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by Mike Clelland ________________________________________________________
© copyright 2013, Hidden Experience Blog
Owls started manifesting in my life with a flurry of weirdness in the autumn of 2006. It happened while camping with a young woman that I hardly knew. Her name is Kristen and we went out for one night in the mountains near my home. We had hiked several miles to a beautiful spot and we were both sitting in a meadow on a big flat rock. The sun was setting and it was warm and calm. I was preparing dinner on a small camp stove and we talked while cooking. It was that magic twilight time and the moon was rising. Our conversation reached a point where we were opening up about our spiritual beliefs and insights. As I listened to Kristen there was a moment when I recognized something truly impressive about her. There came a point in our conversation when I felt a really strong and delightful connection. It was hugely life affirming.
Right at that moment an owl swooped over us, literally just a few feet above our heads. It was so cool and we were both delighted. Then there was another owl, and then a third! All three were circling and swooping silently above us. It lasted for over an hour. During this time we set out our sleeping bags to sleep under the stars. As we lay there looking up at the night sky the owls would swoop right above our faces, blotting out the stars for a brief instant. Owls have specialized feathers so they are amazingly quiet, this eerie silence made the entire experience all the more strange. It was absolutely magical! It was over two years later when I recognized the synchronistic intensity of the arrival of those owls. I called Kristen on the phone to ask if she remembered what we were talking about when that first owl swooped above us. This was the point when I realized we were both on exactly the same wavelength. Without hesitating she said, “Oh yeah, I remember exactly what I was saying. I was trying to articulate my deepest beliefs about God. It was right then that the owls appeared.” I was shocked at the magnitude of what she just shared. Whatever was going on, that one detail adds a depth to the overall experience that tips it into the realm of the transcendent.
My kindred spirit, Kristen
The following morning, after Kristen and I saw the owls was calm and clear. We hiked along a series of beautiful trails taking a different route back to the car. We were marveling about the owls from the night before. In the final mile of the hike we met an old girlfriend of mine on the trail. I’ll call her Carol (a pseudonym), she was now married and she was walking with her young daughter and son. Ever since we split up there had been an awkward tension between us, especially because we both live in such a small town. I picked up her little boy and carried him while Kristen walked a little bit ahead of us on the trail with her daughter, both of them holding hands. Carol and I had the conversation I had been waiting to have for over five years. It was calm and hugely reassuring. A short time later Kristen and I said good by to Carol and her kids in the dusty parking lot. After we parted Kristen excitedly told me that talking with the little girl was the most important thing that has ever happened in her life. I couldn’t quite grasp what she was saying but there was something about the little girl that reminded Kristen of herself when she was that age. I should add that four years later, in 2010, I had another chance meeting with Carol, her kids and a close up sighting of a Great Horned owl in full daylight. This shared experience was intertwined within a web of heartwarming synchronicities. Less than a week later Kristen and I went out camping again. We were in a completely different area of the mountains. Once again, it was just a single night of camping. In the evening just as the sun was setting we both felt a little bit cold. I suggested we walk up to a nearby hilltop to see the view. This would warm us up a little before going to sleep. We did the short hike, maybe five minutes, up to the gentle rounded hill. Within seconds of getting to the top we had the exact same experience. Three owls appeared and flew around us! They swooped close, landed on nearby branches and stood on the ground within a few yards of where we were standing. The whole thing lasted about half an hour and Kristen and I just stood there the whole time in a tingly state of astonishment. I think these were Barred Owls, a common species in these mountains. Now this may seem funny, but I’m pretty sure it was the same three owls from earlier in the week. Just like before, the experience was absolutely magical! After all my years of compulsively reading UFO literature I was keenly aware of the reoccurrence of owls as a screen memory within the experiences reported by abductees (more on this later). I was keenly aware that this might be a possibility. Right in the moment I was super focused on these three owls as they swooped low over us, watched us from trees and landed on the ground right near us. I feel confident in declaring those were, in fact, real owls. Seeing three owls once was pretty neat, but having the same experience just a few days later was positively bizarre.
In the days after this second event both Kristen and I were searching the internet for stuff on spirit animals and mystical insights surrounding owls. The results were curious. Two things kept coming up, one was that this is a sign to face your fears and Kristen felt strongly that was a really important message for her. The other was that owls are a sign to be patient, and this was important for me, mostly because Kristen was so desirable on so many levels. She was young, smart and perfectly lovely. I was completely smitten by her. I’m 18 years older than her and that age difference created a lot of weirdness, but at the same time we were seeing each other almost every day, and we were constantly emailing and phoning. There was a very real connection and our time together was a swirling cloud of cryptic synchronicities. Kristen calls me a "kindred spirit" and that feels like an understatement. For me, the intensity of the owl experiences created a weird emotional urgency. It felt like I was getting swallowed up in a kind of fanatical madness, and boy did that make things awkward. So, patience was the perfect message from the great beyond. I posted this story about Kristen and the owls on my blog on March 4th 2009, it was only the second day of the blog’s incarnation. The very first comment came from none other than Whitley Strieber. I suspect he read the essay and just zipped out a rapid fire reply. I don’t imagine he spent much time pondering what to say, that said, I’m impressed at the outright divinity of his comment. The grays come in threes. They often appear as owls. Contrary to popular belief, they are profoundly surrendered to God. We find this frightening, because we are not. An experience like that is mostly outside of space and time. You need not look back on it. It is always happening for you both and all who know of it, forever. So, thank you! I was shocked to see his comment at a point when pretty much nobody could have known about my blog. I found out later that my friend Mac Tonnies had sent him a twitter link to the story. His references to God came before I realized that Kristen had been talking about God at the exact moment of our initial sighting. I asked Kristen about her feelings on what our shared owl experience meant to her. Below is an excerpt from an email. In it she is responding to my question as well as Strieber’s comment. Here’s her thoughtful reply: I am all about the divine aspect of this whole thing. Obviously. I like that he [Strieber] said that, about being connected to God. Because that night I saw the owls and whenever I dream of them, that is the benevolent sort of "spirit guide" feeling I get. Not that they are otherworldly, but that they are in-worldly. Because there's no way that I could explain any of this outside of the context of God. And, you know, not "God" in the "because
the Bible tells me so" sense, but God in the real, eternal, "I know this much is true" sense. And by God I mean the all-that-is. That's what I felt and that's what I feel...that if anything happened that night, it was definitely some sort of communion with the all-that-is. (As I was just writing that sentence, I remembered that Whitley Strieber's book was called Communion, right?) Kristen pretty much sums up what I feel in my gut. Owls and UFOs are some sort of communion with the all-that-is. I am attempting to explore one tiny fragment of the UFO phenomenon, that being the presence of owls. But on a purely intuitive level they reflect back the all-that-is. I have a set of memories from my youth that paint a disturbing picture. As a 12 year old boy, I had a very clear UFO sighting at night. A few months later I had a twohour missing time experience with an associated odd orange flash in the sky. And in the winter of 1993 I once woke to see five spindly gray aliens with big black eyes out my bedroom window. This is a short list of some of my more overt experiences. I’ve also had plenty of less overt episodes like psychic impressions, hyper-vivid predictive dreams, an obsession with UFOs and profound synchronicities. All that said, I had spent the first 44 years of my life actively denying that there was anything unusual about these heavy-handed experiences. But at the same time there was a building pressure. I recognized what it all pointed to, but I was working hard to ignore the implications. There came a point when I knew I needed to look into what I suspected might be at play in my life. The owl sightings with Kristen came in September of 2006. This was exactly the point in my life when I was wrestling with all those confusing experiences and their UFO implications. These memories were in the forefront of my mind and those weird owl episodes with Kristen felt like an alarm in my head screaming, “This is real! You are a UFO abductee!” This connection might seem illogical, but there was a very real sense of knowing within that moment. I could feel it. It took great strength to put the lid on that voice in my head and hide it away. The problem was that the owl sightings continued and the pressure kept building. It was easy to ignore all my UFO experiences, I mean, those just seemed absurd. But I couldn’t ignore what was happening with all the owls. When someone is deeply asleep whispering won’t wake them. Sometimes you have to really shake them. If that doesn’t work, send in the owls. The owls came in tandem with a set of insanely powerful synchronicities, so much so that they seem intertwined. From my direct experience there is a blurry line between synchronicity and owls. I don’t think a mere mortal could untangle these arcane threads, so I won’t even try. I was stuck and the owls changed me. The person I once was is gone and it was the owls that pushed me over that cliff.
Screen memory of an owl, illustration by Stephen Martin
In 2009 I went to a UFO conference in Laughlin Nevada and sat in on the abductee support group. There were about twenty of us in the room all sitting in a circle. During the two hour session one guy sat silently for almost the entire time, but near the end he raised his hand and cautiously asked: "Has anyone here had any experiences with owls?" He nearly jolted out of his chair when pretty much everybody in the room raised their hand. After he got his wits back, he told a story of being alone in his car and driving down a dark country road at night. Along the edge of the road was a giant owl about five feet tall. He slowed the car, rolled the window down and stopped directly next to the owl. It didn’t fly away, it just stood there. He said he got a very weird vibe, like the owl was angry and wanted him to leave. The guy drove off feeling confused and scared. Later he went to photograph an owl nest in a wooded area near his home, and when he saw the real owl in it's nest, he immediately thought, "I don't think that was an owl I saw that night." He eventually used hypnosis to try to retrieve a more detailed memory but all he came up with was that the giant owl on the side of the road was wearing boots!
