Katie King. Right: Katie King, fully materialized.5
In December 1873 a man tried to seize Katie during a
séance, and a
scuffle followed in which the man lost part of his beard. To escape
his clutches, Katie partly dematerialized and slipped away to the
cabinet. When the curtains were opened, Florence was found still
tied up with the knots sealed and no white material of the kind
Katie had been wearing could be found.
The only proven instance of
cheating came in January 1880 when the materialization was seized
and really was Florence. However, the person responsible for
securing Florence admitted that he had arranged with others that he
would not secure her properly. Florence’s supporters argued that
this was a case of unconscious fraud.6 This certainly occurred with
the Italian medium Eusapia Palladino; when in trance she was known
to cheat whenever she could, clumsily ’levitating’ tables with her
feet, but her remarkable phenomena continued to occur even under
rigorous test conditions, amazing dozens of eminent European
scientists over a 20-year period.
Impressive materializations were also produced by Horatio and
William Eddy, two mediums living in the township of Chittenden,
Vermont. Form after form would emerge from the cabinet, each ’quite
different in sex, gait, costume, complexion, length and arrangement
of hair, height and breadth of body, and apparent age’. After an
hour or so the session was brought to a close and the medium
reappeared ’with haggard eyes and apparently much exhausted’. These
manifestations were investigated in 1874 by H.S. Olcott, who helped
to found the Theosophical Society the following year.
He had served
as a field officer for the Union in the Civil War, and because of
his reputation for integrity was given the rank of Colonel and
assigned the task of uprooting fraud and corruption in the army and
navy. Olcott witnessed some 300 or 400 ’spirit’ forms during
his stay with the Eddy mediums and could find no evidence of fraud.
He said that, when touched, the apparitions were as substantial as
any human being in the flesh, but that their temperature was
invariably lower than his own, and their skin was covered with a
Dr George Beard of New York was convinced that the manifestations
were simply the result of one of the Eddy brothers dressing up.
Posing as a ’simple-minded spiritualist’, he went to Chittenden
secretly determined to expose them. However, during Horatio Eddy’s
séance, while the sitters were holding the medium’s hands, a rogue
guitar struck Beard repeatedly on the head, causing him so much pain
that he jumped up and knocked down the curtains.
After the sitting
had resumed, all sorts of musical instruments were thrown over the
curtain at him; a bell thrown with some force hit him in the face,
after which he decided to return to New York. Beard had brought with
him a powerful battery, whose current no mortal would have been able
to withstand. Olcott connected the materialized form of a Hindu
girl, Honto, to it, but it seemed only to amuse her. Beard, however,
proceeded to denounce all materializing séances as ’stupendous
frauds’, and declared that Olcott’s testimony couldn’t be trusted as
he had been immersed in the ’humbug’ for too long and also wore
Francis Monck had been the first medium not only to produce
materialized forms but also to remain in full view while doing so.
Spirit forms would grow out of his side: at first faces, then a
fully-formed figure, nebulous at first but growing more solid as it
issued from the medium until eventually it left him and appeared as
a separate person, a couple of feet away but bound to him by a
slender attachment of gossamer.
Monck was tested several times with
good results but, as with certain other mediums whose powers were
not fully under their control, he resorted to deliberate deception
on at least one occasion; conjurors’ devices were found in his
possession and skeptics dismissed all his earlier materializations
During the early decades of the 20th century, Marthe Béraud (’Eva
C.’) produced materializations in full view of investigators, after
she had been put into a hypnotic trance. A soft, somewhat elastic
substance named ectoplasm emanated from various parts of her body --
especially her mouth, ears, vagina, and nipples. The ectoplasm would
quickly organize itself into the shape of a hand or head, on which a
face might appear, sometimes in miniature. It would then solidify
into a sort of paste, dry to the touch, before retracting into the
medium’s body or simply disappearing. Sometimes the materializations
looked like flat images, but in other cases they were perfect.
Charles Richet, a French physiologist (later Nobel Prize winner) and
psychic investigator, described seeing a full form rise from the
At first it was only a white, opaque spot like a handkerchief lying
on the ground before the curtain, then this handkerchief quickly
assumed the form of a human head level with the floor and a few
moments later it rose up in a straight line and became a small man
enveloped in a kind of white burnous [long circular cloak with
hood], who took two or three halting steps in front of the curtain
and then sank to the floor and disappeared as if through a
trap-door. But there was no trap-door.
Since skeptics suggested
Marthe might be swallowing muslin and
regurgitating it, her hair, armpits, nose, mouth, and knees were
examined before a séance, and sometimes her vagina and rectum too.
She was also given an emetic.
Even after syrup of bilberries was
administered, the forms extruded from her mouth were absolutely
Over a period of 20 years she was never detected in any
attempt at trickery.10
Fig. 2.2. Left: Eva C. producing ectoplasm, 13 March 1911.
hand is being held by Dr Charles Richet and her right by Prof. Schrenck-Notzing.
The latter’s book Phenomena of Materialisation
contains some 225 photographs
of ectoplasmic materializations -- all
performed under strict test conditions.
Right: An ectoplasmic face
exuding from the neck of Eva C., 30 December 1911.11
By the mid-1920s, Eva’s powers were deserting her.
But by this time
a Brazilian medium, Carlos Mirabelli, was demonstrating even more
Mirabelli’s full-form materializations were of deceased individuals
known to the witnesses: something which had often been reported from
spiritualist séances, but ordinarily in dark or very poorly lit
rooms, whereas Mirabelli’s appeared in full light, and in test
conditions, before numerous investigators appointed to examine the
In the course of more than a hundred sessions, more than
half of which were productive, Mirabelli performed in a locked and
sealed room, tied up in a chair; and he materialized, among others,
the child of one of the investigators, dressed in her burial
clothes, and a bishop who had been drowned in a shipwreck.
not merely appear and fade away again; they were able to converse
with the investigators, and to touch and be touched; a doctor
present was able to feel the girl’s pulse.
were attested by scores of academics, prominent politicians, doctors
and others, none of whom could offer any explanation other than that
they were genuine; nor has any skeptic since been able to discover
any evidence from the many witnesses still living to suggest that
Mirabelli was involved in what would have been the most
spectacular conjuring trick ever devised.12
Fig. 2.3. The look of alarm on the part of Dr Carlos de Castro
is accounted for by the fact that a deceased poet (centre)
has just materialized between him and the entranced Mirabelli
in the course of a test séance at the Cesare Lombroso
Academy of Psychic Studies.13
Materializations are still occasionally reported in spiritualist
journals but they are no longer the object of serious investigation
as most parapsychologists find the subject too hot to handle!
