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BOOK REVIEW: "Mysterious Fires and Lights" by Vincent H. Gaddis

New Saucerian Books
A reissue of Vincent Gaddis' 1967 book "Mysterious Fires and Lights."
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BOOK REVIEW: Mysterious Fires and Lights by Vincent H. Gaddis (New Saucerian) 2017

Back in 2013 I wrote a Dust Devil Dreams post – “Help! Jellied Edmondfish and eight (or more) arms to hold you” – which included information about a flying jellyfish (or jellyfish UFO) seen by a mother and daughter while waiting at the light at 33rd Street and Broadway Extension in Edmond, Oklahoma.

I was struck by this report in that I was not previously familiar with reports of flying jellyfish, seemingly living creatures that whisk about the skies, as if they were deep in the ocean, like jellyfish we are all familiar with.

Since then I have learned more about these aerial jellyfish via the writings of John Keel, Jacques Vallee, Trevor James Constable and Meade Layne, the latter having written the mid-50's UFO/alien book The Coming of the Guardians, where he coins a term “aeroform” to describe the multi-colored “jellyfish”-like creatures that these women claimed to have seen in the autumn Oklahoma skies nearly six years ago. (Mentioned also in my October 2018 article “Mystery train”).

I thought of that while reading Mysterious Fires and Lights by the late journalist and investigator Vincent H. Gaddis, originally published in 1967 and republished in 2017 by New Saucerian.

In this important and engaging book, Gaddis – following on the heels of Invisible Horizons, published in 1965 – tackles the “ancient … belief in atmospheric animals” who inhabited regions of the skies “beyond the very limited range of our senses.”

Curiously, Gaddis notes that the man credited with the first, modern “flying saucer” encounter, Kenneth Arnold, was a believer in the notion that UFOs were “living organisms, sort of like sky jellyfish.” A remarkable admission and one not normally highlighted in the many reports and articles over the years about his famous multi-disc sighting while flying his airplane in Summer 1947 near Mount Rainier in Washington state.

As Gaddis notes, Arnold wanted people to recall that “there are a lot of things in Nature we don’t know yet.” A truer statement, dear reader. And that was well over half-a-century ago.

And while the Gaddis book is dated in certain respects, the reports featured here in this three-part, 16-chaptered book maintain the reader’s interest. At least I was glued to the pages (just as I was upon reading the prior Invisible Horizons) as the author of Mysterious Fires and Lights, highlights some of our planet’s stranger phenomena, from the strange behavior of lightning, the appearance of ball lightning (which I personally witnessed in my home in 1990) and the “fire falls” that led to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 - and it wasn't Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking over a lantern. The truth is far, far stranger.

Look closer to home here in Oklahoma. In the far northeastern corner of the state, near Quapaw and across the stateline near the hamlet of Hornet, Missouri, the famous "Spook Light" continues to baffle scientists and curious eyewitnesses alike. Sure, some have tried to explain away the lights as headlamp lights from vehicles traveling nearby I-44. But as Gaddis rightly points out, even before I-44, and Route 66 before it, the lights - called the "Indian light" by locals over a century ago - appeared before the invention of the automoble. In fact, I first saw the Spook Light in 1995 (and am writing about it in my forthcoming book The Stilwell Enigma) and to this day I certainly cannot explain it. But then I admit to having seen a lot of strange things over my life. 

Gaddis mentions a strange light noted near Sand Springs, Oklahoma and the Bragg Lights of Bragg Road near Saratoga, Texas, another "mysterious lights" location I visited in 2018. One thing I noted, as in the report of strange lights near Maco, North Carolina, is the proximity to railroad tracks. I have my own theories about this - portals and liminal areas offering a "crossing" of sorts - and that a "trickster" quality seems to be behind it all. But that is more my own speculation. 

The author also writes about superhuman powers. Bodies that are not consumed by fire, while others are so utterly consumed that skulls shrink, inexplicably due to high temperatures. Some think that these acts of spontaneous combustion could be an act of suicide. Perhaps. 

And the poltergeist phenomena is interesting in that it seems to correlate with changes in humans witnessing the phenomenon, such as girls hitting puberty and things suddenly happening in the house. While never using the Tibetan word tulpa, poltergeists are also said to be different from ghosts in that they are free-floating "thought-forms" that have a short, but destructive lifespan, depending on the human unwittingly creating it.

While Gaddis is literally all over the map in Mysterious Fires and Lights, his words and findings had my complete attention. Granted, I am researching similar phenomena for my own book and find his earlier research to be quite helpful. And overall, Gaddis' book reminds us, as Kenneth Arnold noted earlier, there is much in the natural world that is a complete mystery to humans and will likely remain so. Kind of makes life that much more interesting.

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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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