The implication that some sort of illusory projection was beamed into this man’s mind making him think that the thing he saw on the side of the road was an owl. This kind of deception is called a screen memory. Instead of what it appeared to be, it might have been a small gray alien with big black eyes. Its these penetrating eyes that mimic the giant eyes of an owl. A five foot owl wearing boots is good example of a screen memory. His story is something that is a commonly reported pattern within the UFO abduction literature. Beyond owls, these deceptive memories can take the form of deers, cats, raccoons, clowns and even Jesus! Some sort of powerful mind control seems to be at play. The report below is from a guy who has had a lot of very strange experiences, but no memories that actually involve seeing UFOs. What follows is what I can only conclude to be a screen memory, again, involving owls. I made plans for Saturday night with my best friend. I was going to meet him at his house and then we would go downtown. I spoke with him at about 8:00 pm, and told him that I was walking out the door and would be at his place in about 20 minutes. He told me to make it quick, because he was ready to leave. I remember leaving the house and pulling out of the driveway. It was just starting to get a little dark outside. I drove about a half of a mile down the road before I saw a huge whitish-gray owl standing in the middle of the road. It was about three feet tall. I don’t remember hitting it or anything like that—just seeing it standing there in front of the car. The next thing I remember was pulling into the drive of my friend’s house. It was dark out, and when I went in, my friend was furious. He said, “Where in the f--k have you been? You said you were leaving right away!” I told him that I did leave right away. To which he replied, “It’s after 10!” I started to tell him what happened, but as soon as the words three foot owl came out, I felt like an idiot. I ended up apologizing for being late and we left. I was sober up until that point, then I drank to get rid of the uneasy feeling I had in the pit of my stomach. Years later I read a book that talked about UFOs and missing time. When I saw that it said that seeing owls, rabbit, and deer was normal, I almost threw up.
During an email exchange with this man he told me that around this time his life had become a descending spiral of alcohol, drugs and depression. He feels that the he was desperately trying to deny with some kind of dark trauma and it nearly killed him. During our few correspondences I was relieved to hear that presently his life is much more stable. In 2011 I received an extremely well written personal report from a young man named Kevin. What is shared below wasn’t part of that report, it was part of an email exchange. He mentions a 2009 horror movie titled The Fourth Kind that used the owl as screen memory as part of its plot. This was a fictional movie about UFO abductions. The writers had obviously found some owl references from a few abduction reports and added this to the script. When that movie, The Fourth Kind, came out, and I saw the trailer for it, I nearly lost my mind. ALL my life I've had weird experiences with owls. Especially Great Snowy Owls. All over. Places they shouldn't have been. And a lot of them when I was driving by myself. Many of those times when I could have lost time and never noticed it. White owls have sat outside my window. They've been in my room. They've flown right in front of my car several times, a few times looking impossibly huge. I used to tell people about the owls. One thing was that people didn't believe that I saw so many white owls and that I saw them in such weird places. Another thing was that I was always alone when I saw them. They both excited me and made me very, VERY afraid. When I saw the trailer for that movie, I became very frightened. But I was intrigued. I downloaded the movie and watched it by myself one night. That was a huge mistake. I didn't sleep that night. I didn't sleep the next night, either. And by the third night, I was dreaming about owls and aliens. I was a wreck for a couple of weeks after that. I was afraid. ...I've seen all sorts of abduction stuff, read lots of books, studied up on that sort of thing for many, many years. But I've never reacted like that. Kevin seems to be reporting a mix of what are probably real owls (flying in front of his car) and what might be screen memories (in his room). If he has had contact experiences there could be some sort of fabricated amnesia in place and the only memory that remains is the projected image of an owl. The movie obviously had a triggering effect, but it’s hard to know just what is hidden within his subconscious. Alas, there are no easy answers when trying to decipher these elusive clues.
It’s apparent in many of these stories that the screen memories can be perfectly seamless. Other times the context is so weird that the abductee will recognize the utter strangeness. And sometimes the aliens screw up. Blogger and abductee Lucretia Heart (her pen name) had an experience with a screen memory of an owl when she was 19 years old. It happened when she was working at a summer camp for girls in the Pacific northwest and walking alone on a path through the forest. What follows is her (slightly edited) memory of what happened. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I could hear the girls laughing and playing in the camp area behind me as I walked. As I rounded the final corner...something to my right caught my attention. There was a big white thing there. I kept walking as I turned my head to look and I just could not believe what I saw... It was an alien gray only it was almost perfectly stark white. It’s head was as big as a football helmet and it had those wrap-around eyes. It was standing still [and it] didn't see me quietly padding up the pathway. This being was solid and physical. The sun shining on his head made it stand out like crazy. I was in such shock I didn't ever stop walking because my mind was still trying to process the moment. My mind insisted that they weren't supposed to exist during the day! Of course, in an isolated area with plenty of cover, that's nonsense, but since I almost only ever saw them at night, I apparently developed a sort of belief system about it. All my panic attacks came at night. And now here I was seeing this thing out during the day, as plain as you please! Another moment and I saw him turn his head to look in my direction and I caught the, "OH SHIT!" sort of thought-wave (without the words, but you get the point) before he turned to run away. It was in the very next instant that something very interesting happened. It was an important moment, because I was wide awake and paying very close attention, despite my shock. At the same time the gray scrambled to run away, dashing through the underbrush—a very powerful image of a big white owl came to my mind. Of course, I had just seen an alien gray. Not to mention there are no owls that stand 4 feet tall and lack feathers! So I wasn't fooled, but I wondered at the power of the image and idea that what I had actually seen had been a huge owl. Because it wasn't just that I suddenly had an image in my mind of a big owl, I also had the idea planted firmly there as well. A suggestion if you will...
I kept walking right by where the being had stood, and I could hear loud, clumsy crashing sounds as the being made its way through the foliage in an utter panic. I really felt the panic coming off of it, and owls don't project thought-waves! So here we have a vivid description of an abductee actually witnessing the change from alien gray to owl. Instead of seeing a flawless screen memory she saw something frantic and sloppy. Integral to her description is a feeling of thought-waves being projected into her mind. Some people think that the aliens are physically shape shifting in a way where they physically become an owl. This might be how a native American would frame their spirit guides, but this isn’t the way the evidence plays out concerning screen memories and abductions. Lucretia’s story is an oddly comic example remembered without hypnosis. There seems to be some sort of direct influence over consciousness and perceptions. Pioneering abduction researcher Budd Hopkins had a framed photo of a group of owls on his kitchen wall. These were Barn Owls, perhaps the spookiest looking of any owl. They look eerily like the image of the big eyed gray alien that has permeated our popular culture. I was blessed to spend time with Budd at his home and he once pointed to that framed picture and said to me, “I just have to wonder what’s going on in their minds.” Years later I saw a video documentary with Budd where he was going through a collection of drawings made by UFO abductees. He was standing alongside a cabinet of flat files and, one by one, he was holding the illustrations up for the camera. He got to a particularly eerie painting of a group of big eyed gray aliens all standing together in a group and said, “I just have to wonder what’s going on in their minds.” There can be a fuzzy blurring between what might be a screen memory and what might be a real experience with an owl. One woman shared a story with me that happened years before she became aware of her lifelong contacts with the UFO occupants. She remembers she was driving at night with her husband and her two children, the kids would have been about 9 and 12. Her husband was driving on a quiet twisting rural road near their home. They turned a corner and there before them, in the middle of the road, was a tiny owl. They stopped the car and without knowing exactly why, the woman got out and ran up to the little owl. She assumed it was injured and she reached down and picked it up in her hands. She noted an eerie silence while she was outside of the car. She carried the owl back to the car and the family drove home. As they were driving she was marveling that this little owl, maybe 6 inches tall, would sit so quietly in her cupped hands.
