Bigfoot and ETs: Developing Mythologies

June 22, 2009

During May 2009, investigator Vaughn Rees and I traveled for several days in “Bigfoot country” in northern California. We spent a night in a cabin on the Trinity River, and we drove on forestry roads and hiked for miles through rugged wilderness, ultimately overlooking the Bluff Creek site where Roger Patterson filmed Bigfoot, or “Bigsuit,” in 1967. We explored other areas, examined evidence at Bigfoot museums in Willow Creek and Felton, interviewed Bigfoot believers, and photographed images of the alleged creature as it appears in popular culture (e.g., in murals, wood carvings, and souvenir bric-a-brac).

Subsequently, I studied hundreds of Sasquatch/Bigfoot sightings from 1818 to 1980 (in Janet and Colin Bord,   Bigfoot Casebook Updated 2006, 15–310). What becomes apparent from all of this data is the incredible variety of creatures reported (including many that are white, gray-blue, yellow, brown, reddish, black, etc.; that are horned and fanged, or not; that walk on all fours or upright; that have two to six toes; and the like). There seems now to be a trend toward standardization, as the creature evolves into a mythical being—central to a belief shaped by our planetary concerns.

Essentially, Bigfoot is becoming a true myth—a story presenting supernormal episodes that are powerfully explanatory. As our planet “shrinks,” with wilderness places becoming fewer and less remote, hairy man-beasts survive mythologically as evolutionary throwbacks, endangered species of an imperiled planet. Bigfoot is an “ecomessiah,” states anthropologist David J. Daegling (   Bigfoot Exposed , 2004, 250). “If it survives, nature survives.”

And as we turn from Bigfoot, metaphor of our past, we look ahead to the frontiers of the universe with its mythological, futuristic-appearing humanoids. Various “contactees” and “abductees” claim to have received messages (often telepathically) from extraterrestrials—messages like one about “the danger facing the earth’s ecology” (John Mack,   Abduction , 1994, 381).

At a time when old myths (including those of the great religions) are in decline, we stand witness to vibrant new ones, spawned by concerns for our planet and our place in the cosmos. These are developing before our very eyes. While sometimes the mythic beings are bogeymen, representing our primal fears, at other times they are expressive of hope, prophetic beings offering us a type of salvation.