HEADING DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE TO ??????????????
I guess that I can't avoid it any longer. It appears in this posting and the next, that I'm driven to making a fool out of myself, by going far beyond the data into the bizarre lands of speculation. I'm hoping to make a little sense while doing this, but I can't honestly promise anything.
Two "practical(?)" remarks up front:
1. I got a bit "old and cranky" at one point in this post, but I don't take it back. My views on the actual damage to the search for truth done by cowardly academics sometimes outrages me;
2. The awkward path of this post became so long, that I never got to the UFO vs Faery "thing" which is important to me, but will have to wait till another day.
But, to begin:
A friend of mine remarked on the titles of these last posts (The Summa Faeryologica's) that I was giving a nod to St. Thomas Aquinas. That is sort of true, but mainly in a subtle way that should be mentioned now. When Aquinas wrote the Summa Theologica, he plowed along at the task for years and then just quit leaving it unfinished. I find that to be the first proper comparative point of the very few that could be made between the great genius and my feeble production.
Thomas quit because he came to realize that his subject was too difficult for him to wrap his head around , and he had to admit to himself that he would never quite know what he was writing about. THAT is also a proper comparison with my current efforts.
Finally, though Thomas could never (just using philosophy and reason) PROVE the existence of GOD, Souls, The Spiritual Side of Life, another good friend of mine often reminded me that he nevertheless provided us humans with a great service: with all his heroic efforts, Aquinas demonstrated that it was REASONABLE to look into and think about these topics.
In my embarrassingly minor way (and despite our very minor topic), this latter "Thomistic" accomplishment is all that I hoped for. I hope that our adventure down these paths and through these old forests have shown that it is not an unreasonable topic. And ... that thinking and being interested in these matters are not de facto childish nor deserving of derision. If I've done that for any of you, this has been a success.
So. If there is a reasonable excuse for exploring this topic, what is it that we've explored? My approach to that question is to trust the old folks.
I think that it is "reasonable" to ask the old culture what they believed about these things for two reasons: One, they were a lot closer to this stuff than we are, or I am. Two, what they've "told" me so far about the Little People has more or less matched what I've found. What did they say about The Little People or The Fair Folk or The Other Crowd? Fortunately for us twenty-first century inhabitants, there were a few dozen people who felt that the 18th and 19th century influences were threatening to destroy the old understandings, and that this was a very bad idea. So they went out into the field, into the rurals of Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, Wales, but also Scandinavia and Germany, and interviewed ordinary folks to save their stories and their vision. Our still-existing antiquarian books gladly tell us what those beliefs were. And, they were remarkably similar in what is to me a helpful way. This is it:
The books tell us that the old cultures believed in four separate types of anomalous things: one was "Magic", another was "Witchcraft", a third was "Ghosts", and the fourth was "The Little People, or Fairies." The key point is: these four things, from their experience, were four basically distinct realities. The World of Faery had nothing to do with Magic (i.e. it was not based upon humans who had, by learning or close attention to Nature's behaviors, achieved the ability to do things that normal humans could not, and who did these things by strict discipline in following learned "rituals" or "recipes" or "actions.") Secondly, the World of Faery had nothing to do with Witchcraft (i.e. it was not based upon humans who had made contracts with fundamentally evil beings, and who through those contracts could do things that other humans could not do.) This second stance contains an important corollary: Faery is not Demonic. It is not demonic despite the majority Christian authority trying to make it so. That misplaced attack from Protestant Christianity may have had something to do with the fading of Faery across the decades, but, if so, it did not do so because the two were directly related --- only related through the misplaced prejudices and sometimes deadly emotions of those eras.
A quick word about Clairvoyance or Second Sight: That "talent" is basic to none of the four concepts, although we humans might also get involved with that anomaly during experiences with any of the four. My guess as to why the folklore collectors did not include paranormal insight as a fifth "odd" belief, is that our ancestors thought that it was natural and not anomalous at all. So that leaves us with "Ghosts" and "Faery." To start we can say that our old ones "knew" that fairies were NOT ghosts.
There's a bit of an issue regarding "Ghosts" --- what did they mean? This was a tougher issue for me. Here's my conclusion: The old folks did NOT mean what we call "poltergeists." They also would not have meant what we now call "tricksters." They DO seem to have meant the apparitional appearances which look perfectly "solid" even though they are not. They include the doppelgangers --- appearances of actual or recently deceased humans. The world of ghosts probably included things like the "banshees", or the apparitional carriage, or whatever images might announce a death. This gray area could be shoved into either the Ghost or the Fairy category depending upon the region, but if they do, they do not soften the cultural position that the entities of Faery are not ghosts nor the disembodied souls of humans passed away.
