i heard a bonny cow low, over the lea,
and it was an elf-call calling unto me
and the little elf-king said unto me…
for about twenty years i’ve enjoyed the company of an elf. there are several kinds of elves; the one i’ve befriended is about two inches high, blackish but with a dusting of indigo in the shadows of his face, which is not at all a human one, having tiny beetle eyes and stiff, clubbed feelers.
it’s amazing to me that when you start confessing to consorting with this kind of elf, all sorts of people respond spontaneously with remarkably consistent accounts of their own or some friend’s or relation’s friendship with just such a tiny being, or something very similar.
this kind of elf comes out of darkness and returns to it when it leaves, zapping off suddenly in mid-sentence to return in an explosive burst of energy when you’re least expecting it, full of excitement over some event somewhere beyond our ken, blasting into your mind a tumult of intelligible telepathy that you cannot deny.
so when i decided to take this elf at his word and take down from his dictation an account of his existence, in order to write it up into a book, having announced it to the astral and ethereal communities at large, i was dismayed to discover that instead of enhanced telepathy and improved focus, i was losing touch completely with my friendly little elf.
so i turned my mind to other things, notably gardening, and looked instead for the small winged flower faeries i’m used to working with there. but notwithstanding one dramatic interlude with some plant spirits, during which i witnessed a fight between an unexpectedly savage comfrey plant and the kikuyu grass that was threatening to invade its root zone, i could not retrieve my accustomed rapport with those faeries either. instead i fell into a kind of apathetic lethargy for almost a year, going through the ordinary processes of living in a daze. it was sad. i felt betrayed, deserted.
but on one of my lunar sabbaths, having attended to all my faerie, ghost and god shrines, i felt compelled to lie down and give myself up to the lethargy, and to the magnetic pull i felt drawing me into a deep meditation.
slowly i became aware that my psychic eyes were open and gazing comfortably upon a meadowy scene filled with pale sunlight. in the rocky foreground stood a small man about the size of a man’s fist and with him were four or five others. short and broad, they had long beards and were dressed in pointed hoods or caps, short jackets and bulky trousers tucked into boots. elves of a different sort. the spokesman fixed me with keen, piercing eyes. he said, “i am angry.”
i was devastated, but feeling that he was not unreasoning but had issues he wanted resolved in mind, i tried to keep him in focus, but a younger elf intervened. he then began to show me many things about his people in the kindliest possible way.
he explained that the reality shift between his world and ours is directly related to a systematic logistical shift that can be accomplished by pure reasoning from sound, accessible premises – carried further than our culture normally permits us to carry it. in some parts of the world, and perhaps he meant iceland from the scenery he showed me, the local indigenous culture inclines itself to the kind of logic that once made diverge, and will eventually make converge again a single broad continuum of our two realities.
he gave me an image of two people walking together on one stretch of meadowland, one forming thoughts around elvish logic and the other around mainstream western thinking. at a critical point in logical divergence, each will seem to the other to disappear. in effect, he asserted that by a sequence of logical shifts it is theoretically possible to reach “elfland” quite prosaically on foot![i]
later he introduced me to a little round woman who, judging by their evident mutual affection seemed to be his wife. their bodies are much foreshortened and their heads very large in proportion – about the same size as their thoraxes, and about a third of their over-all height. this geometrical change also reflects the altered logic of their orientation that makes their stretch of reality different from, but just as full and rich as our own.
“pigs might fly!” was the obvious thought to flit though my mind, along with, “am i supposed to expect anyone to believe this?” that thought broke the spell and it all vanished.
one of my shrines is a flat altar-stone on which i occasionally place a beaker of hot black coffee and a small portion of anything nice i might be cooking for myself, and sometimes flowers. none of our animals or hens has ever been ill as a result of eating this food after the faeries have had the chance to take their astral or ethereal portion (an hour or so)[ii].
at this shrine, dedicated rather vaguely to all the ‘other’ ones i haven’t honoured specifically, i began to look for these elves, and asked again and again about the anger, but to no avail. instead of any explanation i was told to make a cobblestone path in my herb and vegetable patch, which i at once began to do.
as i worked i began to see movement among the herbs, and small colourful forms began to emerge, vague and elusive at first but becoming firmer and clearer and lasting longer. these elves were always smiling and their thoughts streamed into my mind just as if i were hearing their physical voices, which were however still just fleeting impressions of sound, or at best, tiny, frail echoes too slight yet to be heard – yet the content was clear.
a young one told me one morning how the elves recruited people to be born as elves from the human race. people we might consider normal, but with amiable eccentricities of a certain kind – a love of complex puns, figures of speech or fantastic or funny metaphors for example, or with habits of thought that predispose them to elvish thought patterns, may take several simultaneous paths from their bodies at death. i was referred to a delightful old man who’d lived next-door when i was a child. he had died suddenly one christmas eve, and his soul had yielded up to the elf kingdom that of itself which was by virtue of his mindset elvish; and that had entered a transitional state between human and elf, a kind of larval, form, while the rest of his soul went to its similarly predestined after-lives.
he didn’t enter an elf’s womb, at least not straight away, and i don’t know whether any souls ever do or not. the elf indicated that such souls wait in larval form like tadpoles at the rim of elvish experience, and are nurtured and formed consciously by many elf minds as they slowly change their attributes from those of human beings to those of elves. after this it still takes a long time for them to learn to stand, walk and function as young elves, and decades more of maturation before they have full adult autonomy.
