Friday, September 10, 2010

Background Report: Gargoyles Unbound

[Reports of a "gargoyle" creature emerging from Puerto Rico in recent weeks evoke memories of the pre-Chupacabras winged oddities that were seen on that island (1994-1995) and prior to that. Researcher Greg Bishop was kind enough to post this article to the site a few years ago, but given the rekindling of interest in the subject, I'm taking the liberty of posting it once again on INEXPLICATA as background information--SC]

By Scott Corrales © 2004

The ever-enigmatic deserts of northern Chile – a combination of equal parts Chryse Planitia and H.P. Lovecraft’s Plains of Leng – had never seen anything like it, not even in the days when these red sands known as Pampa Acha formed a barrier between the Inca Empire and the fierce Araucanian tribespeople whose forebears had found a way to live in this beautiful wasteland. A set of five, 9 meter tall monoliths carved of red sandstone-- a South American Stonehenge, as some have described it-- was erected in 1991 by Chilean artist and sculptor Juan Diaz Fleming, who gave them the rather ominous name of “Presencias Tutelares” (the tutelary presences) as an homage to the long vanished Aymara culture that thrived in the area in ages past, representing sacred and cosmic symbols Aside from the Pan-American Highway, wending its way through the desert sands, there was nothing else but the “Presencias Tutelares” to cause Pampa Acha to stand out from the surrounding desert landscape.

That is, until the gargoyles came…

A family drive is stressful enough without having to face the paranormal. In the close confines of the family vehicle, sibling rivalry can reach critical proportions and the monotony of the landscape can drive even the most patient passenger to ask if the intended destination is any closer. Carlos Abett and his wife Teresa, riding in a pickup truck between the family home in Pozo Almonte, a military community attached to the Fort Baquedano facility, to visit relatives in the city of Arica, were almost surely accustomed to these flare-ups and worse, but nothing, not even many years of driving the same road under a variety of conditions, could have prepared them for the event they experienced in July 2004.

At 9:00 p.m., some twenty kilometers south of Arica, in a wilderness known as Pampa Acha, the Abett family’s vehicle, containing the couple, their three children and a nephew who had come along for the ride, came across what they would later describe to news reporters as four “dog-faced kangaroos” that floated slowly in the night air.
Carmen Abett, the family’s eldest daughter, offered the most vivid description from her vantage point at the backseat window. "I was riding the backseat with my brothers, talking, and suddenly everything went dark. Then I told my brother what I was seeing and he told me to keep quiet, because Mom gets nervous. Later I looked through the window and saw some things that looked like birds, with dogs' heads and backswept wings. My father said they were like gargoyles. We were speechless for some 10 minutes and my Mom told us to react, and then we started discussing what we'd seen," she explained.

The flying entities were quite large, an estimated two meters (6 feet) long although it was impossible to estimate their wingspan, since these were “moved toward the back” as the eyewitness described them. Two of the entities classified as gargoyles by Carlos Abett flew over the car, while another two would later “leap” in front of the moving vehicle only minutes later.

But it was Abett’s wife Teresa, riding shotgun, who would get the best view of the flying oddities through the windshield. The creatures, she explained, appeared to be moving slowly over the car at first, but somehow matching the vehicle’s 100 kilometer per hour (65 mph) speed perfectly – a characteristic shared by West Virginia’s Mothman.

Nervous beyond words, the Abett family simply prayed that they could make it to Arica before long and see their relatives, putting the whole incredible ordeal behind them. Upon arrival, they promptly shared the experience with other family members, and were later considerably nervous about having to make the return trip to the Fort Baquedano area, forcibly traversing the area where the encounter occurred. Carlos Abett, an Army subofficer at the military facility, wisely kept quiet about the incident, not wishing to become the butt of jokes among his fellow men in uniform. The family would break its silence a few weeks later, however, when two men – coincidentally, another Army subofficer – would have an encounter with “dinosaur-like” creatures on the same stretch of road.

In an uncharacteristic move, the Chilean press put aside its normally impartial coverage to reach for an unlikely explanation: ostriches. The sighting by Diego Riquelme was described as a misinterpretation of wild ostriches that may have escaped from a local breeder, while the facts of the more mystifying Abett case were completely overlooked. Explanations were circulated as to how in the desert darkness it would be possible to confuse ostriches for prehistoric reptiles. Local biologists and other “experts” added their voices to the naysaying chorus.