W.Q. Judge, a founder-member of the Theosophical Society, mentions
three possible explanations of ’spirit’ materializations:
1) The medium’s astral body is exuded, and gradually collects
particles extracted from the air and the bodies of those present at
the séance until it becomes visible. It may resemble the medium or
assume the appearance of a dead person whose image is present in the
2) The actual astral shell of a deceased person, devoid of spirit,
intellect, and conscience, becomes visible and even tangible when
the condition of air and ether is such as to alter the vibration of
its molecules to the necessary degree.
3) An unseen mass of chemical, electrical, and magnetic matter is
collected from the atmosphere, the medium, or other people present,
and a picture of any desired person, living or dead, is reflected on
it out of the astral light.
Dimness of light is generally preferred for such manifestations
because a bright light disturbs the astral substance and makes the
projection more difficult.14
In materializations and other
séance-room phenomena, the medium and
other sitters are often ’vampirized’ to some extent by the astral
entities involved, as the necessary elements are drawn from their
bodies, depleting their vitality.
Blavatsky calls mediumship
the most dangerous of abnormal nervous diseases’, and contrasts it
with adeptship, which signifies full voluntary control over psychic
powers and forces.15
Michael Gomes, The Dawning of the Theosophical Movement, Wheaton,
IL: Quest, 1987, p. 25.
Brian Inglis, Natural and Supernatural: A history of the paranormal,
Bridport, Dorset: Prism, 1992 (1977), pp. 226, 264, 318.
H.P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University
Press (TUP), 1972 (1877), 2:594-6.
Natural and Supernatural, pp. 267-9, 273-5; William Crookes,
Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism, Pomeroy, WA: Health
Research, n.d. (1874), pp. 102-12.
International Survivalist Society,
The Dawning of the Theosophical Movement, pp. 27-32.
Ibid., pp. 38-9, 42-3.
Natural and Supernatural, pp. 297-8.
Ibid., pp. 433-5; Brian Inglis, Science and Parascience: A history
of the paranormal, 1914-1939, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1984,
pp. 27-34, 95-105, 240-2.
International Survivalist Society,
Brian Inglis, The Paranormal: An encyclopedia of psychic phenomena,
London: Paladin, 1985, pp. 157-8. See also: Science and Parascience,
Science and Parascience, p. 225.
W.Q. Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy, TUP, 1973 (1893), pp. 48-9,
168-9; W.Q. Judge, Echoes of the Orient, San Diego, CA: Point Loma
Publications, 1975-87, 1:183-6, 384-8; G. de Purucker
(editor-in-chief), ’Materializations’, Encyclopedic Theosophical
H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Wheaton, IL: Theosophical
Publishing House (TPH), 1950-91, 12:372.
3. Angels and apparitions
Most apparitions on record are of the living rather than the dead.
Only a minority are visual; most involve sensing a presence, hearing
thumps, moaning, and other strange noises, or smelling unexplained
Apparitions are usually seen only once, but some are
repeatedly seen haunting the same location. R.E. Guiley writes:
Some apparitions seem real and corporeal, with definable form and
features, and, if human, with clothing. Other apparitions are fuzzy,
luminous, transparent, wispy and ill-defined; some are little more
than streaks, blobs or patches of light.
Apparitions appear and disappear suddenly and sometimes just fade
away. They both move through walls and objects and walk around them.
They can cast shadows and be reflected in mirrors. ... Some are
accompanied by sounds, smells, sensations of cold and movement of
real objects in the percipient’s environment. In some cases,
percipients attempt to touch apparitions; most find their hands
go through them, but in a few cases, contact has been made with
a substance that feels like a flimsy garment.1
Some apparitions communicate verbally and seem to possess a certain
degree of intelligence, while others do not respond to attempts at
communication and display only a limited range of gestures and
For instance, they may call the percipient’s attention to
a fatal wound on the ghostly body. There are also reports of animal
ghosts, and there have even been ghosts of inanimate objects such as
spectral ships seen glowing at sea (e.g. ’The Flying Dutchman’). In
addition, phantom armies have been seen fighting in the sky. For
instance, on Christmas Eve 1642, two months after the battle of Edge
Hill during England’s Civil War, a kind of replay of the battle was
seen in the skies above the battlefield, complete with sound
effects. The reenactment was repeated on several subsequent
occasions, though it varied each time.
The king had a royal
commission look into the case, and the investigators saw the
spectacle for themselves. Ghostly replays of battlefield scenes tend
to fade over time, though many continue for centuries.2
Over 80% of apparitions seem to manifest themselves for a purpose.
The persons whose apparition is seen may communicate their own
crisis (e.g. that they are dying or have just died), usually to
their loved ones or others with whom they have close emotional ties.
Crisis apparitions appear to people both in dreams and when they are
awake. Most apparitions of the dead appear to comfort the grieving
or communicate information about the estate or unfinished business
of the deceased.
For instance, after his death, Dante appeared to
his son and guided him to where he had hidden the last cantos of his
Divine Comedy. Apparitions of the dead may also appear years later
to loved ones in times of crisis. Sometimes angelic beings,
religious figures, luminosities, and dead loved ones are reported by
the dying shortly before death. Haunting apparitions usually have
emotional ties to the site concerned, possibly resulting from
violent or sudden death.
Many unexplained luminosities at haunted sites have been captured on
film.3 Sometimes cameras fail to register what witnesses see,
suggesting that the ghost was not seen with normal vision. This is
also implied by the fact that sometimes one person sees a ghost
while another person present does not.
There are also occasions when
cameras record a ghost even though the photographer was not aware of
anything when the picture was taken.
Fig. 3.1. This famous photo was taken by two Canadian tourists on 19
June 1966 at Queen’s House on the Thames.
Although nothing had been
noticed at the time,
two cowled ghostly figures can be seen on the
(the two hands visible on the stair rail are both
Very strong, sharply fluctuating magnetic fields have been detected
in places where people see ghosts.
They tend to move from place to
place and vary from the size of a basketball to that of a baseball.
