Exploring Ong’s Hat

A mystery inside a mystery. FROM CHASING SHADOWS FEB 2, 2024
Quietly nestled near the middle of New Jersey, Ong’s Hat(or sometimes just “Ong”) is about 45 minutes from the Pennsylvania border to the east or 45 minutes from Seaside Heights to the west. There aren’t any big towns or remarkable landmarks near Ong’s Hat. It rests, however, near the outskirts of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, which also leaves it positioned on the edge of the infamous Pine Barrens. This region is home to a significant amount of the oddities that tend to crop up in New Jersey in far greater numbers and density than anywhere else in the United States. Most of the things encountered there aren’t well known outside of the locals, but you’ve probably heard of the most famous resident of the Barrens: the Jersey Devil. There’s no better obscure little dot on the map to find a story of mysticism, experiments, and other dimensions. And just like it lurks at the edge of the Pine Barrens, Ongs Hat manages to hang around the periphery of the paranormal community despite obscurity, confusion, little evidence, and a growing gap of decades. Most of what we know about Ong’s Hat comes from something called the “Incunabula Papers”, a book written by Joseph Matheny that relates a tale which seemed to first leak into public consciousness via BBS boards in the very earliest days of the Internet. So the story goes, a fellow named Wali Ford branched off from the Moorish Orthodox Church and created a sort of spiritual center in Ong’s Hat. There, a small sect explored the esoteric mysteries of the world in much the same way a great number of small metaphysical sects did throughout the latter half of the century. Ford’s group, however, attracted scientists of considerable skill who’d recently separated from nearby Princeton University.Subscribe This had all been happening in the 1970s. By the late 1980s, something called “The Egg” had been developed. Exactly what the Egg was meant for is a little complicated, but think of it like a sensory deprivation chamber allowing study of the mystical, chaotic inner workings of the mind. What’s more important is that The Egg, and whomever happened to be inside at the time, allegedly had a habit of disappearing. Where did it go? Well, word is they found passage to an alternate dimension. Eventually, this group of scientific mystics went and stayed there. There’s also some rumors of the military raiding their compound, there’s talk of UFOs, there’s talk of all sorts of coverups, and the Incunabula Papers even contain interviews alleging multiple other dimensions in which other groups of people lived – some having crossed over previously, through other means. So, what’s the deal? Well, I did leave out a missing piece. It’s all made up. Or, at least, that’s the common consensus. The “Papers” are a work of entertainment, the conspiracies are nurtured like a sort of ARG(Alternate Reality Game), and most of the mystery stems from it being so obscure and emerging from a hazy early-Internet that’s impossible to look back on clearly. Then again, some would say this is all a cover-story, and that anything Joseph Matheny says to suggest it’s all made-up is part of the game, or perhaps due to the Powers That Be asserting their influence. The associated websites certainly have a lot of information and links that feel genuine, or at least like they are being presented by people who believe as much.
But if it was all a game, why has it managed to hang around? It never blew up like some oddities do on the Internet, never became a viral trend that professional Conspiracy Salesmen could repackage into t-shirts and videos. Then again, if it was all real, why would the government do such a slapdash job of covering it up? And where are all these other dimensional travelers, where is the Egg(or Eggs), and how the hell do those of us stuck in this dimension join them? Well, I’d tell you to start looking in the town of Ong’s Hat, but I may have left out another missing piece. There is no such town. Not really. There is a place in New Jersey that, if you ask around and find an old-timer or someone schooled in the endless weird lore of the state, you’ll be pointed toward. It’s pretty much just an intersection, though. There’s a trail nearby, and a Circle to the east with a WaWa gas station: a chain which is a staple in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the kind of place where some weird things cling to the night-time parking lots. That’s another story, though. As for Ong’s Hat, there’s no town but there is a road that bears the name, and a little tavern, and there’s a tale of a man named Ong in the old days who flirted a bit too much and found his hat flung up onto a tree.
Mr. Ong isn’t there anymore, and it seems neither is the Egg or much of anything else. But, if you’re interested, Joseph Matheny is still around. So are a couple websites hosting all sorts of conversation and information on the topic. The “Incunabula Papers” are still out there, too. They’re freely available online, here, though you can obtain a paper version or audiobook, among other things, at Ongs-Hat.com. If you really want to dive deep, Incunabula.org has a vast archive of material on Ong’s Hat itself, and also a host of other unusual things. Is Ong’s Hat real? Is it a big game? Could it somehow be both? If anyone knows the answer, it’s Joseph Matheny. So I’ll close with his thoughts.
Many people have asked me over the years what I think this all is. So, I’m going to give you what I think in a nutshell. Or should I say Eggshell? What I think the Incunabula represents is an entrainment module for Quantum thinking. -Joseph Matheny, “Ong’s Hat: The Beginning, Authorized Version”
Thanks for reading Chasing Shadows! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.