The Coming of the Fairies, by Arthur Conan Doyle

Chapter 5

Observations of a Clairvoyant in the Cottingley Glen, August 1921

Gnomes and Fairies . In the field we saw figures about the size of the gnome. They were making weird faces and grotesque contortions at the group. One in particular took great delight in knocking his knees together. These forms appeared to Elsie singly — one dissolving and another appearing in its place. I, however, saw them in a group with one figure more prominently visible than the rest. Elsie saw also a gnome like the one in the photograph, but not so bright and not coloured. I saw a group of female figures playing a game, somewhat resembling the children’s game of oranges and lemons. They played in a ring; the game resembled the grand chain in the Lancers. One fairy stood in the centre of the ring more or less motionless, while the remainder, who appeared to be decked with flowers and to show colours, not normally their own, danced round her. Some joined hands and made an archway for the others, who moved in and out as in a maze. I noticed that the result of the game appeared to be the forming of a vortex of force which streamed upwards to an apparent distance of four or five feet above the ground. I also noticed that in those parts of the field where the grass was thicker and darker, there appeared to be a correspondingly extra activity among the fairy creatures.

Water Nymph . In the beck itself, near the large rock, at a slight fall in the water, I saw a water sprite. It was an entirely nude female figure with long fair hair, which it appeared to be combing or passing through its fingers. I was not sure whether it had any feet or not. Its form was of a dazzling rosy whiteness, and its face very beautiful. The arms, which were long and graceful, were moved with a wave-like motion. It sometimes appeared to be singing, though no sound was heard. It was in a kind of cave, formed by a projecting piece of rock and some moss. Apparently it had no wings, and it moved with a sinuous, almost snakelike motion, in a semi-horizontal position. Its atmosphere and feeling was quite different from that of the fairies. It showed no consciousness of my presence, and, though I waited with the camera in the hope of taking it, it did not detach itself from the surroundings in which it was in some way merged.

Wood Elves . (Under the old beeches in the wood, Cottingley, August 12, 192l.) Two tiny wood elves came racing over the ground past us as we sat on a fallen tree trunk. Seeing us, they pulled up short about five feet away, and stood regarding us with considerable amusement but no fear. They appeared as if completely covered in a tight-fitting one-piece skin, which shone slightly as if wet. They had hands and feet large and out of proportion to their bodies. Their legs were somewhat thin, ears large and pointed upwards, being almost pear-shaped. There were a large number of these figures racing about the ground. Their noses appeared almost pointed and their mouths wide. No teeth and no structure inside the mouth, not even a tongue, so far as I could see. It was as if the whole were made up of a piece of jelly. Surrounding them, as an etheric double surrounds a physical form, is a greenish light, something like chemical vapour. As Frances came up and sat within a foot of them they withdrew, as if in alarm, a distance of eight feet or so, where they remained apparently regarding us and comparing notes of their impressions. These two live in the roots of a huge beech tree — they disappeared through a crevice into which they walked (as one might walk into a cave) and sank below the ground.

Water Fairy . (August 14, 1921.) By a small waterfall, which threw up a fine spray, was seen poised in the spray a diminutive fairy form of an exceedingly tenuous nature. It appeared to have two main colourings, the upper part of its body and aura being pale violet, the lower portion pale pink. This colouring appeared to penetrate right through aura and denser body, the outline of the latter merging into the former. This creature hung poised, its body curved gracefully backwards, its left arm held high above its head, as if upheld by the vital force in the spray, much as a seagull supports itself against the wind. It was as if lying on its back in a curved position against the flow of the stream. It was human in shape, but did not show any characteristics of sex. It remained motionless in this position for some moments, then flashed out of view. I did not notice any wings.

Fairy, Elves, Gnomes, and Brownie . (Sunday, August 14, 9 p.m. In the field.) Lovely still moonlight evening. The field appears to be densely populated with native spirits of various kinds-a brownie, fairies, elves, and gnomes.

