What are we to make of these winged, ephemeral creatures that inhabit the hidden regions of the human psyche and the overgrown forests where our ancestors once worshipped their mysterious Old Gods? It is easy to see why a strange mystical state, enveloping fairies has arisen when we examine the various (at first seemingly contradictory) factors attached to these splendid beings.
For the sake of simplicity I shall hereby explore the preeminent working strands of thought-process connected to Fairy Lore.
FAIRIES FROM THE OLD GODS AND AS A SUPPRESSION OF NATIVE CULTURAL PAGAN BELIEF
When the first Celtic peoples came to these Isles around six hundred years before Caesar’s crack legions marched in, they brought with them their own brand of polytheistic, religious beliefs and styles of worship.
Each: mountain, stone, tree, lake, hill and river was perceived as having its own tutelary spirit or deity. This concept is of course not only peculiar to the Gaelic or Brythonic (British) Celts, other Pagan races too viewed the world in a similarly parallel manner.
The Romans believed that everything and also its action contained a spiritual entity i.e. the Genius Loci the spirit within.
The genius of a man possessed two aspects, one positive whilst the other being negative. When these existed in harmony balance was achieved. If however the Genius was unhappy then mental erosion was imminent. Incidentally, contemporary psychology would seem to validate this ancient wisdom when we look at illnesses like schizophrenia and various other forms of derangement, which stem from the unbalanced mind.
The conscious and sub-conscious must work in unison for complete physical/mental/spiritual health.
These aerial companions influenced a man’s destiny by their respective good/bad behaviour. Genialis guarded over the affairs of the marriage bed, which was the place of generative reproduction, giving rise to the modern words: generative, genital and generation etc.
Genii presided over man commencing with his birth, woman were protected by the Juno’nes.
Today, this personal deity concept has been somewhat adulterated by trendy New Age-ism into what has come to be called the Higher-Self/Consciousness.
The nearest monotheistic adherents can get to it is known as the ‘Guardian Angel’, a protective sentinel watching over one’s welfare.
The Roman peoples, who fully realised the beneficial necessity of connecting with these vital aspects of divinity, commonly erected temples to each deity. The fact that many gods and goddesses were perceived as being of a ‘winged’ or aerial nature i.e. Cupido (Cupid), Victoria (Victory), etc. gives us a clue to their later inferiorisation into fairies at the hands of ruling Christian fundamentalism.
Angels too partly fall somewhere into this supernatural category; with many gaining their familiar traditions and countenance from once highly venerated classical gods and goddesses of mythology.
When the Christian missionaries arrived in these old Isles (now the UK), first after gaining native trust then power, they embarked upon a zealous religious crusade to beguile the indigenous peoples away from their earth-orientated beliefs to the somewhat intolerant new ways, represented under the sign of the Cross.
Long worshipped deities that couldn’t be torn out of the psyches of simple country folk were insidiously suppressed into lesser beings.
Some were changed into holy saints like the great Celtic Fire Goddess Brigit, who ended up being canonized as Saint Briget/Brigid of Kildare.
Magnificent horned gods of nature/fertility such as Pan and Herne became odious depictions of Satan, whilst other deities ended up as heroic kings and elegant queens.
These critical factors are prime evidence of the insidious way in which the Church infiltrated usurped then evangelised popular native traditions and faith.
Surely, one may suppose, turning native spirituality into grandiose Kings/Queens i.e. Arthur/Guinevere cannot be an actual downgrading. Well to that naïve postulation I would say; just imagine the tumult in contemporary society if some brave soul suggested that the sacred countenance of Christ be changed into a mortal kingly/heroic figure or the Immaculate Virgin converted into the Queen of Holland, Germany or Sweden. Riot may appear too strong a word to use here (although I personally doubt it); nonetheless there would undoubtedly be much uproar and bitter emotional protest from enraged, hard-line Christians.
Pagan peoples worldwide on the other hand, have had to tolerate centuries of ambiguous Christian based propaganda/disinformation about their traditions, customs and faiths.
Naturally, much of New-Age philosophy broaches on ancient wisdom and the concept of ‘everything’ containing its own spirit, energy, aura, chi or life force if you prefer. This concept is quite in keeping with the old religious ways of our Pagan ancestors.
The Church may loathe the fact but the actual halo painted around its Holy/saintly figures in art is merely an early portrayal of the aura.
The first missionaries and power hungry church fathers went to an outrageous lot of trouble to commandeer, censor and repress our indigenous earth-orientated spirituality.
