Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Faerie? : A small data-set indicating the possibility that folkloric entities or something very much like them could be real, Part Three.

Part Three of our wild trip into the woods: the primary thing which has arisen for me is that these old folklore creatures did not cease to manifest sometime in the dim past. Thankfully, persons of lively interests and open-minds have tried to keep the encounter stories from simply being forgotten by a "culture" rapidly pursuing the next hamburger, and have at intervals attempted to collect clusters of such accounts in the spirit of Charles Fort, at least in that regard. Admittedly these folks believed in the stories that they were collecting more than Saint Charles seems to have [for most things].

One group who collected and believed was the Fairy Investigation Society. This organization is pretty confusing to me and I cannot find a proper "history" of it. It may have been founded in England in the first half of the 20th century and it may have ultimately shrunk and transplanted to Ireland. Whatever, it allegedly actively collected "fairy encounter" stories from hither and yon, but I can't find a good source of any rich number of the things. It would be extremely interesting if someone had access to their files and would let the rest of us see them.

A hint of the FIS's cases occurs via Nandor Fodor in his Between Two Worlds. He presents these: 1). 1st half 20th century, Gloucester, UK. Person had walked away from her house into the Birdlip Beeches woods and was lying back drying her hair. She felt something tug on her head, and turned to see a very ugly small being about 9" high. It was a fine example of a wrinkled misshapen bogan thrashing about and struggling to escape from her entangling hair. It was the color of yellow-brown dead aspen leaves. It's voice was high and squeaky and it complained vociferously about her hair strangling it and that she had no right to be there, "troubling honest folk". It finally freed itself and vanished. The witness later mentioned this encounter to a professor at Bristol University, and he surprised her by saying that the Birdlip Beeches were one of the few areas left where one might encounter Fairyfolk.

2).1st half of the 20th century, Putney, UK. The woman who became the secretary of the FIS told Fodor that she lived in a house whose garden was "overrun with fairies and gnomes." Recently, she said that her son had run into the room which she was in and excitedly told her that a "pig" was in one of the rooms. It turned out to be a fat gnome sitting in her chair. It looked upset and made non-understandable grunting noises. Later she saw the gnome trying to climb a blinds cord and prat-falling. She laughed and it vanished.

These cases are interesting enough to hope that the FIS files have not been lost/destroyed.

Fortean Times in 1993 published a handful+ of cases which originally came from the British Weekly John o'Londons of readers' letters collected in 1936. This date seems suspiciously similar to the beginnings of the FIS, so maybe there was a bit of an upsurge of interest in fairy encounters around then. [I can be well off on that, as I haven't the FIS origin date at all clear]. We can safely label all the following as "1936 0r earlier 20th century":

3). Cornwall/Devon border: Witness saw a small man dressed in black "strutting about". Shortly he shape-shifted into something like a black, long, furry "roll". Minutes later she came upon two more roundly shaped pixies who were apparently operating a two-man saw...but it was invisible. She stumbled on stones in the path and the beings vanished. Inspecting the site, she noticed that one of the two pixies must have been either airily lightweight or suspended in the air, as there was nothing but a gorse bush under it.

4). Wigan, UK: Several times the witness saw in a field of daisies seven or eight pairs of little people dancing, suspended about three feet off the ground. They were dressed in brown with long pointed caps and pointed feet. They sported impish grins. One fairy was different in that she was dressed in a shiny pink beautiful gown and had an aura of pink about her.

5). Southwest London: Witness and her daughter saw 18" beings [none of these cases state wings for any of the fairies], wearing flimsy gowns, all female. On three occasions the female fairy wore a pink gown. Sightings occurred eight times in the garden near flowering bushes and a small stream. Other times the fairies wore bluish dress.

6). Cookham-Dean, Berkshire, UK: This witness didn't want the grief of being called a nut, so, unlike others she just gave her initials [familiar problem, eh?]. Out picking blueberries [I can't think of a better way to encounter a fairy than in a blueberry patch], the woman was straining with the bush to get at harder to reach berries when the branches suddenly parted and something came out. It was a "lean, brown man, dressed in brown with pointed cap and scraggly beard." The being was solid from waist up, but "transparent" from waist down. As he ran away "like lightning", he entirely disappeared.

7). Hertfordshire: As spectacularly strange as that last was, this one is almost mundane. A man was driving down a rural road with nothing going on. He spotted a roadside tree stump up ahead. Sitting on the stump was a small [18" high] round-face being with a pointed cap which slouched over to one side. Before being able to secure a better look, the being was no longer there.

