VA Tech’s Garuda

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 17th, 2007


I shall be accused of having assembled lies, yarns, hoaxes, and superstitions. To some degree I think so, myself. To some degree I do not. I offer the data.Charles Fort

Credit: Gary Varvel

I cannot ignore the tragedy that happened yesterday. This week opened on April 16, with Patriots’ Day in New England and Holocaust Remembrance Day throughout the world. Now, forever, also this date will be recalled for the horror and evil that visited Virginia Tech. I will not spend too much time here, as I have posted my initial thoughts on my Copycat Effect blog about this awful event.

My condolences to all the families, friends, and victims of this school shooting.

There is one Fortean coincidence that startled me this morning about the VA Tech situation. The school’s mascot, the Hokie Bird is referred to as “Blacksburg’s own Garuda.” From a Fortean cryptozoological point of view, of course, the “Garuda” is linked to Mothman, deaths, and sinister happenings. I posted about this on March 6, 2007, mentioning that John A. Keel wanted his book The Mothman Prophecies entitled The Year of the Garuda.

John Keel

John A. Keel, in 2002, speaking with reporters about how his Garuda, Mothman, came to the big screen.

I received criticism from a few comment makers here for pointing out two days ago the new Mothman deaths in Point Pleasant, and a month ago for pondering the Garuda links to tragedies. I guess for me to not mention these “coincidential” or “folkloric” links would be acting like they don’t exist, and that I am not aware of the not-to-subtle links. You can do what you want with this information. I just report these tidbits, as I’m sure Charles Fort would say.

At the least, this is a horrifying bit of synchronicity, as Chris Woodyard remarked in our exchange this morning about the Hokie Bird/Garunda info.

Images of the VA Tech’s Hokie Bird football mascot are comic, of course, and appear weirdly out-of-place here, perhaps. But you can see their bizarre overt bipedal avian characteristics, which might remind one of a prankster Mothman, a truly American Garuda. It is hard to invent these kinds of connections. Indeed, the Hokie Bird is called “”Blacksburg’s own Garuda” at VA Tech. I offer the data.




This will be a difficult week in Blacksburg, and will touch off sadness elsewhere. On Thursday, April 19, some people will think about Waco’s 81 people who died in 1993, at the end of 51-day siege of the Branch Davidians, and of the 168 who were killed when the Murrah Federal Building collapsed in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. Friday, April 20, of course, is the anniversary of Columbine, when 15 died in what use to be the largest school shooting in the USA, in 1999.

I am still in shock about the extent of the tragedy. That is enough for now. The Garuda link merely is unexpected in the midst a larger unbelievable event.

My thanks to Chris Woodyard at the Invisible Ink bookstore for her discovery and sharing of the Hokie Bird/Garuda information. Appreciation to Fortean writer Doug Skinner for the image of his Garuda postcard (top) which he found in his neighborhood soon after visiting John Keel, during Keel’s recovery from a heart attack last fall.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

15 Responses to “VA Tech’s Garuda”

  1. Logan5 responds:

    Garuda link or not, I think it is becoming important to figure out why these things happen so frequently in April, as opposed to the other 11 months of the year.

    Not to say that bad thing don’t happen the rest of the year… but April seems to be becoming the month of atrocities.

  2. elsanto responds:

    Given that almost all the perpetrators of these horrible incidents are male, Logan5, and given that it’s spring the answer would seem to be: spring fever/hormones/sperm build-up.

    If only saltpeter truly were an anaphrodisiac…

    Just my two cents, and no I’m not making light of this or any other incident, a question was asked and I’ve posited an answer.

  3. mystery_man responds:

    Although I personally only see a passing connection to cryptozoology here, I am nevertheless shocked by these events that have transpired and moved by this story. This is still a very interesting article here, as was the one on the “Copycat Effect”. I am saddened by this horrible news and am glad Loren shed some light on it. My condolences to all those involved in this horrible tragedy.

