Tag Archive | faeries

welcome to my on-line home!

i’m a druid, trained with the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. i’m very telepathic and i have second sight. this was very alienating about twenty years ago when everyone thought that if you heard voices and saw beings that no one else could see you must be declared insane, locked up, and drugged with near lethal drugs until you no longer could.

i became a druid as a result of being told by one of the more helpful, kindly voices (spirit guide) that i should get into an organisation that actively encourages and helps telepathic communion with the beings of the invisible realms. i chose the Rosicrucians first off because i’d heard of them, and knew that they were well-respected. i’m still a member, though in recess.

it was through their book-lists and advertising that i came to OBOD. i edited its southern hemisphere newsletter serpentstar for a few years – one of the best things about the druid way and about pagans generally is that many truly believe in fairies, elves, spirit guides, gods, tree spirits, plant spirits and the elementals – all the beings that inhabit the realms just beyond human awareness, whose voices i’ve have chattering in my head and vying for my attention for most of my life. my guide was right. both organisations brought about helpful transformations – and i believe any of the established pagan and esoteric paths would have done the same – and placed me among fey-friendly people.

they helped me to redefine my inherited ‘family madness’ as hereditary seership – a great gift to share with the world. my mother kept telling me ‘it skips a generation’. my clairvoyant grandmother, a gifted healer, spent time in a mental hospital for her visions and voices and a cousin of mine was ‘cured’ of them by ‘psychiatric’ treatment consisting mostly of zombifying drugs.

others of my generation have varying levels of psychic ability too. our poor planet is getting wiser and is much kinder now to legitimate seers and psychics. in this blog, in future posts, i intend to tell you all about the fairies and gnomes and elves and brownies that come thronging to my garden as they throng to any garden where they’re made welcome, and i’ll tell you how to keep them happy and healthy – and what happens when you don’t.

i’ll also talk about the ghosts, guides, angels and other beings, that use our nexuses and pavillions. there’ll also be blogs about the fauns, satyrs, devils and daemons, gods and devas that live and work around and among us too. comments are welcome, especially from other seers – it’s so helpful to compare notes.

the faerie shaman

seeing fairies depends on three things: the person seeing, the fairies to be seen and the process of seeing. let’s start with the process of seeing

green fairy

slightly self-radiant aerial being

the process of seeing is a gift. each of us is part of a greater organism, gaia, our planet, just as our cells are parts of us, each unique, with its own specialised work to do for the whole organism. just as some organisms on earth have well-developed sensoria for experiencing the visual, audial and tactile sensations that define reality for humans, so some humans have specialised senses highly enough developed to enable the fairy sight. if a person has this gift and is psychologically ready, they will be aware of their readiness: they will be looking for fairies and longing to see them. if that’s you, that’s who i’m writing this for. if you’re looking for fairies, then you can be sure they’re looking for you!

the fairies you’re looking for will depend on the kind of fairy lore you have been imbibing since childhood. before you’ve seen any, you’ll be looking for the more believable ones you’ve heard of, read about or seen pictures of. the current surge of interest in fairy art is a great help. fairies all but manifest through art, making the artist draw thepicture, then inhabiting the picture like a ghost in it. that’s why fairy pictures cast such an enchantment over those of us to whom they speak. if you form the intention of drawing or painting a fairy, or writing about them in poems,children’s stories or books for older readers, you’ll be surrounded by fairies who will strongly influence your work. so even fairy artists who don’t see fairies, and perhaps don’t even believe in them, are very likely to be channelling accurately – and the fairies concerned will be the types most wanting to be seen, most willing to help you to focus on where they are. let love guide you – seek the ones that appeal to you most. however, be alert for kinds you never expected to see, who will be looking for you, and trying to persuade you to love them too. there are many, many different kinds of mostly diminutive peoples whom we call fairies.

