Fairies, Folk­lore and Forteana

SI­MON YOUNG FILES A NEW RE­PORT FROM THE IN­TER­FACE OF STRANGE PHE­NOM­ENA AND FOLK BE­LIEF

Fortean Times - - Strange Days -

SEE­ING THINGS I spent a very pleas­ant af­ter­noon, this week, go­ing through Vi­cente-Juan Ballester Ol­mos’s Cat­a­logue of 200 Type-I UFO Events in Spain and Por­tu­gal (1976). I was, as it hap­pens, in search of fairy-like en­ti­ties – the over­lap be­tween fairies and aliens al­ways proves fas­ci­nat­ing. But I also came across a phe­nom­e­non that I have found in many lists of anoma­lous events: driv­ers and guards over-rep­re­sented as wit­nesses of the ‘im­pos­si­ble’. How of­ten have we read about a driver sud­denly glimps­ing a ghost, or a fairy, or an ABC or a head­less alien, crossing the road, walk­ing by the side of the road, or stand­ing in an ad­ja­cent field? But there are also many cases where sen­tries or guards have claimed to have en­coun­tered su­per­nat­u­ral en­ti­ties. Nine­teenth-cen­tury no­tices of sen­tries see­ing ghosts are par­tic­u­larly com­mon: I have a list... Ballester Ol­mos has, mean­while, a couple of cases with mil­i­tary sen­tries, and one with a poor man guard­ing a melon field, all of whom came face-to-face with oth­er­worldly be­ings. The melon guard was con­demned to watch­ing 50 men dressed in blue walk into a hole in the ground near Seville!

Of course, there may be more prac­ti­cal rea­sons why peo­ple in cars see ‘things’: cer­tainly, I see more wildlife in cars than I do on foot – cars have the po­ten­tial to come and go very quickly and might sur­prise ‘vis­i­tors’. Like­wise, sen­tries are around at night when other peo­ple are not, and that is when they tend to have their who-goes-there ex­pe­ri­ences. The other pos­si­bil­ity, though, is that driv­ers and guards fall into a kind of sleepy con­cen­tra­tion for their im­por­tant but bor­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. ‘High­way hyp­no­sis’ is an es­tab­lished phe­nom­e­non. Is it pos­si­ble that driv­ers or sen­tries can en­ter a trance state com­pat­i­ble with vi­sions? Do their brains throw im­ages into the world as a pro­jec­tor splashes light onto the wall? Pos­si­bly. But, then, why don’t other peo­ple prone to trances have th­ese ex­pe­ri­ences: for ex­am­ple, video-game players or pain­ters or mu­si­cians? Pos­si­bly be­cause this group’s trance is fo­cused on an ob­ject in their hands or in front of their eyes, and their mus­cles are twitch­ing. The driver or sen­try has to con­cen­trate, but also in­ter­act with the wider world around him, get­ting ready for any shock stim­uli: the con­se­quence of not do­ing so is pos­si­ble death for the driver, sen­try and oth­ers. An­other rel­e­vant group here would be longdis­tance walk­ers or run­ners. But do they ‘see things’? One fa­mous ex­am­ple is Phei­dip­pi­des meet­ing the god Pan on his epic jour­ney to Sparta be­fore the bat­tle of Marathon. Here’s bet­ting that there are other ex­pe­ri­ences out there wait­ing to be col­lated… I’ve never met a ghost while out walk­ing, but, 20 miles in, the mind en­ters, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, a cu­ri­ous state. Si­mon Young writes on folk­lore and his­tory and runs www.fairy­ist.com

HOWOFTEN HAVEWE READ ABOUTADRIVER SUD­DENLY GLIMPSINGA GHOST, ORA FAIRY, ANABC OR ANALIEN?

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