I noted a comment from Dr. Dan H to my post about the Monster of Mud Creek a while back and have been meaning to write a post about his very considered response.
Dr. Dan says, in part:
This faerie may or may not even be sentient as we know it; it certainly was not formidable in any sense of the word. I do wonder how many of the interactions where we came off badly were either from our not knowing the unwritten rules, or just from us being big, scary, alien monsters with a habit of cornering the Otherworld of rabbits and mice. I do rather doubt that we have confronted Otherworld predators very often, if at all.
While I might feel that humans have encountered Otherworld predators more often than Dr. Dan states here, I have to agree, too, with what he says. If you back a mouse into a corner, it may fight and, if it does, you are probably going to end up with a nasty bite or two before the little guy is dispatched or escapes you. This is why I have stressed, over and over, in these pages, the idea of knowing what you are dealing with when going into one of these situations.
Now, the folks in the Mud Creek story certainly did not have a lot of time to evaluate and do diagnostics on the being that they encountered. It could have been any of a number of “critters” ranging from the very dangerous to, as Dr. Dan notes, the relatively benign. This couple likely did exactly the right thing – they stayed in their nice steel automobile and did not attempt to interact with whatever they saw on the side of that road. They drove on and talked about it later.
Sometimes, however, the episodes are not just a a one time, one sighting issue but go on for months and even years. Think of John Keel exploring the very odd world of the Mothman, for instance, or any ghost hunter who has been out on a recurrent haunting, hostile or otherwise.
Investigators of the paranormal, particularly those who are known for taking a variety of cases, may find themselves on the scene of a wild range of events. A given investigator may be looking into cattle mutilation one week and be off taking reports of giant birds or the “demon” of some locale in the next. While most of this investigation happens after the fact, and the investigator does not actually get to interact with the phenomenon, there are cases and places where those who look for the things that other people run away from get to partake in their own mysteries. Again, think of John Keel and his multiple encounters with the bizarre during the Mothman investigation.
When you find yourself “smack dab in the middle” of ForteanaLand, you can not rely on your preconceived notion of what is and is not real to guide you. Instead, you need, in my opinion, to have:
a. A good knowledge of the literature of the paranormal ranging from ESP through to anomalous occurrences of all types.
b. A good knowledge of local and world folklore particularly as it relates to the types of spirits or “monsters” you may encounter
c. Some knowledge (more is better) of the new science of the paranormal
d. A good knowledge of and practice in one of the systems of magic or psychic awareness
e. Some tools with which to establish baseline energy levels around you – these can include everything from the latest ghost hunting tech to good old fashioned dowsing rods and pendulums
All of this knowledge is bent toward a specific purpose; being able to look at phenomenon and determine what you are dealing with. As Dr. Dan so aptly put it, many of the things that come through from the Otherworld are simply out of place. They may or may not be sentient in any way that we recognize and it is entirely possible that they are so ephemeral that they can cause no real harm to a physical creature. They might frighten you (think of all those TV ghost hunters out there scaring themselves) and they might even be able to slightly effect the environment (cold spots, for example) but they can cause no lasting harm.
For most investigators, these types of occurrences are going to be the vast majority of what they deal with. They are strange, unusual and can get your adrenaline going if they startle you but they are not going to cause you any harm unless you happen to be standing on a cliff when one startles you (highly not recommended). In most of these cases, the client/witness can wait the phenomenon out and it will go away or spirit negotiation or, as a last resort, banishing can generally clear the area.
This is where having a clear idea of what you are dealing with comes in. You, as the investigator, have to be able to take information from all the above sources and determine whether what you are dealing with is dangerous. It is your job, as the person presenting themselves as an authority figure, to make that determination and to know what to do in the event that you actually do move past the common and into the uncommon area where the predators lie. If you can not do this, or are unwilling to do it, then you should leave field investigation to those who can and are willing to take responsibility.