Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, January 31, 2009


Tim Matthews is one of my best friends, and also - coincidentally - one of the most controversial figures in contemporary forteana. He has been involved with the CFZ for nearly a decade now, raising eyebrows wherever he goes.

Bolam Lake, 2003. A group of investigators, including friends from the CFZ, assembled to investigate sightings of a “monster” seen locally by supposedly credible witnesses.
Sadly, I wasn’t there but I remember a frantic phone call from a clearly shocked Jon Downes telling me, within hours of unfolding events, that “it has been seen by members of the team!” . The real deal. The first time for a multiply sighted creature in the woods! It was there. They all saw it.

They didn’t get it on film.

But they knew it was there because. Because…..

Everyone there seems to have been seriously affected, for a brief time. But by what? The convergence of unusual electric fields? The opening of a temporal zone? Arrival of the Klingons, Dance of the Loomi or the emergence of a Temporary Temple? It is hard to say but the Oz Factor is what we’re really talking about. The term itself came into general use in the early 1980s via author Jenny Randles and has been largely misunderstood as it is difficult to adequately explain what happens to people who experience it. Perhaps the fact she has written so much about it indicates that she hasn’t actually experienced it herself…

So what IS it?

It is when everything goes weird. When your normal state departs to be replaced by a weird sensation of calm mixed with panic, wonder and excitement. It is a heightened state of awareness, super consciousness and of Being Alive. It can be joyful but I would explain it is Awesome and I shall come back to that in a minute. What takes place during “it” is varied from supposed “alien encounters” to deeply religious experiences to encounters with strange beings. It is like being at one with The Source. A man I know well, who had a similar experience, described it as “LSD at one mile an hour”.

This, you may feel, has nothing to do with Cryptozoology and whilst our focus should always be Zoological, it seems that, for some, the Paranormal is never far away.

One night in the early 1990s during a pleasant evening stroll with my dog in a Lancashire village I experienced the Oz Factor myself. It was around 10pm, dark, dry, and suddenly, after an uneventful walk of perhaps two miles through familiar surroundings, all went...odd. Quiet. Deeply Calm. Still, like the lull after a battle; a thousand times more powerful than the discovery of a lake in woods on a winter’s morning. As if you have been here all your life and as if everything is that bit more real….just for a while.

The dog cowered, and, above a bridge perhaps 200ft away, a bright light rose up and appeared to turn into an angelic figure. Trippy stuff for sure and, at the time, I remember saying to myself, “this cannot be happening.” But it was. Without a doubt. In a trance-like state I walked back to my house and went upstairs to bed, at which point my girlfriend came upstairs to see what was the matter because I was behaving most unusually. At the time, lying down, I felt as if I couldn’t move. I was stuck there, paralysed and talking in a strange voice; speaking in tongues no less and this was entirely beyond anything experienced before...

The next day, it was as if the whole thing had never happened and yet I can remember the events to the extent that they are reported above. A convergence of electrical fields? An altered state of consciousness or a reaction to the evening meal? It is hard to know what to say and yet I reject the alien abductions hypothesis because it doesn’t explain what happened. I don’t think it was a ghost or anything similar and my general feeling is that this was something triggered from the outside that affected me. Too much caffeine, as suggested in a news report this week? The result of too much fun at illegal raves or, indeed, the ravings of a madman?

Only you can decide as medical science has nothing to offer beyond questionable medication or classes for meditation to still the awkward mind. As far as Cryptozoology is concerned we still cannot explain the group effect as reported around Bolam Lake in 2003. The weird events described certainly make sense to me despite their open challenge to the natural conservatism of mainstream science. It remains to be seen whether a reasonable explanation can be found but the hunt for mystery animals will, it seems, be associated with Paranormal phenomena as long as we continue to look for them…and as long as "it" keeps happening...


Anonymous said...

You know, the thing that makes this believable and interesting is what happened to the dog. At more or less the same time as you saw the light, it perceived something too and it didn't like it one little bit.

Tell me, what after-effects did the dog suffer from the incident?

Anonymous said...

Hello there! The curious incident with the dog was, to badly paraphrase Conan Doyle, that he did not bark in the night time! He was quiet for two days thereafter and, to be honest, as time passed seemed to be a little bit less confident. Am not sure what to make of it all but animals have senses that we appear to have lost over time.....