The Skinwalker Eludes
The Scientific Mind
By James Donahue
By definition, a skinwalker
is a scientific impossibility. It is a human that has achieved an ability to change shape at will and become a wild animal
or bird, or at least give others the impression it can do this.
We first heard of skinwalkers
when we met a man who claimed to be one. He was a drifter who told about spending
time in prison for violating federal laws in a quest to protect wolves of the Southwest from being hunted into extinction.
He said he escaped the monotony of prison by turning himself into a bird and flying free. He never proved his ability when
we were with him, however, and I marked his story down as just another tall tale.
It was when my wife and
I lived for a winter with a Navajo medicine man and his wife that the concept of a skinwalker moved into a new realm of understanding.
The native Americans
live in a completely different world from anything that we know and understand. They have many customs that have deep spiritual
roots. There is a deep respect for the Mother Earth, and we learned that some are deeply embedded in the arts of black magick
There were numerous unexplained
events that occurred during our stay both on the reservation, and even afterward, that defied logic. I recall one night in
Sedona when awakened in the night by the sounds of howling wolves at our door. It was common knowledge at the time that there
where no surviving wolves in Arizona, yet I was hearing what sounded like a pack of them at our door. It was a strange
feeling, to be standing at the door and fearful of opening it and looking upon what might be on the other side. And why wasn't
my wife, usually a light sleeper and always sensitive of strange sounds in the night, also hearing this?
I noticed also that a
strange light coming from a coffee table in our living room. I looked again and saw that a large crystal that we had placed
on display there, was aglow. I thought at first that it was a reflection, perhaps of moonlight, on the stone. But when examining
the crystal I saw that it was not a reflection. The crystal was really glowing.
Suddenly the chorus of
wolven howls seized. And when it did, the light in the crystal began to dim and eventually go dark. At last I mustered to
courage to swing open the door and look on our yard. There was nothing to be seen.
On yet another occasion,
while living on the reservation, the dogs at the house began barking and carrying on as if something was really scaring them.
Our hosts were away on one of their many trips so my wife and I were alone in the house. I grabbed my rifle, which I kept
loaded by my bedside, and went to the door.
At first it appeared
that nothing was to be seen. And yet, as I gazed into the darkness of the star and moonlit night, I realized that something,
indeed, was there. The best way to describe it was a vast nothing. There was before me a large blackness....a complete absence
of light that hovered in the middle of the road right in front of the house. Once I became aware of it . . . and its immense
size . . . it was quite frightening indeed. The thing was larger than a house and it just remained there, absorbing all of
the light. You could clearly see all around it, but not through it.
I fired the rifle into
the air at first, hoping that if it was a living thing, the shot might make it move away. Then I fired right into it. Neither
shot caused any effect. I stood staring at it for probably an hour or more before giving up and going back to my bed. It seemed
to be doing us no harm, and I thought it probably would just go away. In the morning it appeared to be gone. There was no
trace of anything unusual, the dogs were content, and all was back to normal.
The skinwalker, when
she appeared, was a surprise. She arrived first in the form of a frail, little-old-woman, the grandmother of the woman with
whom we lived. By the time she arrived for a visit, we were well aware that these women were part of a group of women in the
neighborhood who belonged to an active coven of black witches. We also were finding hexes and other signs of their activities
at our doors and windows. We even found a stone with a strange inscription on it under the seat of our car.
Thinking back on it,
I think it first began as a game with the ladies, perhaps to frighten us. But
when we discovered their tricks and began repelling the energies, and sometimes sending the force of the hex back to its source,
the tricks turned into more serious cursing. Perhaps it frightened them that their magick had no effect on us.
One day a wolf came to
our door. Like before, we were alone at the house. There was a hard wind blowing and we were in the midst of a dust storm.
The dogs were barking as if to ward off something sinister. My wife saw the wolf and called me to look out the kitchen window.
By the time I got there it was gone.
We ran outside and quickly
found the wolf track in the sand. We followed it around the hogan to an older building behind it that was long locked and
probably filled with things we were not supposed to know about. The wolf track came to an abrupt end, and turned into the
small footprint of a human. A woman in flat shoes. From there the footprints went directly into the side of the building.
It was obvious that who or whatever was in the yard had passed directly through that wooden wall and was now hiding inside
that locked structure.
The blowing sand was
quickly covering up the tracks. I ran inside the house to get our camera so we could capture proof of our story. Without pictures
we know nobody would believe us. The images I got were faint and hard to see.
All I can say is that
we know what we saw and experienced in that strange land, during the strange winter we spent on the Navajo Reservation. And
we are quite sure that we were visited by a real skinwalker.