Episode 12: Experiencing Fairies: Interview with Dr Neil Rushton

In the last episode of series one, I chat with Dr Neil Rushton, author of two fairy-related novels and fairy experience investigator.

We discuss my various musings during this series and Neil shares his own fairy experiences. He also offers his perspective on why and how people see fairies and how this differs to the reductionist, materialist worldview on the matter. Neil’s blog site, deadbutdreaming.wordpress.com is an excellent resource. His articles cover fairy associated folklore as well as deeper digs into the connection between encounters and altered states.

His two novels, Dead But Dreaming and Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun, feature fairy encounters and explore the role of altered states in perceiving fairies.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. Some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

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Recommended Reading

Neil’s blog, deadbutdreaming.wordpress.com explores fairy beings, folklore and altered states.

Anthony Peake’s The Hidden Universe, explores much of what we talked about during our conversation and has a very easy-reading explanation of how quantum physics may help explain non-human intelligent entity contact

For more information on Charles Bonnet Syndrome see also Peake above.

Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality and Graham Hancock Supernatural are also absolute essential reading for discussions around fairies, aliens and altered states.

Dr Simon Young’s Fairy Census 2014-2017 is a wonderful resource of around 500 detailed contemporary fairy encounters. They were collected from around the world via online survey. Simon runs the Fairy Investigation Society.

Rudolf Steiner’s Nature Spirits – for the best assessment of the early 20th-century Theosophist ideas on nature spirits.

Dr Jack Hunter’s Greening The Paranormal examines how connecting with the supernatural may re-connect us with nature.

David Bohm’s Wholeness and the Implicate Order, incorporates much thinking on quantum physics (Bohm was a quantum physicist) within a philosophical framework. 

Aldous Huxley’s classic, The Doors of Perception which examines altered states.

Podcast intro music: Transmutate by Snowflake (c) copyright 2020 Licensed. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Episode 11: Make Haste for Midsummer

In this episode we hear about an encounter which took place en route to a Wiccan ritual in a large park in England. It’s a lovely share, as the experience was so gloriously matter-of-fact. Are fairies simply an aspect of Nature that we don’t currently understand? Do they pop up unpredictably or are there circumstances which make it more likely? We touch on these ideas in this episode.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. Some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

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Fairies at Midsummer

“Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Edward Robert Hughes, watercolor, 1908

We’ve all heard of Midsummer Night’s Dream and so the connection between this time of the year and fairies is already embedded in our psyche. Our guest made the point that maybe Shakespeare knew a thing or two.

Perhaps he did. It’s a very interesting point which people have mused on and it’s one worth returning to. Particularly so when you bear in mind that Shakespeare, drawing on folkloric depictions of the fae at the time, was doing so against the backdrop of religious Reformation. His playwriting took place between the time of Reginald Scot’s 1584 anti-superstitious literature, ‘Discoverie of Witchcraft’ and King James’s ‘Daemonologie‘ of 1597, in which fairies were portrayed as demons. I plan to look at Shakespeare’s fairies in a future article.

In the meantime, there are some fantastic midsummer encounters collected by The Fairy Investigation Society’s Fairy Census 2014-2017. The following reported encounter took place in Wollaton and if you haven’t already heard of the Wollaton gnomes then here’s a great piece by The Faery Folklorist.

§104C) England (Nottinghamshire). ‘I was bought up in Wollaton and back then a lot of the area was woods fields old dried up canals, ponds, slag heaps of coal etc where we used to play as children we were probably about half a mile from Wollaton Park main gates and back then you could almost walk to Wollaton Park without going out of the woods and fields I am fifty now so I am going back to the late 1970s. One evening in summer me and a friend were stood on the side of an old dried out canal it was midsummer, maybe 9 o’clock at night, just going dark but you could still see quite well and I looked across the other side of the canal and directly opposite us was a small shiny white humanoid creature about eighteen inches high you couldn’t see its face because it was too bright and shiny glowing white like a light bulb but shaped like a small person I just felt it was looking at us and standing still. my friend was really scared he had really short hair but I can remember what bit of hair he had was sticking up on his head. I wasn’t so scared and climbed into the dried up canal with the intention of climbing up the other side to get a better look my friend followed, the creature then bolted into a small wooded area then out onto the big field we chased it but it bolted too fast so we just stood there and watched it get further across the field until it disappeared out of sight. It never bothered me but it really affected my friend he was scared of dolls and ventriloquist dummies, action man toys, anything like that after. He often discussed it with me for years after and told me he could never watch a Chucky movie because dolls terrify him. Not too long after maybe even only a few months we heard about the kids who saw the gnomes on Wollaton Park we even went there looking for them but found nothing.

