It Gets Weirder Than That

One of the strangest things about the Loch Ness Monster phenomenon is that Loch Ness has a handful of other mysteries – all of them very weird and creepy. As you’ll see. Let’s start with the “Great Beast,” Aleister Crowley. Born in the English county of Warwickshire on October 12, 1875, Edward Alexander Crowley is far better known, today, by his much more infamous and near-legendary moniker, Aleister Crowley. He was a hedonist, bisexual, drug-addict, and astrologer. He was also someone who amusingly provoked outrage amongst closed minds everywhere, and became known as the “Wickedest Man in the World.” Brought up in a strict, Christian household, one that allowed no room for questioning religious teachings, it was practically inevitable that Crowley would exhibit a significant amount of teenage rebellion. Although he entered the highly respectable Trinity College, Cambridge in 1895, it wasn’t long before young Aleister was on the look-out for new pursuits, adventures and wild times. It was also during this period he took on another name: The Great Beast, 666. 

It’s important to note that it was not random chance that, in 1899, took Aleister Crowley to Loch Ness. The location was as important as the purpose he had in mind. In some respects, it was even more important. Crowley’s goal was to perform what he termed the great Operation of the Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage. And to successfully perform it meant finding an abode that perfectly fitted the requirements of the ritual, one that had to be specifically situated in an isolated spot. Since Crowley had specific and highly complex needs, I have presented for you, below, his very own words on this matter. They demonstrate exactly how much work went into finding what ultimately turned out to be a place called Boleskine House. Just before we get to Crowley, however, a brief bit of background on the old manor-house is required.

(Nick Redfern) A loch filled with bizarre phenomena and paranormal activity

Built on the south-east side of Loch Ness, in the late 1700s by Archibald Fraser, Boleskine House was originally intended to be a hunting lodge. And, for many years that is exactly what it was. It stands over both the B852 loch-side road and an old graveyard, one which, ever since the house was built, has had a reputation for being a place of evil and of supernatural malignancy. The house, not far from the villages of Foyers and Inverfarigaig, is even connected to the graveyard by an old tunnel, one which is rumored to have used by witches and warlocks in centuries long gone. Not only that, although the house was not constructed until the 18th century, the locals maintain it stood upon the site of an old church, one that caught fire and which led to the death of the entire congregation that were deep in prayer when the fire broke out. Reportedly trapped, they were all roasted alive. All of which brings us back to Crowley. Of his ideal place to conduct those grand rituals, he said, in his 1922 book, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley:

“There should be a door opening to the north from the room of which you make your oratory. Outside this door, you construct a terrace covered with fine river sand. This ends in a ‘lodge’ where the spirits may congregate. It would appear the simplest thing in the world for a man with forty thousand pounds, who is ready to spend every penny of it on the achievement of his purpose, to find a suitable house in a very few weeks. But a magical house is as hard to find as a magical book to publish. I scoured the county in vain.” That is until he found a certain old house at a certain, creepy, Scottish loch. Interestingly, on coming across Boleskine House, Crowley felt an instant connection to it – and a full-blown supernatural connection, no less. He was of the feeling that Boleskine House operated, in effect, as a portal or doorway, through which supernatural entities and secrets could be channeled. It is unclear to what extent Crowley, while in residence, had an awareness of the long tradition of kelpies in Loch Ness. It should be noted, however, that he had at least some knowledge of the controversy. For example, he had certainly heard of – and even wrote about – magical water nymphs in Loch Ness. And, when all is said and done, a water nymph is a perfect title for a shape-shifting beast of the deep.

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(Nick Redfern) For centuries there has been bizarre activity at Loch Ness.

Now, what about time travel at Loch Ness? Yes, you did read that right! One of the strangest stories of paranormal weirdness at Loch Ness comes from an acclaimed author on all manner of mysteries, Andrew Collins. As Christmas 1979 loomed, Collins – with colleagues Graham Phillips (a parapsychologist) and Martin Keatman (a UFO investigator) – spent a week in Scotland, investigating the Nessie enigma. It involved interviewing witnesses, spending time poring over old archives in Inverness’ library, and checking out the loch itself. It was while they were deep in the heart of their investigation that the trio uncovered a very weird story. Back in the early 18th century a young couple inexplicably vanished while riding a horse and trap near Loch End, on the south shores of Loch Ness. Rumors circulated that the pair was either murdered or abducted. And neither the horse nor the trap were ever seen again. It would have remained a complete mystery, were it not for one thing; a very uncanny thing.

More than one hundred years later, and at the height of tumultuous thunderstorm, a young man and woman walked into a local almshouse, inquiring if the priest that oversaw it would give them shelter for the night, which he did. The priest couldn’t fail to see that the pair was dressed in the kind of clothing that was popular around a century or so earlier. Plus, they seemed very confused, dazed and bewildered, and completely unable to explain where they were from. They remained in that odd, altered state for a couple of days, after which they simply walked out of the almshouse and were never seen again. When the story got out, however, several of the locals recalled old tales of the events of a century earlier, and the missing pair of young lovers. Was this, perhaps, a case of a slip in time having occurred? Did the couple vanish from the 18th century, only to briefly and incredibly manifest in the 19th? Possibly, yes. That the fantastic event should have occurred at Loch Ness is yet another example of how infinitely peculiar the entire area is.