The electrical component of these fields is usually a DC field, like
those emitted by living organisms, rather than the AC field typical
of an electrical circuit. Sudden temperature drops (’cold spots’)
have also been measured, along with elevated levels of
Skeptics have suggested that people who see ghosts may be suffering
hallucinations induced by freakish electromagnetic phenomena. But
even if certain ghostly experiences are hallucinatory, it is
implausible that an ordinary random electromagnetic field would
induce similar hallucinations in different people on different
occasions, as would have to happen in places apparently haunted by
the same ghost.
W.Q. Judge divides apparitions into two general classes:
astral shells of the dead or astral images, either actually visible
to the eye or the result of vibration within thrown out to the eye
and thus making the person think he sees a physical form;
astral-mental form (mayavi-rupa, or thought-body) of living persons,
often projected unintentionally and therefore only partially
When conditions are right, any astral images or
thought-forms from the collective imagination can manifest visibly
and even tangibly through the agency of elemental and other ethereal
Apparitions of people who are about to die or have just died are
fairly common. For instance, in a letter to the famous 19th-century
French astronomer and psychical researcher Camille Flammarion, the
Princess de Montarcy recalled that her grandmother had always said
that if they were not together when she was dying, she would let her
know she was dead.
One evening at 9 o’clock the princess’s dog
jumped up on her bed, ’howling as if he were being killed’. At the
foot of her bed the princess saw the apparition of her grandmother,
who threw her a kiss and disappeared. The following morning, a
telegram informed her that her grandmother had died between 8 and 9
the previous evening.6
In another case from the 19th century, the figure of a young
soldier, in hospital dress, appeared before the captain of his
company, and requested that his pay be forwarded to his mother,
whose address he then gave. The captain made a note of the request,
whereupon the man vanished. After making inquiries, the captain
found that the soldier had died the previous day.
says that the intense thought and anxiety felt by the soldier in his
dying moments could easily create an astral form to achieve a
certain object. The astral soul is the exact ethereal likeness of
the body, though not of its temporary garments. However, the soldier
would have imagined talking to his captain dressed, rather than
naked, and his desire faithfully reproduced the scene planned
In August 1864, May Clerke was reading on a verandah in Barbados
while a native nurse was pushing her little girl in a pram. When
Clerke got up to go into the house, the nurse asked who the
gentleman was who had just been talking to her. Clerke replied that
no one had been with her. The nurse was adamant and said that the
gentleman was very tall and very pale. Clerke became annoyed when
the nurse said she had been rude to ignore the man, who seemed very
anxious to get her attention. A few days later Clerke learned
that her brother had died in Tobago at the time of the apparition.8
In general, theosophy rejects the idea that the actual spirits of
the dead can appear after death. This is because the higher human
soul, or reincarnating soul, usually separates from the lower human
soul, or astral soul, soon after death. It then sinks into a
peaceful dreamlike state of consciousness in the higher astral
realms, leaving behind a decaying astral corpse or shell (kama-rupa,
or ’desire-body’), largely devoid of reason -- and this is what
mediums usually mistake for the ’spirits’ of the dead. However, the
spirit-soul may genuinely be present directly preceding or following
physical death, especially if death came suddenly.
Encounters with ’angels’ (from the Greek angelos, ’messenger’)
continue to the present day. G. de Purucker says that appearances of
angels are often connected with the witness’s own inner self and are
an externalization of his or her thoughts.
Some involve the
appearance of highly evolved humans such as mahatmas or their
chelas, who can travel at will in their subtle body and make
themselves seen whenever it is appropriate to do so. In rare cases
nirmanakayas may appear -- i.e. spiritually evolved humans belonging
to the brotherhood of adepts, who choose to live in the earth’s
auric atmosphere, without a physical body.
In extremely rare cases
certain advanced, ethereal beings from higher planes who are closely
linked with the human race may appear visibly to people in an
unusual state of consciousness, and the visioner’s imagination may
endow them with wings or dress them in unusual garments.9
Angels are usually sensed, or heard by clairaudience, but
occasionally they manifest as apparitions in brilliant white robes
or as balls of brilliant white light.
They often appear as real
persons in a ’mysterious stranger’ encounter.
These encounters occur when a person is in a dilemma and needs quick
action. A mysterious person suddenly appears out of nowhere and
provides a solution. Mysterious strangers can be male or female of
Most often, they are male - usually a fresh-looking,
clean-cut youth. They are invariably well-dressed, polite and
knowledgeable about the crisis at hand.
They often are calm but can
be forceful, and know just what to do. They speak, though sparingly.
They are convincingly real as flesh-and-blood humans; however, once
the problem has been solved, the mysterious strangers vanish
It is their abrupt and strange disappearance that makes
people question whether they have been aided by mortals or angels.10
The 16th-century Italian sculptor
Benvenuto Cellini, for instance,
was about to hang himself in prison when a luminous angelic youth
appeared and hurled him to the ground.11 In the 1950s a German woman
climbing alone in the Bavarian Alps found herself in danger; it was
growing dark and she realized she had strayed from the path.
Suddenly she saw a big ball of light, which condensed into the shape
of a tall, rather Chinese-looking gentleman. At the time the
apparition did not astonish her but seemed quite natural. The
gentleman bowed to her, spoke a few reassuring words, and led her
back to the tourist path. Then he turned into a ball of light that
vanished. He acted like a guardian angel -- perhaps a manifestation
of her own higher self.12
The phenomenon of a figure materializing
from a small luminous source or ball of light is quite common.
Fig. 3.2. Ball of
light and oriental gentleman encountered in the Bavarian Alps.13
The following ’crisis apparition’ raises intriguing questions about
the physical reality and identity of some ghostly figures.
In the summer of 1895, veteran sailor
Captain Joshua Slocum was
completing the first leg of the voyage which earned him his place in
history as the first person to sail alone round the world. Between
the Azores and Gibraltar his rugged but tiny sloop Spray ran into
squalls. At the same time, Slocum was suffering from severe stomach
cramps which so demoralized him that he went below, not taking in
his sails as he knew he should, and threw himself on the cabin floor
in agony. He lost track of how long he lay there, for he became
When Slocum came to, he realized this his sloop was plunging into a
heavy sea. Looking out of the companionway, to his amazement he saw
a tall man at the helm. His rigid hand, grasping the spokes of the
wheel, held them as in a vise. He was dressed like a foreign sailor,
with a large red cap over his left ear, and sporting shaggy black
whiskers. Slocum wondered if this alarming personage, the very image
of a pirate, had boarded his boat and planned to cut his throat.