Here’s another Fairy Census midsummer experience from the US:

§328) US (New Jersey). Female; 2010s; ‘It was at twilight on Midsummer. My husband and I had friends over. We had done a ritual earlier and were finishing up our meal. Suddenly, a green light, much larger than a firefly, emerged in the field in our backyard. It flew intelligently. The being flew toward us at the table, hovered, then circled us a couple of times. It then hovered again and took off very quickly. Most of us saw it, but didn’t say a word until it disappeared. Comparing notes we all saw the same thing. It was not an insect, and definitely acted with interest and intelligence. I have seen this being several times on
my own, but this was the first time others were with me.’

Main image by Tin Can Forest

References

The Fairy Folklorist (2017) ‘The Wollaton Park Gnomes’. Accessed online at: http://faeryfolklorist.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-wollaton-park-gnomes.html

King James I and VI (1587) ‘Dæmonologie, in forme of a dialogue, divided into three Bookes’. Edinburgh.

Scott, R. (1584) ‘The discoverie of witchcraft, Wherein the lewde dealing of witches and witchmongers is notablie detected’. London.

Young, S. (ed) (2018) The Fairy Census 2014-2017. Accessed online at: http://www.fairyist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/The-Fairy-Census-2014-2017-1.pdf 

Episode 10: Stay or Go?

In this episode we hear from a guest who shares his childhood experience of meeting a fairy. The encounter took place in his bedroom one morning while he was reading alone. He finds it hard to access a clear memory of the entire event but the parts he does remember are of great significance to him. In this case, our guest regrets how the experience was borne out and this has formed the basis of a decision to try and reconnect with the being. We discuss this sense of regret and how the memories began to piece together for him later, to become more meaningful in adulthood.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. Some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

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Fairies in Childhood

Many people report having memories of seeing fairies in childhood. Often they say that they’re not sure whether they imagined it, though some are absolutely certain of what they saw.

Image: Engh Ward(?) The Graphic Story Reader – 1890’s

There are lots of excellent accounts in Marjorie T. Johnson’s, Seeing Fairies, which I find a very useful source of modern sightings. During the 1950s, Marjorie reached out to members of the general public for their accounts of fairy sightings via various publications, including the BBC magazine of the time The Listener. This particular account is so similar to our guest’s experience. It’s from a teacher, Mrs Enid H. Paul.

This is a perfectly accurate account of what happened on the only occasion I ever saw a fairy. I do not often speak of it for fear of ridicule. It was in 1930, when I was nine years old. I had just gone up to bed, but had not yet lain down. I sat with my knees drawn up and my chin resting on them, looking towards my open bedroom door, when a small man appeared in the doorway. He was dressed in dark green, with a brown buckled belt, and short brown boots. His trousers were the breeches type, buttoned down the sides. I was filled with terror and dived under the bedclothes, hardly believing my eyes. After several minutes I plucked up courage and looked out. He then stood at the foot of my bed with arms akimbo leaning on the bedrail. More scared than ever, I plunged under the bedclothes again and stayed there for a long, long time. When I finally looked out he had disappeared, and I never saw him again. I have often wished that ‘d had the courage to speak to him. The incident had, however, no significance for me then, or since, so far as I know. (pp. 169, Marjorie T. Johnson, Seeing Fairies: From the Lost Archives of the Fairy Investigation Society, Authentic Reports of Fairies in Modern Times.)

Here’s a really lovely account from the Fairy Investigation Society’s Fairy Census 2014-2017.

§13) England (Cheshire) 1970s. I was in my bedroom one evening. I noticed a twinkling light in my window. I watched the light fly down towards my neck region. As the light came closer I noticed it had a human face and a dark outfit. It was around two-inches tall. I asked who are you and it replied that it was a fairy. It was flying in a side-to-side motion as it spoke. I heard a noise and put the covers over the fairy and my head. The space I had made was then illuminated. The fairy said that all will be ok and talked to me. But I don’t remember any of the conversation. I pulled back the covers and the fairy kept on talking and flying towards the window. All the time reassuring me everything would be ok. I had to ask what it was because I didn’t know what a fairy was. I then fell asleep.’ (Young, 2018, pp 32)

Fairies in Houses

Image: A Brownie by Arthur Rackham

There are many reports of fairies in houses in both collected folklore and more modern accounts of fairy encounters. They’re often called Brownies, Hobgoblins or even Boggarts if they become malevolent! Here’s an excerpt from Katharine Briggs’ The Fairies in Tradition and Literature about a helpful ‘Silkie’ at Lemington Hall, near Newcastle in the late 19th, early 20th century. The ‘Silkie’, which was described as being a “one of the white ladies…halfway between ghosts and fairies”, later turned into a troublesome ‘boggart’ under new ownership of the house.

