Wednesday, 27 April 2011

What is the Loch Ness Monster? (part 2)

In a previous post I began to explore the various possible explanations to account for sightings of Nessie. That first post rather mundanely looked at misidentification of tree debris which though inadequate as a sole theory does explain some claimed sightings.

One might gently move onto deer, birds and otters in the loch, but for this post we go as far as one could possibly go in another explanation of Nessie. This is a theory which came into vogue in the early 1970s and it is the paranormal interpretation of the Loch Ness Monster.

The first proponent of this theory was Ted Holiday in his book "The Dragon and the Disc" which attempted to incorporate Nessie into the increasingly popular idea that most unexplained phenomena were paranormal in nature. This "Theory of Everything" approach had begun when some UFO researchers speculated that flying saucers were not the nuts and bolts spacecraft that many had presumed but may have more surreal origins.

Though Holiday still held to the invertebate theory of his first book ("The Great Orm of Loch Ness") he made a clean break prior to his death in 1979 with a radical theory which was expounded in his third and posthumous book "The Goblin Universe". This theory essentially borrowed from the obscure work of a Professor Harold Burr in positing that Nessie was a three dimensional form which could be formed and held by something Burr called Life Fields which were electrical in nature and had some organic organising properties.

Burr proposed this as a biological principle but Holiday took it further in suggesting that a mind could control the process and cause unexpected forms to materialise. Indeed, he proposed a universal mind akin to God as the controller of these phenomemon though the discussion also included the human mind and the collective subconciousness of the entire human race. How these three "minds" interacted if at all was not clear to me and there is no evidence to support such a theory. In some sense it is a hypothesis looking for data.

Why would Holiday abandon more reasonable flesh and blood theories for something that is speculative in the extreme? The answer is that Holiday believed the old superstitions surrounding dragons and water horses had a large grain of truth to them - these creatures were indeed magical in some way.

He also thought that a lot of the strange coincidences he witnessed during his time at the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau and as a private Nessie hunter went beyond coincidence. Things such as cameras malfunctioning, the monster appearing out of LNI camera shot, plus what he thought was a general malevolent atmosphere about the place. Add some unusual paranormal encounters around Loch Ness including a meeting with what we would call a MIB (Man In Black) in Foyers and you can understand where he is coming from even if you do not accept his views.

Do any other Loch Ness Monster hunters advocate this hypothesis to some degree? One was Anthony Shiels who took the (in)famous photos of Nessie near Urquhart Castle in 1977. He believed in a psychic aspect to these sightings but his discussion on this in his book "Monstrum!" is unclear as he also adhered to an invertebrate interpretation of the creature.

There is also a suggestion that Tim Dinsdale believed in a paranormal aspect to the Loch Ness phenomemon but this is less clear cut. I will mention that in a later blog posting.

So, all in all, this is the most exotic theory concerning the monster. Yes, it explains a lot of things about the beast but at the same time a major shift in one's perception of reality is required. Of course, if someone is already inclined to believe in supernatural events then perhaps the leap is not too great. In fact, I dabbled myself with this theory in the 1980s, but took a step back to let outwardly simpler theories have priority.

Indeed, the fact that such a theory should gain some prominence does point to the realization that no one theory seems to explain everything about witness sightings (and that includes the the log/deer/wave/birds/hoax theory of sceptics). One may suggest some identity for the creature but it falls short in explaining some aspect of behaviour or morphology.

For this paranormal theory, there is a solution is available but at the expense of some big assumptions.


  1. This is a crazy theory. But like we discussed on the other comment board, I get a feeling that a large invertabrate is what we are looking for or perhaps just something that looks like one. I have had this theory about the sightings on land that report some with long necks and some with hardly a neck at all. Do you think it is possible that the creature may have a retractable and extendable neck? Just like that of long necked turtle seen here:

    Im not implying at all that the lochness monster is a turtle. Just a possible invertabrate, Reptile, penniped or Amphibian with a long and retractable neck. This is my own theory and Im not sure if anyone has ever touched on this before. Let me know if someone has, Id love to read about it.

