Going Around: Local Legends

Hey hey hey, it’s Going Around season! Also, the second full-length season of The Adventure Zone is happening, so this week, the BLP crew shares their favorite cryptids, those beings who lurk at the edge of confirmable science.

Scriv: I’ve had the privilege of visiting the Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME (thanks in large part to my sweetie), so I have a couple contenders. Nearest and dearest to my heart is Chessie, the sea monster local to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, not five minutes on foot from where I grew up. That said, the cryptid most inspiring to my own sense of monstrous wonderment is the Chupacabra. Most cryptids are categorized by their body plan or best real-world equivalent; the Chupacabra’s appearance seems to vary based on what source you’re looking at, which is awesome because it requires us to fall back on what it does when naming it, and what it does is exsanguinate goats, people, all day, every day.

Nagi: My interest in cryptids is based around a modernized alternative take on the concept of a tulpa. Very simply put, tulpas are thoughtforms that people can create with their minds to embody thoughts and feelings that, superficially, are different than the creator’s. However, the definition of tulpa that I was first introduced to was “a supernatural being that is created and sustained by the collective belief of many people”. That definition has stuck fast with me through the years, and while it’s obviously derivative from the original context, I like to think of it as a legitimate sub-definition.

Are some cryptids actually tulpas? Who can say for sure, but the two subjects feel complementary in many ways. Take the Jersey Devil, for instance, a beast sighted around the Pine Barrens region of New Jersey in some form for hundreds of years. However, its composite form, built from dozens of eyewitness accounts of varying reliability, ends up making a chimera look tame. To quote from its Wikipedia entry, “The creature is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many variations. The common description is that of a kangaroo-like or wyvern-like creature with the head of a goat, leathery bat-like wings, horns, small arms with clawed hands, cloven hooves and a forked tail.” Click through to the entry up there to see a pic of what someone imagined that looking like. It rides a hard line between looking terrifying and goofy as fuck.

Feryx: I have to give a shout out to the Dover Demon, a lesser known cryptid from my hometown of Dover, MA. It has all the hallmarks of a classic Mothman-type cryptid: Sighted late at night in a rural area by (probably drunk) teenagers, distorted humanoid form with glowing eyes, probably just an animal nobody expected to see. Some other examples of this type of story include the Flatwoods Monster and the Hopkinsville Goblins.

I think what I like about these sorts of creatures is that they call back to a primal and unforgotten facet of the world. Before we became masters of our environment, the night was vast and dark and full of unknowable things. People had no way of proving or rationalizing the creatures they glimpsed beyond their campfires, and so they began to tell stories of the Good Neighbors who live in the Hills.  Today it may feel like there aren’t any unknown places left in the world, but the Others are still with us in the form of UFO sightings and fervent glimpse of strange beings like the Dover Demon.