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This story may or may not be a fairy tale, though there are certainly fairies in it. However, unlike any of his Victorian forebears or most of his contemporaries, Machen manages to achieve, only a few years before the comfortably kitsch flower fairies of Cicely Mary Barker, the singular feat of rendering fairies terrifying. With James Hogg’s 'Confessions of a Justified Sinner', Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Thrawn Janet’ and several of M. R. James’s marvellous ghost stories, ‘The White People’ is one of only a handful of literary texts that have genuinely unnerved me.
Something about spring makes you think of fairies. I think it is all of the new life that emerges. So, I have been doing a lot of them in my sketchbook lately.
The council is in session...
We also just saw Song of the Sea, a wonderful film by the folks who did The Secret of Kells. It was a beautiful film with a bit of a Spirited Away vibe with a dash of Tolkien's Silmarillion (he was greatly influenced by Celtic and other European mythology). I loved the design and the concept.
It is common mythology around the world of spirits being a part of everything... The world does awaken this time of year from a dormant state.
Have you ever Googled yourself? I do. It might look pretentious, but it really gives an insight to where your name is being used, and for me that includes my art. Thankfully I never find much of anything except for my own posts AND these gorgeous cards!
I license out my images to an online craft store called Crafts and Me based in the UK. She sells digital stamps and some rubber ones too. On her blog they host challenges for those who love to make their own cards and paper crafts.
It's striking, in all of my reading the fairy lives in this 'in-between' place. Most would say "I have never seen one, but I believe they have a place on this earth.". I'm paraphrasing of course, but that's the gist.
Interesting. There are definitely those who believe in them, and those that do not, but most fall in the middle. The history of fairies is also of that, they are in the middle. Neither heavenly, nor demonic, just either stuck or thrown out and left to hide.
It started as a romance. I was drawn to the beauty and mystical qualities of the fairy. They appeared to be one with nature, dance on air, and talk to animals. As a child I wanted all of this. I was swooned in. As I grew older I discovered their magic, their power, and the mists of Avalon. There was sensuality and mystery.... all that I thought was stronger and more valuable than anything else I had encountered.
When I first experienced magic I was astonished and thought I had the same power that the fairies had. When I believed I could conjure fire in my own hand out of nothing I thought I could BE someone, or something. I truly believed they were all around hiding and waiting to find the right time to reveal themselves to me. I worked so hard to make them think I was worthy enough for them.
I believed fairies were elemental workers of the earth. They were misunderstood, agents for our environment, spoke to us through runes and other natural tools (fire, water, air, stones, etc.). I thought by being an ambassador for them I was helping the earth and thus my own heart. I thought I was fighting for a better place in this world so full of pain, hate, and disregard for the tree spirit I talked to every day at school. I never saw anyone standing up for them quite like the fairies. Of course I sounded crazy to many.
The Reality Sets In
With most of my experiences, when I came into contact with a fairy or spirit, it was unpleasant and always made my depression worse. Something so beautiful didn't prevent me from thoughts and attempts of suicide, they didn't make me feel valued, loved, or gifted. This isn't to blame the craft and to say it caused these, but it didn't help either, and I thought it would.
In my early adult life I was asked many questions about my faery tradition practices and witchcraft. In an attempt to answer, I began to notice how much of a religion it all was, how it was similar to other religions. A group of people, a hierarchy, priests, elders, book of stories, etc. I had myself convinced it was different, but now not so much. I started to attend a church through a relationship and, although I had MANY negative thoughts and accounts about Christians and the religion, I left my heart open. I was desperate, in pain, stuck, and at my lowest. I fled the paganism and jumped on board. How???
It's simple, all I wanted was to feel loved, to be an agent of the earth, and to freely use my gift for good. I had seen so many testimonies of the love people felt when they gave their life to God, to Jesus, I wanted it too. In my circles, I saw SO many people depressed, searching but never finding, and always wanting to gain more. In my experience I never met a witch who was at peace with who she was in her heart. I know they are out there, but it made me wonder and question from my own perspective.
Because of the mystery found in fairies and their folklore, I can now enjoy and experience the mystery found in the Bible and in God. Because of the belief I had in something unseen before, I can believe in Jesus. Because of my romantic lure into fairytales, I can read the Bible and see my prince, play the princess, and be the warrior on a horse fighting battles.
What I Believe Now
I was given this imagination from the start. I would run around in the backyard pretending I could talk to animals, connect with a tree and learn it's secrets, and fly. I would imagine running then taking off and flying just to fall asleep each night. I have always been drawn to the world of magic, mystery, and ethereal. So why, then, would that go away the moment I started to follow Jesus?
