Modern Mythic Parallels: Fey vs. Grey

I love folklore, especially that involving various supernatural beings and modern tales of the paranormal. Over time, I’ve noticed some parallels between the lore of the Wee Folk and those of modern science-fiction and popular UFO mythology.

No, I don’t believe in the literal existence of faeries, as I have certain standards to maintain. Despite the content and tone of my last April Fool’s post, this is a skeptical blog, so chill.

I’ve noticed much similarity between the various tales told concerning the Fair Folk, and accounts people have given of UFO abductions and sightings. These things appear to use the same structure and generalities, differing only in the cultural context, and the trappings that they use.

Only the window-dressing seems to differ. Yes, classic and ever-popular Failures of the Human Imagination™, ie. like the alien Greys that commonly and banally populate the UFO literature are just Good Neighbors repackaged and given a new lease on life in today’s world, as are many of the earlier aliens of science-fiction.

What’s the difference, for example, between people being taken to the Land of Faerie while alone, and the classic Barney-and-Betty-Hill style abduction scenario, also of physically isolated people, beyond mere cosmetic details? I’d say none at all. Both involve the subjects being incapacitated (by faerie magic or alien technology…), then taken away to a strange place while in this state. Victims often interact in some fashion with their captors (whether as interviewees, guests, or weird sex experiments). And both involve the story element of “missing time.”

There’s much similarity between the relatively diminutive size of (not always, but over the last few decades, most often in the popular consciousness…) the aliens and that of some of the more ‘elfin’ Fey, such as the Bogans and the ever popular (and not evil, but dangerously indifferent to the human condition…) Dark Grey Man, the Bodach Glas of the British Isles, or the more malignant Duergar, or Grey Dwarves.

Many such Fey are shown in both tradition and modern fantasy fiction as being psychologically alien to humans, often showing behavior that seems bizarre by most standards, as do the seemingly dispassionate Greys when they are claimed to eviscerate random livestock, doodle in grain fields or subject humans to embarrassing medical experiments, none of these for any reason that makes any sense.

I could go on with further points of similarity, but I think you get the idea. It seems apparent to me that this is just one piece in a bigger picture showing that the UFO phenomenon and alien abduction scenarios are much more likely to be a psycho-cultural than extraterrestrial in nature. It looks like a phenomenon that has been with us for a very long time in one form or another, and the devil is in the details.

Very cool, and very interesting indeed.

One thought on “Modern Mythic Parallels: Fey vs. Grey

  1. The short but powerful article on mythic parallels was interesting indeed. In my book, “How Modern Society Invented UFOs” published through, I devote a considerable amount of pages to how the beliefs of extraordinary beings from magical realms developed into extraterrestrials from outer space. The Cold War intensified into a space race with the Soviets. There are those that believe in aliens to be interdimensional instead. This theory was convienient for the aliens. Rather than travel from such a far distant planet, the aliens simply step into our world from a nearby intersecting dimension. UFO mythology changed over time. Aliens were peace-loving beings with blond hair and blue eyes during the 1950’s, which would give way to the bulbous, bald, grey aliens, with big wrap-around eyes, who abduct humans to conduct medical experiments with the purpose of human-alien hybridization. The view of the quasi-spiritual aliens went into competition with the view of malevolent beings towards the approach of the new millenium. The post-WWII era has been perceived with fear, suspicion, and confusion to name a few, although a societal shift was already taking place before hand with the rise of secularism and science. In our modern times, some looked to the skies for answers, like those who have looked to the sky gods of ancient times, or more like in the modern-Christian West, revered angels and while fearing demons. Whether viewed as benovelent or demonic, exterrestrials are the new beings of the space age with extraordinary powers. I suspect the UFO myth won’t go away and will change as time passes on.


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