Real Fairies and Nature Spirits
“This we know: The Earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are united like the blood, which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.” –Chief Seattle
Article by: Craig Hamilton-Parker. Most fragrances are associated with a flower, tree, or plant and tradition has it that connected with each of these is a protective spirit. Usually called elemental, they may include nature spirits, faeries, devas, pixies, elves, and so on. Today we think of fairies as sweet little creatures with gossamer wings, but in the past they were real fairies: beings to be feared and avoided. The Irish poet Yeats called them the “gods of the earth” and believed that they “have no inherent form but changed according to their whim, or the mind that sees them.”
Nature spirits such as fairies are often associated with trees, flowers, and plants.
Could it be that some places are influenced by invisible spirits that can occasionally take form to people who are open to them? Certainly, many people believe that fairies can be our protective helpers–or may be something we need protection from. The Pygmy Theory attests that fairies are a folk memory of a people who really did exist and inhabited the Earth long ago. Today, we see them as ghost-like images at places where the natural earth energy is strong.
It may be that real fairies and other elemental beings are spirits at an early stage of evolution existing somewhere between human and animal form. Similarly, they could be like the thought forms that we discussed earlier–possibly created by centuries of fear and superstition. Psychologist Carl Jung’s explanation was that they are symbols from the unconscious.
Since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s rather naïve acceptance of some fake fairy photographs, this has become a bit of a no-go area for Spiritualists! Nonetheless, I recall standing near a well on an ancient British ley line site and seeing all around me tiny creatures of light. My Irish friend, who had been walking with me, saw them simultaneously and immediately accepted them as fairy lights. They certainly were not an optical effect, coming from rubbing the eyes, and they could not have been fireflies. But what is most puzzling is that moments before seeing them, we had been immersed in a conversation as we walked about whether fairies exist or not. Certainly the experience, for my friend and me at least, gave credence to their reality.
Evil Fairies and Nature Spirits
A great many superstitions surround the appeasement of fairies. For example, in many parts of Europe the spilling of milk was considered good luck, as it provided food for the good fairies that scurried about on the ground. Paying homage to the fairies in this way would buy their protection against evil spirits or bad luck. Certain times of year are associated with fairies, too. For example, the first of May is regarded as a special time in the pagan calendar. On this day you should keep your eye on the clock; for until noon, the power of the fairies is at its strongest. Only after the sun sets in the evening, and the official end of the traditional May Day festival, are we safe from fairy mischief!
One of the greatest fears associated with ‘real fairies’ was that they could steal babies that had not been baptized. To avoid this, concerned parents must tie up a little bit of salt in the baby’s dress before laying it down to sleep. Mobiles designed to hang over a baby’s bed were made of scissors! Hanging like the sword of Damocles, they were said to protect the child from fairies. Covering the child with an article of clothing belonging to the father served the same purpose, however. (My socks can keep away the most evil of spirits!) Folklore says that adults should use fire to protect themselves from fairy magic, because only humans have the power to overcome and control the flames. The most certain protection technique, then, is to make a ring of fire around a child’s cradle, so fairies have no power to harm the child. I do not, however, recommend this technique as it may do the baby great harm. At the least, I have found that the ceilings tend to get a little sooty.
Popular today are the flower fairies that are seen on greeting cards and the like. Many people believe that certain associated flowers can have a protective influence. For example, lavender flower is said to help us to contact the fairies, whereas rosemary gives protection from dangerous ones. The fairy spirits of the gardenia flower are said to protect loved ones and children, and the snapdragon fairies bring protection from deceit and curses. Hold these flowers secretly in your hand and others will see you as gracious and fascinating.
Similarly, trees have protective fairy spirits that can be summoned in times of need. The most sacred tree of all is the hawthorn, the sacred tree of the fairies. It’s spirit has knowledge of protection as well as growth and fertility. Other protection fairies are associated with the alder, which protects clairvoyants working with scrying; the cedar, brings calm and balance; and a spruce growing in your backyard will protect the family while sleeping. Many people still take fairies seriously, calling upon them for help or for special magical powers. But, for most people today, fairies are no longer the frightening elemental associated with particular sacred sites and earth energy. Instead, they have become benign, silly things, as depicted in the illustrations of Disney, Arthur Rackham, Henry Hall Pickersgill and Richard Dadd.
Perhaps our modern scepticism, past superstition, and romantic notions blind us to a fascinating aspect of nature that is worthy of proper investigation.