finally, you yourself! you are used to seeing pretty well with your normal eyes, hearing, smelling, tasting, etc, and you get a bit blas/e about it sometimes. if you feel a bit dull, you can still see and hear etc reasonably well, so you have no great need for exquisitely receptive senses for everyday experiencing. but when you want to see fairies, you will need far greater sensory clarity and psychic awareness than usual, and you may have to work to achieve that. you need optimal health – and that means a healthy diet with plenty of raw foods, such as salads and fresh fruit (not necessarily vegan, though that can help) healthy respiratory and circulatory systems, which depend on a healthy physical environment and plenty of good aerobic exercise. getting out into the garden or parks or the country is helpful. then your psychological health will affect your ability to see fairies. that means emotional balance, sound ethics and rationality. you don’t have to get ‘trans’ rational – fairies fit rationally into our reality – we just have to learn how.

this is just a basic idea of a good starting point. but there’s much more to it than that – winning their confidence, enduring their harassment, loving them, fearing them – it’s a rich, wild shamanism. let’s develop our own unique approach to it with their goodwill! let it be for the good of all beings!

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brownies – willing helpers

brownie

brownies are the gentle and wise lawgivers of the fairy realms

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.

fairies – size continua

as a seer i see many different kinds of people smaller than we are, and they range in size from just about shoulder high to me (i’m 5’8″) to about a cm high (tiny mushroom fairies). i’ve also seen extra-dimensional human-like people ranging from about nine or ten feet tall all the way to too vast to measure. each type is embedded in its own reality just as we are in ours. no reality is more real than any other (except the ones that aren’t!!! – we’ll get to them later).

as you embark upon the path of seer, especially as you advance towards becoming adept, one important thing is to understand that there is a size continuum that includes us; that our reality is only a matter of a few strategic shifts of emphasis away from a whole array of others, and that we are their fairies, just as much as they are ours. they are just as truly people, committed to life-styles just as vital to gaia as ours are.

these do exist

these are real

norse elves talk of logical departures, where differences of perception are all that separate us though we live side by side in shared realities, and our lives intertwine in so many hidden ways.

gnomes are metaphysical shifts away from us, their reality hidden from us by our closed-mindedness as theirs is from us by theirs. our minds open as they become ready, like flower buds unfurling, and we perceive these new dimensions of the reality we share more and more.

the more congenial brownies create beautiful picture book pathways to these perceptions, and we find them in fiction and fable – they help us through a credibility shift as we help them, each as awed as each other.

the tall slender english-style elves (chest high, elaborate clothes, pride of lineage, courtly manners) reach us via fantasy. magic music brings the tall celtic gods in: nine feet or twenty feet, they smile sweetly down on us as we do on the little people we see. the dreamtime spirits and the hadean gods rise up out of myth and ritual, transcending matters of size and locus.

these are only a narrow selection of the fairies i myself see – every culture evolves within a reality interwoven with its own array of fairy worlds.  sometimes you get hints that there is real anxiety among some of them about humano-centric descriptions of the human world with its ‘peripheral’ worlds haunted by fairies who are less real than we are. not surprising when you consider how crass that is. they’re our ‘good neighbours’ and it helps if we’re ‘good neighbours’ to them too. humility is the key, and not all of them have learnt that yet. they’re often no better or worse than we are.

multi-fairie-ous fairies.

????????????????‘fairy’ is a general term. definitions are difficult to impossible. in my experience, most of the fairies i’ve seen are of four main varieties: little human-like people, plant-spirits and elementals; extraterrestrials, and fauns. fauns include some kinds of devils, which are true beings of earth, not just malevolent entities. these fairies are very close to us, living in worlds as solid and real as ours, which are accessible only occasionally by highly specialised humans of earth. fairy seers and voyagers to fairy realms are in great demand now, which is why gaia is giving so much love and such empowering blessings to her pagans at this time.