A lady who now lives in Oxfordshire was brought up at Lemington Hall, five miles from Newcastle, and as a girl Marjorie Sowerby, as she then was, used often to visit the last remaining Hoyles of Denton, two old ladies who were quite willing to speak to intimate friends about Silkie’s kindness to them. The house was too big for them, and they really did not know how they would manage without her. She used to clean out the hearth and lay fires, and there was something too about bunches of flowers left on the staircase,. In 1902 or so, Marjorie Sowerby left the neighbourhood, and did not make any long stay in it until the Second World War. By that time the old ladies were long dead, and the house was occupied by another old acquaintance of hers. The was not the kind of person to get on with fairies and there was no talk of Silkie’s kindness now; in fact, the new tenant was so much disturbed by banging and noises and poltergeist jokes that he was finally obliged to leave the house. The Brownie had turned into a Boggart, as has often happened before. (Briggs, 2002, pp. 33)

Here’s another great description of a fairy encounter inside a house from the Fairy Investigation Society’s Fairy Census 2014-2017. It happens in a very matter of fact way in modern times, like the encounter in this podcast episode:

§370) US (Tennessee) 2000s. ‘Once when I was about seventeen years old, I was crossing the hall from my bedroom to the bathroom, and just as I was crossing the threshold I saw something out of the corner of my eye down near the floor up against the outer-facing door-frame of the bathroom in the hallway. I immediately stepped backward into the hall to do a double-take. What I had seen appeared to be a very small older man, maybe a foot high. He had nutmeg colored skin, very squat body shape, his clothes were non-descript but in shades of deep browns and mossy greens. He had a hat of some sort on, I believe. But he had his head tilted back as he was peering up at me, just watching. Never said a word or even moved. Just stood there. When I had stepped back into the hall for the double-take, he was gone. This was the impression I had gotten of him in the brief moment it took me to cross the threshold into the bathroom from the hallway and I seemed to only glimpse him just as I was stepping into the bathroom, not while approaching. This happened during the day, mid-day, though I don’t recall exactly what time. The hallway was only lit by the large window in my bedroom behind me as well as, the smaller window in the bathroom in front of me, and whatever natural light was coming in from the dining room French doors at the end of the hall to the right of me. Not terribly dark, but not well-lit. This was the first and only time I’d seen this figure or anything else like it. I did not feel scared, just surprised, curious, and a bit bewildered. I initially did question what I had seen and if it had been real, but it’s now been roughly fifteen years since I saw it and it’s never left my mind and I still remember the incident very clearly, though his image, unfortunately, seems to be fading in my memory. But I believe that what I saw was very real, especially because that memory has never left me. My mother claims she has seen him once, too, in that same house but couldn’t remember how or when. Seems to have been around the same period of time. While our house was in a suburban area, we lived next to a large field that has a lot of trees around it and very nearby to a running creek which empties into a lake. I periodically would also see small balls of glowing golden or white light fly past me in my bedroom out of the corners of my eyes and once heard what sounded like a woman sighing once or twice just outside of my one-story bedroom window. At that time I was in my later teens and very much interested in Faery lore, though I had grown up always having an interest in Fairy Tales and had been reading them since I was a small child. I was also getting my feet wet in my growing interest in Paganism, though I did not, yet, practice. I don’t know if the creature I saw was a gnome or house brownie, or what. But I do believe he was of Faery and that he meant no harm.’ (Young, 2018, pp. 290)

Another account of a troublesome brownie appears in the same edition of Briggs. It comes from an encounter collected by Colin Parsons in his Encounters with the Unknown (1990, pp. 69-71) and takes place some time in the 1980s. A couple had moved into a house whose previous occupants had informed them was also home to a helpful brownies who aided with work in the garden and inside the house. Upon moving in they found:

Dishes would be washed while they were out at work, the washing-machine would be operated and the clothes transferred to the tumble-drier. At first Jenny Bolton was convinced that she must be doing these things herself and forgetting them, and she visited her doctor. He found her perfectly well and prescribed a course of mild tranquillisers. The odd events continued, however, and now began to involve Peter Bolton. He would find the garden shed tidied or his clothes put in the wash or hung up in the wardrobes. (Bord, 1997, pp. 17)

After one incident concerning a misplaced item, Jenny became irritated with her helpers. From this point on, they were on the receiving end of some serious mischief and disturbance. “Soap powder had been tipped all over the vegetables, taps had been turned on and plugs put in, furniture had been knocked over and jam rubbed into her Persian carpet.” The couple felt they had no choice but to move from their home.

References

Bord, J. (1997) Real Encounters with Little People. Michael O’Mara Books: London. pp. 17

Briggs, K.M. (2002) The Fairies in Tradition and Literature, 2nd Ed. Routledge: London. pp. 33

Johnson, Marjorie T. (2014) Young, S. (Eds) Seeing Fairies: From the Lost Archives of the Fairy Investigation Society, Authentic Reports of Fairies in Modern Times. Anomalist Books: San Antonio, pp. 169

Parson, C. (1990) Encounters with the Unknown. Robert Hale Ltd: London

Young, S. (ed) (2018) The Fairy Census 2014-2017. Accessed online at: http://www.fairyist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/The-Fairy-Census-2014-2017-1.pdf on 14/03/2021

Episode 9: The Tall Folk and The Little People

This episode features the sort of experience that we might visualise from 19th century collections of Irish folklore. The encounter took place in Ireland, but was experienced just a few years ago, by a young Australian man as he toured around in his camper van. It’s a pretty epic story and he feels very lucky to have experienced this first hand. A whole host of apparitions popped up and each brought their own vibe to the events which unfolded.

