occult history

The Darker Side of Fairy Lore

Richard H. Fay is back to the occult this week.  The darker side of fairy lore is something that most people don’t think about…  But he sets the record straight.   You can read his blog here, and we also recommend checking out his Zazzle Store.  

Many people today think of fairies as rainbow-winged pixies prancing about in a sylvan wonderland. However, traditional tales about the denizens of the fairy realm spoke of beings and practices that were far from benign. In the minds and hearts of country folk across Europe, fairies posed a real and dangerous threat to life and well-being.

Although many fairies held an ambivalent attitude towards mortals, some maintained an undying hatred of all humankind. The Scottish called the various types of malevolent fairy the Unseelie Court. This unsavoury collection of malignant entities contained the evil trooping fairies known as the Host or Sluagh, as well as a variety of solitary miscreants.

dover fairy and frog talking

The unsanctified dead banded together during the darkest hours of the night in the roving host known as the Sluagh. These wretches flew in clouds above the Earth and captured unprotected mortals. Those unlucky enough to fall into their clutches would be dragged along, beaten, and made to fling paralysing elf-shot at cattle and other humans.

Shod in heavy iron boots, Redcap haunted ruined peel towers on the Scottish Border. This fiery-eyed goblin carried a pikestaff in his left hand and periodically re-dyed his crimson hat in human blood. Impervious to ordinary weapons, this vicious fiend could only be routed by Holy Scripture or the sight of a cross.

Duergars, the black dwarfs of northern England, hated mankind with a bitter passion. These taciturn beings clad in lambskin coats, moleskin trousers, and moss caps would use illusion to fool any unwary traveller into taking a fatal misstep. Only those wise in their ways could avoid the wrath of the duergars.

Female beings of a decidedly malicious nature lurked beneath the waters of various English rivers. Peg Powler resided in the Tees, while Jenny Greenteeth inhabited Lancashire streams. Grindylow and Nelly Long-Arms were similar water-demons found in other waterways across the English landscape. All delighted in drowning and even devouring naughty children who strayed too close to the water’s edge.

Monstrous trolls troubled the people of western Scandinavia. These hirsute beasts dwelt in mountain caves and preyed upon humans. They were only seen during the hours between dusk and dawn, for the light of the sun would turn then to stone.

Goblin

Underground spirits known as kobolds plagued German mines. They harassed miners as they worked, frustrating human attempts to find precious metals by stealing tools, meals, and water, and replacing silver ore with that of nickel or arsenical cobalt. However, there were times when kobolds could be unexpectedly helpful.

Bogies, bogles, and bug-a-boos delighted in causing mischief. Some merely played annoying pranks, while others attempted to inflict grievous harm through their malicious tricks. Many, such as the Hedely Kow, possessed the ability to change shape. This trait was often used to torment unsuspecting mortals.

Even those fairies with a kindlier disposition towards humanity still posed a hazard to mankind. Beneficial brownies could become troublesome boggarts if their work was taken for granted by ungrateful farmers. Prying into the secrets of the fair folk was dangerous business, often rewarded with bruises, blights, blindness, or other ills. A mortal partaking of fairy food while visiting their enchanted realm risked eternal entrapment. The fair folk were also responsible for a variety of thefts, including the theft of mortal children.

A coveted child, especially one that lacked the protection provided by Holy charms or cold iron, was at risk of being whisked away by the fay. A changeling would be left in the babe’s stead. This replacement may have been a wooden stock imbued with fairy glamour to look alive, a deformed fairy child abandoned by its own mother, or a cantankerous senile fairy disguised as a youngster. In any case, the changeling drained away all of the good fortune of the human household until it was driven from the home, usually through the use of fire or heat. Then the mortal child would be returned unharmed.

Any encounter with the fair folk, “good” or “bad”, could be perilous, given their alien morality and emotions. Mortals had to tread with care through a countryside inhabited by a wide variety of potentially dangerous beings. Those that ignored the proper respect toward the “good neighbours”, or who didn’t protect themselves from their powers, faced possible injury or death. Humans that sought to learn fairy secrets faced savage retribution. Perhaps the best advice regarding the fay came from the Fairy Queen herself, in what she told William Butler Yeats:

“Be careful, and do not seek to know too much about us”.

 

Further Reading

An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures by Katharine Briggs.

Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee.

A Field Guide to Irish Fairies by Bob Curran.

The Celtic Twilight by W. B. Yeats.

 

 

(Originally published in Doorways Magazine, Killer Holiday Issue, Issue 4, January 2008.)

