Fairies are an ancient concept, a race or category of magical beings so imbedded in our fantasies, bedtime stories and deliberate flights from reality, that it is almost impossible to take them seriously as a possible reality. They have been so cherished and utilized by our imagination, incorporated into so many works of fiction and art, that our ability to view them as anything but pure inventions of the mind has been nearly destroyed. Up until now, I have met only a handful of people who openly admit to believing in their existence, even in circles committed to embracing the unlikely.

However, there is an interesting thing to note about fairies. In the past, they were not only widely believed in, but they were also widely perceived. In those olden days, not only were there amazing tales pertaining to the fairies, which were passed down from times still older in the manner of legends; but there was also, in every generation, an abundance of contemporary witnesses well-known and respected by their neighbors, who kept the fairy-faith alive by resupplying the tradition with new and very direct, personal experiences with fairies. The closest analogy we have, today, to the fairy contacts of the past, would be the UFO phenomenon, which is characterized by numerous sightings of flying saucers and sometimes of their extraterrestrial occupants. In modern times, there is a UFO situation going on, whether "real" or psychological, and it is constantly being nourished by new reported incidents of direct human experience with unidentified flying objects and the alien beings said to pilot them. In the past, it was this way with the fairies, as well; except that, during considerable periods of history and in some locations, sightings of fairies were not overly damaging to the reputation of those who were involved, who were protected from ridicule by a general acceptance of the phenomenon.

Given the operating principles of the modern scientific paradigm which governs us today, fairies appear utterly ridiculous, except in their tolerated (and, in fact, beloved) role as characters of our mythology and folklore. We do not believe in immaterial, invisible beings who do not conform to our limited, yet staunchly-held, concepts of how the world works. Whereas it is not at all an invalid rule of thumb to suspect, at once, those observations which are at odds with the models of reality with which we are able to make sense of the universe in so many other ways, it is just as certainly dangerous to discount any major body of observations which history has amassed merely because they do not fit with our hypothesis. Our models are supposed to respond to our observations, not to suffocate them. To some extent the reigning models may legitimately serve as filters for what we see, screening out likely human errors; but once the weight of observations reaches a certain point, the automatic act of filtering ceases to be beneficial and, instead, becomes repressive. Then, it is the model, itself, which must seek to adjust: to expand and grow, and to cope with what is upsetting it.

Unfortunately, the present scientific paradigm places very little value upon anecdotal evidence. Human eyes are distrusted, and human minds considered powerful and impressionable enough to manufacture false realities out of thin air; to imagine fantasies so vivid that they equal the sensory experiences generated by real events; to hallucinate, succumb to lucid dreams, and project their own inner world onto the tabla rasa of the world around them. In this way, we can see faces in the moon, turn schools of dolphins into sea serpents, and manatees into mermaids. A balloon flying in the sky can become a UFO and a man walking through a field in the night can become a fairy.

For evidence to have a bite in modern times, it must be verified by various material proofs: there must be indisputable photographic, electromagnetic, or chemical evidence, radar signals, tissue samples, or a body; and somehow, "laboratory conditions" must be injected into the field, to guarantee the purity of the evidence-taking. In other words, the special rigors and very nature of the proof required mitigate against the acceptance of the kind of evidence likely to surface in the case of a paranormal encounter, and virtually disinherit the anecdote from the history of humankind’s intellectual development. In spite of its professed allegiance to openness, the prevailing paradigm has built a system of proof around it which, going far beyond the needs of preserving mere thoughtfulness, seems designed to guard its supremacy by denying existence to what it cannot explain. Whereas UFOs have been tenacious in the face of scientific resistance, precisely because they have generated enough material proofs to bolster the weight of anecdote (photos, videos, radar images, etc.), and because they loosely conform to the modern scientific paradigm (intelligent life beyond the earth is considered likely, and space travel is a reality), the fairy phenomenon, which lacks these supports, is pretty much on the fringe, and without any shred of credibility.

But my purpose in writing this little article is to challenge this state of affairs, and to insist on the legitimacy of anecdote as a means of proving the "extraordinary" – not in all cases, and not necessarily definitively – but, at the very least, in the case of large-scale, documented bodies of anecdotal evidence amassed over time and preserved in writing or in oral tradition, which I say ought not to be dismissed simply because there is no material exhibit to complement them. Such weighty bodies of anecdote ought, instead, to be given their full due, and treated with respect and consideration. Many thousands of people who have been moved, touched and affected by experiences which we do not wish to believe in, ought not to be discounted merely for the sake of our own pride or peace of mind. To do so would be a great injustice, as well as an unforgivable act of arrogance on our part.

And yet – fairies!? They are on the very edge! How could anyone dare to believe in them?

Back at the start of the 20th Century, famed Irish poet, scholar, and culture enthusiast William Butler Yeats implored Dr. W.Y. Evans-Wentz, the anthropologist and student of exotic folklore and religions, to embark on a mission of documenting surviving folk traditions and gathering personal testimony pertaining to the ancient Celtic Fairy-Faith, which Yeats feared was rapidly fading before the advance of modern civilization, whose industry and towns were hammering away at mankind’s once intimate ties with nature, degrading the spiritual sensitivity of the human race, strangling the sixth sense of man with skepticism, and altering human consciousness so that it would no longer perceive what was grand, that it might more fully focus on what was practical. The social, environmental, and psychical sources which nourish man’s ability to believe in things so subtle that they can blow away in an instant like a grain of sand were drying up. Before the cultural treasure was lost, Yeats pleaded, it must be recorded, and given to all time. The soul of Ireland, and the imagination of mankind, were at stake!

Evans-Wentz accepted the challenge, and at Yeats’ behest, undertook a serious and substantial tour of lands once inhabited by the ancient Celts and now populated by their descendants: Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany, traveling about these parts and collecting a vast trove of stories pertaining to the fairies, and much modern testimony on behalf of their existence. The result of all this work was published in 1911 in a classic opus entitled The Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries. The book is, essentially, divided into two parts, one of which concentrates on presenting the anecdotes relevant to fairies which he collected during his travels, and the other of which is dedicated to a scholarly analysis of the origins and meaning of the tradition, and which attempts to analyze it in scientific and psychical terms. Evans-Wentz surely amazed his contemporaries by concluding that fairies were actually real: disembodied and intelligent forms of energy which made sense according to the frameworks developed by the psychics of his day. Whereas this conclusion horrified the more scientific of his peers, his great contribution to documenting the fairy phenomenon as something more than a mere collection of myths and fables handed down from the past, was respected by anthropologists the world wide. Evans-Wentz showed, clearly, the depth of the belief in fairies, and showed that it was a part of the lives of living people; that these people had rituals and customs assuming the existence of fairies and that many of them had had, or knew people who had had, direct personal encounters with the fairies. Although the belief was diminishing day by day, being rolled back by "progress" and the mentality which progress demanded, traces of its former glory and intensity were everywhere around him. From the embers, the greatness of the fire could be deduced. Evans-Wentz had carried out his mission none too soon, just before the belief was finally relegated to the domain of the liar and the madman.

Momentarily, I will present some passages from his classic work to transmit something of its flavor and to provide some interesting testimony on behalf of the existence of fairies. But first, a more general discussion might be beneficial.

When fairies are mentioned, there is no clear or concise form or behavior to assign to them. Hardly ever are they the small, winged people so prevalent in our modern-day renditions of them (although I do have one friend who claims to have seen some small flying fairies which gathered about her in her room). They are sometimes the size of ordinary human beings, though usually they are described as more beautiful, and sometimes as radiant or luminous, surrounded by light, or shining with light (but many, and perhaps more times, not). Sometimes they are small, the size of children. Sometimes they are solid and clear in form, sometimes they seem without substance, like phantoms, though at the same time they have the shape and appearance of human beings. Some are said to live in mountains and hills and in caverns, some beneath the earth, some underneath the sea, and some in residences in the sky. Some say they have their own fairy realms far removed from ours, and others that they exist side-by-side with us, but that we cannot see them, and that their fairy realm is akin to another dimension with porous borders through which they can travel into ours, and through which we can, at times, stray into theirs. Some attempt to describe complex categories of fairy people – different tribes and types - almost in the manner of Linnaeus who developed our current system of zoological classification, centered on genus, and species. But others insist that these distinctions are moot, because the fairies are able to shape-shift and to be perceived as they wish to be (depending on how they wish to affect us or interact with us). As one man who claimed to have had direct experiences with the fairies stated to Evans-Wentz: "They are able to appear in different forms. One once appeared to me, and seemed only four feet high, and stoutly built. He said, ‘I am bigger than I appear to you now. We can make the old young, the big small, the small big.’" [1] For those who Evans-Wentz interviewed, theories as to who the fairies were and what was their true nature abounded. There were general patterns of concordance within regions, but much variation, as well, depending upon the way in which the phenomenon interacted with the personal experience, natural inclinations, and upbringing of the witness or recipient of the oral tradition. For many, the fairies were a race of spiritual beings whose life existed on a different plane than man’s; for some others, they were the spirits of the human dead, that is to say, ghosts; for others, they were fallen angels, not so evil as to be sent to Hell. And so, they were cast down from Heaven to live in hills and caverns on the earth until a certain time of redemption should have passed, whereupon they would be free to "go back." According to some observers, diminishing contacts with the fairies in modern times could be explained in terms of their return to God. Along similar lines, but with some important differences, a Scottish Reverend told Evans-Wentz: "[The fairies] are those who left Heaven after the fallen angels; and … those going out after the fallen angels had gone out were so numerous and kept going so long that St. Michael notified Christ that the throne was fast emptying, and when Christ saw the state of affairs he ordered the doors of Heaven to be closed at once, saying as he gave the order, ‘Who is out is out and who is in is in.’ And the fairies are as numerous now as ever they were before the beginning of the world.’" [2]

But these last versions are only the efforts of Christian societies, such as Ireland, Scotland, and the rest of them became, to create their own logic for a pre-Christian, ancient Celtic belief system, which offered its own explanation of the origin and nature of fairies.

