Fairies or Princesses?

We recently received a delightful short essay from James Royce McGuire, writer of fiction and plays, called “The Fairy Land.” Let’s wander through it together!

It’s extremely easy to lose our way spiritually. Tennessee Williams, in his play Suddenly Last Summer, compares the delicacy of a poet to that of a spider web. In a nano-second we can decide staying present and meditation really aren’t working or creating any success in our lives so we quit. We get back to living either in the past—with all its anger and regrets—and the future with all its promise, hope and fear. The next thing we know, six years have gone by. Where did the years go? How did that happen?

We’ve then entered what the Celts called the land of the fairies. When you’re in nature, as man was intended, we tend to stay focused on the present and live each day—really each moment—with complete awareness. If we simply go through the motions of our lives, they may be filled with mirth, laughter and Facebook, but what we think was a few minutes, has actually been five years.

Facebook, yes, or Disney. Last month I was visiting my adorable goddaughter in Colorado, whose spiritual development I’ve sworn myself to guide, three years old and in love with the pink aisle of the toy store. She delights, above all, in princesses. She wants to dress like one and think about them and to be one. Her parents are both skiers, outdoorspeople, with not a shred of pink in the house. She’s an only child with few friends her age. Where did she get it?

Soon after I got back to New York, I met a couple from the Bronx with a little girl about the same age. Apparently she can’t get enough of princesses either. It’s the TV, I learned. Disney is on a mission to make every little girl in America obsessed with princesses. Why? We’re a democracy, after all, so the only place a girl can get her princess fix is in a Disney movie. And there is a vast supply of princesses in their back catalog, so it is a monopoly they’re well-positioned to avail themselves of.

“Where did the time go?” we ask ourselves.  Or the future we were so constantly worried about? How come it never emerged?

When we do finally wake up, we realize we’ve been somewhere, but we’re not sure where. This is the land of the fairies. In old myth, if you slipped into this land, usually the king or queen would greet you and there was much merry making, dancing and celebrating. The main thing, however, was the passage of time. You thought it was a few moments. In actuality, it was a few years. Time slips by. We’ve turned into Rip Van Winkle.

The couple from the Bronx has a plan: fairies. They’ve been doing everything they can to get their daughter interested in these wonderful creatures, whose paraphanalia one can make out of found materials, practicing creativity rather than shopping. They’re trying, but it’s only sort of working.

When we’re only seeking the pleasures of the senses and nothing more, then we’re not stopping to notice what’s around us or what is actually going on. We’re not paying attention to our partners’ subtle messages that they’re unhappy, we’re not looking at vibrant colors or feeling the textures of our clothes.

The fae folks are beings in Ireland or England that were once pagan gods. They basically went into hiding and became the fairies. Fairies can help us, even if they only exist in the imagination. There are pagan religions which look at the fairies as real creatures and people make alters [sic] to them, but that’s not what’s important. The importance is that they can create a sense of imagination, support and help into your life.

Imagine having a support system of magical beings.

When I was a kid myself, I used to sometimes go visit my cousins, who lived in the hills above Malibu, California. Their mother is an artist, and they lived practically always outside, among endless trees, flowers, and wild animals. Their house was a cluster of small, ancient, rickety buildings, but the real home was the mountain. They believed in fairies. They saw them everywhere—in their beds before sleep, in their dreams, in the trees. I remember them telling me about the little creatures. I knew that fairies couldn’t be real, but my cousins were very convincing, so I believed them. I never saw any fairies for myself, though.

There are several ways to get this magic into your life. Wicca stores have candles and there are a few rituals to call the fairies into your life, such as putting dishes of milk outside of trees for their fairy rings.

These may sound corny, and so they are. The idea, however, is to put more sacredness in your life, to get out of your own head and somehow know there is a larger plan.

Also, if you read Shakespeare, some of the most beautiful poetry in his plays were written for the fairies. Look at A Midsummer Nights Dream or The Tempest. Fairies have also inspired paintings, opera, and folk tales.  It’s nice to have them in your life. They despise clutter in the home, or really any thing in which the present is neglected. So stay present. And beware the fairy land.

Helpful advice. Thank you, James. It may be our best hope against Disney-ification.

Nathan Schneider is an editor of Killing the Buddha and writes about religion, reason, and violence for a variety of publications. He is also a founding editor of Waging Nonviolence. His first two books, published by University of California Press in 2013, are God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet and Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. Visit his website at The Row Boat.