Understanding Cryptids: The Occult and High Strangeness Part 1

Symbolic Study


Cryptid phenomena is one of the most fascinating things to me. From the first UFO books I read as a child, to the creepypastas reposted on instagram accounts, these things have sparked my curiosity.

Vast amounts of people have experiences that are unexplainable by modern science, and more than that, these experiences are centered on monsters!

Bizarre creatures, some humanoid, others bestial, and then those far beyond.

You’ve heard their names. Bigfoot, Mothman, Nessie, Chupacabra.

These creatures are not new. They’ve been seen throughout human history. Documented, depicted in our art, featured in our myths and dreams.

What is going on out there?

The World

There is an existing system that provides a cohesive phenomenology of Cryptids. The Western Esoteric Tradition. Occultists have written extensively on mysterious creatures that exist outside of the magician, and even outside the bounds of Heaven and Hell. A lower, more mundane set of beings: Elementals.

Before we dig in to the meat of these fellows, let’s grasp the concept of “elements” first.

The concept of the four elements is essential to all magickal philosophy. It can be gleaned simply through the Bible and Tarot.

Ezekiel describes the throne of God as being surrounded by four Living Creatures, each with a different head. An Eagle, an Ox, a Lion, and a Man. These are the Cherubim, and they make up the initial fourfold emanations of the One God.

The Eagle is Water

The Ox is Earth

The Lion is Fire

The Man is Air.

God is God,

but is made known through the elements that make up the world.

This is depicted in the Tarot as such:

These elements are not reserved for the material world, but indeed, contain immense depths of spirit, and within, rule over their own beings. While mundane beasts are ruled or dignified by elements, the Elementals are directs emanations.

The spirits of Water are Undine

The spirits of Earth are Gnomes or Manikins

The spirits of Fire are Salamanders

The spirits of Air are Sylphs

These beings feature prominently in fairy tales and stories, magicians command them, or they run amok and cause mischief.

I will show you how there is clear congruence between Elemental phenomena and Cryptids.


Before we correspond Elements to Cryptids, let’s read through some descriptions of both.

Eliphas Levis writes:

It is they who produce movements in the dowsing wand and knocking sounds on walls or furniture, but they can never manifest another thought than our own, and if we think of nothing, they speak to us with all the incoherence of dreams. They indifferently reproduce good and evil, because they have no free will and in consequence no responsibility; they appear to ecstatics and somnambulists in incomplete and fugitive forms. They are what caused the nightmares of Saint Anthony and most probably the visions of Swedenborg; they are neither damned nor guilty, they are curious and innocent.1

This image of essentially “dumb” spirits that attempt and fail to mimic humans and their thoughts is fundamental to grasping High Strangeness.

In the Mothman Prophecies, John Keel writes:

Our entities are like those radio receivers, playing back the message at slow speeds until they hit upon a speed we can interpret.

The entities also foul up in other ways. They arrive in clothes that are out of style, or not yet in style. Their vehicles are out of date. If they use slang, they might come up with archaic terms like "twenty-three Skidoo" or "hubba hubba." The poor bastards not only fail to understand who or what they are, but also where they are or what time period they're in. Some of these mistakes seem intentional and have some allegorical purpose. But others seem to be just... mistakes.

He also considers the nature of this phenomena to be essentially energetic:

Since the entities probably exist as energy in a field outside our space-time continuum they can only see, and be seen, by these special people.

As magicians, we can easily determine that this “energy” is fourfold, and elemental, and thus determining the variety of phenomena.

The Four

I will briefly give my correspondence of existing Cryptids with their Elements.

The Earthen Manikins, who thrive in forests, appear today as the Bigfoots and Dogmen. Hairy, dirty, often stinky creatures that populate our woods.

The Airy Sylphs can be seen flying over head as Mothmen, Aliens, Thunderbirds, and even in our homes as ethereal ghosts.

The Watery Undine occupy our local lakes and deep oceans, the Loch Ness Monster, the Kraken, and the Ningen.

The last of these is Salamanders, which may be a bit more difficult to pin down, as we have no “fire” environment to place them in, but through the magickal reading of fire, we can see that Fire is passion and violence.

