Tag Archives: fairy

GWM – Old Midsummer’s Day

Old Midsummer Day today, a potent magical day, often associated with Fairies. There are stories that farmers would leave gates open so fairies could traverse their routes across the fields. It is also the Feast of St John the Baptist – the solar flowers of St John’s wort would be worn in garlands- don’t lose your head!

My friend Caroline Wise wrote this; I’d forgotten about the farmers leaving gates open for the Faer Folk to walk their lands. Next year I’ll make sure I do that for my garden.

Arthur Rackham

In biodynamics people talk about elements and elementals but how many are brave enough to actually accept, or admit openly, that the Gnomes, Ondines, Sylphs and Salamanders they talk about are real, not archetypes to be talked about or some other thing that puts a distance between themselves and reality? The thesaurus gives the following for the word archetype … models, epitomes, prototypes, originals, prime, example. Most people only feel comfortable with the first of these words – models – and use it in terms of an idea, concept of the elementals, not that they are real beings. When Jung brought the word into the general vocabulary, through his main themes, he was certainly not meaning anything so narrow. He was taking archetypes as being the essences, the personifications and embodiments of Spirit … which is what the elementals that we work with in biodynamics are.

John Anster Fitzgerald

We may well see them as Arthur Rackham style figures. Don’t mock that nor think they are only for children and romantics. Rackham, like his contemporaries John Anster Fitzgerald, Richard Dadd and others painted from life, they saw what they painted. Seeing the elementals as fairy folk should not denigrate them for us, nor make working biodynamically something to be ashamed of or hide from our friends. Our ancestors saw them, even going back only as far as the 1950s and 60s when my farming and gardening uncles introduced me to them. Awenyddion, British shamans such as my hard-working uncles and father were, have never been gab-mouthed about the things they see and do but they were always willing to talk to you if you really seemed interested and unlikely to mock or act superior.

Richard Dadd

It makes a difference to your life and the life of your garden if you are willing to open up enough to accept the elementals as real. I’ve met many folk who say, after a little time in my garden and maybe a cup of tea, “I wish I could see them …” It often sounds wistful and is usually in a semi-whisper. I do my best to assure them they can, if they really wish to.

That’s the thing. You have to really wish to and make sure the elementals know that you do. Then you have to learn to see. It’s unlikely the Faer Folk will put on a full Hollywood production! You have to be aware, to notice little things. It may be that you keep getting flickers of light at the corner of your eye, noticing things flashing past nut unable to keep up with them to see them. Often the elementals appear to be very fast to our untutored eye, we have to get out eye in. Part of learning to do this is not to write off flashes and flickers and unexplained things in the manner we’ve mostly been taught to do in modern society. You have to cut that mode of thinking and allow that there might be something unexplained happening, something the TV programmes can’t account for. Yes, there really is life beyond the stuff we’re given on the TV! What was it Hamlet said?

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

“as a stranger” … mmm! Yes, to us at first, the elements are strangers; we’ve not met them before, we have all the usually prickly, not-quite-sure feeling we get when we meet someone new that we can’t instantly fathom.

The Celtic tradition, indeed the tradition of most shamanic peoples, was that the stranger was always the guest, always welcomed, invited in, given food and shelter and warmth. That applied to all, including the Faer Folk. In those times the enemy was far more likely to be someone you knew rather than the stranger. That’s actually still true today; e.g. incest is far more likely to be committed by a family member than an outsider; however we now prefer to think of the stranger as being the enemy and this carries over to anything unknown including elementals.

To see the elementals you need to turn this habit of thought around; to follow Hamlet’s advice and give the stranger welcome. There are indeed more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our everyday philosophies. Allow yourself to see the flashes, query them gently, ponder on them, notice when, where and how they happen; make correlations in your own mind. Gradually there will be enough in your mind-cauldron to spark understanding and recognition. It’s not a kids’ instant gratification thing; it takes time and patience and work on your part but the result is so worthwhile.

Try it. Then next summer, next midsummer day when the sun begins to move on again from the solstice standstill, next 24th of June, you too can leave your garden gates open and ask the elementals to walk your land with blessings.

Visions of Faerie

It didn’t take me long, as a child, to realise that the cutesy creatures with wings weren’t the real deal. With access to folklore, I discovered a world of faerie folk and spirits of place that was neither safe nor cute. The Lords and Ladies, The Good Neighbours, The Little Folk. Offend them at your peril. Whether you think they are real or not, they act as representation of our relationship with nature, conveying the message that anything less than care and politeness could cost us dear.

For me, there are certain books that encapsulate my sense of what faerie is. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norris is a fine case in point. Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market and Yeats’ Stolen Child capture both the allure and danger. The suggestion of faerie will cause me to pick up a book and read the blurb. So many times I’ve put those books down again, able to tell that the author just doesn’t get it. More often than not, it’s the sheer otherness that isn’t conveyed. Faeries are not just humans with pointy ears and better costumes. In folklore, they are a race apart, with radically different attitudes and rules.

