Journal

Author: Mason Winfield Created: Friday, February 26, 2010
Journal

  You’ve all heard about the creepy clowns. The flap may have started recently in England, but by now reports are all over the states, including New York, even Western New York, where sightings in wooded areas near schools and playgrounds have been rumored to be attempts to lure children. Some lawbreakers have indeed started taking clown-masks as disguises, and Johnny-Come-Latelies love getting a rise out of people. But most of these creepy clowns are elusive enough to qualify as apparitions like other standouts of our contemporary paranormal mythology, including ghosts, most UFOs, mystery monsters, and “the Vanishing Hitchhiker” (which may be completely an urban legend). 


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Be these juggling fiends no more believed,

That palter with us in a double sense,

That keep the word of promise to our ear,

And break it to our hope.

 Shakespeare, MacBeth


Wide right!

Van Miller

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  The season of Halloween is on us, and in the human environment, the imagery of our massive entertainment apparatus has already turned to the garish and the monstrous. Before we get to discussing Western New York’s legendary monsters, we should understand the roots of the occasion. 

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  I don’t have a literal belief in folklore, but I write enough about its patterns to be sensitive to its earmarks. I also think there must be something at the root of the major site-traditions, and I enjoy the suspension of disbelief when reality seems to fall into line. 
  In the Native American tradition of the upstate, witches, shamans, and other power-people were expected to be shapeshifters. Either by shifting their conscious processes into the bodies of natural animals or by physically transforming, they used those forms to move about and act. Every one, it seems, had a favored animal-form. The temporary metempsychosis was a long process not taken lightly, and one suspects that the favored animal was often significant to the individual, possibly the totem animal of the shapeshifter’s human clan. The disguise was never total, either; there was always some kind of visual giveaway. My Native American friends suspect that if you spot a strangely-formed animal – or a natural animal acting strangely – a supernatural influence is to be considered. That goes double when it happens in a powerful place.

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“The words... left me in no doubt that as a child my friend had spoken to something sitting on top of a gate which had replied to him as a pixie.”

Marc Alexander, Enchanted Britain (1981)

This article is in honor of the new internet magazine, Mythology, to which it has been submitted. The launch should be in August.

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About, about in reel and rout

 

The death-fires danced at night.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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 The lights have been with us since the beginning of time, and they will be with us until the end of time.

DuWayne Leslie Bowen

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