The Faerie Tradition
is not a faith, for faery beings exist whether or not we believe in them.
(R. J. Stewart, 1995, p. xvi).
In my many years as a visual
artist, I have created many paintings of the Fae and have given a great deal of
thought to what my connection to Faerie may be. I have come to believe that the
Faeries and other beings of the Otherworld are using me as a conduit for
communication between this and their worlds. All of my paintings in recent
years seem to have become gateways of a sort, and I believe that this is
because it is becoming more necessary than ever for the human worlds and the
Fae realms to work together more in a more amicable way.
My own gateway into Faerie is the
art that I make. Often when I work, I may have a specific idea or image in mind
when I begin. I find that sometimes the work begins to take on a life of its
own, and begins to ‘sing’ to me in it’s own way. It is hard to find words for
these kinds of experiences which is why I am grateful for the gift of visual art.
Images are a much easier way for me to communicate, and each person who wishes
to work with Faerie will find their own particular gateway. As there are many
different kinds of humans, there are also many different kinds of the Fae.
Some of the Faerie lore I have
encountered states that when things are difficult in our world, they become
better in the world of the Fae, but I think that the stresses we place on our
own environment cause stress for the Faeries as well. One of the things I have
taken away from my study of Faery is that relationships between the Fae and
humans can be very beneficial as there are things we can do that they can not
do, and there are things they can do that human beings can not. The purpose of
this article is to explore who the Faeries are, the realms in which they dwell,
and our own relationships with them.
The Fae and My
Relationship with Them
Faeries hover just off
the edge of vision, or are slightly out of focus. Nigel Suckling
wish to pause here and state that I do not think of Faeries nor the realm of
the Fae as supernatural. Indeed, I believe that the Fae are deeply connected to
the natural world and that we dismiss them as supernatural at our peril. We
must begin to acknowledge these beings as part of our world and learn how to
live in harmony with them if we are ever to get through our current
environmental crises, although sometimes I do despair of humans ever being
capable of this.
For me to talk about how I work
with the Fae is very hard, as my relationship with them mostly seems to be
non-verbal. I am an artist, and my art has enabled me to see into worlds I may
not in other ways. I can’t speak to Brian Froud’s experience as an artist, or
to any other artist’s experience for that matter, but when I paint, although I
may have something specific in mind when I begin, what often shows up takes on
it’s very own life and meaning.
Perhaps the closest thing I can
liken my work to is something that Charles de Lint described in his book Dream and Memory. In this fictional tale,
the artist Isabelle Copley paints pictures whose subjects come to life and
interact with people in this world. Her paintings are gateways for these beings
to come through and be part of this world. Although the results I get from my
work are much less dramatic, I do feel that my paintings are gateways for the
Fae to be seen and heard in this world if they wish to do so. In this book,
Charles de Lint comes closer to describing what happens when I paint more
closely then anything else I could hope to describe.
I feel fortunate that I am allowed
this look into another realm, and that I sometimes feel very strongly that the
eyes of the Fae are staring back out at me through the beings I create in my
paintings. There are times when I have painted things and depicted beings that
I did not know had been seen and interacted with by others – until my friends
told me what they were. There have also been times when I have set about
consciously to create a depiction of a being seen and described by friends,
which has also been an amazing experience.
One night when I was painting, I
was suddenly taken by a desire to create something completely different from my
usual style. Amazing things can sometimes happen when I allow myself to open in
this way. I usually plan out my paintings fairly meticulously, especially as I
tend to be an anatomy Nazi with myself. I want to get it right. On this night,
however, anatomical accuracy was not important, and a leafy, feather-y
blue-green man emerged on my watercolor desk. I learned later that he was a
being visioned by one of the groups within the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel,
the group with which I work. Later on, I set out to create a more planned
version of the painting, and played music which I felt would bring down the
energy I needed (suggested by Ivo Dominguez Jr, one of my fellow Elders) and I
created a painting that the group still uses in their workings to this day.
I have had other occasions when
people have exclaimed that one of my paintings resembles someone they loved who
has died. This has happened enough that I do not think it is happenstance,
however I think it is a case not of the deceased loved one coming down as I
paint, but perhaps showing up as needed to comfort those they left behind.
For me as an artist and a believer
in Faerie, it has been difficult to live through the current Faery craze.
Faeries now appear everywhere, on t-shirts and mugs and items found in Hot
Topic and Spencer’s at the local mall. The popularization of the Fae is both
good and bad. In the way that films like The
Craft made people seek out what Wicca actually was as opposed to how
Hollywood made it seem, the popularization of Faerie may well have made many
people want to look more deeply into who the Fae actually are.
The proliferation of Faerie Festivals
across the Northeast speaks to the popularization of the Fae, although I
confess it has not done a great deal for me as an artist. Indeed, it seems
there may be too many Faerie artists, or perhaps not enough Faerie artists
interested in the Fae beyond making money from creating products associated
with them. I am not sure. I know that it does not matter to me whether or not
the people at these festivals buy my art. I prefer customers who wish to create
homes for my creations, and who will truly love what I have produced.
The Bright and
Shining Ones Have Always Been Here
truth is that the Fae have been part of this world – seen or unseen – for as
long if not longer then we have been a part of it. Whether or not Faerie art is
part of the popular culture, they will always be here, and those who are called
to work with them will continue to be called. In these times of environmental
crisis, it seems that now is a time that many are feeling the call, as the
natural world is such a part of them, as it is a part of us whether we choose
to see that or not. Their world is
as tangible as ours for those who have eyes to see.
also believe that there will always be artists who “see” into other realms, and
our purpose is to awaken others to their reality. The Fae who show themselves
to us do so in order to be “seen” in this realm. (And I use quotation marks
around the word see because interestingly, when I am creating something like
this, I don’t always see it in my mind first – it just appears on the page).
The Fae who show up in my work do so in order to remind us humans that we are
not alone in this realm, and that we have much work to do in maintaining our
relationships with this and other realms.