Friday, September 18, 2009

Encounters with the Middle Kingdom

This is a post about what some people would call nature [spirit] entities, fairies, leprechauns, akureyri, trolls, gnomes, stick people, geow-lud-mo-sis-eg, devas, peris, nisse, afreet, djinn, ...and you get the idea. The concept is embedded in our Earth cultures all over the place. Such common "primitive foolishnesses" intrigue me. When everyone is a "fool", is, in fact no one? Intuition tells me that there may be something significant at the root of the commonality. I have spent a great deal of my intellectual life in the history of Science, and our changing concepts of the nature of our planet and the physical universe in which we are embedded. So it has not escaped me that sometimes we HAVE all been wrong [Earth is not "flat"]. What about the "Little People"? [who often are not "little"]. My interest in this, let's call it a "concept" to start out, came not from the movies or fiction books [those always left me with a "fun" feeling of fantasy], but from reading UFO cases. After a while there were too many incidents which just didn't feel like UFOs, but felt a lot more like old-fashioned folk encounters. The bulk of the reports coming to UFOlogists have NO such feeling about them. There is, in my opinion, a distinctly separate UFO phenomenon. But, there are cases which not at all like UFOs, and there are [unfortunately] cases which seem very "in-between". What was/is going on?--------------------------------------------------------------------------- My experience as a UFO researcher led me not to seek a lot of old folk-wisdom stories [to pass on cultural wisdom "around the campfire"], but to see if there were accounts of actual encounters analogous to UFO witness reports. The folk wisdom is wonderful, but no one disputes that we are quite capable of crafting vivid tales within which the values and goals of the people of a culture are embedded. Such folktales may have very little "real" basis as far as the imagery is concerned. But, to the UFOlogist, encounter reports by "everyday folks" are different. In fact one way we tend to sort out factual from fictional reports regards whether the alleged witness IS trying to lay some great cosmic message on us. I was hardly the first UFO researcher who felt required to look in this direction. Many preceded me, but the one who stirred the pot the most was the creative thinker, Jacques Vallee. His book Passport To Magonia is full of interesting information and speculation. Jacques comes to the conclusion that the folk entities and the UFO phenomenon spring from the same root, a conclusion that I do not share. Nevertheless I recommend the read. What Jacques did for me was to refer me to the study of these folk entities by W.Y.Evans-Wentz. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Evans-Wentz wrote the Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries to chronicle his researches and express his ideas about these matters. It was the product, largely, of good old-fashioned field research--exactly what a UFOlogist likes. Within it were case after case wherein he interviewed witnesses both telling first and second hand stories, but rarely in a folk-wisdom style. These were encounter stories. Evans-Wentz convinced me that there was something very probably objectively real about these "others" whatever they turned out to be. This experience encouraged me to look for more such reports. And the more "modern" the better. I found several helpful books. Janet Bord's Fairies is an approximation of what we would call in UFOlogy a "casebook" with report after report, lacking the UFO "field investigations" [typically] which make UFO cases a somewhat surer bet. But they were so numerous, that it was hard to deny that something was there. Then came Diarmuid MacManus' The Middle Kingdom. This is for me The Hammer. MacManus collected reports of these encounters mainly from the first half of the 20th century, and most often in personal interviews with people whom he knew well or had some other close tie with. For me, VERY authentic. Of course, I must here admit that I have mostly Irish "blood" in my heritage and am doubtless prejudiced. After MacManus, it was easy to read Ron Quinn's Little People with a sense of corroberation rather than "believe-it-or-not". ----------------------------------------------------------------------------I've since culled a story here, a story there, out of dozens of other resources, and they continue to tell the old tales in simple "this just happened to me" ways with no apparent embellishments. I've gone now to the internet, and even if you throw away [and I'm not sure you should] all the pre-teenage girls' stories of wanting to see fairies and then doing so, there are still hundreds of encounters of these forbidden entities. I have now 5 notebooks full of such interactions with the Middle Kingdom. A good friend of mine also happens to be [probably, prejudice again] the finest writer about anomalies on the planet. Jerry Clark has grappled with these slippery critters for longer that he probably likes to contemplate. For Jerry, and now also for me, there are two sorts of anomalous occurrences. One type is "mundanely" real world. That is, this type is part of our Physical universe and, given time and a reasonable amount of good luck, ordinary science will grasp it and measure it, and put it into the science textbooks. The core phenomenon behind UFOs is probably this sort of thing. If neanderthals still exist somewhere and are being reported as "Bigfoot", they would be that sort of thing. But there is a second sort of anomalous interaction. Jerry calls these things "Experience Anomalies". They are no less real, but they don't seem to behave "lawfully" as science would like them to. This indicates to me that they are not fully [or perhaps at all] part of our common mundane physical reality. Perhaps one could phrase it as them being from "elsewhere" wherever "elsewhere" may be. MacManus calls that The Middle Kingdom. If you want to get really uncomfortable, Tolkien called it The Middle Earth. Alas, on this topic I have no personal nor family tales to report [that are directly on the topic], but all of this smells of the "parallel reality" business posted earlier. This nearby reality may be the source of much mystery beyond "little people", whenever the two intersect. This is what my friend, Wilde Shamrocs, means when he writes about the [barriers between the] worlds "growing thin".


  1. I started reading "The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries" last night. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Probably the last great "field study" to rescue olden western culture from oblivion. Tolkien was extremely upset that we had already lost all the truly ancient British legends, and that only fragments of those of Ireland remained. He wrote the Lord of the Rings partly to act as a substitute for the gap in cultural memory.The concept of the "middle kingdom" of what the early christian Irish called the "neutral angels" is the basis of not only the Irish view of the "good people" but also Tolkien's Middle Earth.With any luck, we will find that Tolkien had a glimpse of the truth.

  3. I haven't read Evans-Wentz in a while, but will soon. I have an edition, that, interestingly enough, has an introduction by psychedelic yeoman apprentice Terrence McKenna. Evans-Wentz was one of those far-thinking and open-minded heroes. He oversaw the first English translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and I seem to recall that one of his conclusions about the fairy faith was that it was part of death, souls, and our passage into the next world.

  4. I don't recall the entirety of his theories about the fairy realm, but the folk witnesses have a quite rich ontology about that alternative reality, which includes both passage of spirits and the "wild" variety of "nature spirit/fairy" entity encounters, which they don't describe as quite the same thing.

  5. hi prof

    you mentioned that 'faerie from middle earth' are from the old folk-tales, but isnt it similar to the current folktales 'UFO that come from outerspace' ?

    anyhow, what do you say about jacques vallee's allegation that some UFO researchers deliberately leave out (filter out) cases that have paranormal/poltergeist/psychic thing out of their database ? Vallee indicate that some of these researchers (i dont know which era but might be in the 60-70s) are pursuing Nuts-n-bolts hypothesis that they filter out cases that dont fit their hypothesis. You are an old time veteran researcher who know some of these old researchers, do you see this happening in the old UFOLOGY ?

    1. Paragraph one: not to me.

      Paragraph two: some definitely did. Not all.



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