Living in a fairy tale

brian froud goblins
                     Painting by Brian Froud

I’ve been looking into old faery lore lately. Not the sanitised Victorian version of miniature winged  beauties, but at the old tales of strange encounters, customs that go back beyond memory, time lost in the faery realm and the darker aspects of the hidden folk. At the instigation of my writing partner, I watched a documentary and, amongst a few other ideas, one in particular got me thinking. The suggestion was that if faeries do not have a concrete and objective reality of their own in our world, but do exist for us in the realms of imagination, perhaps imagination itself is a state of being we do not fully understand, bridging the gap between our usual vision of reality and unreality  in a way that has a validity of its own. As a concept, and after years of working with magical systems, that works for me.

In esoteric terms, the realm of imagination is a realm of causation…the place where abstract ideas take on the substance of proto-reality, one step removed from concrete materialisation. You could consider a can opener. A need arises for some method of opening a can, need fuels that abstract thought, but that won’t get the beans on the toast. Imagination is what creates the design for the tool that will. You see it as a reality, a working gadget, in your own mind, long before it becomes a prototype or opens a can. You could call imagination the matrix of reality and that would not be very far away from some of the recent postulations of scientific thought.

I couldn’t help thinking about the Disney version of Pinocchio and how much he wanted to be a real boy. The wooden puppet and his externalised ‘conscience’ sought the help of a faery and it was she who would eventually be the catalyst for his transformation from wood to flesh. Only the catalyst, not the cause… the puppet’s own actions make him real. I was wondering how closely that applies to people. Many of us are Ugly Ducklings, Cinderellas or Sleeping Beauties for much of our lives.

Ugly Ducklings feel sidelined, shunned by the ‘in’ crowd, left out in the cold because we are not ‘like them’. It is untrue… but it may as well be, because that is what we feel and we become self-fulfilling prophecies of our own isolation. We may withdraw…or we may become the victim of our own desire to please and to ‘fit’… unless, by some leap of inner vision, we can finally see ourselves for the Swans we have always been.

The Cinderellas are not so different. We are not good enough… we are lesser, unworthy in our own eyes and will do anything to feel ‘good enough’. It takes a catalyst, the ‘fairy godmother’ or a critical loss perhaps, to reveal our true being. Sometimes it just needs someone to see beyond our dark imaginings and hold up the magic mirror of their own being in which we can see, like Snow White, that we are ‘fairest of them all’. And always were.

Sleeping Beauties wait for life to wake us, never reaching true maturity until someone or something gives us that ‘kiss of true love’ that shows us we were always valued and able to love.

The archetypes portrayed by our fairy tales may have happy endings… at least according to their modern versions; many of the older tales have darker endings but they all reflect aspects of the human condition. I am fairly certain we could all find one where the essence of the tale fits our outlook, from the child lost in the wood, to the imprisoned beauty or the princess who kisses a frog. We are living in fairytales… and many of them are dark.

It is very easy to see how imagination is at the root of reality when you look at the human mind. Every emotion is rooted in imagination and we create our reality according to our emotions. We read a book and, if it engages our imagination, laugh and cry with its characters. We fear the dentist because we anticipate pain, imagining the sound of the drill and the sharpness of the needle. We finally meet a pair of eyes and smile… we may even say hello… but before we do so we have already imagined that first touch and the shiver of romance… and then we are notoriously insecure in those first throes of romance because we imagine the ‘what ifs’ and potential loss.

What we imagine is real for us within its own realm. That applies equally to the ‘Christmas morning’ moments that are as delightful as any Victorian faery and to those moments where our inner vision leads us down a darker path.

We tend to think of imagination as part of a creative process, assuming that some, like writers, artists and musicians, are more gifted in that area than others. That is a false concept; they may have a particular facility for expressing that process as tangible creations, but the imagination itself is shared and accessed by all of us. Every time we think, we are engaging in a creative process… and how often are we not thinking? In the Silent Eye, the active imagination plays a large part in the work we do, drawing upon its depth and potential in order to create change. We are not alone in recognising the power of imagination… there are countless self-help systems out there on varying methods of positive thinking, and what is that except engaging the creative imagination to shape reality by choosing to believe in something not yet real in order to make it real?

Some things have to be believed

Before they can be seen…

In the documentary, it was suggested that faeries cannot be seen with the eyes, but only with the heart.  That is true of people too… and equally true of ourselves. Unless we believe in ourselves, we will never become ourselves. Imagination may be the matrix of reality, but I wonder if it is also an expression of the feeling mind and the thinking heart. A heart that cannot think falls into sentimentality, a mind that cannot feel risks being frozen by its own logic. Imagination may belong to a different level of our being and, properly embraced, may open the doors to a treasure-house, where, if we can believe in the possibilities we find there, we can balance all the aspects of our selves and find the way to that fabled happily-ever-after.


