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Passport to Magonia; a Look at UFOs by Jacques Vallee, edited by Brad Steiger and John White

JACQUES VALLEE holds a master’s degree in astrophysics from Lille University in France and a Ph.D. in computer science from North-western University, where he spent four years as an associate of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the U. S. Air Force scientific consultant on UFO reports. A Jules Verne Prize winner for his first science fiction novel in French, Dr. Vallee has published over twenty scientific articles in British, French, and American professional journals, and three books in English about UFO phenomena: Anatomy of a Phenomenon, Challenge to Science, and Passport to Magonia. Dr. Vallee is a director of the Parapsychology Research Group in Palo Alto, California, and is engaged in future studies using computer technology.


Taken by the Wind

We have now examined several stories of abductions and attempts at kidnappings by the occupants of flying saucers. These episodes are an integral part of the total UFO problem and cannot be solved separately. Historical evidence, gathered by Wentz, moreover, once more points in the same direction.

This sort of belief in fairies being able to take people was very common and exists yet in a good many parts of West Ireland. . . .

The Good People are often seen there (pointing to Knoch Magh) in great crowds playing hurley and ball. And one often sees among them the young men and women and children who have been taken.

Not only are people taken, but—as in flying saucer stories—they are sometimes carried to faraway spots by aerial means. Such a story is told by the Prophet Ezekiel, of course, and by other religious writers. But an ordinary Irishman, John Campbell, also told Wentz:

A man whom I have seen, Roderick MacNeil, was lifted by the hosts and left three miles from where he was taken up. The hosts went at about midnight.

Rev. Kirk gives a few stories of similar extraordinary kidnappings, but the most fantastic legend of all is that attached to Kirk himself: the good reverend is commonly believed to have been taken by the fairies.

Mrs. J. MacGregor who keeps the key to the old churchyard where there is a tomb to Kirk, though many say there is nothing in it but a coffin filled with stones, told me Kirk was taken into the Fairy Knoll, which she pointed to just across a little valley in front of us, and is there yet, for the hill is full of caverns and in them the “good people” have their homes. And she added that Kirk appeared to a relative of his after he was taken.

Wentz, who reports this interesting story, made further inquiries regarding the circumstances of Kirk’s death. He went to see the successor to Kirk in Aberfoyle, Rev. Taylor, who clarified the story:

At the time of his disappearance people said he was taken because the fairies were displeased with him for disclosing their secrets in so public a manner as he did. At all events, it seems likely that Kirk was taken ill very suddenly with something like apoplexy while on the Fairy Knoll and died there. I have searched the presbyter books and find no record of how Kirk’s death really took place, but of course there is not the least doubt of his body being in the grave.

Kirk believed in the ability of the Good People to perform kidnappings and abductions, and this idea was so widespread that it has come down to us through a variety of channels. We can therefore examine in detail four aspects of fairy lore that directly relate to our study: (1) the conditions and purpose of the abductions; (2) the cases of release from Elfland and the forms taken by the elves’ gratitude when the abducted human being had performed some valuable service during his stay in Elfland; (3) the belief in the kidnapping activities of the fairy people; and (4) what I shall call the relativistic aspects of the trip to Elfland.

Hartland reports that a Swedish book published in 1775 contains a legal statement, solemnly sworn on April 12, 1671, by the husband of a midwife who was taken to fairyland to assist a troll’s wife in giving birth to a child. The author of the statement seems to have been a clergyman named Peter Rahm.

On the authority of this declaration we are called on to believe that the event recorded actually happened in the year 1660. Peter Rahm alleges that he and his wife were at their farm one evening late when there came a little man, swart of face and clad in grey, who begged the declarant’s wife to come and help his wife then in labour. The declarant, seeing that they had to do with a Troll, prayed over his wife, blessed her, and bade her in God’s name go with the stranger. She seemed to be borne along by the wind.

It is reported that she came home “in the same manner,” having refused any food offered to her while in the troll’s company.

In another tale, the midwife’s husband accompanies her through the forest. They are guided by the “earthman”—the gnome who has requested their help. They go through a moss door, then a wooden door, and later through a door of shining metal. A stairway leads them inside the earth, to a magnificent chamber where the “earth- wife” is resting. Kirk reports that in a case whose principals he personally knew, the abducted woman found the home of the Little People filled with light, although she could not see any lamp or fire.

Rev. Kirk also says that later, in the company of another clergyman, he visited a woman, then forty years old, and asked her questions concerning her knowledge of the fairies. It was rumored that for a number of years she had taken almost no nourishment, and that she often stayed very late in the fields looking after her sheep, that she met there and talked with people she did not know, and that one night she had fallen asleep on a hill and had been carried away into another place before sunrise. This woman, says Kirk, was always melancholy and silent.

The physical nature of Magonia, as it appears in such tales, is quite noteworthy. Sometimes, it is a remote country, an invisible island, some faraway place one can reach only by a long journey. Indeed, in some tales, it is a celestial country, as in the Indian story quoted earlier. This parallels the belief in the extraterrestrial origin of UFOs so popular today. A second—and equally widespread theory, is that Elfland constitutes a sort of parallel universe, which coexists with our own. It is made visible and tangible only to selected people, and the “doors” that lead through it are tangential points, known only to the elves. This is somewhat analogous to the theory, sometimes found in the UFO literature, concerning what some authors like to call the “fourth dimension”—although, of course, this expression makes much less physical sense than does the theory of a parallel Elfland. (It does sound more scientific, however!)

Hartland gives tales that illustrate the theory of “tangential universes,” such as the following:

In Nithsdale a fairy rewards the kindness of a young mother, to whom she had committed her babe to suckle, by taking her on a visit to Fairyland. A door opened in a green hillside, disclosing a porch which the nurse and her conductor entered. There the lady dropped three drops of a precious dew on the nurse’s left eyelid, and they were admitted to a beautiful land watered with meandering rivulets and yellow with com, where the trees were laden with fruits which dropped honey. The nurse was here presented with magical gifts, and when a green dew had baptized her right eye she was enabled to behold further wonders. On returning the fairy passed her hand over the woman’s eye and restored its natural powers.

