'The Blatant Beast,' quoth he, 'I doe pursew,
and through the world incessantly doe chase,
Till I him overtake, or else subdew:
Yet know I not or how or in what place
To find him out, yet still I forward trace.'
'What is that Blattant Beast?' then he replide,
'It is a monster bred of hellish race,'
Then answered he, 'which often hath annoyd
Good knights and ladies true, and many else destroyd.
'Of Cerberus whilome he was begot,
And fell Chimera in her darkesome den,
Through fowle commixture of his filthy blot;
Where he was fostred long in Stygian fen,
Till he to perfect ripeness grew, and then
Into this wicked world he forth was sent,
To be the plague and scourge of wretched men:
Whom with vile tongue and venemous intent
He sore doth wound, and bite, and cruelly torment.'
–Edmund Spenser, THE FAIRIE QUEENE, Book VI, Canto I, VII-VIII
Folklore is filled with tales about succubi or succubae, incubae, and demon lovers of various descriptions; these represent the negative, intrusive, and undesired type of encounter with such beings, whether they be visible (like 'reptoids' and other Ufological types) or invisible (like Wilbur Whateley's brother, or his father, Yog-Sothoth). The other type of interbreeding is just as common in terms of anecdotal evidence, however. Sometimes fair, sometimes foul, the evidence exists, nevertheless.
If we look closely, we find that the wizard Merlin, of Arthurian legend and romance, was not the only person of note to have been rumored to have a 'hybrid' parentage. Some accounts claim that his father was a sylph, or spirit of the air, but many other clues point to a 'water-being,' a merman, or something similar, for the 'mer' in Merlin comes from the same root which gives us both mermaid, and the Merovingians, the dynasty supposedly descended from an aquatic demon or humanoid, according to their own tradition. This may explain in part Merlin's lust for Nimue, the Lady of the Lake.
The Isle of Skye is famous for just such a legend of the 'willing' type. The tale goes that the Lord of Dunvergan Castle, Ian Ciar, Macleod, entered a 'fairy hill,' sithean, or knoll (a cavern-world entrance), where he met and fell in love with a 'fairy princess.' One account states that she agreed to marry him and live in the surface world for twenty years. At the end of the twenty years, she left him (and presumably, their offspring), and returned to her world, leaving behind a charmed "fairy flag" which the Clan Macleod still has, and displays, to this day. Another version states that, rather than a marriage, the situation was an affair, and after the birth of a son, the fairy lady took her infant and returned to her underworld home with a new genetic prize. The flag itself figures prominently in the lore and legends of the Macleod clan, with many stories and mysterious happenings associated with it. He is said to have received the flag "Am Bratach Sith" in the 14th century, at a "fairy bridge" from whence his wife/lover departed. The bridge has significance, as both potentially being above or near an underworld entrance, and as allowing the fairy to "cross running water," something that many types of underworlders could not do. The latter myth is interesting, in that streams, brooks, and other fast-running waters often generate a strong magnetic current, which ties right in with the faerie aversion for some types of electromagnetism (as in iron). The castle Dunvergan and the bridge also sit on the banks of Loch Dunvergan; and lochs and lakes are traditionally portals into cavern-realms or fairylands beneath their peaty beds.
Another version states that a Macleod went on a crusade to the Holy Land, where he met a seductive yet deadly female of demonic nature (a lamia or succubus), whom he bested in combat and drove back to the underworld–taking a scrap of her clothing as a memento when she fled. Generally, this legend is not considered the true origin of the flag, which supposedly has a reputation of good fortune and victory for the Macleods. Perhaps the crusader legend represents another encounter of a member of the clan with an underworld female, one less comely and pleasant of demeanor than the fairy lady in Scotland! Another legend states that, whenever the clan was in need of help in battle and the flag was waved, armies of the "little people" would come swarming to the aid of their human kinsmen or inlaws. There are several other versions, or permutations, of the origin-story, and additional tales of the Fairy Flag of the Mcleods.
This is reminiscent of the famous Scot, Thomas the Rhymer, who was said to have been taken away for a seven-year love affair by the subterranean "Queen of the Fairies."