Why would I be given this imagination only to not use it? To deny it? That doesn't make sense. Not with the God that I know.
I wrestled with fairies for a long time after I began studying the Bible. There was nothing to guide me away, or anything that alarmingly stood out telling me to stop, drawing fairies. I read once somewhere that Brian Froud put wings on his fairies as an expression to who they were. To their personality. This resonated with me, and it's part of how I see fairies.
They are expressions of the earth, it's elements, it's spirit, and to aid in the belief that there is more out there than what we see. They are part of our imagination to get us wondering, to see outside the box, and to question.
They exist because we want them to exist. Are they as real as the flower I hold? I don't believe they are real like that. But what that flower does to your senses is what I believe a fairy can do, and that is where they are real.
Fairies represent vitality, freedom, expression, the possibilities, the unknown, wonder, beauty, humor, fears, and even what haunts us.
Interestingly fairies are more like a bridge in my opinion. They are that bridge between real and imaginary. They can bring you closer to God BECAUSE you are free to imagine and wonder. They can bring you closer to nature BECAUSE you're gardening to make a creative fairy garden. They can open up possibilities BECAUSE they are the stuff of magic and give us hope.
Angels are referenced as stars throughout the Bible and spirits of light. Fairies are accompanied by auras of light and twinkling 'fairy dust' about them. They are a reminder of my home, heaven, and the imagination God has given.
Fairies are a sensitive, but intriguing subject. I come from a background of spell casting, fairy seeking, séances, horned gods/goddesses, priestess', and a mountain of metaphysics.
I describe that because I want you to hear that I studied fairies. My senior project in college was about fairy folklore and the Celts. I was VERY interested in being a high priestess in the occult, and according to many whom I spent my time with, I was well on my way.
Then Jesus grasped my heart and pulled me up for air. To my surprise, this was a very quick, rather simple and easy transition. Except for a few bumps. One was my belief in fairies.
Now where did the fairy stand? This is what I paint, what I love to paint. What do I believe about them now? What do YOU believe about them?
Brian and I were talking about the origins of fairies this past Saturday during a small road trip. I forgot how excited and interested I am in their history, and I hadn't really looked into it again since college. Re-reading about them has sparked my interest as a Christian, and as a professional artist of the fairytale.
This is part one. How many parts will this discussion have? I don't know. Yet I'm so mystified by being a Christian, painting fairies, and all of the gray in the middle, that I can't leave it be.
One Christian belief held that fairies were a class of "demoted" angels. One popular story described how, when the angels revolted, God ordered the gates of heaven shut: those still in heaven remained angels, those in hell became demons, and those caught in between became fairies. Others suggested that the fairies, not being good enough, had been thrown out of heaven, but they were not evil enough for hell. This may explain the tradition that they had to pay a "teind" or tithe to hell: as fallen angels, though not quite devils, they could be seen as subjects of the devil. For a similar concept in Persian mythology, see Peri.
A third, related belief was the fairies were demons entirely. This belief became much more popular with the growth of Puritanism. The hobgoblin, once a friendly household spirit, became a wicked goblin. Dealing with fairies was in some cases considered a form of witchcraft and punished as such in this era. Disassociating himself from such evils may be why Oberon, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, carefully observed that neither he nor his court feared the church bells.
The belief in their angelic nature was less common than that they were the dead, but still found popularity, especially in Theosophist circles. Informants who described their nature sometimes held aspects of both the third and the fourth belief, or observed that the matter was disputed.
If I'm a Christian then, should I believe this? That fairies are demons? Is what I create demonic or a symbol of the demonic? Upon further reading on other sites I read this (found on this site):
Evil spirits are like actors. They will take on any role that suits their cause or present climate. If people want angels, they will be angels. Departed loved ones? This is one of their best performances. Fairies? If that’s what people want, and if there are people out there who are seeking them out and want to communicate with them, they will be happy to wear the badge and play the part.The Bible tells us that even Satan himself "... masquerades as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). However, a demon is a demon and will lie, deceive and lead people astray.
The end result is spiritual bondage and ruin. Demons, in their many guises, will lead you up a very slippery path of deceit and despair, wanting you to focus on them rather than God and the peace and salvation He gives through faith in Jesus Christ.
I can agree that they usually are described having the nature/personality of biblical demons. As much as it pains me to say it. Even as a fairy believer I never saw them (the ones I wanted to see) as demonic, but more elemental to help. Like the ones in Disney's Fantasia.