This tale brings us to our second point, that of the gratitude shown by the elves in return for services performed by humans, and the form such gratitude takes. The gratitude itself is evidenced by many stories of elvish gifts in Scandinavian and Northern European tales, such as this one:

A German midwife, who was summoned by a Waterman, or Nix, to aid a woman in labor, was told by the latter: “I am a Christian woman as well as you; and I was carried off by a Waterman, who changed me. When my husband comes in now and offers you money, take no more from him than you usually get, or else he will twist your neck. Take good care!”

In another story, the midwife is asked how much she wants. She answers she will not take more from them than from other people, and the elf replies: “That’s lucky for thee. Hadst thou demanded more, it would have gone ill with thee!” In spite of that, she received her apron full of gold.

In a Pomeranian story, the midwife similarly replies to the same question, and the mannikin says, “Now then, lift up thy apron!” and fills it with rubbish that lay in the corner of the room. He then takes his lantern and politely escorts her home. But when she shakes out her apron, pure gold falls on the floor.

Elvish gifts have a magical character, which will take very special meaning in the next chapter. Their magical quality could be illustrated with tales from practically any country. Chinese folklore, in particular, gives numerous examples of it. In one tale, the dwarf fills the woman’s apron with something she must not look at before she reaches her house. Naturally she takes a look as soon as the dwarf has vanished and sees that she is carrying black coals. Angered, she throws them away, retaining two as evidence of the dwarf’s bad treatment. She arrives home and discovers the black coals have turned into precious stones. But when she goes back to find the other coals, they are all gone.

There are, in fact, numerous stories in folklore of humans who have gone to fairyland of their own will, either taking a message, or bringing one back, or performing some service for the supernatural beings who live there. But—and this is my third point—we also have numerous accounts of abductions by the fairies. They take men and women, especially pregnant women or young mothers, and they also are very active in stealing young children. Sometimes, they substitute a false child for the real one, leaving in place of the real child a broom with rugs wrapped around it or one of their children, a changeling:

By the belief in changelings I mean a belief that fairies and other imaginary beings are on the watch for young children or . . . sometimes even for adults, that they may, if they can find them unguarded, seize and carry them off, leaving in their place one of them.

This belief is not confined to Europe. It is found in regions as remote from Europe as China and the American Pacific coast. But, in any case, once the parents have recognized their child has been taken, what should they do? Hartland says that a method in favour in the North of Scotland is to take the suspected elf to some known haunt of its race, generally, we are told, some spot where peculiar sounding sounds are heard, or to some barrow, or stone circle, and lay it down. An offering of bread, butter, milk, cheese, eggs and flesh or fowl must accompany the child.
The parents then retire for an hour or two. If their gifts have vanished when they come back, then their own child will be returned.

But sometimes more radical methods have been used, and we can only pity the poor children who have been ill-treated because their superstitious parents thought they looked like elves! As late as May 17, 1884, it was reported in the London Daily Telegraph, two women were arrested at Clonmel and charged with cruelty toward a child three years old. They thought he was a changeling and, by ill-treating him, hoped to obtain the “real child” from the fairies! And there is no question that in medieval times the same superstition has led to the death of children who had congenital defects. Sometimes the same treatment applies to adults who have been changed, and Hartland gives a very funny example of such a case:

A tale from Badenoch represents the man as discovering the fraud from finding his wife, a woman of unruffled temper, suddenly turned a shrew. So he piles up a great fire and threatens to throw the occupant of the bed upon it unless she tells him what has become of his own wife. She then confesses that the latter has been carried off, and she has been appointed successor. But by his determination he happily succeeds in recapturing his own at a certain fairy knoll near Inverness.

Of course, the UFO myth has not yet reached such romantic proportions, but we are perhaps not quite far from it, at least in certain rural areas, where strange flying objects have become a source of terror to people traveling at night, and where the rumor that “invaders” might be around has gained interest, if not support. A recent television series has capitalized on this aspect of UFO lore. In the show, the human race has been infiltrated by extraterrestrials who differ from humans in small details only. This is not a new idea, as the belief in changelings shows. And there is a well-known passage in Martin Luther’s Table Talk, in which he tells the Prince of Anhalt that he should throw into the Moldau a certain man who is, in his opinion, such a changeling—or killcrop, as they were called in Germany.

What was the purpose of such fairy abductions? The idea advanced by students of folk tales is again very close to a current theory about UFOs : that the purpose of such contact is a genetic one. According to Hartland:

The motive assigned to fairies in northern stories is that of preserving and improving their race, on the one hand by carrying off human children to be brought up among the elves and to become united with them, and on the other hand by obtaining the milk and fostering care of human mothers for their own offspring. (We shall see below what parallels can be found in recent UFO cases.)

However, such is not always the purpose of abduction, and people are often returned by the elves after nothing more than a dance or a game. But a strange phenomenon often takes place: the people who have spent a day in Elfland come back to this world one year, or more, older.

This is our fourth point, and quite a remarkable one. Time does not pass there as it does here. And we have in such stories the first idea of the relativity of time. How did this idea come to the storytellers, ages ago? What inspired them? No one can answer such questions. But it is a fact that the dissymmetry of the time element between Elfiand and our world is present in the tales from all countries.

