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Real World of Fairies: A First-Person Account

Real World of Fairies: A First-Person Account

by Dora van Gelder Kunz, Caitlin Matthews (Foreword by), Dora Van Gelder

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The Real World of Fairies is a privileged glimpse into a joyous, animated universe. Dora's enchanting vision of her encounters with the fairy realm delights the child in us, while it excites our grown-up imagination, rekindles our creative energy, and deepens our sense of connection with nature. This new edition features a foreword by Celtic folk expert


The Real World of Fairies is a privileged glimpse into a joyous, animated universe. Dora's enchanting vision of her encounters with the fairy realm delights the child in us, while it excites our grown-up imagination, rekindles our creative energy, and deepens our sense of connection with nature. This new edition features a foreword by Celtic folk expert Caitlin Matthews. Caitlin's personal experiences and deep knowledge of the fairy world resonate brilliantly with Dora's, adding a fresh perspective for contemporary readers.

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Quest Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Second Edition
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Product dimensions:
4.62(w) x 7.48(h) x 0.49(d)

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The Real World of Fairies

A First-Person Account

By Dora van Gelder

Theosophical Publishing House

Copyright © 1999 Theosophical Publishing House
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8356-3069-6



Many people are willing and even longing to believe in the existence of fairies. The Little People are so bound up with happy memories of childhood that they are recalled with delight as part of a less materialistic world. But, to most of us, they stand as a lost illusion. Not so with everyone, fortunately. For I, amongst others, have seen all kinds of fairies for as long as I can remember, and I still see them daily. By seeing I mean that they are as much outside me as trees and are seen just as objectively.

In the following pages I propose to make these delightful beings as much a reality for you as I can. It is best that I try at the outset to make it clear why I have some special advantages for this enterprise. For one thing, having been born in the East, I have never been discouraged in my observations of fairies, because there are many people there who do see—and very many more who believe in—fairies. For this and other reasons, the not uncommon power among children to see them has in me persisted. Then, I have had the good fortune to fall in this life among family and friends who included several who could also see; and travel has enlarged the list. Therefore, what I have here set down is not the imagination of an isolated child. It is information gathered from many contacts and conversations with fairies all over the world in circumstances perfectly natural, however unusual. One can communicate with these beings in just as definite a manner as we human beings talk to one another—more so, for though the method (which I shall describe shortly) is slightly different, it is more rapid than speech, and, in some ways at least, it is a more accurate exchange.

It is important to mention these things, for once we see the world from the fairy point of view, we get a glimpse of a new universe. So many things that matter very much to us do not seem to matter at all to them. Life and death, for instance, are things that they know all about; to them there is no uncertainty and no tragedy involved. Human beings so often shrink from life and fear death. Fairies actually see the flow of life through all things. We live in a world of form without understanding the life force beneath the forms. To us the loss of the form means the end of the life, but fairies are never deceived in this way. They have a penetrating and powerful lesson for us.

Why do most people not see fairies? They live in the same world as we do, but their bodies are less dense than ours, though only slightly less dense than a tenuous gas. I feel sure that the veil between them and us is exceedingly thin—so thin that nearly anyone could penetrate it with a little effort along the right line. The difficulty is to indicate this line and especially to get others to comprehend it. Most certainly, one strong reason for our not seeing them is due to a difference in point of view. If, therefore, what I write here can help to change points of view toward the fairy world, it will help to make more and more people able to see them.

That, of course, is not all. A special sense must be awakened in people if they are to see fairies. The kind of world fairies live in does not affect our ordinary senses directly. They cannot be touched or felt, yet they can certainly be seen. In fact, ordinary sight is a help in seeing them, but that sense by itself is a little too coarse to catch the light they give off. However, everyone has latent in them a sense finer than sight, and a number of people—a surprisingly large number—have activated it. It is this higher sense perception which is employed in watching the antics of the fairy world. After all, everyone has a wide range of sensory equipment. Touch reveals solids, taste tells us about liquids, and the sense of smell reports on gases. Sight is still more subtle, and the series does not end there. There is a force of special seeing called clairvoyance—clear seeing.

