Preface to Entering Faerie by Vivianne Manouge
Here is a deceptively brief book – an autobiography – an account of a spiritual odyssey – that has an enticing directness. It deals with one of the most romantic areas of life here on earth – an area that lures many of us, that tantalises children, that inspires artists and poets. And yet despite the romance of its theme – the existence of faeries – this book shows the author determined to be straight with us, determined to recount what has happened to her without distortion. I believe her life depends on this – on her honesty – because to deceive herself or us would plunge her into a world of insanity she has so very nearly entered in the extraordinary adventure she has undertaken.
This adventure has been nothing less than exploring the nature and identity of faeries. As a child Vivienne asked herself the question perhaps every sensitive child asks: “Who and what are ‘faeries’ exactly?” But whereas most of us give up asking this question, she didn’t – or the faeries didn’t let her. And as you shall discover as you turn the pages of this book, the consequences of her holding this question in her heart for so long has cost Vivienne her health, and I sense has nearly cost her her life and her sanity.
She was able to preserve her sanity and her life in the end by applying her own advice: “People who are seeing them [fairies] must give as honest and complete an account of what they see as they can, to anyone who seems likely to give it intelligent and open minded attention. Not only does this pave the way for a further thinning of the veil, but it will also turn some people’s attention to their own psychic perceptions, and help them to focus on the faeries in their own lives so that they may improve their rapport until the communion becomes conscious for them, too.” By recounting what she saw and felt and was told, she has been able to give to others the gifts of faery-knowledge she obtained at such cost over so many years.
The answers she found to the questions she asked are not perhaps the ones you might expect. She found herself conversing with a very specific kind of Being – and learned how they come into existence, where they come from and what their function is. Years ago I might have doubted the possibility of such beings existing, were it not for an experience I had in Ireland, which I will never forget.
Olivia Durdin-Robertson, who founded the Fellowship of Isis with her brother Lawrence, had developed a method of exploring the Otherworld, which she called by the unassuming term ‘guided meditation’. I have since discovered that two researchers, one in Australia, and another in America, had been simultaneously developing a similar method. Steven Glaskin in Australia called it the ‘Christos’ technique – and wrote about it in a number of books, including ‘Windows of the Mind’. Olivia’s method involved an ‘operator’ and a ‘percipient’. The operator performed a simple ceremony at the beginning and end of the experience, applied spiritual healing, and acted as a guide to the percipient, who was sent on a voyage into the Otherworld – into other states of Being.
I was lucky enough to spend six months or more at Olivia’s home, Huntington Castle, and during this time she sent me on many voyages into the Otherworld, and taught me how to send others on such voyages too. Helped by an initial session of spiritual healing and an opening ceremony that created a strong feeling of blessing and protection, I would lie for hours at a time, several evenings a week, on a couch in the old library of the castle. Olivia would then guide me on a meditation, leading me on a journey which would begin in the realm of the imagination, or creative visualisation, but which would change – at a certain moment – to become a journey through an entirely different realm: an Otherworldly land peopled by other intelligences. Sometimes we seemed to travel into the past to converse with beings from other times or to enter past lives. Other times we seemed to travel into the future, and to other levels of Reality hard to describe in words. And at one time I was taken to meet a Being who was a fire elemental, deva or salamander: he rose out of an ancient temple-tomb and was vast – maybe a hundred feet high. He was made of shining gold and red fire-light, which shimmered and radiated. We communicated, but not with words, and I can understand fully why it has taken Vivienne so long to write about her communications with beings who, like this nature-spirit, have such a different consciousness to humans. It would make it even harder to believe in faeries, if we had to accept that they had somehow learned human languages.
This experience convinced me that there are indeed beings that we call by such names as elementals, elves, and fairies. And it showed me that we can communicate with them, as long as we let go of our need to use external conversation as our medium. For years afterwards, though, I was entranced by the thought that such beings existed, and it took a while to come to the realisation expressed so clearly by Vivienne, when she says: ‘We humans tend to think of ourselves as great lumps of materiality, slow-witted, dull-sensed, unmagical, and powerless, at least compared with faeries and elementals and their ilk. In fact, we are every bit as magical as they are, if only we could wake up to it.’
In some exciting, and hardly comprehensible way, it seems that we as humans are destined to work together with such beings – and the first stage in this process requires us to recognise that they actually exist, and that we can communicate with them.
To do this, we must use the web of life itself. We must learn to trust the fact that in some amazing, and as yet inexplicable way the natural world of trees, plants, flowers and crystals are able to transmit messages, signals, and even – as Vivienne describes – the faeries themselves: ‘Eventually she could reach any individual flower in the biome reasonably rapidly from any other flower anywhere on Earth, scrolling through till she found the location you wanted. Since distance is no object, what about other planets? Theoretically, she could locate, scroll her way through to, and emerge from, any flower on any plant anywhere in the universe as easily as you can now make a phone call, except it’s not just your voice you would transmit, it’s yourself.’
Any doubt of mine that such a web existed was removed for me one day in Holland. I was leading a workshop on the tree-lore of the Druids, and we were about to enter a forest to commune with the trees, when a woman collapsed in tears. She explained that it was her granddaughter’s birthday, but that she had become estranged from her daughter, who would not let her communicate with her grandchild. This caused her immense pain, and it had suddenly overwhelmed her. I talked to her about the idea of the web of life, and about the way Druids and indigenous peoples believe that we can use trees as telephones to talk to each other at great distances. ‘It seems crazy,’ I told her, ‘but try it! See if you can send a message to your granddaughter through a tree.’
We then fanned out into the forest – each of us picking a tree which seemed right for us, to perform our meditative exercise. An hour later we gathered together to compare notes. The grandmother began crying again. But this time she was crying for joy. She explained that she hadn’t been able to find a tree that really felt right, so picked instead a strong, handsome looking tree to lean against. As she began the exercise she seemed to feel the tree saying ‘It’s not me you need’ and then she started to sense a nearby tree communicating with her, saying: ‘Come here. Sit by me. I can help you.’ Her rational mind thought this absurd, and the tree itself was unattractive to her – small and scrawny. But in the end the call was so insistent, she moved, and began the exercise again with this new tree. She entered into a feeling of deep communion with the tree – somehow she knew she was meant to be with it. She then sent a message to her granddaughter: ‘Happy Birthday! I love you!’
In a while, she sensed the tree telling her that it had a gift for her: ‘Open your eyes and look down’ it said. She did so, and found herself looking at what she thought was a bright red autumn leaf. She stretched out her hand to accept the gift, only to find that it was a red balloon – with HAPPY BIRTHDAY printed on it. I don’t know whether she posted the balloon to her granddaughter or whether she kept it, to hand it to her one day while telling her the story of how she found it.
Truly the world is far more miraculous than we can understand, and such experiences show that we can indeed communicate with and through the natural world. In the end, the deciding factor becomes belief: as the poet Aidan Dun says ‘Nothing here is real without belief’. The psychologist Wayne Dyer echoes this when he says ‘You’ll see it when you believe it’, summarising decades of research by psychologists that show the primacy of conceptions, beliefs, in the perceptual process.
Maybe to see fairies we have to believe in them first.
Aotearoa – The Land of the Long White Cloud