In discussing Stan Gordon’s claims that Bigfoot is part of an extraterrestrial plot, I discovered that American conspiracy culture apparently has made the Sasquatch-UFO connection a standard part of the extraterrestrial conspiracy, and thanks to some insightful comments on yesterday’s blog post I see that science fiction apparently anticipated the development of the Sasquatch-UFO connection at each stage of its development.
As most of you know, I don’t believe stories come out of nowhere, and I’m inclined to look for the mythological and folkloric background that gives rise to novel claims that lack what we might term objective evidence.
The legend of Bigfoot is rather a late development. Despite occasional claims for large bipedal bear-like monsters (as Teddy Roosevelt reported in the 1890s), Bigfoot as a giant ape emerges only after 1958, in the wake of popular accounts of the Yeti, the ape man of the Himalayas, springing from the 1951 “discovery” of alleged Yeti footprints in the Himalayas. As the story developed in the United States, it seemed to be a rationalization of earlier folklore and myth, taking on aspects of legends about lost tribes of wild men and red-haired cannibal giants, familiar from Euro-American interpretations and reinventions of Native American myths, particularly after the 1920s, in light of the theory of evolution, which—by coincidence—also saw a fluorescence of prestige following the Scopes Monkey Trial. Applying the logic of evolution to the assumption of a reality behind mythology led to the inevitable conclusion: the violent, deranged giants of myth must have been some type of ape-like primitive humanoid.
But science fiction was already in the process of marrying apes and aliens even during the formative phase of the Bigfoot legend. A good chunk of claims later made for Bigfoot can already be found in Algernon Blackwood’s “The Wendigo” (1910), in which key elements of the Bigfoot legend are already present: the backwoods setting, the mysterious footprints in the snow, the stench that follows him about, and of course the specific emphasis on the wild man’s feet: “His feet! Oh, Gawd, his feet! Look at his great changed—feet!” Despite genuine Algonquin lore describing the wendigo as an emaciated, skeletal creature, since at least 1855 Euro-Americans associated it with magic and a lost race of giants. Here’s Longfellow in the Song of Hiawatha:
Cleanse the earth from all that harms it,
Kenabeeks in the poem are serpents, so the grammar makes plain that the Wendigos were giants—stinky, cannibal giants who left large, mysterious footprints for travelers to find.
The important point is that it is the Euro-American imagination that provides the impetus for these claims, not preexisting Native American beliefs. While menacing giants appear in Native beliefs (as they do in almost every culture), the stereotypical red-haired giant cannibals were a Euro-American imposition on Native lore, drawn from European folklore originals, like those found in the Travels of John Mandeville or Marco Polo, by way of an overriding belief that the giants of Genesis 6:4 were flesh and blood creatures that could be found in the Americas. To that end, mastodon, mammoth, and sloth bones were pressed into service as evidence of Bible giants from the Conquest down to the Enlightenment—long before they suggested a shape for Bigfoot.
On the alien side, H. P. Lovecraft did his part in making apes into the servants of the aliens. In At the Mountains of Madness (1931), Lovecraft writes that the aliens created “a shambling, primitive mammal, used sometimes for food and sometimes as an amusing buffoon by the land dwellers, whose vaguely simian and human foreshadowings were unmistakable.” Yet it is perhaps the Old Ones themselves who bear a closer similarity to Bigfoot. In the Dunwich Horror the Old Ones share many traits with latter-day Bigfoot claims: they are trans-dimensional, in league with aliens, foul-smelling, and observable primarily through their footsteps: Yog-Sothoth “knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread. By Their smell can men sometimes know Them near…” It shouldn’t take much to see that Lovecraft was drawing on Blackwood’s “Wendigo.”
By the 1950s, science fiction had pretty well established the final idea of a gorilla in service to space aliens, if only by accident. In The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), it was established that superior alien intelligences had super-strong robot servants, so Robot Monster (1953) wanted its evil alien, the Great Guidance, to have a robot servant to destroy the earth. Unfortunately, they couldn’t afford a robot suit, so they had to make do with a gorilla suit and a space helmet for the evil Ro-Man Extension XJ-2. Thus we have an early “Bigfoot” doing the bidding of space aliens. The year after Bigfoot’s debut in 1958, DC Comics introduced Gorilla Grodd, who gained telepathic powers and super strength from a radioactive meteor. Later, DC revised his origin story and made his powers dependent on an encounter with…yes…an alien spaceship!
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) placed an extraterrestrial monolith at the origin of human consciousness and thus connected apes and aliens anew. By 1976, The Six Million Dollar Man, in a two-part episode I’ve never seen (S03E16 and E17, “The Secret of Bigfoot”) discovered that Bigfoot is in fact a robot monster created by a race of aliens to protect them from humans. The alien-Bigfoot team returned for a Six Million and Bionic Woman crossover at the beginning of the 1976-1977 TV season, where by bizarre coincidence the aliens demanded metals and jewels at the same time that Zecharia Sitchin told the world in Twelfth Planet (1976) that the aliens demanded precious metals!
