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Welcome my dear friends. Enjoy your visit and share your thoughts. Thank you, much love

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

THE OTHERWORLD


Welcome dear friends and followers. I have for you today an different and interesting view of the fairy folk and The Land between lands, or the otherworld. This story could have and might have some basis in reality, It all depend it one believes or not, do you believe? 

With love from your fairy lady ❤❤  

THE OTHERWORLD


(Extract from Working With Fairies)




The Otherworld, Fairyland or Elfhame, is the land of the fairies which coexists with our own. There are many stories of human beings who have accidentally stumbled into it through entering a fairy ring, a fairy mound, or by discovering a fairy island. In Wales there is a certain piece of turf, which if you step on it, will afford you a glimpse of fairyland, though the turf can never be found twice by the same person.

A man who lived at Ystradgynlais in Wales went out to look after his cattle and sheep on the mountain, and disappeared. After three weeks, when his wife had given him up for dead, he came home. When his wife demanded to know where he had been for so long, he declared that he had only been gone for three hours. He had been playing on his flute at the Llorfa, near the Van Pool, when he was surrounded by a circle of little men, who sang and danced to his music. They offered him some small cakes to eat, of which he partook, and he had never enjoyed himself so well in his life.

An early chronicler called Giraldus Cambrensis documented the Welsh fairy traditions. One event he related took place near Swansea and concerned Elidorus, a priest who, as a twelve year old boy, ran away from the preceptor and hid under the hollow bank of a river. There he remained hungry for two days until two little men appeared, and invited him to go with them into a country full of delights and sports. The invitation was speedily accepted. He accompanied his guides into a subterranean land, populated by small, kindly people, and ruled by a king. He dwelt in Fairyland for some time, often leaving it by secret paths to visit the ordinary world, until on one of these occasions, he went to see his mother and told her of the fairies and how they had many gold ornaments and toys. She asked him to bring her a piece of gold, since she was so poor, and as they had so much of it, they wouldn’t miss it. Accordingly, on his return to Fairyland, he stole a golden ball as he was playing with the King’s son, and ran off with it to his mother. The fairies pursued him, retrieved the ball, and in no uncertain terms, reviled the boy who had abused their hospitality by stealing from them. Though Elidorus spent many long years, with penitence and shame, looking for the underground realm, he could never find it again.

Certain places are better than others for making contact with the Otherworld. Those magical doorways are usually [though not exclusively] in remote areas: the fairy worlds are linked to sacred Nature and we need to tune into sacred Nature in order to contact the fairy realm. The wildfolk are becoming harder to find as so little of the natural world is undisturbed. Daily more of their habitat disappears, and they have good reason to hate humankind for it. Thus they are not kindly disposed to the vast majority of humankind, and the would-be Walker between the Worlds will have to prove himself or herself before any contact can be made.

The Earth is a living body, and like the human body, it has energy centres or chakras. The ancients marked these with standing stones, circles, temples and groves. They were places where humans and spirits met, hallowed by time and custom. Many have been forgotten, and some were never known by humankind. However, the sensitive person may recognise them as places of numinous power by the slight feeling of tension in the air, and by the fact that they are physically unusual in some way. They stand out from the landscape around them, perhaps having unusual rock formations, strangely twisted trees and so on. When you find such a place, you will know.

The places where fairies live are all thresholds of some kind. Boundaries are charged with power, they are magical places between places – or times between times- belonging to neither one thing nor the other, forming points where the Otherworld can intersect with this one. These boundaries might include such in-between things as crossroads, the shore between sea and land, thunderstorms, midnight (the time between one day and the next), dawn, sunset, New Year and Halloween (the time between summer and winter).

Doorways

The threshold of a house is an uncertain place, neither inside nor outside, but a boundary between the two. When a person crosses a threshold they move from one state to another and may be in danger from the spirits that dwell between, as many spirits do. In many cases, it was thought unlucky to tread on the threshold itself, and people were always careful to step over it. This is why brides, in a transitional stage of life, are carried across it. A number of fairies live beneath thresholds, including the French Follets [who are bad tempered but will act as house fairies if you win their respect] and the Russian house fairy the Dĕduška Domovoy. Because not all fairies are kind or welcome, the Irish scattered primroses on the doorsteps to keep them from crossing it, and in England thresholds were made of protective holly wood for the same reason. In parts of Britain, defensive designs called ‘step patterns’ were drawn on the doorstep in salt or chalk, or reproduced in mosaic. These took the form of knot work and ‘tangled thread’ patterns since the fairies like to follow straight paths when travelling, and get caught up in trying to follow the twisting lines.

