December 05, 2018

Satyrs in New England? Three Encounters with Goatmen

Are there satyrs in New England? It doesn't seem like the type of place these mythical goatmen would like. They're usually associated with warm Mediterranean regions like Greece or Rome. It's cold six months of the year here. Satyrs were notorious for their drunken antics, but our Puritan-inspired culture is notoriously opposed to frolicking. And there aren't any reeds to make pan-pipes out of. Despite all that, there may indeed by some satyrs lurking around here.

1. A Goat Monster in Vermont

The other day while looking for werewolf stories I opened up Joseph Citro's Vermont Monster Guide. This a great book, particularly for kids, and I remembered seeing a couple werewolf stories in it. But what caught my attention was an illustration of a very scary satyr-like monster opposite the title page.

The text reads as follows:

"In the early 1960s, residents of the Mt. View development in Jericho reported a half-man, half-goat monster... It peeked in windows and lurked around themes, scared everyone - and vanished! Some say it fled to nearby Mt. Mansfield, where it still lives among the rocks and trees."

Sadly there's no other information about this creature in the book. It might just be an urban legend, but did remind of a similar story I found on the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization website a few years ago, which goes something like this...

2. Who's That Looking in The Window?

Back in the late 1970s, an eleven year old boy was home alone in Sandwich, Massachusetts watching TV. It was a grey December day, there was snow on the ground, and his parents were out doing some errands.

The TV was located in the family's den and was situated against the wall between two windows. The windows looked out into the backyard and the woods which abutted the property. For quite a while the boy's attention was captured by a television program, but at one point his eyes drifted upwards to one of the windows. He screamed at what he saw.

A humanoid creature with a very hairy face was staring in the window at him. The boy estimated it was about five feet tall. When the creature heard the boy scream it grunted in surprise and ran off into the woods. The boy was terrified, but when he calmed down he called his friends.

He thought at first maybe one of his friends had played a prank on him, but they all denied it. Two of them agreed to come over - the boy was shaken up and didn't want to be alone. Once his friends arrived the three of them looked around the backyard. The creature had long since vanished into the woods, but they did find its footprints in the snow. They were clearly made by something with cloven hooves.

I like that story quite a bit. It's creepy, and also has a twist ending. When I first read it I just expected the boy and his friends to find standard Bigfoot-style footprints. The cloven hoof prints are surprising and weird since no indication is given that the creature had goat-like characteristics. Given New England's long history with the Devil, I initially thought the person telling the story was implying the creature was demonic. But maybe it wasn't. Perhaps it was a satyr. It certainly didn't do anything particularly devilish. Whatever it was, its voyeuristic behavior was similar to the goatman who had appeared hundreds of miles away in Jericho, Vermont. Perhaps satyrs just like to look in people's windows?

3. A Satyr in The Maine Woods

I've also found a third New England satyr story. It appears in T.M. Gray's book New England Graveside Tales. In the 1950s, a local man was driving his pickup truck through the woods outside Cherryfield, Maine. He had filled up his gas tank earlier that day, so he was confused when the engine died and the vehicle came to a stop on a deserted road.

The man got out of the truck and looked in the gas tank. Although there was no sign of a leak he was surprised to see it was totally empty. As he puzzled over this he saw someone approaching him from the woods. At first he was excited, thinking it was someone who could help with the truck, but he quickly realized it was no ordinary Mainer walking towards him.

The person was male, and like a lot of local Maine men wore a red flannel shirt. But he was naked from the waist down. His legs were not human, but were covered in thick hair and were shaped like a goat's. Two horns grew from his forehead. He had the pointed ears of an animal.

The goatman walked into the middle of the road, smiled at the man standing near his stalled truck, and then crossed over the road into the the woods on the other side. In a panic the man got into his truck and locked the door. Desperately he tried to start the engine. It started, and he drove back into town. When he got there, he checked his gas tank again. It was full.

I think that's another great story. The stalled truck is clearly an indication of the goatman's magical nature. He's no genetic mutant, but something paranormal or spiritual. Stalled vehicles are common themes in UFO encounters as well, placing this encounter with a satyr is perhaps just one piece of a larger paranormal puzzle. Stories like this hint at a continuum of strange experiences connecting the distant Classical past of Greece and Rome with our modern world. 

I like the flannel shirt, which clearly identifies this goatman as a Mainer (it's too cold to be shirtless in those woods) but also ties him in with other flannel-wearing paranormal entities. For example, the ghostly red-headed hitchhiker of Route 44 in Massachusetts wears a similar shirt, and some people have recently discussed a creepy paranormal entity called simply the Flannel Man. There's even an account floating around of a Sasquatch seen wearing a flannel shirt. 

There's some similarity between these three stories. In all of them, the satyr or goatman is seen by a surprised witness and then disappears. In the Cherryfield story, the witness has journeyed outside of the town into the woods, which is of course the natural domain of nature spirits like satyrs and of the god Pan, the greatest goatman there is. In the other two stories, the witnesses are inside houses, enclosed spaces which should be safe from wild woodland entities. But are they? The goatmen look into their windows as if to remind the inhabitants that there is more to the world than human culture. 

What do these satyrs want? Perhaps they just want to be acknowledged, to show themselves to mankind. They've been around for thousands of years, and will probably be around for thousands more. 

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