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Vampiric UFOs

Our guest columnist Richard H. Fay is back this week.  Undaunted by the fact that Halloween is past, he continues to give us his very well-researched take on the odd and the occult.  You can read his blog here, and we also recommend checking out his Zazzle Store.  

Vampiric UFOs

Disturbing tales of alien abductions already suggest that some of Earth’s extraterrestrial visitors may display a less-than-benevolent attitude toward mankind. However, certain reported encounters with dangerous craft and sinister entities hint at an even darker side to the complex and perplexing phenomenon of UFOs. Perhaps a few beings from beyond possess a thirst for blood comparable to that of the undead vampires of traditional lore. In these instances, humans aren’t the subjects of invasive examinations or weird experiments, they are merely prey.

Central and South America seems to be a hotbed of alleged encounters with vampiric UFOs (Guiley, 2005). Locals have dubbed the objects vampire lights, bugs, things, and perhaps most evocatively, chupa-chupas (Mendes, n.d.). Derived from the same root as the more familiar term chupacabra, chupa-chupa means “the sucker”, an apt description of the apparent thirst for blood exhibited by these particular extraterrestrials (Mendes, n.d.; Guiley, 2005).

Beginning in August 1977, reports from the Brazilian region of Pará, specifically the Amazonian island of Colares, related strange encounters with glowing vessels and potentially lethal beams of light. At first, witnesses described nothing more than illuminated flying machines similar to other UFOs spotted around the world. A fisherman taking an early morning walk along the beach saw an umbrella-shaped craft hovering four meters above the earth. One man spied airborne luminous spheres on two different occasions in two separate locations. A married couple spotted an intense orange light fly in from the direction of the ocean and vanish as it soared over the island’s interior. A carpenter and a fisherman both reported run-ins with peculiar glowing orbs. Locals feared these strange lights due to their habit of swooping low and skimming over the ground (Booth, n.d.).

Perhaps the fright the residents of Colares felt regarding their glowing visitors was not entirely unfounded, since the events took a decidedly bizarre and life-threatening turn. The objects acquired a new trait, and began flashing debilitating beams at select victims, causing sickness and even death. A total of thirty-five individuals suffered from mysterious ailments after encountering chupa-chupas on the island. Two died (Booth, n.d.).

Chupa-chupa victims complained of faintness and anemia, as if the lights had siphoned off a significant quantity of blood. Medical examinations showed that those attacked by these vampiric UFOs exhibited, among other symptoms, lesions like radiation burns to the face or torso and small punctures where the beams had struck their flesh. Many had lost about three-hundred milliliters of blood from the site of these tiny holes (Booth, n.d.). Tests confirmed an abnormal decrease of hemoglobin levels in their blood. And some chupa-chupa victims continued to suffer chronic health problems such as headaches, weakness, dizziness, and paranoia long after their initial encounter (Guiley, 2005).

In one instance, three women were attacked by a beam of light coming from a small UFO. The ray struck them in their breasts, and caused a sensation not unlike receiving an electric shock. All three felt an extreme nervous tension and unexplainable languor, seemingly brought on by exposure to the strange light (Booth, n.d.).

A Colares barber told an especially interesting story, one that only deepens the mystery surrounding the chupa-chupa phenomenon. Instead of bearing witness to the depredations of an alien device, he encountered a potentially harmful orb. The man claimed that ball of fire entered his home near the roof. It shot around the room and then drew near his right leg. As he watched it glide from one leg to the other, he began to feel sleepy and weak. Certain that the fireball was searching for a vein, the barber managed to yell for help. The orb disappeared (Booth, n.d.).

Although many who survived encounters with the Colares chupa-chupa described attacks by lights or coffin-shaped craft (Corrales, 2003), at least one victim claimed to have come face-to-face with a vampiric humanoid. Sleeping in her hammock one night, the witness was awakened by a bright green light coming through her window (Guiley, 2005). The light struck her on the left side of her chest, and she felt a terrible heat. The woman then caught glimpse of an umbrella-shaped object and a small-eyed being clad in tight-fitting green clothes holding a pistol-like device. The burning ray emanated from the apparent weapon (Booth, n.d.). Turning from green to red, the light seemed to perforate the woman’s skin like needles (Guiley, 2005). The victim felt as if blood had been drawn off by the beam. She suffered from migraines and weakness, and her health never fully recovered (Booth, n.d.).

Chupa-chupa activity in the Amazonian delta seems to have peaked in the late seventies, but attacks continued into the eighties. In 1981 a hunter fired his shotgun at an object that had trapped him in its paralyzing beam. A plantation worker suffered radiation burns after a chupa-chupa shot a ray through the roof of her home (Corrales, 2003). Bodies that appeared drained of blood were found in the Brazilian towns of Parnama, São Luis, and Belém. Ufologist Jacques Vallée links these deaths to the chupa-chupas (Guiley,2005). Even though attacks are reported with much less frequency today than during the height of the flap, they do still occur on occasion (Booth, n.d.).