Hearth

Hearth stones were similarly decorated, since the hearth is a threshold too. There are many fairies associated with human hearths, and they often gain entrance to homes via the chimney or smoke hole. One such is the Italian house fairy the Attilio who, like his Welsh cousin the Bwciod, likes to warm himself by the fire. Both become angered if people try to keep them out by such methods as putting ash on the fire, or placing a piece of iron on the hearth. The Italian Fireplace Folletti live in the hearth and many other fairy homes lie beneath hearths, with the hearthstones are their doors. In Italy, at the Feast of the Epiphany, children hang up stockings for the fairy Befana to fill with gifts. She was once a deity of fate. In Germany the hearth is associated with the fairy Perchta, once a goddess of the hearth fire, home and marriage.

In the past, the hearth was the central focus of the home, providing warmth and food. It was the place of the fire, which meant the difference between freezing and surviving, eating and starving. As such it was sacred and the focus of many customs. The fire had to be kept burning, as it was, or represented, the living spirit of the home, and was only put out at certain times of year, to be re-lit from a sacred flame.

Because the smoke rose to the sky, it was a message rising to the spirits or gods, while below the hearthstone lay the underworld. Therefore the hearth was also a domestic cosmic axis via which the gods or spirits could enter the home and a shaman’s spirit could travel out; this is why Father Christmas enters the house via the chimney.

Gateways

Gates on old roads and tracks are magical boundaries, and often the place where fairies are seen. In Wales it is said that a fairy sits on every stile. Cunning men often used field gateways as places to perform magical operations.

Bridges

A bridge is neither on land nor water, and therefore shares the magic of liminal places; a curse broken on a bridge will be washed away. Bridges are frequented by various types of fairies like the lovely White Ladies who ask passers by to dance with them. If the travellers are polite, the fairies will bless them. If they are rude and refuse the request, the fairies will toss them into the river to learn better manners.

On the Isle of Man is the Ballona Bridge [‘Fairy Bridge’] which no local will cross without offering his or her greetings to the little folk beneath.

In Sweden, people can visit bridges to meet with the water fairies called the Naecken to ask them to bestow the gift of music. A fiddle is hung beneath the bridge on three consecutive Thursday nights. On the last night, the seeker will find two fiddles hung there, and he must choose his own. If he does, he will become a great and famous musician, but should he choose the Naecken’s instrument, the water fairy will take his soul. Bridges can be dangerous places since they are also the domain of trolls, who lurk beneath them, attacking animals and throwing stones at humans.

Fords

Several fairies were encountered at fords, and there were special shrines for the traveller to invoke the ford spirits to allow him or her to cross the river, or to give thanks for being allowed to cross safely.


Wells

Well represent life force and always contain a spirit. They also act as entrances to the spirit world, where people can go to speak to the gods or fairies, perform divinations, or make offerings. Many wells, when excavated, have been found to contain numerous gifts of pins, pottery, bronzes and so on.

Water fairies have healing powers, and their help is still solicited in parts of Britain with offerings of coins thrown into wells. A well near Penrhos in Wales allegedly cured cancer. The sufferer would have to wash in the water, curse the disease, and drop pins into the well. Some special trees, called cloutie trees, 

which grow near holy wells and springs are hung with rags [clouties] to solicit blessings or healing from the spirits. As the rag disintegrates, the wish will be fulfilled. [Those people who hang up bits of plastic tape misunderstand the custom, and not only will they be disappointed in their hope, they will also anger the wildfolk by polluting the environment.]