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Let’s take another diversion from the Nessies and head off to a saga of sinister proportions and the very late 1960s. It was during this period that Ted Holiday began to suspect that the discovery of the serpentine tapestry, along with the links to Boleskine House and Aleister Crowley, were indicative of a highly secret, very powerful, and maybe even deadly, “dragon cult” operating in the Loch Ness area. A cult that worshipped the supernatural Nessies by night, and which, perhaps, even made sacrifices to the beasts under a starry, chilled sky. Possibly, even human sacrifices – although, admittedly, there was nothing but hearsay to support this latter controversy-churning claim. Bear in mind that this was only mere months after Holiday’s book, The Great Orm of Loch Ness, was published and which offered a very different scenario to explain the Nessies. Life for Ted Holiday was changing at a rapid pace and in unpredictable and unsettling fashion. Who knew what might be looming around the corner? Certainly not Holiday.

The mysterious group in question, Holiday believed, was said to worship Tiamat, a terrifying Babylonian snake-goddess, or sea-dragon, who was revered as much as she was feared – and chiefly because of her murderous, homicidal ways. She mated with Abzu, the god of freshwater, to create a number of supernatural offspring, all of dragon- and serpent-like appearance. Then there were the dreaded Scorpion Men, equally hideous offspring of Tiamat that were, as their name suggests, a horrific combination of man and giant arachnids. So the legend goes, Abzu planned to secretly kill his children, but was thwarted from doing so when they rose up and slayed him instead. Likewise, Tiamat was ultimately slaughtered – by the god of storms, the four-eyed giant known as Marduk. If, however, one knew the ways of the ancients, one could still call upon the power and essence of Tiamat – despite her death – as a means to achieve power, wealth, influence, and sex. Such rituals were definitively Faustian in nature, however (as they almost always are), and the conjurer had to take great heed when summoning the spirit-form of Tiamat, lest violent, deadly forces might be unleashed. It was highly possible, thought Holiday, that the monsters seen at Loch Ness were manifestations of Tiamat, in some latter day incarnation, and specifically provoked to manifest by that aforementioned cult.

(Nick Redfern) Loch Ness: a place for multiple mysteries. Not just the creatures.

It was situations like this that led Holiday to finally embrace the world of the occult and dismiss his previous theories and ideas on what the monsters of Loch Ness actually were. Like so many that came before him, Holiday found himself immersed in a world of the surreal, a world filled with magic – of both the black and white variety – and with devilish entities, sinister characters, and forces way beyond his control. Even beyond his understanding. On August 13, 1971, a notable encounter occurred at Loch Ness. Not with a monster, but with a UFO! The witness was one Graham Snape, who told Ted Holiday that he saw an unidentified object crossing the skies above Loch Ness in a left to right fashion, quickly, and with not even a bit of accompanying noise. The somewhat circular-shaped UFO was purple with a white center. By his own admission, Snape was unsure of the size of the object but suggested it was around five-feet in diameter.   Holiday was, by now, so deep into the world of the paranormal that Snape’s report scarcely phased him in the slightest. Snape’s encounter, however, was nothing compared to what occurred just three days later. It was something that practically preempted, by six years, the final segment of Steven Spielberg’s 1977 movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in which aliens make face to face contact with the human race. 

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It’s very instructive to note that Tim Dinsdale’s thoughts on the supernatural theory for the Nessies went right back to 1965; which was only a few, short years after his long-championed film-footage was secured. In September of that year, Dinsdale traveled to the loch, for the ninth time, with the hope of securing high-resolution imagery of the creatures – specifically from the south shore, east of Foyers Bay. It wasn’t just Dinsdale’s ninth expedition. It very nearly proved to be his final visit to those notorious waters.  Indeed, the trip was plagued by an extraordinary amount of escalating disasters. His small boat was capsized. He was quickly laid low by a viral infection. He suffered repeated problems with his electrical equipment (something that is often reported in both UFO- and Bigfoot-themed encounters, too). And he badly damaged one of his hands; almost losing the tip of one of fingers in the process. 

Some might put this catalog of disasters down to just unfortunate circumstances and nothing else. Dinsdale, however, felt very strongly otherwise. He said, of this fraught and weird time, that having suffered such health-related calamities he knew it was time to leave behind him both Loch Ness and the distinct sense of unease he experienced whenever he visited the loch. “It was,” said Dinsdale, “as though some awful influence pervaded the atmosphere. Something evil.” Those are quite astonishing words for a man who, publicly, saw the Nessies as flesh and blood animals and nothing else. All of this is fascinating, due to the fact that while everyone associates Loch Ness with the monster(s), Loch Ness is filled with matters relative to time-travel, UFOs, aliens, a legendary occultist and his creepy old house: Boleskine House.

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