the human-like fairies are often called ‘little people’. they come into being just as we do. when the planet is formed, and the moons arrive to fertilise it, dropping one after another over aeons of cosmic time into her voluptuously tectonic embrace. (this is how it is described by fairies themselves, which is very different from our text-book theory, but textbooks are always having to adjust because they proceed by theorising. the true story is still not known.) at that time, the devas were not incarnate, but over time they shape gaia’s biota to form the myriad species we know today. but we usually know only the ones within our sensory range, within which we interpret only a limited range of radiances as perception. outside the sensory range of most humans, the other feenwelts, or fairy worlds, are just as real, solid, and self-important as our own.
our planet’s human deva’s male and female forms are incarnated as evolving beings. they are currently incarnate on the earth sphere we live on – as us, the humans of the earth. they are also incarnate equally truly and solidly on many other planes, the many surfaces of the same holographic multi-surfaced sphere that earth is a surface of. as well as that, human forms derived from them are incarnating between the worlds, and in the peripheries of worlds like ours.
this idea of a holographic planet sees gaia, the moon, planets, and stars as beings whose centres of awareness (or ‘logoses’ or logoi) generate their material beings as they evolve. but just as a white beam of light may be split into many colours, depending on frequency of vibration, so does the planetary logos express itself on many different wavelengths.
corresponding to magenta and replete with the nature of our first moon, Gaia’s first, smallest, most concentrated plane or sphere is deep within from where we are. i call it tartarus, because in greek mythology, tartarus is the deepest place imaginable. cosmic elves, gigantic titans and the major devas are found there. they do not use light, but perceive by interpreting other forms of energy, constructing visions something like ours but very vast in scope.
hades is next: it is dark, but flashing with colour, and filled with life. it is replete with the nature of our second moon, which united with gaia miillions of years ago. it’s concerned with generating the psycho-dramas that drive much of the action of our planet. hadean beings often incarnate here, as we often go to afterlives there, and some people are simultaneously incarnate on both earth and hades – and some even in tartarus, especially the deva witches (of which there are thirteen).
between these and earth a couple of others are coming into being. below us are some of the human-like fairies such as elves and brownies, leprechauns and the like. earth is the one we know best but it is no more important to gaia than any of the others. as well as material, visible, humans, there are many ‘fairy’ beings native to the earth plane – as indeed there are on every plane. some of these are ghosts, plant spirits, tuckonies and of many kinds.
the astral plane is very interactive with us – and we have many astral beings incarnate here as we often have our after-lives there. all the spheres have our troubles, wars and diseases. the astral planet uses seance and ritual to reach us. their fairies are among the peripherals of our world, as we may appear as peripherals in the inner spheres, hades and tartarus.
above that are the aerial sphere, home to the aerial beings, and there are more spheres beyond. the largest is the home of the angel forms, the male witches, the wizards and the devas of extraterrestrials dwelling on or visiting gaia.
these spheres resonate with and so share some subtle characteristics with the spectra of light, the musical scale, and the numbers one to twelve, although there are not yet twelve of them.
this is a start towards making a kind of map of gaia’s body that includes all her invisible parts as well as those visible to non-seers. it will help whan i come to describe the various kinds of fairies in more detail if we have a clearish idea of what gaia and the moon are.

brownies

brownie

brownies are the gentle and wise lawgivers of the fairy realms

brownies are supernatural diminutive woodland beings, although accounts of them as somewhat larger and less supernatural exist.

the oldest tales depict them as sometimes irascible but usually honorable solitary beings who might associate themselves with a household and help with the work in exchange for a good bannock bun once in a while and a new clean shirt once a year.  in some accounts this must not be given to him but left where he can find them.

both male and female brownies are recorded.  modern children’s lore depicts them as diminutive, male, aged and bearded, about knee high to a six year old, dressed in soft brown leather and scented with the odours of the forest floor. they commune with nature, exercising authority over birds and beasts and the fairy folk too, settling their disputes and giving wise council to all who consult with them.

what are they really, then, and how does the folklore arise?  has the idea of them any basis in fact? the clue first came to me while listening to danny spooner, the melbourne ballad singer, singing the following song:

brown adam the smith.

oh wha would wish the wind tae blaw

and the green leaves fa’ therewith

and wha wad wish a lealer love

than brown adam the smith.

his hammer’s o’ the beaten gowd

his stood is o’ the steel

his fingers white are my delight

he blaws his bellows weel.