In England, principally in Derbyshire, well dressing customs are still enacted every year, during which wells are decorated with pictures made of flowers. These were originally constructed to honour the well spirits, though the events now take place under the auspices of the local churches and the themes of the pictures are biblical ones. The wells which were once shrines of the spirits of healing waters have been re-dedicated to Christian saints with similar names like Anne [Anu], Brigit [Brighid] and Helen [Elen]. Almost every English town has a well dedicated to a female saint that would once have been sacred to a healing spirit. Fairy wells are more common in England, Ireland and Norway than elsewhere.

Water spirits are often described as beautiful women, though there are records of guardians taking the form of salmon, snakes and toads. There is an ancient healing spring at Acton Barnett, in Shropshire, England, where the guardian fairies of the well appear as frogs. The largest of the three is addressed as the Dark God.

In Scotland, the Cailleach Bheur [‘Blue Hag’] guards a well near the summit of Ben Cruachan, which is inclined to overflow. She had to put a slab over it every sunset, and take it off every sunrise to prevent this. One evening she was so tired that she fell asleep and the water flowed down the hillside, drowning many people and beasts before forming Loch Awe. In Germany, the fairy Frau Holda’s realm is reached through the bottom of a well.

Lakes, Rivers and the Sea

Similarly, every body of water is inhabited by a spirit, or a number of spirits. Many rivers are still named after their indwelling spirit, like the Seine in France, after Sequana, the River Severn in England after Sabrina, the Boyne in Ireland after Bóann , the Danube after Danu, the Shannon after Sinend and so on. Names of the old spirits survive in other ways too. On the River Trent in England, the bargees used to say that when the river was flooding, 'Eager was coming'. The name is derived Aegir, the Norse sea god.

The sea is teeming with fairies such as mermaids, mermen, nymphs, elementals, and mermen, and so on. They control the weather and the water, raise storms, and have the power to cause shipwreck, drowning and death. In ancient times, it was the practice to placate the spirits of the sea with a sacrifice before setting out on a voyage. Even today, we break a bottle of champagne over a new hull. If the sea spirits were denied their tributes, they would take another by sinking the ship and taking the souls of the sailors to dwell with them in their fabulous underwater cities. For this reason, sailors have always taken many precautions so as not to offend the spirits. They often had tattoos of nymphs, tritons and mermaids, and would avoid saying the word ‘pig’ or swearing while on board. If this taboo were broken, they would have to stick an iron knife in the mast to avert the ill fortune. In honour of Rân, the queen of water fairies, sailors wore a piece of gold in the form of an earring. When bad weather threatened the ship, they would throw it in the waves to placate her. She was originally a Norse goddess, the wife of Aegir.

Any body of water is an entrance to the Otherworld, and there are numerous tales of fairy kingdoms under lakes or under the sea. People frequently made offerings to the spirits that dwelt there by throwing them into the water. Hoards of such offerings have been found in lakes and bogs, consisting of brooches, pins, swords, shears and so on, but all bent or broken, so that they have no use in the ordinary world, but are meant for the Otherworld.

Crossroads

Crossroads are especially magical, since they form boundaries between four roads, and consequently between the human world and Otherworld, middle earth, the upper and lower worlds. Because of this they were dangerous places, presided over by a guardian spirit and frequented by fairies. In ancient Greece they were sacred to Hecate, the goddess of witches. In modern Greece, a spirit called Iskios manifests at crossroads during the time of the new moon. It appears in animal form, usually a dog or a goat.

In Germany crossroads are haunted by Wod, a Wild Huntsman who, mounted on a white horse and accompanied by his pack of ferocious hounds, accosts lonely travellers. He spares only those who remain in the middle of the path and show no fear. These he rewards with gold and silver. [He is probably a folk survival of the god Wotan or Woden.]

In Wales, the crossroads are the domain of the banshee the Gwrach y Rhibyn [‘Hag of the Dribble’], a withered crone with black teeth, tangled hair and bat-like wings. She appears to those with relatives about to die, and shrieks their names.

Croatian fairies gather at crossroads. In Rumania, the Dinsele [‘They Themselves’] are strange vampiric spirits that look like large cats walking on two legs. They lie at crossroads awaiting human victims in order to suck their blood, but they cannot go into the middle of the crossroads.

In France the Bon Garçons [‘Good Boys’] are mischievous fairies who lurk at crossroads in order to attack travellers. Occasionally one will appear in the guise of a horse, but when a person mounts it, the fairy will gallop off gleefully, and finally throw the unfortunate rider into a ditch.

