Intruders: an historical perspective of alien abduction
Alien abduction stories as we understand them today only vary from historical accounts of similar experiences because of the modern concept of alien visitation.
UFOs have been described in various guises throughout history along with spacemen, people from the heavens or stars, often called gods, angels or spirits. But accounts of star people coming down and taking humans from their homes and performing experiments on them, is not a commonly reported theme in the annals of recorded history. However, there are parallels to the many events described during alien abductions which exist within folklore, religion and anthropology.
Correlations between the abduction experience and shamanic experiences (including the implantation of foreign objects into the body and surgery-like procedures) or even stories of contact with fairies, suggest that modern accounts of alien abduction should be considered as part of a greater history of strange encounters.
As author Dr. Gregory L. Little wrote “there is a process that has been ongoing - probably for all of humanity's history - that manifests itself through the appearance of archetypal creatures and beings. John Keel was one of the first to recognise this. Others, including Vallee, Clark, and many British ufologists have long pointed out the resemblance between modern UFO reports and the ancient traditions. It doesn't really matter what we call the process underlying UFOs, abductions, and all of the related phenomena, but it is important to see that they all tie together.”
A 1960s report published by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research called UFOs and Related Subjects: An Annotated Bibliography, revealed the following; “Many of the UFO reports now being published in the popular press recount alleged incidents that are strikingly similar to demonic possession and psychic phenomena which has long been known to theologians and parapsychologists.”
Even astronomer Carl Sagan theorised that tales of contact with demons which are common throughout history share remarkable similarities with the alien abduction experience. He wrote “...most of the central elements of the alien abduction account are present, including sexually obsessive non-humans who live in the sky, walk through walls, communicate telepathically, and perform breeding experiments on the human species.”
In the past it was said that demons could assume any physical form in order to seduce their victims more successfully. Similarities with modern abduction stories include the fact that most victims of the demonic figures were taken unwillingly from their bedrooms at night and many of them described the presence of several different types of demon at the time of their abduction, some of whom simply stood by and watched.
Some alien abductees who have experienced sexual encounters with their abductors have described the sexual organ of the intruder as being cold as ice – in particular the insect-like creatures. The writer Vignate chronicled the trials of Artois in 1468, in which he wrote of Satan forcing sex on a victim; for the first time Satan’s sexual organ was described as being ice-cold. St. Augustine believed that people were actually being abducted by demons and forced to engage in sexual acts with them; “(Demons) have often injured women, desiring and acting carnally with them.”
In the past, demons or goblins which were often referred to as an incubus (seeks sexual intercourse with women) or a succubus (seeks males) were not considered as a figment of people’s imagination, rather they were very much accepted as real entities. As Martin Del Rio wrote in his 1599 book Disqusitionum Magicarum, “...to disagree [with their existence] is only obstinacy and foolhardiness; for it is the universal opinion of the fathers, theologians, and writers on philosophy, the truth of which is generally acknowledges by all ages and peoples.” Ten years earlier in 1589, Peter Binsfield wrote “[the incubus] is an indisputable truth which is not only proved certain by experience, but also confirmed by history.”
The concept of crossbreeding and genetic manipulation, which many researchers have suggested is the main purpose behind the modern abduction phenomenon, had already reared its ugly head in centuries gone by. According to ancient texts, the act of collecting sperm from abducted males and impregnating female victims with the semen taken was precisely what an incubus or succubus would do in order to create hybrid offspring. The movie Rosemary’s Baby dealt with this exact scenario, as a demon impregnated Rosemary with the seed which would later be born as the spawn of Satan.
Medieval writing from this period mentions such demonic acts: “Devils do indeed collect human semen...therefore devils can transfer the semen which they have collected and inject it into the bodies of others” and “Devils in the form of women yield to males and receive their semen; by cunning skill, the demons preserve its potency, and afterwards,...they become incubi and pour it into female repositories.”
‘The Devil’s Mark’ (also referred to as ‘fairy bruising’ or ‘the witch’s teat’) features in medieval reports and describes the physical mark left upon the devil’s victims for identification. These permanent scars were believed to have been caused by the demon’s claws scratching the flesh or by the red hot kiss of the devil ‘licking’ the victim. The mark of the Devil “is imprinted on the most secret parts of the body”. Parallels can be drawn with the scars left following an alleged alien abduction, as in both instances the marks have appeared the next day after a nocturnal encounter with an intruder.
The marks left on alien abductees in modern accounts resemble those described in the past as the ‘Devil’s Mark’, “cuts or scoops on the back of the legs, arms, neck, purplish circular spots around the abdomen and genitals, and in patterns consistent with those from medieval times ascribed to witches, incubi and fairies.”
Ancient examples of ‘fairy abductions’ also share striking similarities with modern tales of alien interference. As explained in An Encyclopaedia of Fairies (Briggs, 1976), those who were taken by the fairies were almost always given a special drink described as a thick liquid previous to any sexual encounter. The victims (most commonly women) were then paralysed before they were carried (levitated or flown) away into “fairyland” which is always located nearby although it cannot be perceived under ‘normal’ conditions. The paralysis plays a central role in fairy lore as without it the abducted humans cannot enter fairyland. The word “stroke” which we associate with conditions of paralysis originated from the ancient terms “fairy-stroke” and “elf-stroke”.
Another interesting connection with fairies are the tales of will-o-the-wisps, which under modern guises could be called ‘orbs’. It was believed that fairies travelled in these circular globes of light before or after abductions took place; these days any witnesses to such phenomena would most likely refer to a moving ball of light as a UFO.
It could just be possible that whatever is being described nowadays as extraterrestrial encounters of some sort could well have been depicted in different ways throughout the ages, depending on cultural understandings of what could be responsible for such unusual activity. Just as we today may consider the concept of fairies and demons to belong in the realms of religious superstition and folklore, future humans may well look back on our explanations of alien visitors with similar derision.
For a more in-depth version of this article please read The Alien Enigma by JP Robinson.