nature / Storytelling

Fairy Hunting

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When I was a child, my mum used to take me on regular fairy-spotting jaunts, to the end of the garden or into the woods. We’d look out for knot-holes and other signs of fairy life – and carpet any ‘fairy rooms’ we found, in moss, to help the fairies stay cosy.

My grandfather taught me to look for fairies in fuchsia bushes. Once you spot the first one, they’re impossible to miss.

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Over time, fairies became visible in other plants too (This one is aptly named Enchanter’s Nightshade).

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According to folklore, if you want to spot fairies, look out for a fairy ring. Welsh myth says the circle of mushrooms or stones indicates a fairy village. Old wells and springs are ideal places to search for water nymphs: but be careful you don’t get sucked into the water. Ancient woodland and hills are also rumoured to hide fairy folk – and if you’re pure hearted and nature-loving, you may be able to see them…

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However, be wary: fairies can be scary. Protect yourself from malice and mischief by wearing iron or using some other protection. And don’t step into the fairy ring, unless you’re prepared to risk being rendered invisible to mortals, spirited into fairyland (whether in mind, body or both) – and then forced to dance around the ring until you die, if the folklore is to be believed.

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Some believe tales of fairies and great magic have more to do with hallucinogenic mushrooms and plants than anything supernatural (the elder is one to be wary about sleeping beneath, apparently). But the more you believe, the greater your chances of seeing fairies, regardless of your recreational activities.

To increase your chances, take a child (with permission from child’s guardian, of course.) They’re nearer to the ground – and if the child is young enough to retain their full imagination, you may be surprised by the magic they can show you.

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