The above are the cartoon images for the better credentialed cases where some creepy black-cloaked creatures were sighted. These things do not act like the other entities associated with fairy reports. They usually do not move at all, often standing like inert (yet creepy) black statues, which if they do move, seem to have instantly translocated to another location, again standing motionless. This is universally true for the multiple groups of three formations. Some of the singletons also stand motionless. Some do seem to drift or even come forward. None of these things seem to have a real feeling of life in them. I don't know what these things are, but relate them more to apparitional manifestations than the biologically-imitating Faery.
So, Faery stands on its own. It is not a realm of Devils nor a realm of tortured human souls. What's left? The people of the Dark Ages world faced all the same experiences in the fields and forests that the folks in later centuries did, but without the "benefit" of the scowls of 16th century Protestantism. (I'm sure that when early pre-protestant monks came to the isles there was a real adjustment needed but there seems to have been an early "understanding" between those two cultures, which often merely overlain a Biblical veneer onto the ancient celebrations and beliefs.) It is my belief that in these areas of the world, there was an era in which the culture of the past melded with the "new" ideas to form syntheses of belief. Such syntheses might even have made enough sense not only to survive but (maybe) even reflect what is real.
And out of that came the majority theory about what Faery was. It is a truth that the old people were trying to figure out what this fairy business was. Modern theorists have lined up their own conclusions, often with stunning lack of humility. One oft-mentioned idea is that these creatures are a legendary culture, the Tuatha Da Danaan. For me, writings about the TDD leave me more confused than enlightened. They were supposedly powerful, brilliant, beautiful ... and somehow not able to hold onto anything in the face of crude outside invaders. For me, they don't make any sense. Not only don't they make any sense to me, but they don't look much like Snow White's seven dwarfs (or a faun/satyr, merperson, Ent, giant, or anything that witnesses actually report.) Heck, they don't even look like Tinkerbell.
Another prominent theory is that they are remnants of primitive original peoples, or invaders from Denmark or some such "mysterious" place. It would be nicer for this theory if palaeontologists found any such peoples, or if they could be conceived to look anything like the fairy folk clan. I find it "unusual" for human pygmies to instantly appear and vanish before your eyes. The bottomline: one might allow a rare interaction to be with something like a genetic dwarf, but "POOF VANISH"?, no way that "Picts" do that. But all of this sort of alternative theorizing are the products of academia and therefore can be almost assuredly be classified as nonsense, if not the lucubrations of morons. (pardon me, folks, but these armchair reductionist "experts" have really irritated me in my own ancient years.)
Recently, a good friend tasked me (gently and gentlemanly,) with looking into a "new way" of understanding fairies. Drugs. Naturally this is something so anti-scientific and misguided that only a lifetime brain-basher (Terence McKenna) or an academic (will remain anonymous) could seriously consider it. Belief in Fairies is, to our great surprise, the result of smashing our brains with DMT psychedelic.
Yeh. THAT's the Ticket! That's exactly what all our witnesses from the last 500 years have been reporting!! I am so delighted to get this well grounded academic guidance on the subject.
Our peasant witnesses must just have lacked the proper vocabulary.
To add to my grateful understanding (while subtracting from the total amount of knowledge in the Universe), a website did an intelligent (if wrong-headed) explication of these DMT-is-the-Way speculations, and concluded it with a listing of "all" the theories which might be behind the truth of Faery. Since that is what I'm trying to do now, naturally I was intrigued. Here are a few of the theories offered: It's all hallucination; DMT shoves us into a higher dimension; DMT takes us down to the atoms; DMT activates our Reptile Brain (don't ask me how they say some of these with a straight face); Non-humans created us and left town, leaving a fairy-contact gene to contact them later --- sometimes you just wish that public firing squads were legal; it's all the Dead; it's all Aliens; it's all Time travelers. ... And you know what? These advanced human academics never mentioned one hypothesis: THAT THE FAIRIES ARE REAL ENTITIES just as the old folks and the witnesses say they are!!!!
A writer once said about a confused constricted academic: It's a marvel that such a respectable intellect can exist in such a tiny mind.
I'll make one more remark: IF anyone takes this DMT=Faery-Gate seriously, then the INEVITABLE academic conclusion to all of this will be --- It's ALL subjective hallucination.