A Brownie . He is rather taller than the normal, say eight inches, dressed entirely in brown with facings of a darker shade, bag.. shaped cap, almost conical, knee breeches, stockings, thin ankles, and large pointed feet — like gnomes’ feet. He stands facing us, in no way afraid, perfectly friendly and much interested; he gazes wide-eyed upon us with a curious expression as of dawning intellect. It is as if he were reaching after something just beyond his mental grasp. He looks behind him at a group of fairies who are approaching us and moves to one side as if to make way. His mental attitude is semi-dreamlike, as of a child who would say “I can stand and watch this all day without being tired.” He clearly sees much of our auras and is strongly affected by our emanations.

Fairies . Frances sees tiny fairies dancing in a circle, the figures gradually expanding in size till they reached eighteen inches, the ring widening in proportion. Elsie sees a vertical circle of dancing fairies flying slowly round; as each one touched the grass he appeared to perform a few quick steps and then continued his slow motion round the circle. The fairies who are dancing have long skirts, through which their limbs can be seen; viewed astrally the circle is bathed in golden yellow light, with the outer edges of many hues, violet predominating. The movement of the fairies is reminiscent of that of the great wheel at Earl’s Court. The fairies float very slowly, remaining motionless as far as bodies and limbs are concerned, until they come round to the ground again. There is a tinkling music accompanying all this. It appears to have more of the aspect of a ceremony than a game. Frances sees two fairy figures performing as if on the stage, one with wings, one without. Their bodies shine with the effect of rippling water in the sun. The fairy without wings has bent over backwards like a contortionist till its head touches the ground, while the winged figure bends over it. Frances sees a small Punch-like figure, with a kind of Welsh hat, doing a kind of dancing by striking its heel on the ground and at the same time raising his hat and bowing. Elsie sees a flower fairy, like a carnation in shape, the head appearing where the stalk touches the flower and the green sepals forming a tunic from which the arms protrude, while the petals form a skirt, below which are rather thin legs. It is tripping across the grass. Its colouring is pink like a carnation in a pale, suffused sort of way. (Written by the light of the moon.) I see couples a foot high, female and male, dancing in a slow waltz-like motion in the middle of the field. They appear even to reverse. They are clothed in etheric matter and rather ghost-like in appearance. Their bodies are outlined with grey light and show little detail.

Elsie sees a small imp reminiscent of a monkey, revolving slowly round a stalk to the top of which he was clinging. He has an impish face and is looking our way as if performing for our benefit.

The brownie appears during all this to have taken upon himself the duties of showman. I see what may be described as a fairy fountain about twenty feet ahead. It is caused by an uprush of fairy force from the ground — and spreading fish-tail fashion higher into the air — it is many-hued. This was also seen by Frances.

(Monday, August 15. In the field.) I saw three figures racing from the field into the wood-the same figures previously seen in the wood. When about a distance of ten yards from the wall they leapt over it into the wood and disappeared. Elsie sees in centre of field a very beautiful fairy figure, somewhat resembling a figure of Mercury, without winged sandals, but has fairy wings. Nude, light curly hair, kneeling down in a dark clump of grass, with its attention fixed on something in the ground. It changes its position; first it is sitting back on its heels, and then it is rising to its full kneeling height. Much larger than usual, probably eighteen inches high. It waves its arms over some object on the ground. It has picked up something from the ground (as I think a baby) and holds it to its breast and seems to be praying. Has Greek features and resembles a Greek statue — like a figure out of a Greek tragedy.

(Tuesday, August 16, 10 p.m. In the field.) By the light of a small photographic lamp.

Fairies . Elsie sees a circle of fairies tripping round, hands joined, facing outwards. A figure appears in the centre of the ring, at the same time the fairies faced inwards.

Goblins . A group of goblins came running towards us from the wood to within fifteen feet of us. They differ somewhat from the wood elves, having more the look of gnomes, though they are smaller, being about the size of small brownies.

Fairy . Elsie sees a beautiful fairy quite near; it is nude, with golden hair, and is kneeling in the grass, looking this way with hands on knees, smiling at us. It has a very beautiful face, and is concentrating its gaze on me. This figure came within five feet of us, and, after being described, faded away.

Elf . Elsie sees a kind of elf who seems to be going so fast that it blows his hair back; one can sense the wind round him, yet he is stationary, though he looks to be busily hurrying along.

