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