Modern Mythic Parallels: Fey vs. Grey

My troythuluness just loves folklore, especially the traditional kind involving various sorts of supernatural beings, as well as modern tales of the paranormal. I’ve noticed some interesting parallels between the lore of the Wee Folk and those of modern science-fiction and popular UFO mythology.

No, don’t worry, I’m not gonna go all Sir A.C. Doyle on you and profess to a belief 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 still a skeptical blog, so chill.

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

It appears that only the window-dressing differs. Yes, those ‘classic’ and ever-popular Failures of the Human Imagination™, the alien Greys that all too commonly and banally populate the UFO literature are simply the 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 is the essential distinction, for example, between people being taken to the Land of Faerie while alone, and the typical Barney-and-Betty-Hill style abduction scenario, also of physically isolated people, other than the cosmetic details? I would hasten to say none at all. Both, for example, involve the subjects being somehow incapacitated (by faerie magic or alien technology…), taken away to a strange place while in this state, often interacting in some fashion with their captors (whether as interviewees, guests, or test subjects…)and both involve the story element of “missing time.”

There’s also a lot of similarity between the relatively diminutive size of (not always, but over the last couple of decades, most commonly in the popular consciousness…)the aliens and that of some of the more ‘elfin’ Fay, 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 of these beings are depicted in both tradition and modern fantasy fiction as being psychologically alien to humans, displaying at times behavior that seems bizarre by most mundane standards, as do the seemingly dispassionate Greys when they are claimed to eviscerate random livestock, press intricate designs in grain fields in oddly futile attempts to ‘communicate’ with us, or subject humans to embarrasing medical experiments, none of these for any apparent logical reason.

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 larger picture showing that the UFO phenomenon is much more likely to be a psycho-cultural one than it would be truly extraterrestrial in nature. It seems to be 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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