In ancient Rome, special spirits called Lares Compitales guarded boundaries [a compita is the marker of a boundary]. At important intersections, marble altars stood with temples housing statues of two lares accompanied by a genius locus [spirit of the place]. Many boundaries run along a path or road and the lares compitales were worshipped at both rural and urban crossroads. Sometimes they were the chief deities of a hamlet.

Crossroads were traditionally places for contacting the Otherworld. The centres of the crossroads, which were often marked by small islands of planting or a tree, literally belonged to the spirits, a ‘no man’s land’. They were also places of execution and gibbets stood at crossroads, as the soul of the executed man would be hurried into the underworld by the spirits. Suicides and Pagans were buried at crossroads in Christian times.

Islands

Islands are considered magical, neither land nor sea, but places between places. Fairies live on floating islands such as the Isles of the Blest, Lochlann, the Green Meadows of Enchantment, Ynis Gwydrin and Hy Brasil, which are only visible at certain times. Though humans have sometimes visited them, they are notoriously difficult to get to. One thing is certain; a human visitor should not offend the fairies by taking iron or steel onto the island, or removing anything from it. 

Edward Davies, writing in 1809, related the story of a lake near Brecknock associated with the Twyleth Teg, the Welsh fairy folk. Though an island stood in the middle of the lake it seemed small and undistinguished, but it was observed that no bird would fly over it and sometimes strains of music could be heard drifting over the water. In ancient times, a door in a nearby rock would open every May Day. Those who entered would find themselves in a passage that led to the small island, where they would be amazed to discover an enchanted garden, full of the choicest fruits and flowers, inhabited by the Twyleth Teg, whose ethereal beauty was only equalled by their courtesy and affability. Each guest would be entertained with delightful music and apprised of such future events as the fairies foresaw. The only rule was that the island was sacred, and nothing must be taken away. One day an ungrateful wretch pocketed a flower he had been presented with. This did him no good; as soon as he touched the shore the flower vanished and he lost his senses. The Twyleth Teg were extremely angry at this sacrilege, and the door to the island has never opened from that day to this. One man tried to drain the lake to see if he could discover the fairy kingdom, but a horrible figure arose from the lake and commanded him to desist.

One of the most famous fairy islands is Avalon, which means ‘Isle of Apples’, since the island is covered in fruitful orchards. Avalon is not just a place; it is more a state of consciousness that can be accessed when the veils that separate us from it are peeled away. It exists outside time and space. The island is inhabited by nine sisters, of which Morgan le Fay is the most beautiful and most powerful. In early Celtic legend the island could only be reached on a boat guided by the sea god Barinthus, and was a place fit only for the bravest and best. When King Arthur died, he was taken to it by four fairy queens, of which Morgan was one. There he still lies with his knights, sleeping beneath a fairy hill until Britain needs him once more.

Spirit Paths

When travelling from mound to mound, the fairies use straight pathways between them. It is unlucky for any human to build on the paths between the mounds, and people have often gone to great lengths to avoid it. When a new runway for Shannon airport was proposed, workmen refused to construct in over a fairy path.
Straight lines do not exist in
nature, and have thus been considered supernatural. While nature is full of curves and bends, the straight is Otherworldly, associated with gods, spirits, fairies and ghosts. In many places, it is believed that spirits travel in straight lines. It is widely believed that the dead must travel by the shortest route and in a straight line. In China, bad spirits travel on straight paths, so it is thought that straight paths are dangerous for humans.

Though the theory of ley lines is usually dated to Alfred Watkins [1921] straight lines known as fairy paths or ghost roads were spoken of for several centuries previously. An Irish seer told Evans Wentz in 1911 that fairy paths were lines of energy that circulates the Earth's magnetism. While the straight alignments between ancient sites were only noted by scholars in the eighteenth century, tales of these straight fairy paths were current among the peasantry since time immemorial.

Labyrinths

Fairies are said to dwell in the various labyrinths of England. Labyrinths were ritual pathways used to retrieve the spring from the underworld, which lay at its centre, to revive the souls of the dead, and to perform weather magic.