Discussing this supernatural lapse of time in fairyland, Hartland relates the true story of Rhys and Llewellyn, recorded about 1825 in the Vale of Neath, Wales. Rhys and Llewellyn were fellow servants to a farmer. As they went home one night, Rhys told his friend to stop and listen to the music. Llewellyn heard no music. But Rhys had to dance to the tune he had heard a hundred times. He begged Llewellyn to go ahead with the horses, saying that he would soon overtake him, but Llewellyn arrived home alone. The next day, he was suspected of murdering Rhys and jailed. But a farmer “who was skilled in fairy matters” guessed the truth. Several men gathered— among them the narrator of the story—and took Llewellyn to the spot where he said his companion had vanished. Suddenly, “Hush!” cried Llewellyn. “I hear music, I hear sweet harps.”

All listened but could hear nothing. Llewellyn’s foot was on the outer edge of the fairy ring. He told the narrator to place his foot on his, and then he too heard the sounds of many harps and saw a number of Little People dancing in a circle twenty feet or so in diameter. After him, each of the party did the same and observed the same thing. Among the dancing Little Folk was Rhys. Llewellyn caught him by his smock-frock as he passed close to them and pulled him out of the circle. At once Rhys asked, “Where are the horses?” and asked them to let him finish the dance, which had not lasted more than five minutes. And he could never be persuaded of the time that had elapsed. He became melancholy, fell ill, and soon after died.

Such stories can be found in Keightley’s The Fairy Mythology and other books, although of course the story of Rhys and Llewellyn is remarkable because it dates from the nineteenth century, thus providing a measure of continuity between fairy and UFO lore. In the tales of this type, several modes of recovery of the persons taken are offered. One of them consists in touching the abducted man with a piece of iron, and the objection of supernatural beings to this metal is one of the themes of fairy lore.

Near Bridgend, Wales, is a place where it is reported that a woman who had been taken by the fairies came back ten years later and thought she had not been away more than ten days. Hartland gives another charming story on the same theme, concerning a boy named Gitto Bach, or Little Griffith, a farmer’s son who disappeared:

During two whole years nothing was heard of him; but at length one morning when his mother, who had long and bitterly mourned for him as dead, opened the door, whom should she see sitting on the threshold but Gitto with a bundle under his arm. He was dressed and looked exactly as when she last saw him, for he had not grown a bit. “Where have you been all this time?” asked his mother. “Why, it was only yesterday I went away,” he replied; and opening the bundle he showed her a dress the “little children” as he called them, had given him for dancing with them. The dress was of white paper without seam. With maternal caution she put it into the fire.

The best-known stories where time relativity is the main theme are, of course, of the “Rip van Winkle” type, patterned after numerous folk stories that allegedly concern actual events. Strangely enough, we again find the identical theme in ages-old Chinese folklore. Witness the story of Wang Chih, one of the holy men of the Taoists.

One day, as Wang Chih wandered through the mountains of Kii Chow gathering firewood, he saw a grotto where some old men were playing chess. He came in to watch their game and laid down his axe. One of the old men gave him something like a datestone and instructed him to place it on his mouth. “No sooner had he done so than hunger and thirst passed away.” Sometime later, one of the aged players told him, “It is long since you came here; you should go home now.” But as he turned to pick up his axe, Wang Chih found that the handle had turned into dust. He reached the valley but found not hours or days but centuries had passed, and nothing remained of the world as he had known it.

A similar tradition exists in Denmark. For instance, in a tale which is typical of the pattern, a bride thoughtlessly walked through the fields during the festivities of her wedding day and passed a mound “where the elves were making merry.” (Again, we have here a description of the Little People close to the magical object sometimes described as a large, flat, round table, sometimes as a hillock. A disk or a large cone resting on the ground would fit that description. In describing the fairy knoll, Hartland writes: “The hillock was standing, as is usual on such occasions, on red pillars!”)

The “wee folk” offered the bride-to-be a cup of wine, and she joined in a dance with them. Then she hastened back home, where she could not find her family. Everything had changed in the village.

Finally, on hearing her cries, a very old woman exclaimed: “Was it you, then, who disappeared at my grandfather’s brother’s wedding, a hundred years ago?”

At these words, the poor girl fell down and expired.

It is fascinating indeed to find such tales, which antedate Einstein’s and Langevin’s relativistic traveler by centuries!

The supernatural lapse of time in fairyland is often allied to the theme of love between the abducted human being and one of the fairies. Such is the pattern of the story of Ossian, or Oisin:

Once, when he was a young man, Oisin fell asleep under a tree. He woke up suddenly and found a richly dressed lady “of more than mortal beauty” looking at him. She was the queen of the legendary land of Tir na n’Og, and she invited him to share her palace. Oisin and the queen were in love and happy, but the hero was warned not to go into the palace gardens or to stand on a certain flat stone. Naturally, he transgressed the order, and when he stood upon the stone, he beheld his native land, suffering from oppression and violence. He went to the queen and told her he must return. “How long do you think you have been with me?” she asked. “Thrice seven days,” said he. “Thrice seven years,” was the answer. But he still wanted to go back. She then gave him a black horse from whose back he must not alight during his trip in the other world, for fear of seeing the power of time suddenly fall on him. But he forgot the warning when an incident induced him to dismount, and at once he became a feeble, blind, and helpless old man.

It is not necessary to spend time here to point out in detail the parallel traditions of the island of Avalon, Morgan the Fay, the legend of Ogier the Dane, and the magical travels of King Arthur. All these traditions insist on the peculiar nature of time in the “other world.” Nor is this limited to European history, as Hartland again points out:

Many races having traditions of a Culture God—that is, of a superior being who has taught them agriculture and the arts of life and led them to victory over their enemies—and that he has gone away from them for a while, and that he will someday come back again. Quetzalcoatl and Viracocha, the culture gods of Mexico and Peru, are familiar instances of this.

Similarly, Vishnu has yet a tenth incarnation to accomplish the final destruction of this world’s wicked. At the end of the present age, he will be revealed in the sky, seated on a white horse and holding a blazing sword.

