Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, June 2023
by: Brent Raynes
Some of you who have followed John Keel’s writings through the years may well be familiar with this high strange episode recounted in his book The Mothman Prophecies (1975). In it, he recounts a series of strange encounters described by a woman he identified as Jane, a Long Island resident. In one instance, she allegedly got an unusual phone call. A metallic sounding voice instructed her to go to a small public library located near her and look up a certain book on Indian history.
“She did as she was instructed. …she went to the library at 10:30 a.m. The place was deserted except for the librarian, who struck Jane as being unusual. The woman was ‘dressed in an old-fashioned suit like something out of the 1940s, with a long skirt, broad shoulders, and flat old-looking shoes.’ (Remember, this was in 1967, long before the 1940s styles became popular again.) She had a dark complexion, with a fine bone structure, and very black eyes and hair. When Jane entered, the woman seemed to be expecting her and produced the book instantly from under her desk.
“Jane sat down at a table and began to riffle through the book, pausing on page forty-two. Her caller had told her to read that page.
“’You won’t believe this,’ she told me, ‘but the print became smaller and smaller, then larger and larger. It changed into a message and I can remember every word of it.
“’Good morning, friend,’ it began. ‘You have been selected for many reasons. One is that you are advanced in autosuggestion. Through this science we will make contact. I have messages concerning Earth and its people. The time is set. Fear not…I am a friend. For reasons best known to ourselves you must make your contacts known to one reliable person. To break this code is to break contact. Proof shall be given. Notes must be kept of the suggestion state. Be in peace. [signed] A Pal.’
“The print became very small again, and then the normal text reappeared.”
Back in the 1980s, I corresponded with Dee Channel, who called herself a Christian cult deprogrammer who wanted to discuss with me the possibility that some contactee and close encounter accounts were the result of demonic type entities. “It is very easy for me to believe in demons and possessions, as both my husband and I were held by these powers as mediums before our escape to Christianity. Now we counsel others with the skill and knowledge of two old veterans. When I was a medium, they spoke to me by supernaturally raising up the print on certain words of material (any material) I was reading at the time, to give me messages.”
Psychiatrist Dr. Berthold E. schwarz, author of the two-volume book UFO Dynamics (1983), was deeply interested in both mediums and UFO contactees, and felt they were both a part of the same psychic syndrome. One day in early May 1986 the good doctor shared with me how he was making a house call to a psychic medium he had been studying known as Katie. In fact, he claimed that he had “rushed” to get there. An “apport” had reportedly appeared on the palm of this woman’s hand. “It was a golden Chinese fan charm,” Dr. Schwarz explained to me. “I took her outside with the charm in her palm and photographed it and, while looking at it, before my very eyes – I know this is hard to believe – designs of birds and the tree of life appeared on the fan. I rubbed my eyes and could not believe it. Knowing her now quite well, I had examined her ears, mouth, nose, etc., and yet she still was complaining of pain in her left ear and was rubbing it. I was 8 inches away from her and there could have been no sleight of hand or anything else when a multi-faceted fake diamond ring apparently, allegedly or whatever popped out of her left ear.”
A few years ago, one Dennis Morrison of Michigan shared with me his interest in Native American culture. He also collected artifacts. One in particular I had heard about was what he called the image stone. I asked him to tell me about it.
“Now this was in my backyard, where I found that, and I found within a short proximity to it, over 1500 pottery shards, and they represented two very large pots, judging by the rim pieces. That was during the summer. Actually, it was my dog that found those.
“There was a very dear friend of mine. He’s now deceased. His name was Jerry Wagner. He was a local historian, archaeologist and writer. I used to take my finds over there and we’d excitedly go over everything. I took the pottery with me, but the stone that I had found that turned out to be the image stone, it looked like a human face in profile, but it was pretty much just a beach worn stone that had been set on top of a pile of chert or flint flakes. And even at that, that looked like a primitive altar to me, but I took and I gathered up the pottery and some of the stone pieces that were found, and as an after thought I shoved this stone into the bag or box, and I took it over to Jerry’s house. He took out the pottery and he propped the pottery up on the floor, the pieces that I had assembled, with that stone. I didn’t think anything of it until, well, we had talked for maybe a couple of hours about the artifacts and such, and then I started packing the things away and he picked up this stone and I remember he had such a surprised look on his face. He said, “What are the symbols on here, Dennis? Why didn’t you tell me about these?” I said, “Because there weren’t any there.” He showed me the stone and, lo and behold, there were dark symbols that were just very slightly raised from the stone. They were not there, Brent, when I found the stone or when I packed it to take over to Jerry’s house that night.
“That was probably the only time that I really felt a little bit uneasy with something paranormal. I remember riding home by myself that night from his house and I had the stone out of the box on the car seat next to me and I thought, “This is really weird.” I thought, “I might just take this stone and pitch it out.” Boy if I had, I would have missed one of the most incredible experiences I had ever had because over the course of the next couple of months. I remember thinking at the time that it was almost like how the numbers will change on a digital watch. That’s how the symbols changed on there. They weren’t always raised. Sometimes they were dark outlines. But they were witnessed by a lot of people.
“Jerry and I had actually gone to Nelson Yoder’s house, over in Cummins, Michigan. He was the publisher of the Woodland Chronicle. It was a Thanksgiving Dinner. There were 14 people there. Jerry had started a conversation about the stone, and I had taken it with me. So, I took it in. Everybody wanted to see it and there, in front of all of those people, the symbols appeared and disappeared on it faster than I could possibly mark them down. There were human figures, you know, almost childish like stick figures. I remember one in particular that was a stick figure that had what looked like a bow and arrow. There was an amazing array of symbols.
“It was active like that for a period of about three months and then it just stopped, but I had a little building that I had made out in my backyard where I displayed all of the artifacts and things that my ex-wife and I had found over the years, and I had that stone out there, and I remember so many times taking people out there and everything in that building could be dry but that stone would be dripping wet.
“I had some beautiful artifacts out there that I had found, but this was just a plain looking stone that looked like a face. Invariably, people would go to that stone before they would look at any of the arrowheads, spears, axes and things. A few people, and this happened to me too, when I would pick it up you could actually feel your hands tingle. It didn’t do that with everybody, but with a few people it did that.”
A common explanation by skeptics for such perceptions is pareidolia. Often visual it’s when someone perceives some kind of meaningful pattern where none actually exists. But does that really explain away all such anomalous perceptions? After all, according to Dennis Morrison there were multiple eyewitnesses to the shenanigans of his “image stone.” And was Dr. Schwarz, a psychiatrist, simply a victim of self-delusion?