FTL Travel and the Fairy Realm
The Fairy Realm
Many people have had encounters with fairies and their like - elves, gnomes dwarves and little people of some kind or other. Some people even claim to have entered the land of the fairies.
The fairy folk are said to dwell in a space called liminal - or threshold - space. This is a transitional realm between the known and the unknown, between consensus reality and a magical otherworld. fairies are usually seen at twilight - a liminal time - between day and night.
The fairies of traditional folklore, however, are not twee creatures, but are often quite frightening to people who see them. Rural people try to avoid them, and call them by good euphemisms like the "fair folk," "they," or "the others."
These "people" range in size from tiny insect or mouse sized to small dwarf or pygmy sized, human size or even larger. They often get up to tricks and can be vindictive or malicious. They have been known to abduct people and swap children and babies for elfin ones (changelings). The Fairy Queen is also a figure who is quite often encountered. She is human sized and very beautiful (as well as seductive).
Elfland is said to be the middle road between that of Heaven and Hell. It is an alternative realm. It is also believed that fairies are "of a middle nature between man and angel." People who have died, or vanished, are often encountered in fairyland, according to stories by "eye-witnesses," and sleeping men in armour (king Arthur's knights) have been seen and are often associated with the fairy realm.
Fairies live in subterranean spaces and often emerge from mounds or from doorways in trees. Gold is common in this land and is used for all sorts of mundane objects. In fairyland the sun does not shine and there are no moon or stars. According to many accounts people report that the sky is always dark and overcast looking. This reminds me of similar stories of inhabitants of a supposed hollow Earth.
The way in which the gateways or paths to this Otherworld suddenly appear, in places where the local people know the landscape, and there had never been a path there before, seem to indicate that the fairy realm must be some alternate dimension which exists parallel to our own. In fact in traditional belief it was considered to be a supernatural landscape overlying our own.
Within the fairy realm (before the advent of electric lights) fairy houses were described as being lit by "continual lamps and fires, often seen without fuel to sustain them." (As Robert Kirke explains in The Secret Common-Wealth and A Short Treatise of Charms and Spells, originally 1691) However in most other respects fairy culture mirrors our own, with royal courts, armies, marriages and musicians, evolving along with ours. According to 20th Century accounts some fairies were even seen to drive tiny cars.
Most countries have a comparable belief in fairies, known by some name or other, to that of Celtic Britain, though that is the most well-known and oft drawn upon when people write about the subject. Yet there is, generally, very little agreement in these traditions as to what the fairies actually are, or even a consensus as to their main characteristics, in different parts of the world. The natures of these supernatural beings can be very different, even within one country.
The possibility of this occurring, and the testimonies of witnesses still holding true is very unlikely, yet, it has been said that if fairyland exists, then it does so "as an invisible world within which the visible world is immersed like an island in an unexplored ocean." it is peopled by more varieties of beings than we know, or can be witnessed, because it is so "vast and varied in its possibilities." (This picturesque notion from W.Y. Evans-Wentz in The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, 1911)
There are conflicting views and speculations as to the origin of the widespread belief in fairies. To some extent they are definitely based on experiences people have with them, however, not enough so that they are believably real in any physical sense. And, although the "fairy faith," as such, has vanished from most of the world now, encounters with these folk continue - even when they are not recognised as such.
Entrances to the Fairy Realm
Fairy lore and UFO lore does overlap in curious ways. For example some fairies have been seen to glow like fireflies, and could well have been termed Unidentified Flying Objects!
Also, the type of encounters people have claimed to have with fairies, are very similar to close encounters of the third kind with aliens. It has been discovered that encounters with fairies share the same experiential (or imaginative) space in the consciousness as an encounter with a UFO occupant might.
However, encounters with fairies are rare these days. Unless the small grey aliens people claim to see are the "little people" in modern guise.
Time Dilation and Relativity
Due to the nature of relativity, traveling in a spaceship which can go faster than the speed of light would lead to "decades or centuries passing on Earth during what seems a short interstellar hop to the travelers." (The Science in Science Fiction by Peter Nicholls, 1982) How does this compare to accounts of the way time passes in the fairy realm, in which a human could pass what seemed to be a day there, only to return next day and a century later to Earth?
Many accounts of interactions with the Little People focus on this effect, produced by a person staying in their world for any length of time. And particularly if a person accepts any food or drink to eat whilst they are there.
This idea is explored by Ursula Le Guin in her novel Rocannon's World, in which the heroine is taken by goblins on a ride in a spaceship to retrieve a heirloom, kept in an interstellar museum. She returns with the object, only to discover that her friends and family have aged and died. Therefore, is it possible that the realm, in which these beings exists, travels through our universe (or parallel to our own) in the manner equivalent to that of a spaceship traveling at the speed of light?
The wider term for the fairy realm, which has come to refer to all types of unusual and unexplained phenomena, including the Loch Ness Monster, Mothman, El Chupacabra and many more, is the Goblin Universe or Magonia. This is something of a catch all term, but focuses particularly on the similarities noticed between UFO and fairy encounters.
This place is described as "eternally tricksterish" (by F.W. Holiday writing in his seminal The Dragon and The Disc: An Investigation into the Totally Fantastic, 1973) which offered exasperated investigators only enough evidence to theorize that it exists, but never enough to prove that any encounters are with fully tangible creatures. It is, essentially, a parallel universe: "made visible and tangible only to selected people." (Ufologist Jacques Vallee writing in his Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers, 1969) It also reflects the cultural expectations of the people who come into contact with it, perhaps even feeding off the brain waves and interpreting a subconscious idea in a person's mind into some sort of "reality."
Quantum physics explains that we can create the nature of reality though our observation of individual particles. A particle can become a wave or remain a particle depending on how it is viewed, and can actually influence the nature of conventional physics as shown in the famous Schrödinger's cat experiment. Is it possible that unexplained phenomena exist in some curious quantum reality and interact with us, on rare occasions in this manner?
Quantum Science has opened up some bizarre possibilities, some stranger than science fiction's dreams. It also allows us to look at our world in new ways and to consider that there are still many forces we cannot comprehend. The more we learn the more there is yet to be understood.