When it comes to fairies, no country has more folklore and more varieties of the mythical creatures than Ireland – with fairies running the gamut from good to bad, beautiful to ugly, magical to evil, and flying to underground. A woman in Ireland recently took a walk in a dark forest (even with all of the tales of woodland fairies, people still do this) just north of Dublin and claims to have walked through a mysterious portal where she encountered a female fairy that tried to trick her. Fortunately, she made it back to tell her story … let’s find out how she did it and see if we can figure out which of Ireland’s many fairy folk she may have met.
"I just had to get my steps up for a challenge that we were doing in work. I decided to go walk somewhere nice instead of just doing laps of my estate. It was a nice day so I said I would go for a walk in the woods. What was the worst that could happen?”
In Ireland, “What was the worst that could happen?” is a loaded question, as this woman was about to find out. She spoke to Dublin Live – revealing only her Twitter handle @Viriconia -- about her recent foray into the woods in the county of Meath north of Dublin. It appears she was not familiar with this particular route.
"It was going fine then the path leads through two identical trees. I stepped through and put my hands on both trees. People are saying now that this was a mistake. One was really warm and the other was really wet and cold.”
That sounds like a classic woodlands fairy portal and @Viriconia stepped right through it. At first, not much seemed different. There were still people around and some of the paths seemed overgrown and not particularly inviting for an exercise walk. Things got a little strange when each path she took seemed to go nowhere and she had to turn around. Then, what she thought was the main path began to look unfamiliar and the skies were filling with dark clouds. What else could possibly go wrong? She had no bars on her phone and couldn’t call up Google Maps! Flipping a mental coin, she chose one of three paths in front of her.
“I kept walking down a path towards a really overgrown area again. At that point then, I heard a really light woman's voice. I don't know how to describe it. It was really high. She was shouting 'over here'. I thought she was probably calling to her kids or something. Then she laughed and it was just when she laughed, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.”
A laughing female fairy! Let’s see if we can figure out what it might be. Irish folklore is filled with female fairies going all the way back to the Aos sí – the supernatural race in Celtic mythology that legends say descended from fallen angels. They are believed to be both gods and goddesses and live in underground fairy forts or fairy mounds accessible by portals. @Viriconia was above ground, so she was probably not hearing a female Aos sí – that was too bad because they are considered to be good humanlike fairies.
“I have a very professional job. I'm not crazy. I'm quite logical but then the call came from the other side of me. I knew something wasn't right.”
Now @Viriconia is getting worried. Has she encountered one fairy that moves fast … or a group of them that are in the process of surrounding her? If she’s dealing with a gang of fairies, they could be Changelings. These spirits are said to be the deformed children of fairies who are abandoned. In a sad but decidedly humanlike move, the parents of the deformed Changelings swap them with a healthy human baby, and they grow up sickly and abnormal, and tend to be always crying. @Viriconia described the voices as female, high-pitched and shouting, not crying, so she probably didn’t encounter one or more Changelings.
Fortunately, the voice was laughing, which means the fairy was most likely not a Banshee – the most feared of the Irish fairies. The ‘woman of the fairy' is a harbinger of death, which she announces by wailing or screaming. Legend has it that if you hear a screaming banshess, you will die within 24 hours.
By process of elimination … we have no idea what kind of fairy @Viriconia was dealing with. That means we have no idea what kind of talisman might have protected her, or what kind of gift she could have offered – bread is one choice – to ward off the fairy and gain safe passage out of the portal and back to reality. But @Viriconia said she’s a professional and not crazy, so she had one trick up her sleeve … and it involved turning that sleeve inside out.
“I just remember turning your clothes inside out is supposed to help. So, I just tried that. I felt like it was just mental. I just had to do it. I turned my t-shirt inside out, put it back on. I was hoping nobody was looking at me because it was a really weird thing to do in the middle of a forest. I turned around and walked back and almost immediately came to the two trees again. When I turned around and came back, I came to them quicker than when I had been walking in the opposite direction.”
As Maxwell Smart would say, “The old ‘turning your clothes inside-out trick’.” That maneuver seems to be a good generic fairy repellant and it apparently worked for @Viriconia as she found her way back to the portal and eventually made it back to her car. As she told the story to her friends, one suggested she had encountered yet another kind of Irish fairy – the ‘stray sod’. That is a clump of sod or grass enchanted by a fairy that kicks into action when stepped on – causing the person to become disorientated and lost even on a familiar path. The accepted way to break the stray sod spell is … you guessed it … turning your clothes inside out.
@Viriconia told Dublin Live she took away two surprises from her fairy experience. One, she had walked 10,000 steps according to her Fitbit – far more than would have been possible in the short period of time she was walking. Two, she was “surprised by the amount of people that it had happened to.”
Fairies are everywhere in Ireland. Wear loose clothing and don’t be modest if you need to do a quick turnaround.