Thursday, June 05, 2008

Background Article: Paranormal Dwarves

[The sightings of "little people" in places as remote from each other as Alaska and Argentina -- cases usually met with derision by old and new media alike -- remain nonetheless a disquieting aspect of paranormal research on both continents. Although we draw mainly from folklore and tribal legend to get a better idea of the nature of these diminutive, impish presences, they have also been associated to the UFO phenomenon in the early decades of research. This article seeks to offer readers some background on older cases in Latin America and elsewhere - Editor]

By Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology
(c) 1997

Since ufology's earliest days, and going even farther back in history, accounts of diminutive intelligent beings have played a crucial role is shaping our perception of the phenomenon. The sizes of these creatures range from a scant twelve inches to a not-so-small four feet in height. They occupy a special position within the study of the unknown, since they straddle the divide that separates folklore from contemporary approaches to enigmatic creatures: every culture on earth has a tradition that involves small beings that can be good or malicious, intelligent or brutish. That accounts of such creatures occur in our highly technological twentieth century, and in relation to the UFO phenomenon, constitutes an enigma in itself.

The European tradition's brownies, pixies, gnomes and dwarves have their equivalents in the Mexican ikhals, chaneques and aluches. As Salvador Freixedo wisely observed, it is extremely odd to find such a variety of names to describe creatures that supposedly do not exist.

Mexico's Unearthly Entities

Do contemporary UFO abduction experiences and bedroom visitations have anything in common with the ages-old tradition of playful dwarves and elves disrupting the nocturnal slumber of humans?

In 1980, Luis Ramírez Reyes, one of Mexico's foremost UFO writers, had an experience of this nature during a stay at his friend Dr. Paco Medina's country house in Moyotepec, Morelos state. He had originally accepted the invitation to the country retreat to investigate a tree on the property that had allegedly been zapped by a passing UFO for no apparent reason. Upon reaching the site, Ramírez was able to confirm the unusual damage to the tree. Since the hour was late, both he and his host turned in for the night. It was to prove one of the most frightening nights in the ufologist's life.

As he drifted off to sleep, a heavy weight dropped beside him in the guest room bed. Ramírez awoke with a start, thinking a snake may have dropped onto the bed from the rafters. Frozen in place, he managed to extend a hand to feel what it was had fallen into the bed. To his complete astonishment, the bed was empty. The following day, he had the opportunity to speak with the children who performed housekeeping duties for his host, and was startled when they calmly told him that dwarves had visited him. "They are like children, but we call them chaneques here," he was informed. "They play with us when we sweep and mop the house."

Unwilling to be the victim of childish pranks, the investigator subjected the youngsters to a cross-examination in Dr. Medina's . They indicated that the entities would chase the children around whenever they arrived; allegedly out of fear of being harmed by adult humans, the entities remained invisible, but could be clearly seen by young humans, who described them as being large-headed, bald, slender, and for modesty's sake, clad in "cloth shorts".

Ramírez's host later informed him that both he and his family had been subjected to the nocturnal antics of these chaneques more than once, to the extent that his wife refused to return to the country house. The creatures could be persuaded to desist by asking them to do so "using kind words."

This experience convinced Ramírez of the interdimensional origin of these and other similar entities, which in spite of their playfulness can be outright frightening.
While the descriptions of the creatures given by the young housekeepers of the Medina estate may be troubling, it must be observed that beings with similar descriptions and wearing similar items of clothing have been reported in a number of cases in Puerto Rico and in the Canary Islands.

Maria Luz Bernal, a Mexican journalist researching her country's magical practices, came across a faith healer known as "cuate Chagala" in the region of Mexico known as Los Tuxtlas. Chagala informed the journalist that he had obtained his healing powers at the age of twelve while fishing for mojarras at a lagoon near his village. His deceased grandfather, who had drowned in the lagoon in years past, allegedly appeared before him to grant him special powers that would turn him into a healer. Chagala believed that his grandfather had been turned into a chaneque, described in this context as a "water gnome/elemental", having been lured to a watery death by similar creatures. When prompted by the reporter, the faith healer explained that when these water gnomes appear at night, their purpose is to ensnare the intended victim to drown them and turn them into water gnomes. When they appear by day, however, they do so to confer "gifts" upon unsuspecting mortals.

While traveling throughout Mexico, paranormal researcher Salvador Freixedo was able to document a similar belief. Interviewing peasant women, he learned that they were terribly afraid of the little creatures -- chaneques --who played restlessly every night in the water basin located on the rear of their property. The dwarves considered it a great sport to rattle the family's pots and pans, placed in the basin to be washed by the children. The women added that the creatures would appear and disappear through the culvert that fed the water basin.

Dwarfish "Peeping Toms"?

Perhaps one of the most unusual stories involving the actions of diminutive creatures in our times involves the series of bizarre events taking place in the ever-mysterious Canary Islands, off western coast of Africa. It was here, on the island of Tenerife, in a town with the ominous name of La Matanza ("the slaying") that diminutive, dark olive-green colored beings were reported in many occasions by visitors to the area, with the added riddle of the seeming complicity among local humans to "keep the lid" such stories.

