Thursday, November 7, 2019

A Perfumed Bestiary, Letter F for Faerie, Part 1

A Perfumed Bestiary heads into a completely new direction with the letter F. As you may recall from the first post, I mentioned that this new series of fragrances would stitch together many themes such as illuminated manuscripts, the cabinet of curiosity, magic, mythology, the environment, nature, animals, etc. Well, here we are at the doorway to magick and altered states with F for Faerie.

We have come to understand the word Faerie as a reference to both a type of dimensional traveler as well as an enchanted realm where they dwell. Other spellings of the word when referring to these beings are fairy, fay, fae and fair folk.

Myths and legends of these spirit-like entities are popular in the European folklore tradition with common recurring themes such as leading humans to "rings" in a forest where they were abducted or the stealing of babies. There is another sector that acknowledges that those magical stories evolved from actual beings that have existed as a life form on this planet as long as there have been humans, at some point moving to a different dimensional reality. These beings represent nature and living in the ever present now, where there are no constraints of time, and thus age.

"In the earliest times it seems that from legends and from what we can ascertain from history, such beings were plentiful, and gregarious – they were part and parcel of the land. Most people could see, hear and interact with them. It is only when humanity began to push ahead of its stated evolutionary pattern that we began to lose touch with them, because they stayed in their one-second-at-a-time, and we pushed on, we wanted to know that curse of curiosity, we want to know how to do this, we want to know how to go there, we don’t want to walk, we want to make something, what shall we make – we will make a wheel."1

This modern take on a bestiary has focused on animals that are "barely imagined", meaning they are slowly becoming extinct due to the blunders of humans. F for Faerie points to a spot in the human psyche that has shut down the territory of magic, the now...."...we have become so enamoured of what we can do, that we no longer look at what is around us and under our noses. We see only what is on a screen, or what is on a television, or what is in front of us as we drive in a motor car, or look out of the window of an aeroplane. We have forgotten to look where we should be looking; towards those beings who are the epitome of nature. They are nature’s signature on the planet, and we have forgotten how to see them to such an extent that we have almost lost entirely the ability to see beyond the veil, and now it is getting fairly rare for a full, a real, a true clairvoyant to be born. There were some of us who had a partial ability, in those talents, but nothing like what we should have. We have forgotten many things that we should have remembered. One of those things is the fair folk. We pride ourselves on being intelligent, and yet we have forgotten how to be wise. There is a difference between being intelligent and being wise."2

In this series we have looked at the varying terrains that have significantly impacted the well being of our beasties. Although the land of Faerie is out of time, the invisible threads stitching the various dimensions together may be threatened. Some speculate that these two spheres are symbols of the left and right brain, others that, like in the Mists of Avalon, these two dimensions have become permanently severed, while others urgently warn that the fabric of the universe is ripped and torn by our various unconscious experiments.

"One of the ways in which we can see them even if we are not clairvoyant is to look for them in the world around us; because particularly the plant life, the trees, the Faerie Folk of the growing things, they will tend to use anything and everything, mainly shadows, the way leaves and bark and flowers are put together. If you have young children, you will probably have heard them say, “Oh look mummy, look there’s a tree and there’s a face in that tree. Can you see that face mummy?” All to often mummy says “Don’t be silly dear”, unless she happens to be one of our kind. But that is the way they can show you that they are there. A simple acknowledgement “I see you”, “I know you’re there”, “Thank you for showing yourself”, is enough to start what sometimes is called a co-walker, and a co-walker is Faerie person who will be with you, becomes a companion. That Faerie walker will always be with you and they will attach themselves to you, rather in the same way that an elemental can attach themselves to a person if they are of the right kind. If you really want to catch a glimpse of them, go out with a camera and take photographs of landscapes, trees, forests, plants and everything and anything. The kind of landscape you’ll find around here. When they are developed go over them with a small looking glass and you will see in – at least one in every picture – you will be able to detect a face. That is the way they show themselves to you now, because they know you can’t see them in any other way, unless you are very, very lucky."3


Faerie as the heartbeat of nature embodies all the elements: air, water, fire and earth or perhaps an elusive fifth. Faerie teaches us to live in the now, enjoying this sacred moment, letting go of our attachment to both the past and the future.

For the next thirty days lets focus on penetrating the wall that separates us from the alternate dimensional reality of the ever present now, a sphere of dwelling without time, where the pulse of nature plays wild rhythmic beats. Breathe in the dance of fluidity and an inherent lightness of being that reminds us of those imaginary realms from childhood.

The crystal that I am associating with Faerie is the extraordinarily beautiful and highly mystical Labradorite, a crystalline form of feldspar. Labradorite is said to heighten our psychic abilities and intuition, aiding in the opening of our third eye and thus the portal into the terroir of Faerie.

"If you want to know more about...(the) intercourse between humanity and Faeries, you want to get hold of Robert Kirk’s book “The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies”, Lewis Spence’s book “Fairy Tradition in Britain” and this one is one of the finest, it’s by Katherine Briggs and it’s called “An Encyclopaedia of Fairies”. She has written several books on the subject. This is particularly interesting simply because it gives you the many types of Faerie, and those that can be called Faeries, because not all of them are the Tinker Bell type or even Tolkien-like Elves. Another one, by Maureen Duffy, which is slightly more hectic is called “The Erotic World of Faery”. Don’t be mistaken, this is a serious, well written book. The author maintains and quite rightly, a lot of the way we look at Faeries in our time is derived from – shall we say – the censure on paintings, particularly of the female nude, and paintings that would otherwise be seen as ‘not quite nice’, but because they were of Faeries, this is allowed because it is – shall we say – Art, rather than anything else."4

Credits & References
Images: A portrait of a fairy, by Sophie Gengembre Anderson (1869), Luis Ricardo Falero (1888), others ©Greg Spalenka
1, 2, 3 & 4 The Faerie Tradition
Animal Totem by Susan Jolley

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