but they hae banished him brown adam

frae faither and frae brither

and they hae banished him brown adam

frae sister and frae mither

and they hae banished him brown adam

frae the flower o’ all his kin

but he’s bigit a bower in the gay green woods

twixt his fair lady and him

and it fell oot all on ae day

brown adam he thought lang

that he wad tae the hunting gae

tae fetch some venison

and he shot high and he shot low

the bird all on the briar

and sent it tae his lady fair

saying “ye’s be o’ gude cheer!’

and he’s shot high and he’s shot low

the bird upon the thorn

and sent it tae his lady fair sayin’

“i’ll be hame the morn.”

and when he came to his lady’s bower door

he stood a little forebye

and there he heard a foul fals knight

attempting his fair lady

and he’s ta’en off a ring a ring

which cost him many a pound

says “grant me love for love lady

and this shall be thine own.”

“i lo’e brown adam weel,” said she

“god wot sae does he me,

i ne’er shall be your lemen sae true

for any gowd ring that ye gie.”

and he’s ta’en oot a purse o’ gowd

twas fu’ untae the string

says “grant me love for love, lady

and this will a’ be thine.”

“i lo’e brown adam weel” said she

“god wot sae does he me!

i neer will be your lover sae true

for all of the gowd that ye gie.”

and he’s ta’en oot a sword a sword

and flashed it in her ee

says “grant me love for love, lady,

or through thee this will flie!”

and sighing says this fair lady

brown adam tarries lang

but he’s stepped oot frae the gay green woods

saying “i’m just tae your hand!”

he’s gar’d him leave his sword his sword,

he’s gar’d him leave his brand.

he’s gar’d him leave a far better pledge

four fingers of his right hand.

now in nearly every instance of the occurrence of the name brown adam in this song, the word brown is started on one note and switches to another in mid-diphthong, so that it is very tempting to split it into two separate vowels, and because the tune is bouncy there’s a tendency to insert into it an h.  if you yield to this and your accent is southern, not northern, you end up singing not brown but brae-hon adam, and while that isn’t exactly the word brehon, it resonates undeniably with it.

(there is a tension between the southern words and northern treatment the song is given, as if it were a southern song preserved in the north by the border singers.)

likewise the character resonates well with the image of the sterner sort of not very supernatural stern hardworking brownie associated with households who might take offence rather suddenly and turn morose on you.

banishment was a brehon punishment, and perhaps our adam had transgressed a brehon law, at least, in an older version of the song, which might have depicted quite another escapade.

but also, during the roman occupation and the time of the persecution by the early church of celtic heretics, brehons, witches and druids were banished or fled, taking refuge in the woods.  both brown adam and the classic helpful but secretive brownie may have been in hiding from one phase or another of the persecutions.

the ‘foul false knight’ in folklore is nearly always a roman.  it’s true that they left native institutions in place when they took control, but they used to kill or put to flight all native office holders (or marry them by force if they were women) and replace them with heartily hated false office bearers who fawned on caesar in the name of the helpless subject nation.

we can easily imagine a brehon in roman britain hiding out in the woods and emerging to protect his lady, perhaps from his own roman substitute.

in real life we can imagine that he might have had a large company of followers.

(just think, if he did wear what children’s book pictures show him in, i.e. a robe and hood, there you’d be, rob’n’hood, hiding out in the greenwood depending on his bow and arrow to feed and defend himself, and adept at both.)

but during these persecutions in which brehons, druids, and witches of all kinds were hunted in the woods hedges and moors with hounds and on horseback, our brehon adam would not have fared so well.  in winter the leafless forest would have hidden him less effectively and the smoke of any fire would give him away, so he was cold.  anyway, not all brehons were strong hunters and swordsmen.  some of the most powerful, magical and highly educated of them were gentle scholars.  as the woods were divided up among clergy, and later normans and so on, communities of surviving brehons would have got smaller and smaller and the survivors more and more solitary and retiring.

imagine if while still young you had had to flee to the woods, and conditions made it unsafe to appear even to your own kin, so that you had to spend the rest of your life alone in the forest.  your loneliness would give way to a sort of surrender, in which you would begin to be aware of the minute subtle details of forest life, of the birds songs and the small animals behaviour.  you would sleep in the moss, breathing mushroom spore-laden hallucinogenic air, which would show you fairies and plant spirits and the beings who haunt trees.  when you died, after feeding exclusively on forest fare, nuts and berries and game and mushrooms, and being exquisitely attuned to the woodlands for forty or fifty years you’d be so well attuned to them, so much a part of the fabric of the forest glades that you’d haunt them.

and perhaps under the influence of gravity, or perhaps as a result of the anathematisation of the brehonie folk by the church, your ghost might even shrink away to almost nothing, not stopping till you were knee-high to a six year old . . .