When they arrived home everybody got out of the car and stood in the driveway. She raised her hands, opened them, and the small owl spread its wings and with what seemed like a single flap rose up and silently disappeared into the night. She stated that the wingspan seemed far too large for such a tiny little bird. I remember the owls’s dark silhouette against the unusually dark night. It was uncommonly dark for the entire event and I could only see him as his wings flapped down, then he was gone. Totally Silent. He vanished. This was a profound experience that affected me for years after. I knew it was an unusual event and I felt fortunate to hold the beautiful owl. Even today, I remember how amazing I felt. She also noted the same odd silence was there in the driveway just like it had been when she picked up the owl. This strange vacuum-like silence is a common detail in UFO sightings, it is sometimes referred to as the Oz Factor. She has recently asked her children if they remember that night and they both said no. This seems unusual because one would think that driving with a live owl in a car would be hard to forget. Here we have a strange owl experience by an abductee at a time when she was unaware of her history of contact. There are odd details to the story that don’t seem to follow the pattern of a typical screen memory nor that of a concealed abduction. This same woman contacted me with another curious owl story during as I was writing this essay. She is now well aware of the UFO connections in her life. She and I both felt like it’s somehow related to the writing of this essay. She was on her way home from a meet up of other experiencers organized by abduction researcher Barbara Lamb. She was with a friend and they were driving at night on a freeway in Los Angeles, both of them have had experiences that imply UFO abduction. There came a point in the conversation when they started talking about God and right then they both watched an owl swoop low across their field of view. They were surprised because it seemed quite close to their car windshield. She looked at her clock and noted that it read 11:11 PM. Don’t ask me why, but this number has a curious way of showing up connected to these odd events. Mirroring my experience with Kristen in the opening story, a conversation about God seems to manifest an owl sighting. I have seen a lot of owls in a lot of highly charged moments. I could easily drone on and on with my personal experiences. Here’s one that’s telling. I live near a nonprofit raptor center. They take in injured, ill and orphaned birds of prey in the hopes of returning them to the wild. I recently had the chance to speak with a doctor who was working with the veterinarians and naturalists at the center. I briefly told him about the experience with Kristen and seeing three owls on two separate occasions within a few days and then asked if he had ever heard of anything like that. He said no.
Then I told him another story of seeing five owls fly above me and a friend as we were lying on our back in a meadow talking about metaphysical issues. I asked if he had ever heard anything like that. Again, he said no. He added that such things simply don’t happen. Then I told him another of my experiences, and another. He looked at me with concern. As I talked I recognized he was getting uncomfortable. He slowly began moving away from me. It was a curious feeling to realize that an owl expert hearing my experiences was looking at me as if I was insane. A rational scientist would look at all this UFO and owl weirdness and fight to squeeze it into the tidy box of logic. A poet might be better suited to play with all the elusive weirdness. This might make some pragmatic readers cringe, but I feel that sometimes great truths can be more fully revealed through poetry, mythology or metaphor. I’m trying to balance these two conflicting mindsets as I proceed forward.
28 owls on a fence in Missouri.
Owls are like a puffy cloud on a summer afternoon. You can look up and see whatever you want. There is just so much mythology, folklore and mysticism connected to the owl that anyone could easily cherry pick whatever details they want and come up with any conclusion that fits their mood. I know myself well enough to declare that I am not unbiased or neutral, and pretending that I am won’t make is so. This is a deeply personal exploration into the unknown.
The goddess Athene and her owl companion
Whitley Strieber wrote about the mythic symbolism of the owl in his 1987 book Communion. Athene’s symbol was the owl. The Latin word for owl is strix, which also means witch. It was thought in earliest times to embody the wisdom of Ishtar, the ancient Mesopotamian “EyeGoddess” with the huge, staring eyes. The owl was also the totem of the Celtic Blodeuwedd, the triple Goddess of the Moon, and is associated with the notion of the Trinity...as the most common symbolic structure of the visitors mentioned by many people who have been taken—people who have no idea at all of it’s ancient importance, which has now declined to the dusty precincts of antiquarians and mythologists. Perhaps visitors would naturally seek to the center of the soul and enter its reality, being too experienced to be interested in any but the deepest essence of our beings. Then they might well seem to be part of our mythology, part of the basis of being human. —page 117, Communion (Avon paperback edition)
I am fascinated by owl stories from people who’s personal experiences seem to imply some sort of UFO contact experience. There is an almost mystical knowing inside me that sees a connection between these two arcane elements. I’ve seen a lot of real owls and I feel strongly that none of these sightings have been screen memories. These owls were in flight and many of my sightings have been with other people. The owls are manifesting like sychronicities; seeing them has been profoundly meaningful. I’ve been trying to come to terms with how the UFO reality has intertwined with my life and the owls have been signs along this path. I have an on-line blog and I do some interviews, mostly focused on the UFO abduction phenomenon. Over the years I’ve written and talked extensively about my ongoing owl experiences. Because of this, I’m now known as the “owl guy.” I’ve used the blog to put out a request for folks to contact me and share their own owl experiences. What’s happened is that I’m getting a steady flow of really curious owl stories and some of these are shared in this essay. I talk with a lot of people who think they are somehow involved with UFOs. On one end of the continuum are people who absolutely know they have had direct contact with the UFO occupants. On the other end of the continuum are people who will deny any kind of involvement, but they still have odd stories to tell. When you dig into their stories just a little bit you’ll hear things that send up the red flags. They’ll list off odd experiences that they dismiss as nothing, but they fit a pattern of what abductees will report. These are people who might be abductees. They’ve have many of the odd experience that might infer some sort of contact with the UFO occupants. The totality of the experiences might be buried in their subconscious. Very little is definite, all these people are left with is a fuzzy “maybe.” We are dealing with something that can erase memories and alter perceptions, so how do you draw a distinction between a self-assured abductee and someone who falls into this elusive “maybe” category? In this essay I’ve been using the words “abduction” and “abductee” even thought I am fully aware that they are terribly imperfect terms and loaded with baggage. The other terms, “experiencer” and “contactee” are equally limiting. “Maybe” is imperfect too, but it doesn’t force anyone into such a confining box. Some people have very clear memories of being onboard craft and having direct interactions with the UFO occupants. These people are, fairly or unfairly, easier to categorize. But there are other people who tell of having close up UFO sightings, psychic experiences, vivid dreams, healing abilities, spiritual awakenings and report paranormal oddities. They can have an obsessive fascination with UFOs, intense synchronicities and these same folks report seeing lots of owls. These, to me, are the maybe people and they seem to be the ones seeing the owls.
I spoke with a young woman, Adrienne Dumas, who said she had an owl living over her at a point in her life when she was repeatedly seeing UFOs. I asked what she meant that the owl was over her. At the time she was working on an organic farm in southern Arizona. She was living right nearby in a small RV. She explained there was a long row of trees and the RV was parked under one of these trees. An owl was constantly seen on a branch that was directly above her little home. Even though she likes owls she said she felt something eerie about seeing it so often. She had two impressive sightings while living in that spot. One happened in full daylight while driving with her brother. They were heading towards Adrienne’s parked RV. They saw a large old fashioned military cargo plane flying low to the ground and it was leaving a trail of black smoke. They both thought this was very odd and Adrienne commented, “Maybe it will land and Mulder and Scully will get out!” She was making an X-Files joke because the low flying plane just seemed so strange. She said it was close enough that she could even see that the old fuselage was stained with rust. Seconds later they saw six shiny saucer shaped craft hovering in the sky. The objects seemed to be directly over the farm and her RV. She described the feeling of seeing the UFOs as ecstatic. She said, “It was one of the most joyful and happy moments of my life.” Her other sighting was different. It happened while Adrienne was alone in her RV at approximately 2:30 in the morning. She was reading a book about a woman having a spiritual connection with gray aliens and at the same time she was chatting on her computer with a friend who was fascinated by UFOs. Out the window beyond her computer she saw row of extremely bright lights in the adjoining farmer’s field. The lights were far too bright to be from a car or a tractor. While she was looking at these lights a car drove down the road between her and the field, it stopped as if to look at the lights and then moved on. She said she could clearly gauge the brightness of the car headlights in the foreground and the row of lights in the background was decidedly different, they were much brighter. The lights stayed for about 15 minutes and then disappeared. Unlike the joyful experience in the day with her brother this sighting left her feeling really freaked out. She said she sensed the grays were related to the lights and she seemed to get a message from the experience. The event seemed to be telling her, “We are real.” She didn’t sleep that night. She later went to the field to see if she could find any tracks but she didn’t see anything unusual. As a young girl, around 11 years old, Adrienne had an intense sighting with her entire family. The incident started with her mother who was driving home to their house, her mother was alone in the family van with their dog. She saw an enormous bright light in the sky and at the same moment the van’s engine stopped. The light was so brilliant that her mother actually thought she was dying and this was the light of heaven! She soon realized it was some sort of gigantic saucer shaped craft with red
and blue lights slowly rotating around the exterior and the bottom of the craft was spinning “in a strange way.” As the craft moved away the car started again on it’s own, and Adrienne’s mother raced home. The craft was hovering over her neighborhood as she bursts into the house and exclaimed, “There’s a UFO!” At the time Adrienne was watching Unsolved Mysteries on TV and she thought her mother was joking. When the family got outside they all saw the gigantic craft gliding away in the nighttime sky. She said it’s motion was eerily slow. As they watched they saw several military helicopters approaching the craft. She said that these helicopters seemed to lose power as they got closer to the saucer shaped object and they needed to back away. The event above her was close enough that she could hear the sound of the helicopter engines fizzle as they got close and return to normal as they eased away. The craft and the huge object eventually moved beyond their line of site. So, we have three different UFO events, each directly foreshadowed by something curiously relevant. Adrienne made an X-Files joke, she was reading a UFO book while chatting with a friend with a keen interest in UFOs and she was watching Unsolved Mysteries on TV. After hearing all this I had to ask Adrienne the big question, do you think you are a UFO abductee. She answered no. The next question I asked was how she would describe her sense of mission. She almost didn’t understand what I was asking. I need to add that she runs something called The Faeries and Angels Network. Her focus is on new age spirituality and holistic living. She has a magazine, website, on-line store and podcast series. Her answer to my question about a sense of mission seemed odd because she was so immersed in it. Asking Adrienne about a sense of mission was like asking a fish about water. She said, “I can’t even imagine not doing what I’m doing. It is just how I am. I’ve been like this as long as I can remember.” Adrienne’s website and magazine are filled with pastel images of angels and unicorns; and this content is the exactly the kind of stuff that would make a nuts and bolts researcher cringe. I am certain there are hard core pragmatic researchers who would look at her magazine and then simply dismiss her as being silly, but I see her output as so heartfelt and honest that I simply can’t be so quick to judge. It’s obvious after talking with her that she is entirely dedicated to the work she’s doing. So again we have a “maybe” person who has had multiple UFO experiences, some of them with an owl directly above her home. Even though she doesn’t say as much, she is acting like a UFO abductee by sharing her truth so openly. Nadine Lalich has had a lifetime of ongoing UFO experiences. After decades of keeping these memories to herself she came forward and openly shared her history of contact. She co-wrote a book with abduction researcher Barbara Lamb where she documents her own experiences. The book, Alien Experiences, was published in 2008. I spoke with Nadine and asked if she had any odd experiences with owls.
