Brian Allan is a prolific author of exceptionally researched books on the paranormal and new science and a passionate and uncompromising investigator and commentator on all things mysterious. A formidable and true Elder Statesman of paranormal research.
He is the editor of the fabulous free online magazine, Phenomena: www.phenomenamagazine.co.uk
From the outset I wish to emphasise that I was not solicited to write this review, but after reading what is contained in the pages of ‘Dogged Days’, the latest offering from the pen of Ellis Taylor, I felt it was the least I could do. It is not often that I have reviewed a book which simultaneously provided considerable food for thought and at the same time created no small amount of unease. This work is not only a biography, the account of Ellis’s eventful life lived alternately on opposite sides of the world, (Australia, where he was born, and the United Kingdom), but it is also the spiritual quest of a man some might regard as a shaman. Throughout his life Ellis has, normally inadvertently, encountered and grappled with many beings and entities that of necessity must fall into one of two distinct categories. Either they are entirely imaginary and owe their existence to an overactive imagination, or they inhabit what Ellis frequently describes as ‘The Otherworld’.
It is my considered opinion that they fall into the latter of the two categories mentioned above and it is here that I must declare an interest, for I too have had similar (although not identical) encounters and in addition I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the (human) characters who populate the pages of Ellis’s book. After reading this observation the reader should not therefore assume that what follows is nothing but a valueless exercise in sycophancy, for it is not, far from it. When I contacted Ellis and offered to write this review, he made it clear that above all else he wanted honesty and that is precisely what he gets, warts and all. I should make it clear that although Ellis and I both, in the main, read from the same page, we also differ slightly on many points and this is entirely as it should be. However, these differences of opinion are nothing major, but are instead the result of using slightly different contexts and frames of reference, Ellis tends to the spiritual and I to the technological, and since spirituality is but another form of technology the end results are nigh on identical.
First the style; Ellis writes with a light, sure and witty touch and his obvious passion for his subject, the paranormal in all its forms, shines through in how he presents his account. The result is a splendid ‘tour de force’ describing a life spent exploring a demon haunted universe viewed through the eyes of a visionary, and the end result is by turns matter-of-fact and absolutely terrifying but invariably absorbing. In fact it is the very intensity and non-human ‘presence’ of some of his night time encounters that make other aspects of this work seem almost pedestrian by comparison. It is no lie to say that this reviewer wonders how Ellis succeeded in retaining his sanity following some of the experiences he describes in the book. Helpfully, where applicable his sources are mentioned (and most welcome too) and are worth some ‘surfing’ in their own right for the additional details and links.
Taken on a personal level, what is described here by Ellis might, due to its highly personal and invasive nature, create concern for the safety and well being of the experiencer, but that aside the impressions and visions he recounts could sit entirely comfortably on either side of the ET divide, but are they ET or are they not? This single question reopens the vigorous and highly polarised debate separating the individuals who regard ETs as a unique phenomenon and the other camp who regard them as part of a much wider phenomenon involving a multidimensional reality. Fortunately, Ellis, who, I suspect, tends to the second view, provides vivid accounts, accompanied by photographs, of the marks frequently left on his body by his night ‘visitors’. They take various forms including intricate line ‘pictures’ and what appear to be finger marks clearly imprinted on his skin, they appear to have been printed using heat. Rather worryingly, some of the marks described in the book have the slightly queasy appearance of radiation burns. These could, I suppose, be dismissed as somehow self-inflicted, but for the fact that they were seen by his partner when they occurred. In addition his skin was not damaged or creased in any way and ‘creasing’ is something that frequently occurs when bed sheets leave marks on the skin. Ellis explains how his partner was obviously (and understandably) extremely upset by these events and benefited greatly from counselling. His partner also supplies her own accounts of some of the events she witnessed and these are included in the book. Interestingly, as an investigator and researcher of paranormal phenomena I had previously seen photographic images of ‘line picture’ marks like those in the book taken by others who have experienced events similar to those described by Ellis. While this is obviously not watertight corroboration or proof of anything supernatural, it does give food for thought.
The very nature of these nocturnal visits is perhaps the most alarming aspect of the book; the mere fact that ‘they’, whatever ‘they’ are, can simply appear at will whenever and wherever they want. The fact that Ellis heard a voice whisper, ‘Peace, no harm’, during these encounters is neither here nor there; ‘they’ have no right to effectively break in to someone’s home during the hours of darkness and take them (or anyone else for that matter) without explicit consent. The possible implications of these actions nor the circumstances surrounding them are not discussed in the book, but should provide the reader with much cause for speculation and concern. The book is profusely illustrated with B&W pictures showing the places and people Ellis encountered on his travels plus other aspects of what is detailed in the text. In addition to his one-on-one experiences Ellis also treats us to accounts of his visits with some of his friends and the astonishing events that occurred when he visited the homes of the Andrews family and John and Katie Pickering are almost worth the price of the book alone. The work also includes a word of warning and one that I will wholeheartedly endorse, leave Ouija boards well alone unless in the company of an experienced medium or psychic. Most of the time the messages are harmless, but occasionally the entities that communicate through them are malicious liars and the dabbler is well advised to treat them with great respect.
How to categorise this book? No doubt it will end up among the many UFO and New Age related titles that grace the shelves of many bookstores, but in my humble opinion it does not belong there. Instead, I believe it should be on the shelves devoted to the occult and magical, because although at first sight a work impinging on Ufology, abduction and missing time, all of which are facets of the UFO legacy, in reality this is book of magic and mysticism. As I said at the start of the review, this is the story of a modern day shaman and if the truth be told shamans are magicians in all but name. If there is only one possible criticism of this excellent work it is this; the title does not do it credit, not by a long shot, the one thing missing below the main title, ‘Dogged Days’, is a small subtitle saying, ‘A Book of Wonders’, for this surely is what it is and I heartily commend it to any student of the paranormal and the occult. Here is truth and more power to your elbow Ellis.
Brian Allan, Central Scotland, March 2009
Brian Allan is a UFO/Paranormal researcher, lecturer and writer. He is the Scottish Director of Strange Phenomena Investigations (SPI UK) (Scotland) and co-director of P.E.G (Paranormal Encounter Group).
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