Some listeners may find parts of the content in this episode frightening.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. Some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

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Fairies dancing in circles

Fairy folklore is full of the little folk dancing in circles. In most cases, humans are tempted to enter the circle or the dance and are lost forever. Sometimes the abductee can re-appear hours or even years later, though they’d swear they’d only been away for a few minutes. They may be bestowed with unusual powers or destined to sicken and die early.

There’s a brilliant article on the subject of, ‘The Fairie Dance’ by Dr Neil Rushton at Dead But Dreaming.

And here’s an excerpt from Dr Simon Young’s Fairy Census 2014-2017 which describes a similar encounter in Ireland:

§151A) Ireland (Co. Limerick). Female, 1940s; 11-20
‘When my mother was a young girl, her father sent her to fetch a bucket of water many fields away from where they lived. On the way back with the water, she stopped at the top of a low lying hill to rest. Looking back down over the fields, she saw a large group of ‘people’ all dancing around in a circle in one of the many local ‘faery forts’. (faery circles) She described their collective dress as comprising of similar colours: red, green and blue. The people were also wearing hats or caps. My mother knew that the area in which she lived at the time of the sighting was sparsely populated, with only a few neighbours close by and those who lived there were not rich or rich enough to have that many people partaking in that type of merriment. Even if they were, it was very early in the day to be doing so and the faery fort was several fields away from the nearest road. It dawned on her that these people were no ordinary people and could sense that she was not supposed to be looking at this ‘dance’. She took off running, back to her father’s house, spilling most of the water on the way and in doing so, upon her return, got a ‘good telling off’! She relayed this story to me many years ago only after listening to a local radio station documentary on Irish folklore and legends. A caller phoned in and told a story, which was very similar to hers: a group of people, dancing around in a circle in a faery fort, wearing similarly coloured clothes. This caller’s story would have taken place in the same decade that my mother had hers. My mother kept this story to herself for many decades! I suppose from a combination of ridicule, growing up in Catholic Ireland and the fact that one was to be careful when speaking about ‘the Little People’! The particular faery fort in question still exists and is located behind ***, ***, Limerick. Though now, it is completely overgrown with trees and undergrowth. It is now mainly used by some of the local people who throw their grass cuttings in over the ditch.’

Orbs

Orb image: Joanne Ehling Harper, Pinterest

There are differing ideas about what orbs are exactly but from my own experience, I believe they are condensed manifestations of energy, be it spirit, thoughts, fae or otherwise. They appear as translucent globes or circles of light. They can be different colours but they’re often white and some people report that they’ve changed in size as they’ve been viewing them.

Here is another great excerpt from The Fairy Census 2014-2017, which describes an encounter with orbs:

§242) US (Carolina). Female; 1990s; 11-20; in woodland.
‘My friend invited me to go out into the woods to look for fairy rings. We took wine from her parents’ pantry as a friendship offering. We left at sunset, having been given permission to go camping. We walked a little way out into the woods, maybe fifty yards, stopping in a clearing among cedar trees. We each took a small sip of wine, toasting the good health of any spirits who happened to be about, left some in a sea shell which we had brought for that purpose, and poured the rest out on the ground. We then lit a small fire from deadwood since it was getting cold. When we got tired, we poured water on the embers and stirred them to make sure it was all out. We then wrapped ourselves in blankets and lay down to wait. What felt like hours past, and then, when the night was very dark, and my friend was talking about the dark spirits I had seen previously in another forest, there was suddenly a wild presence, a sense of something entirely outside the normal, safe, civilized world. And where we had left the wine we saw small, colorful lights hovering in a circle about a foot or two above the ground. They went round for a while as we stared in mute amazement (I don’t think either of us expected anything to actually show up) and then just as abruptly they vanished. We decided it might not be best to spend the whole night there and rushed back to her house, or at least tried to rush since the path which had been clear on the way seemed to lead us in circles and we were forced to cut through deep underbrush before reaching her back door all out of breath. My friend’s mother was at the back door and said she had been calling for us for the last hour, thinking it was too cold to stay out, but we never heard her.’

Episode 8: The Good, The Bad and The Tickly

In Episode 8 of The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast, Jo speaks to a British woman who had three very different experiences with fairies.  All encounters took place in her bedroom but were miles apart, in terms of her emotional experience in each case. In one incident, our guest summoned the courage to stand up to a nasty goblin-looking character. In another scene, she is set upon by a troop of tickling fairies and in the third encounter, a tree fairy provides much needed solace.