Such great traditions are common knowledge, like the abductions of Enoch, Ezekiel, Elijah and others in the Bible. What is not commonly known is that such legends have been built on the popular belief in numerous actual stories of the less glorious, more ordinary and “personal” type we have reviewed here. For instance, while all the books about Mexico mention Quetzalcoatl, they usually ignore the local beliefs in little black beings, the ikals, whose pranks we have already mentioned, and who, while their relationship with modern Latin American UFO lore is clear, also provide an obvious parallel to the fairy-faith.In his study of the tales of Tenejapa, Brian Stross reports they are believed to be beings from another world, and some have been seen flying with some kind of rocket-like thing attached to the back. With this rocket they are said occasionally to have carried off people.

Similarly, Gordon Creighton reports:

The iked of the Tzotzils flies through the air. Sometimes he steals women, and the women so taken are remarkably prolific, and may bear a child once a week, or once a month, or even daily. The offspring are black, and they learn the art of flying inside their father’s cave.

Brian Stross’s Indian informants reported that a flurry of ikals was sighted “about twenty years ago”—which would take us back to 1947, a very important year in UFO history.

On June 5, 1968, the press reported that a Buenos Aires couple, Mr. and Mrs. Vidal, had a very strange adventure while driving between Chascomus and Maipu. They were surrounded by a thick cloud of mist and fell asleep. When they woke up, their car was on a dirt road they did not know, and they found out to their dismay that they were in Mexico! The paint on their car, a Peugeot 403, had entirely vanished.

The Vidals went to the Argentine consulate in Mexico, and from there called some friends of theirs in Buenos Aires to make arrangements for their return. The consulate has refused to comment on the incident. The Vidals’ car has been taken to the United States for investigation, and Mrs. Vidal has been hospitalized in an Argentina clinic, in a state of nervous depression. Forty-eight hours in the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Vidal cannot be accounted for.

Beyond Reason

In the past twenty years, UFO reports have been studied not only in a sensational light by people with journalistic motives and methods but also by serious persons who have tried to place them within the framework of space science, modern physics, psychology, or the history of superstition. An increasing number of researchers—best identified with the Flying Saucer Review in Great Britain and with the groups such as APRO and NICAP in the United States—have made systematic efforts at responsible data-gathering, at the same time attempting to discover one or several consistent “patterns” in the reports. But these efforts at rationalization of the UFO phenomenon have so far failed.

The most appealing of the theories proposed, which would regard the UFOs as probes from another planet, falls short of explaining the phenomena in their historical development. Present-day saucers cannot be evaluated without reference to the 1897 airship or to earlier sightings of similar objects. Then, too, the theory of simple visitation must be combined with the assumption that the visitors know far more physics than we do—so much more, in fact, that an interpretation in terms of physical concepts known to us is bound to end up in failure and contradiction. A second major flaw in all the theories proposed so far is found in the description of the entities and their behavior. Any theory can account for some of these reports, but only at the expense of arbitrary rejection of a much larger group.

The recognition of a parallel between UFO reports and the main themes of fairy-lore is the first indication I have found that a way might exist out of this dilemma. And although it is still too early for us to pick up the scattered pieces of our old theories in a new attempt at explanation, I would like to conclude this chapter with a more precise review of the most difficult cases we have before us. Of the “reasonable” sightings there is little that can be said. The real problem begins when we find witnesses who are typical of the average population and who tell a story that, though not inconsistent with the spectrum of UFO reports, still stands out because of a few specific details that are so unbelievable that our first reaction is to reject the entire story.

The thought that the story must be disregarded because it is a challenge to our reason is a reaction I am very familiar with, and it has led me in the past to select for analysis only those sightings that seem amenable to scientific criticism. Similarly, major groups such as NICAP or APRO and the official investigators working for Project Blue Book have devised some more or less conscious standards for the automatic rejection of “unbelievable” stories. To be sure, many of these reports do deserve the “crackpot” label, but such stories are usually accompanied by numerous signs of the witness’s lack of mental balance. But when no such psychological context is evident, we must appraise the story very carefully.

October 12, 1963. It was raining hard between Monte Maiz and Isla Verde, in Argentina, as Eugenio Douglas drove his truck loaded with coal along the road. Dawn was coming. Suddenly, Douglas saw a bright spot on the road ahead, like the headlights of an approaching vehicle, except that it was a single, blinding light. To avoid a collision, Douglas slowed down. The light became so intense he had to lower his head and move to the side. He stopped the truck and got out The light had disappeared.

Through the rain, Eugenio Douglas could now see a circular metallic craft, about thirty-five feet high. An opening became visible, making a second area of light, less intense, and three figures appeared. They looked like men, but they were wearing strange headdresses with things like antennae attached to the headpieces. They were over twelve feet tall. There was nothing repulsive about the entities, said Douglas, but he was terribly scared.

As soon as he was seen by the figures, a ray of red light flashed to the spot where he stood and burned him. Grabbing a revolver, he fired at the three entities and ran off toward Monte Maiz. But the burning red light followed him as far as the village, where it interfered with the street lights, turning them violet and green. Douglas could smell a pungent gas. The beauty and dramatic character of that scene is impressive, and in a screen illustration of the UFO saga this is probably the sighting that would best carry its total meaning.

Douglas ran to the first house and shouted for help. Ribas, the owner, had died the previous night, but his family, gathered around the body, reported that at the same time they heard Douglas’s call the candles in the room and the electric lights in the house turned green, and the same strange smell was noticed. They rushed to open the door: there was Douglas in the pouring rain, his overcoat over his head and a gun in his hand. The street lights had changed color. It must have been one of the most fantastic scenes in the rich archives of ufology.

Eugenio Douglas was taken to the police station, where the burns on his face and hands were clearly seen. The police, it turned out, had received a number of calls about the lights’ color change, but they had attributed the change to irregularities in the local power plant—which, however, would hardly account for the change in the candle lights, if that particular observation was not an illusion. Douglas was examined by a doctor, who stated the burns had been caused by a radiation similar to ultraviolet (according to Douglas, he had felt a burn when exposed to a red beam). When villagers went to the site where the truck was still parked, they found large footprints, nearly twenty inches long, but they were shortly afterward washed away by rain.