Encounters with such 'elemental' beings are not all so so charming. Elementals are notoriously capricious and unpredictable, and are usually indifferent at best, and dangerous at their worst. Theosophists, Rosicrucians, and Spiritualists tended to theorize that 'fairies' were elementals, but were also spirits (existing on 'another plane'); yet the Neoplatonists, and later the alchemists of the middle ages, believed them to be of a finer and more subtle type of matter, somewhere 'between man and the angels.' They had flesh, after a fashion, and fleshly desires to go with it. The wizard Merlin (his name meaning "of the sea" or "of the water") was supposedly the result of the lust of an elemental for a human woman. While there is traditionally some inter-relationship between the four types of elementals (sylphs, undines, salamanders, and gnomes), it seems that many 'fairy' types of beings from Northern and Western Europe have a close relationship to the gnome (underworld) and undine (mermaid/merman) varieties. According to Reverend Robert Kirk (THE SECRET COMMONWEALTH OF ELVES, FAUNS, AND FAIRIES, 1691, ), the fairies who abducted and later released him were composed of "congealed air," or a finer type of matter. Yet, in defense of the spiritual aspect or theory, fairy associations and fairyland entrances were often with subterranean regions or necroploleis, such as barrows, tumuli, ruined hill-forts, mounds, and the like. Caves and wild gorges and chasms also had the same types of fairy associations, however, as did crevices or cracks in rocks which were too narrow for human beings to enter. Through the centuries, some have theorized that the fairies of the British Isles were fallen angels, the souls of the pagan or unbaptized dead, or the actual hidden descendants of races (or species?) of man which had been defeated by the Celts and driven into hiding, eventually beneath the ground. Here, after long ages, they often became diminutive in form and stature, due to cramped quarters, poor nutrition, and inbreeding. Walter Evans-Wentz reports an interesting belief (as expressed in THE FAIRY FAITH IN CELTIC COUNTRIES, 1911, pp. 166-67), held by David MacRitchie previously, who in his book THE TESTIMONY OF TRADITION (1890), noted the similarity between the word pixies or pixys, and Picts, a Brone-Age, pre-Celtic people whom he saw as non-Aryan (a possibility, at least before the coming of the Celts) and dwarf-like, the latter now known to be false. But what might years of interbreeding in a subterranean environment do to the stature of a people, or isolated groups of survivors in hiding from taller, stronger invaders? The finding of apparent neolithic dwarf remains–an entire tribe of dwarfs–in Switzerland in 1893, lent credence to the theory of ancient, 'pygmy' races who had been driven into a slinking, clandestine, and eventually subterranean existence throughout Europe. To the Victorians, this led to the conclusion that dwarfism and midgetism were possibly due to the 'racial residue' of Cro-Magnon types interbreeding with these ancient peoples, and that the fairies were simply 'natural' and 'earlier' forms of man. For a time, even the Spiritualists and Theosophists adopted this theory as their own. This didn't last, and the soon these groups were back into the esoteric, 'elemental' or 'devic' (nature spirit) concepts.
An unpleasant account, and tradition comes from another Scottish
castle and family, and spills over into recent history.
North of Tayside is Glamis Castle, in Angus, ancestral home of the Bowes-Lyons or Earls of Strathmore, as well as the Queen Mother (Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon) and hence, the current Windsor Royals. It's also the birthplace of Princess Margaret. Glamis (pronouned "glahms") is surrounded by a variety of eerie and disturbing legends, ranging from many bloody, ghostly hauntings (including by the historical Macbeth, and a tongueless woman with a bleeding mouth), a female vampire who shows up from time to time, and a strange creature with thin arms and legs and a beast-like head, described by one percipient as "a hellish combination of all things foul and animal." This young lady, sleeping in a "haunted tower room" in the castle in the 19th century, was awakened by the strange apparition or creature, which vanished when someone else rattled the bolt on the door before entering the room. Was an underworld or non-human rapist interrupted or frightened away?
