The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries
by W.Y. Evans-Wentz
A serious study of Fairy folklore and mythology, with an ethnographic approach.
"This is one of the most in-depth and scholarly attempts to explain the phenomena of the Celtic belief in fairies. Based on Evans-Wentz' Oxford doctoral thesis, it includes an extensive survey of the literature from many different perspectives, including folk-lore, history, anthropology and psychology.
The heart of the book is the ethnographic fieldwork conducted by Evans-Wentz, an invaluable snapshot of the fairy belief system taken just on the cusp of modernity. There are regional surveys of the fairy-faith in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany and the Isle of Man. Evan-Wentz later went on to become one of the leading authorities on Buddhism, and published many of the key documents of Tibetan Buddhism including the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Evans-Wentz examines each of the hypothetical explanations of the fairy phenomena. Among these are the theories that fairies were a reclusive race of dwarfs, that they are disembodied spirits, or that they are a figment of our imaginations. Evans-Wentz concludes that they may indeed be a manifestation of inhabitants of a higher reality that only some of us are able to view, let alone understand.
We come away from this study with a multi-dimensional view of the fairies, who, much like the grey aliens of UFO belief, inhabit a narrative which seems too consistent to be the product of insanity, yet too bizarre for conventional explanation."
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"Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz was an anthropologist and writer who was a pioneer in the study of Tibetan Buddhism. He was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and as a teenager read Madame Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine and became interested in the teachings of Theosophy. He received both his B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University, where he studied with William James and William Butler Yeats. He then studied Celtic mythology and folklore at Jesus College, Oxford (1907); there he adopted the form Evans-Wentz for his name. He travelled extensively, spending time in Mexico, Europe, and the Far East. He spent the years of the First World War in Egypt. He later travelled to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and India, reaching Darjeeling in 1919; there he enountered Tibetan religious texts firsthand.
Evans-Wentz is best known for his series of four books of spiritual works translated from the Tibetan. Evans-Wentz credited himself only as the compiler and editor of these volumes. The actual translation of the texts was performed by Tibetan Buddhists, primarily Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup (1868-1922), a teacher of English at the Maharaja's Boy's School in Gangtok, Sikkim who had also done translations for Alexandra David-Neel and Sir John Woodroffe.
The Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University has hosted The Evans-Wentz Lectureship in Asian Philosophy, Religion, and Ethics since 1969, funded by a bequest from Evans-Wentz."