Is there something about Chile that attracts these winged entities we have come to identify with medieval gargoyles, perhaps because there is something comforting about being able to give them a name?

On May 3, 2000 college instructor Liliana Romero, a resident of the city of Concepción and usually a sound sleeper, was wakened by the howling of a number of stray puppies she had picked up from the street a few days earlier. The five puppies shared a space in her building’s courtyard with Romero’s large mastiff. Checking the time, Romero saw it was one thirty in the morning and feared that a break-in might be taking place. Crouching by the window, she looked outside. What she saw made her wish that it had indeed been a burglar…

“The puppies were whining and Black [the mastiff] had huddled against the wall and was motionless. I could see the back of what appeared to be an immense man, standing some 2 meters tall. Its shoulder blades were split, as though with wings. Its attitude resembled that of a person choking another...that was my impression.”
Romero, horrified, was convinced that an improbable creature was murdering someone – some kind of animal she had never even dreamed could exist. She tried to get her husband to wake up and witness the event to no avail. “In a matter of seconds, I went back to the living room to look at it, but it was gone. It had vanished, " she adds. The next day, the Romero family’s children returned home through a shortcut that brought them across the courtyard where the strange entity had been seen. They promptly told their mother that there was “a dead dog in the place where the gentleman was being attacked.”

Liliana asked her husband to check, and he returned saying that a wooly beige﷓colored dog was lying on the floor with two puncture marks on its throat. "I don't know if I might be in a suggestive state, but it had two deep holes in its jugular, about as wide as a BIC pen, separated by 5 centimeters between them. What impressed me the most was that it was completely bloodless and was as light as a feather. The dog was incredibly wooly and in fact, I had to move its fur to see the wounds."

Only a few nights before Liliana Romero’s sighting, two farmhands from the town of Tucapel, Jorge Venegas and José Pino, were taking advantage of the bright full moon to fetch a bucket of water from a local creek. Walking cautiously out of concern for a stray bull that was roaming the fields, Pino saw a dark shape moving among the moonlit vegetation, which he took for the stray bovine. Only later did he realize that it wasn’t the bull, but a nightmare creature he described as “a big monkey with long, clawed arms and enormous fangs protruding from its mouth, as well as pair of wings.” In terror, the farmhand ran back toward the farmhouse to unleash the mastiffs. One of them, Cachorro, came back with a bloody neck, testimony to the encounter with the unknown figure. From that night onward, Pino never ventured into the darkness without a shotgun slung from his shoulder.

But what happens when a firearm isn’t available, and one must venture into the darkness? For that is exactly what happened on Tuesday, July 23, 2003, when the Calama UFO Center informed the world of a mind-bending case involving still another gargoyle-like entity.

Diego, a young student from the city of Calama in the Chilean high desert, had gone to visit his grandfather in the town of San Pedro de Atacama, accompanied by two close friends. The three young men enjoyed visiting this wilderness area during their school recess and helped Diego’s uncle herd his goats. On the fateful evening in question, the three youths were getting ready to sit down to a meal of bread and tea in the rural home, which lacked electricity. At around nine o’clock at night, they heard the odd wheedling and howls made by the dogs on the property; fifteen minutes later, a series of violent raps were heard on the door, followed by scratching sounds that filled the three visitors with fear – enough that the three friends huddled against a wall and shielded themselves with a mattress and blankets against the unknown quantity.

A few minutes later, the rattling and scratching ceased. Regaining confidence, Diego and his companions decided to step out into the cold night air for a look—something they might have preferred, in retrospect, not to have done.

For there it was: amid a stand of pear trees some fifteen meters away from the door was a creature they described as “horrifying”, standing a meter and a half tall and with outstretched wings measuring an incredible three and a half meters.

The description of the creature offered by the three witnesses to the Calama UFO Center was a detailed one: “It was covered by glossy black skin, very clean and hairless,” reads the report by Jaime Ferrer. “It appeared as though it had recently emerged from the water, but without being wet. It had a large head and a small beak, presenting a sort of crest that was apparently missing a piece from a fight. Its eyes were immense and completely black, but sparkled brilliantly. They thought it was a prehistoric being, since its wings had a strong resemblance to those of pterodactyls or bats, featuring bone-like protuberances that form the skeletal frame of the wings. Its legs were sturdy and had powerful claws
like those of a carrion bird, but much stronger.”