Stone Circles and Standing Stones

Wherever stone circles and standing stones exist, they have been connected with fairies. The Channel Isles were once thought to be fairy islands, because of the many prehistoric graves, stone circles and monuments there. Locals believed that they had been built byLes Petits Faîtiaux [the fairies] to live in. The prehistoric sites themselves were sometimes called pouquelaie or ‘fairy dwellings’.

The beings that inhabit sacred sites are as old as time; they protect the holy places. In Brittany, for example, they are called the Korred and guard the ancient dolmens and the treasures that lie beneath them. They are said to large heads, red eyes, dark skin, hairy bodies, spiky hair, cloven feet, sharp noses, spindly arms and legs and cat’s claws. As the summer is ushered in at the start of May, you may find traces of their wild dances which leave burnt circles in the grass. 

In Cornwall, in south west England, the guardian fairies are called Spriggans [‘Spirits’]. They keep treasure beneath the old stones. One night a man tried to dig up the treasure buried under Trencrom Hill. As he neared the gold all about him went dark, thunder crashed and lightening streaked the sky. By its light, he saw a large number of spriggans swarming out of the rocks. At first they were small but they swelled in size until they were as big as giants. The man managed to escape, but without his treasure. He was so shaken by his experience that he took to his bed and never worked again.

Wreaths of eerie mist often surround the stone circles. Should you find a gap in the mist you will be able to pass through into the Otherworld. This is more likely at the magical ‘times between times’ of May Day, Halloween, or the Midsummer Solstice.

Forests

The grove was the centre of Celtic religion, the place where spirits were contacted, and the forest is alive with the chattering of the Otherworld, where messages can be heard in the whistling wind and the whispering of the leaves in the trees.

Vast numbers of fairies dwell in the forests. In Croatia, for example, the Sumske Dekle [‘Woodland Maidens’] are fairy girls, covered in hair. When humans leave food out for them they will return the favour by cleaning their houses. In Greece, the Sylvans are beautiful but dangerous, sometimes luring travellers to their deaths in the forests. In Hungarian fairy lore, the Vadleany [‘Forest Girl’] appears as a naked woman with hair so long that it sweeps the ground. When the forest rustles, it tells of her presence.


Among the southern and western Slavs, the Vile [‘Whirlwind'] dwell in woodlands, and ride about them on horses or on stags, hunting deer with their arrows and herding chamois. Some of the forest Vily are connected with particular trees in the manner of dryads and cannot venture far from them. In Dalmatia, they are described as the troop of Herodias, the witch queen. In Serbia they are called divna 'the divine', and it seems likely that they were originally Pagan goddesses, later associated with witch lore.

In both the orient and the occident, there are tales of spirits such as elves and pixies who inhabit trees. According to popular lore it is bad luck to cut down a tree, particularly those associated with fairies such as hawthorn, oak, birch and rowan. The Arabian Djinn sometimes live in trees, while in ancient Greece and Rome forests were the home of Dryads, Pans, and Centaurs among others. Various nymphs were associated with particular trees such as Rhoea with the pomegranate, Daphne with the laurel and Helike with the willow. In Scandinavia and Germany the forest spirits are often wild people covered in moss, or Moss Maidens.

Fairy Rings

These appear as bright green rings on the grass, or more likely a circle of fairy ring mushrooms [Marasmius oreades] which materialize on lawns and in meadows leaving a circular bare patch or later in the year a brighter patch of grass. They are said to be a favourite dancing place of the fairies. It is now thought that some of these rings are as many as 600 years old. 

Be warned though, if you should join the fairies in their revels, you may become invisible to your companions outside the ring and find that it is impossible to leave, and be forced to dance until you collapse and die of exhaustion. Some have found that an evening spent in a fairy ring turns out to be many years in the human realm.

A story from the Vale of Neath in Wales relates that Rhys and Llewelyn were travelling home one day in the twilight, when Rhys called to his companion to stop and listen to the music. It was a tune, he said, to which he had danced a hundred times, and he must go and dance now. Llewelyn could hear nothing, and began to remonstrate; but Rhys darted away, and he called after him in vain. Accordingly he went home, put up the ponies, ate his supper and went to bed, thinking that Rhys had only made a pretext for going to the alehouse. But when morning came, and there was still no sign of Rhys, he told his master what had occurred. A search proving fruitless, and suspicion fell on Llewelyn of having murdered his friend, and he was put in jail.

