Reports of winged beings have long been included in the more obscure reports of cryptozoological and ufological weirdness from around the world. Arguably, the most famous of all such incidents was detailed throughout John Keel’s investigations of the “Mothman,” which occurred in West Virginia in the late 1960s. Since that time, Mothman has become the predominant image in most people’s minds when it comes to envisioning a winged monstrosity of the cryptozoological variety. There are, however, other instances involving claims where such creatures have been witnessed, and though details about their existence are far more obscure, they bear a variety of similarities to folkloric traditions from various cultures around the world. Strangely, among these similarities are parallels having to do with the alleged creature’s interaction with their habitat and surroundings, as well as a prevalence of sexual aspects to their dealings with humans.
One recent discussion addressing unidentified winged monsters detailed encounters with an alleged “gargoyle” seen near the vicinity of the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. This was presented by the astute Scott Corrales at Inexplicata, where he shared some unique accounts that included a physical attack sustained by an area local. According to Corrales, “some people have identified (the monster) with the Chupacabras, yet others believe it is a differnt, elusive and sinister entity whose lair is in Barrio Ensenada, amid the ruins and tunnels of the Guanica Sugar Mill, where the skeletons of its victims can be found.”
Arguably, the manner in which this story is presented here has a folkloric overtone, with it’s tales of an old abandoned building in which the creature now resides. One might assume that if the creature’s victims were really piled up beneath an old sugar mill, a criminal investigation would have ensued to uncover the remains and find the culprit. However, before substantiating the claims with physical evidence Corrales presents that, as stated earlier, does involve an attack one man claims he received from the creature, it would be interesting to ponder those folkloric elements for a moment. After all, when comparing this story to the circumstances presented in reports of the alleged Mothman creature, we begin to see some striking similarities.
Much like the “Gargoyle” of El Yunque is said to inhabit an abandoned sugar mill, Point Pleasant’s Mothman creature similarly inhabited an abandoned TNT factory in the area. There could be a number of reasons for this similarity; one being that, as a matter of tradition, monsters always tend to reside in a dark and dangerous lair. Think of legends involving dragons and other mythic beasts, whose caves must be entered by a brave soul in order to liberate an afflicted populace from the dangers the monster in question presents to them. It would be fitting, supposing there was indeed some physicality to the existence of creatures like Mothmen or gargoyles, that people would uphold this tradition by similarly assigning them a “dragon’s lair” of sorts, whether or not the creature actually resided there at all. Or perhaps, much like the notion of a haunted house and the ghosts, bogey men, and other terrors that hide within, the psychological extensions of one’s own fear of the location itself could actually manifest, to some degree, in the presence of a devilish creature similar to a Mothman, dragon, or in this case, perhaps a gargoyle.
Ruminating on the folkloric archetypes present in this circumstance, while interesting in terms of the psychology of the experiences reported, does little to fend against the problems we’re presented by the very real physical attacks some witnesses have described. Corrales goes on to describe a man, whose only given name is “Valdo,” who was apparently attacked by the winged beast near Guánica Lagoon in the mid-1990s:
“He was injured in his stomach, his [abdominal] fat could be seen,” noted a witness, describing the injuries suffered by a man on his belly and back, caused as if by “an animal’s claws.” The witness soberly expalined that the wounded man lifted the t-shirt he put on after the attack, saying that a “large winged” animal took him by surprise in his back yard and attacked him.
The description of physical attacks made by monstrous winged animals isn’t specific only to Puerto Rico’s gargoyle. Over the years, a horrific creature called Popobawa has been described by residents of Zanzibar and nearby locales, and much like it’s western cousins, the creature is said to have wings, and bears a penchant for physically attacking its victims. Popobawa’s attacks differ, however, in that incidents involving the creature have a predominantly sexual nature; strangely, men have claimed the creature will enter their homes at night and sexually molest them, promising to return if they don’t share the terrifying experience with others. Though the gargoyle of El Yunque isn’t described as a sexual deviant like Zanzibar’s Popobawa, there are other creatures present in the culture and traditions of the region that are more similar in this regard, which makes for a fitting point from which we’ll diverge away from the exclusive conversation of winged monsters, instead drawing parallels between those whose presence is accompanied by strange sexual circumstances.
Both the Pombero, as well as its lesser-known cousin, Kurupi, are entities credited with sexual molestations and general mischief in Guarani culture and other parts of Latin America. Much like Zanzibar’s Popobawa, the Kurupi is characterized by its abnormally large male genitalia, though the traditions surrounding the Kurupi show that it, unlike Popobawa, favors the opposite sex, having been blamed for the occasional impregnation of women. A similar myth, stemming from further south in Chilean lore, involves the goblin-like Trauco, a creature which carries a stone hammer representative of its sexual potency. It too is accredited with luring human women away for purposes of breeding with them.
In truth, if one were to canvass the traditions and superstitions of various countries and their people, it would no doubt show that similar sexualized encounters exist in a variety of cultures. Malaysia’s Orang Minyak, a ghost-like serial rapist in Maylay traditions that attacks young virgins, caused localized panic in 2005 during a surge of encounters young women had with a strange man entering their bedrooms at night. The following description is given at the Wikipedia entry on the creature:
In short, the orang minyak is a supernatural serial rapist that is hard to see and hard to catch. Some have speculated that the orang minyak is a regular criminal who uses black grease as a night-time camouflage. Due to the use of black grease, it makes the orang minyak hard to catch, as pursuers would not be able to hold on to him. However, in some encounters with the orang minyak, the situation is not explainable from a non-supernatural angle.
Further compounding the sexual nature of such supernatural encounters is the similar manner in which UFO abductees claim their captors often show a preoccupation with the genitals. The most widely accepted rationale for this among ufologists has to do with the premise that human “specimens” are being used as breeding stock, of sorts, for an elaborate intergalactic hybridization program. In short, our alien visitors are dependent on using human genes in order to bolster their own waning reproductive facilities. Again, however, if we were to attempt to look at this from a purely folkloric perspective, the noted parallels existing between faerie traditions in the British Isles compared alongside modern abduction reports; or the similar consistencies between UFO lore and archetypal mystic encounters that shamans divulge, might have us believe that the persistence of sexual encounters throughout illustrates something deeper and, fundamentally, an aspect of our humanity which remains nested curiously within the psyche.
What does all this mean, in the end? Does it dispel the notion that winged devils, the likes of which have been seen in Puerto Rico and other locales worldwide, could exist in a physical sense? This may not be the case, but the physical nature of the occurrences, whether they be violent intrusions in terms of attacks, or the more psychologically intrusive molestations, also points to an inherent psycho-sexual relationship that exists between experiencers of strange phenomenon and their otherworldly assailants. Perhaps the intrusive aspects that so often manifest in supernatural experiences may represent, if anything, an ongoing internal struggle for dominance in the human character, obliquely defying humankind’s conquests as a species hitherto on this planet.
Not a bad thing, perhaps, to be reminded that for all our strengths, we are not without our weaknesses… whether they be actual, or merely perceptions thereof.