; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Archive: Legend and Legacy of the Slender Man

There has been a renewed interest in the Slender Man phenomenon recently. I have received numerous requests for information....so I decided to post a report from my archives, including a few updates and other interesting links:

Dressed in a black suit and with no visible face the Slender Man is an apparition with arms that stretch wide to entrap his chosen prey. Towering high the Slender Man hunts children with a voracious appetite, stalking them through parks and play grounds, and has even been known to attack children within their dreams. Due to his attire the Slender Man has been linked to the notorious 'Men in Black', who are thought to be Government agents who harass and threaten UFO witnesses, and who some believe to be aliens themselves. The only problem is that the Slender Man is a fictional character.

The Slender Man was born within the 'Something Awful' forums in 2009, when a thread was created to challenge members to create fake photo-shopped paranormal photographs. The idea however was not just to create these images, but to also filter them through the internet, in a bid to convince those who sought out such things, that the images created were authentic 'real' ghost/alien photographs.

Despite the Slender Man being a complete fabrication his legend has spread like wild-fire throughout the internet as a successful 'Internet MEME', a phrase used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the internet, much like an esoteric inside joke, that evolves with time.

A YouTube sensation of sorts the 'Marble Hornets Project' is a series of video clips that were supposedly recorded by a teenager named 'Alex'. The segments of video taken from Alex's camcorder tapes follow him as he becomes increasingly concerned by the fact that 'something' sinister, is apparently stalking him.

Whilst Alex himself has mysteriously vanished, the video clips he left behind him become increasingly disturbing, as the Slender Man peers from distant corners. The 'Marble Hornets Project' has greatly increased the range of the Slender Man myths reach, with some unfamiliar with the legends origin taking it at face-value, and they in turn spread the legends grip further still.


Like the Tulpa of Tibetan Buddhism and mysticism, thought-forms are brought into existence merely through power of will and strength of mind. A Tulpa is defined as ‘a humanoid thought-form’ and likened to a personal 'genie' that you create using thought energy. Once created, the Tulpa can be put to practical use to help you in all sorts of ways.

But, is it possible that if enough people believe in something, that this belief alone could give birth to its form?

In John Keel’s 1975-authored book, The Mothman Prophecieshe deals with the tulpas early on in his narrative and, now and then, throughout the text.

The most famous tulpa story comes from Alexandra David-Neel’s Magic and Mystery in Tibet A lama of eastern Tibet told Ms. David-Neel:

“What becomes of these creations? May it not be that like children born of our flesh, these children of our mind separate their lives from ours, escape our control, and play parts of their own?”

Now, is it possible that a group or collective create the same phenomenon? Consider these familiar types of spiritual experiences:

* A group of teenagers gathered around a Ouija board receives mysterious messages from a person's spirit who claims to have died 40 years ago.

* A paranormal society conducts a séance where they contact a ghost that communicates though table rappings.

* The residents of a century-old home continually see the spirit of a young child playing in the hallway.

Are these manifestations truly the ghosts of departed people or are they creations of the minds of the people who see them?

Some researchers of the paranormal suspect that some ghostly manifestations and poltergeist phenomena are products of the human mind. To test that idea, an experiment was conducted in the early 1970s by the Toronto Society for Psychical Research (TSPR) to determine if they could create a spectre. The idea was to assemble a group of people who would make up a completely fictional character and then, through séances, see if they could contact him and receive messages and other physical phenomena - perhaps even an apparition.

The results of the experiment have been posted on several sites throughout the internet...the following is a condensed version:

The TSPR, under the guidance of Dr. A.R.G. Owen, assembled a group of eight people culled from its membership, none of whom claimed to have any psychic gifts. The group, which became known as the Owen group, consisted of Dr. Owen's wife, a woman who was the former chairperson of MENSA (an organization for high-IQ people), an industrial designer, an accountant, a housewife, a bookkeeper and a sociology student. A psychologist named Dr. Joel Whitton also attended many of the group's sessions as an observer.

The group's first task was to create their fictional historical character. Together they wrote a short biography of the person they named Philip Aylesford. Here, in part, is that biography:

Philip was an aristocratic Englishman, living in the middle 1600s at the time of Oliver Cromwell. He had been a supporter of the King, and was a Catholic. He was married to a beautiful but cold and frigid wife, Dorothea, the daughter of a neighboring nobleman.

One day when out riding on the boundaries of his estates Philip came across a gypsy encampment and saw there a beautiful dark-eyed girl raven-haired gypsy girl, Margo, and fell instantly in love with her. He brought her back secretly to live in the gatehouse, near the stables of Diddington Manor - his family home.

For some time he kept his love-nest secret, but eventually Dorothea, realizing he was keeping someone else there, found Margo, and accused her of witchcraft and stealing her husband. Philip was too scared of losing his reputation and his possessions to protest at the trial of Margo, and she was convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake.