The sailor seemed to read his thoughts, for he doffed his cap to
Slocum, saying, with the ghost of a smile,
’Señor, I have come to do
you no harm. I am one of Columbus’s crew, the pilot of the Pinta,
come to aid you. Lie quiet, señor captain, and I will guide
your ship tonight. You have a calentura [fever] but you will
be all right tomorrow ... You did wrong to mix cheese with
Next day Slocum found that the Spray was still heading as he had
left her, and felt that ’Columbus himself could not have held her
more exactly on her course.’
That night he received a second visit
from the Spanish sailor, but this time it was in a dream. He
explained that he would like to sail with Slocum on his voyage, for
the love of adventure alone. Then, doffing his cap, he disappeared
as mysteriously as he had arrived.
Slocum woke with the feeling that he had been in the presence of a
friend and a seaman of vast experience. And though he recognized his
second sighting as a dream, he also realized that the first had been
something altogether different.
Besides, what dream could hold a
vessel on course through a violent sea?14
Fig. 3.3. Ghost
encountered at sea, July 1895.15
Numerous visions or apparitions of the
Virgin Mary have been
reported over the centuries.
At Guadalupe, Mexico, in 1531, ’Mary’
appeared five times to Juan Diego, a middle-aged Aztec convert to
Catholicism. On one occasion the apparition told Juan to pick
flowers. Although it was a cold time of year, he found a garden of
roses at a site where no flowers had grown before. The flowers were
a species not grown in Mexico at that time.
He was told to wrap the
flowers in his cape and take them to the bishop. It was then found
that a beautiful image of the Immaculate Conception had been
imprinted on the cape, in a style not in the Maya-Toltec-Aztec
tradition. The cape was made from a coarse fabric of cactus fiber
and had a maximum lifespan of about 30 years, but both the cape and
the ’painting’ have lasted to the present day, and are on display in
the church shrine built at Mary’s request.16
The appearance of Mary seems to vary in accordance with witnesses’
cultural and ethnic backgrounds. For example, the image of the
Virgin on the Guadalupe cape clearly resembles an Amerindian, not a
Michael Grosso suggests that Marian visions may be
’expressions of the Goddess image, an archetypal pattern of great
antiquity and psychological power’ and that ’the cult of Mary gives
a familiar psychic vehicle for the collective imagination to work
It is noteworthy that the hill where Jan Diego saw Mary
was formerly consecrated to the Aztec goddess Teotenantzin, ’Mother
At Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 Mary appeared repeatedly to three
children (aged 7, 9 and 10), again at a place of ancient goddess
worship -- this time of Isis.18
The two girls saw a young lady and
heard her speak; the boy saw her but did not hear her speak. The
children said the lady was dressed in white and stood above a small
Before their meetings with Mary, the children also had
encounters with an ’angel’. At the time of the first encounter they
were tending their sheep at a rocky knoll not far from their home.
They heard a rumble, like a powerful wind (as often reported in UFO
encounters), and saw a dazzling globe of light gliding slowly
towards them from across the valley.
As it approached, it gradually
turned into a brilliantly shining young man, who seemed about 14
years old and identified himself as the Angel of Peace. After asking
them to recite a prayer, he faded away.
The meetings with Mary occurred on the 13th of the month for six
successive months, as Mary had promised at the first encounter. The
children suffered paralysis during the meetings, as happens in some
Revelations were made to the three children in the
presence of a large crowd of onlookers, which increased greatly from
month to month.
The actual visions of Mary were seen only by the
three children, but during the revelations related phenomena
occurred that were witnessed by a large number of people. These
phenomena included the appearance of a glowing globe-shaped object
and the occurrence of a shower of rose petals that vanished on
touching the ground. (Showers of flower petals are often mentioned
in Vedic accounts of celestial visitations.)
One of the children asked Mary to perform a miracle for the public
at large, and Mary promised to do so on 13 October. On this date,
some 70,000 people congregated in anticipation of the miracle. The
day was overcast and rainy, and the crowd huddled under umbrellas
amidst a sea of mud. Suddenly the clouds parted and an astonishing
solar display began to unfold. The sun’s disc spun round in a mad
whirl, taking on all the colors of the rainbow.
It then appeared to
plunge to the earth, giving off heat, and moving in a zigzag fashion
(as UFOs are often reported to do).
Some people in the crowd feared
it was a signal of the end of the world, and panicked. Fear then
gave way to awe as the sun returned to normal in the sky. The ’miracle of the sun’ was witnessed by a large number of people from
an area measuring about 20 by 30 miles, and lasted an estimated 10
minutes. Many onlookers afterwards found that their wet clothing was
now completely dry.
Photographers at the event documented the
unusually fast change from wet to dry weather, but not the
phenomenon of the rotating sun.
This sort of collective illusion is reminiscent of the way Indian
fakirs can cause tigers and elephants to appear before a multitude
of spectators. That what the spectators see does not take place in
our physical reality is proved by photography. This is illustrated
by a performance of the famous Indian rope trick that was captured
Two psychologists together with several hundred other
saw a fakir throw a coil of rope into the air, watched a small boy
climb the rope and disappear. They describe how dismembered parts of
the boy came tumbling horribly down to the ground, how the fakir
gathered these up in a basket, climbed the rope himself and came
back down smiling, with the intact child.
Others in the crowd are
said to have agreed with most of the details of what happened, but a
film record which begins with the rope being thrown into the air,
shows nothing but the fakir and his assistant standing motionless
beside it throughout the rest of the performance. The rope did not
stay in the air and the boy never climbed it. The crowd, it seems,
was party to a collective delusion.19
The fakir was apparently able to project his own mental images into
the mental spheres of the audience.
During the Fatima apparitions, Mary revealed that her purpose was to
impress upon people the need for prayer, repentance, and
mortification. As a result, many souls would be saved, Russia would
be converted, and another world war averted! While clearly serving
to strengthen the Catholic faith, Marian manifestations do at least
challenge church patriarchy.
