In the course of our research we met a number of adults who never grew to forget or disbelieve their childhood experiences of fairies, as well as some who had such experiences as adults. Jenna, Lizzie and Darryl, for instance.
Jenna is a hairdresser who lives on the Gold Coast of Australia.
When she and her family were in England in 1995 they stayed at an old Bed and Breakfast place in York, which had its own forest.
'The day we were leaving I wasn't feeling very well. I had a hangover from drinking too much at a party the night before.' She told her two children to go for a walk, as she wanted to meditate.
'I found the biggest, oldest looking tree and sat by it. I'd been doing this around England, finding big old trees to lean against and meditate, because their energy is so lovely.
'Anyway, I sat down by this tree and asked if it would help me get rid of my headache. I had my eyes closed and I felt as if I had become part of the tree, which is what usually happens.
'Next thing, a figure about a foot high put his head around the tree beside me. He was wearing a Robin Hood outfit – except that it was bright orange. He had a hat and a little orange tunic and he was a real short, sharp, quick little guy. He was gorgeous. He talked to me for a few minutes, almost sarcastically. He was really funny, though. Unfortunately I can't remember what he said.
'Then after about 10 minutes he said, "You can go now!" and off he went, and I got up and walked away from the tree and my headache had gone.'
At the time we interviewed her, Lizzie was a business manager and lived in a house on a small block of land in a NSW country town. She said she had probably seen fairies since she was very young but she'd dismissed the idea. In the last two years, however, she had become aware of a 'presence'.
The presence, she said, got in touch with the child within her and she found herself having a stone wall built for her front fence, from local rocks from the river.
'A little garden evolved between my front fence and the nature strip and I was sitting there on a stump one day and I said, "This is their garden - their home. Please come and visit." And they did.'
Lizzie saw them. 'They were very delicate. Very small. There was Joy and Amber – they actually had names. They are constantly there. I don’t see them all the time but I feel them there and I take great joy in sitting on my front verandah, and adults and children walk past and they stop. My next door neighbour told me that a young boy stopped his parents and pulled them back because he wanted to have a look at the garden. The garden is nothing spectacular but I believe the fairies are actually attracting the children.'
Lizzie's small block had about 40 trees on it. She believed that was where the fairies lived and danced and that they were always there,'But they have chosen, as one of their many homes, to be around me. And I call them by name.'
She said she could feel their lightness and joy. 'I was given as a Christmas gift two fairy pictures. I was speaking with somebody about children with difficulties and she saw my fairies on the wall and she said that autistic children very often believed that they were children that the fairies had brought to the world to teach. That’s something I would like to follow up. This woman has worked for years with difficult children and that was a new enlightenment for me about fairies. I believe their love and their power is very potent.'
Darryl recalled an experience that was rather less benevolent! He and Andrew met at a shaman workshop at Gunnebah, a residential retreat in the mountains just out of Murwillumbah in New South Wales. Darryl was a practitioner of Chinese medicine.
When he was three or four years old and living in California, Darryl went through a period of seeing little people from another dimension. It first happened one evening when he was gazing at the wall at the foot of his bed. The doors and windows were closed – and what looked like gnomes walked straight out of the wall toward him.
'They looked like they had come straight out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' Darryl explained. 'They were dressed exactly the same, in very colourful dress, floppy boots and big hats that hung down, belt buckles, all that, and they were so like the seven dwarfs that for years afterwards I thought, "Well maybe it's a recollection from something I'd seen before, not something that was an entity of its own".
'But my perception of them was very real. They used to walk out of the wall and walk toward me with a leer, a cheeky grin. I wouldn't say it was designed to intimidate me, but it kind of had that effect. They were clearly out to frighten, not in a nasty way but a cheeky way.
'I was terrified. I screamed out and my mother came rushing in and I said, "Little men are coming to get me!" and so she stayed with me and talked, and said it was just my imagination – a typical response, I guess. Then 15 to 20 minutes later she left the room and switched the light out, and within moments they were coming out of the wall again and I screamed again.
'This went on nearly every night. After a period of time – I can only guess the time frame now, a week or two weeks perhaps – I realised that it was futile calling my mother and I imagined it was starting to cause friction at home, so my best way of dealing with it was to pull the sheet over my head and go to sleep.'
Darryl said he didn't see the gnomes at any other time, only when he was in bed.
Then, at the workshop, the participants were asked to do a meditation and see nature spirits.
Darryl said it was very easy for him. He visualised nymphs or little fairies, and when he recalled his childhood experience he realised that there was always a leader in the front leading the charge.
'So I ended up visualising him and briefly talking to him. I stood up for the little child within me, I guess. Some of my training is to contact the child within as an adult and respond to its needs. Part of its needs was to have someone go in and defend me to the gnomes. So I spoke to them and said, "Look, you know, you were frightening and caused me some degree of anguish and despair at that age." They acknowledged that, although they didn't necessarily apologise; but it was acknowledged and that seemed to be a pretty important thing.'