Sometimes people ask me why I don't talk much about personal practice and experience with the Othercrowd, beyond a handful of anecdotes that I repeat and some fairly generic for-public-consumption stories. I'm pretty free with talking about experiences that occured with other people, about being pixy-led, or seeing fairy hounds, or items being taken and returned. And I will talk about the numinous, about the Gods even the liminal Gods, pretty easily. So why not share more of the deeper personal things?
It's a hard thing to talk about for many reasons. Certainly one is that I worry about people questioning my sanity as I talk about these experiences. Its funny how we can talk about things with Gods and people are, if not supportive, at least more willing to consider possibilities; even ghosts are met with a basic assumption of the person's sanity. But when it comes to the Othercrowd, at least in my experience, people are far quicker to jump to 'crazy' to explain away something. And of course I worry that in speaking about it I'll say too much and lose their favor which is a concern supported by folklore - the quote may go that the 'first rule of fight club is don't talk about fight club' but in my experience that is far more applicable to fairies. There's also always the worry that people simply won't believe me because its so difficult to convey these experiences in words without making them sound trite and contrived. Even I don't think some of them sound believable when I tell them, and I was there when they happened. So there's the fear that people just won't believe what I'm saying is true.
And there's the worry that they will.
I feel often like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth, saying on one side to seek Themselves out for their blessings and friendship and on the other to avoid them because of their mercurial nature and danger. And the Heaven and Hell of it, if you'll pardon the expression, is that both are equally true. Because I do think there's value in keeping the old ways and the reciprocal relationship with the Good Folk that has existed for many hundreds, if not thousands, of years - and indeed part of my service to Them as a priestess is to do what I can to keep those old beliefs and traditions viable - and I think that people should be encouraged to do that. But I also think that modern pop-culture has done the Fairy Faith no favors and that people do need to be reminded of the respect and fear that They are due and why they are due it. So its seek Them out and encourage Their interest in you but at the same time be cautious of Them and don't get Them too interested. And if that's a contradiction, then consider it your first lesson in fairywork.
I talk a lot about the darker side of Fairy and the dangers of the beings who dwell within it, and I do that on purpose. The Otherworld and its inhabitants are not the stuff of young adults novels and LOTR fanfiction. I see too many people who plunge head first into seeking the Gentry out, heedless of any potential danger, and my instinct is to warn people. I'll use the analogy of hiking here, that hiking on a summer day seems really appealing because its so beautiful and looks so easy - you just start walking in the woods, isn't that nice? And you know most of the time it will just be nice and pleasant and nothing bad will happen. Nothing at all will happen except for you getting some exercise. But - oh, there's always a but isn't there? - anyone who is an experienced hiker knows that there's always a chance of getting lost, or falling and getting hurt, or being attacked by an animal, or eating something that looks familiar but isn't what you thought it was, or...or. You see? And that's what I might say that Fairy is like. And if you get lost or hurt or attacked you had really better know what to do about it.
And there's a part of me that doesn't like to talk about some things I've seen or experienced because I worry that it may give people the wrong idea, may make things seem more alluring or good than they actually are. May make people forget the danger. May create that urge in people where they want to have that same experience because they are hearing the beautiful experience and not grasping the fuller context.
I am not yet 40 years old and I have seen things that I will never stop seeing - not horrible, terrifying things either but things so beautiful it breaks the heart and so enchanting it makes everything in mortal life seem a pale shadow in comparison. Beauty is a poison in its own way, and it sinks into the bone beyond removing. The stories talk about that too but we don't want to see it most of the time because we like the idea that people can be saved from Fairy in the end and return to their lives and be happy here. But once you've heard that music and once you've seen those shining halls you lose a part of yourself to the sound and sight of it and there is no real coming back from that. The old stories talk about that too you know. And ultimately I don't want the responsibility of leading someone else where I am, aching for a world that isn't here and that nothing here compares to.
Fairywork is worth doing and it has benefits that make it worth the risk, like any other dangerous thing. But it is dangerous both in Fairy's ability to actually harm a person and the way its enchantment changes a person. It is something that must be done with care and with constant vigilance to be done well, or something that must be done lightly to be done safely, or something that can and will consume a person. I suppose I talk about the things I do because I'd rather be a horrible warning than a great example, to paraphrase Aird,.
And so when I talk about it I try to talk enough to encourage people to want to do it, but not enough about my personal deep experiences to give the impression that losing your soul to it should be a life goal. And I try to emphasize the danger so that if things go sideways people can't say they didn't know the pitfalls and bears where there along the trail the whole time.