|Following the recent airing of the season three premiere episode of the Ancient Aliens TV Series, "Aliens in the Old West", I have received a great deal of correspondence from fans of the program wanting to know more about adventurer and writer Ambrose Bierce and the strange story surrounding his mysterious disappearance in 1913 America. While I have included a section on Bierce in my latest book release (Ancient Aliens of the Americas) for those of you who want a more detailed look, I thought I would provide a brief about the incident here for those of you who want just the "short of it" - the bottom line to this great American mystery.
Bierce was, of course, a prolific literary figure in the late 1800s known best perhaps for his work at the San Francisco Examiner while under the employ of newspaper magnate Randolph Hearst. With a critical writing style and a quick wit and pretense for cynical observation his weekly columns were well read and researched and very popular all across America. A free thinker, he wasn't afraid of taking on the establishment, challenging government, religion, science, art. Bierce was also a prolific writer of strange tales, many bone chilling stories of mysteries, fringe science, stories of death and dying, interdimensional travel, time warps and more. A Civil War veteran, he also spent a lot of time writing about this period of American history, often with a twist.
One of many stories penned by Bierce was "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", a story that dealt with time travel. In modern times it was rewritten for a TV episode for the popular "Twilight Zone" series produced by Rod Serling.
Another story, "The Isle of Pines", dealt with astral projection, and one of his more memorable volumes of short stories dealt with mysterious disappearances. Within this collection the most famous tale was, "The Difficulty of Crossing a Field", a story was based upon a "real" event for which Bierce had written about in the Examiner.
The story involved the "sudden" and unexplained disappearance of a plantation owner named Williamson. The gentlemen farmer had been visiting with his wife and son on the verandah when a neighbor who had purchased horses from him earlier in the day was driving by in a carriage with his son and stable boy. They greeted each other briefly, then Mr. Williamson continued to walk across the road and into a field to address his plantation overseer. As he entered into the field he suddenly disappeared into thin air. Four witnesses had watched this remarkable event happen.
As you might imagine, Williamsonís wife and child were hysterical at such a strange sight, as were the other witnesses, the son of the neighbor and the stable boy. Confused as they were, someone had the good sense to organize an immediate search, not believing perhaps what they had seen. Surely there must be a reasonable explanation they reasoned. But the searched turned up nothing, except that the spot where the man had disappeared was burned, a circle could be seen on the ground, which later investigators would note that nothing ever grew back in this area of the field again.
In the months and years that followed, Williamsonís wife, who never forgot the moment her husband disappeared into thin air, claims she could sometimes hear his voice calling for help from that same spot in the field, and unfortunately, she subsequently suffered a mental breakdown. It is said many of the locals considered her insane.
In retrospect, it is odd to consider that an author so fascinated with strange anomalies and unexplained disappearances would one day mysteriously disappear himself.
Bierce is best remembered today not only for his literary work but for his journey into Mexico during the winter of 1913 -- at the apex of the Mexican Revolution -- and then for his sudden disappearance a month later in the winter of 1914. The facts of his disappearance read more like some of his more famous literary works and it is seems odd the author met such a mysterious end.
After retiring in his 70s, Bierce became quite the adventurer. A Civil War veteran and chronographer of great battles, he toured famous battlefields of the War just before heading across the Mexican border at El Paso with designs to hook up with Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa Ė or so he said. After a week or so in Mexico and after sending a letter to a friend placing him at an ancient American city in ruins, the ancient city of Paquimé, the world simply lost contact with him.
There is so much mystery and speculation concerning his disappearance that books have been written about it. Some say he died in a battle at the side of Pancho Villa while others say he was executed by the hand of the Mexican revolutionary leader for his critical journalistic style.
But there is one theory that deserves mentioning. In order to understand it, we need to know a little something about the ancient ruins of Paquimé, the great ancient city in Northern Mexico that was a center for ancient scientific arts. As fantastic as it sounds, here it has been suggested that Bierce may have stumbled upon an ancient science known to the past inhabitants of this unusual city that allowed him to slip from this world through a dimensional portal to a world far away, and that he was never able to return.
On to the scene comes British adventurer F. A. Mitchell-Hedges of crystal skull fame. Speculation has it that Bierce and Mitchell-Hedges shared common ground rooted in natural mysteries, and at least one theory suggests it was these two adventurers that crossed into revolution-torn northern Mexico in search of something they may have believed to be related to ancient Americans and their ability to communicate and possibly travel between dimensions.
It was Mitchell-Hedges and his daughter Anna who would one day make the claim they had uncovered a Maya relic, a life-size quartz crystal skull they believed was used by the Maya in esoteric ritual, a communication device that enabled a Maya priest (shaman) to connect to the Gods - or to an interdimensional race of extraterrestrials, depending on your take of the story. It should be noted there is a great deal of controversy surrounding not only the discovery of the crystal skulls, but the very facts involved in that discovery. Mitchell-Hedges, believed to have been a spy in the service of the English Crown, may have had more than one mission in mind when he crossed into Mexico. According to leading theories, he not only was in the employ of the crown, he was also hell-bent with his own designs to recover lost treasures from Mexico - including the skulls. Bierce, on the other hand, was most interested in the "magic" of ancient cultures, and the two together may have shared a joint mission to uncover particular artifacts they believed would lead them to a greater destiny. And perhaps it did.
Not far from where Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa was staging his revolution, in the ancient American city of Paquime, lies the Cuevas de las Cristales, or Crystal caves. This remarkable site, a chamber buried nearly 1,000 under the ground, is where scientists are studying the most remarkable natural collection of quartz crystal ever uncovered, a chamber - actually several - where crystal columns 60-feet tall reach from floor to ceiling in a collection of surreal formations that may be the oldest known deposits of cyrstal on earth. Could Bierce and Mitchell-Hedges have been looking for the so-called magical crystal skulls of the Maya, or perhaps for the source of the crystal itself?
In a final letter to a friend in early 1914, Bierce made mention of a great adventure he was about to take, and it was the last time anyone heard from him. Mitchell-Hedges, on the other hand, lived a colorful if not controversial life after that and made a few careful mentions of his experiences in Mexico. In an autobiography and later in the pages of a fiction novel, Mitchell-Hedges refers to a "white man" who became the esoteric leader of the "Mexican Indians", an individual he claims uncovered and embraced the magic of the ancient past. There are some who speculate this mysterious white man may have been Bierce, and that much of the controversy that followed concerning the crystal skull may have been intentional on Mitchell-Hedges part to protect the real truth behind the treasures of Meso-American and the discovery of these ancient powers and their connection with interdimensional communication and travel and possibly with off world powers who may have been involved in the manufacture and use of not only the crsytal skulls but other artifacts believed to have been taken from these secret treasures.
A number of books have been written about Bierce's disappearance and a great deal of controversy have followed it down through the years. In my opinion, regardless all the facts, regardless the outcome, the story of Ambrose Bierce, his disappearance and the possible connection to Mitchell-Hedges and the magic of the Maya remains a fascinating modern mystery that begs, one day, a satisfactory conclusion.
You can read more about Bierce, Mitchell-Hedges and the lost city of Paquime in "Ancient Aliens of the Americas", a non-fiction look at the ancient mysteries of native Americans, available at a bookstore near you, (or follow this link).