Eventually, the Brazilian government became interested in the chupa-chupas. One ufologist, Daniel Rebisso Giese, claims that the Brazilian version of Project Blue Book, Operacao Plato, gathered quite a bit of photographic, video, and audio material pertaining to the phenomenon (Corrales, 2003). A report on the chupa-chupa flap allegedly contains two-thousand pages, five-hundred photographs, and sixteen hours of film (Mendes, n.d.). Military helicopters tried to pursue these vampiric devices, to no avail. And the Brazilian army may have discovered that even those not directly attacked by chupa-chupas could still suffer ill-effects, for nervous breakdowns and insanity plagued some of the soldiers assigned to Operacao Plato (Corrales, 2003).

No matter where you reside on this blue planet of ours, if you see mysterious lights in the night sky, don’t stick around to find out what they are. Never assume that all extraterrestrials visit Earth with good intentions in their alien hearts. You never know, they may just be chupa-chupas looking for blood to slake their thirst.

References:
Booth, B.J. (n.d.). “Brazilian Island of Colares – UFO Encounters of 1977”. UFO Casebook. Retrieved 26 July, 2008, from http://www.ufocasebook.com/colares1977.html.

Corrales, S. (2003). “Saucers and Soldiers? The Amazon Scenario Examined”. Rense.com. Retrieved 26 July, 2008, from http://www.rense.com/general33/ss.htm.

Guiley, R.E. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters. New York: Checkmark Books.

Mendes, C. (n.d.). “Brazilian Air Force Admits Investigation on UFOs”. UFO Resource Center: UFORC News Service. Retrieved 26 July, 2008, from http://www.uforc.com/news021505/uforc_ufo-Br_Br-AF_UFO-investigation_1977-1978_012605.html.

 

(Article originally published in Hungur, Issue 7, All Souls’ Night 2008.)

Vampiric Creatures of Ancient Myth and Legend

As you can see, we’re in the spirit of October here at Classically Educated with the spirits being prevalent!  Our guest columnist Richard H. Fay, is back this week (you can see last week’s post about the connection between fairies and the dead, here) with yet another topical entry (for more vampire posts, we also recommend this article).  You can read his blog here, and we also recommend checking out his Zazzle Store.  

 

Lilith Stone Carving

Ever since mankind first imagined mythic threats alongside the mundane, creatures that feasted on the blood or life-force of humans haunted the long, dark night. Blood-sucking monsters, life-draining fiends, and the revenant dead featured in the myths and legends of many diverse cultures across the globe and throughout history. Even though the concept of the vampire as an animated corpse feeding on the blood of the living became most fully developed in medieval Eastern Europe (Curran, 2005, p. 33; Richardson, n.d.), the idea of strange and supernatural creatures sustaining themselves on human vitality goes back centuries.

The great-great grandmother of vampiric creatures in Western lore may have been the winged female entity known as Lilith. This spiteful demoness entered early Hebrew tradition through Mesopotamian mythology about beings such as Lilitu, a wind and storm spirit (Matthews & Matthews, 2005, p. 366). Lilith was either Adam’s first wife or became his lover after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Jealous of the fruits of marital unions and angry over God’s destruction of hundreds of her own demonic offspring, Lilith became the vampiric bane of women in childbirth and newborn babes (Guiley, 2005, p. 181; Matthews & Matthews, 2005, p. 367.) She also sought sexual intercourse with lonely and vulnerable men, leaving her male victims exhausted or even dead after their night of sinful passion (Curran, 2006, p. 23). In an interesting parallel to vampire lore regarding the crucifix as a potent protection against the predatory undead, magic amulets and holy talismans could thwart Lilith’s unholy advances and infanticidal attacks (Guiley, 2005, p. 181; Matthews & Matthews, 2005, p. 366).

According to the apocryphal text Testament of Solomon, King Solomon encountered and eventually controlled a vampiric, shape-shifting demon named Ornias. During the construction of Solomon’s Temple of Jerusalem, Ornias appeared every day at sunset to steal a portion of the wages, food, and very soul of the head workman’s boy. The lad wasted away as the demon drained his life by sucking on his thumb. Given a magical ring by the archangel Michael, Solomon subdued the demon and ordered him to cut stone for the temple. Terrified to touch iron tools, Ornias begged to be freed. Solomon then sought the aid of the archangel Uriel, who commanded the demon to obey. Once his work was completed, Ornias was delivered to Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons (Guiley, 2005, p. 223; Peterson, 1997).

