Jennifer Wilber works as an ESL instructor, substitute teacher, and freelance writer. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and English.
What Is Mothman?
Mothman is one of the best-known cryptids in North America. This crytozoological creature first gained notoriety after many residents of the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, first encountered it in the mid-1960s. Mothman is generally described as a large, winged creature who stands over six feet tall, with a wingspan of six to ten feet across, terrifying red glowing eyes, and an owl-like body covered in gray or black feathers or fur.
Mothman is often though of as a portent of impending doom and tragedy. This cryptid is most famously associated with the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge across the Ohio River near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. 46 people were killed in the collapse of the bridge in 1967. Sightings of the Mothman have waned since the late 1960s after culminating in the bridge collapse tragedy, but there have been some reported sightings of the creature throughout the years in Point Pleasant and surrounding areas since the initial wave of sightings in West Virginia in the mid-1960s.
Does Mothman actually exist, or could the encounters with this creature be the result of other natural, man-made, or perhaps even supernatural phenomenon?
As incredible as it may seem, some UFOlogists believe that Mothman is actually an alien being from another planet. Given the scary, alien appearance that witnesses ascribe to the creature, it isn’t surprising that some people would believe it to be something from another world. Why an alien would choose to terrorize a small town and show itself just before tragic events remains a mystery.
Similarly, some people speculate that sightings of Mothman flying in the sky may actually be sightings of some type of aircraft, rather than a flying humanoid creature. While some believe that the aircraft witnessed is likely an airplane with Earthly origins, others believe that the object people have witnessed is an alien spacecraft. Since UFO folklore often points to alien spaceships appearing just before tragic events, there could be some validity to the theory that certain Mothman sightings were actually sightings of visitors from outer space!
Some theorists, particularly the more religiously inclined, believe that Mothman is actually a demon or demonic spirit. Judging by images based on eyewitness accounts of the Mothman, it isn’t hard to imagine that this creature could be some type of demonic entity.
Radio host Clyde Lewis from the radio show Ground Zero wrote in a 2015 article of his theory that Mothman is the modern return of the Mesopotamian demon Pazuzu, “the king of the demons of the wind.” Pazuzu is a demon often associated with doom and pestilence and is known for bringing destruction in the form of famine during dry seasons and locusts during rainy seasons. Pazuzu is said to have had the body of a man, the head of a lion or dog, the talons of an eagle, two pairs of wings, and the tail of a scorpion. Clyde Lewis believes that Pazuzu was known in North America to the Native Americans as Piasu. Piasu was described as a winged creature with a dog-like face, red eyes, and a serpent-like body that haunted the Ohio Valley. Lewis also claimed that Native Americans never lived in the area that is now Point Pleasant, as they allegedly believed that the area was haunted by strange otherworldly creatures.
On the flipside, other theorists believe that Mothman may not be an evil demon at all, but rather, an angelic being. According to this theory, the reason Mothman seems to appear just before tragedies, such as the Silver Bridge collapse, is because he is an angel who has come to attempt to prevent the tragedy. If the Mothman is, in fact, an angel sent to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring, he apparently hasn’t been doing a very good job.
Mothman’s appearance as a winged humanoid creature is the strongest evidence pointing to him being an angel. The interactions witnesses have reported having with the creature points more toward him being anything but an angelic creature with heavenly origins.
Some believe that Mothman’s true identity is that of the Thunderbird, which is a creature that appears in the legends of several Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and the Algonquian. According to Native American legends, a Thunderbird is a supernatural creature with great power and strength who can bring thunder by flapping its wings.
The Shawnee also have legends of other creatures that could have been inspired by the same creature as the Mothman; the Misgnwa and the Waupee. As with many cryptids and mysterious occurrences in North America, there are several theories tying Mothman to Native American legends.
The Curse of Chief Cornstalk
Some theorists also believe that sightings and encounters with Mothman are related to the curse of Chief Cornstalk. According to the legends, in what is now Mason County, West Virginia, where the present-day Point Pleasant is located, the Shawnee Nation’s leader, Chief Cornstalk travelled to Fort Randolph to discuss peace between the United States and the Shawnee Nation. The commander of the fort imprisoned Chief Cornstalk and his men instead. The next day, unknown natives supposedly killed a soldier who was patrolling the fort, which angered the commander. The commander then killed all of the prisoners, including Chief Cornstalk. According to the legend, as Chief Cornstalk lay dying, he cursed the land where he was killed, along with all inhabitants of the place. Some believe that the Silver Bridge collapse and encounters with the Mothman are the result of this curse.
A Mutated Bird
While many people believe that the Mothman is simply an ordinary bird that witnesses have misidentified, some people take this theory a bit farther and believe that Mothman is, in fact, a mutated bird. Many sightings and encounters with the creature have taken place in the TNT area near Point Pleasant. This area is well-known to be severely polluted and contaminated with military waste, as this was the site of an old World War II military munitions facility. Some people believe that pollution here has caused local birds to mutate into the giant and terrifying creature known as Mothman.
Some conspiracy theorists even believe that secret government experiments are being carried out in this location even today, which could account for sightings of the Mothman. Could Mothman be the result of accidental mutation of birds caused by polluted habitats, or perhaps even the result of experiments carried out by the government in secret?
Is Mothman a Supernatural Entity?
Could Mothman actually be a supernatural entity, or do more mundane explanations better account for the reported sightings of the creature? Did the people who claim to have witnessed the Mothman actually see what they claimed, or is the entire phenomenon nothing more than a hoax?
© 2019 Jennifer Wilber
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 02, 2019:
Hi, Jennifer, thanks for sharing.