In her very clear way she replied yes. She then went on to say: 2005 or 2006 was right at the point when I was making this turn, when I was stepping out and speaking my truth about this reality. It was at this time that owls started appearing around my apartment, great big owls. These weren’t just owls that I would see in a dream, these were actually owls around my apartment, big owls. I would come home at night and there would be one on a branch near my door, or something similar. This was the first time I ever recall seeing owls in my life. It was strange that they would show up at that time in my life. She told of several strange abduction related events that happened in that apartment. Here is a woman who was well past the “maybe” point in her own acceptance that this was a reality in her life. The owls manifested right when she was coming forward and speaking her truth. My website seems to attract people with a similar mindset and similar experiences. I write from a very specific point of view so this is understandable. If somebody didn’t feel some connection then why would they bother writing me? The weird thing is that I’ve received a couple of owl stories that even directly include me!
dream image from a fellow illustrator
I got an email from a man who reminds me of myself. We are the same age, with pretty much the same occupation (illustrator for hire) and some of the key dates of each of our experiences line up with a curious symmetry. He has shared some of his experiences with me. He doesn’t say it directly, but what he shares certainly points to
some sort of suppressed UFO contact. Like so many others, he seems to fit into that elusive maybe category. Here’s what he said in an email to me (italics my own): I've been wanting to write to you for a few months, but kept chickening out. Then two nights ago I had a very vivid dream that an owl dropped a five-foot fountain pen in front of me (see drawing above). I figured that was probably my subconscious or something telling me to just do it. I have only seen three owls in my life. The first was huge, like a five-foot wingspan, and flew silently over my head at about the same time I was making a weird little 16mm movie. (The film, from 1987, featured a man's face, wearing a white mask with large black eyes painted on it, slowly appearing at night in the bedroom window of a terrorized woman) I don’t want to read too much into his weird little movie, but that imagery is kind of obvious. I mean, isn’t it? The second was when I was driving with my son about three months ago. The owl flew in front of our car and alighted onto a neighbor's chimney. I had been listening to your podcast just before. And the third was four days ago when I was looking out the back window and pondering writing to you and an owl suddenly landed on the telephone wires behind our house. I feel stupid writing this, it seems like just goofy coincidence, but, what the heck, there it is. I no longer believe that there is such thing as a goofy coincidence. The term synchronicty seems like a better word and they are piling up around me. A simple definition of synchronicity would be a profound coincidence that has meaning to the observer. Here’s another odd case that came from a reader of my blog. Like the one above it seems to include me. In August of 2012 I had my photograph taken sitting near a Great Horned Owl (image below). I was at an event where a local raptor rescue center was taking part in a community fundraiser. This was when I scared the owl expert that I spoke about earlier. The ornithologists from the center had a series of birds on display in a big open barn. There was a Golden Eagle, a falcon and a Great Horned Owl. The Owl had been rescued after someone found it with a severely injured left wing. It was nursed back to health but it was unable to fly so in couldn’t be released back into the wild. Now its life involves living at the center and occasionally being shown at elementary schools an other public events.
The author and his pal
In the photograph you can clearly see that the owl’s wing hangs awkwardly at its side. I posted this photo on my blog and facebook the same day it was taken. Four days later I got a letter from a woman named Diana. That morning she was in her house trying to download one of my audio interviews, but it was going really slowly. She went outside to take the trash to the curb and found an injured owl on her driveway. The poor creature could barely move because of an open wound under it’s right wing. She got a dog carrier and after some struggles got the bird into the container using a rake. She went back into the house to search out a local veterinarian’s office that was affiliated with wildlife rescue. After that she transferred the podcast to her mp3 player. She put the dog carrier with the injured owl in the car with her and drove to the vet. Here’s the weird part, on the drive both her and the owl were listening to my voice. The similarities between her story and my photo are positively bizarre. Both stories feature a wildlife rescue, a great Horned Owl with an injured wing and both owls got to listen to my voice. She told me what episode she was listening to and it involved me and the guest talking about owls and how they interact with UFO abductees! This guest has had some extremely strange owl experiences of his own. I can’t ignore the fact that the woman who shared this story was named Diana. In Roman mythology, the goddess Diana was associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was also clear that she had not seen the photograph of me and the injured owl before contacting me with her experience.
Whitley Strieber has speculated that The Grays might be able to literally see though the eyes of owls. The ability to both fly and see in almost total darkness would make owls an excellent choice for the role of alien surveillance cameras. The implication is that these alien entities were looking at both me and Kristen through the great big eyes of those owls. The thought that the aliens are using the owls as a kind of remote surveillance camera is pretty far fetched, but at the same time it seems quite practical. That said, the entirety of the UFO phenomena is pretty far fetched and it has a way of stretching over into a whole range of other possibilities. Whatever the source of the contact experience one thing that is consistent in the reports are extremely powerful psychic and telepathic powers on the part of the unknown entities. I spoke to a woman who has had what seems to be an obvious UFO abduction experience involving missing time while in her car. Soon after she began to experience profoundly clear telepathic messages. She says that the communication was from her ancient ancestors and they said they could see through her eyes. Among other requests, they pleaded with her to go to the tea isle in the grocery store. They told her to carefully inspect each and every box to indulge their curiosity. She says they were positively giddy when she looked at the tea selection. The late Ida Kannenberg was an author, abductee and psychic channel. She wrote that her alien guides were totally thrilled on the day she went to Sea World. They were super excited to be able to watch the dolphins through her eyes. She also said her guides would get frustrated and scold her for skimming through books and not reading every word on every page. It seems that they were reading along with her. Using the eyes of birds as a kind of avian-reconnaissance is part of Norse mythology (Let me add that my mother was born in Denmark). Odin created two Ravens, Huginn and Muninn, or thought and memory. These two ravens would fly around Midgard (earth) each day and return to Odin, transferring all they had perceived to him. Odin is a principal member the Norse pantheon of gods and is associated with (among other things) death, wisdom, Shamanism, magic, poetry and prophecy. He is also the father of Thor. From stories like this, seeing through the big night vision eyes of an owl should be no big deal for the UFO occupants. I speculated with an abductee on this sneaky use of owls and he spoke with clarity on the pragmatic implications. He stated that the owls could be employed as an advance scout before any actual abduction. Their ability to fly and to see in the dark could be used to send back images of their intended landing spot and the exact location unsuspecting abductee. Plus, the owls could fly around and make sure there weren’t any sneaky intelligence agents from the Air Force spying from the bushes. Could this be true? I have no idea, but I really like the practicality of this concept. What follows is an experience from a guy named Derek, it fits the hypothesis for the owl as a surveillance camera. He emailed me a story that involves an owl and
multiple UFOs. Derek was camping in the Arizona desert in the summer of 1995 with three friends. Here’s what he wrote (italics my own): We had set up our tents in a long canyon with steep walls on either side of us. Two of my friends had gone into a tent to retire early and I stayed up to talk and star gaze with the other guy. The night sky was is incredible and we were lying on the desert floor in line with the canyon. In mid conversation, I noticed an extremely large owl sitting on top of a cactus maybe 20 feet from where we were lying. I could see it really clearly and I had not seen it land there nor did I know how long it had been sitting there, but it was staring directly at us. I clearly remember not only feeling really excited at spotting it but also a little uneasy at how intently it seemed to be watching us. I felt very exposed. I think the scale and openness of the desert kind of struck me in that moment. As soon as I pointed it out to my friend, it took off in flight. We resumed our conversation and a bit more time passed, maybe 15 minutes or so. As we are talking, I see a large black triangular craft flying from behind us along the top canyon wall to our left. It was wedge shaped, a very dark matte black and had a row of red lights with smaller white lights between each red light along its side. It flew silently, extremely quickly and completely mirrored (or hugged) the topography of the top of the canyon wall as it flew. It went from entering my peripheral vision towards the horizon in the direction of our feet and out of view in approximately five-seconds. That said, I feel like I got a pretty clear look at it. It was really close, maybe 75 yards away. It was large, about two-thirds the size of a commercial airliner. It was completely silent. It was really fast. We both immediately sat up and I turned to my friend and asked him "Did you see that?" to which he responded "Yes." I asked "What did you see?" His response matched exactly what I described above. I asked him if he thought it could have been an airplane. He didn't think so. Several days later, Derek saw another unidentified flying object with one of his fellow campers who had been sleeping through this first sighting. They were driving together in Scottsdale, Arizona at about 11pm. My car at the time had a sunroof and we were driving on a long, perfectly straight road that reached to the horizon. As we were chatting, we saw a very brightly lit sphere come over the sunroof and proceed to the horizon centered directly above the road. It was fast, significantly faster than any plane I have ever
witnessed, but it stayed visible in the sky far too long to be a meteor. I have no idea of knowing the altitude of the object but it appeared slightly smaller than a golf ball held at arms length. This witness describes two strange UFO sightings that were preceded by an owl sighting. The owl was looking directly at him and his friend. He states that he felt uneasy under the intense gaze of the owl. From what I have been researching his story seems curiously normal. In a follow up email Derek shared some more experiences from his youth including this memory from when he was about seven years old. One evening I was playing a replica of the arcade version of pacman. I was alone in a room in our house with all the lights off. That's a little unusual because I have been scared of the dark for most of my life and was especially so as a child. I remember as I was playing the game something very unusual happened. In an instant I felt like time slowed to a crawl and then I snapped out of that sensation almost immediately to find my nose absolutely flowing with blood. This was not a typical nosebleed, it was really running. I calmly walked into another room where my mother was and she was beside herself at the sight of my bloody face. These experiences should cause some alarms to go off. While there are no UFOs involved, the slowing of time and the bloody nose are commonly reported within the UFO abduction phenomenon. In the same email Derek talked about his personal evolution and what is happening presently. In the last few years something very interesting, unexpected and wonderful has happened to me. I've found myself opening up, learning, knowing and growing in ways I never would have considered just a few years back. It feels very much like what one would describe as a spiritual awakening. I spend little to no time thinking about the nuts and bolts type speculation in the UFO community. I have become much more interested in issues like consciousness, enlightenment, purpose, knowing, growing. I've slowly started to meditate. I find myself open to things I would have scoffed at in the past, they almost make very clear sense to me now! His spiritual awakening seems somehow intertwined with his UFO experiences. I can’t help but recognize myself in this part of his personal account. Here is someone with multiple UFO sightings, odd childhood memories, an expanded consciousness— and for some reason—an owl shows up as a pivotal player in the overall narrative. Also, he is cautious and unsure of the source of the experience. I can’t help but think that the owl is playing the role of an alarm clock, trying to wake up the experiencer.
