[This month, we sit down with author, Melanie Godfrey. Here, they discuss their new book Pagan Portals: Ancient Fayerie; their personal spiritual tradition; and their upcoming projects.]
ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual practice? Does it have a name, or is it more intuitive and eclectic?
Melanie Godfrey: In the early days I was into Taoism and Buddhism, which are still close to my heart. These days, I call myself a simple druid. I feel that we do not need much to connect to the vast subtle energies of life and our innate intuition. So I like to keep practices elementary and heart-centred. I focus on gently honouring the earth and all of nature. Walking a druid path is a way of being. Druidry connects me deeply to my own culture. This ancient land of Albion is my home, where my heart sings best.
ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or other spirits do you honour in your practice?
MG: I honour Mary Magdalene; she connects me to a heart-centred path of love and compassion – remembering the divine feminine mysteries. I have an affinity with Mannanon Mac Lir, Son of Lir, the Celtic Sea God who came from the Isle of Man, which is where my own ancestors originate from. Mannanon was said to preside over Tir Nan Og – the land of eternal youth. His story enchants my spirit, and I feel a close connection with him as I live by the ocean and spend a lot of my time there. At the ocean, I feel a close affinity with seals, their playful and peaceful natures. I hold a deep reverence for the seal and the Otherworldly selchie – sea fayerie.
ev0ke: You just released Pagan Portals: Ancient Fayerie. First, congratulations! Second, how did this book come about? Did you approach Moon Books, or did they come to you?
MG: The book came to life after I began writing fayerie stories inspired by my visits to Scotland, and a friend encouraged me to write more. That was when I decided to write a book about the fayerie world; a book I wish I’d had to read in the early days of exploring Otherworldly realms. The fayerie guided the book, but as soon as the last word had been written, I heard nothing from them for a good while.
I had a dream about having a book published by Moon Books, so I approached them with my finished manuscript. Luckily, they liked it, and the rest is history. I am so grateful to Moon Books, and to my editor Trevor Greenfield for giving me this opportunity.
ev0ke: Why a book about the Celtic Sidhe? What draws you to them?
MG: Celtic fayeries have always fascinated me, but it was not until I visited Scotland that my adoration for the Celtic Sidhe grew. The Sidhe are rarely seen, unlike the spritely fayeries or dryads. The Sidhe have an air of mystery surrounding them. The word Sidhe is from an old Irish language; a language which has sadly died. The Sidhe are the Otherworldly beings who live in community and are deeply connected to the landscape. Sidhe was later translated to fairy.
The genius loci of the Highlands of Scotland, and the islands in the Inner Hebrides, speak an ancient language. Eclipsed by the beauty of the Highlands, I felt myself transported to the world of fayerie on many occasions whilst visiting those lands. I returned many a time to the Isle of Iona, and I started to have spiritual experiences with the Fair Folk there. I began to understand that having reverence, and the ‘right’ codes of behaviour was important whilst walking on thin places and experiencing fayerie, so as not to fall foul of them. Places where boundaries and respect were necessary.
ev0ke: The book is divided into two sections, which could be loosely defined as ‘nonfiction’ and ‘fiction’. The first focuses on the types of Fayerie, sacred sites, ethics, and so forth. What sort of research went into this section? Stacks of books? Long walks outside? Discussions with other people who have interacted with the fayerie?
MG: I undertook field research by visiting sacred sites around the Isle of Albion. I meditated upon the land and decided to write about subtle energies of the land, ley lines, stone, and tree beings. Then, in section two, I was inspired to create my own fantasy stories about fayerie induced by my imagination and lit by subtle visions. I went through a period of having many spirits and fayerie visitations as I connected deeper into the Celtic wild that inspired the book. I wanted a book I wish I’d had at the beginning of my journey with the Fayerie.
ev0ke: The second section of the book features fayerie tales; short stories inspired by your understanding of and encounters with Otherworldly beings. How did you go about writing these stories? Were there some that you just had to include, and others that you opted to publish later?
MG: The spirit of place inspires me. I wanted to bring the land alive through creative writing. My imagination weaved stories, and my hope was that they would inspire others to create their own tales of mystery and wonder about the earth’s landscapes. There were a few tales that I left out of the book. Not all fayerie stories are meant to be told. Certain experiences are to be kept close to our hearts, and some fayerie abodes are to be kept a secret. Many stories did not make it into the book for this reason.
Although my experiences of the fayerie world have often been enlightening and gentle, sometimes I felt shocked at the grotesque appearance of the gnarled dryads. Overall, my personal fayerie experiences have been quite positive. Yet, I am aware that not all fayerie are like this, and we need to take this into account if we choose to walk a fayerie path. Not everyone has positive experiences, and there are many in past myths and legends that tell the tale. But people will search for fayerie regardless, and this is another reason why I wrote the book. Hopefully, it expresses the need to have a deep reverence and respect for a spiritual realm that can often be misunderstood.
ev0ke: You often refer to the fayerie as the People of Peace. Why that epithet?
MG: The phrase the People of Peace was used by British Folklorist Katherine Briggs, in the book The Vanishing People, to refer to the Fayerie folk as the People of Peace, or woman of peace when she is referring to a fairy woman. For me, it is a term of endearment. They are a spiritual race of beings who understand peace and, as I see it, strive for a peaceful, harmonious existence in the Otherworld.
ev0ke: There are a lot of traditional tales about the Sidhe. Which is your favourite story, and why?
MG: The story of the birth of the Dagda inspires me, as he came from an acorn. Dagda was perceived as the Father God of Ireland, and he is one of the most important of the Gods in Celtic legends, who wielded power over life, death, and the seasons. Dagda came about through the ancient Irish goddess Danu, who was perceived as the Mother Goddess of Ireland, and the one who started the Tuatha De Dannan who were the people of the goddess Danu. Danu had a relationship with the God of healing and light, who was called Bile. Bile appeared in this story in the form of a seed, and from that seed grew a sacred druid oak tree.
In the beginning, the goddess Danu gave life to the bare landscapes, nourishing the earth with her elixir of life. She watered the seed and cherished the oak tree that grew from it. Eventually, the mighty oak dropped two acorns; the first one was a male, and the second a female. The male one was Dagda, the good God. The oak tree with its symbolism has gifted me great wisdom and strength throughout the years.
ev0ke: In addition to your own work, which resources would you recommend to someone who is interested in building a relationship with the fayerie?
MG: One of my favourite authors who wrote about his own experiences with the fayerie world is Robert Ogilvie Crombie, in Encounters with Pan and the Elemental Kingdoms. In his work, Robert recounts his extraordinary meetings with the fayerie realm, especially his heart-to-heart chats with Pan. It is fascinating. My go-to book about the spirit world is The Boy Who Saw True, editor Cyril Scott. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in seeking a truth about the spirit world, although it is not directly linked to fayerie in particular. It is the alleged true diary about the world of spirit through the eyes of a young Victorian boy with clairvoyant gifts. It is insightful to those who may be interested in spiritual phenomena and mediumship. Morgan Daimler is a fayerie expert and academic master in this field. I advise anyone looking into fayerie to seek out their work. The world needs to experience a range of options and opinions about the Otherworldly realm.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
MG: I am currently working on a project about the mysteries of the Selchie legends. Besides having a great love for the rare grey seals that adorn the British coastlines, the research around the selchie takes me up to Scotland and the Outer Hebrides, where many of the tales were born. I am excited to be delving into the world of the seals, and the Otherworldly selchie stories that our ancestors told.