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Chasing rabbits

Lakeshore Entertainment / Andrew W. Griffin
Chapped lips. Blown minds.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – While finally getting around to reading John A. Keel’s classic “true story” The Mothman Prophecies over the weekend (reviewed here), the name of a town – Cheshire, Ohio – caught my attention. I knew that name!

It was back in March 2011, some five days after the earthquake and tsunami that affected northeastern Japan – resulting in the destruction of the Fukushima nuclear power plant – and I wrote a Dust Devil Dreams post titled “The Cheshire moon.” The image I chose to use with the post was one I found that day on the weather forecasting website Accuweather. To illustrate the weather in a particular place in the U.S., Accuweather had chosen Cheshire, Ohio, which had the distinction that day of “worst weather,” where Cheshire was struck with “soaking rain.”

And the image used was of the green-eyed Cheshire Cat of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, smiling manically in the pouring rain. In Keel's book, it rains a lot. It's all together pretty dreary.

It was weird. And yet at the time – and really not until today, more than six years later – I did not make the connection between Cheshire, Ohio and the baffling Mothman saga.

In the sync post I  had noted how the night before the Fukushima catastrophe – one that is affecting us up to this very day – my companion had noted how the moon that night “was smiling like the Cheshire Cat.”

As I wrote at the time:

Indeed it was.

Now, when she said this I got a bit of a chill. It was yet another reference to the fictional feline from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

In the story, which I happen to be reading, strangely enough, the Cheshire Cat appears before Alice at unexpected times while sometimes raising philosophical points that annoy or baffle Alice, as noted in a Wikipedia entry. Of course it is known for disappearing gradually until nothing is left but that “Cheshire Cat grin” – much the way the moon appeared the night before the Japan earthquake.

For weeks leading up to now I have been coming across all sorts of Cheshire Cat and Alice in Wonderland references. From constantly hearing Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” to coming across the Tim Burton film version of the story, to casual references here and there. Alice and the Cheshire Cat seem to be everywhere in our culture and even in the cosmos.”

So, it was on page 102 of The Mothman Prophecies where Keel interviews Cheshire, Ohio residents Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hern, who, in the midst of the Mothman and UFO flap in that region, spotted a strange craft with a red light on it and “figures moving about” on the opposite river bank (the West Virginia side), until the “object rose straight up into the air and disappeared into the sky.

As Mr. Hern said: “(T)his was definitely something I’ve never seen before.”

This area, Cheshire, Ohio, is directly across the river from the “TNT area” of an old ammunition dump where Mothman and other entities and weirdness were frightening the locals. As I found out today, Cheshire is largely a ghost town now, due to the negative environmental impact the neighboring American Electric Power plant had on the health of the town’s several hundred citizens. Perhaps Mothman was also warning locals about events far in the future as well.

At the beginning of the weirdness in the Point Pleasant, West Virginia area, in November 1966, Keel was not aware there was a UFO aspect to the Mothman phenomenon. Stories like that shared by the Herns – and others over time, with Keel having his own sighting – got him to believe otherwise.

But back to “The Cheshire moon” piece … in the early morning of March 11, 2011, at approximately the same moment, Japan time, that the earthquake and subsequent disaster took place, I came out of a horrible nightmare “about a 9/11-type tragedy mixed with scenes of death and destruction that brought to mind the destruction of Krypton, Superman’s planet, as shown in the 1978 film Superman. Truly horrible.”

What was weird, and something I discovered much later, was that on March 17, 2011, the day after my "The Cheshire moon" piece, a man wrote to paranormal investigator Colin Andrews and shared an eerie story noting how before the Fukushima disaster, he claimed that he had seen a Mothman-like creature flying around the nuclear power plant while he was in Japan visiting a friend. 

As the eyewitness Marcus Pules wrote: "Was it pure coincidence or was it the mythical Moth-Man doing his strange work of  predicting disasters? I may never know and may go to the grave wondering that, but one thing is  certain for sure, I don’t think that neither of us is going to forget this event, no matter how long we live."

One of the first people I communicated with online in those early morning hours of March 11, 2011 was cryptozoologist and Mothman investigator Loren Coleman, who was friends with John Keel.

It’s odd that I made these connections all this time later. I guess what got the ball rolling was that after reading The Mothman Prophecies, I decided to take another look at the 2002 film starring Richard Gere and directed by the talented Mark Pellington. 

In the film, as Gere's Washington Post reporter character John Klein is in his Point Pleasant motel room, talking to the cryptic and sinister "Indrid Cold," Klein tests his ability to see things in his room. When he guesses right that his watch is in his shoe under the bed, Klein tests Cold again, this time holding something in his hand he took out of a bedside table drawer. Holding it, Cold answers, "Chap Stick." Indeed, it is a small tube of cherry-flavored Chap Stick. 

At that point, I paused the film to get something to drink. The first thing I see is a small tube of regular-styled Chap Stick on the kitchen counter. It took me by surprise.

As the film continues, it gets to where Klein goes into a Point Pleasant coffee shop to get some coffee. While he is in there, the camera settles on a small, Native American figurine - with an eagle. It struck me as strange, and I would later write "Windy City omens blowing on the autumn wind." This one was posted on Nov. 1, 2011. I had forgotten about that one. But when I saw the image of the figurine, it all came rushing back.

The eagle connection had to do with a Chicago Mothman eyewitness back in 2011 saying that seeing this frightening entity made her feel like a "rabbit that was about to be pounced upon by an eagle."

That same year, I was hearing Jefferson Airplane's hit "White Rabbit," which was popular in the summer of 1967, amidst the wildness of Mothman-mania. I noted that song earlier in this post. And last night, while watching The Handmaid's Tale, the scene where Offred is taken to some Eyes Wide Shut-styled orgy, "White Rabbit" is playing, just like in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, where Hunter S. Thompson (Raoul Duke) is in his hotel room ... odd, in light of the recent tragedy there ... 

"And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you're going to fall ..." (RCA Victor)

What is weird, though, is that on the night of November 2, 1966, Mineral Wells, West Virginia resident Woodrow "Woody" Derenberger would be one of the first people to encounter the cryptic entity Indrid Cold, who was traveling in some strange craft, and caused Derenberger to go off the road. Cold told him a few things and then took off in his craft, leaving the bewildered man wondering just what the hell had happened.

It was the following day, November 3, 1966, Jefferson Airplane recorded "White Rabbit" at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California. That song, coming into existence, seemed to help usher in the next 13 months of high weirdness and terror several thousand miles away to the east. 

So, we have Mothman appearing in Chicago in 2011 and again in 2017. This Chicago Tribune writer felt like the renewed attention to Mothman in Chicago this past summer was interesting and amusing. But he did report what eyewitnesses reported seeing.

Said one woman, walking her dog in a Chicago park after coming upon Mothman: "I felt like this thing could see right through me, read me, it knew what I was thinking, like it could stare right into my very soul. It was the most terrified I have ever been in my life."

Synchromystically, I noted that the Athens News newspaper, in Athens, Ohio, featured a story about the Mothman legend, posted just yesterday. Very curious. 

There is something most definitely in the air ... bad omens blowing on the autumn wind.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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