However, a farmer in the neighbourhood, skilled in fairy matters, guessed what had really happened, and proposed that several people should accompany Llewelyn to the place where he parted with Rhys. On coming to it, Llewellyn called out that he could hear music. All listened, but could hear nothing. But Llewelyn's foot was on the outward edge of the fairy-ring. "Put your foot on mine, David," he said to the man standing near him. The latter did so, and so did each of the party, one after the other, and then all of them heard the sound of many harps, and saw within the circle, about twenty feet across, great numbers of little people dancing round and round. Among them was Rhys, whom Llewelyn caught by the smock, as he came by him, and pulled him out of the circle. Rhys urged him to go home and let him finish his dance, since he had only been dancing for five minutes. It was only by force they got him away; and he could not be persuaded of the time that had passed in the dance.

Mounds

Entrances to Fairyland are often said to be through mounds, which occasionally open at the knocking of a witch, or at certain times of year, such as Halloween and May Day. These burial chambers, dating from the Neolithic period onwards, are found throughout Europe. There are upwards of forty thousand in Britain alone. They vary in size from a few feet across to over 300 feet in diameter. From Scandinavian to Celtic, Germanic and Slavonic lore, earth mounds are described as occasionally glowing or giving off a strange light.

Mounds are a link between the living and the dead, this world and the next. Both Saxons and Celts thought that fairies lived in mounds. Fairy mounds are also sometimes called ‘Dane Forts’, probably from dun, meaning a hill, as in dune, or from the Scandinavian dáin, meaning ‘dead’ referring to a spirit or ghost. Hill elves were known in Anglo-Saxon writings as dunaelfen. The name of the Dane Hills in Leicestershire, England - where the hag or witch Black Annis lives - probably has the same origin. Again, it may be that dane derives from the Celtic goddess Danu, widely known as the mother of the fairies.

The ghosts of the dead were widely believed to dwell in an underworld kingdom, along with the fairies, ruled by the Lord of the Dead, the Fairy King. In south Wales he is called Gwyn ap Nudd and rules the Welsh fairies the Tylwyth Teg. 

The entrance to his kingdom is through the Welsh lakes, or beneath Glastonbury Tor in England. In North Wales the King of the Fairies is Arawn, an ancient Welsh god of the underworld. In one story, he changed places with the human King Pwyll for a time. In Ulster myth, he is Finvarra [‘White-topped’], King of the Daoine Sidhe of the west or Connacht, living in the mound of Meadha. Finvarra was once a god of the dead and underworld, with some functions as a vegetation spirit since he is deemed to have the power of bringing good harvests.

Many burial mounds [as artificial earth wombs] are orientated so that the shaft of the sun, at the winter solstice, will strike a point in the underground chamber and trigger the rebirth of the sun, along with the ancestral spirits entombed there. Moreover, the dead had all the ancestral knowledge. Witches went to the underworld to converse with them and learn spells. For ordinary people, this journey was very risky.

To find the entrance to a fairy hill you should walk nine times around it.

Caves

Like burial mounds, caves are entrances to the underworld, long associated with spirits including a great many fairies, the best known being the dwarfs. They mine precious stones and metals, guard the earth and its riches, and are spirits of rocks and caverns. Dwarfs live within the Scandinavian and German mountains. They move easily through the earth and are masters of all its minerals. Though people used to have friendly relations with the dwarfs, they are rarely seen now.

A young girl left a hayfield in the Lavantthal, Carinthia, to climb the Schönofen, where there is a fine view over the valley. As she reached the top she became aware of an open door in the rock. She entered, and found herself in a cellar-like room. Two fine black steeds stood at the fodder-trough and fed off the finest oats. Marvelling how they got there, she put a few handfuls of the oats into her pocket, and passed on into a second chamber. A chest stood there, and on the chest lay a black dog. Near him was a loaf of bread, in which a knife was stuck. With ready wit she divined the purpose of the bread; and cutting a good slice she threw it to the dog. While he was busy devouring it she filled her apron from the treasure contained in the chest. But meantime the door closed, and there was nothing for it but to lie down and sleep. She awoke to find the door wide open, and at once made the best of her way home, but she was not a little astounded to learn that she had been gone for a whole year.