In late August, 1963, near the town of Sagrada Famila, Brazil, three boys, Fernando Eustagio, eleven, his brother Ronaldo, nine, and a neighbor named Marcos, went into the Eustagio garden and started to draw water from the well. Suddenly they became aware of a hovering sphere above the trees. They could even see four or five rows of people inside the sphere. An opening under the sphere became visible, and two light rays shot downward. A slender, ten- foot-tall being came down, as if gliding on the two beams of light. He alighted in the garden and walked for twenty feet or so in an odd fashion: his back seemed stiff, his legs were open, and his arms outstretched. He swung his body from left to right as if trying to find his balance and then sat down on a rock.

The three boys observed that the giant wore a transparent helmet and had in the middle of his forehead what they described as a dark “eye.” He wore tall boots, each of which was equipped with a strange triangular spike, which made a peculiar impression in the soft ground and could be seen for several days afterward. His garment was shiny and had inflated as soon as the entity had touched the ground. The trousers seemed to be fastened tightly to the boots. He had a peculiar square pack on his chest, which emitted flashes of light in an intermittent manner.

Inside the sphere, still hanging motionless above the garden, the three boys could see occupants behind control panels “turning knobs and flicking switches.”

When the giant in the garden made a motion as if to grab one of the boys, Fernando picked up a stone—only to find himself unable to do anything with it as the spaceman looked straight into his eyes. The giant then returned to the sphere, still using the light beams as an “elevator” but holding his arms close to his body this time. The boys were no longer afraid, although they could not account for their new feeling. As the sphere left, they were sure the giant spaceman had not come to hurt them, and somehow, in the same irrational fashion, they knew he would come back again.

In Brazil, six years earlier, an incident had taken place that has gained in UFO literature the place it certainly deserves, thanks to an excellent investigation by the late Professor Olavo Fontes, of the National School of Medicine in Rio de Janeiro, who interviewed and examined the witness, A. Villas-Boas, of Sao Francisco de Salles, Minas Gerais.

On the night of October 5, 1957, Antonio and his brother went to bed about 11:00 P.M. The night was hot, and as he opened the window, Antonio saw a silvery light in the corral similar to the spot made by a powerful searchlight. Later that night, the two brothers observed the light was still there. Then it moved toward the house, sweeping the roof before going away.

About 10:00 P.M. on October 14, Antonio was plowing with his tractor when he saw a blinding white light at the northern end of the field. Every time Antonio tried to approach it, the light moved away. This happened about twenty times, though the light always appeared to “wait for him.” His second brother was watching the scene as Antonio finally gave up. The light simply vanished.

The next evening Antonio was alone at the same spot. The night was cold, clear, and starry. At 1:00 A.M. he saw something like a red star, which grew larger and became an egglike, bright object, which hovered above his tractor, then landed softly. Antonio tried to drive away, but the engine of the tractor died. He jumped down and took two steps, but someone caught his arm. After a short struggle, four men carried him inside the craft. The beings communicated among themselves in slowly emitted growls, unlike any sound the witness could reproduce, although they were “neither high-pitched nor too low.” In spite of his resistance, the creatures stripped him, washed his body with something like a wet sponge, and took him into another room through a strangely lettered door.

It is not my purpose here to record all the details of the experience reported by Villas-Boas: they have been adequately documented first in the Flying Saucer Review by Fontes and Creighton and later by the Lorenzens, who provide a complete reprint of the testimony as recorded by Fontes and J. Martins, along with the professional opinion of Dr. Fontes after his medical examination of the witness, in their book Flying Saucer Occupants. Fontes’s conclusion that Villas-Boas is not mentally unbalanced and that he is sincere in reporting his story is what prompts me to include the story here. And the story does provide a link between such tales as the story of Ossian and the general question of the genetic context of the UFO myth, which will be the object of the next section of this chapter.

Antonio remained alone in the room for what seemed to him a very long time. When he heard a noise at the door, he turned and received a “terrible shock”: the door was open and a woman came in, as naked as he was. Her hair was blonde, with a part in the center. She had blue eyes, rather longer than round, slanted outward. Her nose was straight, her cheekbones prominent. Her face looked very wide, “wider than that of an Indio native.” It ended in a pointed chin. Her lips were very thin, nearly invisible, in fact. Her ears were small but ordinary. She was much shorter than he was, her head only reaching his shoulder. She quickly made clear to him what the purpose of her visit was. Soon after, in fact, another man came in and beckoned to the woman, who, pointing to her belly, smiled, pointed at the sky, and followed the man out.

The men came back with Antonio’s clothes, then took him to a room where the other crew members were sitting, growling among themselves. The witness, who felt sure no harm would come to him now, carefully observed his surroundings. Among other things—all his remarks here are of interest—he noticed a box with a glass top that had the appearance of an “alarm clock.” The “clock” had one hand and several marks that would correspond to the 3, 6, 9, and 12 of an ordinary clock. However, although time passed, the hand did not move, and Antonio concluded that it was no clock.

The symbolism in this remark by Villas-Boas is clear. We are reminded of the fairy tales quoted above, of the country where time does not pass, and of that great poet who had in his room a huge white clock without hands, bearing the words “It is later than you think.” It is the poetic quality of such details in many UFO sightings that catches the attention—in spite of the irrational, or obviously absurd, character of the tale—and makes it so similar to a dream. Antonio must have thought so, because he reflected that he must bring some evidence back and tried to steal the “clock.” At once, one of the men shoved him to the side angrily. This attempt to secure evidence is a constant feature of fairy tales, and we are also reminded of the efforts by Betty Hill to convince her captors to let her take a peculiar “book” she saw inside their craft. As in the Villas-Boas incident, the men denied her the opportunity to convince the world that the experience had been real.

