Close Encounters of the Fairy Kind.
I have come across quite a few people on the internet that are naively encouraging people to interact with the Fairy Folk, they seem to have the belief that these life forms are some sort of twee winged creature as depicted by the Victorians, when in fact on the rare occasions when humans do meet them more often than not something negative usually takes place.
The following story is an example of what can happen when Fairies and Humans come together. A girl whose family lived on the rocky escarpment known as the Roaches located in the Staffordshire Moorlands walked from her home to the market in the nearby town of Leek. In those days many people from the surrounding area would attend the market as there would have been no shops in the outlying districts back then. When the girl reached the market she was attracted to a fruit and veg stall as it had tempting juicy red apples for sale. As she stood there debating whether to buy one for herself she noticed a small man no more than two and a half feet in height wearing a leather jerkin and a red hat. While she was watching him she witnessed him grab one of the apples off the stall and run off with it, she yelled out to the stall holder who gave chase, however the small man was too elusive and managed to lose himself amongst the crowds of people.
Although the stall holder was unable to catch the thief he did however give an apple to the young girl for trying to help him, she decided to return home by way of Meerbrook and up the old road to Roach End. While she was travelling along this road she came upon the small man who was now eating the apple which he had stole from the stall holder. The small man was angry with her for trying to get him caught and he said to her, “You have the choice” he said, “of which limb, finger or toe you wish to lose”. She laughed, quite nervously, and he repeated what he had said.
The girl thought for a while and then decided on her reply, and she turned to him and said, “It is best that I lose my little finger because I can think of no earthly good for it”. The little man disappeared and she went on her way. That evening, her Father told her to milk the two cows which they owned as they had a smallholding. In the cowshed she started to milk the first cow with her right hand but immediately realised she could not. She could not use her little finger of her right hand, and consequently could not milk the cow. This continued throughout her life, and until the day she died she was unable to milk a cow again.
The following accounts record the danger of having the ability to be able to see Fairies : A country Midwife in Ireland was approached by a stranger on horseback and asked for her help, they went to a castle which she did not recognise and helped with the birth. Afterwards every woman who witnessed the birth was told to put their finger in a bowl of water and then rub their eyes, the midwife did this, however she only rubbed one eye. Some years later she attended the fair in Grange and bumped into some of the women who were at the castle when the birth had taken place. The Midwife spoke to them, however the women wanted to know how she recognised them, she told them it was with one eye, they then wanted to know by which eye they could be seen. She told them it was with her left eye, the Fairy woman blew on her left eye and said you will never see me again. From that day on the Midwife was permanently blind in her left eye.
Another account is recorded in The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by Evans Wentz and is as follows: My Grandfather, William Nelson, was coming home from the herring fishing late at night, on the road near Jurby, when he saw in a pea field, across a hedge, a great crowd of “little fellows” in red coats dancing and making music. And as he looked, an old woman from among them came up to him and spat in his eyes, saying: “you’ll never see us again”; and I am told that he was blind afterwards till the day of his death. He was certainly blind for fourteen years before his death, for I often had to lead him around, but as a young man he certainly had good sight, and it was believed that the fairies destroyed it.
Another account states: I heard that a woman set out water to wash her baby in, and that before she had used the water the small people came and washed their babies in it. She didn’t know about this, and so in washing her baby got some of the water in her eyes, and then all at once she could see crowds of little people about her. One of them came to her and asked if she was able to see their crowd, and when she said “yes” the little people wanted to take her eyes out, and she had to clear away from them as fast as she could.
If you can escape being blinded there is always the chance you will get shot: The flint arrow-heads so much prized by antiquarians are called in the Highlands Saighead Sith, fairy arrows. They are said to be thrown by the fairies at the sons and daughters of men The writer possesses one which was thrown at his maid servant one night when she went to the peatstack for peats. She was aware of something whizzing through the silent air, passing through her hair, grazing her ear and falling at her feet.
Of course not all encounters with the Fairy Folk end with these kind of results. A more benign encounter was reported to me by Andrew Ellison back in February of 2012 at a location in Hookbank wood close to Manchester airport. I decided to visit the place myself out of curiosity as it was only half an hour away from where I live.
