Saturday, May 16, 2015

Paranormal Metamorphosis: Skin Walkers and Shape Shifters

The Heart of the Myth

Many explanations of the paranormal world derive from legends, superstitions, ghost stories, and cultural tales. When an event occurs that does not follow common logic, we might try to write it off as either a figment of our imagination or it is transformed into a tall tale. Fear of the unknown is a great motivator to cause us to explain away something that is perhaps very real. Unfortunately, as a result, the paranormal line between reality and fiction is far too many times blurred. This blurring has done great damage for those of us who are serious investigators. Our craft of exploring and documenting the paranormal world is being perceived as merely the work of overactive imaginations. Sure, the skeptics say, we saw that on episode 3 of Supernatural. 

To drive the point further, we now live in an age where literally anyone can take film or photo footage and "doctor it up" with the use of such tools like Photoshop and create "true paranormal" evidence. Everyone knows this and, I'll admit, I myself have a tendency to debunk most of what I come across as fake. It's hard not to rush to quick judgment because this media is all over the internet and far too many people are desperate for their 5 minutes of fame. So, I thought perhaps a better approach in discovering true paranormal experiences would be through myths and legends. 

By combing through the archives of antiquity, one might be able to discover some little known secrets about the paranormal world. Throughout all of human history we have created myths and legends for things we cannot comprehend or want to believe actually exist. The funny thing about legends, though, is that they too blur the line between fact and fiction. And so the question that is really left to ask is: 

      How much of what we believe to be legend, myth or ghost story is, in reality, true?  

In order to begin to answer this question, I thought we'd start by exploring the world of the Dine people. There area 562 Native American tribes that live in North America. Nearly every single one, like the Cherokee, Mohican or Apache, all have myths and legends that are elaborately woven into their culture. In a sense, these oral traditions represent the paranormal belief values of their people. These stories are intricately tied to their identities and shape their perceptions of both the seen and unseen worlds. 

Tribes, like the Navajo, use oral traditions as their "social media" to convey their supernatural and spiritual beliefs to the growing members of the family and tribe. These legends speak of their relationships with Nature, higher powers, and co-existence with the animals on this planet. This "co-existence" can be very uniquely different for some Native Americans. There are claims that certain members of the Navajo and other tribes have figured out how to alter their physical atomic structure, transforming their bodies into some of the creatures found in nature. 

Cameron Navajo Reservation - Courtesy Julio Chauta, Flickr
The Legend of the Skinwalker

Within the Navajo tribes there are a small percentage of members who are able to perform this supernatural phenomenon. They go by the name of yee naaldooshii, which translates into "with it, he goes on all fours". These individuals are called Skinwalkers, and they are medicine men or the highest level of priests who have chosen to use their power by taking on the form of an animal for the purpose of inflicting suffering and pain onto others. These men practice a form of witchcraft which is generally accepted within most Native American cultures.

Researching this form of Navajo witch from the perspective of the paranormal has proven very difficult because there is little information available. "In Navajo cultural beliefs, witchcraft itself is regarded as a taboo subject because it deals with concepts and objects surrounding death. Therefore, Navajo people are strictly prohibited from even speaking of such things." (CSI) Despite this great challenge (and I love a good one), herein lies what I was able to find about the mysterious concept of the "Skinwalker": 

"To becomes a skinwalker requires the most evil of deeds, the killing of a close family member. They literally become humans who have acquired immense supernatural power, including the ability to transform into animals and other people...these evil witches are typically seen in the form of a coyote, owl, fox, wolf or crow - although they do have the ability to turn into any animal they choose." -

An interesting parallel exists between African voodoo and the Navajo Skinwalker. The Navajo medicine man is very comparable in function like a "witch doctor" would be, for example, in Haitian voodoo folklore. We all are very familiar with the "voodoo doll" and the fact that they are created to bring some form of harm or evil to the intended victim. 

Some of the Skinwalkers utilize this same practice of using haunted objects to transmit curses onto other individuals. They too understand, in their own way, how emotional energies are able to entangle with physical objects and, as such, create a desired, intended result. Within the paranormal world, these types of phenomena are akin to spirit attachments. Supernatural attachment does not necessarily need to happen to a person alone, but can also be accomplished through objects as well. If you are interested in understanding further how all of this works, I encourage you to check out John Zaffis

There are dozens of stories out there about the mysterious skinwalkers. Ultimately it is up to you to decide whether or not you believe the personal testimonies. This one is scary enough:

"One story told on the Navajo reservation in Arizona concerns a woman who delivered newspapers in the early morning hours. She claims that, during her rounds, she heard a scratching on the passenger door of her vehicle. Her baby was in the car seat next to her. The door flung open and she saw the horrifying form of a creature she described as half-man, half-beast, with glowing red eyes and a gnarly arm that was reaching for her child. 

