Bayless, Raymond - Fortean phenomena
Type of Spiritual Experience
For convenience I have placed this observation under Attila von Szalay, as the two men worked together.
A description of the experience
Experiences of a Psychical researcher – Raymond Bayless
I have had two personal brushes with Fortean phenomena and will briefly describe them.
The first occurred when I was about thirteen years of age and lived in West Los Angeles. I was walking near our house with my father and brother one evening after the sun had gone down and noticed that close to the horizon was a large and brilliant star. I took particular notice for two reasons: one, that I did not remember having seen a star at this location in the sky before, and two, it was waxing and waning in a most extraordinary fashion. In turns it diminished to almost invisibility and then increased in brilliance until at one time it was the brightest object in the sky except for the moon.
At the time, I was very interested in matters astronomical and consequently realized that the strangely behaving star was unlike any object that I had ever seen in the sky. I watched it for at least fifteen minutes and more probably a half hour, and during this period it never ceased its fantastic waxing and waning, and finally vanished.
Was it in truth a star?
It scintillated like one and never moved from its fixed position. It was not any form of airplane or airship (few were aloft at night in those years) and was not a light at the top of some hypothetical tower. Even though it was low on the horizon, it still was far too high to have been on a building or structure of any type. It was, to all appearances, a star, and in my opinion was one, except that its incredible behaviour was unlike any normal heavenly body.
Its action was so very odd, in fact, that I can only include it in the category of completely unexplainable objects operating according to laws still unknown to man. It was, in short, a Fortean object!
The second example of weird phenomena witnessed by me took place in 1945, when I was employed by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. I was working away when a fellow employee returned from the roof, where he had been taking a short rest, and told me that "fireballs" were coming out of the sky.
He was very insistent and, curious to discover what in the world he was talking about, I went to the roof to see for myself. In case someone should ever care to check, the address of my place of work was 800 East Eighth Street, Los Angeles, and when I was on the roof I faced north toward Pasadena, which was miles away. To my complete amazement there were points of fire coming from the sky. They appeared as brilliant orange spots of light with white smoke pouring from them. I watched these fantastic "fireballs" on and off for several hours.
The time of this event was in the early afternoon, and the sky was clear and sunlit. They originated from one spot only-somewhat low on the horizon-and each one emitted a trail of white smoke as it appeared in the spot of origin and then slowly descended on a "pathway" which led away from the point of origin at about a 30- or 45-degree slant. No fireball appeared at any other point but the one I noted, and all followed the same path down the sky, I carefully noticed that the "fireballs" descended to a line of trees in front of background hills and seemed to continue behind the trees.
Without a doubt I saw at least fifty of these weird objects. Occasionally one would reach a point about halfway to the ground and then return to its point of origin and disappear. At least once I saw a "fireball" split into two; one part continued on down to earth and the other returned to where it originally appeared. At least five or six other people saw these strange objects.
No mention of them was ever made on the radio or in the newspapers. They were obviously not a flare of any kind, in spite of the fact that they appeared during the very last part of the war, and it is impossible to ascribe them to any known phenomena. I can only say that they represented a magnificent example of Fortean phenomena.
The third example, if such it was, occurred in the summer of 1956 when my wife to be and I were picnicking in a canyon-Josepho Canyon-north of Sunset Boulevard in western Los Angeles. At this time the canyon, a deep chasm in the Santa Monica mountains, was quite unspoiled and was filled with beautiful ferns and towering sycamore trees. Through its length ran a tiny stream. We were walking near the stream when we noticed "footprints" in the sand at the water's edge. These depressions were about three or more inches across and were driven into the wet sand quite deeply.
They had been freshly made, inasmuch as water was seeping into each little "crater." They continued across the little stream and marched over a clear area into the brush beyond. We noticed that whatever had walked there had paid no attention whatsoever to the undergrowth at all but had smashed its way through, breaking off branches up to about one-half inch in diameter. The curious thing about the footprints was that they were perfectly round in shape, just as though a round fence post had been pushed into the ground.
They continued on in a perfectly straight line; that is, each depression was directly in front of the other, unlike normal footprints. They began where we had first seen them at the stream's edge as though the walker had descended from the sky, and continued on into the brush. When I saw that fairly large branches had been broken off and that the depth of the footprints argued for a very heavy and powerful creature, we both lost interest fast in following the tracks and hurriedly climbed out of the canyon.
At that time, there were certainly no cows in the area, and the footprints were unlike those of horses or any other animal that I can think of. They represented another odd and unexplainable mystery which must, of course, automatically remind one of the weird puzzle posed by the strange footprints through the snow created by the fantastic visitor in Devonshire in 1855.
(See Oddities by Rupert T. Gould, and The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort.) These three incidents represent my personal experiences with those unnatural events which are known as Fortean phenomena. They do not strictly fall within the classifications of psychic phenomena but, due to their oddity. I felt that it would not be improper to include them in this work.