The manifestations could be generated by a coalescence of archetypal
goddess imagery with the powerful thought-forms associated with the
Virgin Mary cult. However, the events do not seem to be purely
spontaneous; the fact that ’Mary’ predicted her successive
appearances at Fatima in advance and thousands of people saw the
solar display at the prearranged time points to the involvement of a
Given the backward nature of key Catholic
teachings, from original sin to forgiveness of sins through belief
in Christ, this is most likely an inferior entity, though a powerful
Rosemary Ellen Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, New
York: Checkmark Books, 2nd ed., 2000, p. 17.
Ibid., pp. 38-9, 118-9.
Hilary Evans and Patrick Huyghe, The Field Guide to Ghosts and Other
Apparitions, New York: Quill, 2000, pp. 11-2, 52, 80, 82.
Ibid., pp. 12-4, 68, 74.
Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy, pp. 162-3.
Inglis, The Paranormal, p. 191.
H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, 3:282-4, 4:243-50.
The Field Guide to Ghosts and Other Apparitions, p. 144.
G. de Purucker, The Esoteric Tradition, TUP, 2nd ed., 1973, pp.
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, p. 11.
Michael Grosso, Frontiers of the Soul: Exploring psychic evolution,
Wheaton, IL: Quest, 1992, p. 222.
The Field Guide to Ghosts and Other Apparitions, pp. 96-7.
Ibid., p. 97 (illustration by Harry Trumbore).
Ibid., p. 90.
Ibid., p. 91 (illustration by Harry Trumbore).
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, p. 240.
Frontiers of the Soul, pp. 198-9.
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, p. 241; Jacques Vallee,
Dimensions: A casebook of alien contact, New York: Ballantine Books,
1989, pp. 173-82; Richard L. Thompson, Alien Identities: Ancient
insights into modern UFO phenomena, Alachua, FL: Govardhan Hill
Publishing, 2nd ed., 1995, pp. 293-301.
Lyall Watson, Supernature II: A new natural history of the
supernatural, London: Sceptre, 1987, pp. 158-9.
4. Phantom attackers
In the summer of 1692, at Cape Ann, Massachusetts, Ebenezer Babson
was returning home late one night when he saw two men step out of
his house and dash into a cornfield. His wife and children insisted
that no intruders had been in the house. Babson grabbed his gun,
went outside, and spotted the two men again.
As they escaped to a
nearby swamp, one was overheard saying to the other, ’The man of the
house is now come; else we might have taken the house.’ Babson
subsequently had further encounters with the mysterious strangers,
whom he suspected of being French-Canadian scouts in league with
On 14 July the entire garrison saw half a dozen of
A pursuit party, with
Babson in the lead, got within gunshot range.
Babson fired on them, and three fell to the ground, only to rise to
their feet with no apparent signs of injury. As they fled, one
turned to fire on Babson; the bullet narrowly missed him and lodged
in a tree, from which its intended victim subsequently retrieved it.
A few minutes later the garrison group trapped one of the strangers.
Babson shot him, and the man dropped. But when Babson and his
companions rushed to the spot, no one was there. Several days later
two scouts from the garrison observed 11 of the strange men as they
performed what looked like peculiar incantations. Richard Dolliver
fired on them, causing them to scatter.
Soon the entire Cape was in uproar, and 60 armed men came from
Ipswich to reinforce the garrison. As sightings continued, the
strangers were accused of beating on barns, throwing stones, and
other acts. Babson experienced one of the last sightings.
Seeing three of the strangers, he dived behind a bush and waited
in ambush -- only to have his gun misfire. The strangers gave
him a disdainful glance and walked on.1
Soon afterwards the mysterious strangers were seen no more. By now
people had begun to suspect that they might be ’demons’.
There is no shortage of reports of people being attacked by
otherworldly entities -- some of which remained invisible throughout
the assault. For instance, on 20 May 1950 a woman was walking along
a path near the Loire River in central France when suddenly she
found herself in a brilliant, blinding light and felt paralyzed. She
then saw two huge black hands appear in front of her, with quivering
fingers. Her head was violently squeezed by the cold hands and
pulled back against a very hard chest, which felt like iron.
heard her aggressor laugh, and was hurt by a blow to her back, as if
from a metallic object. She was pulled backwards through the bushes
to a small pasture, where the entity let go of her.
After a while, the woman felt strong enough to get to her feet. Then
she saw and heard the brambles scratching the empty space, and the
grass being pressed as if under the feet of some invisible being.
She took to the path again.
Her legs were lacerated by the brambles
and bleeding, she felt a strange sensation of nervous exhaustion, as
if she had been electrified, she had a sickening, metallic, bitter
taste in her mouth, and her muscles did not obey her. She felt
something like a bar over her shoulders, and a painful heat in her
back. The attack had lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, and she felt as
if she had entered ’an unreal world’.
Suddenly she head a great noise and saw the trees bending as if
under a sudden storm, and was nearly thrown down. There was a
strong, blinding white light.
She had the feeling something flew
through the air very fast, but saw nothing. She finally reached a
lock-keeper’s house, whose residents said they had seen a light from
their house. They tended to the scratches on the woman, and could
see large red bars on her face where the attackers’ fingers had
been. An official investigation by the local police substantiated
the physical traces on the ground.
The woman had witnessed an unusual phenomenon the evening before the
attack. She observed a ’kind of shooting star’, which stopped
abruptly, then appeared to go up and stay among the stars for a
while. Next it grew bigger and began a kind of swinging motion, its
light going on and off. Suddenly it left on a curved trajectory, and
reached the horizon at very high speed.2
In August 1975 about 20 people in and around Gilroy, California, saw
unexplained red and white lights in the sky on successive nights. On
10 August, a lighted object followed and badly frightened
12-year-old Imelda Victor and another woman as they were driving to
the girl’s house; the girl’s mother also saw the object, which had
’four large landing gear-like arms coming out of it’.
September Mrs Victor, who was a doctor, woke up to find two beings
in silvery suits standing near her. She felt very calm. They asked
her telepathically to go with them, and she found herself floating
up into a hovering UFO. Inside she had a sensation of intense
beauty, but was then blinded by a white light and woke up in bed.
