(wwl) “every time you say you don’t believe in fairies, a fairy dies.”

September 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Once upon a time, were two young cousins, Elsie and Frances. They lived in a charming little cottage in Yorkshire named Cottingley. They used to go for long walks around the cottage but their favourite game was to hide in between the bed of flowers and play in the woods surrounding their little garden. The young girls belonged to this race of imaginative people who strongly believed in magic, who had grown up with the power of imagination and would be so close to nature that they could hear trees and flower whisper as they passed by… So here is what took place in 1917, and started an affair that would cause an uproar in the media for years on.

Here is what happened. One morning, Elsie and Frances asked for the camera of Elsie’s father, to take a picture of “the fairies they had been playing with for the whole morning’. A couple of hours later, they returned, and when the father had the pictures revealed, there indeed appeared one fairy dancing next to Frances… The mystery went on, with several pictures. Can you believe this? Fairies! Supernatural beings, creatures of ether actually captured within a photograph! And after all, why not? Isn’t the camera supposed to gather particles of light and give a restitution of reality? And if, truly, our eye couldn’t perceive them, but the light eye of the camera could? Spiritualists took it seriously and would believe with all the conviction of the world that the fairies were there,playing with these children, revealing themselves only to pure noble hearts…

Well, after some years, what had to happen happened: the girls grew up and forgot everything about their magical friends. They forgot about the scent of wild roses and sweet violets. They got married and forgot their childhood. Or did they…? Elsie and Frances, now ladies, admitted these fairies had been made from paper figures, they admitted the pictures had been fake… all of them but one, the fifth one, which, accordingly, was “the picture of their thoughts.”

(For the complete detailed story and commentaries on the pictures, see the Museum of Hoaxes article)

— So this is one of my favourite fairy stories. I would love to meet some. To meet the one who lives in the apple tree, and also the fairy of the bluebells, and of the strawberry bushes… the Cottingley fairies affair was a hoax, but nevermind! So many artists and so many children still make fairies alive! Cicely Mary Baker has peopled my childhood with portraits of lovely creatures living among fruits and nuts. In the mistletoe, among the sunflowers, behind the branches of the pear tree… She created the flower fairies who transform gardens into celebrating places! See them dancing there… the elderflower and the mulberry fairies are going for a ride…

Please remember Peter Pan all your life: “Every time you say fairies don’t exist, a fairy dies…” (J. M. Barrie)


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