At last, one of the men motioned Antonio to follow him to a circular platform. He was then given a detailed tour of the machine, taken to a metal ladder, and signaled to go down. Antonio watched all the details of the preparation for take-off and observed the craft as it rose from the ground and flew away in a matter of seconds. He noticed that the time was 5:30; he had spent over four hours inside the strange machine.

It must be noted that the witness volunteered information about the sighting in general terms when a notice appeared in a newspaper calling for UFO reports. He was extremely reluctant to discuss the more personal aspects of his experience and related them only when questioned with insistence by Fontes and Martins. Like Maurice Masse, Villas-Boas suffered from excessive sleepiness for about a month after the incident.


When folklore becomes degraded to a minor literary form, as the fairy-faith was degraded to the fairy tales we know today, it naturally loses much of its content: precisely those “adult” details that cannot be allowed to remain in children’s books. The direct result of the censorship of spicy details in these marvelous stories is that they really become mere occasions for amazement. The Villas-Boas case is hardly appropriate for nursery-school reading, but to eliminate the little lady from the story would turn it into a tale without deep symbolic or psychological value. The sexual context is precisely what gives such accounts their literary influence. It is what provides impact to the fairy-faith.

Without the sexual context—without the stories of changelings, human midwives, intermarriage with the gentry, of which we never hear in modern fairy tales—it is doubtful that the tradition about fairies would have survived through the ages. Nor is that true only of fairies: the most remarkable cases of sexual contact with nonhumans are not found in spicy saucer books, nor in fairy legends; they rest, safely stored away, in the archives of the Catholic Church. To find them, one must first learn Latin and gain entrance into the few libraries where these unique records are preserved. But the accounts one finds there make the Villas-Boas case pale by comparison, as I believe the reader will agree before the end of this chapter.

Let us first establish clearly that the belief in the possibility of intermarriage between man and the nonhuman races we are studying is a corollary to the apparitions in all historical contexts.

This is so obvious in biblical stories that I hardly need elaborate. The sex of the angels is not the most difficult—on the contrary, it is the clearest—of all theological questions. In Anatole France’s Revolt of the Angels it is Arcade, one of the celestial beings, who says:

There’s nothing like having sound references. In order to assure yourself that I am not deceiving you, Maurice, on this subject of the amorous embraces of angels and women, look up Justin, Apologies I and II; Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, Book I, Chapter III; Athenagoras, Concerning the Resurrection; Lactantius, Book II, Chapter XV; Tertullian, On the Veil of the Virgins; Marcus of Ephesus in Psellus; Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, Book V, Chapter IV; Saint Ambrose, in his book on Noah and the Ark, Chapter V; Saint Augustine in his City of God, Book XV, Chapter XXIII; Father Meldonat, the Jesuit, Treatise on Demons, page 248 . . .

Thus spoke Arcade, his guardian angel, to poor Maurice, as he tried to apologize for having stolen his mistress, pretty Madam Gilberte. And he added shamelessly,

It was bound to be so; all the other angels in revolt would have done as I did with Gilberte. “Women, saith the Apostle, should pray with their heads covered, because of the angels.”

This is clear enough. But fairies and elves? Are they subject to such carnal desires? Consider the following facts.

In the Preface of the Saga of Hrolf, Torfeus, a seventeenth-century Danish historian, records statements made about the elves by Einard Gusmond, the Icelandic scholar:

I am convinced they really do exist, and they are creatures of God; that they get married like we do and have children of either sex: we have a proof of this in what we know of the love of some of their women with simple mortals.

William Grant Stewart, in The Popular Superstitions and Festive Amusements of the Highlanders of Scotland, devotes the second part of his discussion to fairies. In a chapter entitled “Of the Passions and Propensities of the Fairies,” he has this to say on sexual intercourse with them:

The fairies are remarkable for the amorousness of their dispositions, and are not very backward in forming attachments and connections with the people that cannot with propriety be called their own species.

This is a beautiful example of convoluted phraseology. Stewart is less obviously embarrassed when he reports that such events no longer seem to take place between men and fairies:

We owe it, in justice to both the human and the fairy communities of the present day, to say, that such intercourse as that described to have taken place betwixt them is now extremely rare; with the single exception of a good old shoemaker, now or lately living in the village of Tomantoul, who confesses having had some dalliances with a “lanan-shi” in his younger days, we do not know personally anyone who has carried matters this length.

If Stewart came back today, he would have to revise this statement after reading UFO material. Kirk stated the case more clearly when he said: “In our Scotland there are numerous and beautiful creatures of that aerial order, who frequently assign meetings to lascivious young men as succubi, or as joyous mistresses and prostitutes, who are called Leannain Sith or familiar spirits.” I hardly need to remind the reader of the importance of such “familiar spirits” in medieval occultism, particularly in Rosicrucian theories. Nor do I need to mention the number of accused witches who were condemned to death on the evidence that they had such familiar spirits.

There is no gap between the fairy-faith and ufology regarding the sexual question. This is apparent from the study made by Wentz, who records, for example, the following story:

My grandmother Catherine Maclnnis used to tell about a man named Laughlin, whom she knew, being in love with a fairy-woman. The fairy-woman made it a point to see Laughlin every night, and he being worn out with her began to fear her. Things got so bad at last that he decided to go to America to escape the fairy-woman. As soon as the plan was fixed and he was about to emigrate, women who were milking at sunset out in the meadows heard very audibly the fairy-woman singing this song:

What will the brown-haired woman do When Lachie is on the billows?

