Most people will imagine faeries as little pixies flying about on gossamer wings; benevolent sprites which are shy at best and invisible to us at worst. Most often linked in with Celtic legend, fairies in some form or another actually play an important role in the folklore of many cultures throughout the world, where they have been portrayed as everything from nature spirits, to fallen angels, to conversely demons. They come in all shapes and sizes and are attributed with an array of paranormal powers, but far from being merely the denizens of legend there has actually been a good number of very real fairy sightings and encounters over the centuries. They are indeed far too numerous to list here, but one thing they mostly tend to adhere to is that fairies are for the most part benevolent, or at the very least innocuous and relatively unconcerned with us. Yet there are other reports and accounts, although rarer, that paint the fairies we envision in a different light, that of destructive, threatening entities that wish to do us harm in one way or another.
One early and quite sinister account with alleged evil fairies I first came across was on a site with a good array of old articles on the unexplained, called Anomalyinfo. Apparently, in 1911 a Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz published a book called The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, in which there is interviewed 73-year-old Neil Colton, who claimed that as a youth in 1853 he had had a rather strange and frightening fairy encounter indeed. Colton claimed that one summer day he had been put with his brother and cousin gathering berries out in the countryside when they heard some inexplicable, ethereal music wafting through the air from beyond some nearby rocks. When the group went to investigate, they claimed that they had come across a band of fairies dancing in a clearing, and one of these little folk, a woman dressed in red, suddenly noticed they were being watched and rushed forward with decidedly aggressive intent.
The mysterious woman is claimed to have surged forth with a stick, or rush in her hand to strike the cousin across the cheek, after which she reached out to grab Colton’s brother’s arm to keep from falling. This sent the group scurrying away in a panic, and at some point on their flight back to their home Colton’s cousin collapsed to the ground seemingly dead. The girl’s father and a priest by the name of Father Ryan then came to the scene and Ryan said a prayer over her body, after which she slowly and groggily awoke. The priest would come to the conclusion that it had only been her grabbing Colton brother that had kept her from being taken by the fairies “forever.”
Even predating this rather spooky encounter was another from 1757, in which a British cleric named Edward Williams claimed that he had been playing in a field as a child with some other children when they had seen a strange procession of eight couples marching along dressed in red and measuring only a few inches in height. Oddly, each one of them had been carrying a minuscule white handkerchief in its hand. According to the report, as soon as the little folk realized that they were being watched, one of the men of the group aggressively chased the children, and it was reported that they could see a “full and clear view of his ancient, swarthy, grim complexion.” As the children ran for their lives, Williams claimed that the little people had shouted and cursed at them in some alien, unintelligible language. Williams would apparently remain perplexed by this incident his whole life, allegedly conceding, “I am forced to class it among my unknowables.”
In the 1800s there was a report of what appears to have been a whole murderous group of fairy-folk that rose up to attack witnesses. This case seems to revolve around the discovery of a “fairy fort” by a moat, that seems to have been fiercely protected by whatever magical creatures resided there. The report, related by a Clare Westropp, said thus:
At the natural moat crowned by the small stone ring wall of Croaghateeaun, near Lisdoonvarna, we were told to cross ourselves as a protection against the Danann. The place was, nevertheless, undoubtedly regarded by the older people living near it as a most dangerous fairy fort, and we were told how certain badger hunters, (who brought drink with them), after a long festival on its summit got benighted there; they eventually returned home sobered by fright, as they suddenly ‘saw the whole fleet’ of ‘them’ coming up the mound, and escaped only just in time.