The fact is that there is a real physical basis for clairvoyance, and the faculty is not especially mysterious. The power centers in that tiny organ in the brain called the pituitary gland. The kind of vibrations involved are so subtle that no physical opening in the skin is needed to convey them to the pituitary body, but there is a special spot of sensitiveness just between the eyes above the root of the nose which acts as the external opening for the gland within. It feels as if one were looking from that spot on the forehead, just as it feels in ordinary sight as if one were looking with one's eyes, although we all know we are only looking through them. Perception through that sensitive spot differs from percetion through the conventional sense organs in one way: within there is no nervous structure of the ordinary physical sort. But the perception works just as I have said, nevertheless. When it is necessary to look into that finer world in which the fairies and similar kinds of living beings exist, it is only necessary to concentrate for a moment along that line of sight, and the sense responds much as if the eyes (but in this case a single eye) has opened. I am told (for I do not pretend to be very well informed about biology) that there was once, in primitive animals ancestral to humans, a connection for the pituitary body to the skin and an outer opening for it. The present pituitary body is supposed to be an atrophied remnant from those days. But doctors know that the gland is far from being a useless remnant, for it secretes from both parts of itself some of those bodies which are an invisible part of the blood stream and have such a powerful influence on growth and other functions. So the pituitary gland is certainly very much alive and important in human beings. And it certainly has this use for receiving very fine vibrations from a world of things which are subtler than anything we know. I wish I could make it still clearer, but perhaps that is the best one can do. Maybe in a way it is just as well that this sense is not so readily at hand that people could force it to work. For any such violent effort to move nature ahead of her own time is in many cases fraught with danger. People sometimes try to press themselves forward into a clairvoyant state by using their will, taking drugs, or engaging in other practices. However, if its development is unnatural, clairvoyance is not usually safe. But this does not make it less real than in cases where the power occurs in a perfectly normal way.

The question will be asked why more people cannot see fairies. I suppose part of the answer is that almost nobody tries after they are grown up, or even in childhood for that matter, and the rest of the answer is that the few who know that fairies exist do not always try to see them in the right way. Toward the end of these pages I will have something to say about this, and so the matter may stand for the present. As far as I am concerned I can see fairies. I can see them with my eyes shut, but I do not close my eyes ordinarily, as it is for one thing unnecessary, and for another, when clairvoyant sight has brought fairies into range, ordinary sight helps very much to observe details. And many fairies are so nearly perceptible by ordinary sight that it is much easier to study them with that. Just what sort of light they give off or reflect (for they are themselves luminous) I do not know, for I am not a physicist, and even if I were, where are the instruments with which to study anything so subtle? A scientific friend suggested looking at fairies with and without some borrowed spectacles, by way of making some sort of test about the kind of light that is involved. I did so and found that the fairies looked different through the spectacles, just as trees look different. But perhaps the distortion is due to the effect upon one's ordinary sight. Again, fairies seem not so visible through ordinary window glass, but the same difficulty arises here as before: is it the dimming of light to ordinary eyes that is affected? Experiments of this sort need the help of a number of people who can see and, to be of any use, would have to extend over a long period of time. It is best just to set down such facts as seem important and go on to the whole question of what fairies are like, for that is the main purpose we have in view.

I should first say that in that invisible world there are many different kinds of creatures and activities besides fairies. It is not the purpose of this book to dwell on these others, yet some of them are so closely connected with the life and work of fairies that I shall have to mention them in their proper places.

Therefore, I must explain that there are two important forms of life which are related to fairies and are a part of that kingdom of nature. In fact, fairies are part of a great evolutionary line that parallels the human. It starts, as the human line does, with some exceedingly primitive forms and rises up through the fairies (who are themselves at various stages of evolution) and has as its highest beings those that are traditionally called "angels" or "devas." The fairies stand more or less in the same relation to angels as animals stand to humans. Almost all fairies are concerned with the processes of nature, as I shall describe later, and many of the angels are also. Angels are not the theme of this book and are discussed only as they are connected with fairies, but I would like to say in general that conventional ideas about them are on the whole pretty far from the fact. Angels are more interesting in themselves, as they really exist and live, than the ordinary beliefs allow them to be. Something of this will appear as we go on. The conventional idea of angels has never appealed to me, for it portrays them as beings with all sorts of virtues but very little character, whereas in reality angels have vivid individualities and are most fascinating. They are strong beings, not at all negative or weak. One factor in the popular belief about angels is correct, and that is that they are superior in intelligence to humans. A great many are very far superior, of course—magnificent beings. Similarly, many fairies are far more intelligent and highly developed than animals. I think fairies as a whole are more evolved than animals as a whole. This too will appear as we go on, as we give specific cases and examples.

The lower beings in this evolutionary stream may be called "elementals," because their life is little organized, and they, much like the elements, have almost no feeling and, of course, no thought. They are usually small but vary greatly in size and are enormously varied in character and function. But we need not concern ourselves very much with them, except where they occur naturally in the accounts of fairies. Elemental life, like that of fairies, is also in close touch with human beings. Fairy life, which is quite distinct from elemental forms although it proceeds from them in an evolutionary sense, has many remarkable contacts with the human line. It is not quite so easy to get into contact with angels, however. The matter of which an angel's body is made is very much finer than that of fairy bodies, and it is not visible at all to the physical eye. Angels require a pure form of clairvoyance for observation, so fine is the material of which their bodies are made. Thus, while angels are almost never seen with the physical eye, fairies can be seen in that way, especially out of the corner of the eye. A number of people can see fairies on the fringe of vision. The theory is that the central part of the retina is used so much for ordinary sight that it does not respond to the more delicate vibrations of light from fairies, whereas the rest of the retina is fresh and more suitable for such uses. Something of the relationship of the elemental life with the highest form of all, the angels which crown that evolutionary line, will be found in a later chapter.

