Forest Survival And Strange Missing Cases

Forest Horror is often about strange disappearances. It is about survival. People die because they are scared to death. Some stories claim that they are based on true events. But is there a real background? According to many sources, it is and what happens goes sometimes beyond our imagination.

Survival in the forest can mean a couple of different situations. A survival situation develops very quickly. People get lost. People lose orientation or get hurt. People get sick. Wild animals could pose a serious threat, even this is not the wilderness of former days with many bears or mountain lions. (Statistically, the most dangerous animals in our times are ticks as carriers of diseases). Of course, in a tropical forest, there are still deadly snakes. In the Northern hemisphere encounters with bears could still go wrong. Wolf attacks are very rare but they exist too.

Throughout history, there are numberless accounts of alleged supernatural attacks. Are they real? There is probably a very thin line between fear, self-deception and hallucination and real unexplainable events. If we leave civilisation and if we are alone in an unfamiliar environment our mind can easily trick us but sometimes the danger is very real. Several missing person cases lead to disturbing conclusions.

Surviving a supernatural attack means not only physical survival. Dion Fortune described in her book “Psychic Self-Defense” different types of psychic attacks. These attacks do not automatically pose a life-threatening situation. However, people could become sick. Many people have psychological problems. This applies particularly to close encounters. Survival means not to lose your wits. If we look at the mysterious circumstances of some cases of missing persons or people returned and appeared changed, these circumstances suggest some form of psychic attacks.

Lost in the woods

A survival situation is always about real problems in the first place. One of the biggest problems is dehydration. People need water. You can longer survive for some time without food but water is essential (in a warm and dry environment you wouldn’t last more than a few days without water but theoretically three weeks without food). Lucky survivors collected in some cases rainwater.

If you find a stream or a spring it is important to know if the water isn’t polluted. There are ways to get some food: Most of the time of the year there are wild berries and plants in the forest. Knowledge is important since there are numerous poisonous plants like belladonna or yew trees. It happens sometimes even to experienced bushcrafters that they mix something up and get sick. Many plants look very similar.

Exhaustion is another reason why people die in the forest. The sheer experience of losing orientation leads to physical and psychical stress. People wandering around in a panic, desperately seeking a way out. We are used to mobile phones helping us to find a street in the city but what if there is no signal? Using digital maps or GPS needs some experience. Surviving in an unknown forest territory means to have some skills. If the sun is shining it helps to navigate. In a clear night, the stars are helpful if you know how to find for example the North Star. In the northern hemisphere moss mostly grows on the north side of trees. Sometimes you can follow a stream or spruce. With a little sense of orientation, a wanderer will find the way back to civilization.

Even then a situation can get quickly out of control.
Weather conditions can change quickly particularly in mountain forests. Nights are getting very cold. It could rain for days. It doesn’t take much and you are suffering from hypothermia. It requires some experience to find or to build a shelter. The same applies to make fire. Forest terrain often poses dangers because there are ditches, roots or sharp branches. Cuts, broken legs or other injuries have fatal consequences. Dramatic situations not only happen in the vast and endless wilderness of Alaska or Siberia. Accidents in the forest or people getting lost happen everywhere but with significant differences. According to unofficial accounts, about 1600 people have gone missing in the U.S. in national and state parks. There are clusters with more people gone missing. A lot of people getting lost in the woods return safely, but there is a real mystery out there.
It is a mix of missing person behaviour, tragic circumstances (like falling off a cliff or a sudden weather change) and indeed unknown mysterious reasons, which makes us wonder. There is a lot of high-tech available today but there is still this number of unsolved cases.

Getting lost in the woods can happen easily: First you don’t see a trail marker for some time and suddenly the trail thins out. Even experienced hikers get fooled. It is sometimes an intersection of trails, which leads you in the wrong direction or a short moment of disorientation. One reason why tourists or visitors of national parks get lost is probably their inability to distinguish between an urban environment and the wilderness. This is an experience which mountain search and rescue teams in the Austrian or German alps often tell: Hikers get in a dangerous situation because of their ignorance. They don’t understand that this not a playground and that there is a real danger out there. Sometimes a helicopter rescue mission is necessary because people climb a mountain in light summer clothes. When a sudden change in weather surprises them (in the Alps you can have snowfall in August) they are in deep trouble.

Survival depends strongly on the first decisions after getting lost. Indeed, responders find most persons gone missing in the woods within 24 hours. But then, there are types of cases where something terrible must have gone wrong. In some cases, the investigation suggests that people must have vanished immediately and were found later in “phenomenal distances” or in “incredible places” (as David Paulides said in an interview). Nobody can explain how they got there.




