Seen something strange in Seattle? Felt something you can’t explain, like a mysterious presence on a Georgetown porch, a canoe that seems to be paddling itself, a haunting hum on Vashon Island — or a place where the veil between this world and the next seems thin?
If so, you’re not alone.
According to people who say they are sensitive to these kinds of things, Seattle and its surrounds are magical places of unusual spiritual resonance.
Jeremy Puma, 42, and Garrett Kelly, 37, longtime friends and observers of the paranormal, say they feel it, too, and earlier this month decided to launch a crowdsourced map of the places people have seen or experienced peculiar, preternatural or spooky phenomena.
“The idea is that a lot of people who have had weird experiences don’t feel comfortable sharing in our culture of skepticism. They’re afraid they’ll be trolled,” said Puma, who works in administration at the University of Washington. “But we want to hear about it.”
Kelly — founder of Hollow Earth Radio, a low-powered FM station focused on obscure audio — and Puma want people to submit their own personal encounters with the unusual and unexpected to Liminal Seattle for inclusion on the map.
“We want genuine encounters only,” they say in their submission guidelines. “However, we encourage acts of spontaneous mythologizing. Ghost stories are OK, but what we’re REALLY interested in are tales of *high weirdness.*”
The two friends hope to foster the esoteric by mapping it and decoding it with help from the community of contributors and believers.
And people are responding in droves.
A suspected time traveler, ghost canoe and a rumored troll
At Northeast 45th Street and University Way Northeast, one person reported an encounter with a “humanoid with what appeared to be snot running down his face and beard.” When questioned, the being said it was actually “time travel residue.”
On Vashon Island, there’s an “Old Homestead” on 115th Avenue Southwest with an uncovered well, fruit trees, a tree covered in glass bottles and a wetland area with “scary energy.” I would “NOT go at night,” wrote the author of the submission, but the hilltop near the bottle tree is safe. “It’s been like this as long as I can remember.”
Then there’s the “unconfirmed” report of a “Ghost Canoe,” floating on Lake Washington, with a Lime Bike on deck.
On Beacon Hill, a man is reportedly trapped in “the 3rd dimension.” He sits on a porch, according to the person who reported the experience, and protects the folks who currently live inside the home, “but we think he wants to officially cross over.”
The Fremont Troll, considered by many to be an actual city landmark, is described as simply a “rumor” and all of the South Lake Union area is described as “Hell Mouth.”
“We don’t know why it’s Hell Mouth,” said Puma, “We just map the energy.”
The Liminal Seattle creators added that some of the entries, such as the one labeling Medina the “Colony of the Damned,” are meant to be tongue-in-cheek fun rather than a condemnation of a whole neighborhood.
According to the map, there have been sightings of a strange man in Bremerton with one hand cuffed standing by a car, a fairy-house village in Fauntleroy Park, a squirrel that sat “on a huge pile of horse chestnuts going to town on a chocolate donut,” a fountain near Madison and Summit with “some of the heaviest spiritual miasma” outside of South Lake Union and a crow that defecated on a girlfriend who turned out to be a bad actor.
The map also gives the locations of a number of alleged portals, such as the sculpture of a dragonfly in a West Seattle park, which is said to be a gateway to other dimensions on the hottest days of the year, and the Hedgewitch Portals, built at the Equinox Studios in Georgetown. The artistic installation features 100 pounds of moss, lichens, other botanical specimens and string models of Einstein-Rosen bridges, or wormholes.
The piece was intended to serve as a “vast meditation on gravity, electromagnetism, bog ecosystems and sigil-making rituals,” according to its creator, Meghan Elizabeth Trainor, an artist and digital strategist.
Trainor, who submitted the portals to the Liminal map, is herself a hedgewitch, typically working with plants in a solitary practice. In her work, she explores the intersection of art, magic, technology and science.
She said there are places in Seattle, perhaps even the entire region, that have “intense power to them.”
Recognizing those spaces communally, as the map seeks to do, is a “collective consecration of these spaces that have a different energy,” she said.
“I’m very excited about Liminal Seattle,” she said, “and I think it’s an important framing of how we live in this geographical space and engage with it along magical lines.”
Yex, a Seattle man who is studying folk magic under Corrine Boyer of Shelton and contributed four items to the group effort, said the map may become an important tool for people who want to “take liminal experiences and somehow physically ground them in this world through art and ritual.”
Kelly and Puma, for their part, are thrilled with the reception of their project. They’ve already learned about a plethora of places they now want to explore. If interest keeps building, they plan to publish a printed edition of the map and perhaps organize group tours.
Do they really accept all the legends, tales and reports as truth?
Yes, they say.
“It’s not useful for me to be skeptical,” Kelly said.
And besides, said Puma, “It’s much more fun to believe.”