In a most wonderful tale, to turn for a moment to the particularity of Ireland, tradition holds than an ancient race in possession of the island, known as the Firbolgs, was forced one day to face the invasion of a new and gifted people, the Tuatha De Danann, skilled in arts and crafts, wise in the ways of mysticism, and fearsome as warriors. The two great rival armies drew up in order of battle, but the Firbolgs, sensing their vulnerability before the newcomers, delayed the initiation of hostilities, which was an act that was possible in those days, due to the moving codes of honor and sense of battlefield justice which prevailed. As described by Irish literary luminary Seumas MacManus: "…[The Firbolgs] observed that their opponents had a superior kind of light spear: so time must be given them to get like weapons made. And they magnanimously pointed out to the Tuatha De Danann that, on the other hand, as they, the Firbolgs, had the advantage of possessing craisechs, heavy spears that could work great destruction, the De Danann needed to provide themselves with craisechs. Anything and everything to stave off the dread matching of courage and skill. Altogether they most skillfully managed to keep the enemy fretting and fuming with impatience for a hundred days and five before the great clash resounded to the heavens." [3] But at last, the great battle began, and it was a savage affair of four entire days. In the end, the Tuatha De Danann triumphed, but in order to cut short the bloodshed, they agreed to allow the Firbolgs to remain in command of a quarter of the island, whereupon they assumed control over the rest. They then proceeded to reign over their new territory until the invasion of a new people, a Celtic group referred to as the Milesians, who were said to have passed through Spain on their way to Ireland (though they may have launched their invasion from points closer to Ireland). Though the culture of the Tuatha De Danann was, in many points, unsurpassed, the Milesians were the stronger military force, and after surviving a series of terrible storms at sea conjured by the De Danann magicians to sink their fleet, they managed, after great loss, to successfully land, and, by means of battle, to become the new rulers of Ireland.

MacManus writes: "Such a great people were the De Danann, and so uncommonly skilled in the few arts of the time, that they dazzled even their conquerors and successors, the Milesians, into regarding them as mighty magicians. Later generations of Milesians to whom were handed down the wonderful traditions of the wonderful people they had conquered, lifted them into a mystic realm, their greatest ones becoming gods and goddesses, who supplied to their successors a beautiful mythology.

"Most conquerors come to despise the conquered, but here they came to honor, almost to worship those whom they had subdued. Which proves not only greatness in the conquered, but also bigness of mind and distinctiveness of character in the conquerors." [4]

According to another account, the Milesians were not so generous, but when deciding to divide the land between themselves and the De Danann, as the De Danann had formerly divided the land between themselves and the conquered Firbolgs, they gave to themselves all of Ireland that was above ground, and to the De Danann all of Ireland that was below the ground. According to popular tradition, the Tuatha De Danann (literally, the "People of the Goddess Dana"), changed their form upon being defeated by the Milesians and made off for the hills, the caverns and the underground hiding places of the land they loved, which became their new abodes in their altered state of living as fairy beings. As many of them were perceived to survive in the beautiful hills they had once cherished, in the old forts that lay upon these hills, and in the hills that were man-made (the burial mounds of their great chieftains), the fairy folk came to be known as the daoine sidhe (pronounced "deena shee"), or "people of the hills" or "mounds." More commonly, the term was shortened so that they were known as the Sidhe, or "Fairy Folk."

The fairy folk, then, in the consciousness of subsequent Irish generations, became a curious mixture of (1) magical beings (the Tuatha De Danann, they believed, had the spiritual understanding and supernatural power to transform themselves into a new state in order to sidestep the conquest of their country by carving out a non-physical place within it); and (2) the spirits of the dead, or ghosts who would not relinquish their stolen country, and who persisted especially around the places of their former glory and their ancient burial sites. The fairies, as they were engendered through this tale, were both a race of gifted men or man-like beings who had the power to alter their very nature, and ghosts of the slain which lived on in the land that had once belonged to them. There was not, for many Irish, a hard division between the two identities, and there was always a relation between the fairy folk and the dead. Many witnesses claimed to have seen the spirits of their departed loved ones living, now, amidst the fairies, and there were also many reports of humans who were believed to have been taken by the fairies, which was not the same as "dying of natural causes."

Anthropologists have produced many different possible explanations for the genesis and vividness of the fairy faith in Ireland and other Celtic lands, but one of the most popular holds that the new conquerors of Ireland continued to be troubled by the persistence of elusive bands of the Tuatha De Danann who, for them, especially in light of their considerable talents, acquired a secretive and unnerving aura of mystery over time which eventually assumed mythological proportions. This was surely combined with the widely-noted, and culturally ubiquitous, human fear of the power of the dead, especially those who one has wronged and against whose new state of nonmaterial being (vividly experienced in dreams) one has no recourse. In many religions, the dead are awarded frightening powers by the imagination; they must, therefore, at all costs, be avoided, warded off, or placated. These psychological processes, widely found to apply in the formation of the world’s mythologies, were believed to have been at work in the reshaping of the fallen Tuatha De Danann into a supernatural force both feared and revered in Ireland. The fairies were both held at bay by charms and behaviors meant to pacify them, and appealed to as aids in times of trouble. As one witness in Ireland told Evans-Wentz: "Under ordinary circumstances, as a very close observer of the Lough Gur peasantry informs me, the old people will pray to the Saints, but if by any chance such prayers remain unanswered they then invoke other powers [including] the fairies…" [5] According to these anthropologists, in some cases, pagan deities related to agriculture were added to the mix, providing the fairies with multiple facets and powers in the minds of the adherents of this faith.

Intelligent as these theories are, it is noted that the belief in fairies and fairy-like beings is extremely widespread throughout the world’s cultures. For example, in some parts of South America, where there never were the Tuatha De Danann, there are voluminous reports of duendes, which are a kind of fairy. The duendes share many characteristics of the Celtic fairies, though they have their own preferences. Besides this, the classic anthropological explanations assume that the fairy is a psychological product generated by culture, which creates certain specific figments of the imagination to fit a particular social and historical environment. Evans-Wentz came to believe, on the basis of the testimony that he heard, that fairies were real beings of some kind; if those mystics who adhered to the principle of the malleability of these spirits were correct, the fairy-beings could represent themselves in a manner that was harmonious with the culture with which they were interacting, but they were not mere fabrications of that culture. They were not myths or illusions, but realities with the capacity to adapt. Or perhaps they might be considered to be a kind of living Rorschach Blot. Different people see the picture in different ways, according to what is already in their minds, but the picture and the piece of paper it is on are real. In the same way, there may be some non-corporeal energy form, with intelligence, that exists in the universe, which we interpret according to our expectations. The man in Ireland, the man in Africa, the man in Scandinavia, the man in Colombia; the Christian or the pagan; the fearful man filled with darkness or the brave man filled with light – each may see it in his own way. Subjectivity is deeply involved in the experience, but not the sole creator of what is experienced.

This theory, in fact, has come into vogue of late as a variety of paranormal researchers, believers and skeptics, alike, have sought to draw parallels between the current phenomena of UFOs, alien abductions, and crop circles, with the earlier phenomena of fairy visitations, kidnappings, and circular dances in the fields. Paranormal-friendly thinkers have used the parallels to defend the concept of intelligent and enormously-gifted entities capable of shape-shifting and adjusting their presentation in order to fit the expectations of the times and places they have come to influence or interact with. As the modern scientific paradigm has pushed the fairy to the fragile tip of the limb of the tree of knowledge, so that one can no longer follow him without the branch breaking underneath one, the entity who was the fairy has re-created himself as the more plausible extraterrestrial, who with his spaceship and planet does not challenge us quite as much to be believed. (This does not mean that it is easy to believe in the extraterrestrial, merely that not so many laws need to be violated in order to embrace him.) Other thinkers, taking the reverse approach, credit the ancient fairy lore to extraterrestrial visitations in the past, which previous societies did not have the capacity to understand outside of a mythological framework. Only now are we finally awakening to their true significance. Then, on the other hand, there is the skeptic who attempts to debunk the UFO phenomenon, but more especially its alien abduction component, by pointing out the similarities which exist between the lore of fairy kidnappings of human beings in the past and the modern stories of abductions by extraterrestrials. The skeptic wishes to explain both phenomena in terms of human tendencies to fantasize and hallucinate as a result of psychological trauma or stress, and seeks to use the presumed absurdity of fairies to sink the case being made for aliens, whose behavior is, in some ways, remarkably similar.

There is no consensus, within the paranormal-friendly camp, as to the nature or meaning of fairies. And, of course, many friends of the paranormal dismiss the fairies altogether in order to protect their right to believe in a "lesser evil" (from the point of view of the skeptic); they do not wish to lose credibility capital by seeming to believe in anything, and so they cut off the fairies (regarded as expendable) in order to prove that they do have the ability to be critical; they then invest all the credibility which they have thereby retained in a few choice aberrations, such as UFOs or ghosts.

But for those who do believe in fairies, and will admit it, there is still much difference of opinion. For some, the fairies are a unique form of intelligence; for some who hold this view, they are intimately connected with fertility and with the energy of the earth, and are considered to be nature spirits or spirits of the earth. Elementals, often associated with specific plants, are sometimes viewed as little beings, who you may find inside of roses or giving a hint of themselves when a tree, for a moment, seems to have an almost human aspect. But fairies are generally perceived to be more complicated than this, and to have whole communities and social orders.

For some, fairies are merely an embellished form of the dead, a more brilliant, concerted, and theatrical manifestation of the ghost. Michael Talbot, in his wonderful book The Holographic Universe, discusses the possibility that everything that happens is imprinted upon the environment in which it occurs and that, in trance states, and in places where the imprint of history is especially strong, sensitive human beings may sometimes perceive things that happened there before. Time may, as it were, open up for a moment and release the secrets of the past into the present. This, he considers to be a likely explanation for many of the reported fairy processions witnessed in Ireland, in which fairy men are said to pass by dressed in armor or the war clothes of bygone days, while fairy ladies pass by in elegant dresses which seem to belong to other times. [6] He would see this less as a haunting by spirits, than as an act of time-penetration or clairvoyance by the witness.

Some others, based on the depravations occasionally caused by the fairy people, and their frequent mischief, link the fairies to the poltergeist phenomenon, believing that they are energy forms which are greatly strengthened and in part directed by the minds of those who attract them.

There is no real sorting out of these differences, because it is clear from the record of observations that many different things seem to be going on, which are all lumped under the category of "fairies."

Before proceeding to the selection of observations which I have drawn from Evan-Wentz’s book, which may help to clarify the phenomenon by demonstrating its breadth, it might be a good idea to provide just a brief description of some of the fairy types or forms said to be encountered in the old Celtic lands:

The Tuatha De Danann: An ancient people (the people of the Goddess Dana) once in command of Ireland, said to have transformed themselves into the fairy folk after they were defeated by the Milesian invaders. The fairy folk are sometimes referred to in this way. These are tall, graceful, and generally beautiful beings.

