People who want to make shamanic connections with the fairy peoples usually start by learning as much as they can from books, other seers and folklore to add to their natural awareness and compare notes. You learn quickly that there are many different kinds of fairies, and that they vary from culture to culture.
Then as you become adept at seeing, your notion of what a fairy is usually undergoes a wild transformation. You begin to encounter the many varieties of fairies, elves, nature spirits etc, little and large, pretty and ugly, wise and silly, kindly and malevolent, sick and healthy, friendly and hostile, that your rapidly improving fairy sight reveals to you.
At this stage you may feel a need to focus on direct communion with just one kind of fairy at a time, usually using meditation and attunement techniques you may have learned as a part of a pagan, esoteric or new age teaching programme or similar. You set the scene with beautiful music, crystals enchanted for the purpose, and incense or aromatic oils, herbs and flowers. You centre yourself, your clear your mind, perhaps you might play a drum or a flute, and you open your eyes to the fairies around you.
The fairies will be aware of your preparations and they’ll crowd around to get a glimpse of you, and to let you see them. You get used to the fact that these are indeed people, high-strangeness people, indeed very high-strangeness people; and that some of them are intensely aware of you and are manipulating you with their powerful wills into their view, sometimes competing with each other for access to you. This can be frightening, but don’t panic. When it happens, you can always expect a Brownie to be there for you, to be your trustworthy guide and protector if you ask.
Brownies are among the easiest of fairies for humans to commune with. They are saintly little people about nine inches to just under a foot high, sometimes appearing in hooded garments of soft brown, grey and green colours. They are usually surrounded by a kind of courtly retinue which includes the astral forms of little human girls in their brownie uniforms, and other children.
Probably the word Brownie was originally Brehonie, and referred to a pious and much-loved legal fraternity that was quashed in Britain in mediaeval times so completely that history seems to be repressing the memory of them. Progress in translating their law texts has been slow and very, very fraught.
But folklore recalls the Brownie as an outlawed exile in wild places, sometimes protected by remote households for whom they very generously did useful work in exchange for nothing but food and clothing – taking offence permanently if offered payment. In the old ballad Brown Adam he was banished into the woods where he lived by hunting birds with a bow and arrow.
Children’s lore, often wiser and better informed than folklore because intuitive, situates them deep in the wildest and remotest parts of the mossiest, most mysterious green woods, where they have become invisible to humans, diminished in size to about a foot high. As Brehons once were among the peoples of old Britain, Brownies are are the wise law-givers, counsellors and peace-makers among all the wild woodland fairies, animals, birds and fishes, plant spirits, aerial and water beings, fire spirits and earth kin.
Real brownies are accessible to us through contemplation of this highly developed, consistently recurring image. If you ask them to they are willing to work closely with you as guides and negotiators on your behalf. They aren’t the only wise, human-friendly fairies you’ll encounter in the early stages, but they are omong the most adept at helping us to reorient ourselves appropriately in your newly expanded reality. And they do appreciate their annual gift of a new linen shirt and a good bannock bun – and firewood; only tokens now but once so meaningful!
Paradigms shift again when you realise that to the fairies, you are just one more kind of fairy. We are certainly giants to them, and if we think we’re not magical, there’s many a fairy, and many a quite justly aggrieved fairy, willing to prove to us that we’re just as magically dangerous to them as ever they could be to us. Without some training in stillness and receptivity, our fear paralyses them, our distrust binds them, our mis-visions distort and deform them, our disbelief disables them. The brownies are not just our guides, but our ‘handlers’ as well, to prevent us from harming the other beings with our unruly, lawless untamed magic.
Like many other fairies, Brownies remember being human, indeed many of them periodically incarnate as humans, and may even still think of themselves as human even though they have evolved since their banishment from human culture. They tell me their story as follows. Banished during the Conquest from their honoured place in British society, the few survivors fled singly to remote wild places, hiding in the deep forest to evade the hounds that were used to hunt them. In remote wild lands they survived, but were soon forgotten, except in folk-lore. Others, driven deeper into the forest, found food in abundance there, but were intensely alienated, often utterly devoid of all human company, and dependent on prayer, fairy magic and the guidance of Gaia (who knew just what she was doing) for their sanity.
