Tuesday, May 6, 2014

LIfe Cycle of the Bigfoot Legend

Does Bigfoot Exist?

Recently, there has been an uptick in the numbers of people calling foul play in the greater Bigfoot community. Why is that, some of us tend to wonder. Then there’s other folks who really don’t give a rat’s ass about it, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their stage time. And there in a nutshell is the biggest impediment to finding the answer to the question of whether there really is a creature we call Bigfoot. Stage time.

For those of you who have been following me for a while, and actually paying attention, my interest in the Bigfoot phenomenon extends to the folklore behind this so-called urban myth, not just to the modern day vagueness of the current slew of reported sightings and encounters. In my book Sasquatch; searching for the answer, I delve into the chronology of some of the phenomenon that have dotted the folklore of many nations since the beginning of written history, with special emphasis on the sea serpents bracing the early to mid nineteenth century literature. It turns out that Maine in particular, or to be more precise, Casco Bay, has quite a little history of that particular creature.

My findings of the time period mentioned is that the phenomenon of the sea serpent has much the same chronological history of the Bigfoot phenomenon we are enjoying today. in short, the life cycle of the creature ebbed and flowed in much the same way as the life cycle of this current crypto-zoological  entity seems to be ebbing and flowing today. Stories of monsters an mysteries have always been present through the ages, and many of these stories keep resurfacing every so often with surprising regularity, and their life cycle follows the same pattern, century after century.
In short, the chronological histories of these creatures goes like this:
  • A myth, legend, or fairy tale from a prior generation is revived, often by someone claiming to see the creature.
  • The story is laughed at, and the believers are ridiculed.
  • Other people show an interest, and the numbers of people involved in this creatures study or research increase.
  • The believers move from the category of being lunatic fringe to “maybe there is something there.”
  • Some people see the trend and decide to take advantage of an opportunity to gain easy money and reputation.
  • The belief that this creatures existence becomes more widespread, involving a much wider audience.
  • Aficionados and sideline believers become more intensely involved with searching for the answer, and subsequently divide into groups or categories of varied levels of belief or acceptance of the creature. These categories range from the outright skeptic to the adoring believers with an almost religious fascination to the creatures existence.
  • The scientific community becomes involved, and disputes arise over the facts of this creatures existence.
  • Further splits arise amongst those following the creature, resulting in diametrically opposed factions, one side only interested in empirical evidence, the other insisting they have presented the evidence but nobody believes them.
  • Interest begins to wane, and the people interested in earning  the fame and fortune of this creature opportunity formulate new ways of stirring up interest.
  • It finally dawns on most of the believers that there really is nothing to see here and move on to another interest, usually a different mythology.
  • Interest simmers, kept barely alive by a faithful few until another generation comes along and renews the cycle of the mythological creature in its many forms.
Bigfoot is not a new phenomenon. We are now in the waning stages of this current generations interest of what we call Bigfoot. Prior to this, in the early 1900′s, there was the commotion over what were called “ape-men.” In the mid 1800′s there was a flurry of activity over the “wild-man of the woods.” Before that it was the “wild-man of the mountains.”

Even before that, there were other names and vague descriptions, but in the end, we have always come to the same conclusion that this mythological creature walks like a man on two feet, is covered with hair, cannot speak as we do, hides in the darkness of the forest, and sometimes is even a cannibal. For thousands of years there has always been, as Linnaeus called him, a Sylvestri hominie, or wild-man.

So, to get back to the question, does Bigfoot exist, I believe I can say with absolute certainty that yes indeed, Bigfoot does exist. Do I have proof? Not one shred, but that doesn’t really matter in the long run, because like religion, existence of this creature depends more upon faith than it does facts. There is something out there in the dark forests of the world that leaves tracks, drops piles of scat, cries in the night and creates lovely artwork with interwoven piles of sticks.

Most of the time, we can easily find an alternate attribution to the reasons these things exist, but every now and then, we come across something that makes us truly ponder the possibilities. Bigfoot does indeed exist, even if it is only in the resources of our mind, and it exists for very simple reasons.
For one thing, throughout the ages mankind has always had something to fear. There are lots of things for us to fear, but for the most part, what we fear most is the unseen. The forms that lurk in the shadows of our mind. And because we haven’t the courage to confront those shadows, we also need a hero to battle those fears. Every so often, we come across a mythology that accomplishes these two things all at once.

The wild-man of the woods, Bigfoot as we call him today, is indeed a creature that lurks in the forests of our minds, and at the same time becomes the hero we need to overcome those fears of the unknown.

Happy Squatching!