At this point, the connection between UFOs and Bigfoot had seeped back across the line dividing science fiction from fringe history. While there is virtually no mention of the two together as late as 1970 in the fringe literature, something changed when Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman began to claim that there was a deep connection between Bigfoot and UFOs in their cryptozoology works of the mid-1970s, largely on the evidence that both phenomena appear largely to agricultural and working-class people in rural America. Such claims were influential; in 1977 Leonard H. Stringfield reported in Situation Red, the UFO Siege! that UFOs and Bigfoot had been seen together. And by 1980, this was now a commonplace. Ann Druffel and D. Scott Rogo reported in The Tujunga Canyon Contacts that year, for example, that “there is some evidence that UFOs and Bigfoot-like creatures are occasionally seen in close proximity.”
Perhaps surprisingly, the connection between Bigfoot and the Nephilim seems to have come much later, after 1990, when creationists began casting about for new ways to drum up interest in their ideas after the Supreme Court forbade teaching creation science in schools, but the theme only really took off after 2000, with the rise of the internet and its crazy quilt of improvisational fringe theology. This is particularly surprising since the theory has such a well-established and hoary antiquity. Helena Blavatsky, in The Secret Doctrine (1888) set the stage for the Bigfoot-Nephilim connection in particular and his supernatural powers in general when she wrote that the Nephilim of Genesis 6:4 were gigantic “hairy men”:
Gesenius and others devote an enormous space to the meaning of the word Nephilim and explain very little. But Esoteric Records show these hairy creatures to be the last descendants of those Lemuro-Atlantean Races, which begot children on female animals, of species now long extinct; thus producing dumb men, “monsters,” as the Stanzas [of Dzyan] have it.
And voila! We have the supernatural origin of Bigfoot in embryo.
Obviously, when the first Bigfoot hoaxes began in 1958, no one was planning a sting on Theosophy the way the Cardiff Giant was meant to send up biblical literalism. But the reason Bigfoot survived in folklore and developed into a phenomenon when other “mysteries” failed was because the myth managed to settle into a spot where it could serve as a cypher drawing in the occult and the esoteric, the religious, and the scientific in a way that seemingly would bring together and reconcile the opposites. Occult belief and biblical training set the stage, and 1950s scientific rationalism gave spurious scientific cover to what apparently has always been a lightly rationalized effort at proving the age-old myth of the giants of old, the men of renown.
To that end, in all of the research I did today, I found one interesting factoid I did not previously know: Seutonius recognized that the relics of the giants were nothing more than “the monstrous bones of huge sea monsters and wild beasts, called the ‘bones of the giants,’” he wrote in Twelve Caesars 2.72. Even today, the remains of our giants, the Bigfoot, are still nothing more than the hair of bears and scraps of misidentified animal bones. Nothing ever changes, least of all this: The single key to understanding virtually all of fringe history conspiracy culture is Genesis 6:1-4, where the Sons of God (the Watchers) and their Giant children serve as the model for demon-aliens and their Bigfoot servants.
These four verses, which have inspired more fringe history than any four sentences ever written, stand at the center of all the madness and the zany ideas, uniting through their many and varied interpretations medieval demonology, lost civilization theories, ancient astronauts, Bigfoot, creation science, and more. For whatever reason, these scant words are the foundation for occult history. The myth of the Watchers-Giants sets the cultural stage and the psychological worldview of Western culture and therefore shapes the way ambiguous myths, legends, and phenomena are interpreted and integrated into the tapestry of conspiracy culture.
4/22/2014 08:06:58 am
Dogman Monsters Are Real.
Chronology of Bigfoot encounters
4/22/2014 08:46:57 am
Robin S. Swope
4/22/2014 09:02:05 am
The whole thing comes down to people's personal encounters. Are they legit or are they confused/crazy/hallucinating? There was an unsolved Project Blue Book case in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1966 where a group of teenagers became stuck at a local beach and encountered a UFO and a Bigfoot type creature. One of the female witnesses was visibly shaken and her story was featured in a psychological journal where the professionals looking into her case were positive that what she encountered were real to her and that she had no mental health issues beyond a PTSD from the incident. Air Force took samples of a gel from inside a possible landing site and hair from a tree limb where the creature appeared. Something happened. I know Stan Gordon's personal research as well and it all relies upon witness testimony. So people are encountering something, what it is becomes the mystery.
4/22/2014 11:39:19 am
These are actually two separate questions. The actual cause of a witness's experience may not be related to the cultural matrix used to interpret that event. Bigfoot and UFOs are cultural narratives our brains impose on ambiguous stimuli, something like the way you can mistake a shoelace for a snake.
4/22/2014 12:22:27 pm
i really gotta luv all those extant
lil ole moi
4/22/2014 12:26:25 pm
Yes... we can see what we want to see... David Hume
4/22/2014 01:30:40 pm
Hi Everyone, I am now starting to use multiple aliases so get ready !!!!
4/22/2014 03:58:04 pm
While the idea of a connection between UFOs and Bigfoot is interesting to those who follow the topic, it is inherently limited.
