occult

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.)

The Alp and the Schrattl

Our guest columnist Richard H. Fay, is back this week for his last topical post before Halloween (fear not, this series will continue after the 31st!).  You can read his blog here, and, since not only is he a notable historian of the occult but also a talented artist, we also recommend checking out his Zazzle Store.  

Alpe And Schrattl

According to traditional Germanic lore, strange creatures haunted the craggy peaks and shadowed vales of the European Alps. Some of these beings delighted in troubling humankind, using supernatural powers to harass and even prey upon vulnerable mortals. Certain examples of Alpine bogey, such as the Alp and its more dangerous and ghoulish sub-type the Schrattl, combined the traits of fairy, vampire, and sorcerer to become feared threats to those living in the shadows of the snow-capped mountains of central Europe. A few even exhibited a taste for blood reminiscent of the Slavic vampire.

Several different folkloric threads seem to have been woven together by Alpine storytellers in the creation of the tapestry of Alp lore. Originally, Alpe were conceived as magical metal-working dwarves, inhabitants of the dark places deep within the mountains (Rose, 1998). Later, Alpe evolved into bringers of nightmares and disease, beings with a penchant for sitting on the chests of unsuspecting sleepers to cause breathing troubles and bad dreams (Franklin, 2002). At times, Alpe sexually assaulted humans in the manner of incubi, and were even known to suck blood from the nipples of both sexes (Guiley, 2005). In addition to blood, Alpe also consumed milk and semen (Curran, 2005). In a motif echoed in the fairy lore of Europe’s Celtic fringe, Alpe occasionally knotted the hair of sleeping mortals and took nighttime joyrides on the backs of unprotected horses (Franklin, 2002).

The exact nature of the Alp often depended upon location, varying from place to place. In parts of Germany and Austria, the Alp manifested as a malignant revenant (Curran, 2005). In other parts of Germany, Alpe remained living dwarfs, albeit ones imbued with elemental powers (Curran, 2005). Certain tales told of Alpe appearing as vampiric butterflies released by the breath of the demonic horerczy (Guiley, 2005). In the Brocken and Herz Mountains, Alpe served witches, often spreading evil in the form of cats or voles (Curran, 2005). Under certain circumstances, living mortals could become Alpe, either through sinister sorcery or through a mother’s unforgiven sins (Curran, 2005). Regardless of appearance, whether it be pig, bird, cat, vole, or lecherous dog, each Alp in animal form typically wore a magical hat which granted it the ability to shape-shift and to render itself invisible (Guiley, 2005).

While some variations of the Alp undoubtedly displayed vampiric tendencies amongst their diverse range of disturbing traits, the Austrian Schrattl was a vampire in the truest sense, a revenant roaming Alpine nights in search of blood. Roused to a semblance of life while still interred in the grave, the animated corpse of the Schrattl would tear and gnaw at its funeral shroud until it devoured the winding cloths (Curran, 2005). The Schrattl then turned its hunger toward the bodies of those buried in nearby graves and launched attacks against its former family and friends (Curran, 2005). Not content with assaults against humans alone, the Schrattl assailed animals and property as well (Curran, 2005). Possessed of fearsome mental powers, the Schrattl could drive its potential victims and those it wished to control insane (Curran, 2005). Typical of vampires worldwide, the Schrattl also spread disease in its dreadful wake (Curran, 2005).

Germanic tellers of dark tales threw various strains of ancient belief into the pot to create the potentially deadly stew that was Alp lore. Witches, demons, sorcerers, dwarfs, fairies, and vampires all lent different attributes to the Alp hodge-podge. No matter the form the Alp took, dangerous dwarf or vampiric butterfly, ghoulish revenant or shape-shifting sorcerer, it could be a potent threat to human life and well-being. Although various Alpe may have thirsted for blood and other bodily fluids, the vampiric nature of these creatures expressed itself most strongly in the shroud-eating Schrattl. Powerful and extremely malignant, the Schrattl troubled all mortals it encountered during its nocturnal forays across the Alpine countryside.

 

References

Curran, Dr. Bob. (2005). Vampires: A Field Guide to the Creatures That Stalk the Night. Franklin Lakes, New Jersey: New Page Books.

Franklin, Anna. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Fairies. London: Anova Books.

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

Rose, Carol. (1998). Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

 

(Article originally published in Hungur, Issue 10, Walpurgisnacht 2010.)