  4. MattBille responds:

    The word, I suggest, is “coincidence.” In a tragedy with 50 or so direct victims and thousands of people connected to them, on a huge campus full of assorted buildings, symbols, and histories, it’s inevitable something would happen that strikes us as an odd detail.

  5. The_Yardstick responds:

    About what Logan5 said:

    Tragic Month of April

    Just a tad unnerving.

    As for Thursday…”God bless Oklahoma City”. I live in Oklahoma and can still remember that day too clearly.

    Thanks for posting this.

  6. Bob Michaels responds:

    This Tragedy could not have been prevented, in hindsight the extent of this bloody toll should have been limited to the intial killings.

  7. Loren Coleman responds:

    Matt, I like you and your books a lot, but I don’t think you’ve ever completely understood what my being a Fortean is all about. That’s okay. There’s room enough in this world for all of us.

    Take care.

  8. Mnynames responds:

    2 things struck me about this incident-

    The first is how the victims simply got on the floor and let themselves be shot. When shots ring out, generally you either flee or you hide, but if you’re in a locked room, you fight, or as we see all too clearly, you die. There were over 30 of them, and only one of him. Strangely enough, my High School history teacher (Kind of a gung-ho, ex special forces type) once asked his class what we would do if he pulled a gun on us. I’m sure his point was strength in numbers, but considering his psychology, we half-expected that he was about to. Anyway, he told us that our only hope was to rush him at once. If only a few of us did it, we’d be dead. This recent shooting now has me worried. I honestly used to believe that I could rally whoever was around me into rushing such an opponent, should I ever be faced with one…but now I think I’d just be the first to fall, as everyone else just crouched there doe-eyed, like sheep ready for slaughter.

    This is really in no way meant to impune the victims of this tragedy, and my hopes and wishes go with them all. The sad fact is that while people are smart individually, large groups of people can be much more easily driven to make irrational decisions, as evidenced by riots and mass hysteria, etc. There’s no telling whether I would have done any differently or not, despite the benefit of forethought.

    The second thing that struck me is that the shooter was Asian. Mass murderers and serial killers in Western societies are almost universally young-to-middle-aged white males (again, not trying to impugn any group as a whole, after all, I am a middle-aged white male).

    A strange though occured to me, but I’m not sure how on or off the mark it might be- As other ethnicities become increasingly integrated and accepted within Western culture, will they come to exhibit traditionally “white” neuroses and pathologies too?

  9. Rillo777 responds:

    I know Loren has expounded on the “copy cat effect” and quite correctly so. There are also patterns in the world which defy conventional logic. Fort noticed these and others have to. Some, who are religious, ascribe them to spiritual warfare, others try to explain them in terms of human behaviour. My mother use to say that things “happen in threes”. A psych professor of mine used to say that things seem to happen in patterns only because once an event occurred, it is human nature to be more aware of similar events, giving them more perceived importance than we normally would. I don’t really buy that. I’m more of the Fortean belief that all things are much more connected than we realize.

    I initially commented (several threads ago) that the Garuda/Mothman link was, at best, a bit of a stretch. I’m beginning to re-think that. I’m now entertaining the thought that the Garuda symbolism might be more a symbol of a deeper malevolence; a sort of mark that invites unimaginable evil. I know this sounds very “primitive”. Probably laughably superstitious. But what if, just what if, some things are…well…cursed for lack of a better term? At the very least, I don’t think it hurts to think outside of the “natural” box every once in awhile.

  10. mystery_man responds:

    Well, Mynynames, I would have to say that there are killers in all countries of all ethnicities, creeds, and all nationalities. I don’t understand this subject all that well as I am not a psychologist, but I don’t personally think this is the result of some sort of “white” neuroses rubbing off on people like some sort of disease, but rather a complicated mix of factors we may never fully understand that all pushed a tormented soul over the edge. In my opinion, to say that only white people are suseptable to this is a bit ridiculous. Asians are not above this and neither are any other races or superficial categorization of human beings. Maybe the statistics are indicative of forces other than being white or not. Personally, I don’t think this is a race problem at all. It is a human problem.

