“The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking. I’ve never seen anybody really find the answer– they think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.”
– Ken Kesey
Dandelions. Thousands of dandelions. The front yard has been a breeding patch for these little mutants. I had the pleasure of digging dandelions Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I think we reduced their number by a third… yet more pop up. I understand the siren call of using weed killer, but the water tables… the water tables…
Sunday Do the Chores:
Dandelions (see above)
Off to Goodwill, picking up work clothes. Found 2 great books: Huston Smith’s “The World’s Religions & James Fadiman & Robert Frager’s ” Essential Sufism.
Feeling rather chuffed at that I proceeded up to the CD store and picked up Donovan’s BARABAJAGAL, (I had gone in for a remix of Philip Glass) which Rowan has since squirrelled away somewhere in his room…
After the CD store we walked the Doglet over in the park around the corner. Socialization Hour for the Pooch. She was unimpressed with the local male canines. She felt they were all a bit rude. She even ignored the off-leash joy of chasing the stick. Ah… well. Headed home…
So what is the big mystery? The life, pure and simple. Watching Mary call a Robin down to her, and have it rooting for worms underneath her feet, calm in the fact that she (the Robin) is safe with the human.
The Mystery? The utter beauty that cannot be classified. The joy of knowing life in the moment, in the eternal now.
The Mystery? Why so much of the world is shrouded in our Dreams.
On The Menu:
The Article… Magic Lanterns
The Poetry: Earth Prayers
Have a good Monday…
Excellent exploration of the Arts….
The Rendlesham Incident of 1980 is by no means the earliest case of strange lights in the area. Alan Murdie and Robert Halliday have uncovered an account dating to the 1940s.
Illustrations by Alex Severin
As is well known, that cause célèbre of British ufology, the Rendlesham Forest UFO case, first came to public attention in early 1981. Over the years, it has grown in importance, spawning a whole series of books, articles, claims and counter-claims from sceptics and believers alike. It has drawn in military figures, politicians, the Ministry of Defence and the Pentagon. And, as with Roswell, while the stories have become more fantastic as time has gone on, critiques of the case have become increasingly detailed.
ome of the more extraordinary tales in circulation can be traced back to the local ufologist Brenda Butler, who was responsible for launching the Rendlesham story back in 1981. It was Brenda who, with Dot Street, brought the story to the attention of Jenny Randles, who contacted Flying Saucer Review. In the spring of 1981, an account was also provided to the local fortean magazine Lantern, produced by the now defunct Borderline Science Investigation Group from Lowestoft. Under the title “CIII at Woodbridge?” Lantern carried what, at this distance, is an incredibly low-key treatment of the Rendlesham incident, burying it away on page 17. 1 Brenda Butler has maintained her belief in the story through thick and thin. Like Arthur Shuttlewood at Warminster or Alex Campbell at Loch Ness, she has kept the story rolling along with interviews and broadcasts. Brenda Butler generously gives her time to guiding groups through the forests, which seem almost to have become sacred to her.
Potentially the most significant of these ancillary stories were claims that mysterious lights were seen in the Rendlesham area in the past. Stories of strange lights being seen during the Victorian era and earlier are mentioned in Georgina Brunis You Cant Tell the People (2001). Brunis source was Brenda Butler and, if true, these would be suggestive of at least something strange in the area even if only anomalous lights rather than full-blown UFO phenomena. On a visit to Rendlesham Forest in September 2002 we took the opportunity to talk to Brenda Butler about the stories. Persisting in asking how she had learned of them, we eventually obtained from Brenda an admission that she could no longer remember the identity of her local sources with any precision. Regrettably, these stories have thus become hearsay, illustrating the difficulties of collecting oral testimony.
It is therefore most intriguing to come across a local report of strange light activity a few miles from Rendlesham which cannot in any way be attributed to any post-1980/81 witness account, rumour or hearsay. A search for forteana in a rare local collection, The East Anglian Miscellany, published between 1933-1943, reveals a letter from a Mr GF Fell of Orford, which reads as follows:
“May I beg a space in the Miscellany for a problem I have never been able to solve? Perhaps some reader can explain or enlighten me on the subject. In my boyhood days 60 years ago [i.e. c.1882] there were no cinemas or dance halls, not even a gramophone, and us boys had to find material for amusement standing at the corner of the street. Most people have heard or read stories about Will-o-the-wisps: we called them Hobby Lanterns. I expect very few people have seen one, and some may think no-one else has, but this story is absolutely true. At Sudbourne there are two fields known as Workhouse Field and Kiln Field and on certain nights one of these objects could be seen on these fields. They look like a dull red light, like a lantern with the glass smoky. It moved to and fro across the field, about walking pace, always in the same track above the ground: it never went near the hedge.” 2
At this point, it should be mentioned that Sudbourne is a hamlet close to what is now known as Rendlesham Forest. In an incident which mirrors the actions of American servicemen 100 years later, the boys decided to go and hunt down the light:
“One night we went out to see if we could find what it was. When we went off the road on the field it vanished, so we spread out and walked across the field and back slowly, but we could see nothing. Then as we were going off the field it suddenly appeared again: then half of us stopped on the road and the others went to have another look; they could see nothing, but from the road it was visible all the time except at intervals of a few seconds it was invisible.”
Like the American servicemen from Bentwaters a century later, the boys made repeated efforts to trace the light on successive nights. Mr Fell recalled:
“We tried it several nights: the result was always the same, so we had to leave it a mystery. Now the problem is: It was visible at two or three hundred yards or more and invisible at less than one hundred yards. Why?”
