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Do fairies exist?

from Ask Jessica

Artwork source: fantasyarts.net
I prefer to believe in magical, mystical things such as leprechauns, elves, mermaids and fairies. Believing in the unlikely or impractical puts a happy, hopeful, Disney-esque shine on our sometimes gloomy world.

Fairies - supernatural beings with magical powers - have existed in literature from Greek and Roman mythology to medieval legends to modern American bedtime stories. Although fairies look human, they are typically able to fly, cast spells (as with Tinkerbell's pixie dust) and they can sometimes foretell the future.

In The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries, author Pierre Dubois uses this description:

They are known as the little people, the beautiful maiden, the godmothers, the blessed, the ageless ones. Ruling over earth, fire and water, they protect forests, animals and children, and in their hands lie the dreamy souls of all creatures.

The fairies we are most familiar with are young, dainty, good-natured and female with a pair of gossamer wings. This has not always been the case. Before the 1800s most fairies were tall and a bit frightening, with a tendency toward evil.

In European Folklore, house elves, also called brownies, help with chores. The Arabic genie possesses supernatural powers and can change size or shape. Greek nymphs are young, lovely, loving and musical. The English pixie relishes fooling travelers into getting lost.

Perhaps most commonplace of modern fairies is the tooth fairy. How can you not adore a kindly being who sneaks into your room while you sleep to trade money for a useless tooth?

And then there is Cinderella whose Fairy Godmother swept her up for a rags-to-riches makeover - chariot included - and a dream date with a prince.

Sleeping Beauty was cursed an angry fairy to die at the age of 16. She was saved only by the combined spells of the other fairies in the kingdom. It is clear that people want to believe in fairies. But, should we?

I talked to Gary Gilbert, philosophy professor at Claremont McKenna College.

"Fairies, like other mythological beings, help us to make sense of and give meaning to the world in which we live," Professor Gilbert said. "But fairies do not exist in the same way that you and I exist."

While Professor Gilbert remains skeptical, Dora Van Gelder, author of "The Real World of Fairies," argues that fairies do indeed exist, but cannot be seen just anyone. "A special sense must be awakened in people if they are to see fairies," Van Gelder wrote. "The kind of world fairies live in does not affect our ordinary senses directly. They cannot be touched or felt, yet they can certainly be seen."

There is no conclusive answer to the fairies question. It is a matter of what you choose to believe, based on what you think you know or how you feel. Sometimes it is best to ignore empirical evidence and rely instead on faith. Other times it is wise to be wary, demand proof and reject silliness.

Nevertheless, keep putting lost teeth under your pillow.

Story source dailybulletin.com



Related Links:
Do you believe in fairies?
A Midsummer Night's Nightmare?
Mystery and myths in weird Wales
An Alien Agenda? by Tim Swartz



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