Unexplained disappearances


There is still a lot of mindboggling cases where either lost persons were never found, or there are unexplainable circumstances like a body appearing at a place where searchers have looked a dozen times. Sometimes a simple explanation occurs by coincidence. But then there are mysteries like the one in the forest dark feature film project, which provoke other ideas. There are many real stories about forest survival. In these stories, the researchers must confront the unknown.

One example is real cases based on fact book series and a documentary called Missing 411 about strange disappearances. They match in an amazing way with ideas expressed in the forest dark feature film project. The writer and researcher David Paulides, a former police detective, did extremely valuable and reliable research about highly unusual cases in North America and beyond. He researched a high number of unsolved cases where victims disappeared in unusual circumstances. In some cases, he found strange commonalities: If a body was found it was in an impossible location which was impossible for the vanished person to reach. K9 dogs or cadaver dogs weren’t able to find any trace. The reason for death is not clear. Sometimes it was declared they were “scared to death”. Interestingly Paulides identified 28 clusters with a high number of cases in the U. S. National parks. There is an interesting tendency that the map shows more cases in territories where water isn’t far as rivers or lakes. This is a very valuable insight even it might sound very strange for some people. However, again and again, in all mysterious forest stories a certain topography plays a vital part. There must be zones, areas, places and sites which are somehow connected to another world.

In interviews, Paulides emphasises that he has no theory about what happened. It looks like he identified a phenomenon which has very strong similarities with previously on this website described phenomena like the “black fire” and close encounters. In an interview, he spoke of an “overreaching intelligence, that is far beyond our comprehension”. This a very good expression since most of the unexplainable experiences in forests point into that direction.

There is a particularly interesting field of research here which deals with the disappearance of hunters. Hunters are usually experienced people and not likely to put themselves in dangers. Instead many of the strange circumstances match the excellent research done by Jacques Vallée in his book “Confrontations”. In South America, there are several cases of sometimes deadly encounters with so-called “Chupas'”: Chupas are objects which emitting strong beams of light. Some hunters were hit by these strange lights near the city of Parnarama in Brasil and five people died. The cause of their death remains a mystery. It even looked like some vampirism was at work here, since the bodies appeared bloodless. This story is similar to the “elf-stroke” in medieval times.

Even in some cases, a mundane explanation seems possible there, is strong evidence for the unknown phenomenon described in previous posts in the forest dark. There is one thing where there is a strong similarity between the Missing 411 cases and the alleged close encounters: People were found in different locations and there is no explanation of how they got there in the first place. We know many UFO-cases where it appears that some sort of “Teleportation” happened. This happened also in Ezechiel’s story.

The long tradition of cases

There is indeed a long tradition for this type of missing person cases and strange forest survival stories. The modern cases have similarities with stories from medieval times where people vanished or were abducted by fairies. A good description of these historical cases was written by Reverend Kirk, The Secret Commonwealth, who became himself a mysterious case in the end.

Forest horror stories deal with survival and unexplainable elements. They are often about the mysterious and the supernatural. If we look at the many real cases it seems there is often a lot of realism in forest horror.

Dark Forest Theory

Why is it quiet in the forest in the night? Some animals are sleeping. Humans don’t enter the forest normally in the night. But there are other more important reasons: It is import to stay quiet in order to survive. Predators are out there. And perhaps there are other things roaming the night. It is better to make no noise and make sure nobody can see or even smell you. It is dangerous in the night in the forest.

Liu Cixin. The Dark Forest (Novel): “The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound. Even breathing is done with care. The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds another life—another hunter, angel, or a demon, a delicate infant to tottering old man, a fairy or demigod—there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them“.

The quote is from a sci-fi novel. It became the source for “the dark forest theory”. Scientists discuss this theory seriously. Why is it so quiet in the universe? The majority of scientists believe there must be a tremendous number of alien life in the universe, some of them intelligent. Why is it that humankind seems to be the only civilisation sending radio signals out there? The theory has a frightening explanation. Most civilisations stay quiet because it is better to not make a noise because it is dangerous. Predators are out there.

There is no proof for the dark forest theory. We better pray that this theory is wrong. Furthermore, there is no scientific way to find out if it is the wrong idea. However, like many other ideas, the dark forest theory has a long tradition. If we take a closer look, we will find it is a very old experience.

Of course, we had this situation in ancient times. The forest was indeed a dangerous place. In our times the forest at night might be a safer place as the roads of a big city. But what about the otherworld? The otherworld is sometimes described as a shadow world as the Upside Down. In such world there are dangers. Maybe some inhabitants of the otherworld are hiding because they are afraid. It is better to hide because it is a dangerous place.