8). Nottingham: A young girl sat staring at the fireplace in her room. A cobweb had formed across the bars of the grate and on it sat a very small [4-to-6"] elf. It had very large ears and a body which shimmered green. It always had a broad grin on its face. I say "always" because the creature kept reappearing in the same position. The girl would try to approach, but the bogan, I'd call it, would immediately disappear. It was never seen again after the girl brushed away "its" cobweb.

9). Western Wales: This is charming even if it's nuts. An older woman saw out in a field a congregation of the Little Folk. They were all gathered around a little fairy woman who sat on the centered stone. She was giving them news and a protest in Welsh. The fairy woman was warning her kind that the meadow in which they were residing would be no longer livable for them, as the owner had purchased a "chariot which would run without the need for horses". That man shortly bought the first car in the neighborhood. [I always knew that there were deeper reasons why I've hated cars all my life, and now here's one more].

10). Three experiences by a man in our favorite Isle of Arran: a]. Ten fairies playing in the gorse bushes near grazing sheep. The sheep ignored them unless they got too close. b]. Silvery voices alerted him to a troop of fairies scurrying along a path. They seemed vociferously angry about something. c]. There was beautiful music coming from a group of rhododendron bushes. He cautiously snuck up upon a scene of wonderful dancing. The fairies noticed him, unfortunately, and sped away. One small female turned, looked him straight in the eye, and gracefully whisked away like "Pavlova herself".

Not bad. Wonder how many incidents the weekly received and were not printed.

I'm getting a bit tired this evening, so let's end this part with a few cases from Janet Bord's Fairies: Real Encounters With Little People. This book is the "guidebook" of modern works in this field vis-a-vis actual encounter incidents. To my knowledge there is nothing comparable.

Here are a small number of the modern incidents from the 1950s-early 1960s:
11). 1951, County Wicklow, Ireland: Two girls were walking in a country lane. A little man, two to three feet tall was standing in the road near an old thorn tree. [Thorn trees are said to be fairy haunts by some]. The girls walked by, noticing his youngish looks and his clothing, all black with a black cap. Looking back, and suddenly afraid, they opened the gate to the nearby field and ran across it. Turning again, the little man was gone. There on the top of the field's gate sat a strange object which looked like a kitchen clock. Another enigmatic projection from Faerie?

12). 1952, Dartmoor, Devon: A woman was walking near a stony path on a hillside when she saw a small man, three to four feet tall, who seemed to be regarding her. He appeared old, and was completely dressed in brown, including a flat cap covering brown hair. His smock was tied with a cord [apparently monkish style]. Her son was in the vicinity so she was unafraid and climbed upwards towards him. At a forty yard distance, the little brown man disappeared behind a boulder. Upon inspecting that location, she and her son could not see anyway that he could have vanished.

13). 1961, St. Asaph, North Wales: A man was walking his dog when they encountered a small being three foot tall. The dog growled and was ready to attack if further provoked. The being was dressed wholly in green and had an ugly brown face. It had suddenly appeared when the walker had tapped his walking stick on a metallic roadsign "as if the tapping had summoned it". The creature exuded an air of malevolence. After a moment or two, it simply vanished.

14). Early 1960s, Mynydd Llanginidir, Wales: Amateur botanists had been exploring the mountain. The men set one day to loud arguing just as the farmer who owned the property dropped by to see how they were doing. One of the two swore that he had just seen "hoards of tiny people" playing around one of the collecting sites. When he showed the farmer a map location for this site, the farmer told them that this place was known as "Fairies Bog".

I think that I'll let this post stand for now. I'll try to wrap up the "first 100" soon. What these tales tell me is that we can conceivably still interact with this reality under the right circumstances, despite our unhelpful [in so many ways] "modernity". The Moyra Doorly experiences as we saw earlier take us right up to the present and fit well within the context of the cases that we have been reading. I have never had such an experience in my life, sadly, nor have any of my family [though mischief-makers have invisibly made their presences known, especially to our female members]. But I have one very good friend whose mother had two little people interactions while a girl, and another very good friend [the redoubtable Jerry Clark himself], who has a very good friend who encountered dwarf-like critters in an indoor urban setting. And all that is good enough for me.

Tomorrow or the next day, I'll try to complete this series. Some of the featured cases will be a cluster from a very intriguing set of incidents reported by Ron Quinn in his all-to-short book Little People. Till then, keep an eye out for that mysterious presence.... just there... see... just darting around the bushes, the trees, the flowers. Just don't disturb the dancing.