  11. Mnynames responds:

    Like I said, I thought my notion might be a bit unsupportable, but I figured I’d throw it out there anyway. Statistically, what I said is true, but as for why that might be so? Well, that’s anyone’s guess. The koyaanisqatsi principle, that western societies are psychologically/spiritually out of balance, seems as good as any other to me as an explanation, so to me it’s an interesting possible corollary. Much more data is probably needed to even begin to prove it and, well…let’s hope we never get ANY more data (Ie., more shootings).

    And even if it were a “race” problem, you’re right, it’d still be a human problem. Race is much more of an irrational human concept than anything quantifiable or reproducible. It’s like what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said regarding pornography, “It’s hard to define, but I know it when I see it.” Scientifically-speaking, there is no such thing. People are people…and that includes both the good and the bad.

  12. Rillo777 responds:

    I really don’t think it’s a race problem. That many such perps are white is only a reflection that most of our society, statistically, is white. So you would expect a greater number of offenders from that group. Please forgive me but your analysis sounds a little like “white guilt”. Personaly, I judge people by their actions and the things that are important to them. if I judge them at all. Someone who, like the shooter at Virgina Tech, refused help and had been reported by both staff and students, yet rejected the notion that the problem was with him, is someone to be very wary of. He apparently internalized a great many things that were destructive and eroding to his moral beliefs. The result was a shifting of blame to innocents and the decision that their deaths somehow justified his feeling that he was “the victim”. Ultimately, we all have to take responsibility for our actions. Granted, no one will ever know exactly what set him off, but once he had set upon his decision there likely would have been no talking him down. Race, rich versus poor, upbringing, you name it, can be the final catalyst for this behaviour, but a mind like this seems to be set in stone and can’t usually be reasoned with. They believe there is no other choice and aren’t open to any.
    As I said, it can be anything that can set them off. It’s not a cry for help, it is a form of violent self-destruction. irregardless of the purported reason behind it.

  13. Loren Coleman responds:

    I highly recommend people read The Copycat Effect. It directly addresses that the modern form of school shootings, in essence,

    (1) began in the USA in 1996,

    (2) were at first done only by ethnically white males, and

    (3) moved from rural to suburban locations.

    After 9/11,

    (1) for a year, no school shootings occurred in a news vacuum that was focussed on terrorism and the war in Afghanistan,

    (2) then in 2002, school shootings media coverage was reignited with international incidents being highlighted, and

    (3) finally, soon after, came back to North America with the shooters being a mix of white students, a Native youth, a young immigrant, outsiders, and disturbed adults.

    One hundred percent of the shooters are suicidal. Many warning signs before the final act are a cry for help, but the shootings are not. They are pure acts of suicide with homicides taking place first.

  14. kittenz responds:

    Such an awful thing to happen at such a beautiful school! I used to attend officer training classes there when I was a member of a labor union grievance
    committee. The town is lovely, the people are lovely, and the school is incredible. My heart goes out to all the families who have been touched by this terrible thing. Surely we are failing our young people in some way, for things like this to even be possible.

    These shooters do for the most part seem to be suicidal, but there have been a few, at least during the first spate of school shootings, who have not committed suicide during their killing spree. Loren, do you think that those students were suicidal too, and were just stopped in time to prevent them committing suicide? Or is there a real fundamental difference in the mindsets of these later shooters, whose killing sprees took place after the saturation coverage of the suicide bombings of 911?

  15. Loren Coleman responds:

    School shooters are suicidal, whether their homicidal acts end in their own suicides, their suicide by cop, or them merely being captured and forever having a living death that is now before them.

    BTW, Garunda and Mothman are – folklorically – more akin to Banshees – the warning creatures of forthcoming tragedies and deaths and evil. I think people are missing that point.

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