Some listeners may find parts of the content in this episode frightening.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. Some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

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Scary goblins with poltergeist tendencies

Traditional folklore is full of nightmarish encounters with goblins of seemingly ill-intent. The story of Rumpelstiltskin is a well-known example, of German origin. In terms of sightings, recorded encounters with seemingly malicious fae are infrequent. However they are reported from time to time. The guest in this episode reported a nasty looking goblin that appeared on her curtain rail and seemed to be linked to some dark energies in her flat. In once instance, her bed is shaken and raised off the ground by a foot or so. Interestingly, the German name, Rumpelstilzchen translates to ‘little rattle stilt’ and was used to describe a little goblin who would rattle a stilt or post. Similarly, rumpelgeist is a mischievous noisy spirit that moves household objects. So, in German folklore at least, this sort of malicious goblin is linked with poltergeist tendencies.

Our guest found this image to most resemble the crouching goblin on her curtain rail

The following modern encounter describes a goblin of similar malevolent behaviour and appearance, which also related to poltergeist activity in a house. It was collected as part of The Fairy Investigation Society’s Census (2014-2017). It’s a very disturbing account that took place in the 1980s. It was witnessed by a child, though they are reporting it now as an adult:

§173) Scotland (Perthshire). Female; 1980s; age 0-10; ‘Within the week previous to seeing a fairy, I had taken part in a ouija board which was not shut down properly. Afterwards I was told by my friends that something appeared on the wall behind me and I didn’t believe them. A few days later, a Sunday, one of the boys where I was staying took back a stuffed eagle from Sunday school. I remember it well because it was my turn to set the dining room up for supper and the eagle had been left on the dining table. I looked at it and it felt as though it was flashing in and out at me, almost like a flashing experience. I knew something wasn’t right and when I went into the adjacent crockery room for the cutlery to set the table, I opened the drawer and cupboard at the same time. This is when I saw the contents of both shaking and leaping around. Obviously I was hysterical and ran screaming down the corridor to get others. I wasn’t believed. Unfortunately, my bedroom was on the ground floor and to get to it, the dining room (which was on the corner of the building) had to be passed. Because of the scary experience I had, an adult had to stand at the corner so I could go by to get to my room. This went on for a few more days and they decided to move me to the bedroom directly above the one I was in. So I moved to my new room, sharing with two other girls, but still really drought [distraught?] about what I saw in the crockery room. Then one night I woke up with a start and felt someone else was in the room. The hall light was on so I wasn’t in complete darkness and I guess it was between midnight and 3 am. I looked at the bottom of my bed – cheesy I know but very true – and I saw a little man about the size of a baby sitting at the bottom of my bed. He looked old – maybe about sixty if I had to equate it to a human. He was small and skinny and had human features and body but wasn’t human. He was sitting on the edge of my bed swinging his legs like he was on a swing and his head was turned to the left, looking at me. He was grinning and I could see his sharp, pointed, black shelled teeth. He had pointed, chiseled features and olive-coloured skin. What was memorable about him was his pointed ears and dirty furrowed forehead. I’m unsure how long he sat there before moving. I couldn’t scream out because I was frozen with fear but I know I was wide awake. I remember him leaping off my bed but I didn’t see him take physical steps up to me – it was more like he drifted up to me. He grinned at me, pointed a finger at me (the pigment of the pointed nail was black, it wasn’t dirt), then disappeared into my bedside cabinet. I’m unsure whether my experience with the ouija board had anything to do with it because I didn’t know what a ouija was when I did it, so it wasn’t the power of suggestion that made me see the little man. To this day, some thirty-four years later, I am adamant that I saw these things. Five years ago, some twenty-nine years after this happened, I went back to the house that this happened in. It’s since been converted to a hunting lodge and I was chatting to the lady owner. I happened to tell her about my experience and she turned to her husband and said that she knew the place was haunted. But I think that the little man I saw was a fairy, even though I had always imagined them to look like the fairies in the ‘Flower Fairies’ books, prior to my sighting of him.’

An extremely disturbing folkloric account of the “most unpleasant hobgoblin” is described in R. L. Tongue’s ‘Somerset Folklore’. Preying upon children, he “...lived in a dark cupboard, usually under the stairs. If you were heroic enough to peep through a crack you would get a glimpse of the dreadful crouching creature, with blood running down his face, seated waiting on a pile of raw bones that had belonged to children who told lies or said bad words. If you peeped through the keyhole, he got you anyway.

Troops of Fairies / Tickling Fairies

Traditional folklore is full to the brim with stories of trooping fairies, both out in nature and inside houses (particularly children’s nurseries). I haven’t heard of tickling fairies before, so please get in touch if you have. There’s a an old Scottish Folktale, The Brazen Brogues (Douglas, 1900), that features five maidens (with fae-like qualities), tickling the hero of the story. There’s also the 17th century account of ‘pinching’ fairies, offered by John Aubrey in Katharine Brigg’s Dictionary of Fairies, whereby a Mr Harte is set upon by:

“an innumerable quantitie of pygmies or very small people dancing rounde and rounde, and singing…(who) pinch’d him all over, and made a sorte of quick humming noyse all the time…”

Images resembling the troop of tickling fairies in the bedroom

It’s hard to find images that exactly recreate what you have seen. I’ve often thought how wonderful it must be to have artistic skill and be able to do so. Our guest provided the following images that were most like the troop of fairies in her bedroom in terms of stance, age and appearance:

Flower and Tree Fairies

This image of a woman in traditional Welsh costume, was provided by our guest as most resembling the crab apple fairy in appearance.