And thus, your Jersey Devils, who eat dogs and children, your Chupacabra, who sucks goats of their blood, your skinwalkers emitting foul sulphur smells and seeking to kill, all are Salamanders.


Perhaps you think I have strayed too far into the “woo” without providing a psychological grounding for these phenomena (which can’t possibly exist, according to ___). I’ll correct course for a bit.

Wilhelm Reich writes:

The primitive mind thought very close to reality when it equated the fruitfulness of the earth with the fruitfulness of a female body, or when it thought of the cloud which gave rain as a perceiving creature. It animated nature according to its own sensations and functions; it animated it but did not mystify it as its great-great-grandchild did centuries later. In the strict sense of the term, “mysticism” signifies here the changing of sense impressions and organ sensations into supernatural and unreal entities. Anthropology teaches us that the devil with tail and pitchfork, or the angel with wings is a late product of human fantasy and no longer imitates reality but is created from an imagination which distorts reality.

While this may read as a denunciation of the mystic phenomena that we are describing, it does so morally, not functionally. The distorted beings manifest whether they are “natural” or not.

Jung describes the Psyche as fourfold, a Quaternity, the fact that our experience of the supernatural as fourfold is unsurprising then.

We are still dealing with “energy” that emanates as a quaternity, which is experienced generally in liminal states of being, in isolation or late at night. It is in these states that these animated flows of energy (what Jung calls Archetypes) are able to leap into the material world, and be perceived by humans.

Let’s take a second to consider where this happens.


And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

-Revelation 8:1

In John Keel’s investigation of the Mothman and other high strangeness local to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, he experienced what he calls a “Zone of Fear”

As I passed a certain point on one of the isolated roads I was suddenly engulfed in fear. I stepped on the gas and after I went a few yards my fear vanished as quickly as it came. I continued to drive, eventually returning again to the same spot. And again a wave of unspeakable fear swept over me. I drove quickly away from the place and then stopped, puzzled. Why would this one stretch of road produce this hair-raising effect? I turned around and slowly headed back, trying to note trees, fenceposts, and other landmarks in the dark. Once again, when I reached that particular point the hair tingled on the back of my neck and I became genuinely afraid. When I emerged from the other side of this invisible zone I stopped and got out of my car. The air was perfectly still. There wasn't any audible sound ... not even a bird call.

It was in these liminal environments where phenomena would make themselves known.

This feeling is expanded upon by UFOlogist Jenny Randles with her concept of the “Oz Factor”, or the uncanny silence/wrongness of an environment that accompanies high strangeness.

Reich again provides an explanation, the DOR Zone2:

One cannot help but feel that natural cosmic OR energy retracts from the “evil,” “bleak,” “black,” “lifeless” DOR- cloud and lets it pass.

People react to the DOR-clouds with rather grave distress. Many do not know or cannot explain what happens to them. They call it “heat,” or “some atom dust,” or just “bad air.” Some are biologically insensitive to a degree which puzzles they orgonomist.

There are others who know the deadly quality of these clouds, not intellectually, but rather with their first Orgonotic Sense.

“There is something wrong in the air,” one hears them say or, “Something is going on somewhere,” a statement expressing awareness together with suspicion. “I cannot get any air,” or “It hits me like a brick when I enter my shop in the morning,” etc.

DOR is Reich’s rediscovery of the Freudian Death Drive as an active, evil energy in the cosmos. It means “Deadly ORgone”. And as Orgone animates the world, DOR deadens it.

Thus these “evil” cryptids arise from the half of God that is made up of bad vibes, to put it in a vulgar way.

But the important thing here is not the moral quality of the phenomena, but the functionality.

This is to say energetic environments provide necessary sensory cues for the psyche to project and perceive entities.

I am hesitant to accept that all cryptids are projections from individuals. I find it likely that environments themselves retain an energetic character, and therein are contained latent archetypes. Thus single monsters seen generation after generation, or the same spirits seen by people with no contact.

Of course there are cases of individuals causing phenomena, but the most interesting pursuit is that of understanding collective phenomena.


I will be posting more on this in the future, and with some luck, get a more experiential exploration of the phenomena in the form of a High Strangeness Tarot!

If you are interested in these projects, feel free to reach out!


The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic, Eliphas Levi, translated by John Michael Greer pg 234


Selected Writings, Wilhelm Reich pg 435