Babylonian and Assyrian storytellers told tales of the revenant ekimmus. Individuals that died violent deaths or suffered improper burials would be denied entry into the underworld. Doomed to walk the Earth, ekimmus troubled mankind by wreaking misfortune and destruction upon the living. These restless souls could also possess mortal bodies and proved to be very difficult to exorcise (Guiley, 2005, p. 117).

Dracula First Edition

Ancient Greek mythology spoke of several blood-thirsty beasts and beings. Empusae, ghostly daughters of the goddess Hecate, frightened travellers to death and lured young men to bed to drain their life energies (Atsma, 2000, Empusa & Lamiae; Guiley, 2005, p. 117). Dark, grim-eyed keres, female death-spirits, hovered over battlefields to drink the blood of the wounded and dying. Some of the keres also personified plague and pestilence (Atsma, 2000).

The half-serpentine monster Lamia was yet another mythic beast that stalked the Grecian night. Once a mistress of the god Zeus, Lamia suffered a fell transformation at the hands of his jealous wife Hera. The goddess also destroyed all of Lamia’s children that arose from her illicit union with the lord of Olympus. Angered by her terrible fate, Lamia swore to kill the children of others. The lamiae became a class of female demons who stole newborns and seduced young men to feed on tender flesh and pure blood (Curran, 2006, p. 19; Guiley, 2005, p. 175; Matthews & Matthews, 2005, p. 361).

The Greek dead did not always remain in their graves. Dead men were known to shout abuses, torment passers-by, attack descendants and former neighbours, and even seek sexual intercourse with their grieving spouses. The Greeks that crossed between the worlds of the dead and the living appeared not as wispy phantoms, but rather as corporeal revenants, fully capable of maiming or even killing those around them (Curran, 2006, p. 17).

The Romans adopted many of the same terrifying beings found in Greek mythology, but they also added a few nightmares of their own. Along with the erotic night terrors known as incubi and succubae, Romans feared encountering horrible striges, female avian monstrosities that drank blood and spread disease (Curran, 2006, p. 20). Possibly born through the metamorphosis of hags into dreadful birds of prey, striges possessed misshapen heads and plundering claws. Poisonous milk filled their ungainly breasts. According to certain accounts, striges would peck at infants to feed on their blood and bowels or cause illness by offering children their poisoned milk (Curran, 2006, p. 20; Guiley, 2005, p. 268; Simboli, 1921, p. 33). Carna, the goddess of door hinges, could chase them away with magical incantations and rituals involving an arbutus branch, “drugged” water, and a white thorn twig (Simboli, 1921, p. 33).

Ancient cultures created a host of foul entities that exhibited many of the characteristics found in more recent vampire lore. Lilith, Ornias, empusae, keres, Lamia, and striges all dined on the blood, flesh, or life force of hapless humans. Striges and keres were also associated with disease, a trait shared with later vampire traditions. Ekimmus and Greek revenants returned from the dead to wreak havoc upon the living. Furthermore, some of the devices effective against many of these marauding beings, such as holy symbols and charms, were similar to what might be found in a vampire hunter’s array of armaments. Although certain aspects involving their creation and appearance differed from those found in later vampire beliefs, ancient vampiric creatures were thought to be as much a threat to humanity as their more recent cousins.

 

References:

Atsma, A. J. (2000). Keres, in theoi greek mythology. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2008, from
http://www.theoi.com/Daimon/Keres.html

Atsma, A. J. (2000). Empusa and lamiae, in theoi greek mythology. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2008, from
http://www.theoi.come/Phasma/Empousai.html

Curran, B. (2006). Encyclopedia of the Undead: A Field Guide to the Creatures That Cannot Rest in Peace. Franklin Lakes: The Career Press.

Guiley, R. E. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters. New York: Checkmark Books.

Matthews, J., & Matthews, C. (2005). The Elemental Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures: The Ultimate A-Z Guide of Fantastic Beings From Myth and Legend. London: HarperElement.

Peterson, J. H. (1997). The testament of Solomon (F. C. Conybeare, Trans.). In twilit grotto: Archives of western esoterica. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2008, from
http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/testament.htm

Richardson, B. (n.d.). Vampires in myth and history. The vampire’s vault. Retrieved Feb 20, 2008, from
http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/~vampire/vhist.html

Simboli, C. R. (1921). Disease-Spirits and Divine Cures Among the Greeks and Romans. New York: Columbia University. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2008, from
http://books.google.come/books?id=NvsHAAAAIAAJ

(Article originally published in Hungur, Issue 6, Walpurgisnacht, 2008.)