52 thoughts on “Living in a fairy tale

  1. I remember being a child and asking my mom, if unicorns and other fairy tale beings are real somewhere and she said she doesn’t know but whatever images we create in our minds are real somehow.
    I also think, like you described, that fairy tales definitely are a representation/reflection of the human psyche, emotions and the collective mind of the time when the story was written.
    A good writer unites all kinds of dimensions, since they all channel somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What the mind and heart can see is real for us and so exists. Perhaps not as a concrete reality… but then, it would be difficult to call many things we live with every day ‘concrete realities. How do we see love? What is beauty? We agree they exists and can see expressions of them… but we cannot pin them down.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Fascinating…I was trying to explain something similar to my older son the other day-he tends to “science” everything to pieces, but you put it so much better, so eloquently I can’t wait to show him your article! Have you read “Cat Magic” by Whitley Strieber? If you have, just wondered what you thought to the fairy concept in his book..great post, thoroughly enjoyed it-thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I truly believe that the Fae have a substantial reality unto themselves, every bit as real as our own is to us. I base this on both the indigenous traditions that I have studied and how they relate to such beings, and my own personal experience. During a pranayama yogic breathing practice session, I once went into a deep trance and was unexpectedly allowed to briefly stick my head through a portal, to feel the reality of an elemental realm at the frequency of conciousness at which they can percieve it, and it felt real as real. This was in answer to the very question. “Do you guys have a reality of your own?” I could see a living landscape stretching off into the distance filled with light, heat and movement. I could hear sound vibrations, as if I was feeling them with my physical senses. It was dimensional immersion, but it was entered as a parallel experience to our own, by emerging sideways into it. The impression I got was that elemental worlds occupy the same space as our own, but vibrate at such a different rate, that we are unable to comprehend them within our usual spectrum of conciousness. Such beings have family’s and social designations and individual personalities. I have met a local Fey family with children once while meditating in the garden near my home, they allowed me to cradle a Fey child in my arms and I wept with joy to feel the truth of this miracle. I built this level of trust over years through doing intense energy work and feeding the fruits of that with loving-gratitude back into the earth with the request that they will help direct said energy more accurately to where it’s needed.

    One of the tricky things, as you rightly recognized, is that they can project our own archetypes and thought-forms back at us, in order to communicate themselves in a manner relative to our psychic understanding and development because this is common currency in the astral planes where we can meet Fae. If we have a lot of shadow, then we will meet with the darker manipulative types and vice versa depending on the level of spiritual work we have done. I used to get very brief dramatic encounters with them as part of my wake up process but the more spiritually evolved I become, the more I can seem to comfortably straddle the elemental and physical worlds for extended periods in day to day life — and have that feeling of walking between atoms, where the material seems holographic and I can communicate with them via feeling tones without having to go into a deep trance state.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We live with unseen realities and don’t really question how that works.. we simply accept that things like thought, electricity and radio waves and are real on their own terms and in their own space, largely because we can see and experience the results in terms we understand.

      There are other layers of reality that occupy the ‘spaces between’, interleaved with our own and accessible occasionally through altered states of consciousness or in places where the veil thins. Our difficulty in understanding them comes through the limits of our own experience… we can only use the filters of our human life by which to frame our interpretation and the denizens of these realms are not human. Any attempt to describe or convey an experience with such things is subjective and hampered by the constrains of our own physical existence…and inevitably leaves us open to dismissal and ridicule by many who have no experience of their own through which they can relate.

      I am a sceptic by nature. There are many tales that invite disbelief because they seem so incredible, but I wonder if that is due more to the paucity of our language and frames of reference, that forces us to use words and images that are not always ‘right’, but are as close as we can get. Is there any difference, I wonder, between the pious man who sees angels and those who claim to see aliens, ghosts or faeries? Or are they all seeing something between the cracks in reality that they can only describe according to their own beliefs? Especially when adulthood has forced its world-view of logic upn our consciousness as we face the ‘real’ world.

      One of the highlights of that documentary for me was when the presenter asked a group of small children why they thought he could no longer see faeries, when he had done so as a child. “I think,” said one small boy, “that faeries doesn’t remember adults.” I loved that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Extraordinary blog this one and I love every word in it.
    It was through imagination that mankind are able to built designs of cities from different styles, shapes and form of houses which later lead us to create more CREATIVE stuffs that makes us all like artist.
    So, what if one can create another world that does not has to build using the hands and fingers, but the IMAGINATION out of IMAGINATION only – another world that is almost too impossible to make out of dust and stones, but out of the MIND?
    Who knows really, that if fairies are real or not – but there are another world unknown to us are still out there to be found, explore and to be understood. What if, some things just remain as IMAGINATION.