Anyone familiar with the Rendlesham Forest sightings of December 1980 will notice certain parallels. Like one of the lights initially reported by the American servicemen in the Rendlesham Forest, Mr Fells light was red and appeared and vanished intermittently, confusing observers. As with the American witnesses, it was an experience that made a lasting impression and clearly stayed with Mr Fell for many years afterwards. Although no time of year is stated for Mr Fells experience, it is possible that the light was seen in the wintertime when it would have been dark early and there were no other games or entertainments to pursue. The light is also described as being close to the ground, which might suggest an autumn or wintertime appearance, the ground being free of crops or long grass. Aficionados of the earthlight hypothesis (they too seem to occur often in wintertime) will also recognise the comparison with a lantern.
The prime candidate explanaining the phenomenon, as with the 1980 Rendlesham UFO incident is, a misidentification of the Orfordness Lighthouse (see FT152:28-32). The current light is one of several to have existed at Orford over the centuries. The earliest form of lighthouse was established in the area in 1634, and there has been a light at the present site since 1792 when a structure with candles and burning coals was set up. 4 However, Sudbourne seems too far from the site for a lighthouse beam to be directly implicated as a culprit in the way it has been with the Rendlesham case. From an examination of old maps of the area we discovered that Kiln Field and Workhouse field are quite widely separated within the parish itself, so the mysterious red light was able to cover a considerable distance in Sudbourne. It is conceivable that a strange atmospheric effect might have distorted beams from the lighthouse, but how did the light appear to move “at walking pace” on two fields separated by some distance?
Interestingly, to the east of Sudbourne lies an area known suggestively as “the Lantern Marshes”. The name is certainly an old one, apparently predating the establishment of any lighthouse or beacon, and a check of the records reveals a map carrying the name “Lanterne Marsh” dating from 1600.5 Strange lights were frequently referred to as “Lantern Men”, “Jack O Lanterns” and “Hobby Lanterns” (the term used by Mr Fell) in Suffolk dialect. However, it would be wrong to read too much into the place name in the absence of other evidence.
More pertinently, it may be noted that strange red lights are not the only oddities to have been seen in the neighbourhood. A green meteor was reported moving in the direction of Orford in the autumn of 1999, stimulating correspondence in the local press; 6 forteans and ufologists may note how writers from Charles Fort to John Keel have made much of strange meteors, and green ones were also a concern in the early days of the modern UFO phenomena in the USA. 7
Regrettably, Mr Fell never received any answer or explanation for his appeal, at least not through the pages of the East Anglian Miscellany. However, we hope its reprinting here will be of comfort to any surviving readers of the Miscellany or descendants of Mr Fell insofar as his plea did not go entirely unnoticed.
In the meantime, the discovery of this old account arguably poses a problem. It is a strange coincidence if nothing else that witnesses in the 1880s had successive sightings of strange red lights not far from the site of one of the major British UFO incidents of the second half of the 20th century. Indeed, it will be interesting to see what sceptics of anomalous light phenomena at Rendlesham will make of Mr Fells account, which obviously pre-dates any notions of UFOs, particularly just when the Rendlesham story seemed to be at the point of final exorcism. Indeed, for those who have pronounced the case “solved”, Mr Fells statement may bring to mind a remark by the philosopher Professor CD Broad. Considering claims that the presence of infra-red equipment in séance rooms frustrated spiritualist manifestations, he remarked: “It may or may not be a significant fact but it is certainly an unfortunate one”.
Earth Prayers: A big Thanks to Tomas for turning me on to the book “Earth Prayers”
We TwoHow Long We were Foold.
WE twohow long we were foold!
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape, as Nature escapes;
We are Naturelong have we been absent, but now we return;
We become plants, leaves, foliage, roots, bark;
We are bedded in the groundwe are rocks;
We are oakswe grow in the openings side by side;
We browsewe are two among the wild herds, spontaneous as any;
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together;
We are what the locust blossoms arewe drop scent around the lanes, mornings and
We are also the coarse smut of beasts, vegetables, minerals;
We are two predatory hawkswe soar above, and look down;
We are two resplendent sunswe it is who balance ourselves, orbic and stellarwe
are as two comets;
We prowl fangd and four-footed in the woodswe spring on prey;
We are two clouds, forenoons and afternoons, driving overhead;
We are seas minglingwe are two of those cheerful waves, rolling over each other, and
interwetting each other;
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious:
We are snow, rain, cold, darknesswe are each product and influence of the globe;
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home againwe two have;
We have voided all but freedom, and all but our own joy.
(Hildegard Von Bingen)
I am the one whose praise echoes on high.
I adorn all the earth.
I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.
I am the rain coiming from the dew
that causes the greasses to laugh with the joy of life.
I am the yearning for good.
Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through a tree,
Or a dog howls in a far-off farm,
I hold still and listen a long time.
My world turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.
My soul turns into a tree,
And an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions. What should I reply?
The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee
( N. Scott Momaday)
I am a feather on the bright sky
I am the blue horse that runs in the plain
I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water
I am the shadow that follows a child
I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows
I am an eagle playing with the wind
I am a cluster of bright beads
I am the farthest star
I am the cold of dawn
I am the roaring of the rain
I am the glitter on the crust of the snow
I am the long track of the moon in a lake
I am a flame of four colors
I am a deer standing away in the dusk
I am a field of sumac and the pomme blanche
I am an angle of geese in the winter sky
I am the hunger of a young wolf
I am the whole dream of these things
You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the earth
I stand in good relation to the gods
I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful
I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte
You see, I am alive, I am alive
(Gordon & Gwyllm on Saturday…)