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Christopher O'Brien

Back in the Saddle Aginn
Staff member
Skinwalkers and the Witchery Way
By Christopher O’Brien

Posted on ourstrangeplanet.com January 2, 2017


In August 2008, WEX head explorer David Hatcher Childress suggested that I should “…write a book about skinwalkers…” telling, me “crypto-creatures are big right now.” I remember responding that it would be virtually impossible because very little has been written on the subject of skinwalkers and that it would be a challenge to attempt to write an in-depth magazine article on the subject—forget about a full-length book. But he did get me thinking. Why not use the skinwalker as a boilerplate to examine his ancient uncles—the tricksters? So, what follows is an expanded examination of these legendary adepts adapted from my book Stalking the Tricksters.


One important element that seems to correlate tricksters forms trans-culturally is the ability to shapeshift and this ability is allegedly found among skinwalkers and other black adepts as we will see. When you start researching anything bizarre, especially phenomena way outside of the box—like skinwalkers or other indigenous dark adepts, for example—you start at the base, at the very beginning of the existing history of interpretation. It’s always been obvious to me that the oral tradition of most indigenous cultures contains many clues to explain the high strange—including a unique brand of insightful wisdom—and it seemed to me that there was a good likelihood that Native American interpretations might provide important insight. So, in 1993, I began documenting unexplained reports and researching the belief systems of the most local of the 13 tribes from three regional groups of Indians that visited the San Luis Valley, where I lived.

I concentrated on the Ute, Tewa, Diné (Navajo/Apache) and Pueblo Indians. I wanted to know: are there traditional interpretations that could help explain the region’s UFO-type activity, for instance, or provide insight into the occult, or explain the strange mysterious unusual cattle deaths? Over the years I have amassed quite a list of attributional information as it relates generally to witches, sorcerers, witchcraft and the occult in general and most of the apparent cultural bias seemed unique to south-central Colorado/north-central New Mexico where most of the reports I researched and investigated were generated. This region of the continent is located just beyond the extreme northern extent of the earliest incursion into North America by Europeans. It is a place where indigenous belief has blended and melded with a unique brand of Catholic fundamentalism. Due to its isolation for generations, the 500 years of subcultural programming has slowly developed a blend of indigenous and western interpretation that give this subculture a unique set of superstitions and beliefs. This region is a superb sociological Petri dish/melting pot of belief. This holds true especially around traditions of Native adepts who are said to be able to manipulate reality around the power of their will, for good or for evil purposes or for amoral trickery.


Paranormal Adept
@Christopher O'Brien

You talk of areas that are out of bounds to tribal populations because of their association with skinwalkers such as the aptly named Skinwalker Ranch. Are there other areas where there is a similar taboo? If you don't want to name locations, it won't bother me. I'm more curious to know whether additional locations exist.