But these are not the greatest terrors of Glamis, which has a horrific secret tradition. For centuries, there have been rumors of the periodic births of 'half-human' or otherwise deformed 'monsters' at Glamis Castle, and their imprisonment, for life, in some of the secret chambers which allegedly exist in the structure. The most recent such birth is said to have occurred in 1800, and the deformed heir to the Bowes-Lyon line was described as having "a huge, egg-like body" (shades of Humpty Dumpty!) and stunted or stubby limbs. He has also been described as being "neckless," and extremely hirsute or hairy. Others have insisted that he was merely mongoloid (suffering from "Down's Syndrome"). The tradition also maintains that he was still immensely strong and inordinately evil, and had to be locked away from the rest of the family in secret, for both his safety and theirs. He allegedly did not die until the year 1921, meaning that he lived for 120 years in nearly-complete secrecy! This negates any rumors of Downs Syndrome, as those who are stricken with this unfortunate condition have generally not been known to last into old age. Supposedly, during the hidden heir's lifetime, each successive Earl of Strathmore was told of his secret existence when they reached the age of twenty-one, and shown the "rightful" heir.
One tale has it that the first Lord of Glamis, after gambling with the devil (or an underworld being of some sort) at cards on the Sabbath, brought down a curse upon future generations of his line. Could it be that the stakes of the card-game were actually more than just his soul, and that he and his were cursed to make payment in genetic exchange, down through the centuries? Could it be that the genetics of families which tend to be somewhat interbred or interrelated, whether isolated by geography, or of 'noble' lineage, are nurtured by unseen manipulators for certain, desired genetic traits?
There is a family secret surrounding tales of the Glamis 'monster,' which is said to be told only to each male heir of the Bowes-Lyon family when he attains majority (reaches the age of 21). At one time this supposedly dealt with keeping the deformed, rightful heir locked away and his existence concealed, even from his own family (supposedly, only four men at a time were allowed access to his cell, and knew of his existence, one of these being the family "factor" or steward, and one the attorney). This was first told by the second Lord of Halifax, who heard it from the 13th Earl of Strathmore himself. This 'dread ancestral secret' may have also dealt with the family tradition, or curse, of having an occasional birth of a less- or other-than-human child born to the clan. There is said to also be a secret concerning a "vampire-like" or blood-lusting being which is periodically born within the family. All of this raises the obvious question: What is the source of this perhaps-repeating genetic anomaly? Could it have anything to do with strange nocturnal things, male or female, which creep into sleepers' rooms by night? Or was there, in the distant or recent past, a willing liaison now and again, with the "unseen rulers of this world," mentioned in the Book of Ephesians, representatives of the gnome, troll, fairy, elemental or reptilian races which preceded man on this planet?
It should be noted that upon several occasions, different 'factors' of the family, trapped at the castle by either snow-storm or other inclement weather, have refused to stay on the grounds, out of apparent terror based upon the secret knowledge to which they were privy….Another story (All the Year Round Magazine, 1880) states that, during the lifetime of the monstrous heir, a workman accidentally discovered his chamber, and was "persuaded to immigrate to Australia (leave the country and keep his mouth shut?)." Another version states that a stonemason accidentally broke into the chamber, and "died of shock" (did he actually meet his end at the hands of whatever was in the room?). His wife was paid off and packed off to Australia so that she wouldn't ask questions.
As for the unfortunate, deformed and hidden Earl…He is rumored to have been sealed inside his secret room after death, where his remains rest in secret to this day, his restless spirit joining the many others which have been reported by witnesses at Glamis, through the centuries. To add another clue to the mystery, and credence to the periodic 'strange births,' there is said to be a family-type portrait in the drawing-room, which depicts an earlier Earl of Strathmore, his two sons, and a horribly deformed and unsightly dwarf whom no one can (or will?) identify….
Additional legends about Glamis involve a giant ghost (thought to be the ghost of the card-playing first Earl, "Beardie"), a ghost with "long, hairy arms," and the local folk belief that "monsters" are still born into the family upon occasion, or there is still one, hidden on the premises, who has never died.