This is in fact one reason why mind-conditioners heading contemporary monotheism still seek to prohibit all unorthodox, spiritual alternatives, i.e. Paganism, New-Age philosophies, Occultism, etc that transgresses from the acceptably common conformist tradition.
The fascinating ‘Supernaturalism’ of Fairy-Lore fits into this repression-based equation quite splendidly.
Fairy Hills in these Isles abound, where immense deities once held firm the loyalty, respect and love of the honest country folk. If we bother to trace it, the wailing cry of the Banshee (Woman of the Hill) will lead us back to various aspects of the awesome, Gaelic Goddess of War-the Badb.
The King of the Irish Fairies, Finvarra, is a contemporary equivalent of a powerful Irish deity who once presided over wine cellars and horse stables.
After defeat of the Tuatha De Danann (hierarchy of famed gods named after the goddess Danu) at the hands of the Milesians (first Gaelic settlers on Irish land), Finvarra was assigned the ‘Sidh Meadha’ – an underground dwelling at Knockma.
Many other deities were also given such subterranean realms by the Earth God, Dagda, at various locations throughout Ireland.
Similar tales of deity exile have come to light in other lands too.
Naturally with time and the push of absolutist monotheism, the Old Gods became to be seen as somewhat inferior beings, i.e. the Fairy-Folk of legend.
This subtle demotion of native divinity can be traced back into practically all countries.
In fact wherever we find evidence of ancient traditions/customs involving Pixies, Fairies, Trolls, Elves or other beings of the mystical unseen world we will no doubt discover evidence of monotheistic suppression of indigenous, Pagan faiths.
Try as it may over and over again, the Church has been quite unable to completely exterminate genuine native spirituality from the hearts and minds of the ordinary populace.
Our Fairy Lore is a vital and distinct link to essential, religious aspects of our Pre-Christian heritage.
FAIRIES IN RACE MEMORY
Another branch of thought suggests that Fairy Lore originates from an ancient race memory of earlier civilisations.
This hypothesis actually works in very well with what we have already discussed. Taking Celtic mythology as an example, we can see just how much race memory fits into this assimilation.
When the first Celts arrived in our Isles they of course realised that they were not the only people here.
Aboriginal Stone Age tribes had hunted and farmed these lands long before the earliest Celts set sail for our green shores. Ancient monuments made of stone covered the landscape and the Celts trepidation at first seeing these incredible creations must have been immense.
The Neolithic inhabitants were neither uncivilized nor unintelligent, they had their own richly unique culture and the Celts no doubt soon found this fact out.
Incidentally, contemporary druids (Celtic priests) must remember that stone circles and other megalithic structures of worship, were built by a race much older than the Celtic one. These antediluvian stone-using peoples were however ultimately overtaken, amalgamated but never quite removed by the invading, technically superior metal-crafting Celts.
Although evidence of advancement in tool culture was taking place prior to Celtic arrival, with some tribal pockets beginning to use the earliest metalworking, many wilder areas would still probably be attached to their Stone Age technology.
This Neolithic-minded native people must have seemed quite strange to the Celts, their customs and traditions being markedly different in many ways. The Celts must have feared and respected the earlier folk. This was not because of their size or weaponry but because, like all conquering races, they knew little of the magickal ways of their seemingly more primitive opponents.
The Roman Legionaries found themselves in a similar uncomfortable position of awe mixed with tight-lipped uneasiness later in history, when they faced their first screaming, woad-painted, Celtic charioteers and the wild Druidic priests who arrogantly stood in their way.
Dark fear of the unknown is a prime key to vital survival and the evolution of our species.
What is not understood holds power over us until we can burst the bubble of obscurity that surrounds it.
It is often said in popular folklore that the fairies are afraid of IRON. It is also believed that they: have tribes, families, weddings, live in caverns, held magickal ability to control the weather etc. Is this proof of an older, largely unknown culture?
Could this perhaps be evidence of the ancient Celtic dread of an old primitive yet lethal tribal enemy, which possessed shamanistic skills beyond the scope and understanding of supposedly more advanced iron-age conquerors?
I believe that this hypothesis concerning deity demonisation/demotion and also race memory of lost cultures forms a large part of the legend behind Fairy Lore.
FAIRIES AS NATURE DEITIES, ELEMENTALS AND SPIRITS
The above comments seek to explain, albeit concisely, the place of Fairies in the ‘physical’ scheme of things.
