The Flower and The Fairy

I believe in fairies. Or, at least, I used to. Growing up, I wrote to the fairies. I would leave notes around the garden and know that even though I never got a reply, someone was reading my letters. I’m not sure when I stopped, but every so often that childlike belief and lack of adult cynicism seep back in without me noticing, and the way I see the world shifts. Travelling around Scotland this year and visiting Fairy Pools, Fairy Glens and immersing myself in Scottish folklore, I felt this open-mindedness come back to me. Why do we stop believing in things our younger selves accept so readily? The longer we spent in our campervan getting lost in nature, the more I became aware of other life surrounding us, and the everpresent magic of Mother Nature. This was also hugely influenced by my reading of Phantastes by George MacDonald while on the road. I think it was introduced to me exactly when I needed it; as a child I would have devoured it, but as an adult it forced me to open that part of my mind again and remember what brought joy to my soul when I ran barefoot around our jungle garden. Allow that part of you to wake up. It got lost when life became more focused on success than wonder, when you were told to follow a concrete path of social norms. But it is still there.

These are some of the passages that really reached out to me when I read Phantastes and spoke to that neglected part of my soul. The little girl who spent all her pocket money in The Faerie Shop and was known as Lily the flower fairy is still here and I don’t intend on letting her disappear again.

“trust the Oak, and the Elm, and the great Beech.”

“Yet you would see a strange resemblance, almost oneness, between the flower and the fairy, which you could not describe, but which described itself to you.”

“I particularly noticed some tall lilies, which grew on both sides of the way, with large dazzlingly white flowers, set off by the universal green.”

“A little forest of wild hyacinths was alive with exquisite creatures, who stood nearly motionless, with drooping necks, holding each by the stem of her flower, and swaying gently with it, whenever a low breath of wind swung the crowded floral belfry.”

“But it is no use trying to account for things in Fairy Land; and one who travels there soon learns to forget the very idea of doing so, and takes everything as it comes; like a child, who, being in a chronic condition of wonder, is surprised at nothing.”

“The clouds in the west had risen nearly to the top of the skies, and they and the moon were travelling slowly towards each other. Indeed, some of their advanced guard had already met her, and she had begun to wade through a filmy vapour that gradually deepened.”

“The rain in the leaves, and a light wind that had arisen, kept her song company.”

“I felt as if I was wandering in childhood through sunny spring forests, over carpets of primroses, anemones, and little white starry thingsโ€”I had almost said creatures, and finding new wonderful flowers at every turn.”

“As if a sleep Lay on her eyelid, easier to sweep Than bee from daisy.”

“Sche was as whyt as lylye yn May, Or snow that sneweth yn wynterys day.”

“Sweeter dreams are in the forest, Round thee storms would never rave; And when need of rest is sorest, Glide thou then into thy cave.”

“Afterwards I learned, that the best way to manage some kinds of pain fill thoughts, is to dare them to do their worst; to let them lie and gnaw at your heart till they are tired; and you find you still have a residue of life they cannot kill.”

Many a night of darksome sorrow
Yield to the light of a joyless morrow,
Ere birds again, on the clothed trees,
Shall fill the branches with melodies.
She will dream of meadows with wakeful streams;
Of wavy grass in the sunny beams;
Of hidden wells that soundless spring,
Hoarding their joy as a holy thing;
Of founts that tell it all day long
To the listening woods, with exultant song;
She will dream of evenings that die into nights,
Where each sense is filled with its own delights,
And the soul is still as the vaulted sky,
Lulled with an inner harmony

“Beside the dead, men speak in whispers, as if the deepest rest of all could be broken by the sound of a living voice.”

“In still rest, in changeless simplicity, I bear, uninterrupted, the consciousness of the whole of Humanity within me.”

“Past tears are present strength”

“Rest is as needful as toil.”

“Joy’s a subtil elf. I think man’s happiest when he forgets himself.”

“Everywhere in Fairy Land forests are the places where one may most certainly expect adventures.”

“Self will come to life even in the slaying of self; but there is ever something deeper and stronger than it, which will emerge at last from the unknown abysses of the soul: will it be as a solemn gloom, burning with eyes? or a clear morning after the rain? or a smiling child, that finds itself nowhere, and everywhere?”

“My soul was like a summer evening, after a heavy fall of rain, when the drops are yet glistening on the trees in the last rays of the down-going sun, and the wind of the twilight has begun to blow.”

“I knew now, that it is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another; yea, that, where two love, it is the loving of each other, and not the being loved by each other, that originates and perfects and assures their blessedness.”

“Our life is no dream; but it ought to become one, and perhaps will.”

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