Something is happening and it implies that there is a lot more to reality than what we have been taught. I had some back and forth emails with a guy who first knew me from my cartoon work. He contacted me because he said we shared some experiences. He tells of having a traumatic emotional breakdown that completely rewired his brain. Here is a short excerpt of our correspondence (italics my own): This illness permanently altered my consciousness and opened me to all sorts of altered state type experiences like OBEs (Outer Body Experiences), lucid dreams, abduction type events (being very cautious here) to name just a few. The first thing I did when I was well enough to return to some kind of work was volunteer at an owl sanctuary. My job was to clean out their enclosures, so I was right in there with them. In many ways his story parallels my own. I completely understand the need to be very cautious when trying to make sense of personal experiences that imply abduction type events. Something profound had changed him and the first thing he did as his newer self was to volunteer to work directly with owls! That’s the kind of thing that gets my attention. His emotional healing involved owls and being “right in there with them.” When I asked him if he thought he was an abductee he said no, but then went on to share some things an abductee would experience (like an expanded consciousness). He too falls into the shadowy “maybe” category. If he has had potentially harrowing traumatic UFO abduction experiences in his life and these memories are somehow suppressed, then having an emotional breakdown is understandable. Obviously these anomalous events can be mind shattering. If I talk with an abductee and they say that they’ve had a history of depression or severe anxiety, I tend to trust their claims all the more. I have had my own struggles with clinical depression. I don’t truly know the source of this malady. It could be hereditary, seasonal or that I am just more susceptible as a creative type. My darkest days (quite literally an emotional breakdown) came just as I started compulsively reading UFO books. I have wondered how much to read into the timing of these two events. Just like my reader, something died in that breakdown and something else was reborn out of the ashes. While at a recent UFO conference I spoke with a researcher who has had her own direct contact experiences. I asked her for her impressions on the connection between seeing real owls and the UFO phenomenon. She is very soft spoken and she answered thoughtfully, “I have one person I’m working with who has had a lot of owl experiences, and she feels they will arrive shortly before an abduction, or just after.”
She gave me the one answer I that has been in the back of my mind, but I haven’t dared to whisper. I replied, “Well, that means I’m totally screwed!” She smiled and tried to reassure me, “Now don’t worry. That’s been her experience, it doesn’t mean it’s happening to you too.” Is it happening to me? Were the owls a harbinger to an abduction event? The funny thing is that I’ve had that very thought while seeing owls. I heard a nice little quote from a guy who has had an overwhelming amount of odd activity in his life, both with UFOs and owls. He said: “Owls are like firemen. If you see a building on fire you might see a bunch guys running around with funny helmets, long rubber jackets and hoses. They didn't start the fire but they just seem to show up there.” He is just as mystified as I am about what role the owls might play but he’s convinced they are somehow connected. I spoke with a husband and wife who I see each year at this same UFO conference. They are both abductees with some extremely strange stories. This couple is well beyond the “maybe” phase. I asked the wife if she ever had any odd experiences with owls. She asked me what I meant, and I explained that I had been asking abductees about owls and I’ve been getting some really interesting answers. Then she said that her and her husband had driven down to this conference in their RV and parked it in the adjoining campground, they’ve done this annually. They saw an owl on the very first night of the conference, just a few days earlier. It was evening and they had just arrived. They were setting out picnic chairs near their RV when something big swooped over their heads and then landed on a nearby lamp post. It was an owl and it was staring down at them. It stayed there for a long time, well after the sun went down. I asked if anything like this had ever happened before and she said no. She went on to say that going to bed that night both her and her husband felt uneasy. They were experiencing a sensation they both knew all too well. She implied that this was how they felt right before an abduction event. While at this same conference I spoke with author Rosemary Ellen Guiley, she researches UFOs, ghosts, ancient folklore and demonology. I asked if she has ever had any odd experiences with owls. She explained to me that owls will show up at paranormal hot spots like severe hauntings and ancient sacred sites. She feels that there is some sort of resonance connected to these highly charged places. For some reason the owls sense this and are attracted to it. My follow up question was to ask if a person, a UFO abductee, might have a similar sort of charged resonance, and could the owls be attracted to these individuals? She seemed to think that was highly
probable. We wrestled with the idea that owls might simply be drawn by some subtle force that we are unable to sense. For whatever reason, they can pick up on this force. Owls are part of the folklore concerning paranormal sites. Any spooky Halloween cartoon would include an owl next to a haunted house. This cartoon imagery matches Rosemary’s experiences. The implication is that the UFO abductee might be giving off the same “vibes” as a haunted house. Minutes after speaking with Rosemary I spoke with a man who told me a series of stories detailing his lifetime of UFO contact experiences. He also related that his home is active with poltergeist happenings. This is quite normal among abductees, and when he shared that detail it seemed to validate his overall story. He was very eager to show me a photograph he took of his porch. In this image was a ghostly semi-transparent human figure with a very clear woman’s face. I can’t speak to the authenticity of this photograph but it was genuinely eerie. When I asked this same man if he has ever had any owl experiences he told me about a photo he took of an owl near his rural home. The way he told the story, the owl seemed to be posing on a low branch in a tree in full daylight. This is very unusual behavior. The man had time to run into the house and come back to take the photo. He was proud of this photo and said it was a beautiful image. He then told me that on the opposite wall seen behind (or more correctly, through) the ghostly image of the woman was the framed picture of this owl. Now, this connection between an owl and a UFO abductee might seem tenuous at best, but there are so many odd elements to the story. He tells of two unusual photographs, and an exact alignment of an owl and a ghost. All this from a UFO abductee. I know a woman experiencer, again with a lot of very similar life experiences to my own. At the time of this experience she was unaware of any UFO events in her life. Since then she has seen what can only be described as alien beings and at the same time received telepathic communication. This happened in a full waking state and not during hypnosis. This experience (among others) has forced her to recognize her own direct contact experiences. In fall of 1999 she and her boyfriend Chris went on a 'vision quest' taking psychedelics. This was in Yellowstone National Park. They were wandering around one of the thermal areas at twilight and they were well away from any trails when the sun went down. They started heading back to the safety of their car but soon realized they were lost in the dark, thermal fog, mud and a tangle of fallen trees. They struggled to find a way back and finally entered a meadow of easier travel and saw an unusual grouping of big boulders in this open area. She got out her headlamp, turned it on and saw lots of eyes shining back at her. She heard grunts and realized she and Chris had wandered into a field of buffalo. She writes: I turned off the light right away so as not to piss them off, and just as I did so a huge, and I mean HUGE owl swept down out of
a nearby snaggy dead looking lodgepole and buzzed right over our heads, actually knocking off my friend Chris's hat with either it's wing beat wind or by it's actual talons, we weren't sure which. But it was CLOSE. I was REALLY freaked out. We had to backtrack and do more log walking over thermal bog in total darkness with no headlamps to get to 'safe' ground, away from the bison. We discussed it all later, and the owl, though it was only one small feature in the whole afternoon of visions and adventure, stood out as highly significant for both of us. At the time I wondered if it really was an owl, if it was sent to warn us, or if it might have been something else. It was easy to think like that due to the 'vision quest' context that already encompassed the whole event. The use of psychedelic drugs might force a pragmatic researcher throw this report in the trash, but I’m not so quick to dismiss it. The story seems to hold some clues. The fact that she and Chris were consciously setting out to have a ‘vision quest’ seems relevant. I feel that kind of seeking can be seen as a ritual act with a very real kind of power. Especially when, in a moment of real danger, an owl knocks someones hat right off their head! This same woman had another very interesting owl experience, again with a guy named Chris. Two different events, two different a guys named Chris. I can’t help but notice that a lot of the owl stories I’ve heard involve someone named Chris or close to it. The name Christopher has it’s roots in the name Christ, and the spiritual resonance is pretty obvious. I know another woman who saw, as close as she could guess, 50 owls in a meadow while with a guy named Christian, and they both saw a UFO later that same day. Curiously, they too were on their own psychedelic vision quest. My most profound owl experiences happened twice with a woman named Kristen (a name very much like Christian). I need to add that each of these three women are connected to me with some of the weirdest freakin’ synchronicities I’ve ever experienced.
