Phantom Clowns, Black Eyed Kids & Entity Experiences

On the New England Folklore blog, a recent post talks of the Phantom Clown phenomena that surfaced in 1981 Boston. Children were reporting being approached by, they assumed, adults in clown costumes. For example there were reports of offers of sweets and attempts to lure them into vehicles. These clowns were never seen by adults and police never found the reported vehicles. Although stories in Boston eventually died down, reports began to emerge from other cities and states in the US. As the stories were generated from eye witness testimony and nothing more tangible found they were put down to children’s imaginings.

The current tales of Black Eyed Kids (for example see here and here) share many undertones with the clown stories. Interestingly, some of the undertones seem to be somewhat reversed. For example, it’s the adults who mainly report encounters with the kids and the kids try to get invited into wherever the adults are rather than enticing them away.

So are these clowns and kids simply figments of the imagination that took on a life of their own to become Urban Myths?

A further couple of posts are worth throwing into the mix here from the ever interesting and recommended Andrew May’s Forteana Blog and Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog.

The first concerns May’s post regarding a drawing by William Blake produced in the 1820’s. The drawing is entitled “The Man Who Taught Blake Painting in his Dreams”. As May points out, there are certain resonances with other entity experiences, especially the UFO contactee accounts of the 1950’s. The second post concerns an account of a bedroom visitation that is eerily reminiscent of many in the alien abduction lore. Only this account is from 1851, a full 110 years before the Betty and Barney Hill case.

Again we have a non-paranormal out for these accounts with valid possible explanations being rooted in the creative mind of a poet and sleep paralysis. But is it this black & white? Should experiences such as included here be simply dismissed as myth or delusion? I guess that depends on who you ask.

What is interesting to me regardless, is the blurring of the categories and labels we hang on people’s anomalous experiences. When does an encounter with an angel become an alien abduction or contactee experience? When it comes down to it and in terms of the experiential nature of it, where is the line drawn between an encounter with an alien, a ghost or even bigfoot? Do these experiences have more in common than they have distinct?

And what of cases where valid explanations such as sleep paralysis or hypnagogic/hypnopompic states carry much weight? Should these be used to simply dismiss the experience or experiencer as delusional and move on? Even if these are the correct explanations, is the “experience” not real and this not interesting in itself?

For me it’s important to remember that, at least currently, these paranormal categories are essentially descriptive, not explanatory. Any vehement pushing of an experience into a strict category looks like promotion of vested interest or defense of a personal perspective. I remember too, that theory should fit the data not the other way around.

Additionally, if there is one thing we can say about these experiences with any confidence it is this. Whatever the ultimate causality or nature of these experiences they have one thing in common…ourselves.

Questions is, what exactly does that mean?