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The Fairy Faith Revisted

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By E Gertrude Thomson (Allingham W The Fairies) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons By E Gertrude Thomson (Allingham W The Fairies) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

About the faerie from the Files of the River Journal's Surrealist Research Bureau

The Clark Fork Library has a quite interesting lobby display this month celebrating the realm of fairies, elves, and the good people, I assume in honor of the recent Saint Patrick’s Day holiday. One book not on display, but still among their shelves, is the classic “Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries,” the first early work by the esteemed scholar W.Y. Evans-Wentz, whose later translations of such esoteric tomes as the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” and “Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines” (and others) are rightfully considered ground-breaking studies of not only scholarly research, but of “one who understood religious teachings from his own experience and practice as well as from study.”

 “The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries” (1911) was not only his first foray into the realms of the spirit but the questions it posed resonate today as well. What are Fairies? Are they real? Dr. Evans-Wentz traipsed through the Irish countryside interviewing poets, seers, farmers and teachers. In Aberfoyle, where two centuries earlier a local minister, Rev. Robert Kirk, had similarly investigated the Fairy Faith, resulting in his 1691 book “The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies,” the good Doctor Evans-Wentz likewise quizzed local residents and gathered testimony, sitting beside peat fires in lonely, dimly lit hillside cottages recording beliefs and sightings of the little people. The Rev. Kirk, by the way, was reported to have been carried away to Fairyland shortly after his book was published. His gravesite still remains in his small church cemetery but legends aver that it is empty.

Modern-day researchers into crop circles will find plenty to ponder in “The Fairy Faith,” for far from being a strictly 20th century phenomena there are countless anecdotes and tales in the book describing the rings left in the fields by the fairies dancing in them at night, weaving elvish lights in circles at certain times of the year, chiefly midsummer solstice and November Eve. Other early hints to modern researchers include, in astro-archeology, the prescient revelations that many of the ancient standing stones, mounds, and monuments (such as Stonehenge and Newgrange) are astronomically placed and sited. As well, long before Jung’s “Flying Saucers” or of Vallee’s ground-breaking “Passport to Magonia” there are hints that the Irish traditions of changelings and fairy abductions are evolving into encounters with UFOnauts and hybrids.

Years ago, in a now-ancient TRJ article, I related a true tale of a fairy sighting by a more recent eyewitness, a personal acquaintance, an Irishman and recent immigrant to the U.S. In Ireland’s County Wicklow, while still a teenager, Bert and a friend named Jimmy were returning from a weekend fishing excursion through the countryside when they became disoriented. A mist was rolling in and they spied a tiny old woman dressed in green, apparently gathering herbs on a small mound, and they decided to ask her for directions. They’d no sooner reached the mound when the old woman just vanished before their eyes.

Now all Fairy sightings seem to have a twist to them and Bert now flashed forward nearly 30 years to the time he’d returned to his beloved Ireland from a long U.S. exile for a vacation with his wife. They went into a random pub for a wee pint and heard a patron at the next table regaling his mates with a tale of his fairy sighting of a tiny old woman in green nearly 20 years previously. Bert then recognized his old friend Jimmy and he happily walked over and verified his friend’s story to his astonished mates.

Dr. Evans-Wentz collected hundreds of such tales, sightings and anecdotes and I’ll relate one to you at random; Mr. T.C. Kermode of Peel, a member of the Irish Parliament, told of how in late October of 1870, “I and another young man were going to a harvest celebration one evening when we happened to look across the moor and he said “oh look, the fairies are dancing!” We saw a circle of light and in the midst I saw rushing into it a great host of small beings, scant inches high, dancing around in a circle. I was dumfounded and at a loss for words when my companion struck the stone wall between us and the light with his cane and shouted out “Begone!” and the light and the vision vanished together into the darkness.”

Note: “The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries” by W.Y. Evans Wentz is available at the Clark Fork Library. A DVD is available at the Sandpoint Library on “The Modern Fairy Faith” and is well worth your time as well, a mostly modern account of numerous credible witnesses to sightings today.

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Jody Forest Jody Forest When he's not hidden behind the palatial gates of his Dover estate, Casa de Bozo, Jody is out using outdated and corny pickup lines on various gullible women.

Tagged as:

Surrealist Research Bureau, fairy, faerie, St Patricks Day, Clark Fork Library

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