. . . who would to your utter amazement understand all about you and all the other woodland sprites because she’d have heard it all from brown owl . . .

the leprechaun.

le brehon

le brehon, leprechaun

i was sternly told by an irishman i got talking with one day that the ch in leprechaun is pronounced h not ch: lepre-h-aun, not lepre-c-aun or even lepre-ch-aun, and i’ve always be careful to pronounce it with an h ever since, although in another part of ireland, perhaps they’re not so adamant. not having been there yet, i don’t know. but the intensity with which that irishman insisted impressed me deeply, so i’ll take that as my starting point in my quest for this magical little shoemaker of irish tradition.

basically, he lives under hedges and in ditches, he hammers away at his last, cobbling boots, and he has a crock of gold which you might try to steal from him, but he’ll trick you every time. he dresses in green, and he almost certainly speaks in pure gaeilge. nobody’s ever added much to that as far as i know, although, of course, there’s a lot i don’t know. the oed has it from old irish luchorp/an via a middle irish (!) luchrup/an, adding in a small voice that lu means ‘small’ and corp means ‘body’, and they say it means a ‘pigmy sprite’.

i find this unsatisfactory. a syllable like prech just doesn’t turn into chorp with the passage of time, not even in ireland, not even over the famous p-q- divide. let’s have a peek under that hedge. who would ever be hiding in ditches and hedges in ireland, dressed in green, cobbling his boots and guarding his crock of gold? to be hiding, he’d have to be being hunted, and to be guarding a crock of gold, he’d have to be very rich and there’d have to be thieves after it, and to be cobbling his own or anyone else’s boots, he’d have to be among the best of the noble irish, because the best of the noble irish have always taken care of their own menial tasks, hating slavery, servitude, and the abuse of the weak to serve the strong. (we’ll not look too closely at the worst of them just now.)

that crock of gold may tell us something. we normally envisage it as what a crock is in english: a stoneware jar or vessel for storing bread or pickled onions or similar in, about knee high and filled, in the leprechaun’s case, with glittering golden coins. we imagine it secreted somewhere beside him in his hidey-hole in the hedge. if only we could sneak past him and seize it, off we could run with it and it would be ours! but what if it means what crock means in irish? it would be spelt cnoc, and that means ‘hill’. then we’d have a little man in green cobbling his shoes and guarding not gold, but the secret of the whereabouts of the gold, the particular hill around or within which the store of gold might be hidden. (ireland is full of hollow hills.)

but hidden from whom? the romans didn’t conquer ireland, but the roman catholic church did. it suppressed celtic christianity in ireland as elsewhere and along with it, all the other magical systems and political systems that got in their way. druids, brehons and witches were persecuted there as in england and throughout christendom. you’d find them hiding in ditches. merlin too, hid, guarding his treasure, in a cave.

history relates that, at the time of the forcible conversion of the irish to roman christianity, there was a high king in tara, but i think the records might have been tampered with. ard ri where ard means high and ri means king is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons. adjectives follow nouns in irish, and so it should be ri ard. secondly, ri isn’t the irish word for a king. well, all right, i mean it wasn’t, and unless you squint and look sideways till it hurts, getting your gaeilge from the woefully inaccurate dictionary of the irish language as the so-called standard irish tries to do, it still isn’t. conn- might be nearer the mark, though scholars are in denial over it. there were all sorts of ris, righs and res and there’s nothing but a forced analagy with the latin rex to elevate them above the reeves of england, petty officials of limited local power. conns moghs caidhs and caths and all the other notables of ireland were high above them.