A kind of sensory deprivation along with the effects of breathing the fungal spore laden air and of eating the occasional dodgy mushroom made these fugitives, credited anyway with magic powers, psychically hypersensitive. They soon began to hear the whispers of the forest, to understand the speech of animals and birds. Sleeping in the moss, feeding on the mushrooms, bark, herbs, nuts and berries of the forest’s bounty, drinking the dew and the heavy nectar of flowers, denied human companions, they soon fell under the spells of the forest fairies. Experiencing themselves to be more and more of their reality and less and less of this, they grew old and died, or they died through illness or the poison of a mushroom and so became part of the woodland community.
Over the centuries, their mentality and their appearance was greatly altered by their new environment, and geophysics of their new world diminished them in size. but they brought their legal expertise to bear upon the many problems that diverse and often competing fairies, fauns, birds and animals encounter in their efforts to create a viable and harmonious community of spirits. Our world was becoming less and less relevant to them, but Gaia had plans for them and us, and in accord with these there emerged the Brownie movement, the organisation for little girls that focused the potently magical attention of generations of eight-to-ten-year-old girls on just the kind of fairied forest environment in which these highly-evolved souls now have their spirituaL centres.
Aided by guiding angels and fairies, during the twentieth century the brownies and these little girls effected a cross-dimensional hand-shake of great importance to our planet, and it was a handshake of such good-will and delightfulness that brownies remain among the best-loved and most trusted of fairy characters in literature and lore. They are good little people, full of kindly charity and love, sweetness and joy, which they spread with the greatest ease wherever they go.
And nowadays they go about quite freely in all sorts of places, appearing in suburban gardens, Japanese parklands,city balconies and the Australian bush, and will appear in a well designated corner of almost any sincerely friendly, safe room if invited. They make charming use of those commercially available little toy doors that you affix to tree trunks and other likely places – not just for fun, but because they help to manifest the magic.
My Brownie guide ‘haunts’ or ‘inhabits’ a 14 inch high paper-maché toadstool with a nine inch diameter top. He explains that he magically bonds with the paper toadstool in such a way as to become sensitive to the thoughts and emotions going on around it. Thus it acts like a remote sensory organ, to which he can bring his whole mind’s attention at will, manifesting visibly beside it for me if he chooses. It’s like having a mobile phone.
His sense of humour is delightful, but he seems full of knowledge to impart as our relationship deepens. I service this shrine and others outside with gifts of food and drink and pieces of shiny metal which they use for money in one of their new toyland-like realms, which they develop for sound reasons, hilarious as they sometimes are.
Toylands? Yes, because expert as they are at bringing peace and sanity into communities of diverse beings, Brownies have learned from watching children play that a being is a being, whether a toy whose soul has been bestowed via the inarticulate love and fantasy of a child, or an angel spirit born triumphantly from the spent corpse of a dying human being, they are all sentient spirits, all worthy of their rights and responsible for their own karma. I suspect they’d find a use for anything if you offered it as a token of good-will.
Between small children at play and all manner of fairies, new worlds of solid reality are being woven all the time from the fantastical logistics and creative imagery of play, and because these new worlds have need of good, wise, fair laws to integrate them into the greater reality, Brownies are invited to participate in the building of them principally as law-givers.
Rapport with Brownies is based upon a mood-sharing which manifests quite strangely to an adult, because it is much more in the emotional idiom of children, or of medieval Brehons. It’s hard to put into words, except words so simple they might even sound facile, yet they possess all the more power for being so comprehensible. They teach that happiness is a medicine, something radiant and good that we infuse our surroundings with when we feel happy within.
We have a duty to be happy. Happiness is an elixir we brew in the chalice of our being, and it is a positive virtue to generate and emanate a radiance of happiness for the healing and comforting of our sad and damaged worlds. They know it isn’t always possible, but they urge us to be happy, to have fun, to make whoopee now and then, and follow your bliss wherever possible, making real inner happiness a goal, really caring about making ourselves truly happy in innocent ways that harm no one. They urge us to cultivate an optimistic disposition, to carry us through the sad times, and to gravitate (perhaps i should say levitate) back to as soon as things improve.
It doesn’t have to be noisy, visible happiness; you don’t have to smile all the time. Just consciously begin to liberate all the natural joy within you. That will not only improve your health and well-being, your luck and your whole quality of experience, it will also make you a well-spring of healing for everyone else around you.
i believe that asimov was an incarnate brownie, and that his laws for his sci-fi robots are real.