Maybe it’s Shakespeare’s fault, or perhaps the brothers Grimm are to blame, but fairies – like witches – have an image problem. Just as many people falsely associate witchcraft with evil and ugliness, many of us assume fairies aren’t real. I confess I was a bit doubtful about the little people until my eyes and mind were opened by several good books.
Fairies are one of more than a dozen varieties of elemental beings who are usually invisible to most humans. Peter Tompkins, author of The Secret Life of Plants, details the differences between gnomes, brownies, elves, nymphs, dryads, sprites, leprechauns, devas, nature spirits, angels, cherubim, seraphim and other hidden beings in his book The Secret Life of Nature (Thorsons, 1997.) Tompkins shows that today’s quantum physicists are only beginning to comprehend the realities of other dimensions that were discovered and written about by theosophists Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater in 1895.
Pick up any book about the amazing accomplishments of the Findhorn community, such as Nature Spirits & Elemental Beings: Working with the Intelligence in Nature, and you’ll read that plant devas played an important role in growing luxuriant gardens in some of Scotland’s coldest and most infertile soil.
Tanis Helliwell, M.Ed., is a consultant to corporations, universities and governments, including the Alberta Medical Association, IBM and the World Business Academy. She is also the author of Summer with the Leprechauns (Blue Dolphin, 1997) a true story about her encounter with a leprechaun in a rented cottage on Achill Island on the west coast of Ireland. Helliwell offers ten guidelines for humans who want to make contact with elemental beings. These include “Go to healthy places in nature as often as possible. Walk in forests, along the seashore, lie in a meadow, listen to birds, sit by a brook. Enter into the right vibration of the Earth and listen to what she wants. Humans will purify their vibrations if they do these things.”
In Power Trips magazine, Helliwell wrote about meeting small beings known as “Children of the Mist” in Abel Tasman Park on the South Island of New Zealand. They stood about two and a half feet tall and demonstrated their powers by manifesting a dramatic array of forest mushrooms for a group of attendees to a Festival of Sharing conference.
Related to New Zealand’s elementals are tiny folk who Helliwell met on the other side of the Pacific in British Columbia. In the old growth forests of Haida Gwaii island, she spoke with a group of creatures ranging in height from eight inches to about two feet. One of them told her that many races of elemental beings have died out because humans have lost belief in them. They are also unhappy that logging is destroying too many forests.
Even more colorful elemental beings are said to live in Japan. The Tengu are fierce, goblin-like creatures with long noses, red faces, wings and sharp claws, who dwell in forests on sacred mountains, including Kurama near Kyoto. Japanese legends tell of Tengu stealing children from their homes at night and taking them on tours of the countryside. The children are returned unharmed, but some have been given psychic abilities. One traveler said he encountered a group of Tengu on a mountain top south of Kyoto near Nara. They captured him, tied a rope around his waist and dangled him over a cliff until he promised to love, respect and protect Mother Earth.
Anthropologist and photographer Martin Gray has probably spent more time on pilgrimages and has visited more sacred sites than anyone on Earth. In Places of Peace and Power (www.sacredsites.com) he describes experiencing nature spirits known as Kami at the ancient Shinto shrine of Izumo Taisha on Honshu island. Late every autumn after the leaves have fallen, Shinto myths say, Kami spirits leave their homes and gather for a festival at the shrine. Gray attended this festival in 1985, and found himself among thousands of pilgrims waiting on the seashore for the Kami to arrive. The crowd, including priests in white robes, waited for hours in the darkness, illuminated by bonfires on the sand. Suddenly, Gray says, “Everyone could feel it coming. Almost explosively a presence came in from the sea, swept over the beach and surged into the crowd. The feeling, the power, the vibration was undeniable. The Kami had come.”
Have you noticed a common denominator? All these encounters with elemental beings took place in forests on islands. Nature spirits seem to prefer living away from cities and surrounded by trees and water. In my opinion, that shows how intelligent these creatures really are.
If you’ve had any experiences with fairies or other elemental beings, I hope you’ll share your story with me. And as soon as I see one in person, you can be sure I’ll let you know.
NOTE: This article was originally published in March, 2000.