the druids anyway we are constantly being reminded, were revered above any king, allowing for good times and bad times, and so we’d be looking for a druid to be the highest authority in tara, wouldn’t we. the people would call her (or him as the case may be) ‘the druid’, or in irish, an draoi, (pron. a’ dree) and that would make more sense to the irish. you’d have to be thinking in latin to write that down as ard ri.

so having that much power, many a druid would be evading torture and death, perhaps by crucifixion, by hiding in the open country, and where they belonged to rich irish clans, they’d have knowledge of the whereabouts of at least one cnoc of gold. clan leaders too, and nobles in the know. maybe the original idea was to winkle out his secret not by innocent wiles, but in the methods more usually employed by the not yet benevolent roman catholic church.

we know that members of the irish intelligentsia were still conducting hedge schools in secrecy on pain of death by hanging if discovered, well into modern times, and perhaps some druids and brehons were among them. as the roman church gained control, language difficulties must have been horrendous. to get a position in the church you had to know latin very well, and only romans tended to, or those who had been educated by romans since childhood, and they’d have spoken almost no irish. communication would have been hit-and-miss to say the least.

we assume that leprechaun is an irish word, but what if it’s latin, a word used by romans to denote irish magicians? the ‘le-‘ is from a norman or roman article, which is ‘an’ in irish. ‘an’ is pronounced (in certain dialects) like the english a to which it is related: an indeterminate vowel sound. before a consonant the n is silent, although it is pronounced in some dialects. but in the past, an was in, so that vowel varies. ‘an leprechaun’ is pronounced ‘uh-le-pre-haun’, then, or rather ‘uh-le-pre-hon’ as most irish people say it.

now we’re getting somewhere. if you were to hear that as latin, what you’d hear would be about as close as you could get to ille prehon and you’d want to add latin endings. (a celtic b often becomes a p in latin).  it is possible that the persecutors may well have been using the term brehon indiscriminately for any kind of magician, as the irish now use the word draoi, especially if they were coming from england where especially in the north, the brehonie were already being persecuted in the same way. or they might have enjoyed insulting them, because using wrong names for people and peoples was a favourite roman war strategy for demoralising the enemy. UBI EST “ILLE BREHONNUS”? (OO-bi EST il-luh-bre-HONNus) (where is the brehon? – latin) le breHON (norman) cá bhfuil “a(n) leprechaun”? (pron. kah’l – uh – leh -(b)pre- hon (where is the (le) prechaun?) try it a few times.

i think it’s a latin word meaning ‘the brehon’. i might be wrong, but i find that more convincing than the oed’s suggestion about the luchorpan. it may date back only to norman times, when ‘le brehon’ would have been the term used, but i don’t know that the normans persecuted the brehons, whereas the romans certainly did.

but what about the shoe last? would a brehon cobble his own boots? i’m reminded of the scottish song about leezie lindsay, in which the aristocratic lassie initially refuses the hand of a suitor because she knows nothing about him, not even who he is, but accepts it gladly when she learns that he is a great chieftain. off they go to his highland home, not to a palace full of servants, but to a humble cottage like those of all their clan, where she is on scrupulously equal terms with everyone and has to milk her own cows and sweep out her own cottage and get the breakfast herself, the same as any woman in the land.

the use of the weak and poor to serve the strong and rich was deplored there too, and these celts were proud of that. perhaps it was so with ‘ille brehon’ as well. the romans, on the other hand, counted themselves noble only when they could command a whole household full of slaves, and they scorned menial work as degrading. their accounts of slavery in ireland at the time of their occupation of britain and of their infiltration through the church were often naive interpretations of scenes in which they called anyone they saw doing menial work, or in a serving role, a slave, because that’s what they would be in their own lands. so before the persecutions began, while the church was still negotiating with druids, they must have been shocked to find them living in unpretentious cottages, getting their own breakfasts, and on one memorable occasion at least, which is here preserved as legendary, hammering his own shoes on a last he held between his knees, and that though he might be the highest in the land. they’d have ridiculed him hugely for that, if only to save face.

so there’s ille brehon for you! slán! in the peace of the grove

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