Something weird is afoot in the Peacock world. Something very strange and distinctly bizarre: Forteana and peacocks are becoming strange and regular bed-fellows. Yep, you heard it right.
Last November, Britain's Metro reported the following story on a ghostly peacock seen in the county of Sussex - and exclusively on Halloween, no less:
A phantom peacock that only appears on Halloween is being blamed for near-misses on a country road. The peacock has appeared on the A267, south of Five Ashes village in East Sussex, between midnight and 1am on the last two nights.
Two drivers have reported hitting the bird - but afterwards neither were able to find any sign of the bird on their vehicles or the road. Just before midnight on Monday, a woman driving south said that she hit the peacock in the road.
And the next night - Halloween - a lorry driver reported that he thought he had run over the bird. Both drivers contacted Trevor Weeks, rescue coordinator for East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service. He went out on both occasions, but saw no sign of the peacock.
He and the lorry driver checked the vehicle carefully, but found no signs of blood or feathers.
Mr Weeks said: "This is really odd. I'll be interested to see if we get another call regarding this phantom peacock.' One local spookily commented: 'People around here have talked about the ghostly peacock before. It only seems to come out at Halloween." More prosaically, Mr Weeks warned drivers to be on the look-out for a peacock that could be running loose.
Then, last month a story surfaced concerning a fatal attack on a Peacock that had strolled into the car park of a New York-based Burger King restaurant. The attacker was heard to shout that he was killing a vampire.
Certainly, the peacock has an intriguing history. According to The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (E. Cobham Brewer, 1894):
The peacock's tail is emblem of an Evil Eye, or an ever-vigilant traitor. The tale is this: Argus was the chief Minister of Osiris, King of Egypt. When the king started on his Indian expedition, he left his queen, Isis, regent, and Argus was to be her chief adviser. Argus, with one hundred spies (called eyes), soon made himself so powerful and formidable that he shut up the queen-regent in a strong castle, and proclaimed himself king. Mercury marched against him, took him prisoner, and cut off his head; whereupon Juno metamorphosed Argus into a peacock, and set his eyes in its tale.
And now we come to the subject matter of this blog: cryptozoology. In my newly-published book Man-Monkey: In Search of the British Bigfoot, I relate the details of an intriguing, late-night, 1986 encounter with a wild, hairy ape-like creature on a stretch of road adjacent to the ancient Chartley Castle in the English county of Staffordshire.
Two decades later, in the summer of 2006, an intricate Crop Circle formation appeared in a field close to the castle and practically opposite the exact piece of road where the beast was seen. My wife, Dana, and I visited the area at the time and took a good number of photos of the impressive formation.
Not only that: strewn around the area was an absolute wealth of...peacock feathers. Within the pages of Man-Monkey you can find photos of Chartley Castle (where the weird ape was seen back in '86), as well as photos of the aforementioned Crop Circle, and one of me holding (on-site) one of the peacock feathers that we collected at the scene.
So, with tales of ghostly peacocks, vampiric peacocks, and even peacocks that seemingly enjoy hanging out in Crop Circles and near monkey-haunted castles, what does all this mean?
Well, one person who has already read Man-Monkey offers an intriguing theory. She suggests that the presence of the peacock feathers at the site of the Chartley Castle Crop Circle is evidence that those people she believes are making the Circles are using the peacock's "Evil Eye" in "black ceremonies." She adds that such ceremonies have been held - undercover of darkness - on a number of occasions within British-based Crop Circles, and that the people responsible are endeavouring to "create negativity" and conjure up bizarre creatures from realms that co-exist with ours.
I have heard tales somewhat similar to this on several occasions; and who knows: maybe she's right.
And with that in mind, if you are ever in a position to see an out-of-place peacock, you may want to scan your local newspapers, TV and radio for additional weird stories. The peacock may not be the only beast wandering around...