I am left chewing on this resounding throughout information, the belief from the Christian religion that all fairies are demons. In a couple of days I hope to share and explain why, then, if this is the belief, are so many fairies painted as bright, sweet, adorable little people? Is it still part of Satan's act to get us to follow him, making them more romantic and captivating? Or is there more to the story?
Like many families, now we’re in the run up to Christmas, we’re spending time getting crafty together, making presents and decorations, and this book has given us hours of delight. Full of ideas about how to customise wooden peg dolls into adorable characters, Bloom also provides lots of tutorials for how to use your peg dolls in innovative ways, such as in mobiles, wands, wall hangings and pincushion embellishments.
Super clear and friendly instructions, made beautiful and even easier to follow by the inclusion of simple but beautiful watercolour illustrations along with many photos of all sorts of children making and playing with peg dolls made sure this book really appealed to my kids as soon as they set eyes on it.
That the instructions are easy to follow and result in items which the kids are really proud of was clearly demonstrated by the way my 9 year old, M, took the book off by herself and created her first ever felt toys:
Although M was totally absorbed by herself in her sewing, as a parent I especially enjoyed Bloom’s emphasis in her instructions on how the whole family can take part in making their own peg dolls; she clearly indicates which parts even the youngest children can get involved with, and encourages us grown-ups to be involved, but also to let our kids do their own things with the dolls. This book isn’t about parents turning out coffee-table-book-worthy gorgeous ornaments (although we’re definitely encouraged to play, sew and create along side the kids); it really is about facilitating children’s exploratory play and creativity.
The book includes a list of suppliers of peg dolls, felt and one or two other items that are especially nice to use (such as artificial/millinery flower stamens) and I would heartily encourage you to gift a bundle of supplies, including some watercolours, with this book so that the recipient can dive in straight away. I’ve personally used Craftshapes for my blank wooden peg dolls in the past and they’ve always be lovely to deal with.
What we started with
Here are some of the characters we created:
Whilst painting, sewing, sticking and playing we listened to:
Wedding of the Painted Doll, one of the hit songs from the musical “The Broadway Melody” – indeed, it reach #1 in the charts in 1929! Another version with more lyrics can be heard here.
The doll dance from Delibe’s ballet Coppélia
Come Over To My Dollhouse by Lunch Money. Whilst in some ways this is a world away from the lovely peg dolls made by Bloom (which are the antithesis to Barbie, who does feature in this song), the video is enormous fun and might inspire you and your kids to make your own video for your favourite music.
If you want ideas about how to take things a step further with your peg dolls take a look at:
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed Making Peg Dolls & More: Toys that spin, fly and bring sweet dreams: It is beautiful to look at and filled with enticing projects, which are both achievable and give results to delight in. It is also a book which is very proud to be just a starting point; it’s really about giving you ideas which will bloom in you and your kids’ imaginations.
What family craft books would you recommend?
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.
It started here. I made five fairy busts for my book demonstrating the different ways to approach painting skin tones.
It then moved onto this without me realizing it, I began doodling them with this crazy spiral hair during Inktober.
At the end of October I listed the five busts from my book to be sold during my first Flash Sale at my Etsy shop. They went so fast! I didn't think something so small and so simple would be that popular.
Once the sale was all finished and I had so many envelopes to draw on, I decided to continue with these wee fairy busts as a way to "brand" the sale. I came up with a simple design and modified it for each envelope. Every envelope from a sale during that day has a fairy bust drawn on it. You can view all of them on my Facebook Page.
Now, with all of that said and done, here is where I have ended up.
I think I am border line obsessed with these wee ladies. They are quick, full of sweet personality, and I really can't wait to paint them. I envision them in tiny ornate frames hanging together or in the smallest of nooks and crannies around the house. Just like a fairy! They measure about 2x2 inches.
It used to be my favorite holiday. Seriously, over Christmas. Who needs gifts when you can dress up into your wildest fantasy? That's what I used to think.
The question I ask myself this morning, on Halloween, is:
The image on the left was painted in 1996. I was in 8th grade, obsessed with the movie "The Crow", listening to heavy metal, and addicted to Gen 13 and Witchblade comic books. I believe it was around that time I dressed like the Catwoman from Batman Returns for Halloween. Whip and all. Yep, I thought I was quite the bad girl. I hid behind a made up character I named "Raven", who I drew all the time, made stories for, and just simmered there. Angry and lost.