There’s a lovely account in the Fairy Investigation Society Census (2014-2017) that bears some resemblance to the crab apple fairy’s manifestation in the bedroom:

The Crab Apple Fairy, by Cicely Mary Barker

§13) England (Cheshire). Female; 1970s; 0-10; ‘I was four to five years old. I was in my bedroom one evening. I noticed a twinkling light in my window. I watched the light fly down towards my neck region. As the light came closer I noticed it had a human face and a dark outfit. It was around two-inches tall. I asked who are you and it replied that it was a fairy. It was flying in a side-to-side motion as it spoke. I heard a noise and put the covers over the fairy and my head. The space I had made was then illuminated. The fairy said that all will be ok and talked to me. But I don’t remember any of the conversation. I pulled back the covers and the fairy kept on talking and flying towards the window. All the time reassuring me everything would be ok. I had to ask what it was because I didn’t know what a fairy was. I then fell asleep.’

And here’s a beautiful flower fairy account from Marjorie T. Johnson’s Seeing Fairies:

When Mrs Martha C. Smith was ordained, the altar was beautiful with flowers, including one large bouquet of white gladioli. Just as she rose to go to the altar to take her vows, she saw a nature spirit sitting on one of the white flowers. The lady standing beside her, when asked if she had noticed anything, replied that all she saw was a movement among the flowers, as though a large insect was crawling on them. When Mrs Smith told the Rev. B, her teacher about the fairy, he said he wasn’t surprised as he too had been conscious of something there. “The little creature was truly beautiful with the tiny wings and lovely colouring, ” wrote Mrs Smith. I couldn’t see clearly what she was holding in her hand, but it looked like a small wand with a light shining from it, and the fairy herself was surrounded by a bluish-white aura. The vision lasted for about one minute, but oh what a minute!”

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References

Briggs, K. (1976) A Dictionary of Fairies, London: Penguin Books, pp. 12-13

Douglas, Sir G. (1900) ‘The Brazen Brogues’ Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales, New York: Bart, pp. 243-268. accessed online at: https://archive.org/stream/scottishfairyfol00doug/scottishfairyfol00doug#page/242/mode/1up 11th February 2021

Johnson, M.T. (2014) Seeing Fairies: From the Lost Archives of the Fairy Investigation Society, Authentic Reports of Fairies in Modern Times. San Antonio: Anomalist, pp. 163.

R.L Tongue (1965) ‘Somerset Folklore: County Series VIII’, The Folklore Society in, Briggs, K. (1967) The Fairies in Tradition and Literature London: Routledge, pp. 68.

Young, S. (Ed.) (2018) The Fairy Investigation Society Census (2014-2017) accessed online at Fairyist.com http://www.fairyist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/The-Fairy-Census-2014-2017-1.pdf

Episode 7: Twilight Zone

In Episode 7 of The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast our guest describes a series of events which took place in an ancient wooded area in the north of the Netherlands. They include a group of child-sized fairies and two dimensional beings who appear and disappear, apparitions at the roadside and what sound like time slip incidents.

In this episode, the encounters are particularly unnerving and it is not recommended for anyone who may be upset by creepy content.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. Some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

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Witte Wieven

Witte Wieven (Image: Isabella’s Art)

Dutch folktales feature these ‘white women’ as translated, or ‘wise women’ in meaning, who appeared in the mist and resembled white, ghost-like witches. One of their habits was said to be kidnapping young mothers to (presumably breast)feed their dogs. It’s interesting that our guest was alone in the car with her son when she saw the apparition.

Once captured, it was said that the women had to stay with the Witte Wieven for seven years, which bears resemblance to much fairy folklore. Being taken away for a period of time (sometimes to wet nurse fairy babies) and then returned.

Here’s a great blog post about these figures . Thanks to Isabella’s Art for the image – chosen by our guest as most representative of what she saw.

No Birdsong / Birds suddenly going quiet

This is an aspect of supernatural experience that I’ve heard people mention a number of times now. One person described to me, a pixy-led encounter: Walking in a fairly busy natural reserve one weekend, she told me that she and her friend left the path to inspect an unusual flower when complete silence fell upon them. No birdsong to be heard and none of the previous sounds of children and families enjoying the day. It was at this point that the realised they could no longer find their way back to the path. So ensued a rather frightening experience.

Here are some other examples from The Fairy Investigation Society’s, ‘Fairy Census’ 2014-2017:

§162) Isle of Man
‘It was on a track near ***, to *** mountain, the walk with a friend stopped under woodland path blocked with a pool, a fairy ring stood next to it! The area was quiet. No birdsong and had a long reputation of strangeness!