Caves were the first temples of ancient man, who saw any entrance into the Earth as an opening into the fecund womb of Mother Earth.

Rainbows

The Leprechaun’s pot of gold is found at the end of the rainbow. If you have ever tried to stand at the end of a rainbow, you will know that it is a place that cannot be reached physically, but only in spirit. For this reason, the rainbow is often thought to be the bridge to the world of the gods, the afterlife, or Fairyland. The Anglo Saxons believed that the Earth and Otherworld of the gods was connected by the Rainbow Bridge Bifrost, the Trembling Way of fire.

Mountains

Mountains are powerful places, where people often felt that approached the realm of the gods and spirits. Particular mountains were considered especially sacred, and some are still revered to this day. Mountains are the dwelling places of numerous fairies, including the Bohemian Herr Johannes who lives on the wooded slopes of the Reisengebirge and is known as the Master of the Mountains. Alpine fairies called the Salvanelli are merry fellows who love to play tricks, misleading travellers and leaving them stranded on high mountain ledges. Among the Slavs, the Samogorska inhabits the high peaks and hilltops The Tennin are lovely fairy maidens of Buddhist lore, sometimes encountered on the highest summit of the mountains. In Slovenia the Vesna live in mountain palaces and influence the fates of both men and crops. Fairies were often encountered on the high mountain passes, and shrines were sometimes placed there.

THE PERILS OF FAIRYLAND

To encounter the world of fairies, you must first realise that the whole world and everything in it is alive, animate, conscious, and infused with spirit. It is sacred, it is holy. This includes trees, rocks, stones, animals, even city streets and hearth fires. It is a wonderful and exciting feeling to comprehend this, but one which brings with it responsibilities. The Walker between the Worlds has duties and obligations. Visits to Fairyland are fraught with danger. Once you have entered the fairy world, nothing will ever be the same again. Fairy lore is full of warnings about people who have visited Fairyland and ever afterwards pined for its glory.

Time flows differently in the Otherworld, and humans who think they have passed a single year with the fairies may return to their homes to find them ruined by time, and their friends and relatives aged or long dead and buried. One such was Oisin, the son of Finn Mac Cool, chief of the Fenian warriors of Ireland. He was hunting one day when a fairy woman called Niamh of the Golden Hair approached him. 

She had chosen him for her lover and together they journeyed to the fairyland. After three hundred years he expressed a wish to see his home and she lent him a fairy horse, with the caution not to let his feet touch the earth. He was dismayed to see that all had changed. Even the men seemed feebler. He saw three trying to move a rock and as he lent down to give them a hand his saddle girth suddenly snapped and he fell to the earth. The horse vanished and he instantly became ancient and blind.

Near Bridgend is a place where a. woman is said to have lived who was absent ten years with the fairies, and thought she was not out of the house more than ten minutes. With a woman's proverbial persistency, she would not believe her husband's assurances that it was ten years since she disappeared.

Alternatively, a person may think that he has spent many years in fairyland, but has been absent from the mundane world for only a few minutes. This occurred in the case of the Pembrokeshire shepherd who joined a dance in a fairy ring and found himself in the Otherworld. He lived happily for several years among the fairies, feasting and drinking with them in their lovely palaces. However, he was warned that he must not drink from a magical fountain that stood in the centre of the gardens. Inevitably, he eventually broke the taboo and plunged into the water. He instantly found himself back on the hillside, with his flock of sheep, having been absent for only a few moments of ordinary time.

These distortions in time are experienced by anyone who visits the Otherworld, whether in meditation, through ritual or some other discipline. When, as a witch, I cast a circle, I create a place that exists between the worlds. The circle is not a barrier to keep things out, or a container to keep the power in, it is an interface between the worlds, where all the worlds can be accessed. We sometime think that we have spent an hour or two inside the circle, when six or seven hours have passed ion the everyday world.