Nonetheless, locals and visitors alike agree that the dwarves are very real, and are known as "los diablillos" (the imps). Appearing after dark at a beautiful country retreat known as Finca del Duque, it was at first believed that the short-statured creatures were attracted by the activities of couples using this remote area as a lovers' lane. Further cases have shown that any human presence after sundown produces the appearance of the "diablillos."

In November 1992, an anonymous resident of Tenerife drove to the lovers' lane one evening with his girlfriend. From within the car they were able to hear the sound of branches rustling as if being parted by someone. The driver looked out the window and allegedly saw a creature some three feet tall and covered in grayish or black fur all over. The entity carried a staff or rod of some sort in its hand, and was described as having "cat-like eyes". The couple left the area in a hurry, refusing to return even by daylight.

Alberto Dieppa, a young man from the island of Gran Canaria, discussed his 1993 encounter with the beings during an interview with journalist Carmen Machado. According to the story, Dieppa and his friends drove to the remote Finca del Duque simply to enjoy the ride. The group remained within the car with the dome light on, chatting late into the evening, when they suddenly became aware of six or seven presences outside their vehicle, staring at them intently. Dieppa turned on the headlights, and was in for the surprise of his life. "They were like little children with adult faces," he explained. "They appeared to be naked, at least from the waist up. What I did notice was their dark, olive green skin color and their intense red eyes."

The car's occupants remained in stunned, paralyzed silence until one of them began screaming hysterically, causing the driver to set the car in motion and abandon the area as quickly as possible. Dieppa added that at no point did the "diablillos" try to block their way--in fact, they seemed to vanish as soon as he touched the ignition key.

Badly shaken, the friends agreed not to discuss what had occurred at Finca del Duque, not even among themselves. Intrigued by the incredible experience, Dieppa returned alone two weeks later. Although he was unable to see anything on this occasion, he claims to have felt the presence of the creatures surrounding him. The experiencer told the journalist that he believes the imps to be an integral part of the island rather than creatures from another planet, suggesting that there may well be a "portal" of some sort to a dimension producing these creatures.
Abducted by Fairies?

Dr. Raul Rios Centeno is a UFO investigator based in Lima, Peru. His investigative efforts take him to the remote areas of his Andean homeland, where impoverished peasants still speak Quechua rather than Spanish and believe in a hodgepodge of pagan and Christian beliefs. In late 1997, while part of relief efforts aimed at providing assistance to victims of landslides and calamities triggered by "El Niño", Dr. Rios visited the department of Piura in northern Perú, and returned with the most recent case profiled in this article -- the summer 1997 disappearance of a young girl, allegedly at the hands of "fairies".

"I myself never believed in such things, doctor. Even now, I don't know what to think." These were the words with which don Modesto Salas, a Piuran farmer in the town of Catacaos, began telling his story to Dr. Rios. His small farm is located some 2 km SE of Catacaos. He lives off his crops and a few animals he raises. The region's heat and its proximity to the Equator -- only some 220 kilometers away -- causes the well-known algarroba trees, mangroves and banana plants to grow.

Modesto has lived for almost ten years with Ms. Olga Vandilla, with whom he has three children: Manuel José, 9, Olga Luzmila, 7, and the missing Evelyn Rosario, who would have been five years old next April. Despite the strong customs that reign in the Peruvian localities in which the Catholic Church still preserves its predominance, Modesto and Olga never married.

The approximately ten-acre farm has at its center the small house in which the family resides. The two eldest children were baptized as soon as they were born, in step with Catholic tradition, but when it came to Evelyn's term, something unexpected happened: the local priest died. For this reason, a priest from the region of Flores, some 25 kms away, would come to Catacaos every Sunday for the Eucharist and confession.

"I went to talk to him, doctor. I asked, I begged, but the padrecito didn't want to. He told me that all ceremonies had to be done in Flores. He even pointed out to me that a few couples wished to marry, and he had turned them down, saying he'd only been entrusted with the Sunday masses. A new padrecito would soon arrive, and he would be able [to do these things]."

"I wanted to baptize my Evelyn where she was born, because to baptize her in another place where I don't know anyone, and where I have no friends, doesn't seem right to me."

Time went by and the priest never showed up. Evelyn remained unbaptized. "My daughter grew up pretty. She was tall and had grey eyes. At first my friends laughed at me, saying that she wasn't my daughter, and that Olga had certainly deceived me, because how could my daughter have grey eyes, when both me and my wife have brown eyes?"

According to Olga, Evelyn was the most rambunctious of all her children, although she was also the strangest.

"There were times when she would sit on the ground and start talking, even shouting and laughing. Other times she'd climb up the tree and would begin talking alone. My wife told me this wasn't normal and told me to take her to a doctor, because the girl was suddenly going insane!"

