Is a fairy and an alien the same thing? The first response to this question is ‘d’oh, obviously not!’, the first comes from a hole in the ground, the other from a hole in the sky. But think about it for a moment.
I) Fairies and aliens are both usually described as non-human humanoids: sometimes with pointed ears.
II) Fairies and aliens are often associated with bright lights.
III) Fairies and aliens need humanity for reasons that are not clear in either case: they constantly interact with homo sapiens.
IV) Fairies and aliens both kidnap humans.
V) Fairies and aliens are unpredictable in their behvaiour, they are neither entirely good nor entirely evil though they often show that they have anger management issues.
Then, fairy belief trailed off over most of the western world in the nineteenth century and by the twentieth century belief in UFOs and greys and numerous other fantastical creatures from ‘beyond’ took their place: before there were aliens there were mysterious airships and Forteana in the sky. It is almost as if a vacuum was left by the disappearance of fairies and that green humanoids from other planets took over the franchise.
This is by no means an original theory. Jung was already playing around with the folklore signifance of UFO by 1958. Then, in 1969. Jacques Vallee published Passport to Magonia where the French scholar looked at the curious parallels between aliens and fairies. Most, subsequent work, not least by Vallee himself, has pushed down the same tracks, e.g. Rojcewicz (1991), with the idea that whether or not fairies/aliens exist they represent essentially the same set of experiences and human needs. Of course, it could be argued that all supernatural creatures tend to fulfill the same roles be they fairies or aliens or the Virgin Mary. Still the parallels are there and they are striking.