§217) US (Arkansas)
When I looked up to see what had the dog so worked up, I saw a woman. She was wearing a long, white dress and was walking toward us but there was no noise of crunching leaves or anything. It was completely silent and still. The birds and wind didn’t even make a sound.

§272) US (Illinois)
The temperature suddenly dropped, and everything I’d been hearing in the summer woods – tree frogs, birds, crickets, the hum of bees, the faraway yipping of coyotes, the hooting of owls – suddenly went silent.

§483) New Zealand (Gisborne)
Next minute this sparkle of glistening light with blue edges flew from the tree directly at me and then turned and flew over the vineyard zig zagging and doing twirls. The air went quiet and very still. And the birds flew off and didn’t cause anymore annoyance.” [The birds had previously been eating the interviewee’s vines].

An ongoing silence in a forest as our guest described does seem very eerie. The lack of birds and birdsong felt noticeable to her as soon as she arrived in the area. It was something that bothered her. I will continue looking into this aspect of fairy encounters and locations where this phenomenon occurs.

Skinwalker Ranch

Skinwalker Ranch is a well known centre of paranormal activity in Utah, United States. A series of reports began in mid 1990s describing a multitude of incidents, including a large unidentified beast with red glowing eyes that was not repelled by bullets, huge invisible objects emitting magnetic forces and cases of missing and mutilated cattle stretching back to the 1970s. Numerous, sightings of strange lights and reports of UFOs had also troubled the area. No definitive scientific proof was ever established but the Ranch garnered a great deal of interest from the UFO community.

Time-slips

Time-slips are a reported phenomenon where people will suddenly find their surroundings change and they appear to be experiencing another era of history.

Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain

The Moberly-Jourdain Incident is a well known time-slip claim made by two women after a trip to the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in 1901. They had lost their path somewhat when they both experienced a feeling of dreariness and oppression and from that point encountered people wearing odd costume dress. Ushered by palace gardeners they stepped into another area of the grounds. At this point Jourdain described seeing a cottage which looked more like a tableau than a real scene, Moberly, who did not see the cottage also remarked that the atmosphere changed:

“Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant; even the trees seemed to become flat and lifeless, like wood worked in tapestry. There were no effects of light and shade, and no wind stirred the trees.

There are a number of further, more recent cases of time slips in Bold St, Liverpool, England as told in this great Mysterious Universe article. Interestingly, in almost all cases at Bold St, people report going back to the 1950s or 1960s.

References

Castle, Terry (1995), The Female Thermometer: Eighteenth-century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny, Oxford University Press, pp. 194

Isabella’s Art (2010) ‘Witte Wieven: A Dutch Folktale’, in Down on Penny’s Farm accessed online at: http://isabellasart.blogspot.com/2010/10/witte-wieven-dutch-folktale.html

Swancer, B. (2019) ‘Mysterious Time Slips on a Liverpool Street’, Mysterious Universe accessed online at https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2019/11/mysterious-time-slips-on-a-liverpool-street/

Young, S. (ed) (2018) The Fairy Census 2014 – 2017 accessed online at The Fairy Investigation Society

Episode 5: Crossing Paths

In Episode 5 of The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast, our guest relates a late night encounter as she drove home in rural Canada. The Being made his presence fully known and left her with many unanswered questions. What was it? Was the location significant? And why her?

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. This episode describes a wonderful experience but some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

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Crossroads Folklore

Brian Froud’s image mentioned in this Episode.

The fact that this encounter took place near a three-way crossroads could be significant. Fairies and other supernatural creatures such as the jinn, vampires and witches have long been associated with these locations. (MacCulloch, 1981).

Crossroads have had sinister associations as the traditional scene of executions in many cultures over millennia, including Greece and nineteenth century England. They were often the scene of burials for those denied a Christian burial, such as criminals (usually murderers) and those who had committed suicide.

Aside from executions, crossroads roused a general sense of fear for travellers, mindful of what may befall them if they took a wrong turn. John Arnott MacCulloch, a eminent early 20th century Celtic Scholar noted, “Men always fear demons and spirits which they believe lurk on the edge of the forest path or rude roadway, ready to pounce upon the belated traveler, and in many cases roads are believed to be infested by them. . . Hence they would be regarded as lurking at the intersection of roads, especially by night, when wayfarers were uncertain of the direction in which they ought to go”.

Corn Creatures

There is some (mostly German) folklore on corn creatures, which can take either human or animal form (see Bechstein, also Mannhardt). In many of the tales, the creatures are bloodthirsty carnivores but these creatures do not seem to resemble the Being described in this episode.