She followed me all through high school and into my freshman year of college.
In college she began to morph, just a little. And although I invented other stories to hide myself behind, she was always there. I tried so hard to hold on and not forget who I thought I was.
2003 - Heavily into Manga and still learning watercolor
2004 - Style used for my senior project in college.
When I left college the real soul searching started. I continued to practice witchcraft, but grew in my watercolor and figure drawing skills. I entered into some really difficult relationships, did my years of exploring the night life, and hit rock bottom.
Enter the church. Now wait, don't jump the gun yet. There was LIGHT. I lived in the shadows so long, it was refreshing and very unexpected. I was skeptical but continued to find faith in it. I always had faith I would find LOVE. Find TRUTH. Find WHO I WAS. Who I AM.
I can't paint the darkness like what's above anymore. I try, and this is what happens:
This image (just below), after many years of searching, is the truth of who I am. I hide behind masks to protect my heart, but it's golden because I am a child of light, the daughter of He who is LIGHT. I wander through the night, not because I am lost, because I'm hunting evil and snuffing it out to make the night safe and beautiful. I have wings so that I can fly, because I am free. These are the truths I have learned through the years, and it is because of these truths I can not go back. I am glad that Raven is now a face who smiles, who comforts, who flies in to bring LIGHT. Not death, pain, or sadness.
So Halloween you say? Sure, I'll dress up, I'll laugh and find the joy in it, but the holiday used to have such meaning to me - freedom to hide. I think today as we celebrate dressing up and scaring away ghosts and goblins, I see myself as a warrior who doesn't need to hide anymore behind costumes, it doesn't matter anymore. So, I'll happily eat some zombie finger pretzels and begin to look forward to Christmas, when family, love, light, and joy are all dancing about.
There is a quarrel inside me about fairies, and the form of literature their presence helps to define. I have never tried to see a fairy, or at least not since I was five years old. The interest of Casimiro Piccolo reveals how attitudes to folklore belong to their time: he was affected by the scientific inquiry into the paranormal which flourished – in highly intellectual circles – from the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth. But he also presents a test case, I feel, for the questions that hang around fairies and fairy tales in the twenty-first century. What is the point of them? What are the uses of such enchantments today? The absurdity of this form of magical belief (religious miracles are felt to be different, and not only by believers) creates a quarrel inside me, about the worth of this form of literature and entertainment I enjoy so much. In what way am I ‘away with the fairies’, too?
Suspicion now hangs around fairy tales because the kind of supernatural creatures and events they include belong to a belief system nobody subscribes to anymore. Even children, unless very small, are in on the secret that fairyland is a fantasy. In the past, however, allusions to fairies could be dangerous not because belief in them was scorned, but because they were feared: Kirk collected the beliefs of his flock in order to defend them against charges of heterodoxy or witchcraft, and, the same time as Kirk’s ethnographical activities, Charles Perrault published his crucially influential collection (l697), in which he pokes fun, with suave courtly wit, at the dangerousness of witches and witchcraft, ogres and talking animals. Perrault is slippery and ambiguous. His Cinderella is a tale of marvellously efficacious magic, but he ends with a moral: recommending his readers to find themselves well-placed godmothers. Not long before he was writing his fairy tales, France and other places in Europe had seen many people condemned to death on suspicion of using magic. The fairy tale emerges as entertainment in a proto-enlightenment move to show that there is nothing to fear.
The current state of fairy tale – whether metastasized in huge blockbuster films or refreshed and re-invigorated in the fiction of Robert Coover, Donald Barthelme, Margaret Atwood or, most recently, Helen Oyeyemi (Mr Fox, and, this year, Boy Snow Bird) does not invite, let alone compel, belief in its magic elements as from an audience of adepts or faithful. Contemporary readers and audiences, including children over the age of 6, are too savvy about special effects and plot lines and the science/magic overlap to accept supernatural causes behind Angelina Jolie’s soaring in Maleficent or the transmogrifications of the characters. Nor do they, nor do we need to suspend disbelief in the willed way Coleridge described.
Rather the ways of approaching the old material – Blue Beard, The Robber Bridegroom, Hansel & Gretel, Snow White and so on – opens up the stories to new meanings. The familiar narrative becomes the arena for raising questions; the story’s well known features provide a common language for thinking about families and love, childhood and marriage. Fairies and their realm allow thought experiments about alternative arrangements in this world. We are no longer looking for fairies at the bottom of the garden, but seeing through them to glimpse other things. As the little girl realises in The Servant’s Tale by Paula Fox, her grandmother through her stories ‘saw what others couldn’t see, that for her the meaning of one thing could also be the meaning of a greater thing.’ In the past, these other, greater things were most often promises – escape, revenge, recognition, glory – but the trend of fairy tales is turning darker, and many retellings no longer hold out such bright eyed hope.