But this gargoyle of the Chilean wilderness had no interest in the three youths. Instead, it shook its enormous wings and flew off into the darkness.

There have been other occasions on which the gargoyles have taken a violent interest in hapless humans intent on their own business. One such case occurred during Chilean creature sightings in the summer of 2000, but is no less impressive or terrifying than the more recent event mentioned above.

Walking home at midnight on the 7th of May of that year, Guido Canales was possibly more concerned about catching pneumonia from the fall chill (the seasons being inverted in the southern hemisphere) than worrying about supernatural terrors. Far from the mysterious northern deserts of his country, Canales dwelt in the verdant, wooded part of Chile known for its near-European beauty and climate. His town of Codao, south of the nation’s capital, was a peaceful rural community among massive, fairy-tale quality trees.

Within sight of his home, Guido Canales was attacked by a massive bird-like creature whose strength toppled him to the ground. Stunned, he realized that far from being a condor or any other raptor known to him, his assailant was a creature best described as a gorilla with wings, golden eyes and emitting a nauseating, rotting stench. Fearing for his life, the young man managed to recover the flashlight – fallen to the ground during the attack – to shed light on the creature. The entity, either harmed by the flashlight’s beam or repelled by it, took an enraged swipe at Canales, clawing his back. In desperation, Canales screamed for his neighbors to help him. One good samaritan responded to his call and turned on the front porch light before going outside to render aid. The porch light sufficed to cause the winged aberration to fly off into the dark. The victim would later tell his family that judging from the way the creature had grabbed him during the struggle, it was trying to exsanguinate him.

His skin scratched, dazed and unable to speak, Canales’ relatives took him off to the doctor. The five scratches, running from his left shoulder to his neck, were treated with antibiotics and anti-rabies vaccinations.

But the Canales story does not end there.

Ramón Nava Osorio of Spain’s IIEE group, author of La Verdad Oculta (Madrid: IEEE, 2003) visited Chile and managed to interview members of the family who were quite willing to discuss the ordeal. After the attack on Guido, his brother Luchito and other friends decided to venture into the darkness and avenge the victim, armed with shotguns. Their valor and righteous rage was rewarded by an encounter with the winged “ape”, which was sitting on a high tree limb. Luchito pointed at its chest and fired the twelve-gauge shotgun, which should have brought down a horse easily. Seemingly unaffected, the creature merely flew away into the cold night

Gargoyles in Spain

Leaving the Andean region and its many mysteries behind, we follow the gargoyle’s flight to Spain, where aeronautics researcher Francisco J. Máñez describes a strange story that befell a close coworker. The co-worker, who knew of Máñez’s interest in the unknown and was aware of his stature as a writer and radio personality, agreed to recount his childhood experience only if he could remain anonymous.

The witness in this case was a 5 or 6-year-old boy living in Barrio del Carmen, a neighborhood of the city of Valencia on the Mediterranean Sea. The event would have taken place in the late Sixties, and even with the passing of decades, he claims that his recollection of the high-strangeness occurrence is still crystal clear.

One cold November morning, the young protagonist of the event asked his mother for permission to go out and play on the sidewalk with his toys as he did every weekend. For some unknown reason, his mother refused and told him to go to the house’s upstairs terrace and play there. Obediently, the boy picked up his toys and headed up the staircase.

The terrace was a broad and uncovered area from which the rooftops of neighboring buildings could be seen. Upon opening the door leading to this expanse, the boy was surprised by a strange “bird” perched silently on the terrace railing, quietly surveying the city from his vantage point. Fascinated by the large bird, the boy approached it quietly. It was about the size of an eagle, he told Máñez, with wings like a bat and completely featherless.

At some point, the “bird” must have heard the boy’s footsteps and turned its face around to look. What the boy saw was completely incredible and it caused him to freeze in his tracks: the bat-winged entity had a nearly human face. Its body was also manlike, ending in sharp talons. The creature immediately leaped into the air, soaring away gracefully on its outspread wings, vanishing somewhere over the city.

