I delved back into Volume 3 of The Children’s Encyclopedia by Arthur Mee (P.2512-2513), after a month off from my effort to complete a volume each year, and I found myself reading a UFO tale… or rather, that’s how I interpreted it.
The tale in brief:
The tale begins with an old bamboo cutter in Japan seeing a silvery light shining among some reeds. He looks closer and discovers a little girl about four inches long glowing like diamonds. He gathers her up and takes him home to his wife and they call her Kaguya (meaning Precious-Slender-Bamboo-of-the-Field-of-Autumn).
This first part reminds me of Smallville/Superman when the Kents discover baby Superman in a field and take him home to raise as their own.
In this tale however, as the girl grows up (quickly) she attracts the attention of many young men. I’m not sure if this adds anything to the topic here, but it would be a shame to omit this part. Four of the noblemen (five in some versions) are each given a different and difficult task and whoever completes it to her satisfaction will become her wife.
- Prince Ishizukuri is sent to India to bring back the beggar’s bowl that Buddha used.
- Prince Kuramochi is sent across the Eastern ocean to the mountain Horai for a branch of the tree whose roots are silver, whose trunk is gold, and whose fruits are of jade.
- Dainagon is to bring her a robe made of the flame-proof rat’s pelt which comes from Morokoshi.
- Chinnagon is to bring her the rainbow coloured jewel which is hidden in the sea-dragons.
They each fail; they generally stay at home and spread rumours of their travels, and then after three years hiding they return to Kaguya. Ishizukuri brings her a fake bowl – she knows it’s not the real deal because it doesn’t shine a holy light. Kuramochi is telling a story about his golden branch when five jewellers come in demanding payment for their work. Dainagon returns with a robe but Kaguya casts it into the fire which reveals it’s not flame-proof. And Chinnagon fails to return; he sets sail on his quest but gets caught in a storm and gets washed up on a beach somewhere; so frightened that he is cured of his love for Kaguya.
Then the emperor, Mikado, takes a liking to Kaguya but she refuses him also and when he tries to have her abducted she turns invisible, which frightens him.
Then there are a few years of peace until a change comes over Kaguya.
She was continually thoughtful, and sometimes wept. The moon was waning, and she seemed to wane with it.
She warns her father:
“I must leave you before long. At the next full moon they will come to fetch me. I am a Moon-maiden…. and for a fault I committed I have been sent to Earth.”
Her father requests the assistance of the emperor who sends soldiers to guard the house, though Kaguya says this is useless. Indeed…
…the night of the full moon came. The starlight made it almost as bright as day. A little after midnight a cloud appeared. It drew closer. A company of shining people stood upon it, surrounding a [craft] hung with curtains. Most of the soldiers fled in horror, but some shot their arrows at the invaders, [but] the shafts fell back again.
The [craft] hovered near the house. The outer door and lattice-work flew back, and showed Kaguya, with her women huddled about her, and Miyakko helpless nearby.
“Come forth Kauya!” cries a voice from the car. “It is time!”
Kaguya clings to her father, but at the second calling she goes forward, crying… One of the messengers gives her a cup of the Elixir of Life. She drinks some, and would have given the rest to Miyakko, but they would not let her. Then she is wrapped in the Feather Cloak of Forgetfulness and she enters the [craft]. The cloud floats up into the sky and she becomes a child of light again and forgets the children of Earth.
In the Encyclopedia’s version the word ‘car’ is used where I have inserted ‘craft’, due to the date of publication (1920s if I recall), but I have changed this to craft to bring it into the context of this post/topic – but ‘vehicle’ would admittedly be equally fitting, and perhaps less bias to my post.
The whole final scene echoes that of many accounts of modern-day alien abductions, although from the ones I have read typically the abductee would be taken while they are alone at night and the scene would not be witnessed by others; a craft might appear outside a bedroom window and aliens might appear in the room before taking the person. Some case details are only revealed while the victim is under hypnosis, seemingly because of some ‘cloak of forgetfulness’ or drug.
I have read a few books in the past about UFOs and grew up watching episodes of the X-Files. In fact, back in my high school years I once wrote to the then ‘UFO Magazine’ which lead to me featuring in a two-page spread (a little claim to fame! – not that I have knowingly been abducted by aliens but because where I lived at the time was an area of interest). Shortly after that, back in 2001, I read The Uninvited by the popular author of this genre Nick Pope (he was an employee at the British Government’s Ministry of Defence from 1985 to 2006 and he investigated reports of UFO sightings to determine their defence significance), and I also read Abducted by Anne Andrews and Jean Ritchie which presented a so-called true story about an alien abduction case.
Out of curiosity at this point I have found there is a follow-up book to Abducted: Jason, My Indigo Child. I may write more about this at a later date, but suffice to say Indigo Children are sometimes referred to a ‘Star Child’, which isn’t too far removed from ‘Moon Maiden’ I think.
By 2005 I had moved on to books about ancient sites around the world and read (and have in my collection) some books by Erich von Daniken, such as ‘Chariots of the Gods’ and ‘In Search of Ancient Gods’ (read later in 2010) in which he talks about, and presents many pictures of, ancient depictions of what he labels as (and I find hard to dismiss given the context) alien craft or the beings from other worlds that had a hand in our distant past. Beings appearing to arrive on clouds* or riding on ‘chariots in the sky’ hundreds/thousands of years before modern-day aircraft were invented are very fitting here.
*I’ve just had a mental link with the Moomins as I mention this ‘riding on clouds’ part!
Nick Pope [link]
Jason, My Indigo Child [link]
A little more about the Moomins [link]