"The doctor referred me to a young lady who asked Evelyn to draw pictures -- she showed her little figures. The young lady told me Evelyn was at the age in which kids have imaginary friends, and that it would stop once she went to school. Last June, Evelyn climbed onto one of the carob trees; Olga had seen her climbing up and down the carob tree for a number of days. The girl would stay up there for three hours at a time, talking alone."

"Evelyn told her mother that she had little friends her own size and that she was the only one that could see them. They would show her their toys and even offered her their food."

When Modesto went to speak to the psychologist, he showed her Evelyn's drawings. He told her that some children might see things, but that his girl had counted the three little figures and given them names. "She would tell me about her little friends, and told me that the food they fed her was transparent and sweet, like gelatin. There were times when she would stop playing with her brothers to climb up the blessed tree."

Unlike Olga, Modesto is a strong believer in the occult. On occasion he has consulted seers, sorcerers and shamans. The town shaman told him that when a child remains unbaptized it can communicate with beings from other dimensions, which we commonly know as fairies. Westerners speak of fairy treasures, but in this case Evelyn never discussed treasures, only the food and games and pranks they played. The shaman told Modesto the child must be baptized before they "conquered her."

"He told me that he could baptize her, because otherwise she would be with the demons. God did not make fairies; they are envoys of the Evil One, and can often cause problems for the families to whom they appear."

When Olga learned that her husband wanted the shaman to baptize Evelyn, she retorted that the shaman wasn't a priest, and that their daughter would only be baptized by a man of the cloth.

"I made an agreement with the shaman to come to my house. I would send my wife to visit her mother, and since Evelyn was always up on the tree, I would make her stay."
The shaman reached Modesto's home where, according to him, he could feel the devil's presence. He prayed and chased the enemy off. Everything took place as planned: the shaman baptized Evelyn with a special oil he kept in a bottle.

"He told me he carried holy oil blessed in the Huaringas, and that it not only served to have God bless her, but it would also bring my little angel joy and happiness."

Evelyn was baptized in strict privacy as per the ritual imposed by the shaman, her father being the only witness. The shaman asked Modesto not to wash the girl's head for two days. He agreed and the shaman departed. "After the baptism, Evelyn returned to the tree and cried disconsolately. It seemed as if someone was chastising her and she cried as if when her mother reproved her."

Olga returned that afternoon, and on that very same day, what they call the kidnapping took place."I was on my hammock enjoying the air when I saw little Evelyn climb the tree after my wife got home. Now she was talking and laughing, as if drunk. I though she was playing as usual and didn't pay much attention."

At a given moment, everything went quiet and the sky grew cloudy all of a sudden. It seemed as if a massive rainstorm was about to fall. So since there's usually lighting when it rains that way, I went to the tree where I'd last seen Evelyn, but she was no longer there."

Modesto thought that Evelyn had gone into the house, but he was surprised that he hadn't seen her come down. Upon entering the home, which was some 30 meters away from the tree, he asked his wife about the child. "Olga told me she'd seen her go up the tree and that she should still be on the blessed tree because she hadn't seen her come down."

Modesto returned to the tree, checked the adjacent ones, but could see nothing. Olga ran out, shouting desperately, but it was all in vain. At that moment Olga approached the tree and climbed up to find some trace of her daughter, but only found "something like a cobweb on the trunk, which was slightly burned. It appeared freshly burned due to the smell that emanated from the trunk."

At that moment, they thought they heard a howl coming from the doorway to the house. For one moment they thought it was Evelyn, but upon getting closer and opening the door they found nothing at all. "It was a sound like that of a pututo [Andean flute], but it came from the sky."

Modesto and Olga never found their youngest daughter again. The police was notified, word was sent to radio stations and to a television channel in Piura, but the whereabouts of their daughter were never discovered. "Doctor, I feel the fairies took my little angel. Otherwise, how can I explain her disappearance? Not even the dogs barked. Nothing."


The mystery of the dwarves or imps that appear to inhabit every single egion of our world remains one of the many enigmas that may someday be unraveled by investigators. While the UFO context helps place the mystery in a more modern light, its antiquity must not be forgotten.

Gervase of Canterbury, a medieval monk writing in the year 1138 A.D., left a detailed description of one such dwarfish creature that suddenly materialized in the German abbey of Prüm. According to Gervase's account, the abbey had been in an uproar due to the fact that something was tampering with the large barrels of wine in the building's cellars and spilling the intoxicant all over the floor. The abbot initially reprimanded the cellarer for his ineptitude, until the actual culprit was found: a friar had caught a small black imp, like the ones described in Argentina, drawing wine from the casks.

The creature dwelled in the abbey for a brief spell, but would neither eat nor drink, or even speak. Its presence must have irked the abbot after a while, who summarily decided that the imp "was a devil in human form" who had refrained from harming the monks "by the mercy of God and the merits of the saints," whose relics were kept within the abbey. Gervase reports that the creature "vanished from their hands like smoke.