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Humans love to make monsters. From Count Dracula to Jigsaw, we can’t help but give the creatures living in the dark corners of our minds some semblance of life. Whether that life is on paper and housed in the imaginations of the reader or seen on the big screen at your local cinema, we delight in frightening each other with the horrors we create and, at the end of our experiences with them, we take a breath and tell ourselves “That was fun but at least it wasn’t real.” And that’s true... right? What if the monsters that dwell in our imagination have the potential to be just that: real? Is it possible we can create our worst fears by focusing so intensely on them that they spring into existence, fully formed and ready to rain terror on us? Some think so, and this focus on our fears may have created the worst monster of all: Today, we discuss Slender Man.
To get to where we need to go with this idea of what Slender Man may be, we need to travel back in time to the origins of Tibetan Buddhism and explore the idea of the Thought-Form, or Tulpa, which is also referred to as an Emanation in ancient scripts. Going back to the earliest days of Buddhism there have always been teachings that deal with the concept of time, reality, and what we really are as sentient creatures. These teachings on the nature of reality led some of the practitioners of Buddhism to develop the concept of the Emanation. An Emanation, or Tulpa, was an extension of oneself on a spiritual level, however, powerful Buddha were said to have been able to create individual Tulpas that could think and act outside the will of their creator. This ability to create an Emanation was an explanation in early Buddhism as to how some of the Buddha throughout history were able to travel to heavenly realms while their body remained here in this realm. The practitioners would meditate in such a focused way that they would literally create a projection or copy of themselves in the heavenly realm they wished to visit. Obviously the idea of the Tulpa is a deeply spiritual one to practitioners of different sects of Buddhism and is vastly different in practice to the Thought-Forms we will discuss shortly. However, for our purposes, it is important to note that people have been claiming the ability to literally create beings from nothing but thoughts for many centuries.
As with most things, Western culture in the early 20th century took the teachings of the Tibetan monks and adapted the concept of the Emanation into the idea of the Thought-Form and brought it to America. These people, calling themselves Theosophists, or religious philosophers, were led by a woman named Helena Blavatsky and drew upon what she referred to as ancient knowledge from “The Masters”, or, ancient spirits whom she claimed to have a psychic or spiritual connection with. Theosophists believed that if groups of people focused their thoughts on a particular idea for long enough, it would manifest physically in our world. Another group who took the concept of the Tulpa and ran with it was The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This group rose to some popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and included notable people such as Alistair Crowley, the famed magician, author, and occult leader, among its ranks and leadership. The HOGD was a group of like-minded people who focused their studies on such things as the occult, paranormal activity, and metaphysics as a way to understand the world around them and to practice magic that might benefit themselves. Among many things they are known for (mostly large orgies claiming to be for channeling some sort of uni