15 May 1978 Mrs Victor was at the house of one of her elderly
patients when she was suddenly thrown violently to the floor and
severely beaten by an invisible entity for several minutes.
elderly patient saw her turning and spinning on the floor, hitting
obstacles in her path. She suffered multiple bruises, a sliver of
wood punctured a vein, and she broke a leg. She had to spend six
days in hospital.3
Jacques Vallee points out,
’The literature of
and the lives of mystics abounds with well-documented accounts of
physical manifestations, including beatings, that are usually
classified as possession phenomena or manifestations of so-called
evil powers, although they generally do not cause permanent harm to
For instance, Marie-Thérèse Noblet, a French nun and
missionary who lived in the early 20th century, developed classic
stigmata when in a state of religious ecstasy and was also beaten by
invisible agents and suffered bruises, some of the incidents being
witnessed by her church superiors.
Padre Pio da Pietrelcina (1887-1968), who was canonized in 2002, led
a life full of paranormal happenings, including stigmata, magical
cures, bilocation, and encounters with madonnas, guardian angels,
and shape-shifting diabolic apparitions.
The latter appeared to him
as huge black cats, as naked women dancing lasciviously, as an
invisible entity that spat in his face and tortured him with
deafening noises, and as an executioner who whipped him. After a
night spent wrestling with demons, the monks found the padre
unconscious on the floor beside his bed, covered with welts and
bruises. After another attack, he was found on the floor bleeding
from the head and was unable to appear in public for five days.
subsequent occasion, the bones in his arms and legs were broken.5
Fig. 4.1. Padre Pio, magnet for the occult.
Michael Grosso relates that a woman with a photographic memory once
described to him how she watched a bar of blue flames form a circle
around her bed while she was being sexually assaulted by a diabolic
Grosso says that demonic phenomena are clearly real in
some sense, but that he is not sure ’whether they are variations of
poltergeist phenomena, emanations of the dark side of ourselves (the
Shadow in Jungian terms), or possibly derived from external
After making some close UFO sightings in 1954, a New Zealand man and
a research assistant named Barbara received anonymous threatening
phone calls ordering them to stop their UFO studies. One night
Barbara returned home to find a foul odour in her apartment. She was
then brutally attacked by a creature she could not see, whose skin
had the texture of sandpaper. It raped her and left her body covered
with small scratches.
Bizarre bedroom phantoms have been reported
all over the world. Witnesses often feel paralyzed, and the
encounters are sometimes accompanied by the odour of hydrogen
sulphide and sudden chills or blasts of heat. Several sane, sober
UFO witnesses have received visits from these bedroom apparitions
immediately after (or sometimes immediately before) their UFO
experience.7 Some may involve materialized astral entities, while
other attacks might take place on the astral level but leave
In the Middle Ages there were numerous reports of demonic possession
and sexual exploits with male and female demons (incubi and
Sexual interaction with such entities often takes the form of an
assault, but is sometimes deliberately sought; for instance, during
the heyday of spiritualism some mediums boasted of having ’spirit’
husbands and wives.
According to H.P. Blavatsky and her teachers, succubi and
often the astral corpses or shells of discarnate humans.8 In
particular, the astral souls of humans of a particularly lustful and
malicious nature (known as ’elementaries’) may be conscious after
death, especially if their lives have been cut short. Largely devoid
of intelligence, they follow their animal instincts and try to cling
to material life by vampirizing the living.
Such ’demons’ can become
tangible and visible by attracting matter from the surrounding
atmosphere, from the body of the victim if the latter is a medium,
or from any other person in whom there is little cohesion of the
lower elements, possibly as a result of some disease. Ethereal
attackers can also be generated by the victim’s own intense
imagination, or they may be sorcerers or black magicians who have
the power of projecting their astral forms.9
In the early 1960s, a woman living on a farm near Gallipolis, Ohio,
with two children complained of ’tall men in white coveralls’
butchering her cattle; they removed the brains and other organs but
there was never any blood. She had seen the men running away and
jumping over high fences, and had also sighted luminous spheres at
treetop level around her home.
Strange lights, looking like lanterns
being waved back and forth, had been seen in the area for decades.
In addition, her telephone began to behave strangely, she saw
strange figures in the house, and heard heavy footsteps and other
The following dramatic incident took place on 12 October 1963. Just
before dawn, Eugenio Douglas was driving his truck between Monte Maiz and Isla Verde in Argentina. Suddenly he saw a blinding light
on the road ahead. He stopped at the side of the road and got out,
but the light had disappeared. Through the rain he could now see a
circular metallic craft, about 35 feet high.
An opening became
visible, making a second area of light, less intense, and three
figures appeared. They looked like men, but were wearing strange
headdresses with things like antennae attached, and were over 12
feet tall. As soon as the figures saw him, a ray of red light
flashed to the spot where he stood and burned him. Grabbing a
revolver, he fired at the entities and ran off towards Monte Maiz.
The burning red light followed him as far as the village, where it
interfered with the street lights, turning them violet and green. He
could smell a pungent gas. He ran to the nearest house and shouted
for help. The owner had died the previous night, but his family,
gathered around the body, reported that at the same time as they
heard Douglas’s call, the candles in the room and the electric
lights in the house turned green, and the same strange smell was
noticed. When they opened the door they saw that the street lights
had changed colour.
Douglas was taken to the police station, where
the burns on his face and hands were clearly seen. A doctor stated
that the burns could have been caused by ultraviolet radiation. The
police had received a number of calls about the lights’ colour
change. When villagers went to the site where the truck was still
parked, they found large footprints nearly 12 inches long.11
One variety of phantom attack involves the throwing or dropping of
stones by some invisible assailant. For instance, for a period of
three weeks in March 1922, rocks sporadically fell on the roof of a
grain warehouse in Chico, California. Despite massive police and
volunteer searches no one was ever seen tossing the stones.
phenomena go back a long way:
As early as A.D. 530, for example,
the physician to King Theodoric
of the Ostrogoths was said to have fallen victim to a diabolic
infestation: showers of stones fell constantly on his roof.
1934 West Indies case, a resident of the house at which the stones
were aimed recorded,
’The stones continued falling for more than a
month, day and night. Sometimes stones would fall inside the
house even when it was closed.’
In many cases the stones are reported to fall with a slowness which
defies the law of gravity, and they feel warm to the touch if
retrieved soon after their fall.
In an incident that occurred near
the start of the last century, a Dutch traveller in Sumatra reported
a prolonged fall of small black stones inside a building one night.