4/23/2014 03:49:06 am
The flip side of the coin is that everyone who is an eyewitness
4/22/2014 04:51:24 pm
Actually, science has repeatedly proven that witness testimony is TERRIBLE for getting factual evidence. "Something happened" is a seriously huge, vast area of vagueness. Perhaps they were hoaxed. Perhaps they were on drugs and triggered each other. Perhaps the UFO was a trick of atmospherics and the Bigfoot was a bear or an escaped chimpanzee. Perhaps the female witness was attacked by the boys and fabricated a story for long enough to build a false memory about it. Perhaps they just had a moment of eeriness that was then spun into a false memory of UFO and Bigfoot when they were questioned with leading questions by a ufologist. Perhaps they had been scaring themselves silly with fireside stories and then a twig cracked in the dark. Perhaps they really did have the encounter as described. But just eyewitness testimony leaves all of these possibilities as wide open.
4/22/2014 04:55:24 pm
I have to say, the biggest thing that kills the Bigfoot mythos for me is the "cannibal" aspect. I just can't think of a single species of ape that is outright carnivorous. Even human beings are omnivorous. I have great difficulty with "Bigfoot is a great ape that wants to catch and eat human beings because they are cannibalistic carnivores." It just doesn't go with reports of their build and their teeth.
4/22/2014 05:38:24 pm
I'm reminded of a story a caller to Coast to Coast gave about a year and a half ago.
4/22/2014 06:14:52 pm
"Maybe one day we'll learn the Templars made a sacred pact with Bigfoot to lend the Holy Bloodline their spaceships in exchange for some of that land the Knights claimed with their fancy coded rocks."
4/23/2014 01:46:30 am
Perfect. Even half-drunk and tired one can't help but stumble right into the very heart of fringedom. I suppose I would be remiss in pointing out, however, that Lucas cribbed most of the first movie from Akira Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress; so technically the Jedi are samurai... or SAMURAI TEMPLARS! Now Japan's implicated, so we might as well add their Axis Powers buddies the Nazis (Sith) and really get this conspiracy rolling.
4/23/2014 01:11:50 am
Bigfoot = Chewbacca(Wookie)
4/23/2014 06:02:55 am
Robot Monster appears to have had more impact than I gave it credit. Stephen King refered to Robot Monster as being "art of quite a high nature" and it was John Carpenter's favorite film growing up.
SUETONIUS + GIGANTOPITHICUS TEETH ...by (jad)
4/23/2014 11:12:43 am
JASON has a neat observation!
4/23/2014 11:17:35 am
we often see them, these latentghosts of our Ids, because they
lil ole french moi...
4/23/2014 11:30:48 am
http://www.uiowa.edu/~bioanth/giganto.html <---neat link
4/25/2014 06:20:49 am
This is somewhat off topic, but this post reminded me of an episode of the "The Real Adventures of Johny Quest" (an animated show that aired in the mid-90s for two seasons) that I watched when I was younger. The show used a number of "fringe" theories as plot devices, but this episode in particular (I believe season 2 episode 5 titled "Dark Mountain" from some cursory searching) had Bigfoot stealing technology from the Quests' compound. Come to find out, Bigfoot was actually an alien in disguise who had crashed on Earth and was attempting to repair its ship. Its interesting how such ideas manifest themselves in different forms in popular culture.
Comic Book Reader
4/25/2014 09:35:02 pm
Interesting. An episode of Futurama also features yetis and aliens, though somewhat later than the Johnny Quest-show. This time as a sort of pet or "cute animal" for the aliens, who will gladly kill humans to stop them from harming the yetis.
4/27/2014 04:08:02 pm
Jason Colavito's remarks make me think of this brilliant study by Arienne Mayor:
5/1/2014 08:39:13 pm
finding Bigfoot DNA is highly likely
10/30/2014 06:05:09 pm
The aliens in the context of the nation-state – outlining that not only the alien but also the citizen has to be constructed.
12/13/2014 11:05:22 am
U.f.O. and big foot do have a common interest.. On a .T.V. show back up my theory that host the paranorminal show. One 20 years ago describe a U.F.O. and a bigfoot presence together and then 20 years later another show indicaed the same, plus what you read in between the years add up to the same possibliyties. For anything to be so smart that can hid from us in this day of age has to make you think they could be back up as the U.f.O. extra pair of eyes, etc, to study our world. Most of our world does not believe in life beyound our planet and there are those who do believe. The same for the unexplained things that we may see in our life time but you do not tell anyone else because the world still takes a very far back seat, I like to offer more, but even I have said too much.
2/19/2015 06:35:39 am
nice post frnds i really like for this post
2/26/2015 04:26:24 am
Very useful and informative post friend.
8/10/2016 02:30:52 am
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8/19/2016 04:23:23 am
Thanks owner for making this such a nice blog . .
1/5/2017 04:12:25 pm
nice post thanks for shairng
11/10/2017 03:23:38 am
Nicely written article. Thanks for sharing such a nice blog.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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