We can only venture a short distance in the materialistic/worldly sense when exploring Fairy Lore. To go further down this secret pathway we must endeavour to look behind the obvious to find the hidden, mystical language dwelling deep within the land of the Little Fair People.
Magick (not, I may add, the popular stage conjurer’s ‘Magic’) is the Power of wondrous Creation. It is neither good nor bad it is, like electricity or lightening, merely ‘there’.
Fairies can be perceived as magickal creatures that have evolved like us within a certain dimension or within a certain reality if you please. They have been appreciated as captivating entities, which dwell on an elemental plane of existence somewhere betwixt man and the gods. They can be seen as beings living just under (or over) the physical level, the place where solid reality has not yet quite managed to achieve full materialisation.
Some have sought to portray them as personifications of the spiritual action, which ensures activity in the natural cycle. Just because we cannot always see something with our optical sense does not mean that it fails to exist.
If we stand in front of a stationary aeroplane’s propeller it is visible it is there, filling a given place in space and time.
We understand this it is logical, yet what happens if the propeller is spinning at extremely high speed? It seems to disappear from view although it is in effect still there. A similar thing occurs when a dog whistle is blown. The hound unmistakably zooms in on the call; however a human cannot hear this high frequency.
The reality stands; an event has indeed taken place beyond the normal range of our senses.
Our consciousness is conditioned to accept certain defined data whilst ignoring much which surrounds us in the everyday world. The old chestnut of “Things that go bump in the night” comes to mind here. Things also go bump in the day yet our mundane consciousness is programmed to ignore these events. We simply block out things that do not interest us most of the time.
In a crowded room full of chatting people we can ‘tune-in’ to one voice yards away at will, even though nobody else seems to hear the same thing. The other voices are there too; however we simply don’t allow them to enter into our conscious mind-set. We ignore them and block them out.
The point remains, they are still there. What we are talking about here is awareness of the Universe, which surrounds and works through us. We all possess what is sometimes called a psychic filter, censor or guardian.
This device protects us from too much psychic liberation and undercurrent. Most of the time we need to work and function on a mundane level of existence for simple survival. Without the psychic filter we would be blasted out with so much spiritual awareness that it could be detrimental to our health.
I have a feeling that one day modern science/medicine will catch up on this occult wisdom and realise that many mentally ill people are victims of damage or loss to the vital psychic filter.
The old seemingly cruel adage of being: “Away with the Fairies”, when referring to the insane, may hold more water here than we fully realise.
Opening the psychic filter in a natural way through magickal ritual, trance, meditation or divination is an initiated path to greater spiritual awareness and understanding of the unseen dimensions, which constantly impinge upon our being.
Many persons claim to have seen or heard the good Fairy Folk whilst being entranced by the wonder of nature in cornfield, forest, hillside or glen. These encounters may of course often be the creations of the over active mind. They may also be the result of a lowering of the psychic filter, which allows us to experience fellow creatures of this planet (and perhaps other worlds) that are usually ‘just’ out of reach of the everyday human faculties.
FAIRIES AS EXTRATERRESTRIALS USING OTHER DIMENSIONS
Of course we may also ponder at this point about the aspect herein of the Fairy Folk linking to stories of encounters with aliens.
I would not be the first to make such assimilations and cannot see why extraterrestrial beings, that have learned to utilise higher dimensions, would not seek to converse with us on various levels of existence.
I have in fact covered this issue quite deeply in my latest book – UFO: The Search for Truth
Nevertheless, as many have done before, let us celebrate these spirits of nature, these woodland deities as travellers (of this world or others) in time and space.
Let us open up our minds to the vast wonder of creation instead of allowing logical materialism to always deliver a crushing hammer blow to what rests just below the mundane level.
We must, like our ancient forefathers, rediscover the awesome beauty of the magickal world that modern man has at best simply forgotten or at worse sought to purposefully eradicate.
Genuine Fairy-lore is a vital part of our indigenous Pagan culture on all planes of existence. We must realise that this is a part of our spiritual birthright and not allow contemporary mind-monopolisers to destroy it.
Smell the Pine tree’s pleasing fragrance by full moon-light, hear the sad call of the Curlew, Feel the warm southern breeze from the sea and open up your own personal awareness to exciting new heights. If you don’t then you are sadly missing much of the fantastic universe around you and only living half a life.
The next time you see a portrait or replica of a fairy in the high street gift shop, think on dear reader about your phenomenal, native Pagan heritage that has helped to fashion such an image of fleeting, magickal beauty.