The Sidhe: The common way the Irish refer to the fairy (people of the hills, or, people of the mounds). Daoine Sidhe. In their finest form, they are referred to as "The Gentry", "The Good People", and by many other euphemisms as well.

The Banshee: A fairy woman, in this case distinguished by her awful wailing and lamenting, which is said to foretell death, either to the one who hears it, or to one who is known to the one who hears it.

The Bean Nighe: A Scottish fairy who, like the banshee, foretells death. The fairy is in the form of a washerwoman, seen washing blood off the clothes of the one about to die.

The Leprechaun: A small man (the name, in its essence, means "little-bodied"). He frequently is seen dressed in clothes of red, or wearing a red cape or cloak. He is especially associated with buried treasures, and if he can be caught, may be made to reveal the location of the treasure. But there is always great risk to play with someone so cunning and magical.

The Tylwyth Teg: The fairy people, as they are often referred to in Wales. They are more frequently described as small folk, about the size of a six- or seven-year-old child.

Fees: Fairies as they are called in Brittany. Often, they are said to be young and beautiful, though there are reports of others who appear old beyond measure. However, they were also known to frequently change their shape and appearance.

Corrigans: Fairy-type beings especially associated with Brittany. They are small, dwarf-like beings, who, like the leprechauns, may know the whereabouts of treasures. They are mischievous and beyond, and will brutalize and torture human beings who cross them. They were said to have made war on another class of fairies for being too friendly to humans.

Lutins: A fairy kind in Brittany, not always distinguishable from the Corrigan. They have been described as little dwarves who linger by roads to harry travelers at night; the usual form they assume is that of a little person dressed in green, but they may also shape-shift themselves into animals, especially horses. Like the Corrigan, and the leprechaun, they may have knowledge of treasures, and they are also held responsible for the agitation of horses in the night, when these, suddenly and for no apparent reason, become troubled in their enclosures.

The Pixies: A kind of fairy being well-known in Cornwall. They were said to be the souls of the prehistoric dwellers of that country, and were believed to be getting smaller and smaller over time until one day they will altogether vanish. They share many of the behavioral traits common to other fairies.

Elves: The elves would seem to be a kind of fairy being distinguished from the Celtic fairies mainly on account of their geographical and cultural point of origin, which lay with the Germanic and Norse traditions, from which the elf-lore was eventually transmitted to England. The similarities between elves and the Sidhe are substantial, and in many ways, there is little justification in differentiating between them, in terms of their nature. (However, the elves are frequently mentioned as having pointed ears, whereas this is not a common characteristic of the Celtic fairy.)

Changelings: Fairy babies slipped into cradles to take the place of human babies who have been stolen by the fairy folk. The changeling is usually an ugly or defective child, sometimes even a small old man, who the fairies exchange for a healthy human baby which they abduct in order to raise as their own. Of course, the human parents do not see the theft take place, they only discover that a switch has occurred once it is too late. However, according to the lore, by treating the changeling badly, they may sometimes induce the fairy folk to return their true child to them. Changeling and abduction stories are common throughout the Celtic regions.


And now, it is time to present a small sampling of the cultural wealth recorded by Evans-Wentz in his masterpiece; and then, to conclude with a few comments about modern-day fairy experiences with which I, myself, am familiar.



Fairy Music:

The fairies were noted for making extraordinary music of a far higher quality than that produced by mortal men; this music was sometimes heard by humans, who had no doubt, when they heard it, as to its source. [JRS]

[John Graham, Ireland, on his experiences near an ancient Druid Hall.] "As sure as you are sitting down I heard the pipes there in that wood [pointing to a wood on the north-west slope of the Hill, and west of the banquet hall]. I heard the music another time on a hot summer evening at the Rath of Ringlestown, in a field where all the grass had been burned off; and I often heard it in the wood of Tara. Whenever the good people play, you hear their music all through the field as plain as can be; and it is the grandest kind of music. It may last half the night, but once day comes, it ends." [7]

[George Gelling, Isle of Man] "Up by the abbey on two different occasions I have heard the fairies. They were playing tunes not of this world, and on each occasion I listened for nearly an hour." [8]

[William Barber, Ireland] "One dark night, about one o’clock, myself and another young man were passing along the road up there round Ben Bulbin, when we heard the finest kind of music. All sorts of music seemed to be playing. We could see nothing at all, though we thought we heard voices like children’s. It was the music of the gentry we heard." [8a]

[John Conway, Ireland] "Three women were gathering shell-fish, in the month of March, on the lowest point of the strand [Lower Rosses or Wren Point] when they heard the most beautiful music. They set to work to dance with it, and danced themselves sick. They then thanked the invisible musician and went home." [8b]

[Mr. John Nelson, Isle of Man] "William Cain, of Glen Helen [formerly Rhenass], was going home in the evening across the mountains near Brook’s Park, when he heard music down below in a glen, and saw there a great glass house like a palace, all lit up. He stopped to listen, and when he had the new tune he went home to practice it on his fiddle; and recently he played the same fairy tune at Miss Sophia Morrison’s Manx entertainment in Peel." [8c]

Fairy Processions:

The fairies were known for favoring certain paths and "tracks" through the land for mysterious processions which they sometimes traveled in great numbers, sometimes as an army or a peaceful retinue. It was considered very dangerous and often deadly to use a fairy path while such a procession was in progress. Was it a matter of the inability of humans to withstand direct contact with such powerful spiritual energy, or a matter of the consequences of human disrespect for other beings? There is no certain answer to this question. [JRS]

[John Boylin, Ireland] We were told as children, that, as soon as night fell, the fairies from Rath Ringlestown would form in a procession, across Tara road, pass round certain bushes which have not been disturbed for ages, and join the gangkena or host of industrious folk, the red fairies. We were afraid, and our nurses always brought us home before the advent of the fairy procession. One of the passes used by this procession happened to be between two mud-wall houses; and it is said that a man went out of one of these houses at the wrong time, for when found he was dead: the fairies had taken him because he interfered with their procession." [9]

[Continuing] "A man named Caffney cut as fuel to boil his pot of potatoes some of these undisturbed bushes round which the fairies pass. When he put the wood under the pot, though it spat fire, and fire-sparkles would come out of it, it would not burn. The man pined away gradually. In six months after cutting the fairy-bushes, he was dead. Just before he died, he told his experiences with the wood to his brother, and his brother told me." [10]

[An unidentified Roman Catholic Priest, Ireland] "A heap of stones in a field should not be disturbed, though needed for building – especially if they are part of an ancient tumulus. The fairies are said to live inside the pile, and to move the stones would be most unfortunate. It a house happens to be built on a fairy preserve, or in a fairy track, the occupants will have no luck. Everything will go wrong. Their animals will die, their children will fall sick, and no end of trouble will come on them. When the house happens to have been built in a fairy track, the doors on the front and back, or the windows if they are in the line of the track, cannot be kept closed at night, for the fairies much march through. Near Ballinrobe there is an old fort which is still the preserve of the fairies, and the land round it. The soil is very fine, and yet no one would dare to till it. Some time ago in laying out a new road the engineers determined to run it through the fort, but the people rose almost in rebellion, and the course had to be changed. The farmers wouldn’t cut down a tree or bush growing on the hill or preserve for anything." [11]

[Owen Conway, Ireland] "Nothing is more certain than that there are fairies. The old folks always thought them the fallen angels. At the back of this house the fairies had their pass. My neighbor started to build a cow-shed, and one wall abutting on the pass was thrown down twice, and nothing but the fairies ever did it. The third time the wall was built it stood." [12]

[John McCann, a carpenter/boat-builder, and official mail-carrier to Innishmurray, Ireland] "The gentry were believed to live up on this hill [Hill of the Brocket Stones, Cluach-a-brac], and from it they would come out like an army and march along the road to the strand. Very few persons could see them. They were thought to be like living people, but in different dress. They seemed like soldiers, yet it was known they were not living beings such as we are." [12a]

[Pat Ruddy, Ireland] "Old people used to say the gentry were in the mountains; that is certain, but I never could be quite sure of it myself. One night, however, near midnight, I did have a sight: I set out from Bantrillick to come home, and near Ben Bulbin there was the greatest army you ever saw, five or six thousand of them in armor shining in the moonlight. A strange man rose out of the hedge and stopped me, for a minute, in the middle of the road. He looked into my face, and then let me go." [12b]

[Mr. J.H. Kelly, Past Provincial Grand Master of the Isle of Man] "Twelve to thirteen years ago, on a clear moonlit night, about twelve o’clock, I left Laxey; and when about five miles from Douglas, at Ballagawne School, I heard talking, and was suddenly conscious of being in the midst of an invisible throng. As this strange feeling came over me, I saw coming up the road four figures as real to look upon as human beings, and of medium seize, though I am certain they were not human. When these four, who seemed to be connected with the invisible throng, came out of the Garwick road into the main road, I passed into a by-road leading down to a very peaceful glen called Garwick Glen; and I still had the same feeling that invisible beings were with me, and this continued for a mile. There was no fear or emotion or excitement, but perfect calm on my part. I followed the by-road; and when I began to mount a hill there was a sudden and strange quietness, and a sense of isolation came over me, as though the joy and peace of my life had departed with the invisible throng. From different personal experiences like this one, I am firmly of the opinion and belief that the fairies exist. One cannot say that they are wholly physical or wholly spiritual, but the impression left upon my mind is that they are an absolutely real order of beings not human." [13]

Fairies And Agriculture:

Fairies often seem to have a symbiotic relationship with human households, and to partly live off of what they take, borrow, or extract as offerings and portions from human labor. However, in many cases, they are also noted to have some form of influence or control over the results of human agriculture. The abundance of the earth, which the fairies help to promote, is not to be treated with avarice by those who reap the rewards. The fairies must be respected and left with their due. If this principle is not well understood, there may seem, at times, to be a competition between the fairy folk and men. [JRS]

[Mr. John Glynn, Town Clerk of Tuam, Ireland] "During 1846-1847, the potato crop in Ireland was a failure, and very much suffering resulted. At the time, the country people in these parts attributed the famine to disturbed conditions in the fairy world. Old Thady Steed once told me about the conditions then prevailing, ‘Sure, we couldn’t be any other way; and I saw the good people and hundreds besides me saw them fighting [among each other] in the sky over Knock Ma and on towards Galway.’ And I heard others say they saw the fighting also." [14]

[An unidentified Roman Catholic priest, Ireland] "Fairies are believed to control crops and their ripening. A field of turnips may promise well, and its owner will count on so many tons to the acre, but if when the crop is gathered it is found to be far short of the estimate, the explanation is that the fairies have extracted so much substance from it. The same thing is the case with corn." [15]

[Continuing] On November Eve it is not right to gather or eat blackberries or sloes, nor after that time as long as they last. On November Eve the fairies pass over all such things and make them unfit to eat. If one dares to eat them afterwards one will have serious illness. We firmly believed this as boys, and I laugh now when I think how we used to gorge ourselves with berries on the last day of October, and then for weeks after pass by bushes full of most luscious fruit, and with mouths watering for it couldn’t eat it." [16]

Offerings and Proper Treatment of the Fairies:

Humans, to properly manage their relationship with fairies, must treat them with respect. Generosity and fair treatment will generally provide immunity from the worst forms of mischief and outright acts of revenge perpetrated by the spirit races, although protection is sometimes only attained through the use of charms and precautions. In cases, the fairies will also bestow rewards upon their benefactors. [JRS]

[An unidentified College Professor, Ireland] "As children we were always afraid of fairies and were taught to say, ‘God bless them! God bless them!’ whenever we heard them mentioned.