They fell with abnormal slowness yet hit the ground with a loud bang
as if they had descended swiftly.
He tried to catch them but without
success as they changed direction in mid-flight. The stones seemed
to fall straight through the thatch roof but without leaving any
Phantom dogs are another type of attacker. Tales of meetings with
huge, shaggy, fiery-eyed phantom dogs abound in England and Wales.
The dogs are often black, but may also be white, gray, or yellow.
According to folklore, they may be encountered by travellers on a
dark road and either guide them to safety or menace them, or their
appearance may presage the death of the witness. They have glowing
eyes, sometimes appear from nowhere, and often vanish abruptly.
In 1904-05 there was a religious revival in North Wales during which
many paranormal incidents occurred. Most were associated with Mary
Jones, a farmer’s wife whose preaching was a key feature of the
The manifestations usually took the form of lights,
hovering in the air above the chapels where she was preaching, and
were seen as divine signs.
But one night she had a more sinister
experience. Returning home from one of her mission meetings, she was
dropped off by her driver at the head of a lane leading to her farm.
She told the driver that her brother always came to meet her when
she was late, and pointed to the figure of a man dimly seen
approaching up the lane.
But when the car drove off, she realized it
was not her brother at all. Uneasy, she began singing softly one of
the revival hymns. Suddenly the man stopped, turned upon her, and
became transformed into an enormous black dog, which ran from bank
to bank across the road in front of her as though to prevent her
advance. She thought it was the devil himself, ’angered at my
assault upon his kingdom’.
As she prayed, the dog rushed growling
into a solid hillock. A similar incident was reported a few weeks
later in a neighboring mining town.13
In the early 1920s, a young man in Wisconsin saw something with
shining eyes, and the face of a dog; in the darkness he thought he
could vaguely make out a dark black body. When he saw it again a
week later in the same location near his home, he kicked at it, only
to find his foot inside its mouth as if it had been anticipating the
When he screamed, the creature vanished. On 25 October 1969,
something looking like a Great Dane stepped in front of a moving car
in Okehampton, England. Before the driver could stop, the car passed
through the animal, which then disappeared.14
In 1972 a farmer struck with an iron poker at a black dog invading
his Dartmoor house one winter night. There was a burst of light, a
crash of breaking glass, and the phantom vanished. The man then
found a complete electrical failure in the house (as in many UFO
close encounters), every window broken, and the roofs of the house
and outbuildings badly damaged.15
UFO literature contains a small
number of reports in which black dogs are linked, directly or
circumstantially, with flying saucers. For instance, several youths
claimed to have spotted 10 big, black hairy dogs run from a landed
UFO and through a cemetery in Savannah, Georgia.
Giant cats or pumas have been reported all over Britain, the US, and
in other parts of western Europe. The Beast of Exmoor, for example,
is usually described as a huge, jet-black cat, eight feet long from
nose to tail, though about one in five witnesses report a tan- or
fawn-coloured pumalike creature. No one has ever managed to shoot an
Their tracks are often described as being like a
cat’s except that the claws show. This is curious because real
panthers have retractile claws which do not show in their prints.
Deer, sheep, and cattle are sometimes found slaughtered in the same
areas, with huge claw marks on their sides. One woman even claimed
that a ’puma’ struck her in the face with its two front paws as she
was walking through a wooded area in Hampshire.
Attempts to explain away all such sightings as misidentifications,
delusions, and hoaxes have not been successful.
mentions the theory that they are ’materialized psychic projections
or intruders from parallel worlds’, but notes that, unlike black dog
encounters, overtly paranormal elements are virtually absent from
unusual cat sightings.16
Jerome Clark, Unexplained! 347 strange sightings, incredible
occurrences, and puzzling physical phenomena, Detroit, MI: Visible
Ink, 1993, pp. 304-5.
Vallee, Dimensions, pp. 108-10.
Jacques Vallee, Confrontations: A scientist’s search for alien
contact, London: Souvenir Press, 1990, pp. 93-5.
Ibid., p. 94.
Grosso, Frontiers of the Soul, pp. 146-67.
Ibid., p. 212.
John A. Keel, Strange Creatures from Time and Space, London: Sphere,
1979, pp. 177-8, 195-7;
John A. Keel, The Mothman Prophecies,
London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002 (1975), p. 157.
H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, 12:712-3; The Mahatma Letters to
A.P. Sinnett, TUP, 2nd ed., 1975, pp. 109-10 / TPH, chron. ed.,
1993, p. 198.
Franz Hartmann, The Life of Paracelsus and the Substance of his
Teachings, San Diego, CA: Wizards Bookshelf, 1985 (1887), pp. 29,
35, 40, 89-92; Franz Hartmann, Magic White & Black or The Science of
Finite and Infinite Life, Bellaire, OH: Tat Foundation, 4th ed.,
1980 (1886), p. 196.
The Mothman Prophecies, pp. 172-3.
Dimensions, pp. 120-1.
Unexplained!, pp. 311-2.
Evans and Huyghe, The Field Guide to Ghosts and Other Apparitions,
Unexplained!, p. 40.
Stuart Gordon, The Paranormal: An illustrated encyclopedia, London:
Headline, 1992, pp. 82-3.
Phantom travelers are ghosts of humans and animals which haunt
travel routes, stations, and vehicles, and are universal in folklore
and legend. Some appear real while other hauntings involve only
sounds, lights, sensations, and smells.
In one case, a man, Colonel Ewart, secured a compartment by himself
on the train from Carlisle to London. He dozed off but later awoke
feeling stiff and strange, and noticed that a woman in black was
sitting opposite him. Her face was obscured by a black veil, and she
seemed to be looking at something on her lap, though nothing was
visible. Ewart spoke to her but she did not respond.
She began to
rock back and forth and sing a soft lullaby, though there was no
child with her. Suddenly the train screeched and crashed into
something. Ewart was knocked unconscious by a flying suitcase. When
he came to, he left the train and learned that the accident was not
serious. He then remembered the woman in black and returned to the
compartment, but she was nowhere to be found. Ewart was told that no
one had entered his compartment after him.
Months later, a railway official told Ewart that the woman was a
ghost who haunted the line. According to legend, she and her
bridegroom had been travelling on the train when he stuck his head
too far out the window and was decapitated by a wire. The headless
body fell into the young woman’s lap. When the train arrived in
London, she was found sitting in the compartment, holding the corpse
and singing a lullaby to it. She never regained her sanity and died
several months later.