Perhaps the dark forest theory refers not only to experiences from ancient times but is related to our idea of the otherworld.

It is a common idea that there are places where the veil is thin between our world and the otherworld. There are forests where the otherworld is closer to us than anywhere. These are dark forests. They are haunted. The dark forest theory applies here. It is important to stay quiet in these places.

However, we might find this a narrow-minded concept. The dark forest theory completely relies upon the assumption that everything is about the survival of the individual. Complex civilizations instead survive because they learned about cooperation. And if we stick to the example of the forest at night it is not true that it is completely quiet. We hear the noises of animals which are active in the night. Not anybody is afraid in the dark forest. However, isn’t cooperation always a risk? There is a saying the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Cooperation happens often simply because it is necessary for some time. Survival instincts are always at work. The same applies to the creatures of the night. They have found a way to survive even if you can see or hear them. They are risk-takers.

There is one key question here which might explain why the dark forest theory rings true: If we ask ourselves, what is life? There is no real satisfying answer yet. We understand the concept of life. And we know what life is like: Life is always about survival: Survival of the own race, the own form of life, my survival, the survival of my kins. The dark forest theory appeals to us because it is about what life really is: Survival.

If the otherworld matches our world in basic principles it will be also about survival. It could be a war of ideas or principles or different forms of entities.

Perhaps staying alive in the otherworld is something different as in our own world. Being quiet in this dark forest can mean to hide your thoughts. In the other realm, it is important that nobody can read your mind because you could be overwhelmed, invaded and lose your wits.

It is very interesting that Liu Cixin speaks of “demigods”, “angels” or “demons” and “fairies”. These are typically inhabitants of the otherworld. They are not what we think as “aliens” in the context of science-fiction or the universe. But if we see the universe and the otherworld as closely connected – perhaps, in the end, the universe is the otherworld, the dark forest theory makes sense as a universal experience. If we look at the myth of mankind or even the ancient stories from the Old Testament our world appears more like the dark forest as anything else.

Lords Of The Forest

A deity or a local god plays often an important role in forest horror stories. In Christian tradition, these original pagan gods become sometimes the devil. But forest deities as the Green Man survived. They even exist in churches as paintings or sculptures. There is a deep respect for these deities as they represent archaic forces of natures. Are they a product of human imagination or do they indeed represent the otherworldly side of nature?

Storytellers like the lord of the forest as a sinister deity since it makes a great mystery or even a murderous antagonist. H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen and many others made use of the long tradition of deities. Some of the forest deities are the same or resemble ancient gods of the greek, roman or Celtic tradition.

A prominent example is The Great God Pan. Horned gods appear often as lords of the forest. Both Herne the hunter and the Celtic god Cernunnos are horned gods like Pan. Cernunnos, sometimes also a fertility god, has a frightening appearance. He is present in rituals, in folk stories and made a career in horror. Sometimes he is more seen as a devil or demonic figure. Recently he appeared in the outstanding forest horror series Black Spot (Zone Blanche) by Netflix and France 2.

It makes sense to have Cernunnos and Herne in the European tradition of folk horror since there is indeed a Celtic tradition. The tradition was later borrowed by modern witch-covens. The horned god plays an important role in Margaret Murray’s Witch-Cult hypothesis. These lords of the forest are often connected with sacrifice and magic powers. People worshipping the gods hope to get something in return. In more modern traditions the lords of the forest are also connected with the seasons and rituals related to fertility. One example is the Beltane tradition on April 30.




In winter the lords of the forest are related to the wild hunt. Herne is sometimes mentioned and this – of course – mostly presents the darker aspects of the forest deities. They are often hunters and it’s not always animals they are after.

The lords of the forest are often local deities. Even it seems easy for a god to travel wherever he wants to these deities often represent the genius loci. It is a spirit residing in an exceptional tree or a mountain top. There is no evidence for this, but the idea of the lords of the forest represents more an earthbound entity rather than a cosmic force as in my story.

However, it isn’t necessarily either one thing or the other. If there is one thing that “true stories”, folklore stories, witness accounts of supernatural phenomena or horror fiction tells us then it is the fact that the gods exhibit many faces of themselves. It might be the same phenomenon which appears in different disguises. The important thing about forest deities is that nature itself is an expression of these gods. The giant old tree or the impenetrable forest itself is only a cover. There is an invisible world behind this. Ancient folks had a sense about it. Forest deities as the horned god make it more simple to grasp these feeling because if something has a face or a form it is easier to handle.