"In our family, we always made it a point to have clean water in the house at night for the fairies.

"If anything like dirty water was thrown out of doors after dark it was necessary to say ‘Hugga, hugga salach!’ as a warning to the fairies not to get their clothes wet.

"Untasted food, like milk, used to be left on the table at night for the fairies. If you were eating and food fell from you, it was not right to take it back, for the fairies wanted it. Many families are very serious about this even now. The luckiest thing to do in such cases is to pick up the food and eat just a speck of it and then throw the rest away to the fairies." [17]

[Mr. John Glynn, Town Clerk of Tuam, Ireland] "Food, after it has been put out at night for the fairies, is not allowed to be eaten afterwards by man or beast, not even by pigs. Such food is said to have no real substance left in it, and to let anything eat it wouldn’t be thought of. The underlying idea seems to be that the fairies extract the spiritual essence from food offered to them, leaving behind the grosser elements." [18]

[An unidentified Roman Catholic priest, Ireland] "Whatever milk falls on the ground in milking a cow is taken by the fairies, for fairies need a little milk. Also, after churning, the knife which is run through the butter in drying it must not be scraped clean, for what sticks to it belongs to the fairies. Out of three pounds of butter, for example, an ounce or two would be left for the fairies. I have seen this several times." [19]

[James Caughterty, a farmer and fisherman, Isle of Man] "Close by Glen Cam [Winding Glen], when I was a boy, our family often used to hear the empty churn working in the churn-house, when no person was near it, and they would say, ‘Oh, it’s the little fellows.’" [20]

[Mr. J. Ceredig Davies, Wales] "The Tylwyth Teg were considered a very small people, fond of dancing, especially on moonlit nights. They often came to houses after the family were abed; and if milk was left for them, they would leave money in return; but if not treated kindly they were revengeful." [21]

[William Oates, Isle of Man] "A man named Watterson, who used often to see the fairies in his house at Cobly playing in the moonlight, on one occasion heard them coming just as he was going to bed. So he went out to the spring to get fresh water for them; and coming into the house put the can down on the floor, saying, ‘Now, little beggars, drink away.’ And at that [an insult to the fairies] the water was suddenly thrown upon him." [22]

[An unidentified Civil Engineer, Ireland] "It was very usual formerly, and the practice is not yet given up, to place a bed, some other furniture, and plenty of food in a newly-constructed dwelling the night before the time fixed for moving into it; and if the food is not consumed, and the crumbs swept up by the door in the morning, the house cannot safely be occupied. I know of two houses now that have never been occupied, because the fairies did not show their willingness and goodwill by taking food so offered to them." [23]

[John O’Hare, Ireland] "An old woman came to the wife of Steve Callaghan and told her not to let Steven cut a certain hedge. ‘It is where we shelter at night,’ the old woman added; and Mrs. Callaghan recognized the old woman as one who had been taken in confinement [removed from the human world by the Fairy Folk. The dead were often said to be found living among the fairies.] A few nights later the same old woman appeared to Mrs. Callaghan and asked for charity; and she was offered some meal, which she did not take. Then she asked for lodgings, but did not stop. When Mrs. Callagahn saw the meal-chest next morning it was overflowing with meal: it was the old woman’s gift for the hedge." [24]

[John Dunbar, Scotland] "I believe people saw fairies, but I think one reason no one sees them now is because every place in this parish where they used to appear has been put into sheep, and deer, and grouse, and shooting. According to tradition, Coig na Fearn is the place where the last fairy was seen in this country. Before the big sheep came, the fairies are supposed to have had a premonition that their domains were to be violated by them. A story is told of a fight between the sheep and fairies, or else of the fairies hunting the sheep: - James MacQueen, who could traffic with the fairies, whom he regarded as ghosts or spirits, one night on his old place, which now is in sheep, was lying down all alone and heard a small and big barking of dogs, and a small and big bleating of sheep, though no sheep were there then. It was the fairy-hunting he heard. ‘I put an axe under my head and I had no fear therefore,’ he always repeated when telling the story. I believe the man saw and heard something. And MacQueen used to aid the fairies, and on that account, as he was in the habit of saying, he always found more meal in his chest than he thought he had." [25]

[Continuing] "My grandmother believed firmly in the fairies, and I have heard her tell a good many stories about them. They were a small people dressed in green, and had dwellings underground in dry spots. Fairies were often heard in the hills over there [pointing], and I believe something was there. They were awful for music, and used to be heard very often playing the bagpipes. A woman wouldn’t go out in the dark after giving birth to a child before the child was christened, so as not to give the fairies power over her or the child. And I have heard people say that if fairies were refused milk and meat they would take a horse or cow; and that if well treated they would repay all gifts." [26]

[Evans-Wentz on the nature of fairy spirits in Brittany, as supported by the testimony which he collected] "Some… may help in the house-work after all the family are asleep…" [26a]

[Alexander Carmichael, in an introduction to Evan-Wentz’s Scottish material] "Sometimes the fairies helped human beings with their work, coming in at night to finish the spinning or the housework, or to thresh the farmer’s corn or fan his grain. On such occasions they must not be molested nor interfered with, even in gratitude. If presented with a garment they will go away and work no more. This method of getting rid of them is often resorted to, as it is not easy always to find work for them to do." [26a2]

[Mr. Henry Maddern, Cornwall] "Miner pixies, called ‘knockers’, would accept a portion of a man’s croust [lunch] on good faith, and by knocking lead him to a rich mother-lode, or warn him by knocking if there was danger ahead or a cavern full of water; but if the miner begrudged them the croust, he would be left to his own resources to find the lode, and, moreover, the ‘knockers’ would do all they could to lead him away from a good lode. These mine pixies, too, were supposed to be spirits, sometimes spirits of the miners of ancient times." [26b]

[Continuing] "Pixies, like fairies, very much enjoyed milk, and people of miserly nature used to put salt around a cow to keep the pixies away; and then the pixies would lead such mean people astray the very first opportunity that came." [26c]

Aid Given To Human Beings:

The fairy folk of various types, if offended, could prove quite dangerous. If well treated, however, they would often reciprocate the good treatment which they had received from humans. Sometimes, they provided great favors to human beings without having first received favors. [JRS]

[A peasant seer who sometimes conversed with the fairy folk, Ireland] The gentry have always befriended and protected me. I was drowned twice but for them. Once I was going to Durnish Island, a mile off the coast. The channel is very deep, and at the same time there was a rough sea, with the tide running out, and I was almost lost. I shrieked and shouted, and finally got safe to the mainland. The day I talked with one of the gentry at the foot of the mountain when he was for taking me, he mentioned this, and said they were the ones who save me from drowning then." [27]

[Mrs. Biddy Grant, a Seeress, Ireland] "I saw [the Good People] once as plain as can be – big, little, old and young. I was in bed at the time, and a boy whom I had reared since he was born was lying ill beside me. Two of them came and looked at him; then came in three of them. One of them seemed to have something like a book, and he put his hand to the boy’s mouth; then he went away, while others appeared, opening the back window to make an avenue through the house; and through this avenue came great crowds. At this I shook the boy, and said to him, ‘Do you see anything?’ ‘No,’ he said: but as I made him look a second time he said, ‘I do.’ After that he got well." [28]

[An anonymous Seer-Witness, Ireland] The gentry take a great interest in the affairs of men, and they always stand for justice and right. Any side they favor in our wars, that side wins… [28a]

Fairy Tricks:

The fairy folk were masters of playing tricks on humans. Besides bothering horses at night and sometimes tying up or knotting the hair of human beings in "fairy braids" while they slept, undoing knitting work, or misplacing household objects, they engaged in a wide-range of disruptive activities, either as a form of retaliation for some personal slight or for human negligence, in general; or merely for the delight of it. Some stunts may have had the quite simple purpose of reminding human beings that they were not alone in the world, nor in full command of the universe. The fairy repertoire for mischief knew no bounds. Here are just a couple of incidents, the first from the material of Evans-Wentz, the second retold from Wikipedia’s article on the Leprechaun. It may be assumed that the second tale is more in the nature of a myth. It was, however, constructed on the basis of experiences which led to an appreciation of the fairy’s intrinsic cleverness.

[Mrs. Dinah Moore, Isle of Man] "I heard of a man and wife who had no children. One night the man was out on horseback and heard a little baby crying beside the road. He got off his horse to get the baby, and, taking it home, went to give it to his wife, and it was only a block of wood. And then the old fairies were outside yelling at the man: ‘Eash un oie, s’cheap t’ou mollit!’ [‘Age one night, how easily thou art deceived!’]" [29]

[Wiki] A leprechaun was captured by a human being and made to reveal the location of his treasure. Leprechauns, once you look at them, are often frozen in their tracks and unable to escape until you break eye contact with them, whereupon they will vanish into thin air. As it turns out, the treasure of the leprechaun lay beneath a ragwort plant growing in an expansive field of like plants. The human, therefore, had a red ribbon tied about the plant in order to remember its exact place as he went to get his shovel to dig the treasure up. Before he left for home, he made the unfortunate leprechaun promise not to remove the ribbon from the plant. However, though he knew of the strength of a fairy’s promise, he underestimated the extent of a fairy’s cleverness. When he returned, he saw that the leprechaun had tied a red ribbon around every single plant in the field, so that he could now no longer distinguish the position of the treasure!