Fairies have supposedly displayed an alarming habit of kidnapping human beings, in particular babies, and there are many such reports. One account listed on the Fairyist website details the report of a woman who in 1844 gave birth to a baby. Some time later, the infant was lying in bed with the mother and father when the mother awoke to find the baby gone. She would soon find that it had been taken by the Fairy-folk, and the report would say of the incident thus:
Uttering an exclamation of fear, lest the fairies (or feriers) should have taken the child, she jumped out of bed, and there sure enough a number of the little sandy things had got the baby at the foot of the bed and were undressing it. They fled away through a hole in the floor, laughing as if they shrieked, and, snatching up her child, on examination she found that they had laid all the pins head to head as they took them out of the dress. For months afterwards she always slept with the child between herself and husband, and used carefully to pin it by its bed clothes to the pillow and sheets that it might not be snatched hastily away. This happened in the old house which stood where the new one now stands on the south side of the vicarage gate. A woman, as she heard tell, had a child changed, and one, a poor thing, left in his place, but she was very kind to it, and every morning on getting up she found a small piece of money in her pocket. My informant firmly believes in their existence, and wonders how it is that of late years no such things have been seen.
More modern day accounts of fairies with dark intent exist as well. In 1972, American folk singer Artie Traum claimed that he had been walking along when he heard a chorus of strange voices in the air command him to “Run, man, run.” The voices were supposedly accompanied by a strange melody of what sounded like fiddles and pipe instruments, which unsettled the singer immensely. As it all grew more urgent, with no discernible source, Traum beat a hasty retreat. As he made his way through the woods, he claimed that he had been met with a thunderous sound like a crackling of some sort, as well as what he could only describe as “great motion.” In the meantime, he found that his head was besieged by a deafening cacophony of noise and music, and he would say of this, “my head was swarming with thousands of voices, thousands of words making no sense.”
He was only able to defy whatever strange force was influencing itself upon him when he exited the woods, after which the music and voices melted away. It all seems rather aggressive to be sure. Another report comes from even more recently, when according to paranormalencouners.com a reader claimed that he had came face to face with some sort of wood sprite in Australia called a “Woodarjee,” which were described as well known by the Aborigines and as “mischievous, sometimes violent little people.”
The witness claims that in the 1980s he had been in the Perth suburb of Coolongup as a child, along with his brother and cousins. They had been playing hide n’ seek in some bushland when the witness says he had heard a noise nearby. When he turned towards the source, he claims that he saw standing there a “small Aboriginal man” who measured a mere 13 inches in height. The tiny little man had in his hands a spear, and he glared at the witness angrily before throwing the spear, which lodged itself in the witness’s foot. Oddly, when the little man retreated, the spear and the wound allegedly completely vanished.
If news reports are to be believed, then the phenomenon on evil fairies is only getting worse into modern times. According to express.co.uk, In 2014 a census on fairy sightings was carried out by the the Faery Investigation Society and recorded 450 fairy encounters. According to these reports, the trend seems to be that these alleged fairies are getting nastier, more sinister and ominous as time goes by, with reports of “small but aggressive fairies, tree-monsters and grumpy gnomes dressed as Oxford scholars.” One Dr Simon Young of the International Studies Institute in Florence, Italy, said of this trend:
I don’t believe in fairies, wings and glitter, but I most certainly believe my witnesses. There is no question that something happened to these people. The question is, what? People’s idea of fairies has changed, but it is odd how many have reported seeing things that resemble centuries-old legends. If you go back 500 or 600 years fairies make people jump, they see them as fearsome and potentially dangerous beings. This has certainly come back. Fairies seem to have changed. Gone are the friendly ones, now people are reporting a scarier, creepier underside.
While fairies may seem to be portrayed as mostly mythical, well, fairy-tale creatures, they certainly do dwell in the world of the weird, with numerous sightings and accounts of real fairy encounters all the way up into present times. While most of these reports tend to feature fleeting creatures that seem to not want much to do with us, there are others that, as we have seen here, show that they may at times have more sinister motives which we may never fully understand. Whether there is any truth to these stories or not, it certainly seems that at the very least they are not always portrayed as the carefree, frolicking sprites that many of us may envision, and there are darker underpinnings to the legends of fairies.