their clothing is what we’d call old-fashioned. perhaps the first elves i saw wore caps, jackets and boots of leather, and trousers woven of soft woollen cloth, while the elf-wife wore a lightweight cotton-like fabric which she’d made of plant-fibres. here, nettles make a coarse but serviceable hardwearing linen-like cloth, but when you’re only six inches or so tall, you can work it much more minutely to a soft fine flax for spinning. they have other plant fibres and fur, too, too fiddly for our use.
they have other handcrafts but not hi-tech commercialism. instead they have evolved as philosophers and metaphysicians, learning the magical arts of gaia our planet mother via plant spirits and devas and other beings including humans, that gaia might send their way – or their logical perambulations might take them to. they can charm and enchant and cast spells to heal, control, delude, reveal or repel with great power and with responsibility in proportion, being playful, even mischievous, in the small things, and reverential and circumspect in the great.
the elf-wife once showed me a rather awkward-looking dance with a complex rollicking rhythm such as you might dance best with clogs on – perhaps she was wearing some. laughing, she clattered out a rapid rhythm like little hammers on boot-lasts, or on anvils – weavers’ rhythms too. it reminded me of certain folksongs, for example “i know my love (by his way of walking)”, which are hard to sing until you get the hang of them.
throughout these conversations, sometimes with one elf, sometimes with another, we were often inconvenienced by sudden upsurges of energy stirred up by the emotional and mental impacts we were having on each other as we emerged into, faded from and re-emerged into each other’s view as if through swirling mists of foggy thought.
this turbulence only sent my thoughts into a flurry and disturbed my meditation, but the little elves were picked up bodily by it, as if by a watery wave, and tumbled about in the air, head over heels, doing at the worst times several quick, helpless somersaults backwards or forwards in mid-air, gradually slowing to a gentle rocking and bobbing about until they could get a foot to the ground and stand steady once again. this they said was only inconvenient, not painful, and they were content to find it funny.
tumbling is a measure of their attunement to their reality, which they sacrifice in some tolerable degree in order to reach us. new elves, still partly under the enchantment of realities they’ve come from, tumble constantly before they achieve a sense of their new piece of reality sufficient to attune themselves to it.
they like to stress that they don’t inhabit a separate reality, another dimension, or a parallel universe, as many beings in contact with our reality might be said to do, but a reality continuous with ours, bridgeable by the solid fabric of logical argument of which they claim all realities are made.
hearing them talk of these things led me logically to where, while still in our normal reality, i was also in another, seeing a rocky hollow where on an outdoor throne carved from the rock sat a little elf king, complete with a crown on his head and a cape over his shoulders. he looked like the king of spades in a standard playing card pack. he had a beautiful smile and was very excited and happy to see me, his face lit up with pleasure. the crowd of elves surrounding him evidently adored him, smiling with great pride and delight from him to me.
delightful as it was, it was a shock, and to compose myself i went in and made coffee. i dedicated some on the little shrine and on my way back in i found myself walking beside the younger spokes-elf, who appeared to be shrinking and growing between about waist high and shoulder high to me. for several moments he smiled a smile of sweet, happy radiance into my face, and then suddenly seemed to shrink back down to his tiny size again.
but suddenly i saw that i was the one changing size, and my shape too was wavering grotesquely, and it wasn’t his shrinking but my return to normal that had made him seem to shrink. and then suddenly i was back in my backyard. but then at the same time, i’d never left it – just been in an altered relation to it.
when i got back inside, there was the tiny dark cosmic elf i was accustomed to, swaggering about on my desk just as of old.
and meanwhile, i’ve still got another couple of yards of that path to do…[iii]
 By a logistical divergence I mean, for example, a shift in reasoning such that from the premises you have available to you, you can reason flawlessly to an inevitable conclusion which within its contexts nevertheless implies utterly other premises and utterly other contexts more potently, through more direct logical sequences of thought than the premises and contexts you started from. Thus you effect a logistical ‘handshake’. For a human, 2+2=4 every time, but for an elf, without any logical flaw or error, 2+2 may sometimes equal 5. In pure maths I believe it is possible or considered to be possible to reason in this way, though I don’t know of any references to give you on this. For a reality shift to occur this would accompany a whole range of parallel logical pathways affecting everything from physiology to language, music and aesthetics. Folksongs that play with weird logic, e.g., ‘I saw a cheese eat a rat’, are referring us to the kinds of playful logical shifts that lead us to other realities of this sort.
[ii] In Celtic faerie lore, you must never eat food put out for faeries or let pets eat is as it will make them ill. This does happen with some kinds of Celtic faeries, but not with these elves.
[iii] Since these experiences i have come to understand the ‘anger’ expressed by the first elf. For him, ‘hacking in’ to my awareness was via a series of ploys designed to obviate my defences and get past my inner censors. At that time, dealing with hostility was ‘important’ to me, while meeting elves was ‘self indulgence and so relegated to my ‘not now’ basket. Hence his ‘gambit’ was to become the thing to which I would give highest priority, i.e., angry. Or in other words, he wasn’t really angry.