Pooka, Púca, Pookha

Brian Froud’s image of a ‘Phooka’

There’s a great deal of folklore on the shape-shifting Pooka – a Celtic entity. Here’s a good general article on them by Eric Edwards. They are often described as taking the form of a large dog or a small horse, though many more describe them as being a small dwarf or a goblin type which bears no resemblance to the Being witnessed crossing the road. However, there is this mention of a Puca which was recorded in the 1930’s by the Irish Folklore Commission. It describes a late night encounter on the road which, given the circumstances in this episode, I can’t resist sharing:

“A man and his wife lived three miles from the nearest town where they went to market regularly. One night their clock stopped but they got up, thinking it must be late, and set off in their horse-drawn cart. On the way they saw a priest walking the road. They stopped, and asked him the time. He told them it was only midnight. Then they heard a great clatter of chains and the priest told them to get out of the way of what was coming. ‘Pull in your cart off the road as quickly as possible for there are more devils coming than you can count!’ Soon after in a great commotion the host of devils passed by. The woman wanted to repay the priest, who asked her to go to his brother, to get him to give offerings for two unsaid Masses so that he (the priest) might go to Heaven.”

Wendigos

Wendigos are said to be malevolent devourers of mankind. I’ll provide more information about them here as I find it but, as we discuss in the Episode, they don’t bear any relation to the encounter here.

In the meantime, Ancient Origins have an article about Wendigos which offers further information.

Podcast intro music: Transmutate by Snowflake (c) copyright 2020 Licensed. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

References

Ancient Origins, The Wendigo: A Terrifying Beast With an Insatiable Hunger for Human Flesh, Available at: https://www.ancient-origins.net/unexplained-phenomena/be-wary-wendigo-terrifying-beast-native-american-legend-insatiable-hunger (Accessed 3rd January 2021)

Archives of the Folklore Department of University College Dublin, MS S-820, p. 11. Cited in Breatnach, D. (1993) ‘The Púca: A Multi-Functional Irish Supernatural Entity’, Folklore, Vol. 104, No. 1/2, pp. 105-110

Bechstein, L. (1930) Deutsches Sagenbuch. F. W. Leipzig: Hendel Verlag

Edwards, E.W. ‘Pookas, Pucas, and Pucks’, Eric Edwards Collected Works, available at: https://ericwedwards.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/pookas-pcas-and-pucks/ (Accessed 1st January 2021).

Icy Sedgewick, What 4 weird things you might find at an English crossroads? Available at: https://www.icysedgwick.com/3-weird-things-at-crossroads/ (Accessed 3rd January 2021)

MacCulloch, J.A. (1981) “Cross-roads” in Hastings, J. (ed) Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Reprint, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, New York: Scribners. p332. Cited in: Garry, J. & El-Shamy, H.M. (2004) Archetypes and Motifs in Folklore and Literature : A Handbook, Taylor & Francis Group, pp. 333-341

Mannhardt, W. (2014) Die Korndämonen: Beitrag zur germanischen Sittenkunde. Bremen: Bremen University Press. 

Episode 4: Mysterious Illuminations

In this Winter Solstice bumper episode, our guest describes two encounters, both featuring the most enchanting light shows. One took place inside his home and the other was encountered in an ancient wood nearby. The sighting is quite amazing and throws to light a form of fairy being which has been reported to me previously and interestingly, always witnessed by two or more people.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. This episode describes a wonderful experience but some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

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Will o’ the Wisp

Will o’ the Wisp, also known as Jack the Lantern. This ‘Lantern Man’ was first mentioned in Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584) as ‘Kit with the Cansticke’. Interestingly, the idea of a lantern-carrying being fits in more with the forest encounter. Here’s a nice article by Mysterious Britain about these beings.

Pixy-Led and stealing humans

Our guest mentioned a fleeting feeling that he’d like to follow the being into the Otherworld. The idea of being ‘pixy-led’ is found throughout fairy folklore, see myself and Mark Norman’s chapter in Simon Young’s Magical Folk: British and Irish Fairies. 500AD to the present to read about being “piskie-led” in Devon, An Encyclopedia of Fairies by Katharine Briggs, or Jeremy Harte’s Explore Fairy Traditions for more info.

Here’s a good intro article on the subject, ‘Why do Fairies Steal People Away?’

Featured Image: ‘Tree Man’ by Peter Hall Studios

Podcast intro music: Transmutate by Snowflake (c) copyright 2020 Licensed. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Episode 3: The Honey Bandit

In our third episode of The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast, Jo chats with a woman who came across a fairy in her ivy and then another in her kitchen. She talks about her relationship towards these encounters and how she felt about sharing them with her children and best friend. 



Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. This episode describes a wonderful experience but some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older. 

Artwork: Peter Hall Studios

Podcast intro music: Transmutate by Snowflake (c) copyright 2020 Licensed. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Episode 1: A Remote Encounter

In the first episode of The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast, Jo speaks to a man who crossed paths with a being from an Otherworld while walking in a remote area of Scotland. This was something he had never considered a possibility. He candidly describes his experience.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. This episode describes a wonderful experience but some may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

Artwork: Peter Hall Studios

Podcast intro music: Transmutate by Snowflake (c) copyright 2020 Licensed. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/modfairysight)

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