Fairy Dancers:

The fairies loved music and dancing. They were often seen coming to and going from their dances, and in the act of dancing. There was sometimes danger to behold them, and the danger of being enchanted if one joined them.

[Mr. J. Morris Jones, M.A., Professor of Welsh in the University College at Bangor, Wales] "In most of the tales I heard repeated when I was a boy, I am quite certain the implication was that the Tylweth Teg were a kind of spirit race having human characteristics, who could at will suddenly appear and suddenly disappear. They were generally supposed to live underground, and to come forth on moonlit nights dressed in gaudy colors [chiefly in red], to dance in circles in grassy fields." [30]

[Frank Ellis, Cornwall] ""Up on Sea-View Green there are two rings where the pixies used to dance and play music on a moonlit night. I’ve heard that they would come there from the moors. Little people they are called. If you keep quiet when they are dancing you’ll see them, but if you make any noise they’ll disappear." [31]

[Madame Marie Ezanno, Brittany] "The corrigans are little dwarfs who formerly, by moonlight, used to dance in a circle on the prairies. They sang a song the couplet of which was not understood, but only the refrain, translated in Breton: ‘Di Lun [Monday], Di Merh [Tuesday], Di Merhier [Wednesday].’ They whistled in order to assemble. Where they danced mushrooms grew; and it was necessary to maintain silence so as not to interrupt them in their dance. They were often very brutal towards a man who fell under their power, and if they had a grudge against him they would make him submit to the greatest tortures." [32]

[Neil Colton, Ireland] "One day, just before sunset in midsummer, and I a boy then, my brother and cousin and myself were gathering bilberries [whortleberries] up by the rocks at the back of here, when all at once we heard music. We hurried round the rocks, and there we were within a few hundred feet of six or eight of the gentle folk, and they dancing. When they saw us, a little woman dressed all in red came running out from them towards us, and she struck my cousin across the face with what seemed to be a green rush. We ran for home as hard as we could, and when my cousin reached the house she fell dead. Father saddled a horse and went for Father Ryan. When Father Ryan arrived, he put a stole about his neck and began praying over my cousin and reading psalms and striking her with the stole; and in that way brought her back. He said if she had not caught hold of my brother, she would have been taken forever." [33]

[Owen Conway, Ireland] " A cousin of mine, who was a pilot [of a boat], once went to the watch-house up there on the Point to take his brother’s place; and he saw ladies coming towards him as he crossed the Greenlands. At first he thought they were coming from a dance, but there was no dance going then, and, if there had been, no human beings dressed like them and moving as they were could have come from any part of the globe, and in so great a party, at that hour of the night. Then when they passed him and he saw how beautiful they were, he knew them for the gentry women." [34]

[George Gelling, a Joiner, Isle of Man] "A man named Mickleby was coming from Derbyhaven at night, when by a certain stream he met two ladies. He saluted them, and then walked along with them to Ballahick Farm. There he saw a house lit up, and they took him into it to a dance. As he danced, he happened to wipe away his sweat with a part of the dress of one of the two strange women who was his partner. After this adventure, whenever Mickelby was lying abed at night, the woman with whom he danced would appear standing beside his bed. And the only way to drive her away was to throw over her head and Mickleby a linen sheet which had never been bleached." [35]

[Professor Sir John Rhys, M.A., Professor of Celtic in the University of Oxford, writing an introduction for Evan-Wentz’s section on the testimony of Wales] "The folk-lore of Wales in as far as it concerns the Fairies consists of a very few typical tales such as: The Fairy Dance and the usual entrapping of a youth, who dances with the Little People for a long time, while he supposes it only a few minutes, and who if not rescued is taken by them…[Etc.]" [36]

[Mr. Louis Foster Edwards, Wales] "There was an idea that the Tylwyth Teg lived by plundering at night. It was thought, too, that if anything went wrong with cows or horses the Tylwyth Teg were to blame. As a race, the Tylwyth Teg were described as having the power of invisibility; and it was believed they could disappear like a spirit while one happened to be observing them. The world in which they lived was a world quite unlike ours, and mortals taken to it by them were changed in nature. The way a mortal might be taken by the Tylwyth Teg was by being attracted into their dance. If they thus took you away, it would be according to our time for twelve months, though to you the time would seem no more than a night." [37]

Foretelling of Death:

Specialized fairy activities were sometimes associated with prophecies of death. There were the appearances of the banshees - wild, lamenting fairy women who seemed to be mourning for one not yet dead, but fated to die soon; there were the bean nighe, the fairy washerwomen who foretold death by seeming to clean the blood-stained clothes of those whose time was near; and there were the death candles, which some witnesses imagined to be candles carried by fairies through the darkness. There were also, especially in Wales, the passing of death coaches. Needless to say, appearances of this kind were dreaded by those who witnessed them. [JRS]

[An unidentified woman, Wales, interrupted by an explanation from Dr. Evans-Wentz] "I have seen more than one death-candle. I saw one death-candle right here in this room where we are sitting and talking." [Evans-Wentz: I was told by the nephew and niece of our present witness that this particular death-candle took an untrodden course from the house across the fields to the grave-yard, and that when the death of one of the family occurred soon afterwards, their aunt insisted that the corpse should be carried by exactly the same route; so the road was abandoned and the funeral went through the ploughed fields. Here is the description of the death-candle as the aunt gave it in response to our request:] "The death-candle appears like a patch of bright light; and no matter how dark the room or place is, everything in it is as clear as day. The candle is not a flame, but a luminous mass, lightish blue in color, which dances as though borne by an invisible agency, and sometimes it rolls over and over. If you go up to the light it is nothing, for it is a spirit. Near here a light as big as a pot was seen, and rays shot out from it in all directions. The man you saw here in the house to-day, one night as he was going along the road near Nevern, saw the death-light of old Dr. Harris, and says it was lightish green." [38]

[Evans-Wentz, describing the testimony of an unidentified mother who heard the passing of death coaches not meant to foretell death in her own family, Ireland] The next tale the mother told was about the death coach which used to pass by the very house we were in. Every night until after her daughter was born she used to rise up on her elbow in bed to listen to the death coach passing by. It passed about midnight, and she could hear the rushing, the tramping of the horses, and most beautiful singing, just like fairy music, but she could not understand the words. Once or twice she was brave enough to open the door and look out as the coach passed, but she could never see a thing, though there was the noise and singing. One time a man had to wait on the roadside to let the fairy horses go by, and he could hear their passing very clearly, and couldn’t see one of them… When we got home, Dr. Hyde [Evan-Wentz’s contact in that quarter] told me that the fairies of the region are rarely seen. The people usually say that they hear or feel them only. [39]

Fairy Hosts:

Sometimes, great swarms of turbulent fairies, or other forms of spirits, usually airborne, are said to appear above the earth. For any human being who happens to get mixed up with them, it is said to be a frightening, if not deadly, experience. [JRS]

[Donald McKinnon, a Piper, Scotland] "I believe that fairies exist as a tribe of spirits, and appear to us in the form of men and women. People who saw fairies can yet describe them as they appeared dressed in green. No doubt there are fairies in other countries as well as here.

"In my experience there was always a good deal of difference between the fairies and the hosts. The fairies were supposed to be living without material food, whereas the hosts were supposed to be living upon their own booty. Generally, the hosts were evil and the fairies good, though I have heard that the fairies used to take cattle and leave their old men rolled up in the hides… I saw two men who used to be lifted by the hosts. They would be carried from South Uist as far south as Barra Head, and as far north as Harris. Sometimes when these men were ordered by the hosts to kill men on the road they would kill instead either a horse or cow; for in that way, so long as an animal was killed, the injunction of the hosts was fulfilled." [40]

[Marian MacLean, Scotland] "Generally, the fairies are to be seen after or about sunset, and walk on the ground as we do, whereas the hosts travel in the air above places inhabited by people. The hosts used to go after the fall of night, and more particularly about midnight. You’d hear them going in fine weather against a wind like a convey of birds. And they were in the habit of lifting men in South Uist, for the hosts need men to help in shooting their javelins from their bows against women in the action of milking cows, or against any person working at night in a house over which they pass. And I have heard of good sensible men whom the hosts took, shooting a horse or cow in place of the person ordered to be shot.

"There was a man who had only one cow and one daughter. The daughter was milking the cow at night when the hosts were passing, and that human being whom the hosts had lifted with them was her father’s neighbor. And this neighbor was ordered by the hosts to shoot the daughter as she was milking, but knowing the father and daughter, he shot the cow instead. The next morning he went where the father was and said to him, ‘You are missing the cow.’ ‘Yes,’ said the father, ‘I am.’ And the man who had shot the cow said, ‘Are you not glad your cow and not your daughter was taken? For I was ordered to shoot your daughter and I shot your cow, in order to show blood on my arrow.’ ‘I am very glad of what you have done if that was the case,’ the father replied. ‘It was the case,’ the neighbor said.