I parked close to the Holiday Inn and then crossed the Wilmslow road by the roundabout and climbed up the steps adjacent which leads to the public footpath, after following this for a short way you come to a gate, after passing through this the footpath seems to disappear and you have the option of either straying onto the runway, or turning sharp left, climb up a bank and you come to one of the radar stations used by the airport, I followed the perimeter fence around the radar installation and then came to the boundary fence of Hookbank wood. After stepping over the fence I was suprised to find that this wood was very similar to Madam’s wood which is on my Brother-in-law’s farm back in Eaton, Congleton. Like Madam’s wood, Hookbank wood is also growing on a steep 45 degree angle and has a river flowing along at its base, Madam’s wood has the river Dane flowing along its base, whereas the river Bollin flows in front of Hookbank. Also like Madam’s wood there seems to be little evidence of many people visiting this area, probably due to the difficulty of walking on such a steep gradient. I made my way back through the wood trying to avoid slipping on the rain drenched ground, at one point I was looking down to the river about 200 hundred feet below trying to get a decent photograph. I slowly descended at the far end of the wood and made my way to the river bank. I believe the reason that the wood is named Hookbank is that the river Bollin hooks around on itself beneath the steepest and highest part of the wood, of course I may be totally wrong in this assumption.
This unlikely location with the sound of jet aircraft taking off and landing is where Andrew Ellison had his encounter and is as follows:
I thought I would tell of my encounter with the “good people”. I was camping in a local wood with my Son, he was in a tent and I was in a hammock between two oaks. It was a warm, late spring night and George was fast asleep, I was watching the fire when I realised that there were tiny fluttering lights all around a large hawthorn.I thought they must be some kind of firefly and was excited to see them in Cheshire. As I focused on them, I realised that they were transparent and glowing with an unearthly light. I didnt realise till morning that the whole experience seemed completely natural, as if I had seen this many times before. I have been back many times but unfortunately as yet, they havent shown themselves since but I always feel a presence in the woods.
Although I myself cannot claim to have had an encounter with the Fairy Folk, I have had two unusual experiences which readers of this web page may find of interest.
The most recent event took place in late August of 2012, I have got into the habit of calling down to my Sister-in-law’s farm at Eaton at the weekends and taking her four dogs a walk. There is an Alsation, two collies and a terrier, the Alsation is very clever, it has taught itself to stand on its back legs and open doors in the farmhouse, I have also seen it rescue the terrier from drowing in the river Dane which runs through Hillmoor farm, it did this without being told too.
Although there is 220 acres at Hillmoor I do get a bit fed up of seeing the same scenery, I have even taken to straying over onto Andrew Needham’s farm as his land backs onto Hillmoor. The day I had the encounter I had taken the dogs across onto Needham’s land then looped back around following the river Dane back onto my Sister-in-Law’s land, I then followed the river down into what we have named the scar field as there is a steep cliff on the opposite side of the river with a horizontal layer of bluish clay running through it which resembles a scar. This day I decided to take the dogs across the river, I have done this on numerous occasions but I have usually stayed in the steep sided woodland known as Madam’s wood, however on this occasion and as I could see no farm animals I decided to explore the region of land at the side of the wood. Normally at this time of year there are a number of places you can cross the Dane without the water overwelming your wellies, however as the Summer had been such a washout I was forced to find some other way of crossing the river. I was fortunate in that there had been a fallen tree in scar field close to where Madam’s wood starts on the opposite side of the river. I used this to cross over on, in the meantime the dogs could see what I was doing, and as they don’t like being parted from me, they tore off downstream to presumably find a shallower location to cross.
By this time I was already across and negotiated the electric fence which runs alongside the river, I climbed up a slight incline until I reached a flat area in a strange shaped field which I have since dubbed the “amphitheatre” as over countless years in the past the river must have carved this strange tiered like field. It was in the centre of this field that I saw a strange rotating ring which was opaque and rotating in a clockwise manner approximately two feet off the ground. I forgot to mention that before I sighted this I could hear an unusual tinkling sound which resembled tiny bells or wind chimes. The ring I would calculate as being around twenty feet in diameter and it resembled the shimmering effect that one can see above a tarmac road in hot weather, although I probably only saw this for around 5-6 seconds because the dogs burst in on the scene having made it across the river and caused the ring to disappear instantly, I did get the feeling that something was starting to manifest itself inside the haze. What it was will probably remain a mystery, it could have been some sort of rare natural event but whatever theory one proposes will be pure speculation, and although I have returned to this field a number of times I have never witnessed the phenomenon again.