    Life would be a boring place to be if suddenly we met Santa Claus and angels, or any supernatural creatures? What is MORE there to find when all things are to be found? Then the world ‘MYSTERY’ will never exist anymore as all things are not hiding anymore …

    I think, I still prefer the world of fairies be hidden and mysteriously fascinating, that keep us amazes with an open heart and mind, that teaches us, it is wonderful too, just to play with the MIND and that another Impossible world do exist and that Christmas is still magical and Easter is filled with fun and colours for the kids, etc …

    Thank you for sharing this, Sue! Brilliantly written.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sherrie. I wouldn’t want all the mysteries of the world explained either… there would be no sense of wonder if we had all the answers. I know there are realms and levels of existence beyond our own… what they are, I do not know, but sometimes we get an odd glimpse of them and it adds to the rich tapestry of our lives.

      Imagination may be the most critical force in our world and I feel it is barely understood. We know so little about our own inner world, yet continually seek to explain its various manifestations. We have to start somewhere if we want to understand, but I am not certain we can ever pin imagination down to study it.. but e can always wander its mysteries.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There were many of those documentaries that I’d watched about fairy beings and tales, of its origins and the old folklore that really arouse one imagination which bring us into impossible places.

        If one watch the fantasy movies and how they did it, it is almost incredibly real and yet it is nothing but the work of art, camera tricks and computer programing that made it possible.

        If the world of fantasy do exist beyond that, I would love to take a glimpse of it just once in my life and then I just leave it all behind, and holding to the memories of it. It is more than enough that I feel satisfied to know that that world do exist, but it should be left alone for their safety sake. For I know I cannot trust mankind enough to leave them alone …

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You can just imagine the havoc that scientists would wreak if they found a faery, dragon or goblin they could weigh, measure and dissect…

          They are safe in the reality they call their own, wherever that reality may be.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That is why I think, we, humans, need the ‘Fantasy’ to make our own real world beautiful and magical as ‘Reality’ are sometimes too ugly.

            Yes, I cannot imagine what mankind would do to these creatures and starts to ruin their world. Some things must be kept away from prying eyes …

            Liked by 1 person

              1. We can visit through imagination – how magical is that. It is a one way into an impossible world to reach but by faith and belief.

                If you do not believe in Santa, then there will be no Christmas. If one do not believe in fairies, then there is no Land of Mystical Creature … It is as simple as that, I think.

                But I love anything mysterious for it keeps you on the running to keep reaching out for the miracle of believing in it when no one else does …

                Liked by 1 person

                  1. Yes, true. It is all wonderful. And to speak of this with you, the more it make it wonderful in so many ways by exchanging Imaginable Imagination.

                    I think we just created a world of fairies and unicorns of our own. It the way I create a magical world for my kids when I tell them some stories of my own … It opens their world into some place beautiful …


                    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely post, Sue. Yes, yes, and yes. I think, in many ways, we are imagining ourselves through life, and if we take that thought a step further, then we are the creators of our experiences and only limited by our imaginations. The whole last paragraph sums it up perfectly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a profound post. I especially liked (writers) “may have a particular facility for expressing that process as tangible creations, but the imagination itself is shared and accessed by all of us.”
    I had such an imagination as a child – I lived there more than in the real world from time to time. All children should be given the time and the freedom to imagine, which unfortunately isn’t happening at this time. I still daydream…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was one of those children too, Noelle… and that was only encouraged by my mother and grandfather and the books that were available all the time. And I still daydream… a lot… only these days I can sometimes call it meditation 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have been lucky, I have seen faeries with my seeing eyes and within. They are all around us and yet i could not explain that as a child and I still can`t, I accept and I see. hmmm the imagination is something which I was always told at school that I had too much of, yet, at home, I was told that imagination is a blessing so I only half listened when lectured by teachers instead preferring to watch a flit of dust caught by a random ray of sushine.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hmmm… food for thought, there, Sue. I’ve never been able to explain why the thought of fairies as little beings with wings has always irritated me, although I did love Peter Pan as a child. I know that some people claim to have seen them, and thats what they looked like to them. I’ve never seen one, but my imagination tells me they are big. Is that because I can only relate to them if they look like us? In the end, does it even matter if we all imagine them differently? Does it make them less real?


    1. Perhaps, like many other things, we see them in a form our minds can understand and accomodate for, rather than their true form. Our perception of reality is personal and has to conform to the parameters we can accept or the mind filters things out…. like the Someone Else’s Problem phenomenon.

      Liked by 1 person

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