"My father and grandfather knew a man who was carried by the hosts from South Uist here to Barra. I understand when the hosts take away earthly men they require another man to help them. But the hosts must be spirits. My opinion is that they are both spirits of the dead and other spirits not the dead. A child was taken by the hosts and returned after one night and one day, and found at the back of the house with the palms of its hands in the holes in the wall, and with no life in its body. It was dead in the spirit. It is believed that when people are dropped from a great height by the hosts they are killed by the fall…" [41]

Blinded By The Fairies:

Oftentimes, the fairies seem to resent being seen by humans. Whether they feel that it is indecent to be spied upon, that somehow their powers are in danger of being learned and mimicked by those who might use these powers against them, or that the barrier of invisibility, which is a crucial element of their self-defense, has been breached, and that harsh action is therefore justified, it is hard to say. But a fairy seen against his or her wish, and especially by a human being not known or trusted, is not to be tangled with. [JRS]

[Bridget O’Conner, Ireland] "A country nurse was requested by a strange man on horseback to go with him to exercise her profession; and she went with him to a castle she didn’t know. When the baby was born, every woman in the place where the event happened put her finger in a basin of water and rubbed her eyes, and so the nurse put her finger in and rubbed it on one of her eyes. She went home and thought no more about it. But one day she was at the fair in Grange and saw some of the same women who were in the castle when the baby was born; though, as she noticed, she only could see them with the one eye she had wet with the water from the basin. The nurse spoke to the women, and they wanted to know how she recognized them; and she, in reply, said it was with the one eye, and asked, ‘How is the baby?’ ‘Well,’ said one of the fairy women; ‘and what eye do you see us with?’ ‘With the left eye,’ answered the nurse. Then the fairy woman blew her breath against the nurse’s left eye, and said, ‘You’ll never see me again.’ And the nurse was always blind in the left eye after that." [42]

[Mr. John Nelson, Isle of Man] "My grandfather, William Nelson, was coming home from the herring fishing late at night, on the road near Jurby, when he saw in a pea-field, across a hedge, a great crowd of little fellows in red coats dancing and making music. And as he looked, an old woman from among them came up to him and spat in his eyes, saying: ‘You’ll never see us again’; and I am told that he was blind afterwards till the day of his death. He was certainly blind for fourteen years before his death, for I often had to lead him around; but, of course, I am unable to say of my own knowledge that he became blind immediately after his strange experience, or if not until later in life; but as a young man he certainly had good sight, and it was believed that the fairies destroyed it." [43]

[John Gilbert Guy, Fisherman, Cornwall] "I heard that a woman set out water to wash her baby in, and that before she had used the water the small people came and washed their babies in it. She didn’t know about this, and so in washing her baby got some of the water in her eyes, and then all at once she could see crowds of little people about her. One of them came to her and asked if she was able to see their crowd, and when she said ‘Yes,’ the little people wanted to take her eyes out, and she had to clear away from them as fast as she could." [44]

Fairies And America:

For many Irish and other Celtic descendants, powerful ties with America were built over time, as many emigrated from their homeland to America while those who stayed behind attempted to remain in touch with those of their relatives who had crossed the sea. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Celtic fairy phenomenon occasionally had points of contact with (North) America. The first story, for what it is worth, has some interesting parallels with the story of Native American holy man Black Elk’s journey in spirit back to his home (p. 191-194, Black Elk Speaks, John Neihardt). [JRS]

[James Summerville, Ireland] "From near Ederney, County Fermanagh, about seventy years ago, a man whom I knew well was taken to America on Hallow Eve Night; and they (the good people) made him look down a chimney to see his daughter cooking at a kitchen fire. Then they took him to another place in America, where he saw a friend he knew. The next morning he was at his own home here in Ireland… this man wrote a letter to his daughter to know if she was at the place and at the work on Hallow Eve Night, and she wrote back that she was. He was sure that it was the good people who had taken him to America and back in one night." [45]

[Mr. MacLean, Scotland] "My grandmother, Catherine MacInnis, used to tell about a man named Lachlann, whom she knew, being in love with a fairy woman. The fairy woman made it a point to see Lachlann every night, and he being worn out with her began to fear her. Things got so bad at last that he decided to go to America to escape the fairy woman. As soon as the plan was fixed, and he was about to emigrate, women who were milking at sunset out in the meadows heard very audibly the fairy woman singing this song:

"What will the brown-haired woman do

When Lachlann is on the billows?

"Lachlann emigrated to Cape Breton, landing in Nova Scotia; and in his first letter home to his friends he stated that the same woman was haunting him there in America." [46]

Fairy Dogs:

Just as humans have developed a strong relationship with their dogs over the centuries, so the fairy folk had dogs of their own, who were sometimes seen by our kind.

[Steven Ruan, a Piper, Ireland, his story introduced by Dr. Evans-Wentz] In the course of another conversation, Steven pointed to a rocky knoll in a field not far from his home, and said: "I saw a dog with a white ring around his neck by that hill there, and the oldest men round Galway have seen him, too, for he has been here for one hundred years or more. He is a dog of the good people, and only appears at certain hours of the night." [47]

[Mrs. Leece, Scotland] "This used to happen about one hundred years ago, as my mother told me: Where my grandfather John Watterson was reared, just over near Kerroo Kiel [Narrow Quarter], all the family were sometimes sitting in the house of a cold winter night, and my great grandmother and her daughters at their wheels spinning, when a little white dog would suddenly appear in the room. Then every one there would have to drop their work and prepare for the company to come in: they would put down a fire and leave fresh water for them, and hurry off upstairs to bed. They could hear them come, but could never see them, only the dog. The dog was a fairy dog, and a sure sign of their coming." [48]

Fairy Boats & Fairy Hunts:

There were many kinds of sightings of the fairies, but here are some of the less common ones. [JRS]

[Count John de Salis, Ireland] "Different old peasants have told me that on clear calm moonlit nights in summer, fairy boats appear racing across Lough Gur. The boats come from the eastern side of the lake, and when they have arrived at Garrod Island, where the Desmond Castle lies in ruins, they vanish behind Knock Adoon. There are four of these phantom boats, and in each there are two men rowing and a woman steering. No sound is heard, though the seer can see the weird silvery splash of the oars and the churning of the water at the bows of the boats as they shoot along. It is evident they are racing, because one boat gets ahead of the others, and all the rowers can be seen straining at the oars. Boats and occupants seem to be transparent, and you cannot see exactly what their nature is. One old peasant told me that it is the shining brightness of the clothes on the phantom rowers and on the women who steer which makes them visible.

"Another man, who is about forty years of age, and as far as I know of good habits, assures me that he also has seen this fairy boat-race, and that it can still be seen at the proper season." [49]

[Michael Oates, Ireland] "I knew a man who saw the gentry hunting on the other side of the mountain. He saw hounds and horsemen cross the road and jump the hedge in front of him, and it was one o’clock at night. The next day he passed the place again, and looked for the tracks of the huntsmen, but saw not a trace of tracks at all." [50]

A Luminous Vision Of The Fairies:

Following is a very interesting description of the fairies which will be of particular interest to students of occult phenomena. [JRS]

[A student at Oxford, a native Irishman of County Kerry, Ireland] "Some few weeks before Christmas, 1910, at midnight on a very dark night, I and another young man (who like myself was then about twenty-three years of age) were on horseback on our way home from Limerick. When near Listowel, we noticed a light about half a mile ahead. At first it seemed to be no more than a light in some house; but as we came nearer to it and it was passing out of our direct line of vision we saw that it was moving up and down, to and fro, diminishing to a spark, then expanding into a yellow luminous flame. Before we came to Listowel we noticed two lights, about one hundred yards to our right, resembling the light seen first. Suddenly each of these lights expanded into the same sort of yellow luminous flame, about six feet high by four feet broad. In the midst of each flame we saw a radiant being having human form. Presently the lights moved toward one another and made contact, whereupon the two beings in them were seen to be walking side by side. The beings’ bodies were formed of a pure dazzling radiance, white like the radiance of the sun, and much brighter than the yellow light or aura surrounding them. So dazzling was the radiance, like a halo, round their heads that we could not distinguish the countenances of the beings; we could only distinguish the general shape of their bodies; though their heads were very clearly outlined because this halo-like radiance, which was the brightest light about them, seemed to radiate from or rest upon the head of each being. As we traveled on, a house intervened between us and the lights, and we saw no more of them. It was the first time we had ever seen such phenomena, and in our hurry to get home we were not wise enough to stop and make further examination. But ever since that night I have frequently seen, both in Ireland and in England, similar lights with spiritual beings in them." [51]

Abductions & Changelings:

Fairies were known to want some human beings to live among them, and often they enchanted those who were not cautious, by means of their music, their dancing, or their beauty, to come with them into the Fairy Realm (or Fairyland), from which those so brought seldom returned. Many of those who disappeared from their towns or villages, or died under specialized circumstances, were said to have been "taken" by the fairies. ("The fairies wanted them", which was not so bad, after all, as "Fairyland is a place of delights, where music, and singing, and dancing, and feasting are continually enjoyed…" [Evans-Wentz, p. 40]) Most common among the forms of abduction was the theft of infants and children, who the fairies would steal, replacing with a "changeling", this being one of their own offspring, who was usually unhealthy (which is why they wished to make the switch); or sometimes even with an old man (who, wrapped up as a baby, would not be detected immediately due to his diminutive size). For the changeling, itself, life with angry parents who believed they had been robbed by fairies and given a strange and defective creature in place of their beloved child, was no picnic; especially since one of the techniques for recovering one’s lost child was described as follows: "As a rule, treating the fairy babe roughly and then throwing it into a river would cause the fairy who made the change to appear and restore the real child in return for the changeling." [Evans-Wentz, p. 146] Although there are many differences, fairy abduction stories do have some interesting parallels with the current cultural lore of alien abductions. These have been duly noted by those who seek to create links between the UFO and Fairy phenomena. [JRS]

[An anonymous scholarly priest of the Roman Catholic Church, Ireland] "Persons in a short trance-state of two or three days’ duration are said to be away with the fairies enjoying a festival. The festival may be very material in its nature, or it may be purely spiritual. Sometimes one may thus go to Faerie for an hour or two; or one may remain there for seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years. The mind of a person coming out of Fairyland is usually a blank as to what has been seen and done there. Another idea is that the person knows well enough all about Fairyland, but is prevented from communicating the knowledge. A certain woman of whom I knew said she had forgotten all about her experiences in Faerie, but a friend who heard her objected, and said she did remember, and wouldn’t tell. A man may remain awake at night to watch one who has been to Fairyland to see if that one holds communication with the fairies. Others say in such a case that the fairies know you are on the alert, and will not be discovered." [52]

[Steven Ruan, a Piper, introduced by Evans-Wentz, Ireland] And before we had done talking, the subject of fairy-music came up, and the following little story coming from one of the last of the old Irish pipers himself, about a brother piper, is of more than ordinary value: "There used to be an old [as in ‘from the old days’] piper called Flannery who lived in Oranmore, County Galway. I imagine he was one of the old generation. And one time the good people took him to Fairyland to learn his profession. He studied music with them for a long time, and when he returned he was as great a piper as any in Ireland. But he died young, for the good people wanted him to play for them." [53]

[John Campbell, Scotland] "…I have heard my father say it was the case that fairy women used to take away children from their cradles and leave different children in their places, and that these children who were left would turn out to be old men." [53]

[Miss Susan E. Gay, a Historian, Cornwall] "A woman who lived near Breage Church had a fine girl baby, and she thought the piskies came and took it and put a withered child in its place. The withered child lived to be twenty years old, and was no larger when it died than when the piskies brought it. It was fretful and peevish and frightfully shriveled. The parents believed that the piskies often used to come and look over a certain wall by the house to see the child. And I heard my grandmother say that the family once put the child out of doors at night to see if the piskies would take it back again." [55]

[An anonymous schoolmaster, Ireland] "The belief in changelings is not now generally prevalent; but in olden times a mother used to place a pair of iron tongs over the cradle before leaving the child alone, in order that the fairies should not change the child for a weakly one of their own. It was another custom to take a wisp of straw, and lighting one end of it, make a fiery sign of the cross over a cradle before a babe could be placed in it." [56]

[Miss Frances Tolmie recounting a tale heard from Mary Macdonald, a goat-herd, Isle of Skye/Scotland] "An aged nurse who had fallen fast asleep as she sat by the fire, was holding on her knees a newly-born babe. The mother, who lay in bed gazing dreamily, was astonished to see three strange little women enter the dwelling. They approached the unconscious child, and she who seemed to be their leader was on the point of lifting it off the nurse’s lap, when the third exclaimed: ‘Oh! let us leave this one with her as we have already taken so many!’ ‘So be it,’ replied the senior of the party in a tone of displeasure, ‘but when that peat now burning on the hearth shall be consumed, her life will surely come to an end.’ Then the three little figures passed out. The good wife, recognizing them to be fairies, sprang from her bed and poured over the fire all the water she could find, and extinguished the half-burnt ember. This she wrapped carefully in a piece of cloth and deposited at the very bottom of a large chest, which afterwards she always kept locked.