There is a researcher from Boston, Christina Knowles, who has also been documenting the pattern of owls and UFOs. Like many who are working in this field, she is also an abductee. She has worked with a lot of people who tell of direct contact with the UFO occupants, and theses same people have had experiences with what she concludes are real owls. The screen memory aspect of this mystery can make the word “real” seem slippery. When the people working with Christina tell of seeing these owls, she’ll ask them if they make direct eye contact and for how long. She has heard repeated stories of people who look into the eyes of these owls and then they’ll be on the receiving end of some sort of psychic download. There is a channeled telepathic message that simply appears in their minds, often with an associated ear ringing. The message is consistent, that we humans need to be better stewards of the environment of this planet. This is a very common communication for any abductee, but it’s more than a little bit fascinating that the source is an owl.
Researcher and author Christopher Knowles, photographed in his boyhood home with four owls, sometime around 1972 or 1973.
There is another Chris Knowles from Boston who is also digging into these same mythic issues. Christopher Knowles is an author, researcher and prolific blogger at his site The Secret Sun. He makes no claims of any kind of personal abduction experiences, but this guy has some of the most far-reaching and perceptive insights into the overall UFO phenomena of anyone out there. He doesn’t shy away from the mythic implications roiling just below the surface of this challenging stuff. The name Christopher and Christina both share the word Christ, and Knowles even has the word OWL buried in it’s very center.
Chris Bledsoe (another Christopher) is a UFO abductee with a set of experiences that are so intense that I can barely wrap my mind around the enormity of what he has endured. Both he and his son had concurrent missing time experiences as well as seeing small glowing humanoid beings on the night of Jan 8th 2007. This happened while fishing along the Cape Fear River in North Carolina with three other witnesses. The entire crew saw multiple UFOs at close range. This is an extremely well documented case and there is such an abundance of weirdness stemming from that night that it seems almost impossible to sum it up in just a few paragraphs. Trust me when I say his story is incredibly intense. A pair of owls showed up almost immediately after the abduction. These two owls took up residence in a hickory tree right next to his home, and he could often hear a third owl off in the forest nearby. He describes these as big brown owls that would make a strong hooting call. These would probably be common Bard Owls. Chris was born and raised in the house right next door and he stated that he had never, in all his life, seen owls in this area. After this initial abduction experience Chris spent almost a year locked away in one room of his home. He was overwhelmed by the trauma of that night and the emotional aftermath. This room was on the back corner of the house near the hickory tree with the owls. He was having a terrible time relating to his family and ended up seeking some solace with a citizen band radio. He used this radio as a way to communicate to people outside that room. He even built a 131 foot tall metal framed tower with an antenna to boost the receiving power of this radio system. There was a thick cable connecting the tower to the CB equipment in that lonely back room. After he finished the tower one lone owl was repeatedly seen in full daylight sitting in the metal framework. He said the owl had an eerie presence and seemed to be continually staring at him. On June 25th 2011, the day of his 28th wedding anniversary, lightning struck the antenna and the current followed the cable and that back room exploded into flames. All the CB equipment was destroyed as well as a lot of paper documentation from his abduction case. If Chris had been in that room, as he usually was, he feels strongly that he would have been instantly killed.
After the lightning strike he never saw owls around the house again. Chris felt that the owls were some sort of warning. Chris also had another curious owl experience in 1968 as a seven year old boy. He was at a summer camp run at a local church and he was waiting for his mother near a tree next to the parking lot. As he was leaning against the trunk of this tree he looked up and saw a huge owl on a branch within reach of where he stood. He didn’t hear it land and it wasn’t there when he first leaned against the tree. Chris told me story in a face to face conversation and I was struck by how this strange event still had an emotional resonance 39 years later. This 1968 owl event at the church happened along the same rural road just a little bit over one and a half miles from his 2007 abduction experience. Brigitte Barclay is a British abductee with an owl experience that is both frightening and mystifying. Like any powerful sychronicity (or dream for that matter) her story has a tangle of threads that seem to connect to a series of other odd events. She was well beyond the “maybe” status when this happened less than two years ago, she was perfectly aware of her lifetime of experiences. The preface of this story involves a late night facebook chat session between Brigitte and an American friend in California, this happened the night before the weird owl event. It’s important to note that her friend is also an abductee. At one point in the conversation her American friend stated that she was a “night owl.” This happened at the exact same moment that Brigitte typed “Twit-Twoo.” Both messages appeared simultaneously in each others chat box. “Twit-Twoo” is the British equivalent of “Hoot-Hoot.” The Tawny Owl (a common owl in England) makes a different call than the hooting associated with most of the larger North American owls. So, these two women abductees both made prescient owl comments in unison on the eve of a very strange owl event. For anyone with an eye to curious number sequences (like me), the following day was 9-10-11. That evening Brigitte went shopping for a combination printer-scanner that she could use with her computer. She went to a local electronics store and looked through all the available units on display. She wanted to ask for help but the salesperson was busy with another customer. After waiting for a while she decided she would come back later. It was nighttime when she left the store and stepped out into the parking lot. As she approached her car she saw something setting on the pavement near the rear tire. When she got close enough to examine it she saw that it was a printer-scanner. It was out of the box and it seemed to be brand new.