Philip was subsequently stricken with remorse that he had not tried to defend Margo and used to pace the battlements of Diddington in despair. Finally, one morning his body was found at the bottom of the battlements, whence he had cast himself in a fit of agony and remorse.

One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as "The Slender Man". Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence. Photographer Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.

The Seances

In September 1972, the group began their "sittings" - informal gatherings in which they would discuss Philip and his life, meditate on him and try to visualize their "collective hallucination" in more detail. These sittings, conducted in a fully lit room, went on for about a year with no results. Some members of the group occasionally claimed they felt a presence in the room, but there was no result they could consider any kind of communication from Philip.

So they changed their tactics. The group decided they might have better luck if they attempted to duplicate the atmosphere of a classic spiritualist séance. They dimmed the room's lights, sat around a table, sang songs and surrounded themselves with pictures of the type of castle they imagined Philip would have lived in, as well as objects from that time period.

It worked. During one evening's séance, the group received its first communication from Philip in the form of a distinct rap on the table. Soon Philip was answering questions asked by the group - one rap for yes, two for no. They knew it was Philip because, well, they asked him.

The sessions took off from there, producing a range of phenomena that could not be explained scientifically. Through the table-rapping communication, the group was able to learn finer details about Philip's life. He even seemed to exhibit a personality, conveying his likes and dislikes, and his strong views on various subjects, made plain by the enthusiasm or hesitancy of his knockings. His "spirit" was also able to move the table, sliding it from side to side despite the fact that the floor was covered with thick carpeting. At times it would even "dance" on one leg.

That Philip was a creation of the group's collective imagination was evident in his limitations. Although he could accurately answer questions about events and people of his time period, it did not appear to be information that the group was unaware of. In other words, Philip's responses were coming from their subconscious - their own minds. Some members thought they heard whispers in response to questions, but no voice was ever captured on tape.

Philip's psychokinetic powers, however, were amazing and completely unexplained. If the group asked Philip to dim the lights, they would dim instantly. When asked to restore the lights, he would oblige. The table around which the group sat was almost always the focal point of peculiar phenomena. After feeling a cool breeze blow across the table, they asked Philip if he could cause it to start and stop at will. He could and he did. The group noticed that the table itself felt different to the touch whenever Philip was present, having a subtle electric or "alive" quality. On a few occasions, a fine mist formed over the center of the table. Most astonishing, the group reported that the table would sometimes be so animated that it would rush over to meet latecomers to the session, or even trap members in the corner of the room.

The climax of the experiment was a séance conducted before a live audience of 50 people. The session was also filmed as part of a television documentary. Fortunately, Philip was not stage shy and performed above expectations. Besides table rappings, other noises around the room and making lights blink off and on, the group actually attained a full levitation of the table. It rose only a half inch above the floor, but this incredible feat was witnessed by the group and the film crew. Unfortunately, the dim lighting prevented the levitation from being captured on the film.

Although the Philip experiment gave the Owen group far more than they ever imagined possible, it was never able to attain one of their original goals - to have the spirit of Philip actually materialize.

The Philip experiment was so successful that the Toronto organization decided to try it again with a completely different group of people and a new fictional character. After just five weeks, the new group established "contact" with their new "ghost," Lilith, a French Canadian spy. Other similar experiments conjured up such entities as Sebastian, a medieval alchemist and even Axel, a man from the future. All of them were completely fictional, yet all produced unexplained communication through their unique raps.

Recently, a Sydney, Australia group attempted a similar test with "the Skippy Experiment." The six participants created the story of Skippy Cartman, a 14-year-old Australian girl. The group reports that Skippy communicated with them through raps and scratching sounds.

"we didn't want to go, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time..." Photographer unknown, 1983


What are we to make of these incredible experiments? While some would conclude that they prove that ghosts don't exist, that such things are in our minds only, others say that our unconscious could be responsible for this kind of the phenomena some of the time. They do not (in fact, cannot) prove that there are no ghosts.

Another point of view is that even though Philip was completely fictional, the Owen group really did contact the spirit world. A playful (or perhaps demonic, some would argue) spirit took the opportunity of these séances to "act" as Philip and produce the extraordinary psychokinetic phenomena recorded.

In any case, the experiments proved that paranormal phenomena are quite real. And like most such investigations, they leave us with more questions than answers about the world in which we live. The only certain conclusion is that there is much to our existence that is still unexplained.

In conventional thought, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or may be thought to be. Reality also includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible.

In the case of the Slender Man and other similar thought-form phenomenon, reality is basically perception.

Click for video - The Slender Man on C2C

You may want to read The Paranormal Pastor: Slender Man


NOTE: Here are a few links that may be of interest:
On the Other Side: A True Story
Fiction Evolving Into Reality
Thin Black Clad Humanoids

Slenderman: From Fiction to Fact- NOTE: Rev. Robin Swope, the author of 'Slenderman: From Fiction to Fact' will be joining Eric & Lon on 'Beyond The Edge Radio' on Sunday August 26th