At this year’s Pagan Unity Festival (a.k.a. PUF) I met Kiki Dombrowski, who conducted a workshop on the history and persistence of stories of faerie folk. She was also kind enough to write a guest post for me about this very topic.
Faery sightings are not so out of the ordinary after all. Tales of real life encounters with faeries intrigue us, pulling us away from our electronic world to awaken our imagination and give us hope that this universe still holds mysteries. The exploration of what faeries are and how faeries interact with us has been a topic for many authors and researchers. Faeries have been linked to ancient gods, fallen angels, transformed spirits of the dead, and even demons. Some tales say that faeries are an immortal, wise and beautiful ancient race. Other tales describe faeries as malevolent creatures who steal babies in the middle of the night. Others still say that faeries take the shape of animals to visit and observe us.
Many researchers have collected volumes of information on the relationship between faeries and humans. One thorough collection, and perhaps one of the more famous is The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by W.Y. Evans-Wentz. In this collection of tales, Wentz recounts hundreds of witness stories across the Celtic Nations. Examples of the tales include the sound of hearing pipes at the sacred Hill of Tara and King Arthur’s spirit visiting his birthplace of Tintagel in the guise of a blackbird with red feet and a red beak.
The Fairy Investigation Society, which was founded in the late 1920s in Britain, had meetings to discuss faery phenomenon and collect data on faery encounters. In the 1950s, the secretary of FIS, Marjorie Johnson, carried out a “fairy census” in which she collected 20th century faery sightings. One of the most peculiar from the collection happened in Wollaton Park, Nottingham, where a group of children claimed to have been chased by gnomes driving little cars. Ms. Johnson’s research was finally published last year in a book called Seeing Fairies. You can visit the FIS website for an extended list of recent faery sightings.
In today’s metaphysical and pagan revivals, people have warmed up to faeries and their reputation has thawed out. Modern authors such as R.J. Stewart, Orion Foxwood, and Emily Carding have written books outlining methods for interacting with faeries in a beneficial manner. In The Sidhe: Wisdom from the Celtic Otherworld, John Matthews shares his encounters of speaking with a member of the Sidhe, the Irish ancient faery race connected to the divine Tuatha de Danann. He was able to communicate with the Sidhe by meditating with a spiral glyph he saw in an Irish hillmound chamber.
A friend of mine within the Pagan community also has encounters with faeries. She shared her story with me about how they would often hide her things: “The Fae are great borrowers of things they find fascinating or useful. They can also be wickedly clever tricksters. Back when I was still waiting tables, I came home from my day job to change for my server job. I laid my work apron and my server book on a chair, and then went to the bedroom to change. When I returned to collect the apron and book, the book was gone. After an exhaustive search, I lost my temper. I demanded the Fae return my book or I would salt the entire house and surrounding property. I went back in the bedroom, counted to ten and then returned to find my book exactly where I had left it.”
I had my own faery encounter during high school. I resided with my family in Connecticut a walk away from a state forest that was rumored to have ghosts, midnight coven meetings, and men in black appearances. At that point in my life I was already reading about about faeries. I used to leave out small dishes of berries, cream, and honey in my backyard as offerings to the faeries I believed resided on such supernaturally charged land. One midsummer evening I woke up to the distinctive feeling of the bottom of my feet getting tickled. Stirring from slumber I shifted awake when I heard the most unusual thing: the sound of what I could only describe as a chorus of tiny voices giggling. I sprung up in bed and turned on the lights to an empty room.
Modern fantasy novels have also created beautiful, immortal, magical faeries, perhaps sparking the idea that faeries did indeed have their merits. Were they misunderstood for thousands of years? Do we now have access to benevolent forces through practicing mindfulness, meditation, and connecting with nature? One theme that seems to link all modern faery encounters together is the connection to nature and the awareness that there is divine spirit in all living beings on earth. By touching the world of faery we open ourselves up to magic, fantasy, and an ancient wisdom that is connected to the natural world around us.
Kiki Dombrowski lives in Nashville, where she is a tarot card reader, life coach, and workshop teacher. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Southern Connecticut State University and her Master’s Degree from Nottingham University. Having extensively studied mythology, divnation, and Paganism, Kiki has been a teacher at Pagan Unity Festival, Pagan Pride Day Nashville, Goddess and the Moon, and Mystical Heart Spiritual Center. Her articles have been published on WitchVox and in Green Egg. Her website is www.kikidombrowski.com.