The old shamans took power plants which enabled the sight, and caused time distortions. Some think this is why fairies have so many associations with the white-spotted red fly agaric mushrooms [Amanita muscaria] , which is psychotropic and has a long history of use among European mystics. The effects of the mushroom include auditory and visual hallucinations and spatial distortions. Subjects commonly report sensations of flying, or seeing little people or red-hatted mushrooms dancing. Fly agaric grows under birch trees and the Siberian shaman’s seven-stepped pole was made of birch.

In other words, the shaman ingested the mushroom and flew up the axis mundi tree to the spirit realms, seeing the tutelary spirit of the agaric as a red-capped fairy. [NB This mushroom is deadly poisonous. Shamans used to drink the urine of reindeer which had eaten the mushrooms with impunity and thus removed all the more harmful compounds, which lead to vomiting, paralysis and death.]

A number of legends speak of one eyed, one legged creatures, and these may, in fact, be a code for psychotropic mushrooms. The fachan, a Highland fairy, has one eye, one hand, one leg, one ear, one arm and one toe all lined up down the centre of his body. 

He carries a spiked club with which he attacks any human who dares to approach his mountain realm. He hates all living creatures but especially birds, which he envies for their gift of flight. A number of writers have theorised that the fachan may be a folk memory of the Celtic shamans, who stood on one leg and closed one eye when casting spells. The usual explanation offered for this practice is so that one eye looks into the inner realms, and only standing on one leg symbolises not being wholly in one realm or another. However, it may be that the stance is in imitation of the mushroom that gives the shaman his power, the one-legged, one-eyed fly agaric. The fact that the fachan inhabits a mountainous region is significant, as that is where the fly agaric grows. His hatred of birds, which he envies for their flight, may be a distorted folk memory of the gift of flight the mushroom bestows.

There was also an Irish race of one-legged, one-eyed beings described as the oldest inhabitants of the land, a race of wizards who intermarried with the Tuatha de Danaan. In Celtic lore all red food was taboo, including rowan berries and red nuts. These may be masks for the mushroom in Irish myth, adding that the Celts were head hunters, believing that all wisdom and power resided in the head. Perhaps these heads were not only human ones but also the heads of vision giving mushrooms.

The Father Christmas costume of white and red also suggests the mushroom. Siberian winter dwellings were excavated holes with a birch log roofs; the only entrance was through a smoke hole in the roof. Even the summer dwellings had smoke-hole exits for the spirit of the shaman to fly out of when he was in a trance. This might explain why Santa enters and exits through the chimney. Why does Santa bring gifts? The shaman is the middleman between humans and spirits and brings back knowledge from the spirit world. Ordinary individuals would write requests on pieces of paper and burn, so their messages would be carried to the spirits on the smoke.
Fairy food, which is generally described as being red in colour, is prohibited for humans. Should they eat it, they can never return to the realm of men. This is comparable with the taboos placed on shamanic substances forbidding them to ordinary men and women. 

Among the Selkup fly agaric was believed to be fatal to non shamans. Among the Vogul consumption was limited to sacred occasions and it was abused on peril of death. The Indo-Europeans strictly limited the important ritual of soma to certain classes and the profane user risked death at the hands of the angry god. Amongst the Celts, red foods and mushrooms were taboo, designated as the food of the otherworld or the dead. As the mushroom aids the shaman to visit other realms in spirit flight, see spirits and contact the spirit or god within, Robert Graves argued that ambrosia, the food of the gods, was in reality hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Descriptions of visits to fairyland might easily describe a drug induced visionary experience- enhanced colours, unearthly music, spatial distortions, the loss of any sense of the passage of time, and food and drink tasting wonderful. However, when the traveller returns [or the vision ends] fairy gold turns to withered leaves or common rubbish.

Fairies are said to dwell in mounds, caves or underground in general and a common shamanic experience is the visit to the underworld. Shamans and witches are said to receive their powers of spirits or fairies. Fairies can confer gifts of healing and magic and prophecy.

Thank you for being here and pleas feel free to share your thoughts with us, they are much appreciated. I do hope you have liked the story my dear friends, and that you all have enjoyed it. Have a beautiful day filled with love and happiness. Thank you for sharing your time with me



















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