The boy was too young to have ever heard of gargoyles, and it wasn’t until years later, when he saw one sculpted high above a church, that the memories of his strange event flooded his brain. “That bird,” he told Francisco Máñez without any hesitation, had a human face and body, and no one can make me think otherwise.”

The Kitchen Gargoyle’s Story

It isn’t often that researchers of the paranormal get to have a close look at their subject of interest, and whenever there are exceptions, these tend to be significant. One such case involves the director Mexico’s Fundación Cosmos, A.C., Ing. Marco Reynoso, a distinguished UFO researcher and MUFON state director for Nuevo León. In the fall of 1979, Reynoso was a harried engineering student trying his best to deal with a heavy course load and work on his dissertation. One night, leaving the university earlier than usual, he arrived at his parents’ house – a rambling, high-ceilinged old manse of the kind common in Mexico – whose kitchen can be clearly seen from the main entrance.

All was dark; Reynoso’s father never got back from work before ten o’clock and his mother was out visiting neighbors. The only light came from a single bulb in the kitchen, casting enough light to show the kitchen table, which was located next to a window covered by a curtain.

Making his way to the kitchen to grab a bite to eat, the future ufologist noticed movement behind the curtain, but thought it was the normal action of the wind blowing through the open window. Then suddenly, a figure stepped out from behind the curtain: it was a humanoid figure, covered in glossy black hair and standing some thirty centimeters tall with outstretched bat wings. The curtain partly covered its face, so Reynoso was unable to make out any features. Fearlessly, he thought to use the curtain as a means to ensnare the strange apparition and pin it down, but the cloth drapes were suddenly sucked toward the open window, toppling objects on the table surface, and the bizarre creature vanished. Running out to the courtyard, he tried to see if he could find the intruder to no avail.

That’s when fear crept in: “I was completely certain that it was no optical illusion,” says Reynoso, “nor any known animal. The contrast between the kitchen and its contents, which were all white, and the blackness of the creature, left no mistake as to what I had seen. That event changed my life completely, since it highlighted the interest for the unknown I’d had since age 8.” The experience prompted him to join his first UFO research group, in whose files he found another case similar to his own, witnessed by a woman from another Monterrey neighborhood.


First of all, it is necessary to understand what is meant by “gargoyle”. Anyone who grew up watching repeated showings of the movie The Gargoyles on television during the 1970s doesn’t need an explanation as to what these creatures look like—or at least what the human mind has imagined them to be. Parents of younger children have probably also seen Saturday-morning cartoon depictions of these entities in a heroic setting. But what are gargoyles? Why is there so little information on them, and why do we speak of their existence so naturally?

Stemming from the medieval French word gargouille or “throat”, a clear indication of their nature. The Gargoyle was fearsome human or animal figure projecting from roof gutters to drain water at a distance from buildings. Cathedrals made prominent use of them not only as spouters of rainwater, but also to protect the structures against evil (fighting fire with fire, to a certain extent). Some particular gargoyles have become world famous, like Notre Dame’s pensive “vampire” who looks over the city from his vantage point over Ile de la Cité. No one, however, seems to have a convincing explanation as to what inspired their creation, although it is universally agreed that they are protective spirits, perhaps “denizens of the lower airs” who were placed in bondage by a medieval cleric-magician, their evil natures subverted to the purpose of Good.

But this is only speculation: gargoyles existed long before the first medieval mason ever cut a stone to lay the foundations of the cathedrals at Chatres or Reims. Greek and Roman temples were protected by similar figures that served the dual purpose of warding off unseen evil spirits and reminding the faithful that they were entering a sacred spot protected by unimaginable forces at the service of the respective deity. Known to antiquarians as apotropaic figures, they suggest the existence of a force that is considerable and often hard to control. “The ancient gods,” writes one source, “are turned into demons, acknowledged for their power and admirable respect, yet tamed and relegated to servitude at the temples of the new religion. These spiritual forces, able to induce either fear or reverence, are confined to the perimeter of the holy site, forever frozen and protecting a place which they themselves can never enter.”

And on that poetic note, we put the ancient texts behind us to face the unfettered gargoyles that continue to appear in our midst…