Many people think that the energies that Pagans engage with, the Deities they revere, and the entities they work with are all part of the supernatural. However, the term ‘Supernatural’, like ‘Occult’, means something different from what many people think it means. The actual term derived from the Judeo-Christian worldview that says that Yahweh created the natural world which runs on natural laws, but that there are entities and energies work above these rules and can suspend them at will. Hence the term “Supernatural” meaning ‘above the natural’. However, the modern Pagan viewpoint is that all things and events are part of Nature and that the so-called Supernatural cannot, by this definition, exist. Both on-going scientific and magickal exploration and experimentation support this worldview, which means that even events and powers attributed to something beyond nature do, in fact, have natural explanations.
Thus the Otherworld as a general term for the world of spirits, fairies, and Deities is less another reality separate from this one and more another dimension interpenetrating this one and co-existing alongside it. Magick can be seen as using the resources of this interpenetrating reality and working with other beings to bring about changes in our reality and sometimes other realms of existence as well. The connection is so strong at some times and places that the Otherworld and our Earth Plane shared reality can blend together and the landscapes merge. This is supposed to be particularly common at power points where ley lines cross and other earth energies are strong. These places are called “Fairy Mounds, Hills, or Forts” in Celtic and Norse Mythology and are held in high regard even today, as are their inhabitants. In the Isle of Man, an island in the Irish Sea between Ireland and the UK, offerings are still left for the Mooinjer Veggey, or Little people and in Iceland there is a government minister for fairy folk. This minister’s portfolio covers a broad range of subjects including planning, particularly making sure that road building projects avoid sacred sites, and modifying construction projects that might upset the Huldufólk (Hidden people).
It is important to realise that the Fairies mentioned in the paragraph above are in no way to be confused with the type of flower fairies popularised by artists such as Cicely Mary Barker in the early part of the 20th century. According to people who have seen and met with them in ritual space they are not like miniature children three to ten years old with gauzy winds and cute little outfits, but can vary in height from mid-shin to around eight to ten foot. The smaller ones particularly have strength far out of proportion to their apparent size as well as control over the elements, being closely related to Elementals. I am told by the modern Pagans, who claim to have contacted them, that that they enjoy helping humans who appreciate and work with them in a variety of ways from housework and garden care to career guidance.
Of course, not all denizens of the Otherworld are happy to be seen. I’m writing this article while on a visit to Scotland, looking at sacred sites, traditions, and folklore. There are many stories of people being able to perceive fairies and ‘the wee folk’ either through “fairy ointment”, entering a Fairy Hill (a natural power point in the landscape), or by looking through a stone with a naturally occurring hole in it. A local legend tells of a man from the Village of Killin in Perthshire who entered a local fairy hill and found a woman making porridge. A spark from the porridge hit him in the eye and ever after he was able to see fairies with it. One day at the St. Fillian market in Killin he saw many fairies. He commented on the amount of the little people to one of them, who asked which eye he could see them with. When he indicated to the fairy which one it was they blinded him in it! This seems to be common practice judging by how many tales about people with the fairy sight end the same way. So if you can see the ‘wee folk’ it’s probably best not to tell them.
In earlier times the association of the ‘Little People’ and everyday humans was closer than today and there are lots of examples of miniature stone tools in the archaeological record. In England and Europe these small tools – particularly arrowheads – are called “Elfshot”. To quote Mike Odegard, a State Resource Conservationist in Nevada:
“While growing up in Montana... From time to time I would find very tiny points which the local people called bird points. As I grew older I had a chance to work with a lot of the tribes in MT and as I was telling an old Crow elder about the little points one day he said ‘Oh ya those are from the little people’. I asked him what he was talking about and he said that they had stories about a tribe of very little people that had once lived where the Crow live today. He said that the story was that the little people lived in the ground and were rarely seen however they did trade with them by leaving stuff and when they returned their stuff had been replaced with other stuff. Several months later he took me to a place in the Pryor Mountains and showed me a place where there were many cutouts in the sandstone where he told me the "little people" had corraled there small horses.”
Many of the stories and tales about the Otherworld and its denizens have a strong correlation with modern-day UFO contact and abduction. In Japan it is commonly believed that Tengu, the mischievous nature spirits, actually control UFO’s as part of their fondness for teasing the local population. So if you want to experience Otherworld and Fairy incursions and energies and you haven’t access to a group that works with these you could try a couple of outings with the local UFO ‘chasers’ and see what you learn. If you do, please keep us informed on the Pagan forum as what you learn may add extra aspects to many of the folklore facets of Pagan practice.