Fairies: Pesky Blighters or Benevolent Beings?
I do believe in fairies! I do I do! Wendy Darling Peter Pan
Ah fairies, the benevolent wee creatures of the forest. How cute they are. I think at this point everyone is familiar with Tinkerbell and her sweet friends (although they are Pixies). The fondness for fairies has been growing in popularity since the Cottingley fairy photographs were first published in 1917.
The photos were taken by cousins Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths near Bradford England. The snapshots show the girls frolicking with tiny, winged creatures in the nearby forest. Soon, the photographs came to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes novels. Mr. Doyle was also a spiritualist, as was the fashion of the time, and used the pictures in an article he wrote about fairies. He was absolutely convinced that this was definitive proof of the existence of fairies.
However, in the 1980’s the girls went on the record stating that all but one of their pictures was fake. They claimed to have cut out pictures from a children’s book and glued them to cardboard. Despite this admission, they did maintain that the final photograph was authentic. Furthermore, they also remained firm in their assertion that they did in fact physically see fairies. These photographs, whether real or hoaxed, have formed the basis of what modern people think of as fairies. Well, this and Williams Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Yet, historically, fairies have been described as fearsome creatures who not only cause mischief but also steal babies.
The Hidden People
Fairies were once so terrifying that people refused to name them. Instead, they just referred to them as the Hidden People. Homer wrote of Fairies in the Iliad in 1000 BCE. In this account he reports “watery fairies dance in mazy rings.” Meanwhile, historian, Gervase of Tilbury, wrote about fairies in the 13th century in England who described them as resembling very old men with wrinkles.
There exists many subsets of creatures within the realm of the Fae. These creatures include, but are not limited to, hobgoblins, pixies, and brownies. And while folklore about the fairy realm spans cultures throughout the world, it is the European folklore that has had the most influence on modern myth. As European immigrants came to America, they brought their cultural myths and likely a few household spirits along with them. Early customs held that fairies could and, if so inclined, turn the milk sour, steal or move objects around the house, lure travelers into a bog and certain death, and in some instances steal children.
Irish folklore relates that children who are sickly and do not grow properly are actually fairy babies. These babies were to take the place of a human baby stolen by the fairies. Why might this happen? Legend has it that a very old fairy would take the place of a human child so that he/she could live in comfort. It is unsurprising that a number of charms were created to prevent such a thing from happening. Iron scissors placed near where a child sleeps or a coat turned inside out in order to confuse the fae.
Similarly, fairies were known to take new mothers from the human realm to nurse fairy babies. Furthermore, young humans were often kidnapped to be married to a fairy. Interestingly, fairies would enchant an object such as a log to look like the human they had taken. The log would then begin to turn sickly and eventually died. Meanwhile the human was living amongst the fairies.
Tuatha De Danann
Irish folklore relates the history of a supernatural race called the Tuatha De Danann. They lived in the Otherworld and possessed supernatural powers. While they look much like humans, they do not get sick or age. Not only do they have control over the weather and elements, they can also shapeshift. As burial mounds are considered entrances to the Otherworld, it is believed that this is where they reside. According to Medieval Christian writers, the Tuatha De Danann were fallen angels who neither sided with God nor Lucifer. They have become associated with the fairies of Ireland and in some instances, described as the first race.
Fairies of Today
Once upon a time, I was a paranormal investigator. During this time, our team encountered hauntings that felt different, and we soon began to realize that we weren’t dealing with ghosts. One night our fellow investigator ran in, and he was as white as a sheet. He could barely speak from fear. He has witnessed a small creature about 18 inches tall run down from a tree and under his car. Of course, everyone dashed out of the house to investigate. While we didn’t see anything, pictures were taken, and the creature appeared on one of our photos! That was when a few of us began investigation elementals. They have a fun and playful energy in my opinion. While I personally am unable to see them with my naked eye, I have captured them on film. At least I firmly believe this to be true. As with any being, human, ghost, or fae, if treated with respect they will respond in kind.
Don’t Piss Off the Fairies!
Folklorists of today believe that regarding fairies with respect is the best course of action. Be nice and they will be nice to you. Consider this: in the past fairies were feared and blamed for any number of mishaps. In theory, this way of thinking caused more misadventures because they pissed off the fairies. With this in mind here is a true story from a place I used to live. The townhomes were brand new. We moved in maybe a month after they were completed. Within the first few days the ice dispenser on our brand-new refrigerator began throwing ice at us. I am not kidding. When one of us would walk by the fridge, ice would shoot out of the dispenser and at times make contact. Then, our brand-new dishwasher started leaking. Water was everywhere! Sigh. Finally, a pipe behind the wall burst and water began pouring out of the light switch! Seems like some rotten luck. I began to wonder if our new place had been built on a fairy mound. To test the theory, I apologized to them and explained that we didn’t build the place and made an offering to them. The offering was a small container with water in it, crystals, and fairy figurines set up in the house for them to visit. Guess what! The leaks stopped, and the ice dispenser began to function properly. Was it coincidence? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I would rather take a chance of being on the right side of the fairies just in case!
Thank You for reading! If you have any experiences or evidence, we would love to hear about it!