Her immediate thought was that someone had been watching her and she was flooded with an unsettling feeling of paranoia. Her heart started racing. She got into her car and prepared to drive away, but she was so shook up that she couldn’t start the engine. She was awash in self doubt, did she actually see the exact item she had been shopping for sitting next to her car? She got out and touched the printer-scanner as a way to prove that it was real. Why was it sitting there? She scanned the parking lot wondering if anyone was looking at her. Then she picked up the unit and put it in the back of her car. She got back in and started driving in a weird kind of shock. While driving home along a rural road her mind was racing, she was trying to make sense of the extremely bizarre experience in the parking lot. She approached a corner in the road and she heard a voice in her head saying: “I see you.” At that moment a big owl appeared in front of her and then hit the windscreen with a mighty boom! The bird bounced off and disappeared to the side of the car. Brigitte’s heart was pounding as she stopped at the corner. She felt a need to find the owl, there was no traffic so she backed up. She never left the car as she slowly drove along looking for any sign of the owl in the tall grass along side the road. There was nothing she could see. When she got home she told her teenage son what had happened. The boy has had his own set of strange life experiences and he was adamant that this was a bad omen and he wanted that printer-scanner out of the house. Before going to bed that night they opened the back door and eased the unit out and onto the back porch. Like any of these kinds of stories there is a lot more going on that makes the entire event all the more mysterious. The corner where the owl hit her windshield was the exact spot where she had previously seen a very unusual floating orb. Just like the 9-10-11 owl experience she had been driving alone at night. As she approached the corner she saw a bright light just above the tree line along side of the road. She watched as it moved in front of the trees and lowered itself toward the ground. She stopped her car about 15 meters from the glowing white orb of light. She then got out and walked towards it, getting within about 10 meters of the object. She estimates it would have been about 1.5 meters in diameter. It was moving through the field in a way that seemed to match some of the crop circle videos that show floating balls of light over the fields. So, that corner in the road had an echoing history for Brigitte. The day after the owl hit her windscreen, Brigitte contacted another friend from America, this man has had his own UFO sightings along with a set of extremely bizarre associated experiences (psychic stuff, synchronicities, owls, etc.). After Brigitte shared what had happened, the man realized that he had been on a Skype call
at the same time that the owl hit Brigitte’s wind screen. He had been talking with Brigitte’s American friend; it was the woman abductee who had called herself a “night owl” the previous night. The American woman had typed the letters I C U into the Skype chat box at the beginning of the Skype conversation. This lined up, as best as anyone can tell, precisely when Brigitte heard the words I see you in her head, and the next second the owl hit the wind screen. There was a massive clap of thunder during this Skype call, both of them were really startled. The American abductee was at home in California. She was sitting outside during the call and explained that on a clear blue day a single cloud had floated directly over her and that it produced a crazy loud burst of thunder. All of this happened as Brigitte was dealing with the owl drama across the ocean in Britain. Brigitte is left with the impression that this overall experience was something negative. This was followed up by another owl event that manifested as something much more reassuring. Brigitte had been talking on the phone with a friend, also an abductee. This woman had a deep love of owls and nature. They talked about how we are sometimes shown things symbolically. After hanging up Brigitte stepped out into her garden. It was a beautiful night and she heard the very clear sound of two owls hooting. The lovely calls were quite close to where she was standing. Though she never saw them, her impression was that both owls were in the same tree. She took this as a confirmation of something positive. Part of the research for this essay has involved checking in with the other people involved with this story. I sent a late night email to Brigitte’s friend, the man who spoke with her the day after the owl hit her wind screen. He replied to my email shortly thereafter (while I was asleep) and suggested we set up a time to talk on the phone. Early the next morning, just after his email to me, he was driving in the predawn darkness and a large owl flew in front of the windshield. The American woman stated that she had repeatedly heard an owl outside her bedroom window right around the same time as Brigitte’s owl experience in England. This same woman experienced a dramatic missing time event as a small girl that involved seeing an owl in a barn near her elementary school. The man in this story later met Brigitte in person in the UK. Curiously their first meeting was on 11-11-11. While driving together they talked about Brigitte’s previous owl experience and the printer-scanner, right at that moment an owl jumped out a hedge and swooped in front of their car. There are three people involved in this story, Brigitte, the American woman and the man. There tell of a bizarre set of sychronicities and dreams that brought them all
together and what followed was a welling up of irrational emotions. Each person in this triangle tells of an oppressive and confusing intensity in their interactions. They all confessed to me that, on some level, they acted oddly or irrationally at times during this flurry of weirdness. In late August of 2009 I had another intense owl experience. This was on a 7-day trip where I was teaching lightweight camping skills with a group of students. We were in the mountains of Montana just north of the Yellowstone border. Our team was camped in a beautiful spot close to a little pond. The water in the pond was green and murky, not really all that appealing for drinking. I had been in this area once before and I knew of a nice spring nearby. So, as twilight approached a student named Peter and I collected all the water bottles from our teammates, there were seven of us total. We carried the empty bottles to the spring, filled them up with cold clear water trickling right out of the rocks and then took them back to camp. This is the kind of thing I like to do, just a nice gesture at the end of a long day of hiking. Both Peter and I were doing something kind, something altruistic. This small detail has shown up in other synchronicities. I don’t know what it means but I need to note that a simple selfless act would directly proceed something so powerful. It was a beautiful walk to and from the spring, and it probably took less than 20 minutes. We were both talking about how curious paranormal events seemed to influence our personal life journey. I am quite certain I told Peter about my ongoing weird owl sightings. We got back to camp right at twilight and we both casually lay down to watch the evening sky. This was unusual. It's something I have never done before, but we both did it that evening. Both of us were on our backs looking up from a small meadow surrounded by a circle of dense trees. Peter is a psychiatrist and the conversation seemed to get deeper and deeper as the sky got darker and darker. At one point, and I was talking at this moment, there was a crashing noise in the trees above us. Suddenly the small opening in the trees was filled with owls. They were all flying around directly above us. It was a chaotic flurry of activity and took us some time to actually figure out how many there were. We both counted five. Yes, FIVE OWLS! They were all large owls, maybe 2 feet long beak to tail, probably common Barred Owls. It lasted about 10 minutes and we were both reeling from a kind of ecstatic shock from the intensity of the sighting. To say this was mystical would be an understatement! After the owls left I asked Peter what I was talking about at the moment the owls appeared. Without hesitating he said I had been speaking about my mother. I said, "Really?"
He said, "Yes, they appeared right when you mentioned your mother." That night I had a dream my mother was crying, and the image of her face was terribly sad. The next day I called her using a cell phone from high on an alpine ridge. I was relieved when she said she was fine. Two years before she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and her life was now extremely confusing and stressful. I was worried, and it was helpful to hear her voice. Just about a week later I was on a similar trip with students, but this one was just three days long. As we were preparing dinner at twilight three owls flew over me and my team mates for about 10 minutes. They swooped down near where we sat and landed in the trees directly above us. Everyone in our team got to see them. At this point I was getting worried.
14 owls in one photograph
2009 was a crazy year for me, the two different owl sightings noted above happened in August and September. In October of that year I was so freaked out after seeing so many owls that I actually went off into the woods, all alone, and spoke out loud to the empty void. I declared to the universe that I was no longer going to take note of just any owl, like one off on a fence post or up in some tree in the distance. The owl needed to cross my path before I would pay attention! I was very firm about this demand. A few days later I was riding my bike in my little town at twilight and an owl swooped down from one tree and elegantly floated up to another on the other side of the street. It quite literally crossed my path at eye level just a few yards ahead of me. I paid attention.
Author and researcher, David Weatherly
David Weatherly is an author and paranormal researcher. He shared a story with me that exemplifies the overall mystery. He told me about going to interview a witness named Joan. She was a young mother who had been having ongoing UFO sightings around her home. Weatherly pulled into the driveway just as the sun was setting. This was his first visit to the home of this witness. He describes shutting off the engine and while still in the drivers seat he put fresh batteries in a small voice recorder in his lap. Here’s what he wrote: As I was looking down to do this, I heard a heavy thud and felt a slight shake as though something had fallen on the vehicle. Looking up quickly, I was shocked to see an owl perched on the hood. It turned it's head and looked directly at me. I recognized the species, a Great Horned Owl. This one was at least a foot tall. It looked at me for a moment, turned it's head and looked forward down the street then repeated this movement. It never made a sound and after a moment, it launched into the air. It was an unusual incident and I wasn't sure what had caused the owl to land on my vehicle moments after I had turned the engine off. I didn't mention this incident to Joan when I went in to conduct the interview. Sitting in Joan's kitchen, I listened quietly as she began to give me details of her UFO sightings. Like many people who report repeated encounters, Joan had experienced some odd things in her life. On two occasions, she had experienced missing time. Lapses in her routine that she simply couldn't explain and didn't have any clear memory of.
Once she had told me about her sightings, I brought up her children. Joan had two kids (a daughter age 12 and a son age 7). Her daughter had not mentioned anything unusual since the UFO activity had begun. Her son however, had started to talk about “lights in the sky” and the “little men.” He had also developed an imaginary friend. A common thing for young children to do, but the timing was rather curious. As I sat talking to Joan, her son came in to the kitchen. He calmly reported to his mother "It's at my window again Mommy." Joan assured him that "it" was already gone. She excused herself for a moment and walked with her son to his room. When she returned to the kitchen, she explained that a large owl had started coming to her son's window and perching on the sill outside. She seemed to think that the bird was attracted to the bedroom light or possibly to her son's cat that often sat on a table just inside his window. I asked if she had ever seen the owl herself and she reported that she had not but her daughter had witnessed it on a couple of occasions. A neighbor had also informed Joan that he had seen a large owl in her yard a few times. Interesting enough when I pressed her for more details, Joan recalled that the owl had started to appear around the time of her first UFO sighting. I spoke with Weatherly for a recorded interview in July of 2012. During this backand-forth dialog we spoke about owls and shamanism. The presence of the owl seems intimately related to the overall role of the shaman. The owl has large eyes that allow it to see in the dark. That ability, to peer into the darkness, is a perfect metaphor for the mission of the shaman. We are all confronted with the darkness and the fears behind its curtain. It is the shaman’s responsibility to access that hidden realm and come back with metaphysical lessons. Since childhood, David has studied shamanic and magical traditions with elders from numerous cultures including Tibet, Native America, Europe and Africa. I knew none of this history while I was conducting this formal interview with him. During the recorded conversation he said he had had a Near Death Experience in his youth. When I heard that a bell went off in my head, and I blurted out, "Wait, are you a shaman?" Without any hesitation, he answered: “Yes, I am.”