Lachie emigrated to Cape Breton, landing at Pictu, Nova Scotia; and in his first letter home to his friends he stated that the same fairy-woman was haunting him there in America. The comments by Wentz on this case are extremely important:

To discover a tale so rare and curious as this ... is certainly of all our evidence highly interesting. And aside from its high literary value, it proves conclusively that the fairy-women who entice mortals to their love in modern times are much the same, if not the same, as the succubi of middle-age mystics.

This allows us to return to the religious records mentioned above, one of which offers one of the most remarkable cases of apparition I have ever come across. It is difficult to believe that stories exist that surpass, for their amazing contents or shocking features, some of the reports we have already studied, such as the Hills case or the Villas-Boas report. But, remarkable as they are, these latter two accounts refer only to one aspect of the total phenomenon; they can be interpreted only after being placed within the continuum of hundreds of lesser-known cases, which provide the necessary background. The following case stands alone, and it is unique in that it, relates the apparition of an incubus with the poltergeist phenomenon.

The authority upon which the case rests is that of Fr. Ludovicus Maria Sinistrari de Ameno, who reports and discusses it in his manuscript De Daemonialitate, et Incubis, et Succubis, written in the second half of the seventeenth century. Who is Fr. Sinistrari? A theologian-scholar born in Ameno, Italy, on February 26, 1622, he studied in Pavia and entered the Franciscan Order in 1647. He devoted his life to teaching philosophy and theology to numerous students attracted to Pavia by his fame as an eminent scholar. He also served as Councilor to the Supreme Tribunal of the Inquisition and as Theologian attached to the Archbishop of Milan. In 1688, he supervised the compilation of the statutes of the Franciscan Order. He died in 1701.

Among other books, Fr. Sinistrari published a treatise called De Delictis et Poenis, which is an exhaustive compilation “tractatus absolutissimus” of all the crimes and sins imaginable. In short, Fr. Sinistrari was one of the highest authorities on human psychology and religious law to serve the Catholic Church in the seventeenth century. Compared to his De Daemonialitate, Playboy is a rather innocent gathering of mild reveries. The good father writes:

About twenty-five years ago while I was a professor of Sacred Theology at the Holy Cross Convent in Pavia, there lived in that city a married woman of excellent morality. All who knew her, and particularly the clergy, had nothing but the highest praises for her. Her name was Hieronyma, and she lived in the St. Michael Parish.

One day, Hieronyma prepared some bread and brought it to the baker’s to have it baked. He brought it back to her, and at the same time he brought her a large pancake of a very peculiar shape, made with butter and Venetian pastes, such as they use to make cakes in that city. She refused it, saying she had not prepared anything like it.

“But,” said the baker, “I have not had any bread to bake today but yours. The pancake must come from your house too; your memory probably fails you.”

The good lady allowed herself to be convinced; she took the pancake and ate it with her husband, her three-year-old daughter, and a servant girl.

During the following night, while she was in bed with her husband and both were asleep, she found herself awakened by an extremely fine voice, somewhat like a high-pitched whistling sound. It was softly saying in her ear some very clear words: “How did you like the cake?” In fear, our good lady began to use the sign of the cross and to invoke in succession the names of Jesus and Mary.

“Fear naught,” said the voice. “I mean no harm to you. On the contrary, there is nothing I would not do in order to please you. I am in love with your beauty, and my greatest desire is to enjoy your embraces.”

At the same time, she felt that someone was kissing her cheeks, but so softly and gently that she might have thought it was only the finest cotton down touching her. She resisted, without answering anything, only repeating many times the names of Jesus and Mary and making the sign of the cross. The temptation lasted thus about half an hour, after which time the tempter went away.

In the morning, the lady went to her confessor, a wise and knowledgeable man, who confirmed her in the ways of the faith and appealed to her to continue her strong resistance, and to use some holy relics.

The following nights: similar temptations, with words and kisses of the same kind; similar opposition, too, from the lady. However, as she was tired of such lasting trials, she took the advice of her confessor and other serious men and asked to be examined by trained exorcists to decide whether or not she was possessed. The exorcists found nothing in her to indicate the presence of the evil spirit. They blessed the house, the bedroom, the bed, and gave the incubus orders to discontinue his importunities. All was in vain: he went on tempting her, pretending he was dying with love, and crying, moaning, in order to invoke the lady’s pity. With God’s help, she remained unmoved.

Then the incubus used a different approach: he appeared to her in the figure of a young boy or small man with golden, curling hair, with a blond beard gleaming like gold and sea-green eyes. To add to his power of seduction, he was elegantly dressed in Spanish vestments. Besides, he kept appearing to her even when she was in company; he would complain, as lovers do; he would send her kisses. In a word, he used all the means of seduction to obtain her favors. Only she saw and heard him; to all others, there was nothing.

This excellent woman had kept her unwavering determination for several months when the incubus had recourse to a new kind of persecution.

First, he took from her a silver cross full of holy relics and a blessed wax or papal lamb of Pope Pius V, which she always had on her. Then, rings and other jewels of gold and silver followed. He stole them without touching the locks of the casket in which they were enclosed. Then he began to strike her cruelly, and after each series of blows one could see on her face, arm, or other areas of her body bruises and marks, which lasted one or two days, then vanished suddenly, quite unlike natural bruises, which go away by degrees.

Sometimes, as she suckled her daughter, he took the child from her knees and carried her to the roof, placing her at the edge of the gutter. Or else he would hide her, but without ever causing her harm.

He would also upset the household, sometimes breaking to pieces the plates and earthenware. But in the blink of an eye he also restored them to their original state.

One night, as she lay in bed with her husband, the incubus, appearing to her under his usual form, energetically demanded that she give herself up. She refused, as usual. Furious, the incubus went away, and a short time later he returned with an enormous load of those flat stones that inhabitants of Genoa, and of Liguria in general, use to cover their houses. With these stones he built around the bed such a high wall that it reached almost to the ceiling, and the couple had to send for a ladder in order to come out. This wall was built without lime. It was pulled down and the stones were stored in a corner, where they were exposed to everyone’s sight. But after two days they vanished.

