Over the last several months I’ve been pondering a particular phrase, which I’ve taken slightly out of context and used to describe shadowy, evasive characters that occasionally show up at various locales around the globe. These “personages,” for lack of a better term, run the gamut from those phenomenon associated with cryptozoology, extraterrestrials, and presumed “interdimensional” beings the likes of Bigfoot, Mothman, and others strange Fortean creatures. It is possible that sightings of such creatures are explainable, and at other times they could be ethereal in nature, such as with the state of mind that occurs when Transcendental Meditation mantras are evoked. But getting to the heart of the matter, the term I’m referring to with relevance to these characters now is “folk devil,” which, in its original context (first used by sociologist Stanley Cohen in his 1972 book Folk Devils and Moral Panics), meant an individual or group blamed for inconveniences or social problems, as perceived by the media.

What got me thinking about the use of this term with regard to Fortean phenomenon is the less-often observed parallel many “strange beings” have with bad luck and general negativity. Take, for instance, the appearances of so-called “shadow people” and, in specific, shadowy entities who appear to have a penchant for wearing Stovepipe hats (a rather curious accessory that has long been associated with villains over the decades… just think Snidely Whiplash). Withing cryptozoological circles, this kind of character might be lumped in alongside reports of Bigfoot who, very strangely, are sometimes reported wearing human clothing!

But while we’re looking at strange, otherworldly beings who have been witnessed wearing peculiar apparel, I want to go ahead and share a unique encounter sent to me recently by a Gralien Report reader, pertaining to an 1838 encounter with a tall, hairy humanoid which, by virtue of its devilish claims, seemed to indicate that he was actually the biblical Cain from the book of Genesis.

Cris Coleman of The Biblical Apologist blog shares more:

I found this unusual big-foot-sounding encounter in a biography,

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Micah Hanks

Author: Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, researcher, and podcaster. His interests include areas of history, science, archaeology, philosophy, and the study of anomalous phenomena in nature. He can be reached at info@micahhanks.com.

4 Replies to “A 19th Century Encounter with a Folk Devil?

  1. Sorry, amigo. No similar account that I can think of.

    BTW, Have you had time to hear to the latest Binnall of America’s podcast with this fellow, Gian Quasar? He has just written a book called “Recasting Bigfoot”.

    To say it will be controversial is an understatement.

  2. Both Jacques Vallee’s excellent Passport to Magonia and Allen Greenfield’s books Secret Cypher of then UFOnauts and Secret Rituals of the Men in Black list off particular examples of instances where aspects of modern and otherwise secular UFOlogy and forteana link up directly with religious and occult traditions much older. I think Keel’s Our Haunted Planet had something to say on the subject as well, though I forget. Vallee’s stuff, as usual, is the most scrupulously documented. I’m not aware of any specific crossovers within cryptozoology but outside of the UFO domain (with the exception of the extremely vibrant polynesian cryptids, which were it not for continuing sightings would barely make it into myth territory), but this might be just because of the disconnect in popularity: if it’s not bigfoot or nessie, you mightn’t as well bother talking about it to anyone who doesn’t yet consider Keel and Vallee household names, while ETs (or whatever is sold as ETs) are popular in the book market.

  3. I was thinking about creatures that are ubiquitous throughout world cultures and I thought about creatures like dwarves, gremlins, brownies, elves, fairies, etc. It seems to me that these fantasy creatures show up in many cultures. For example, the Aboriginal tales of the bunyip were transformed into a creature used to scare white colonial settlers. Same goes for the role that trolls would often play in Scandinavian countries. Consequently, I always think of Looney Tunes episodes that featured the gremlin that would constantly attempt to ravage an airplane that Bugs Bunny was on. Here, this fantasy pest makes its way into pop culture, straight from WWII air force tales. Could creatures such as gremlins or the bunyip be considered a “folk devil”? They seem to be similar in characteristics, different in name and appearance alone. And they cause problems within society or groups of people.

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