The mythologist Joseph Campbell paints a picture of the shamanic initiation as something brutal. Nobody volunteers to be the village shaman, they are instead chosen by the village elders. A rite is performed where they escort the initiate to a cave and proceed to take the poor person to the edge of death. This might be through a metaphoric ceremony or the elders might beat him until he is on the precipice of physically dying. This is a symbolic death and rebirth ritual and the young shaman will then take on the role of intermediary between worlds. Campbell also said that it is common that the young initiate will have had some kind of psychological break from reality in his youth. Some traumatic event will have shattered their fragile sense of reality. When David said he had a Near Death Experience in his youth I immediately saw this as part of his initiation, the literal transformation from young boy to young shaman. Here is an edited excerpt from our interview: Mike: So here's my final question, if I had to ask a shaman any question, it would be this: What is the meaning of all the owls? I see a lot of owls, I mean, more than other people, and at prescient moments. And I don't think they are UFO screen memories, I think these are real owls. David: So what you are saying is you do not feel like they are a screen memory. Mike: No, they are real owls. David: When you look at totem animals, you'll find slightly different interpretations depending on the cultural background, but you also find some commonalities. Now, the owl in a lot of North American mythologies is symbolic of death and all the things associated with that, like the other-world and the spirit world. It's a very feminine energy, and it's often associated with people who have psychic or mediumship abilities. It's a night totem, so it's associated with the moon and lunar energy. I'm just talking in generalities, there are differences when you look at more western cultures. What's your cultural heritage? Mike: My father was Scottish, both my grandparents on his side were born in Scotland. The lineage is Scottish as far as we can trace it back. My mother was born in Denmark, and her ancestry is all Danish. David: Oh, now that's cool. The owl in shamanic definition is pretty interesting. If you take the owl or the crow, you'll find very similar definitions and interpretations in America and in Europe. The same is true for other animals like the deer.
But the owl is curious, the interpretations are very different on the two continents. Things that are associated with it in North America are a bit more ominous. A lot of native American tribes think it's a bad omen if you see an owl, meaning someone is going to die. Some of the native mythology, for instance in the South Western tribes like the Apache have a whole owl-man monster that exists in their creation myth. But if you go to Europe and look a the owl it's a bit more noble and it's often associated with the Goddess of wisdom [Athene], and it's more associated with the ability to be clairvoyant. And it's often symbolic of being aware of your surroundings. So I would say that with your background the owls would fall into that category for you. Now you can take all these things that I've said and sit with it and derive your own interpretation. But I would certainly say that anytime you see one, you really need to pay attention on multiple levels. Mike: (laughing) Sorry, I didn't mean to laugh. David: And pay attention to what's going on at moment when you spot it, what's happening that day. But also what's going on in your life at the time. Mike: That's funny you said that, because you said 'pay attention' and I was literally getting ready to reply, and I had just written down 'pay attention' on this piece of paper in front of me. David: (laughs) Mike: So that's what I've come away with. I don't have a good answer, the only answer I do have is pay attention. At this point I share the 2009 story of seeing five owls all at one time in Montana with Peter. Then the conversation continues: David: Those kind of things make it very clear that this is a very defined and connected totem for you ... and that is what you need to look at and be conscious of in those moments. Chronicle those things because they are valuable, you'll see patterns emerge and you'll see greater levels of understanding develop from those experiences. Mike: When you say chronicle them, that's interesting because I have been, and it's been in the form of this blog. I really take the blog seriously, it's not hidden away in a diary. I am publicly declaring it and it gives it a different resonance. It feels like I am doing an experiment, I have to take this seriously and I am trying to be as honest as I can be on this blog. David: (Laughing) You are following the shamanic process. It's sort of akin to the shaman sitting down and telling the village stories.
David and I concluded the taped interview and later continued the backand-forth exchange on a facebook chat box: Mike: During the recorded interview I thought you said: “the owls are a shamanic initiation” But what you really said was: “you are following the shamanic process.” You weren't commenting on me seeing owls. You were commenting on me blogging about seeing owls. David: During taping, I didn't outright say you were going through a shamanic initiation because that's a very personal thing. I didn't know if you would want it shared. But essentially it's often the same thing. Following the shamanic process does by nature lead to initiatory experiences. Mike: The thing is, the answer that all my owl sightings would be a shamanic initiation just feels exactly right! David: The important thing is the message you heard and how much it resonated with you. Mike: Well, the message (a shamanic initiation) resonated absolutely perfectly at a soul level! I trust that means something. I had been asking what the owls meant and had a kind of psychic knowing when I was told that it could be a shamanic initiation. I never asked for this and I was never dragged away by the village elders to take part in any ritual. Or was I? Could there be buried memories of an abduction that might fit into this shamanic framework? The UFO mystery has certainly played a role in my life and it has ushered in a whole new set of ideas. I now have a completely altered view of reality and consciousness. Spiritual awakening is as good a term as any for what I’ve experienced, but what does it mean? I need to add that during the editing process for this essay, I asked David Weatherly to review the text to make sure my description of shamanism wasn’t out of line. I sent him a document and a few days later he sends me this: I think you'll find it interesting to know that I actually read your piece last night just as the sun was going down. I have a window right by my desk. I'd say I was about halfway through the piece when I noticed a bird flying by out of the corner of my eye. I watched it fly in an arc away from the window and then back around. It landed on a tree nearby and that's when I got a clear look at what it was, an owl! First one I've ever seen here at my house.
While researching this essay I’ve gone back and checked in with some of the people who have emailed me their owl stories. I asked ‘em the big question: Do you think you are a UFO abductee? Their replies were consistent. They’ll say, “oh no, not me,” but then they will add some personal experience like remembering a vivid half awake memory of weird spindly beings standing around their bed and then floating them through a wall. A while back I connected with a woman who was hinting that she might have had some sort of contact experiences in her life. I was intrigued when I realized she and I shared a long list of very similar experiences. During our very first phone conversation I asked, “Have you ever had any experiences with owls?” I could tell she didn't quite get my question and she replied hesitantly, "Do you mean, like, lots of owl dreams, seeing owls at weird times and having them answer when I hoot?" I laughed and told her yes, that’s exactly what I meant. As we talked further I realized that she was one more of these “maybe” people. She had experiences that certainly pointed to UFO abduction, but it’s really not my place to call someone an abductee if they aren’t saying it themselves. I know because people have said as much to me and it’s unsettling. When I first stepped into this arena of researchers, experiencers and zealots I desperately wanted to remain unbiased as I proceeded forward. I contacted Dr. Leo Sprinkle for advice. He is one of the elder statesmen of the overall community and one of the most radiant men I have ever met. I asked him, “How can I stay objective in this new role as I try to do research?” He calmly stated, “You can’t. No matter how you want to act, you’ll be absolutely subjective. Just know that.” What he said might seem obvious, but it was exactly what I needed at that moment. It was a relief to hear it and it allowed me to be a lot less rigid in the way I frame this stuff. Most of the people who have sent me their owl experiences found me through my website, written work and audio interviews. I am very clear that my focus is UFO abductions, synchronicities and owls. So, anyone sharing an owl sighting with me has already been squeezed through a filter of sorts. I recognize that I am attracting the very stories that I’m studying. I feel like I’m too confused to try to formulate any meaningful hypothesis, and too impatient to come up with a conclusion. I initially thought that these prescient owls sightings were all connected directly to UFO abductees, but it isn’t that simple. Something even more mysterious is at play. The experiences seem to defy any logic and so does their significance.
There is definitely a connection between owls and UFOs, I say that with absolute confidence. I don’t know why or what it implies, but I know the connection is real. The problem is that trying to decipher the deeper meaning of these clues using rationality simply isn’t working. I’ve been forced to use my intuition as part of this detective work. I haven’t been objective in researching this owl weirdness, especially since a lot of these reports just feel too close to my own experiences. I have tried to be honest and that means sharing some personal feelings along with the facts. This has been a challenging journey. I spent decades avoiding and denying the obvious clues that pointed to my direct involvement with the UFO occupants. Dismissing the UFO experiences was easy, they just didn’t seem real. But I couldn’t dismiss the owls. They felt entirely real. I have changed in the last few years and the owls played an important role in that change. The metaphor of death and rebirth is entirely appropriate. Owls are an almost insignificant part of the UFO enigma, but within that tiny fractal is an allegory for the overall phenomenon. If there is any pattern at all it seems that the owls are appearing more to the "maybe" people. Looking into the owl mystery is like looking into a mirror. I am focusing on a lot of my own experiences as I wrestle with these odd reports. Writing this essay has been my own therapy. When I use the term “maybe” people I am describing myself and I know it. Actually, I am describing the person I was. I am now at the point where I can declare myself a UFO abductee (a word I don’t like), but it wasn’t the missing time or seeing aliens in my yard that allowed me to say it so clearly. It was the overwhelming flood of owls and synchronicities that forced me to a conclusion that now seems obvious. Are the owls showing themselves to these “maybe” people as a way to wake them up to their own hidden reality? If these owl sightings are part of a shamanic initiation, what is the role of the awakened shaman? Nobody is asked to take on the challenging role of UFO abductee or the role of the shaman. Should simply seeing an owl (or bunches of them) be the spark that makes a “maybe” person declare themselves a contactee? Probably not. But the owl might be a sign to look deeper into yourself, to honestly examine your own hidden truths. I feel strongly that there is another realm of existence hidden from our eyes, perhaps this is the domain of the UFO occupant. The owl, like the shaman, is the intermediary between these two realms. It is the owl who can see into this dark realm. But is this darkness an unknown reality just beyond our perceptions, or is it our own hidden subconscious?
Great Horned Owl
Note: Within this essay I have extensively used excerpts from people’s written correspondence. Some of these excerpts were edited slightly for grammar and clarity. I need to thank everyone who has helped shape this essay, especially my editor Erika Earles. Also a great big thanks to David Weatherly.