The Kentucky Mothman

In 1966 and 1967, the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia was visited multiple times by a mysterious winged creature. The Mothman, as it came to be called, was seen by over 100 witnesses over the course of the next year. The Mothman was described as a humanoid creature with large, glowing red eyes and a ten-foot wingspan. The sightings stopped suddenly after the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge on December 15, 1967. In his 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies, John Keel speculated that the appearance of the creature was related to the collapse of the bridge. Keel maintained that Mothman-like creatures have been seen throughout human history before certain tragedies. The book, which was adapted into a 2002 movie starring Richard Gere, posed the idea that seeing a Mothman was a foreshadowing of a coming disaster. Judging solely by Richard Gere's career since the 2002 movie, this idea may very well be correct.

But as Keel suggested, the appearance of the Mothman doesn't seem to be an isolated incident. And the Mothman, or Mothmen were seen in Kentucky before the famous Point Pleasant incident and have been seen since.

The earliest recorded sighting of a Mothman comes from November of 1868 in Mt. Sterling, where over the course of several weeks over two dozen residents residents reported seeing a winged man flying in circles above local landmarks, including what's known as the Wright-Greene Adena Indian Mound, and the historic Johnson House. While there are no known major disasters that happened in the area after this sighting, it was considered to be a very ill omen by the residents and speculation ran rampant that it was some kind of demon and that the end of the world was at hand.

Throughout 1938 and 1939, there were multiple sightings of Mothmen at either end of the state. The sightings began in Ashland, Kentucky in March of 1938. Interestingly, Ashland is only about 60 miles from Point Pleasant, where the most famous sightings happened. In April of that same year, sighting began to be reported in Elizabethtown. The sightings continued in both locations throughout the next two years, often within a day or so of one another, suggesting either that the thing can fly incredibly fast or that there were multiple Mpthmen at work. Nearly every report commented on the large, red eyes of the creature. 1939, of course, saw the beginning of World War II in Europe, which is undoubtedly one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th Century, if not all of human history. If the creature was warning of the growing storm in Europe, why it felt that Kentucky needed to be told first remains a mystery.

The latest reported sighting comes from Pikeville, where a "bird-like" creature with glowing red eyes was seen several times by multiple witnesses in August of 2008. A man named Harley Foster is reported to have said he spotted the creature near his barn and the Mothman acted aggressively and even seemed to chase him briefly.

It's interesting that the Mothmen seem to appear in Kentucky on a roughly 70-year schedule in Kentucky. It could be that this mysterious entities have some supernatural calendar of their own that they are following, and their appearance at times of disaster is just a coincidence. Bad things are, after all, happening all the time. If this the case, those of you reading this who plan to still be around in about 2080 should keep your eyes on the skies.

One of the most fascinating aspects of reports of the Mothmen is the psychological effect they seem to have on people. Almost universally, those who have encountered the entities speak of them inspiring a sense of deep, almost primal, dread. This, and their perhaps tenuous link to disasters, have led some to speculate that the creatures are not actually physical beings, but instead are some kind of manifestation of a collective unconscious. The theory of the Mothman as a psychic projection is that somehow collective trauma can be a significant enough shock to the minds of those involved that the power of their collective psyches bend space and time to cause one of these creatures to manifest itself before the trauma happens. Exactly how this happens is yet to be explained.

But even in the realm of mysterious and possibly supernatural creatures unknown to science, there is something unusual about the Mothmen. Reports of bigfoot of lake monster sightings are almost always described in terms of someone disturbing the creature in its natural habitat. These animals all generally seem to stay as far away from people as possible. A Mothman acts like it wants to be seen. The creatures always appear in populated areas. They seem to go out of their way to attract attention to themselves, but to attract attention to themselves on their terms. They seem to single out individuals to have close encounters with. And they seem always to be the ones in control of the situation.

It could be this supernatural authority that makes the Mothmen so frightening. There seems to be something in the glowing red eyes of these creatures that suggests that it's really their world, and we're just the temporary visitors.

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