  1. Hello Prof, I was surprised to see Wigan, England amongst the cases. Part of my childhood was spent just 5 miles away on the doorstep of a beautiful place called Fairy Glen. It has ancient woodland, wild garlic, bluebell fields and a lovely waterfall. One can only speculate on the origins of the name as I haven't been able to uncover much of the history.

    I lost interest in such things way back when, but the way you've presented these cases has encouraged me to view them in a fresher light. It's coincidental that many of the subjects that fascinated me in youth have lately become interesting again. As such, I've spent the past few months reading old books by authors like Andrew Lang and Edmund Gurney. Their accounts of apparitions possibly tessellate into humanoids, goblins and the menagerie of odd critters that appear to tag along with us.

    Fairy Glen - http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/173739

  2. Thanks for the vision of that place; I hope that it persists forever --- despite that it seems our wee friends are willing to pop up now and then in environments far less "magickal". I always enjoy reading your comments. Would that everyone were so civilized, collegial, and interested.

    I never really lost the interests of my youth but they markedly dimmed as I went to graduate school [which for me was a long slow siege involving two Masters degrees and then the PhD at a different university]. That time was spent digging into "established science", and anomalies were never even mentioned. Paradoxically, the only anomalistic-related thing that I was witness to was in about 1964 in Ames IA when a bunch of Chemistry knuckleheads called me up to the roof of the Chemistry building to watch them launching a hoax laundry-bag "UFO". Thankfully it didn't inspire a flap.

    Only after a few years solidifying my profession teaching science did the old wonder about UFOs return with enough fire in it that I began reaching out to see if there was anything to any of this. [I already knew that UFOs were real from my early sighting]. As the years have passed, my UFO interests led me more and more to look into other anomalies, finally ending up where we are just now: are the Little People real? It's been a good explorative life, and I recommend the journey.

  3. I followed a similar path and 'put away childish things' whilst studying psychology, history and literature at university. It honed the critical thinking and I was immersed in all the new perspectives.

    Like yourself, the interests diminished and then returned somewhat stronger. Although seeing two different UFOs compounded the fascination, it was growing up in an old house frequented by unusual activity that cemented the curiosity that features in your blog.

  4. Tales of “wee people” have been recorded by most, if not all, cultures throughout human history. Some of our ancestors called them fairies. Medieval fairy-faith populated our world with a puzzling array of visitors (elves, gnomes, goblins, leprechauns, pixies, and others) from the fairy realm or fairyland.

    It was the actual sightings of these beings that created the fairy-faith.

    Not the other way around.

    Little people were believed in because they were seen!

    Here is the link to a recent USA sighting... 


  5. Thanks for the link; interesting reading.

  6. Hiya Prof, I've spent the past few months reading about apparitions and hallucinations. I wanted to see if they had anything in common with ufological humanoid encounters. Such curiosity has led to an enjoyable stroll through the psychological literature and the books of Lang, Podmore and Gurney et al.

    Tucked away in Podmore's Studies in Psychical Research (pp 273-4) is a curious account about 'dwarf-like' figures. SPR researcher, Eleanor Sidgwick, suggested the witnesses mistook fog for a moving troupe of dwarf-like figures. I'm not sure what they saw, but they are quite emphatic about the figures being clearly male and clearly female.

    I've snipped the account -



  7. Thanks for the info. I'll have to wait until I'm back in Michigan again [diabolically I've just returned to Wheeling] and can read my copy of Podmore and extract this. I tried the "snips" and didn't achieve anything, but as an old dinosaur I don't comprehend photobucket very well. It will keep.

    I have a very extensive run of JSPR and I'll bet that the original mention of this case is in there. I'll look for that, too. Now if this ancient head can figure out how to remember to do it.....

  8. If I say that I had seen a mermaid, than would you believe it....?
    it's upper body was of fish and lower body was of human (one of the rare species of mermaids or let's call it sea creature)
    it weighs around 2 tones for real I saw it that's why I believe it.

    1. Of course I wouldn't "believe" it. This blog requires some actual evidence or, barring that, some credible investigation of claims. I also would not take the position of not believing it. Without anything substantial to support isolated statements, I merely don't think about them at all.

  9. The Fairy Investigation Society are still active, and have recently established a web site (fairyinvestigationsociety.com). We continue our research, and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to become involved, and send us stories of their own personal encounters and experiences with faeries. Please visit our site for further information..

    1. I heartily recommend this, as I consider the secretary a responsible scholarly colleague in this quest. I've joined the Society myself and am looking forward to whatever comes.



Blog Archive