Saturday, June 29, 2024

Journey to the Queen of the Fairies

A long-time Canadian friend is a shamanic practitioner. She lives with her husband in a tiny house way up the valley of the Ottawa and therefore uses zoom to expand her reach to interested folks. She is learned in the Irish Celtic traditions. The mythology of Ancient Ireland is foreign to me, but she is deep into the stories and characters, which are, about as far away from the European schoolroom- familiar Classical tradition as you can be. 

The Irish origin story was long thought to be little but another product of the famed Irish imagination. That is, until recently. DNA studies have suggested that the traditional tale of an epic journey to a far off island by a tribe of cattle herders is a true one. 

These cattle loving, builders of stone monuments arrived during the Neolithic. Later, the Romans were unable to colonize Ireland--they had enough on their hands with the British, Scots and Welsh!  After the Romans, the earliest Christian monks were sufficiently open-minded to commit some of this ancient oral tradition to manuscript, which is why we have some of these stories today. 

These tell of gods, goddesses, heroes and queens plus a truly outstanding array of monsters and supernatural beings. They have come down to us in a way that the gods of the various ancient Britannic people have not. Much of the Irish story is certainly lost and much is probably garbled by the monkish recorders, but it is fascinating to me how long what is basically a tribal history can be remembered, if it is not intentionally erased by some colonizing power.  

My friend is an expert hand drummer. She also teaches yoga and conducts trance journey sessions, one of which I attended on the night of the Summer Solstice. This is a liminal time, like the other moments of transition from one season to another. 

Long ago, these seasonal changes were marked by observations of the "circling sky," --the rising of certain stars, the moon's path and that of the sun--were of crucial importance, first to hunter/gatherers who followed animal, fish, and bird migrations. When agriculturalists came on the scene, they used the same observations for planting and harvests.

It was wonderful to feel that I was about to be part of a timeless ceremony. Although this one happened to be conducted via the internet, it felt authentic. Needs must! And the only thing that has really changed is human technology, for the human emotional brain remains the same. I was simply grateful to be able to join in.

Effective drumming, (like chanting or ritual dance), puts the listener into a non-ordinary state of mind. You enter a space where imagination leads the way. Learning and expectations naturally play a part, for everyone present had their own unique image of "fairies" and how the Queen of this Wild Court might show herself that night. 

We shared afterward, although this was not required. (Nothing is "required" of participants except participation--focus on the drum, and be present.)  When the drum went quiet, we shared. Everyone, it seemed, had gone by a different path to a very different place. Some of us saw "our" Queen of the Fairies; others got lost on the path. 

When we closed our spritual doors and went our separate ways, I walked outside, to watch the sun's setting. This meant, however, that I was facing east. There to greet me, through a hole in the neighbor's prosaic, overgrown arborvitae hedge, was the full moon, magnified because she was still very low on the horizon. 

I live in a tourist town and there is always noise, lots of traffic, street racers, trucks, lawn mowing and general two stroke engine racket. On this night, there was only a miraculous silence, a kind of ambient hum behind. Only the birds were speaking, twittering, as they settled down in twilight. Bumblebees still dangled from milkweed in my garden. To the west, the sun showed a final full disc of molten gold. Under the old apple tree, four bunnies played, jumping over one another surrounded by clouds of fireflies, sparkling as they floated up on every side.

~~Juliet Waldron 



  1. I did a lot of research on Celtic Fae people for my Curse of the Lost Isle medieval series. Although I focused on the Scottish and French legends, I found that these Fae people and their stories still resonate in our psyche. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My Irish mother, RIP, would tell me of the Fairy Trees in the hills around County Clare and Wicklow. A Fairy Tree was a solitary, large tree in the middle of a field. Why was it there all alone? Because it was home to the Fairies (they could 'see' for miles). Oh, and also the occasional Leprechaun :)


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