Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK

Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye

Amazingly this fantasy land is located in the middle of farmlands on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. That rocky outcropping is not a mountain or hill that pushed up, but rather a piece of the rocky basalt that used to cover the whole area. It’s kind of like bas relief hill. Though it may look like a ruined castle, it is a natural element. People standing atop the rock give a scale of how small it really is. The local residents at some point named it Castle Ewan. I read a blurb about it somewhere and the author said it was named Castle Ewan “inexplicably”. In the USA, particularly in the western half and desert southwest, many such outcroppings can be found. They too are sometimes named for what they resemble.

Looking at Castle Ewan from a different perspective gives a grand view of one of the knolls in the glen. They are often described as beehives. They certainly look manmade and carefully cultivated but are said to be natural formations. What would be more natural than “nature spirits” aka fairies?

The sunrise or sunset (I am not sure which it is) can be seen in beautiful hues of purple, orange, red, yellow. In the foreground is a fairy ring or spiral formation, definitely made by intelligent beings. The locals say that outsiders come to visit and build these rings and spirals. Whether this one was made by humans or fairies may be arguable. It looks like it has been there a long, long time (except perhaps for the pile of rocks in the center). Those green mounded berms and worn footpaths look well-used and quite ancient. Another thing to keep in mind about fairies is that some of them live in such piles of rocks called raths.

Looking at Castle Ewan from a different angle the path to the top looks well-used. Many tourists and locals apparently climb to the top to enjoy the beautiful views.

Landscapes such as Fairy Glen seem to be scattered all over the British Isles. It is no wonder the ancient Celts and Picts and other people had a place in their hearts and minds for nature spirits and the Fae, both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. The Unseelie Court is the grouping of fairies from the darker side of life. Mischief makers, pranksters, annoying and downright evil fairies bent on causing as much trouble as they can for the humans inhabiting their lands. As you might guess, the Seelie Court includes helpful or friendly fairies. Leprechauns, cluriclauns, house brownies, and such. A third group neither good nor evil are unconcerned with humans and spend their lives caring for the trees, flowers, mosses, rivers, streams, and all the animals that depend on those biomes. If you plan to contact members of the Courts, be sure you know what you are doing. Approaching an unfriendly fairy could land you in Summerland, trapped forever or worse.

Many times fairies are overlooked in nature because they are shy or not interested in cavorting with humans. Some like to deceive humans and make fools of them in front of their friends and families. They are definitely adept at concealing themselves from human eyes. Sometimes they may take on the appearance of orbs of light drifting or moving about. Many of the smaller flying fairies can mimic tiny birds, fireflies, dragonflies, and mice or other small creatures. If you happen to glimpse a vole wearing a hat and scarf skittering around the forest floor planting acorns, look again. It might not be a vole at all.

Fairies love to feast and dance. The higher forms of fairies such as elves, dwarves, and knockers may have homes where they stay in the daytime or other times when danger is afoot. Bonfires made of fairy-fire are often seen on the moors and in the meadows. Fairies can use fairy-fire which is usually blue or red depending on which Court is gathered, but they cannot make the destructive fires men are capable of building. When they are dancing, they may allow you to join but don’t drink the cocktails. A little of their honey mead and you might find yourself waking at noon the next day miles away from home. Sometimes, when they do not want to be bothered by nosy people, they can carry on their feasts and dancing without staying in one place. They move around while people run after them, never seeming to catch them.

Trooping fairies are normally the higher forms and normally they troop at night on what might be called rades. The fairies are moving together in a line, each one carrying a lantern. There is no use trying to catch them. You may see them, but if you approach them, they will put out their lanterns. When you see them again, they will be some other direction. If you continue to follow them, your may end up in a bog or lost on the moors.

Remember this, fairies are worldwide, international, global phenomena. All you need to do is change the words above to match your local landscape. For example, change meadow to prairie, moors to plains, bogs to swamps. You can get lost in all of them. Deserts, mountains, forests, seashores, rivers, streams, waterfalls— all these places have their share of fairies. Of course, you won’t find them lurking in polluted places.

Next time you are in the forest, listen for their songs, look for their rings, watch for their lanterns, but be very careful if they allow you to approach, and for God’s Sake don’t drink the mead!

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