Other hauntings and phantom traveller legends centre around
railways, underground stations, and airports. At the Darlington rail
station in Durham, England, the ghosts of a man and a black
retriever have been seen in the porter’s cellar. The ghost is said
to be a man who had owned a black retriever and committed suicide by
throwing himself in front of a train. The phantom dog reportedly bit
an old porter but left no bite marks.
There are several reports of phantom travellers at Heathrow Airport.
One is a gentleman in a dark suit and bowler hat who has haunted the
airport since 1948 when a plane crashed on landing in heavy fog,
killing all 22 people on board.
While rescue workers were digging
through the wreckage, they were interrupted by the man, who appeared
suddenly out of the fog and said,
’Excuse me. Have you found my
Since then, the ghost has been seen numerous times at
the airport, walking along the runway where the crash occurred. The
man is believed to have been a victim of the tragedy.1
The vicinity of Elmore, Ohio, is said to be haunted by a headless
motorcyclist who appears each year on the anniversary of his fatal
motorcycle accident, which occurred just after the end of the First
World War. He had lost control of his motorcycle on a bend just
before a bridge and had hurtled into a ravine.
The man was
decapitated and the headlight was shorn off his bike.
His phantom appears only as a speeding headlight which races down
the road and vanishes halfway over the bridge. Legend has it that
the phantom can be summoned on the death anniversary by blinking car
lights and honking the horn three times each.
In 1968, two men tried to record the phantom on film and audiotape.
They summoned the phantom twice. The third time, one of them stood
in the middle of the bridge, and was found by his friend beaten up
and lying in a ditch. He said he had no recall of what happened.
Nothing showed up on the
movie film, but a strange light registered on the still film, and
their audiotape recorded some odd, high-pitched noises.2
Phantom hitchhikers are another common type of phantom traveler.
For example, on 31 March 1978 a South African Army Corporal
stopped his motorbike near Uniondale to offer an attractive young
woman a lift.
He gave her a spare helmet and an earphone so she
could listen to the radio. A few miles down the road, the corporal
noticed that his passenger was missing. He rode back to look for her
but she was nowhere to be found. Moreover, his spare helmet was
strapped in its usual place and the spare earplug was in his own
ear. He later learned that the 22-year-old woman he thought he had
picked up had been killed in a nearby car accident 10 years earlier.
Others have reported similar experiences in the area. In one case
the young woman suddenly disappeared from the backseat of a car.3
We can only speculate on the extent to which events such as this
take place in our physical reality, and to what extent on the astral
or mental plane. In the above case, would video equipment have
recorded the man stopping his motorcycle and speaking to the woman?
Would a video camera mounted on his bike have recorded the woman
suddenly disappear, the earplug reinsert itself in the driver’s ear,
and the spare helmet return to its usual place?
It seems more likely
that this particular experience was a hallucination, though one that
might have been induced by the earthbound astral soul of the dead
The following phantom hitchhiker incident occurred at
Palavas-des-Flots, France, on 20 May 1980. The hitchhiker in this
case seems to have been physically tangible, at least temporarily.
Just before midnight, two couples were returning from a day at the
beach in their Renault when the driver spotted a woman standing by
He stopped to pick her up and she settled in snugly
between the two women in the back. The driver told the woman where
they were headed but she said nothing and simply nodded her head.
The car continued on its way, then just as they were approaching a
sharp bend, the woman cried out:
’Look out for the turn! You are
risking your life!’
The driver slowed the car and safely turned the
bend, when suddenly he heard cries coming from the backseat - the
hitchhiker had disappeared. A subsequent investigation of the scene
of the incident revealed nothing.
As Evans and Huyghe remark,
wonders if the apparition did not, in fact, save the two couples
from having an accident.’
Phantom travelers on foot may suddenly appear standing in the
middle of the road.
Drivers of vehicles may swerve to avoid hitting
them, sometimes causing an accident with their own vehicle or they
may think they have struck the person, but when they stop and
inspect the area, there is no sign of anyone or any damage to the
The following ’spectral jaywalker’ incident occurred at about
midnight on 8 November 1992. Ian Sharpe was driving along a highway
in Kent, England, when a young woman ran in front of his car. Sharpe
had no time to avoid her, and her eyes locked with his as the car
struck the woman and rolled over her. Sharpe stopped his car and got
out, shaking with fear. However, there was no body to be found, and
his car showed no sign of damage. He reported the incident to the
nearest police station and was told the legend of the ghost that
haunts that stretch of road.
Exactly two weeks later, the same event
happened to another driver. In other incidents in the area, however,
the apparitions have had a different appearance: a 1974 accident
involved a 10-year-old girl, while sightings in 1993 involved an old
Phantom vehicles are ghostly vehicles that suddenly appear on the
road, usually travelling at high speed. They appear to be real, and
drivers of other vehicles in their approaching paths swerve
violently to avoid a collision, sometimes colliding with something
else, resulting in injury or death. Some phantom vehicles are
associated with sites where murders or tragic incidents have
occurred, or sites reputed to be otherwise haunted.
On the night of 15 June 1934, a young man driving his car in the
North Kensington area of London suddenly found himself on a
collision course with a bus. The young man swerved but collided with
another car and was killed. The bus was allegedly a phantom vehicle
which continues to be reported over the years, and has caused other
accidents. Other drivers have had minor accidents trying to avoid
the bus, said by at least one witness to be driverless.
At Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery near the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve
near Chicago, an area where numerous hauntings have been reported,
phantom cars have mystified and terrified various witnesses at dusk
and at night.
Phantom cars and trucks which suddenly disappear have
been reported along or near the Midlothian Turnpike, which runs past
Drivers have reported that their own cars have been
struck by speeding phantom cars which appeared out of nowhere; some
even hear the sounds of splintering glass and crumpling metal. But
when they get out to inspect the damage, there is no sign of an
impact and no sign of the other car.
There are no legends of
accidents or tragedies that help to explain the phantom cars at this
Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, p. 284.
Ibid., pp. 284-5.
Evans and Huyghe, The Field Guide to Ghosts and Other Apparitions,
Ibid., pp. 104-5.
Ibid., pp. 70-1.
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, p. 285.