She fought it off, managed to pull the door closed, then pounded the gas pedal and sped off. To her horror, she says, the creature ran along with the car and continued to try and open the door. It stayed with her until she screeched up to an all-night convenience store. She ran inside, screaming and hysterical, but when the store employee dashed outside, the being had vanished. Outsiders may view the story skeptically, and any number of alternative explanations might be suggested, but it is taken seriously on the Navajo reservation." -

The skinwalker legend is notorious in the state of Utah at the site of the Sherman Ranch.  
This ranch, also known as the Skinwalker Ranch, is located near Fort Duquesne and has been declared cursed ground by the people of the Ute tribe. Disputes arose between the Navajo and the Utes back in the 1800's and, as a result, it is claimed that Navajo skinwalkers were sent to this property in retaliation against the Ute people. Over the past ten generations a skinwalker community has developed and with it, creating a huge amount of controversy. 

The land is mysteriously tied to massive amounts of cattle and animals being slaughtered. Strange sightings have been reported that are intricately tied with UFOs and the presence of aliens. In the 1990's the Natural Institute for Discovery Science conducted and in-depth investigation of this site. Multiple waves of helicopters strapped with the latest technology were flown over as well. This Native American legend continues to defy explanation, evolving into our modern age and leaving even the most devout skeptics scratching their heads.

Here is a quick video of the territory. At the very end you will see the strange lights associated with the skinwalkers that is reminiscent of UFO activity.     

Ever Heard of a Shapeshifter?

There are certain entities, like skinwalkers, known as shapeshifters who have the ability to take on many different animal forms. The public-at-large will be most familiar with lycanthropy, or the transformation of humans into werewolves or other were-animals. The Dine people make use of this ability by wearing an animal skin of the desired animal they wish to transform into physically. It is claimed that once the "shape shift" has occurred, the man, or even woman, will take on all of the traits of the desired animal. Stealth, heightened senses, and superior strength are some of the attributes acquired during this transformation. 

Our understanding of the physical world is being challenged in the 21st century, especially in the realm of quantum physics. We are discovering that there truly are natural laws that exist, however, they run against many of the theories that were developed by such men as Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. The Big Bang Theory will quickly be disproved and the physical laws are being rewritten on the quantum level. With this complete uncertainty in mind, could such entities like skinwalkers and shapeshifters really exist? 

Here is another "food for thought". Demons have been notoriously documented as taking on the form of a child when they manifest themselves to us through the paranormal world. They do this because they understand that humans will be more apt to believe in the innocence of child that they would a grown adult. It is a trick, accomplished through shapeshifting, that allows them to work their deception. These entities understand and utilize this ability at will. 

The idea of physically transforming into an animal does seem, on the surface, to be wholly fictional. How can it be possible, really, for a human to physically transform into another animal or demon, for that matter? Even though it may be possible in the paranormal realm, how can atomic structures be rearranged in this same way? It has been asserted that this ability is limited by body mass, but it can be accomplished. There are many videos out on YouTube claiming to host shapeshifters. Heck, even Oprah Winfrey is portrayed as being a lizard-eyed demon as she interviews Scientologist Tom Cruise. What do you believe?

A Call To Action

I'd like to challenge your notions of shapeshifters and even what you believe about the validity of legends and cultural tales. 

Here is a video, filmed by the Ghost Adventures crew, while investigating an old Civil War site. Around 1:30 into the clip you will see something that should make you do a double-take. No one else is in the room, yet Zak Bagans and his team capture some very compelling evidence about a shapeshifter.

Based on what you have seen, can you say without a doubt that entities who are able to "shape shift" are not real? Can you pass judgment, as we would be required to do so in a court of law, to say that there is not even a minute chance that this supernatural phenomena does exist? 

I'd love to hear what you think. You can either respond in the comment section below or inside the comment boxes of the Google Plus communities where this article is posted.

Works Cited


  1. Tim, as usual, thought-provoking. We're always a bit skeptical of wannabes of indigenous cultures -- i.e., folks who co-opt customs or, worse, rituals without deeper commitment to a host's culture. But in our opinion, your approach seems more valid in that you're assessing stories, legends, and myths as a way to extrapolate larger truths or, at least, implications. An intriguing line of inquiry. The Ghost Adventures clip was unsettling, regardless of whether it represents a shape-shifter or something else.

  2. Thanks Kym-n-Mark for the insightful comment. My apologies for such a late response, been juggling quite a few balls lately. Many times writing articles like these can be challenging in the message I hope to convey. I have found that by aligning up certain facts, beliefs, legends, etc. and then drawing a connecting line through them that larger truths can be extrapolated (love that word). The paranormal is a mish mash of belief and truth and it is a lot of fun deciphering and interpreting this genre. Have you gotten an official release date yet for Wild West Ghosts?

    Cheers and blessings to both of you!

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