Mara Freeman, England

Writer, lecturer and storyteller of sacred Celtic traditions. www.chalicecentre.net

Until the 20th century, many people had encounters with faeries and lived side by side with them in quite a natural way. Some of these faery-seers descended from generations of country-dwellers who kept the old beliefs intact; others were visionaries, poets, and artists who refused to be influenced by the modern, materialistic worldview that, in William Blake's words, can only "see with, not thru, the eye."

But what are faeries and do they still exist today? Many people still think of them as the delightful, gauzy-winged creatures of children’s books - but this was not always so. Those faeries were a product of Victorian literature. Before that, there was a strong recognition throughout Europe of a host of sentient beings who are mostly non-physical entities, although they can be seen with the inner eye. What’s more, they knew that faeries do not dwell in a far-off realm, but live within the subtle dimension of our world, co-existing with us in the cracks of our everyday reality.

"A middle nature betwixt man and angel"
Faeries range from tall, beautiful, noble creatures to diminutive imps called "little people," with many shapes and sizes in-between. There are solitary faeries, like the household brownie who looks like a small stocky man with a gray beard; leathery gnomes who dwell in forests and caves; 'trooping faeries' who dance, sing, and feast together in the faery hills; and tribes of Cornish piskies, with red hair, pointed ears, and turned-up noses. One of the best explanations of what faeries are comes from an unlikely source, a 17th century minister of the Church of Scotland: The Reverend Robert Kirk called them "a middle nature betwixt man and angel." They are creatures of light and energy, of 'force' rather than 'form', who can shift their shape as they please, unbound by the laws of the physical world.

Deeply connected to the Living Earth
All faeries are deeply connected to the Living Earth. The Faery Queen spoken of in so many ballads and stories is a Celtic aspect of Gaia, the Earth Goddess. The faeries sometimes called 'nature spirits' are involved with the processes of nature - birth, growth, decay, and the changing of the seasons - while 'elementals' are responsible for cycles of water, earth, air, and fire. Other faery tribes interact more with the human world, bestowing gifts such as healing, music, and seership upon their favorite mortals.

Messages from the Earth
Today, a new awareness of faeries is returning as people are awakening to the reality of worlds not normally apparent. It seems that, with the current crises on Earth, we are being called to reconnect with those beings of light with whom we once consciously shared our planet home. When we pollute, degrade, and destroy the land, sea, and skies, we are destroying their world, too; we tear apart the exquisitely woven tapestry of all creation. And so faeries are bringing messages from the Earth, urging us to change our ways from living in separateness to an awareness of our interconnectedness with all beings, visible and invisible.

Image credit: Harvey Lloyd, 'The Art of Seeing'. www.harveylloyd.com



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