Featured image credit: Sleeping Beauty, by Viktor M. Vasnetsov. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
It was a little like suddenly seeing the trees for the wood, as Flower Fairies have long been a favourite with my girls; they love dressing up as Flower Fairies, they’ve recently “wallpapered” their bedroom walls with Flower Fairy postcards, and with autumn now approaching, they’ve been using the dried seed heads in our garden as Flower Fairy wands; as you wave them about ‘fairy dust’ (seeds) fly out casting magic which will grow next year.
These seed heads come from poppies, love-in-the-mist, bluebells, Granny’s bonnets (also known as Columbine), teasels and cow parsley. Playing with these natural objects is such a delight – not only are they free, they are exquisite. (Poppies, love-in-the-mist and Granny’s Bonnets have the added advantage of being the easiest flowers to grow: Just throw the seeds onto soil and forget, and they’ll reward you returning year after year!)
Apart from the original collections of Flower Fairy poems and illustrations, my girls favourite book is How To Find Flower Fairies. With truly magical paper engineering, replete with hidden treasures, and lavish illustrations this is a book they treasure.
In searching for new Flower Fairy related books I came across some incredible illustrations that actually pre-date Barker’s Flower Fairies:
If you are pulled to this drawing, you are being asked to look at: This card is the Graduation card. Congratulations! You have burst through old beliefs and limitations recently. It’s a new way of being. You can now fly to exotic places where you can dance with snakes!
REVERSE: You might be looking at your limitations this week and areas where you are using “in the box” vs. “out of the box” thinking.
Healing Fairy Alphabet deck available for pre-order here
Written by Larissa Theule
Illustrations by Adam S. Doyle
Carolrhoda Books 10/01/2014
Age 8 to 12 104 pages x x
“Welcome to Bald’s Farm. Well, perhaps it’s not Bald’s Farm anymore. The old man has kicked the bucket, setting off a wave of conflict from the muddy pig pen to the tall wheat fields. In this darkly funny, slightly supernatural chain of tales, no creature is safe. Not Leonard Grey, a spider with sophisticated tastes. Not Esmeralda, a resentful one-footed pig. Not Tulip, a plant with a mean streak. And as for Bones, the old man’s son, and Fat, his winged rival? They’ll learn that danger lurks in the strangest of places . . .”
“Fat stood on the topmost branch of the tree, gazing in the direction of the farmhouse.”
Bones is the son of his father, the farm owner, who has most recently passed away. Fat is the former farmer’s fairy. They hate each other with a passion usually reserved for love. Now that Bone’s father has died, Bones will run the farm and his first priority: get rid of excess Fat.
In the span of one day, Bones tries to take out Fat, who tries to take out Bones. The pigs must move around on less and less feet to supply Bones with his favorite meal of pig foot stew. Pa may be dead, but Bones is still hungry. Ma, who is crying herself blind ventures out to the pigpen to grab a foot. Which one does she get?
Leonard’s family thinks he is the strangest spider that has ever spun a web. He cannot sneak and lives alone. He reads poetry while drinking herbal tea. Down below, Fat is making a new potion and needs the fresh blood of a spider. Leonard picks this moment to prove he can sneak. He cannot.
The Dead Man Song is for Priscilla Mae, the escaped spider for which Leonard has found love. She sees a group of animals honoring the dead farmer’s passing. Jimmy’s in Love pits mouse against mouse for the love of a mouse across the kitchen floor. Cat lurks on the floor, waiting for a wandering mouse. Sometimes he greets the mouse.
“Good afternoon, mousie-pie.”
Sometimes he pounces. Occasionally, that tricky cat does both. A mouse just never knows. Jimmy decides to take a chance but the floor is full of water—salty, tear stained water. Daisy and Tulip are the best of friends, sharing a puddle. All is well, until little sprouts move in and choke the water supply. Daisy and Tulip argue over how to get the sprouts to leave. The differences could mean the end of Tulip or Daisy.
Finally, Dog Alfred visits his Ma. Ma wants Alfred to go home. Alfred is sneezing. He has a cold. Alfred is upset, (and sets up Ma to speak a line of funny I love)
“Ma,” he said, [pleading voice] “I came all this way. I can’t go home now.” “You live next door,” she said.
