A community hall on the outskirts of Warrington, found itself a hotbed of paranormal discussion this weekend. Rixton-with-Glazebrook played host to the first Weird Weekend North, on the second and third of April 2016.
Although the event was held in the North West, we up here in the North East were not forgotten about. Several speakers mentioned reported phenomena and folklore that they had heard about from around the North East. OWNE researcher Gayle Lakin went along to see what it was all about.
Speakers from all over the UK attended to deliver twelve talks over two days. Subject matter included Fortean comics, Poltergeists, Phantom Hitchhikers and Bigfoot. At £20 a ticket, the wide range of lectures was good value for money. The audience turnout was reasonable for an event that is in its first year. There appeared to be a number of academics and experts in the audience. Many of who asked interesting and relevant questions, keeping speakers on their toes. Unfortunately there were some technical issues that resulted in there being no screen available for videos or photographs. Speakers did not let this dampen their enthusiasm and the talks were interesting, varied and mostly entertaining.
Richard Freeman, Zoological Director for the Centre for Fortean Zoology opened the event with a talk on Dragons. Richard captured the audience with his tales of Dragons throughout Mythology and his theories on what might have inspired such tales. Were they huge crocodiles, enormous snakes or large lizards? The sightings of which have terrified villages and towns throughout the centuries. Or, Richard asked, were they inspired by something paranormal in origin? Creatures from another dimension or maybe something else, a thought form perhaps, Tulpa like in origin. A Tulpa is an entity created through a mental or spiritual discipline. (For those of would like further information on the Tulpa, the book “Magic and Mystery in Tibet” by Alexandra David-Neel is a recommended read). Something created by our collective unconscious and released to walk the earth until it is recalled back by its maker.
Richard talked extensively of his anger and frustration at modern day film companies. Fiery beasts are apparently often sadly misrepresented on film, portrayed wrongly as fire breathing monsters with only two legs. Richard repeatedly informed us that Dragons have four legs and two wings. A creature with two legs is a Wyvern. Dragons and Wyverns are commonly confused by the film makers, a pet hate of Richard’s and he made sure we knew about it.
It was good to hear Richard give the North East a couple of mentions. He relayed the tale of the Lambton Worm and how it was slain. Wrapping itself around John Lambton’s spike covered armour and being chopped to bits as it did so, before being washed away in the River Wear (A worm has no legs, film makers please take note).
Richard ended his talk with another, lesser known North East legend. The Shoney, a mythological sea monster, feared by the Vikings, believed to frequent Marsden Bay in South Shields. Richard told us how it was believed human sacrifices were offered to the Shoney by the Vikings in return for safe passage over the bay. Richard said he had heard a report that a body found at Marsden in 1928 may have been a modern day sacrifice to the Shoney, due to the way in which it was found. Police reports have been unable to confirm this, but it was an entertaining tale to end on.
The next talk was given by Steve Jones founder of the Wakefield Pagan Moot. Steve’s talk was entitled “Hooded entities, what are they here for?”
Steve was entertaining and passionate about his subject. He talked about the rediscovery of the Backstone Circle on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire in 1989. Steve said that after the rediscovery two friends of his reported seeing small dwarf like creatures dancing around the stones. He went onto state that shortly after the circle was rediscovered, Chaos magician and writer Phil Hine reported meeting a 7-8ft tall entity on the stairs of his house in Leeds. Phil said the entity told him it was looking for energy. Steve believes the entity may have been released by the discovery of the circle and made the 20+ mile trip to feed off energy created by Phil and his fellow magicians. Steve reported that he has been made aware of other sightings of similar looking creatures at a number of ancient sites including three reported at Stonehenge.
Steve went onto explain that it his belief that these hooded entities may be guardians of ancient sites left to protect the area. Created as some sort of thought form manifestation by the people who built them and triggered when there is a change or threat to the site.
Steve also gave the North East a mention in his talk. He talked about, the Bolam Lake Bigfoot case from Northumberland . The lake has been reported for a number of alleged sightings of a large hairy, Bigfoot type creature by people and strange noises similar to growls have been heard in the surrounding woods. Steve suggested that prior to the sightings an ancient Barrow nearby was damaged by vandals. He said that he believed the sightings may have been the manifestation of a guardian, incensed by the damage.
Next to speak was Caron Charlton along with her fellow researcher Kathryn Chadwick from British Bigfoot Research (BBR). Caron spoke of the research team’s quest to prove the existence of a large native Wildman in the UK. The North East received another mention during this talk. Caron explained that a researcher from BBR had been camping In Hamsterley forest, Bishop Auckland when he was awoken in the night by something large, violently shaking his tent. The researcher believed this to be a Wildman.
Caron explained that through their research BBR believe they have found evidence that is “unquestionably from a Wildman”. She went onto explain that the researchers from the group often find crosses and signs made from sticks and stones when out researching in UK woods and forests. BBR believe these signs are a complex form of ancient communication.