I came to Giselle Renarde’s ‘Secrets of the Solstice Sacrifice’ as an editor not a reader. (Just so you know I have biases). Renarde’s faeries are not part of some uncanny otherworld, but instead exist in our world, just beyond human perception but occasionally impinging on it. She makes them very much a part of nature, as a significant portion of faeries are (kelpies, piskies, pookas, boccans and so forth are very much in the world). However, she gives them a social structure more suggestive of the Shinning Hordes style faerie who troop between their mounds at Samhain and Beltain. It raises some interesting questions about how we designate an entity as spirit of place, or as fey. I suspect these are rather arbitrary, human ways of looking that don’t reflect the actualities all that well, but we are stuck with our human perceptions, language and understanding when it comes to dealing with that which is other.

The usual way of handling faeries in fiction is to send in a mortal character we can relate to – be that Janet of Carterhaugh in Tam Lin, or Thomas the Rhymer encountering the Queen of Elfland. These two tales pitch mortals against faeries, Janet rescuing the human Tam from captivity amongst the Fair Folk, Thomas enchanted by the Faerie Queen, but eventually returning to the world. It is, in many ways, the easiest way of exploring otherness in fiction – looking through the eyes of someone we can readily relate to. It helps to make the Shinning ones accessible, without bringing them too close.

Renarde takes the bold move of telling her tale from an entirely faerie set of perspectives. There are no human characters to engage with. She runs with two perspectives, characters who are both sympathetic, and very clearly not human. Part of the success of this stems, I think, from her very careful language use, having elements that take her characters away from human experience without making them unreadable. No mean feat, I would say. There’s also a dash of magic. Renarde isn’t a pagan, but she handles ritual and sex magic with a deft touch, creating scenarios I think the majority of pagans would find resonant (and sexy).

The language of faerie, of fey is used by, and about glbt folk. For a while ‘fairy’ meant camp, and probably gay, certainly if used in relation to a man. It doesn’t seem so prevalent as a term at the moment, but it’s out there, and I’ve known glbt folk who adopted fey names as an expression of self. To be fey, and other, may be to be gender-queer, and not part of the mainstream. Which means that it works on many levels to set a transgender tale in the context of faerie folk. Renarde’s faeries can wish themselves into being whatever they desire, so for most, gender change would be an easy option should they seek it. Renarde crafts some startling challenges for her characters. Even in a culture rooted in otherness, it is still possible not to be able to fit, and the journey to becoming who you are, is still a tricky one. This is a story that works well on a metaphorical level as well as being a good piece of folklore rooted fantasy.

Here’s the opening…

Y Tylwyth Teg, the fair folk, have lived on this mount since before there was a country to speak of. After a skirmish with y gwragedd annwn, the wee folk of the lakes and streams, our great-mothers and fathers, settled in these hills and became the gwyllion, good folk of the mountain. There were no human creatures in that time—only the fair folk, existing unhindered in our ways and travels. We used to ride the wild horses over hill and dale. These days, they’ve all been tamed and we’ve taken to riding wild pigs, errant dogs, and even ducks, if we must.

It’s out today from loveyoudivine, and well worth a look. http://www.loveyoudivine.com/index.php?main_page=document_product_info&cPath=6_61&products_id=677 – and there’s another excerpt over there too.

So why did I write a book about angels?

This is a pagan blog, so why is my first book, “The Fallen Fae” about angels? The book is based on the concept of the Fae (the fairies) being the fallen angels of heavan when Lucifer lead the original rebellion against God because he would no bow down to Adam and Eve.

I always thought of the Fae as specific entity or species of mythology and the domain of paganism. So why was there a Christian explanation of the Fae? This got me thinking and to explain, we need to go back and do some defining of Paganism.

There are many differing definitions of paganism but the general consensus is that anything pre-Christian is classed as pagan. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities as there is a lot of history and a lot of “religions” that held the worlds imagination before the beginning of Christianity.

If by definition any pre-Christian is pagan, then everything including the Druids, Norse, Wiccan, Celtic, Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, Aboriginal, Taoism, Hindi and many more both living and dead religions are pagan.

Some of the Christian rituals that have been incorporated into our society are actually pagan rites that were blended into Christianity to make the assimilation easier. There are numerous examples of this and many major Christian holidays are celebrated around the same time as many pagan events that correspond to natures calendar, such as Christmas adn the summer or winter solstice (depending on what part of the himisphere you reside). Another example from a different pagan “religion” is the Christmas tree that was originally believed to be in honour of Odin, the Norse God.

So, if Christianity has blended some elements from pagan cultures, is it possible to do the reverse and blend some Christian theories into paganism? For example, angels. But not all angels are Christian. If you use the Greek “Angelos” meaning a super natural being, then that can incorporate both Christian and pagan entities.

The Christian angels such as Archangels and angels of death have the same chores as Celtic Fairies and Norse Valkyrie. A lot of pagan religions have “super natural beings” that have the same standing as the angels, such as bringing the souls of the recently dead to “heaven”, “Valhalla” or the “Underworlds”.

So I wrote a fantasy novella on the theory of Christianity’s version of the creation of the Fae, because it was another aspect on a mythology of many pagan religions. And whichever branch of Paganism you follow take care to note the similiarities and differences between it and many other belief systems.

Cheers

Connie

www.conniewood.co.cc