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Angel hair (folklore)

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A spiderweb, one of the potential causes of Angel hair phenomena

Angel hair, siliceous cotton, or Mary's yarn is a sticky, fibrous substance reported in connection with UFO sightings, or manifestations of the Virgin Mary.[1][2] It has been described as being like a cobweb or a jelly.[3][4][5]

It is named for its similarity to fine hair, and in some cases, the substance has been found to be the web threads of migrating spiders. Reports of angel hair say that it disintegrates or evaporates within a short time of forming.[3][6][7][8] Angel hair is an important aspect of the UFO religion Raëlism,[4] and one theory among ufologists is that it is created from "ionized air sleeting off an electromagnetic field" that surrounds a UFO.[9]



There have been many reports of falls of angel hair around the world. Angel hair was reported at the Miracle at Fatima on 13 September and 13 October 1917.[10]

The most widely reported incidence occurred in Oloron, France in 1952, when "great flakes" were reported as falling from a nearly cloudless sky.[4] On October 27, 1954, Gennaro Lucetti and Pietro Lastrucci reported standing on the balcony of a hotel in St. Mark's Square in Venice and seeing two "shining spindles" flying across the sky leaving a trail of the angel hair.[3]

In New Zealand and Australia, local newspapers have reported many sightings since the 1950s, although many have been identified as spider webs after analysis.[11] An incident was reported in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka on October 20, 2014.[12]

Published explanations


Explanations based on known phenomena include:

  • Some types of spiders are known to migrate through the air, sometimes in large numbers, on cobweb gliders.[2] Many cases of angel hair were found to be these spider threads and, in one occasion, small spiders have been found on the material.[8][11] Linyphiidae spiders frequently cause showers of gossamer threads in England and the Northern hemisphere.[13] Australia and New Zealand have frequent cases, caused by several native species of spiders and by some introduced species of Linyphiidae.[13]
  • In Évora, Portugal, on November 2, 1959, a substance described as angel hair was collected and analyzed under a microscope by a local school director and later by armed forces technicians and scientists of the University of Lisbon. The scientists concluded that the angel hair was likely produced by a small insect of an unknown species or perhaps some kind of single-celled organism.[14]
  • Atmospheric electricity may cause floating dust particles to become polarized, and attraction between these polarized dust particles may cause them to join together, to form long filaments.[15]
  • On two occasions samples were sent for testing. On October 13, 1917, a sample found at Cova da Iria was sent to Lisbon and on October 17, 1957, another sample found at Cova da Iria was examined. The analysis found this to be natural, consisting of white flakes. When put under a microscope it was found to be a vegetable product not animal.[10]

Unscientific explanations based on beliefs regarding Unidentified Flying Objects include:

  • Ionized air may be sleeting off the electromagnetic field that surrounds a UFO.[9]
  • Excess energy converted into matter.[3]
  • The usage by UFOs of a G-field would cause heavy atoms in ordinary air to react among themselves and produce a kind of precipitate that falls to the ground and disappears as the ionization decreases.[16]

Explanations based on folklore include:

  • During the ascension of the Virgin Mary, her veil was torn and spread throughout the air, leading to the title of Mary's yarn.[17]

Angel grass


"Angel grass" is a related phenomenon. It is when short metallic threads fall from the sky, often forming intertwined loose masses.[8] They are a type of chaff, a radar counter-measure which can be in the form of fine strands, which is dropped by some military aircraft.[8] It can also come from sounding rockets and balloons, which would have released it at high altitude for radar tracking.[8]


  • William R. Corliss: Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and related weather phenomena (The Sourcebook Project, 1983), pages 60 to 62, GWF8: Prodigious Falls of Web-Like Material.