Goblins . Elsie sees a flight of little mannikins, imp-like in appearance, descending slantwise on to the grass. They form into two lines which cross each other as they come down. One line is coming vertically down, feet touching head, the other comes across them shoulder to shoulder. On reaching the ground they all run off in different directions, all serious, as if intent upon some business. The elves from the wood appear to be chiefly engaged in racing across the field, though no other purpose appears to be served by their speed or presence. Few of them pass near us without pulling up to stare. The elves seem to be the most curious of all the fairy creatures. Frances sees three and calls them goblins.

Fairy . A blue fairy. A fairy with wings and general colouring of sea-blue and pale pink. The wings are webbed and marked in varying colours like those of a butterfly. The form is perfectly modelled and practically nude. A golden star shines in the hair. The fairy is a director, though not apparently with any band for the present.

Fairy Band . There has suddenly arrived in the field a fairy director with a band of fairy people. Their arrival causes a bright radiance to shine in the field, visible to us sixty yards away. She is very autocratic and definite in her orders, holding unquestioned command. They spread themselves out into a gradually widening circle around her, and as they do so, a soft glow spreads out over the grass. They are actually vivifying and stimulating the growth in the field. This is a moving band which arrives in this field swinging high over the tree tops as if from a considerable distance. Inside a space of two minutes the circle has spread to approximately twelve feet wide and is wonderfully radiant with light. Each member of the band is connected to the leader by a thin stream of light. These streams are of different colour, though chiefly yellow, deepening to orange. They meet in the centre, merging in her aura, and there is a constant flow backwards and forwards among them. The form produced by this is something like an inverted fruit dish, with the central fairy as the stem, and the lines of light which flow in a graceful even curve forming the sides of the bowl. This party is in intense activity, as if it had much to do and little time in which to do it. The director is vivified and instructed from within herself, and appears to have her consciousness seated upon a more subtle plane than that upon which she is working.

Fairy . Elsie sees a tall and stately fairy come across the field to a clump of harebells. It is carrying in its arms something which may be a baby fairy, wrapped in gauzy substance. It lays this in the clump of harebells and kneels down as though stroking something, and after a time fades away. We catch impressions of four-footed creatures being ridden by winged figures who are thin and bend over their mounts like jockeys. It is no known animal which they bestride, having a face something like that of a caterpillar.

Amongst this fairy activity which appears all over the field, one glimpses an occasional gnome-like form walking with serious mien across the field, whilst the wood elves and other imp-like forms run about amongst their more seriously employed fairy kind. All three of us keep seeing weird creatures as of elemental essence.

Elsie sees about a dozen fairies moving towards us in a crescent-shaped flight. As they drew near she remarked with ecstasy upon their perfect beauty of form — even while she did so they became as ugly as sin, as if to give the lie to her words. They all leered at her and disappeared. In this episode it may be that one contacts a phase of the antagonism and dislike which so many of the fairy creatures feel for humans at this stage of evolution.

Frances saw seven wee fairies quite near — weird little figures-lying face downwards.

(In the Glen, 18th, 2 p.m.) Frances sees a fairy as big as herself, clothed in tights and a garment scalloped round the hips; the whole is tight-fitting and flesh-coloured; she has very large wings which she opens above her head; then she raises her arms from her side up above her head and waves them gracefully in the air. She has a very beautiful face with an expression as if inviting Frances into Fairyland. Her hair is apparently bobbed and her wings are transparent.

Golden Fairy . One specially beautiful one has a body clothed in iridescent shimmering golden light. She has tall wings, each of which is almost divided into upper and lower portions. The lower portion, which is smaller than the upper, appears to be elongated to a point like the wings of certain butterflies. She, too, is moving her arms and fluttering her wings. I can only describe her as a golden wonder. She smiles and clearly sees us. She places her finger on her lips. She remains watching us with smiling countenance in amongst the leaves and branches of the willow. She is not objectively visible on the physical plane. She points with her right hand, moving it in a circle round her feet, and I see a number, perhaps six or seven, cherubs (winged faces); these appear to be held in shape by some invisible will. She has cast a fairy spell over me completely subjugating the mental principle — leaves me staring wild-eyed in amongst the leaves and flowers.

An elf-like creature runs up the slanting branch of the willow from the ground where the fairy stands. He is not a very pleasant visitor — I should describe him as distinctly low class.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/doyle/arthur_conan/fairies/chapter5.html

Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 21:33