"Years passed, and the babe grew into a beautiful young woman. In the course of time she was betrothed; and according to custom, not appearing in public at church on the Sunday preceding the day appointed for her marriage, remained at home alone. To amuse herself, she began to search the contents of all the keeping-places in the house, and came at last to the chest containing the peat ember. In her haste, the good mother had that day forgotten the key of the chest, which was now in the lock. At the bottom of the chest the girl found a curious packet containing nothing but a morsel of peat, and this apparently useless thing she tossed away into the fire. When the peat was well kindled the young girl began to feel very ill, and when her mother returned was dying. The open chest and the blazing peat explained the cause of the calamity. The fairy’s prediction was fulfilled." [57]

[The Reverend J.M. Spicer, Isle of Man] "The belief in fairies is quite a living thing here yet. For example, old Mrs. K___, about a year ago, told me that on one occasion, when her daughter had been in Castletown during the day, she went out to the road at nightfall to see if her daughter was yet in sight, whereupon a whole crowd of fairies suddenly surrounded her, and began taking her off toward South Barrule Mountain; and, she added, "I couldn’t get away from them until I had called my son." [58]

[James Caugherty, a Farmer and a Fisherman, Isle of Man] "Forty to fifty years ago, between St. John’s and Foxdale, a boy, with whom I often played, came to our house at nightfall to borrow some candles, and while he was on his way home across the hills he suddenly saw a little boy and a little woman coming after him. If he ran, they ran, and all the time they gained on him. Upon reaching home he was speechless, his hands were altered (turned awry), and his feet also, and his fingernails had grown long in a minute. He remained that way a week. My father went to the boy’s mother and told her it wasn’t Robby at all that she saw; and when my father was for taking the tongs and burning the boy with a piece of glowing turf [as a changeling test], the boy screamed awfully. Then my father persuaded the mother to send a messenger to a doctor in the north near Ramsey ‘doing charms’, to see if she couldn’t get Robby back. As the messenger was returning, the mother stepped out of the house to relieve him, and when she went into the house again her own Robby was there. As soon as Robby came to himself all right, he said a little woman and a little boy had followed him, and just as he got home he was conscious of being taken away by them, but he didn’t know where they came from nor where they took him. He was unable to tell more than this. Robby is alive yet, so far as I know; he is Robert Christian, of Douglas." [59]

[Mr. Neil Macleod, Bard of Skye, Scotland] "Colin was a gentleman of Clan Campbell in Perthshire, who was married to a beautiful maiden whom the fairies carried off on her marriage-day, and on whom they cast a spell which rendered her invisible for a day and a year. She came regularly every day to milk the cows of her sorrowing husband, and sang sweetly to them while she milked, but he never once had the pleasure of beholding her, though he could hear perfectly what she sang. At the expiry of the year she was, to his great joy, restored to him." [60]

More Recent Fairy Sightings:

The accounts provided in Evans-Wentz’s material in no case postdate its year of publication, 1911, and in many cases are drawn (as memories, or as memories of memories) from many years before. Following are published cases slightly more recent.

In 1938, Dublin’s Irish Press reported, "Watching for fairies has leaped into sudden popularity in West Limerick." There was, in those days, a slew of fairy sightings, and men and boys alike, at various times, spotted the little folk and chased after them, but could not catch any: "they jumped the ditches as fast as a greyhound." As the little people fled from their human pursuers through hedges, ditches and marshes, they "appeared neat and clean all the time." According to one boy, when he came upon a tiny, two-foot-tall man dressed in red clothing who was standing in the road, and asked him where he was from, the man replied: "I’m from the mountains, and it’s all equal to you what my business is." [61]

In 1959, the Belfast Telegraph reported that a man who was moving a large bush with a bulldozer on a farm in County Carlow saw a three-foot-tall "red man" jump out from underneath his advancing vehicle, run across the field and leap over a fence to safety. Three other men claimed to have witnessed the fleeing figure. [62]

In 1973, an "educated London woman" on a bus which was traveling through the Scottish Highlands, saw, while the bus was pausing near the town of Mull, a "small figure, about 18 inches high, a young man with his foot on a spade, arrested (frozen like a bird or a squirrel on the approach of something alien) in the act of digging. He had a thin, keen face (which I would know again), [and] tight, brown curly hair… He was emphatically not a dwarf, nor a child, nor (last desperate suggestion of a skeptic) a plastic garden gnome. He was a perfectly formed living being like any of us, only in miniature." The sighting was, apparently, not unique, for among the people in the vicinity of Mull there remained, even to that late day in history, numerous sightings of the little people. [63]


An Assessment Of The Case, With Some Personal & Modern Additions

Needless to say, the evidence for the existence of fairies which has just been presented does not meet the standards established by the scientific paradigm to prove the legitimacy of a phenomenon. This is not necessarily damning for those of us who keep an open mind. For though we greatly respect the accomplishments of modern Science, which is partially based upon the rigor of its procedures and the logical direction of its approach, we dare to believe that there may yet be phenomena of such a subtle nature, straddling the realms of the subjective and the objective, that Science has not yet developed the tools to apprehend them; and that, in such cases, the innate tools of discovery and perception which reside within us (such as our intuition, and psychic sensibilities), ought not to be discounted. Besides that, Science is often beset by its own inflexibilities and prejudices, hamstrung by limitations it does not wish to acknowledge, and bent out of shape by hubris. At times, it seeks to smash human experience which discomfits it with ridicule, and to assail it, not only with well-deployed incidences of critical thinking, but also with "appeals to authority, post hoc fallacies, ad hominem arguments and a whole host of other informal errors", which dishonor it; with, as it were, intellectual cheap shots. The scientific mainstream at times honors us with its integrity and talent; but, at other times, succumbing to a "systematic bias" which "operates almost invisibly today", due to the manner in which we have long been accustomed to it, it robs us of huge and important swaths of existence, which we must be receptive to if they are to be experienced. [64]

The utter opposition of Science to the existence of Fairies, therefore, is not a definitive impediment for some of us, though it certainly is not to be dismissed. We believe in the credibility of our own experiences, and in the validity of anecdote, once it is provided to us in massive quantities sure to contain fair amounts of reliable testimony amidst the inevitable portions of misperception, illusion, and invention which taint considerations of this nature.

In the case of the material provided by Evans-Wentz, although we probably encounter some degree of mishearing and misremembering, some amount of embellishment and fibbing, and almost certainly examples of the reproduction of legends and fairy stories as though they were personally experienced by someone on the periphery of one’s knowledge, we also find many interesting eyewitness accounts, many earnest reports of the experiences of subjects well-known to the narrator, and clear evidence of the power of fairy traditions and beliefs throughout the Celtic countries (which were incorporated into customs so widespread and deeply-held that there must have been some experiential basis to generate them). Although the scientist would say that the fairy faith was merely a superstitious mode of perception projected onto anything mysterious or unknown occurring in the countryside or household, which it was used to explain, we must agree with the irate Cornish miner who, when told that his experiences with "knockers" in the mines must be attributable to material causes, and not to pixies, replied: "Well, I guess I have ears to hear with." [65]

The same as with UFO reports today, there was, in the days of Evans-Wentz’s work, an innate prejudice against the farmer and the "mere working man" who were considered to be ignorant, unschooled in the nature of reality, and prone to superstitious thinking and to unreliable testimony. In modern-day UFOlogy, a premium is always placed upon the so-called "reliable witness", who proves that he can be believed by holding a socioeconomic position in his culture which is considered to reflect favorably upon his character and his mental faculties. For this reason, the testimony of airplane pilots, military personnel, policemen, businessmen, and academics is always highly prized – these people, it is said, could never have attained the position they have, nor held onto such a position, were they mere "flakes." In the case of collecting information about the fairies, similar dynamics had to be confronted, and Evans-Wentz took care to prop up his work against those who might condemn it on the basis of the quality of his witnesses. He wrote: "In no case has testimony been admitted from a person who was known to be unreliable, nor even from a person who was thought to be unreliable." [66] He went on to say: "Old and young, educated and uneducated, peasant and city-bred, testify to the actual existence of the Celtic Fairy-Faith; and the evidence from Roman Catholics stands beside that from Protestants, the evidence of priests supports that of scholars and scientists, peasant seers have testified to the same kind of visions as highly educated seers; and what poets have said agrees with what is told by business men, engineers, and lawyers." [67] This having been said to assuage the prejudices of his times (and ours), he fought against those prejudices by saying: "The great majority of men in cities are apt to pride themselves on their own exemption from ‘superstition’, and to smile pityingly at the poor countrymen and countrywomen who believe in fairies. But when they do so they forget that, with all their own admirable progress in material invention, with all the far-reaching data of their acquired science, with all the vast extent of their commercial and economic conquests, they themselves have ceased to be natural. Wherever under modern conditions great multitudes of men and women are herded together there is bound to be an unhealthy psychical atmosphere never found in the country – an atmosphere which inevitably tends to develop in the average man who is not psychically strong enough to resist it, lower at the expense of higher forces or qualities, and thus to inhibit any normal attempts of the Subliminal Self (a well-accredited psychological entity) to manifest itself in consciousness." [68] In other words, the modern "energy environment" damaged or inhibited the more sensitive aspects of the human perceptual apparatus so as to break down the links which connected Man and Fairy. Rather than being considered as an unreliable witness for his lack of education, the Celtic peasant of his times, Evans-Wentz argued, should be considered as a more gifted and truer witness than the skeptic whose subtle range of vision was dulled.

