During May half term we took our seven-year-old son to the Brecon Beacons, and on our bucket list of activities was walking one of the waterfall trails. We chose the Elidir trail as it seemed a suitable distance to tackle with a young boy when the weather was looking a bit hit and miss. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the small boy who I had to worry about. Within twenty minutes of setting out my husband started to scoot around the ‘are we nearly there yet’ dialogue, mainly because all his panic buttons had already taken a hammering watching an excitable child skidding about on algae-laden rocks, precariously close to rapidly running water and sheer drops.

Once we’d all begun to relax into the trail and enjoy our stunning surroundings, we began to ponder where the entrance to the fairy realm might be. Legend has it that there is a veil between the worlds located somewhere along the trail. My bets were on the entrance to an old Silica mine, mainly because in my mind fairies are probably more shadowy and darker than the common-or-garden flower variety.

Passing a few other walkers on route, I became momentarily and irrationally self-conscious about being a grown adult discussing the whereabouts of magical creatures. It only took a second to put this into perspective. I was with a small child – any normal person would find this family exchange endearing*. Also, the fairy kingdom legend is used as a tourism draw for this walk, so most people would have understood the context.

So where did this random moment of anxiety stem from? I can only assume from years of steeling myself against naysayers where my personal beliefs are concerned. I’m mostly mystified by those people who can extend common courtesy to established religions but feel that belief systems that sit on the fringes of societal norms are somehow game targets for mockery and disdain.

I’m a fairly logical person and I need an element of reasoning to underpin my beliefs. If my reasoning is based upon personal experience, rather than a widely-held, scientific concept or societal norm then that’s enough for me. It’s about having the confidence to trust your perception of reality. In my reality, ‘magic’ exists. I feel a little sorry for those who either haven’t experienced something magical (and I use the term magical here to describe anything that falls outside of the boundaries of evidenced science, so covers everything from karma and miracles to an encounter with the paranormal – I know it’s crude and contentious, but run with it because it’s a lazy umbrella use of the term to suit my needs in this article…), or who don’t believe in the potential for magic to exist. I suspect my life is a little more interesting and creative for having this dimension to it.

I’m vaguely interested in aspects of theoretical quantum physics, which has outlying ideas that would seem to support the premise that we potentially create our shared reality through our experience of consciousness – reality exists when we’re ‘looking’[1]. What happens when we look the other way?! What if we potentially tap into the vast unknown power of the brain to access Narnia-like shortcuts to aspects of reality that are not normally accessible through the known senses?! Those of us who explore inner journeying will know that this experience is a powerful part of our personal reality and feels very different to our interactions on our external journey through life. Importantly, it usually is accompanied by a sense of resound ‘knowingness’ that when analysed, can lead to profound realisation.

Not convinced? That’s fine. The limits of your belief, curiosity and imagination may have stronger boundaries than mine. Good for you. I’m not interested in having shared beliefs, only shared values (namely those of never intending harm towards others, respecting individuality and acknowledging the responsibility we have to protect and restore balance to the natural environment).

So… back to fairies. And unicorns (you’ll see why in a minute). In essence, my fleeting anxiety was down to prior experience with individuals who have tried to impose their beliefs, or belittle mine, when their opinion was neither asked for nor welcomed. It took my mind back to a formative experience in my exploration of my spirituality.

I had a dear, elderly friend who used to accompany me to our local moot. When the moot naturally came to a close, we explored other groups and events in our local area. We attended an event hosted by a ‘spiritual’ group – a talk by an author on sacred geometry. The talk was fantastic, but afterwards the group held a short discussion on what other speakers, or topics, attendees would like covered. There was another lady who, like us, was new to the group and was attending for the first time. As the group took suggestions, which included everything from exploring past lives to Tai Chi, the lady enthusiastically offered up the possibility of exploring the energy of unicorns. The lady chairing the discussion said, with a hint of disdain and a look of stiff discomfort that suggested she was sitting on a copper-healing pyramid, “We’re a spiritual group – we’re interested in exploring spirituality”.

I nearly walked out then and there. In fact, the only thing that stopped me was knowing that my elderly friend would be confused and it’d take me ten minutes to get him up and get his jacket on, at which point the gesture would have lost it’s impact somewhat. How dare she belittle someone’s desire to explore a belief in that way?! Never mind the sheer arrogance of assuming that everyone else present agreed with her assertation. Unicorns aren’t my bag. Not something I’ve experienced, or wish to explore, so guess what? Doesn’t exist in my reality at present. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in the reality of the lady who suggested it, or for others.

That experience taught me an important lesson. It has helped me to be humble in my approach and has kept my own ego in check when I’m tempted to ‘eye-roll’ the beliefs and practice of others. Providing their values are honourable, who am I to judge?

So, where are the fairies?

It entirely depends on where you look…

 

*I encountered a lady once in my life who would probably be one of the exceptions. When my little boy was a toddler I took him to the Living Rainforest and we were marvelling at the tortoises there. He mentioned something about dinosaurs and I said, “They are a bit like dinosaurs – I think they were probably descended from them!”. My boy, and a boy of a similar age standing next to him both got super-excited, in the way that only toddlers would if contemplating that there might be something akin to a living, breathing dino in front of them. A lady next to me chipped in loudly to the other boy (clearly a grandmother, and seemingly in possession of some sort of BSc in Esio Trot) “No! They are not descended from dinosaurs. They are tortoises, not turtles.” I still have no idea if she is correct, but I do know that for a minute prior to that her kid looked genuinely engaged and excited. No doubt she led him off to read all the Latin names on the plant labels. At the time I was an exhausted, full-time working Mum and this actually got me all tearful. Now I just think she was a miserable cow.


[1] The following article gives a fairly good, non-biased introduction to the concept that doesn’t make your brain hurt too much: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170215-the-strange-link-between-the-human-mind-and-quantum-physics

If you want to read a good book that will make your brain ache, try ‘Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos’ by Ervin Lazlo (twice nominated for a nobel prize), 2006 [ISBN: 9781594771026]