Fat & Bones: And Other Stories is a fast read with only 104 pages. On those 104 pages, every word counts thanks to wonderful writing and editing. Each story has something to teach kids. In Leonard Grey III, Leonard learns it is okay to be yourself and love is better than alone. Fat feels morally obligated to care for his neighbors, even when he is the one who injured said neighbor. Be nice to others; get to know your neighbors; be responsible for each other. Esmeralda must decide which is more important, her jealousy and “revenge” or the good of the group. Fat and Bones is philosophy 101 for the middle grades.
I am not a fan of the cover. The moon grinning as it does is eerie, but that is the intent. The illustrations use dark tones of green, grey, and black. The image is often part of the shadow or obscured by it. I am sorry to say, I am not a fan of these illustrations. I love the individual stories. I enjoyed the way one story depends on the other. What happens in one story—or does not happen—affects another story, which affects another, and so on, yet none may be the wiser. Fat & Bones: And Other Stories play this out for kids in a way they can understand.
Humor plays a big part, easing what are actually dark themes of death, jealousy, war, and dejection into an enjoyable, funny story, odd as that may sound. Some kids may not like the darker, philosophical themes, while others will love them. I think the older the child, the more they will enjoy Fat and Bones.
These Seven stories, all intertwined, are a great read. Each story has a unique mix of characters from the Bald Farm. Each has their own plot, conflict, and resolution, yet the stories build on each other, need each other to live. There are many things kids can learn from these stories while reading a funny, heart-felt whole divided into parts that seem to stand on their own—because they do. Older kids will enjoy this book. Adults will enjoy this book. Fat & Bones: And Other Stories is the author’s debut.
All the training in Heaven couldn’t prepare me for the war on earth, nor for the love, loss, or loneliness humans feel. There are things worse than death, and every last one of them is hunting people like us. Even though we all feel human at times, we must remember, we are not them, we are their watchers.
In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, demons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.
The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural. The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Traditional Apocrypha, the Pearl of Great Price and the Kabbalah. The Watchers are supernatural beings in human form whose duty it is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness. Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad.
Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s, The Watcher’s Series, is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportions.
I suspect there’s a reason why fairies are found at the bottom of the garden: the bottom of the garden represents the limits of a child’s freedom. It is the furthest they can go from home without entering the big wide world – and it’s in this space between security and freedom that magic occurs.
Children have so little freedom. Freedom beckons, but is also frightening. Perhaps this is why I loved reading so much when I was a child. From the safety of an armchair in the front room or beneath the covers of my bed, I could escape safely.
When I was seven I loved books in which magical items transported children directly from the security of home into another world - stories like Enid Blyton’s TheWishing Chair, in which an old chair intermittently grew wings and carried the children off on fantastical adventures. There was also Nesbit’s Phoenix and the Carpet, in which an old rug turns out to be a magic carpet - and let’s not forget that wonderful flying bed in Bedknobs and Broomsticks - or The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, in which an old wardrobe provides the portal to freedom.
Part of the excitement lay in the fact that the children never quite knew when their adventure might take place. Nesbitt’s children always had to wait until their parents were out – and Blyton’s children had to keep going down to the playroom to see if the chair had grown wings. The appeal also lay in the fact that there was always the risk of mishap - along with the assumption that the children would return home safely.
When my friend’s daughter Elinor told me about a dream in which her bedroom flew, I was delighted. What a wonderful symbol her unconscious had conjured up to grant her both security and freedom! She could go wherever she wanted without leaving the safety of her bedroom – and what’s more, she would have everything she needed with her: a raincoat, a book to read, a sunhat or a swimsuit …
So, inspired by Elinor’s dream, I wrote The Flying Bedroom, a series of short adventures in which Elinor’s bedroom takes her to faraway places including a tropical island (from which her bedroom nearly floats away), the theatre (where Elinor reluctantly takes centre stage), and even to the moon (where Elinor helps a man called Niall fix his rocket). I’m hoping that The Flying Bedroom will satisfy children’s longing for both security and freedom – the tension that never really goes away, no matter how old we are.
Forest Online Camp starts this Friday! OMG! Since I can’t take all of you to the forest, I can bring the forest to you. Let’s have a campfire and roast marshmallows, and find ladybugs to talk to, while counting the new seeds in the trees. We will discover and play with our different “clairs” while nurturing our bodies with the sensual treasures found in Nature. I made a movie about the class and registration is open, so head on over to see and sign up HERE.