All this having been said, Evans-Wentz reached the conclusion, on the basis of his work to document the existence and strength of the Celtic Fairy-Faith, and the reality of the fairy folk which this research suggested, that fairies were not mere mythical creations of the human race, but genuine entities of some kind. As Leslie Shepard wrote in 1966: "The conclusion of Dr. Evans-Wentz is that ‘we can postulate scientifically, on the showing of the data of psychical research, the existence of such invisible intelligences as gods, genii, daemons, all kinds of true fairies, and disembodied men.’" [69] He did not seek to precisely define the nature of the Fairy (and indeed, the testimony presented would not allow this, for it was too wide-ranging, and the differentiation between different fairy-types, as well as the differentiation between the fairies and the spirits of the dead or other spiritual entities, was not universally clear). Nor did he decisively extract (so far as I can tell from his extremely scholarly book) the existence of the Fairy from the mind of the perceiver. Although he believed the Fairy was not a mere creation of the perceiver’s mind, he judged the internal psychical apparatus of the perceiver to be an important component of the fairy experience.

In these basic conclusions, I find myself in agreement with Dr. Evans-Wentz. I believe in the reality of Fairies, but do not know how to precisely define them within the overall gamut of spiritual realities. That is, to say, I believe in spirits, but have little idea how to classify them. I imagine them, or feel them to be a certain way, but is this just my way of relating to them? As water assumes the shape of its container, do my perceptions give a specific form to spiritual forces which are really far more generalized and less defined than I think? I can’t really know the answer to these questions…

One thing I can say, however, is that my belief in the existence of Fairies has been greatly reinforced, and perhaps made possible, by my own spiritual experiences, which, for me, have brought the concept into the realm of plausibility. Otherwise, I might find it hard to transfer my sympathy for Celtic culture and my desire to believe in the credibility of men and women who form a part of the current of my ancestors, into a belief in their belief: into a belief in Fairies.

In my life, I have had what I consider to be three supernatural visions of beings. I cannot know whether I saw angels, fairies, or ghosts at those times, but the experiences were moving, a bit frightening (because of the novelty and also because of the power of the unknown which we do not know how to face), and they produced a unique, strange feeling in my body common to those experiences alone and to no others I have had. Besides this, unusual phenomena commonly associated with the presence of spirits has occasionally affected me. There was a toy robot, powered by batteries, that suddenly turned on by itself and started moving when the idea of throwing it out was mentioned; there was a light that turned on by itself as I slept after discussing paranormal events; there were household objects that moved and shook of their own accord after the death of a beloved friend; and there were objects that appeared to have been moved about the house or hidden (as fairies and duendes sometimes do for a prank): on at least one occasion, there was no possible way that the object in question could have been placed where it was, or fallen by natural causes to the position in which it was found. (This, too, occurred shortly after the death of a friend.) Finally, in a house known for the peculiar misbehavior of its electrical appliances, I saw a photograph that was taken which seemed to show the nebulous form of some kind of elf or gnome-like creature sitting next to one of the appliances most frequently affected by disturbances. Admittedly, I am no expert in photography. I know, with a 100% degree of certainty, that the photo was not faked, but I do not know enough of the possibilities of natural imperfections which may affect a photograph to rule out the possibility that there was a very natural explanation for the photo. I also know that we human beings have a great talent for projecting our imagination onto voids and shapes that have no clear form, and perceiving them according to what is in our mind at that time. Given all this, the photograph was still suggestive and a bit unnerving. Unfortunately, it was so unnerving to the individual who took it that he destroyed it (for otherwise, a kind of haunting emanated from it, and he felt no peace). It’s a pity, because, unlike the fraudulent but highly influential "Cottingley Fairy photographs" of the early 1900s, which produced clear images of dancing, winged fairies consistent with the cultural direction the fairy concept was taking in England at that time [70], this photograph was much more vague, like the foggy, indecisive images of ghosts which some paranormal researchers have taken in our own times. Such documentation, though it is likely to prove very little, is, nonetheless, much more likely to be authentic, and worthy of regard.

These personal experiences which convinced me of the existence of spirits, were bolstered, and provided with support (paranormal solidarity, one might say) by stories I heard, firsthand, from others. They, too, had seen ghosts or felt the presence of spirits, and the mystical began to gain more weight. From my Colombian friends, in particular, I am indebted for a large treasure of information regarding the existence and habits of the duende, a fairy-like creature well-known in those parts. These friends related to me not only the lore of the duende, but also, frequently provided personal accounts of their own experiences with them. It is interesting to note many of the common behaviors of the duendes with the fairies of the Celtic lands, which leads us to believe that perhaps there is some kind of fairy spirit, spread throughout the entire world, which assumes slightly different aspects according to the physical and cultural places it inhabits, while all the time retaining its essence. The duendes are known for hiding and misplacing household objects; for troubling horses at night; for leaving evidence of their presence by tying up people’s hair while they sleep (and horse’s tails); and they, like fairies, are sometimes seen walking about the countryside; they are usually diminutive in size, and sometimes wear broad-brimmed hats. It sounds familiar...

The effect of all this personal testimony, spoken with conviction and certainty by trusted individuals, played a great role in solidifying my capacity to believe in spiritual experience in spite of the fearsome opposition of mainstream Science, which had tried to close me to it; and it has made it possible for me to believe in the Fairies today.

Once again, I cannot be sure what Fairies are, nor can I envision them precisely (except, perhaps, for myself). I do not know whether to explain crop circles, "little grays" and alien abductions in terms of "fairy rings", "the little people" and fairy abductions, or vice versa; or to simply leave the two phenomena unconnected. I do not know the full extent of the Fairies’ power, nor the whole story of their relationship to Man. But I do believe in them, and having Celtic ancestors on one of my paths to the present, I am quite happy to allow them to remain in their Celtic cultural context, and to accept them as they were to those I came from: as the Tuatha De Danann, the Sidhe, the Leprechauns, et al. As the ancient water God Proteus had the ability to change his shape, to metamorphose while in the grip of his opponent into a thousand different creatures, so am I willing, as I grapple with the mystery of the Fairies’ true reality, to hold onto them as they once were, and may still be, as they haunt the ancient hills of Ireland and wander its green ways.


Clark, Jerome. Unexplained! 347 Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences, and Puzzling Physical Phenomena. Washington, DC: Invisible Ink Press, 1993.

Evans-Wentz, W.Y. The Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries. NY: Citadel Press, 1994. (Original, 1911.)

Knight, Sirona. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Elves & Fairies. NY: Alpha (Penguin), 2005.

MacManus, Seumas. The Story Of The Irish Race. Old Greenwich, Ct.: The Devin-Adair Company, 1982. (Original, 1921.)

Talbot, Michael. The Holographic Universe. NY: Harper Perennial, 1991.


[1] Evans-Wentz, p. 47.

[2] Ibid, p. 105.

[3] MacManus, p. 2-3.

[4] Ibid, p. 5.

[5] Evans-Wentz, p. 82-83.

[6] Talbot, p. 203-204.

[7] Evans-Wentz, p. 31.

[8] Ibid, p. 124.

[8a] Ibid, p. 57.

[8b] Ibid, p. 69.

[8c] Ibid, p. 131.

[9] Ibid, p. 33.

[10] Ibid, p. 33.

[11] Ibid, p. 38.

[12] Ibid, p. 67.

[12a] Ibid, p. 55.

[12b] Ibid, p. 57.

[13] Ibid, p. 134-135.

[14] Ibid, p. 43.

[15] Ibid, p. 38.

[16] Ibid, p. 38-39.

[17] Ibid, p. 70.

[18] Ibid, p. 44.

[19] Ibid, p. 37-38.

[20] Ibid, p. 132.

[21] Ibid, p. 126.

[22] Ibid, p. 125.

[23] Ibid, p. 75.

[24] Ibid, p. 75.

[25] Ibid, p. 94-95.

[26] Ibid, p. 95.

[26a] Ibid, p. 207.

[26a2] Ibid, p. 88.

[26b] Ibid, 177.

[26c] Ibid, p. 177.

[27] Ibid, p. 46.

[28] Ibid, p. 77.

[28a] Ibid, p. 46.

[29] Ibid, p. 127.

[30] Ibid, p. 142.

[31] Ibid, p. 181.

[32] Ibid, 208.

[33] Ibid, p. 72-73.

[34] Ibid, p. 67-68.

[35] Ibid, p. 124-125.

[36] Ibid, p. 135.

[37] Ibid, p. 144-145.

[38] Ibid, p. 155.

[39] Ibid, p. 71-72.

[40] Ibid, p. 105-106.

[41] Ibid, p. 108-109.

[42] Ibid, p. 54.

[43] Ibid, p. 131.

[44] Ibid, p. 182.

[45] Ibid, p. 73.

[46] Ibid, p. 112-113.

[47] Ibid, p. 40.

[48] Ibid, p. 122.

[49] Ibid, p. 80-81.

[50] Ibid, p. 56.

[51] Ibid, p. 83-84.

[52] Ibid, p. 39.

[53] Ibid, p. 40.

[54] Ibid, p. 104.

[55] Ibid, p. 171.

[56] Ibid, p. 58.

[57] Ibid, p. 96-97.

[58] Ibid, p. 125-126.

[59] Ibid, p. 132-133.

[60] Ibid, p. 98.

[61] Clark, p. 121.

[62] Clark, p. 122.

[63] Clark, p. 120.

[64] Clark, p. 117, presenting a brief overview of work by David J. Hufford, from "Reason, Rhetoric, and Religion." The post hoc fallacy is one in which Event A, which occurs after Event B, is automatically considered to be the result of Event A. Ad hominem arguments are those which appeal to self-interest or prejudice instead of to reason; or in which one’s opponent is attacked as a means of undermining his point-of-view, without a proper consideration of the POV in question (which ought to be judged on its own merits).

[65] Evans-Wentz, p. 177, note.

[66] Ibid, p. 20.

[67] Ibid, p. 21.

[68] Ibid, p. xxxiii-xxxiv.

[69] Ibid, p. xii.

[70] Clark, p. 75-77.

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