[Modified from the foreword to Stalking the Tricksters] I have consistently cautioned proponents of the extraterrestrial hypothesis that we must first be able to rule out the possibility that UFOs are part of a “closed system” before we can leap to the conclusion that they are extraterrestrial in origin. An example of a control system is James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis—the earth as a living superorganism and a dynamic closed system maintained by feedback loops. Scientists uncomfortable with the personified, mystically-tinged Gaia terminology now call this earth system science. In a 1978 interview by Jerome Clark for Fate Magazine, Dr. Jacques Vallee offers a daring proposal: “Assuming that there is a feedback mechanism involved in the operations of the control system; if you can change the information that’s carried back to the system, you might be able to infiltrate it through its own feedback.” [I have] been saying this for years…“Let’s get proactive on their ass.” [I asked Vallee about this particular observation during his recent appearance on the Paracast and he artfully dodge answering the specific question.] [During the summer of 1998 I was been asked to help on a case that featured apparent Dine' witchcraft. Some months later, after I had completed my investigation--and hadn't thought about it in several months--] I was looking out my window while taking a shower and witnessed a six foot tall human figure with deer antlers on its head gliding furtively in the shadows outside the house. [I didn't know it at the time but] this is a classic skinwalker description... [What is a skinwalker? Google it. This experience suggested to me that] we may be locked in a complex symbiotic relationship with our trickster “friends.” If you think Valle’s focus on the fairies, leprechauns and wee people of Celtic lore is far afield, how about my investigations of multiple witness reports of leprechauns and “trooping fairies with [an] attitude” in the San Luis Valley, Colorado? ... Paranormal investigator John Keel, is often mentioned in the same breath as Vallee. Keel’s 1970 book UFOs—Operation Trojan Horse marked his own departure from the extraterrestrial hypothesis. After four years of intensive research and field investigations, Keel came to the conclusion that UFOs were “paraphysical” in nature. He coined the term “ultraterrestrials” to describe the “transmogrifications” which had been “frightening, confusing and misleading” humans from the beginning of our history. Familiar with the work of Jung and Vallee, Keel found the descriptions and actions of modern ufonauts to be identical to the “elementals” described in the fairy lore of northern Europe and the ancient legends of Greece, Rome and India. Although he makes reference to the vile stunts of “the tricksters,” he never puts “the cosmic jokers” into an archetypal classic trickster frame of reference. To Keel, “the damnable things” included every manner of demon, angel, alien, fairy, ghost and phantom. Only half-jokingly, he referred to himself as a “demonologist” and said “ufology is just another name for demonology.” In Trojan Horse Keel makes mention of the “thousands of reports of UFOs hovering above microwave relay towers.” He rejects the idea that “the objects were tapping the power from power lines and telephone systems.” Instead he felt that the ultraterrestrials were using electromagnetic frequencies for the “transmutation” of any kind of object into existence on our plane. He speculated further that the elementals somehow used EM energy to manipulate the circuits of the human mind and “make us see whatever they want us to see.” Keel’s investigations had led him to believe that the tricksters were essentially negative if not downright evil. Rarely did he see any evidence of their benign or, at best, amoral nature. His riveting book The Mothman Prophecies (1975) details how people were driven insane or even died as a result of trickster “infestations.” Jacques Vallee posited the idea that a control system “needs two opposite principles for its functioning.” According to his reasoning, a control system needs the equivalent of a thermostat so that the system that is being regulated doesn’t run too hot or too cold. If one accepts Vallee’s thermostat analogy, is it possible that “the phenomenon” presented its more destructive side to Keel knowing that his work would serve to counteract the warm and fuzzy “Space Brother” mythology which had been a major part of ufology since the contactee movement began in the early 1950s? Tricky business indeed. Worth a mention in this list of precursors to Stalking the Tricksters is Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes This World—Mischief, Myth and Art (1998). Exquisitely written, (Hyde is a former director of creative writing at Harvard), his book brims with pointed insights about the nature of the trickster. As might be expected, coming from the depths of academia, the book is heavy on the folklore and mythology with no mention of the trickster’s links to paranormal studies. Academics don’t want to get “slimed” with this kooky stuff. Biologist Rupert Sheldrake has called the paranormal “intellectual pornography.” As to the key question of whether the trickster is alive in the modern world, Hyde hedges his bets: “Outside of traditional contexts there are no modern tricksters because tricksters only come to life in the complex terrain of polytheism.” Without his “sacred context” and “ritual setting” the trickster is missing. Later in the book Hyde says: “If [the] trickster is the boundary-crossing figure, then there will be some sort of representative wherever humans invent boundaries, which is to say, everywhere.” He adds: “When the culture itself becomes a trap, the spirit of the trickster will lead us into deep shapeshifting.” The last entry in our trickster hall of fame writers is George Hansen. In The Trickster and the Paranormal (2001) Hansen brought the relationship between the trickster and the paranormal into its sharpest focus yet. [My good friend and mentor David Perkins who has written the forewords to all four of my published books] wrote for the British publication Magonia (Jan. 2003), [where he called Hanson's book] “one of the most relevant and thought provoking books in recent memory.” Since that time David’s and my appreciation of Hansen’s break-through insights have only grown. What started out as a study of the problems of deception, fraud and hoaxes in parapsychology turned into a seven-year project that covers nearly every aspect of the trickster/paranormal connection. Hansen had worked for seven years as a professional parapsychology/psi researcher at two of the country’s most prestigious labs...Make no doubt about it, for Hansen the trickster is a living thing! When David was writing his review he asked Hansen if the trickster could be a "personified biological mechanism whose therapeutic function from an evolutionary view is to confer survival value on the human species." Were the tricksters part of a control system for human society or even Gaia itself? I suggest that it is possible that the trickster may be “altering the very nature of Gaia itself.” To David's way of thinking, tricksterism seemed like a dynamic control system device to ensure a robust homeostasis or tension of opposites in society. The trickster’s role was to bring novelty, vitality and change as needed. Hansen’s response was: “Leave it alone, don’t be a reductionist. You’ll only contribute to the process of driving magic from the world and further dis- enchanting it.” David thought this was a curious response from someone whose profession demanded a strict use of the scientific method. Hansen’s advice was reminiscent of Jung’s admonition that further speculation about materialized psychisms was pointless. Despite all their brilliant insights, both men left us with an unclear picture of how to proceed. Indeed they seem to question whether we should proceed at all. Hansen ends his book with the observation that our thoughts, both conscious and unconscious, “move of their own accord and influence the physical world.” He cautions us not to become victims of our own “rationalistic” thinking. We have two sides to our brains. By nature we are both rationalistic and emotional/intuitive. Can’t these two parts of our being “just get along?” I’ve never been a good one for simply accepting things that I don’t understand. Maybe there has been too much scientism pounded into my brain over the years to ever overcome it. Is George Hansen right? Perhaps my English crop circle researcher friends have a point when they say: “when you go into a crop circle don’t over-think it." In Carl Jung’s assessment, “all mythical figures correspond to inner psychic experiences and originally sprang from them.” They are not something “other.” If true, this means that all the tricksters, skinwalkers and shapeshifters on parade in this book were born somewhere in the depths of our own psyches. On our road to greater self-awareness and self-realization we should inevitably gain a clearer understanding of the tricksters and their kin. The shamanic tradition [that stretches back tens of thousands of years] teaches that there are ways of “knowing” which do not rely on either the senses or the rational mind. If we need answers, it is our job now to discover or re-discover these ways.