I must make it plain that I have, in this book, described only a few of the thousands of kinds of fairies that exist. I want no one to suppose that I think 1 have seen all the kinds there are. Whether they are as numerous and varied as insects, birds, mammals, and fish I cannot say, but they do exist in great variety and abundance. I suppose that different and accurate names will, in due course, be given to all the sorts and kinds. In fact, in different mythologies names are given. But I have avoided these old terms. They have so many associations with mere belief, not with knowledge, that they are a distraction from the discussion of fairies as actualities. Furthermore, a number of preconceived ideas spring into people's minds when such terms as elf, troll, undine, and the like are used. These ideas are sometimes right and sometimes wrong, so (to be safe) I have ignored most of these old Mterms and coined such descriptive names as seemed to me more useful. Also, I have called the whole kingdom "the fairies." Sometimes these beings are generally classified as nature spirits, the term fairy being reserved for one special type belonging to the woods or garden. This, perhaps, is a good idea for the sake of accuracy, but the term fairy is so much more generally understood that I have used it for the whole kingdom.

There is one division within the kingdom which is quite as clear as divisions found in the world of animals and plants, and that is between fairies of the various elements. Therefore, I have arranged the descriptive part of this book to conform to the great natural divisions of fairies, namely, those of water, fire, air, and earth.

For the fairies of water are quite distinct from those of any other element; air supplies varieties which are different from the rest just as birds are different from fish or insects. This gives a natural and inevitable classification and one in which less departure from physical experience is involved. The groups merge into one another, just as in our solid world, some fish can fly a bit, and some land creatures can swim. But it is nevertheless a clear-cut and real division.

However, there is among them all, one type that most completely characterizes the term fairy. This is the common woods or garden fairy who figures frequently in these pages. He is to be found everywhere, and he varies as much from continent to continent as nationalities vary among human beings. Perhaps the best way to plunge into our subject is to take one of these land fairies and describe him at some length, in the hope that with his aid and in his companionship, we can enter freely and happily in the kingdom of these very real and truly delightful and friendly folk.



Our world already touches the fairy world at some points. Many people feel more or less truly the spirit of a wood or the grandeur of a mountain, but they attribute it too often to extraneous sights and sounds and sensations, whereas it often arises largely from the fairy world within. Poets like A. E., James Stevens, Yeats, Tennyson, and Shakespeare have enriched our knowledge of and feeling for the fairy world. They have known and known truly. A much larger number of people than is commonly supposed are in close communion with fairies and angels. The gap between the two groups of beings, fairies and humans, is not nearly so wide as our ignorance assumes. If we could only realize that we live in a world crowded with fairies, angels, and all manner of beings, it would make an immense difference in our attitude and our mode of living. The mere belief that such a world exists should delight us, the knowledge and certainty would follow in due course. We ourselves would become much more alive, for it is impossible to get into touch with that world, which thrills with the sense of being alive, without ourselves catching the same spirit and our own creative energy being awakened.

I was only one of many children who have known of fairies from the very earliest years, but in my case—owing to my good fortune and perhaps special advantages—this knowledge has not only persisted but widened. The reader may know of cases like this; I also have met many children who see and many more adults who still remember the days when they had this power. But not many have the courage to own up to their faculties, for often they are afraid of being thought peculiar. The very way so many parents treat children puts them on the defensive in the matter. Being spanked for "telling lies" is no encouragement to pursue the subject further. It makes the child ashamed of a lovely experience. Furthermore, we must remember that the whole business of seeing fairies is a delicate operation at best. The power to see requires conditions of quiet and peace; and then, fairies are themselves quite as shy as wild creatures and have to be tamed and attracted. Altogether, even under the best circumstances, especially around cities, the undertaking is not easy for the inexperienced. Add to this the ignorant hostility of the majority and, what is more, a fixed belief that only the dense material is real, and one can begin to appreciate the problem faced by the seeing child. Fortunately, more and more parents are becoming aware of nurturing creative abilities and higher sense perceptions in their children.


Excerpted from The Real World of Fairies by Dora van Gelder. Copyright © 1999 Theosophical Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Theosophical Publishing House.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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