On the day of St. Stephen, the lady’s husband had invited several military friends to dine with him. To honor Ms guests he had prepared a respectable dinner. While they were washing their hands according to the custom—hop!—suddenly the table vanished, along with the dishes, the cauldrons, the plates, and all the earthenware in the kitchen, the jugs, the bottles, the glasses too. You can imagine the amazement, the surprise, of the guests. There were eight of them, among them a Spanish infantry captain who told them:

“Do not be afraid. It is only a trick. But there used to be a table here, and it must still be here. I am going to find it.”

Having said that, he went around the room with outstretched hands, attempting to seize the table. But after he had made many turns, seeing he was only touching air, the others laughed at him. And since dinner time had passed, everyone took his coat and started for home. They had already reached the door with the husband, who was politely accompanying them, when they heard a great noise in the dining room. They stopped to find out what it was, and the servant girl ran and told them the kitchen was full of new plates loaded with food, and the table had come back in the dining room.

The table was now covered with napkins, dishes, glasses, and silverware that were not the original ones. And there were all kinds of precious cups full with rare wines. In the kitchen, too, there were new jugs and utensils; they had never been seen there before. The guests, however, were hungry, and they ate this strange meal, which they found very much to their taste. After dinner, as they were talking by the fireplace, everything vanished, and the old table came back with the untouched dishes on it.

But, oddly enough, no one was hungry any longer, so that nobody wanted to have supper after such a magnificent dinner— which shows that the dishes which had been substituted for the original ones were real and not imaginary.

This persecution had been going on for several months, the lady consulted the Blessed Bernardino of Felter, whose body is the object of veneration in St. James Church, some distance outside the city walls. And at the same time, she vowed to wear for a whole year a gray monk’s gown, with a rope as a belt, like those used by the minor brothers in the order to which Bernardino belonged. She hoped, through his intercession, that she would be freed from the persecutions of the incubus.

Indeed, on September 28—which is the Vigil of the Dedication of Archangel St. Michael and the Feast of the Blessed Bernardino—she took the votive dress. The next morning was the Feast of St. Michael. Our afflicted lady went to the church of that saint, which was, as I have said, her own parish. It was about ten o’clock, and a very large crowd was going to mass. Now, the poor woman had no sooner put her foot on the church ground than all of a sudden her vestments and ornaments fell to the ground and were carried away by the wind, leaving her as naked as the hand. Very fortunately, it so happened that among the crowd were two knights of mature age who saw the thing and hurriedly removed their coats, to hide as well as they could that woman’s nudity. And having put her in a coach, they drove her home. As for the vestments and jewels stolen by the incubus, he returned them six months later.

To make a long story short, although there are many other tricks that this incubus played on her, and some amazing ones, suffice it to say that he kept tempting her for many years. But, at last, perceiving he was wasting his efforts, he discontinued these unusual and bothersome vexations.

As a theologian, Fr. Sinistrari was as puzzled by such reports as most modern students of UFO lore are by the Villas-Boas case. Observing that the fundamental texts of the Church gave no clear opinion on such cases, Sinistrari wondered how they should be judged by religious law. A great part of his manuscript is devoted to a detailed examination of this question. The lady in the above example did not allow the incubus to have intercourse with her. But there are numerous other cases in the records of the Church (especially in witch trials) in which there was intercourse. From the Church’s point of view, says Fr. Sinistrari, there are several problems. First, how is such intercourse physically possible? Second, how does demoniality differ from bestiality? Third, what sin is committed by those who engage in such intercourse? Fourth, what should their punishment be?

The earliest author who uses the word “demonialitas” is J. Caramuel, in his Theologia Fundamentalis. Before him, no one made a distinction between demoniality and bestiality. All the moralists, following St. Thomas Aquinas, understood by bestiality “any kind of carnal intercourse with an object of a different species.” Thus Cajetan in his commentary on St. Thomas places intercourse with the demon in the class of bestiality, and so does Sylvester when he defines luxuria, and Bonacina in De Matrimoruo, question.

There is here a fine point of theology, which Sinistrari debates with obvious authority. He concludes that St. Thomas never meant intercourse with demons to fall within his definition of bestiality. By “different species,” Sinistrari says, the saint can only mean species of living being, and this hardly applies to the devil. Similarly, if a man copulates with a corpse, this is not bestiality, especially according to the Thomist doctrine that denies the corpse the nature of the human body. The same would be true for a man who copulates with the corpse of an animal. Throughout this discussion, the great intelligence and obvious knowledge of human psychology of the author is remarkable. It is quite fascinating to follow Fr. Sinistrari’s thoughts in an area that is directly relevant to UFO reports. And relevant it is indeed, for Villas-Boas or Betty and Barney Hill would certainly have had a hard time before the Inquisitors if they had lived in the seventeenth century.

The act of love, writes Sinistrari, has for an object human generation. Unnatural semination, that is, intercourse that cannot be followed by generation, constitutes a separate type of sin against nature. But it is the subject of that semination that distinguishes the various sins under that type. If demoniality and bestiality were in the same category, a man who had copulated with a demon could simply tell his confessor: “I have committed the sin of bestiality.” And yet he obviously has not committed that sin.

Considerable problems arose, however, when one had to identify the physical process of intercourse with demons. This is clearly a most difficult point (as difficult as that of identifying the physical nature of flying saucers!), and Sinistrari gives a remarkable discussion of it. Pointing out that the main object of the discussion is to determine the degree of punishment these sins deserve, he tries to list all the different ways in which the sin of demoniality can be committed. First he remarks: ...

“Passport to Magonia: A Look at UFOs” by Jacques Vallee, edited by Brad Steiger and John White is an extract from the anthology Other Worlds, Other Universes: Playing the Reality Game Edited by Brad Steiger and John White published by White Crow Books.

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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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