  2. You know, I am more minded to think that neck is not a neck at all. Perhaps "appendage" is the best word for now and "retractable" is not a bad adjective either. Of course, being retractable makes it less likely it has vertebrae but not impossible..

  3. I favor the paranormal interpretation and here is why. First I am Native American, and being so am familiar with legends handed down through the centuries. Bigfoot comes to mind. Throughout indian legend, it has been believed that the creature comes from another dimension and can cross into ours at will. Some sightings even suggest this. My question is how did native Americans know of other dimensions,hundreds of years ago, when today science is just now getting around to accepting such things. Quantum Physics now says at least 11 other dimensions must exist for our Universe to be. I think this whole crypto creature thing is related. Also after witch rituals along the banks of the loch, sightings increased, at least this is what has been printed. what of the Lochs association with Alister Crowley, and as U stated with the UFO phenom... any feedback will be appreciated.

  4. Well, you're not alone in that interpretation. I held some form of it myself over 20 years ago, but put it "on hold" whilst I looked for simpler explanations.

    There is something strange about that whole area which I cover in my book. It has a high density of Kelpie/Water-Horse legends and, of course, Crowley said it was some kind of energy "portal" which he deemed necessary to be near to perform his magick.

    However, Nessie had been seen decades and centuries before Crowley turned up. Did his activities heighten sighting activity? If I was a paranormalist here, I would say no because there must have been 20 years between Crowley leaving Loch Ness and the first wave of sightings in 1933.

  5. Warren Smith (Eric Norman), Brad Steiger, D. Scott Rogo and John Keel have also discussed the paranormal nature of Loch Ness Monster in their books.

  6. You may also enjoy the book Alien Animals by Janet and Colin Bord. At the back of the book the authors put forward the hypothesis that the subject themselves actually create the images of the monsters with their minds and that they can take form in external reality (thought forms) and actually have some kind of objective existence to be played to people under certain conditions, it reminds me of the stone tape theory of ghosts.

    1. Thanks, haven't read my copy for decades so will check it out. Sounds pretty much in line with Holiday.

  7. In the book Monsters: An Investigator's Guide to Magical Beings by John Michael Greer p. 125 it talks about Holiday taking part in an excorcism of the loch ness and after it occured weird things were experienced.

    Also Colin Wilson in one of his books has written a whole chapter about Holiday (I will try and locate the book). Wilson writes that Holiday had given up his belief in a physical creature (giant invertebrate) as nessie until he saw the photos from Robert H. Rines. Apparently then he endorsed his original hypothesis that the creature may be physical after all but still also supported his other view that they could be dimensional beings as well. He seems to have supported both. What do you think about the Rhines photos?

    I just noticed John Michell in his book Living Wonders has also advocated the parnormal theory for nessie.

    1. Yes, Holiday describes the exorcism and subsequent events in his Goblin book. The Rines pictures have received a bad press. The 1972 flipper is a retouch with the original being inconclusive at best.

      The 1975 pictures show more promise but the only one I would look at favouraby is the long neck and body pic.

  8. According to this link:

    "In the late 1980's, both Tim Dinsdale and Erik Beckjord, a "hunter of unexplained mysteries" both came to believe that Nessie was a paranormal phenomena. Erik Beckjord showed a film he took of the creature, that the people who saw it agreed that the creature was a white, shape-shifting thing that wasn't a reptile."

    Have you seen the video of Beckjord? Interesting beckjord also believed bigfoot was an interdimensional creature.

    1. Sadly no. The video has no doubt gone the way of others and disappeared from public view ... unless it has made its way to YouTube. Who inherited Beckjord's film when he died basically?

  9. I think that Loren Coleman may know, I might email him about that. I have been looking for all books which advocate the paranormal theory for loch ness, I do not think there are any others. As I mentioned John Keel also discussed it in one of his books, and so did Warren Smith. I take it you have read the smith book? What was Smith's theory of the loch ness monster? Im guessing it was paranormal based, did he come to any final conclusion. Smith was a UFO writer who also wrote books on Bigfoot and other paranormal topics.