The Mothman, an oracle of misfortune

The Mothman is a mysterious creature that would have been repeatedly sighted in the towns of Charleston and Point Pleasant but also in West Virginia and Ohio between November 1966 and December 1967: the witnesses would have described the apparition as a sort of red-eyed antrophomorphic being with wings and exceptional speed.

Its first sighting would take place on November 12, 1966 when a group of five men, intent on setting up a tomb in a cemetery near Clendenin, saw a winged human figure of brown colour, rising in the air from the neighboring trees. Then, two married couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, saw two strange red lights in the shadow of an old generator next to the gate of a TNT factory, disused since World War II. As they approached, they realized that the lights were the shiny eyes of a large being, bigger than a man, about two meters tall, with big wings folded on his back. In reporting this last episode, a local reporter coined the name "Mothman", by analogy with Batman of which, at the time, the television series was broadcast in the USA.

The creature’s appearances multiplied but all witnesses' descriptions were consistent: they talk about a being about 2 meters tall, with large bright eyes, human lower limbs, large wings having an opening of 3 metres in flight but in degrees of folding on the back to allow walking.To the Mothman besides the extraordinary speed was attributed a metallic hum during the flight.

The Mothman, an oracle of misfortune-Mothman-inspired_art

In 2002 a journalist passionate about mysteries, John A. Keel, wrote "The Mothman prophecies", in which he linked these sightings to other strange events in the area: UFO sightings, strange phone calls to citizens, threatening visits of men in black and, above all, the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge where 46 people died (December 15, 1967). Keel’s hypothesis was that the Mothman, somehow, wanted to warn the town against the imminent disaster. The idea that it was a mystical apparition that tried to warn the world of misfortunes and incoming attacks spread also after alleged sightings of the Mothman in Moscow foreshadowed the 1999 Russian apartment bombings and before 9/11 close to the Twin Towers.

Some speak of collective hallucination, others of a great raptor mistaken for supernatural creature, in the ufology world, however, there are those who speak of conspiracies and alien invasions.

Rick Moran, a journalist who conducted for "Fortean Times" a survey on the case, claims the hypotesis of a complex sociological test: the Mothman would be a government experiment to evaluate the reaction of ordinary people in the face of ultraterrestrial events but its results have not been made known why, the collapse of the Silver Bridge, would have led scholars to abandon this research.


“We are dealing with three types of phenomena in these cases. The first is the winged man; the second is a giant bird, so huge it is a biological impossibility; third, we have a monstrous demon with red eyes, bat’s wings, and a body closely human in form. All three are probably interrelated.”
-John A. Keel


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Cover Image by Tim Bertelink

Article image by Katherine Bowman

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