So, Bill, my friend, thanks for sending me down THAT particular rat-hole for a day.
Now, back to something that might lead us somewhere worth the journey.
I am going to guess that the old people thought of these entities as real physical beings, not humans, and having some dangerous and arcane powers. Where they lived, who really knew? But they seemed slightly related to certain locations which may have had meaning to the Old Religion. They seemed mainly existing in natural settings, but might show up anywhere. The following I'm not as comfortable with, but it has felt to me that some of these ideas probably were linked somehow with the Cosmos of the druidical religion, or whatever preceded that. This is despite the fact that I cannot find any substantive connection between druidical religion and fairy belief. But some sort of synthesis between two important parts of a culture had to be present. (This lack of literature reference to such a connectivity should be viewed as hardly surprising and certainly no show stopper as there exists essentially NO written data on the specific details of the druidical religion --- despite what modern "druids" would want to be true.)
Whatever that synthesis was, it was sitting there in everyday people's minds when the early Christian monks showed up with their own ideas. I believe that it is again obvious that one of the more esoteric concepts that the monks brought stuck, and gave the folks a plausible more specific answer to what these fairies were. It was an answer which fit the idea that fairies were real, yet not involved with ghosts or magic or witchcraft. They were the "Middle Angels."
GOD created a whole lot of paranormally-empowered creatures before we humans (and presumably anyone else of our dualistic ilk) arrived in the physical Cosmos. HE gave them free will and a task or question to grapple with. Some of them "passed the test" and some of them said: Hell, no! (it turns out literally.)
This little disagreement was settled by some sort of spectacular conflict in which the "rebel angels" got their paranormal butts kicked.
GOD said: OK, losers, I've a plan for how you fit into the rest of the Creation with some LAWS as to what you can and cannot do. So get the Hell out and Obey!
But there was another problem.
Some of these paranormal beings didn't like the idea of saying No to The BIG FELLOW, but on the other hand, didn't really want to limit their options either. They refused to choose.
GOD, because He's the Good Guy, felt that these confused and childish characters did not deserve to be allowed to just go about their angelic business as before, but also didn't deserve to be cast into the (fiery) darkness (whatever that was.) They needed to go somewhere else, and be stripped of some of their angelic powers, while remaining essentially the creatures originally created. But where to leave them? And how to fit them into The Universal Plan?
There were "new" places popping up (evolving) all over the physical Cosmos. Why not assign these childish clowns to them? But as paranormals, they couldn't be allowed simple free reign. There had to be Rules. Different rules than the strict "no-contact (physically) without voluntary agreement" laws for the devils, but restrictive rules nevertheless. They couldn't be allowed to just constantly interfere with obvious continual presence in human affairs either. The humans must be free to go their own way. Maybe it would be best to place them in a "World-alongside" which was connected more deeply or more weakly with places of natural or spiritual significance. These paranormals could slip into and out of the physical world "like magic" but not due to the demands of the humans on their side. ... and there were doubtless other imaginings to try to fit experiences into a philosophy.
The result was a theory called The Middle Angels, wherein limited power paranormal creatures of GOD inhabited a World Alongside linked more or less strongly to Place. They weren't "ghosts" nor were they really devils. To what extent they could act and interfere might vary in regional belief, but the general concept could be made to fit the experience of the culture. The "moral" question of how much they were allowed to do, whether they could be "good" or "evil" and whether they might find Salvation differed culturally.
Well, as a good Catholic boy, who believes in spiritual beings like angels and devils, I can adjust my theology rather easily to include "Middle Angels", as well. As an amateur student of Native American religion, I can adjust my understanding of Manitou and the Spirits of Place (The many Manitoug) to easily fit this as well. Heck, I can even fit C.S.Lewis' "Eldils" from the SF books Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra into this ... and almost all the other cultures' concepts (not quite all, but most.)
OK. But. This is the point where I say that I'm not at any Jim McDonald (favored UFO hypothesis) stage and cannot, without cringing, state that one hypothesis (even the Middle Angels) answers the details of all our questions. But I like it. And I really don't think that counter theories like pygmies, unknown aborigines, hallucinations, aliens, or some of those other mentioned data-less spewings make any sense at all. I'm happy to work with anyone who would construct another "parallel reality" style model with a very minimalist nod to tossing out case reports involving human mental errors, as long as we embue the Little Folk with some paranormal abilities and some action limitations.
........ but this posting has gotten way out of hand, and I never broached the UFO vs Faery conundrum. That's going to have to wait till next posting. Sorry.