The Otherworld, The Upside Down And The Beyond

In today’s TV-series, the otherworld is presented in ways not seen before. In David Lynch’s latest Twin Peaks series a much deeper exploration of the otherworld realm happens as in the original series. The black lodge, the white lodge and some sinister otherworldly dimension appear in a much more organic way. It infiltrates the everyday world and is anything but a fantasy realm. Another excellent demonstration of a dark otherworld accompanying us is the Upside Down in Stranger Things. The otherworld had been always a crucial part of my forest dark story too. They all relate to an overwhelming tradition lasting since the origins of all mankind.

What is the Upside Down?

In Stranger Things, the Upside Down is presented as kind of a mirror world reflecting our own. It is like a distorted version of our reality: “The Vale of Shadows is a dimension that is a dark reflection or echo of our world (Stranger Things, Episode 5)”. The blue-coloured frightening dimension is a brilliant visualisation of the idea of a dark otherworld. It became also popular as the “Upside Down” effect.

A long tradition

An alternate dimension like the Upside Down is already described in Stephen King’s masterpieces. There are some similarities between the world of Stranger Things and Derry in King’s novel IT. Some people noticed that the other world in Silent Hill worked similarly. However, we could track this kind of alternative dimension to big feature film classics as MATRIX (which will have a reboot soon) and “Welt am Draht” from Germany’s legendary filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder too. In some stories, the alternative dimension is always a kind of energy. Even the Force in Star Wars is a form of an alternate dimension. These ideas go back a long way: Dante’s Inferno describes a dark alternate dimension. The otherworld as a reflection of our world is an old Celtic idea. It exists in Greek mythology and ancient Norse mythology. It is the realm of the Gods but also of angels and demons.




The Otherworld is Real

Modern science suggests that the alternative dimension is not a fantasy. It is a reality. There are theories about a multiverse or a five-dimensional world. It relates to the experience of philosophers. It is hard to imagine a world without the existence of an alternative dimension. The mirror world is present in dreams and visionary experience. In many near-death-experience, there are accounts of an alternate dimension. There are similarities between the Upside Down and the stories from alien abductees. They experience often an alternate distorted reality before they could return to the ordinary world. The otherworld is an essential part of any hero’s journey. It is a fact that this applies both to fiction and true stories.

The deeper dimensions Of The Otherworld

If we take a closer look into descriptions of the otherworld and visionary experience we see that there is much more as the distorted alternate dimension. This dimension itself appears as a projection. It is in some way a simulation – an idea which also occurs in Stranger Things. There is something behind the veil. We are experiencing two forms of the otherworld, one which resembles our own and another otherworld which is beyond comprehension. It might be a more abstract world or a primordial world of ideas (as Plato expressed it). People experiencing the deeper realms of the otherworld are changed forever. A good example of the distinction between the alternate dimension and the deeper otherworld – The Beyond – is Stanley Kubrick’s Odyssee in Space. In the end, there is a room which is a distorted version of our reality with the 18th-century room but we sense this is a simulation. There is a palpable higher realm behind. We never see The Beyond, but we know it is there.

It is an important question if the alternate deeper dimension is just a different realm or another plane of reality or does it interact with our reality. If we take the visionary’s experience serious we can’t be sure if our ordinary reality isn’t kind of a projection. It could be the other way around: Our everyday world is a distorted version of the otherworld – see Matrix. Our world cannot exist without the otherworld.

Psychic Communication and Devices

Sometimes people purposely make attempts to enter the alternate dimension or communicate with the other realm. Psychics seem to have a natural ability to access the otherworld. “Eleven” in Stranger Things has a long history of models in fiction and the real world. In Tarkovsky’s Stalker which is also about entering alternate realms, the Stalker’s daughter, in the end, has psychic capabilities. In realties, many people who had close encounters are becoming psychics. Indeed there are many examples of telepathy, telekinesis and even teleportation in connection with the Otherworld. The alternate dimension is similar to the internet and can transport information. It is a way to access places and people far away without travelling in the physical plane. However, this is always a dangerous path since the otherworld can also be a treacherous reality.

Normal people use drugs, ritual and different devices to connect. As this is in the first place a shadow version of our world there are dangers everywhere. In the story of the Forest Dark Feature Film project, people try to make use of black fire. People going into the woods in the Witch Mountains because the mysterious lights promise knowledge. Many never come back.

In David Lynch’s Twin Peaks the log of the log lady is the device. Sandra Bullock communicates through the electrical lights in Stranger Things.

In other cases, people use any kind of magic device or practice to get something from the alternate plane of reality. Indeed, people sometimes get rewarded with knowledge about the unknown. Often a price must be paid. People getting too curious loose their mind. The alternate dimension is the realm of the dead too. Danger lurks there everywhere.