The sheer wealth of data, reports, eye-witness accounts and testimony leaves me in absolutely no doubt whatsoever that a very real UFO phenomenon of unknown origin and intent exists. Yet, it is a phenomenon that puzzles us, confounds us, and even takes us on strange rides into the heart of twilight realms filled with nothing less than outright absurdities. They are absurdities that lead me to believe rather than having definitively extraterrestrial origins, the enigmatic intelligence behind the UFO phenomenon displays far more than a few characteristics of Trickster-like entities. Think I'm wrong? Read on...
Without doubt, one of the most important - if not, arguably, the most important - of all so-called "alien abduction" cases is that of Betty and Barney Hill, who underwent such an experience in 1961, and who, it can be justifiably said, kick-started abduction research of the type that, today, has come to typify the subject. One of the most important aspects of the story - which, many have asserted, proves the Hill's encountered real aliens - is that relative to the so-called "Star-Map" that the crew generously showed to Betty. It is the saga of this map that pretty much convinced whole swathes of Ufology that the mysterious abductors were the denizens of a light-years-away locale: Zeta Reticuli.
A map? Really? Can you imagine, even in the earlier years of NASA's space-program, a scenario where - while traveling to the Moon in 1969 - the crew of Apollo 11 took to the skies amid a conversation that went something like this: "Right, lads, get the map out; we need to see where we're going." Such a scenario is manifestly idiotic. And, yet, we're expected to believe the Hill's aliens used such ancient means of navigation in a journey to and from another star-system, never mind just to the Moon and back.
Now, I don't dispute that Betty Hill was shown such map-like imagery; but, in my view, the reason for doing so was purely theatrical. The entire event was carefully stage-managed. It was done to convince the Hill's - in a fashion to which they could relate and understand - that the entities were extraterrestrial. But, as a result of claiming to utilize such a ridiculously outmoded means of navigation, the visitors successfully rendered themselves as laughable and illogical as their simplistic map itself.
Also in 1961, a Wisconsin chicken-farmer named Joe Simonton claimed to have met aliens who landed on his property in a classic flying saucer-style craft. They were said to be very human-looking entities, who had an "Italian" appearance, and generously gave the stunned Simonton three pancakes that one of the crew-members happily cooked on his alien grill! And with their good deed for the day duly accomplished, the aliens were gone - presumably to fill the bellies of even more astounded souls. Is there a UFO case any more absurd than that?! Yes, there probably is, but the Simonton case is surely near the top of the list in the definitively wacky stakes.
Of course, many might say (and certainly have) that Simonton either faked the whole thing, or had a particularly weird and vivid dream. But, there is one interesting issue relative to this case that is worth noting: what was left of the pancakes was duly provided to the Air Force, and then to to the Department of Health, for analysis. The results came back that there was nothing abnormal about the pancakes - except for one thing: they were totally lacking in salt. It so transpires that in European folklore of centuries-past, fairies - which were truly definitive Tricksters - could not abide salt. Yep, things are becoming tricky on the UFO front. Very tricky.
Let's take a look at a third ufological classic; it's one I have written about here before: the Rendlesham Forest, England, UFO-landing case of December 1980. Those who champion the event as being one of profound significance and relevance from an extraterrestrial perspective, fail to comment on (or, maybe, don't even know) the fact that Rendlesham Forest was a veritable hotbed of weird activity - of a distinctly non-UFO nature - long before the "aliens" put in an appearance within those dark woods.
Large, black cats; ghostly hounds with red, glowing-eyes; spirits and specters; wild-men-of-the-woods-style characters; and even a Lovecraftian-type giant spider have all been reported from the depths of Rendlesham Forest - for decades. Are we really expected to believe aliens elected to make what might have been their most famous landing - in the United Kingdom, at least - in a clearly-delineated area already saturated by long-term weirdness? Surely not!
Given that some of the military witnesses to the 1980 "UFO landing" in Rendlesham said that their superior-officers were not watching the craft itself, but were deeply focusing their attentions upon the reactions of the astonished and amazed lower-ranks, I have to wonder if - as with the Hill affair and the crazy saga of Joe Simonton - there was a degree of manipulation afoot. If so, it may have been designed to instill - Trickster-style - the imagery and notion of visiting alien entities. If so, that particular Trickster could conceivably have been secretly at work in the woods for years - endlessly toying with us as it shape-shifted from black dog, to wild-man, to bug-eyed alien.
At this point, you may well - and quite justifiably - be asking yourself: what are Tricksters and why the need for such absurdity? Last year, I interviewed one of the most learned figures when it comes to such matters: Chris O’Brien, author of the book, Stalking the Tricksters. O'Brien told me: “It’s tough to define what the Trickster phenomenon is, but it’s the oldest archetypal symbol within the collective human unconsciousness. That’s why we have clowns: they do absurd things, and they’re a holdover from the original primordial Tricksters."
O’Brien continues that the main role of the Trickster is to supply anti-structure and novelty within the culture or sub-culture, and to topple the status quo. And in doing precisely that, it allows culture to move forward, and create room for growth, instead of being rigidly stuck in one, particular control-system.
And, maybe that's the whole point of the Trickster, and the reason why it plays such manipulative games with us: for good or bad, its actions provoke and nurture new paradigms. Sometimes it upsets rhyme-and-reason just for the sheer hell of it. The result: it very often succeeds in radically altering mindsets at an individual - and, at times - collective level. UFO imagery, then, is one of the Trickster's (probably many) tools of change.
The Trickster knows this all too well, which is precisely why it utilizes this very motif, and carefully ensures we remain its collective plaything to be used, tormented, taunted and even taught; sometimes for the better and, perhaps, sometimes not.