See also



  1. ^ Spignesi, Stephen J. (2000). The UFO Book of Lists. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2109-0. ... Angel hair has likewise been reported at sightings of the Virgin Mary, ...
  2. ^ a b Faustino, Mara (2004). Atlantic Monthly Press (ed.). Heaven and Hell. Grove/Atlantic, Incorporated. pp. 57–58. ISBN 0-87113-696-1. these mysterious "webs" are associated with UFO sightings as well as angel sightings. Those who believe in UFOs believe the white filamentlike threads are related to the source that powers UFOs, while skeptics believe the filaments come from balloon spiders or a related spider family
  3. ^ a b c d "Mysterious angel hair phenomenon often reported after UFO sightings". Pravda.ru. 2007. Archived from the original on 4 July 2007. Retrieved 31 December 2008. A cobweb-like and jellylike substance which is also slightly radioactive often falls to the ground shortly after UFO sightings. The substance dubbed "angel's hair" evaporates without a trace several hours after the sighting. The "hair" was reported to either disintegrate or turn into cottony tufts with an offensive smell when held in the hand. American ufologists refer to the material as "angel's hair"; Italians call it "siliceous cotton"; and the French use the term "the Madonna's present" to describe semitransparent threads that fall from heavens.
  4. ^ a b c Palmer, Susan Jean (November 2004). Aliens Adored: Rael's UFO Religion. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3476-3. Angel hair is a rare phenomenon associated with UFO sightings, and the most famous incidence occurred in France in 1952. People of the town of Oloron were ... Suddenly someone cried, "What is that falling from the sky?" Great flakes were falling from a near cloudless sky. They seemed to be made of a cottony ...
  5. ^ "Swap Spacey Tales". Long Beach Press-Telegram. 8 July 1991. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2008. Chitchat at the 22nd annual gathering of the Mutual UFO Network included discussions of mysterious angel hair left behind by UFOs
  6. ^ Sladek, John (1973). The New Apocrypha. Hart-David MacGibbon. ISBN 9780246107152.
  7. ^ Condon, Edward Uhler; Colorado University (1969). "Final Report of the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects". Bantam Books: 89. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ a b c d e Condon, Edward (1968). "Condon report. 2. Material Allegedly Deposited by UFOs". National Capital Area Skeptics with permission from University of Colorado. Archived from the original on 1 January 2003. (part of the Condon Report)
  9. ^ a b Rath, Jay (1997). The W-Files. Big Earth Publishing. ISBN 0-915024-59-4. In ufology, this material is known as "angel hair," and some suspect that it is ionized air sleeting off an electromagnetic field surrounding a UFO. ...
  10. ^ a b Fernandes and d'Armada, Heavenly Lights 2005 p. 83-103
  11. ^ a b Basterfield, Keith (March 2001). "A catalogue and analysis of Australasian 'Angel Hair' cases". www.project1947.com. Archived from the original on 5 December 2011.
  12. ^ Gossip Lanka (October 2014), Cobwebs like particles floating in polonnaruwa skies (in Sinhala), archived from the original on 23 October 2014
  13. ^ a b York Main, Barbara (1984), Spiders, Sydney: Collins, p. 181, ISBN 0-002165767, archived from the original on 31 March 2012, (...) While Lynphiids are the principal gossamer spiders of England and other parts of the Northern hemisphere, they are certainly not responsible for all the notable falls of gossamer in Australia which are caused by a variety of native species in addition to introduced members of the Linyphiidae (...)
  14. ^ Imbrogno, Philip J. (2010). Files from the Edge: A Paranormal Investigator's Explorations into High Strangeness (1st ed.). Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications. p. 53. ISBN 978-0738718811.
  15. ^ Società Italiana di Fisica (1995). Il Nuovo cimento della Società italiana di fisica [The new trial of the Italian Physics Society] (in Italian). In other words, angel air may be the product of an electrostatic precipitation of atmospheric dust. This tangibly supports the view that UFOs are a ...
  16. ^ Menzel, Donald (1963). The World of Flying Saucers. Doubleday. ... create heavy atoms that react in ordinary air to produce a kind of precipitate that falls to the ground and disappears as the ionization decreases.
  17. ^ Leland, Charles Godfrey (1892-01-01). Etruscan Roman Remains in Popular Tradition. Library of Alexandria. ISBN 978-1-4655-7869-3.