MCDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. -- False alarm.
A fur-clad Minnesota tourist who runs a blog devoted to worshiping sasquatch is claiming he is what bigfoot searchers saw in McDowell County last week.
Gawain MacGregor said he was re-enacting a centuries-old tradition from "The Epic of Gilgamesh," a poem from ancient Mesopotamia that is often regarded as the oldest work of great literature when he was spotted by some passers-by.
"That night not too long after I started wandering I ran into a couple of people little ways away. I was not in a very heavily trafficked area so I was surprised to see them and they were surprised to see me. So I just turned around and left," he said. "What was I supposed to say to them?"
MacGregor said he saw the story of the bigfoot sighting the next day and tried to report it to a local police officer, who didn't take him seriously.
MacGregor said he started believing in the divine nature of bigfoot after he became interested in the Old Testament stories in the Bible related to Assyrian and Babylonian culture.
"I've always been a Christian – I went to church on Sunday I went to Bible study on Wednesday," MacGregor said. "In Bible study, you comb over the finer details of the Bible, specifically the Old Testament. People often say the Bible isn't just for spiritual teaching; it's also for historical teaching. I was drawn to the stories about the kings of Babylon and the Philistines and the gods they worshiped."
He began reading works of literature related to the stories when he stumbled upon "The Epic of Gilgamesh." In the story, citizens of Uruk, who are ruled by King Gilgamesh, asked the goddess Aruru to create a creature to help their king reconnect with nature and abandon his sin. Aruru creates Enkidu, a creature described a two-thirds beast, one-third man to help Gilgamesh with his affliction.
Once Enkidu completes his purpose in helping Gilgamesh re-connect with nature (spoiler alert), he becomes ill and dies. After Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh sheds his royal clothing and wanders around in the woods in mourning, wearing animal skins.
Gawain said he believes sasquatch are descendants of Enkidu. In addition to his Christian beliefs, Gawain practices Enkiduism, a religion focused on honoring Enkidu.
Gawain said in an interview that he wears hair-covered animal skins and wanders in the forest, like Gilgamesh did in the story, a tradition which he said dates back thousands of years.
In a blog post on his website, Gawain also lists other Enkiduism practices including refraining from luxury that draws him away from nature, encircling a campsite in flour, constructing and gifting a statue of sasquatch, giving an offering of carnelian with honey and lapis lazuli with butter, having sex with his wife for seven straight days during the spring equinox, drinking Woodruff flavored white wine, consuming a gingerbread effigy of Enkidu, fashioning a primitive drum and dancing. Gawain also recites what he called in a blog post "the sasquatch prayer."
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"Hear me o sasquatch, children of Enkidu, in your great mercy, may you walk forever before me, guiding me through the forest and guarding me from every danger that may come," the prayer reads.
Gawain said despite some friends dismissing his beliefs, he takes them very seriously.
"I use the terms sasquatch and bigfoot and doing so it kind of makes it sound silly," he said.
"I've got buddies that say, 'Oh, you're in a sasquatch cult.' When you describe it that way it sounds silly, but when I give the context that it's a practice that's been done for 10 or 20 thousand years, it makes a little more sense."