Have we been visited by beings from outer space? I suspect not, but the study of unidentified flying objects still fascinates me. I had many opportunities to discuss this subject with J. Allen Hynek years ago. He infected me with a little bit of his enthusiasm for UFO studies.

UFO researcher Alvin Lawson reported that he could categorize most UFO "aliens" into six main groups:

What intrigued Lawson most was that these same classes of beings appear other places besides UFO reports: Greek mythology, Christian belief, Celtic folklore, even Shakespeare!

Astronomer and mythographer Ed Krupp in his book Beyond the Blue Horizon discusses Lawson's results. Krupp suggests that perhaps those who

"witness aliens are really drawing upon a cultural fund of images of considerable antiquity and still in active use." (p. 338)

Krupp also suggests that

"despite the references to space travel and inhabitants of other worlds, many of the stories about UFOs tell us they are really encounters with the sacred ... I mean sacred in its true sense, the sense we sometimes have of the mystery of existence and the power of the world's order." (p. 333)

In other words, modern encounters with UFOs and alien beings resonate with the ancient stories of contact with powerful supernatural creatures. The "clothes" of the stories may be new, but the core ideas are not.

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Last modified by pib on October 15, 2001.