The Dragonfly and the Fairies
I Do Believe, I Do, I Do, I Do!
I first saw the Disney movie Peter Pan when I was six years old. If you saw the original movie, you may recall the near demise of Tinkerbell. Captain Hook, Peter’s arch nemesis, always carried with him a dreadful poison, distilled from the tears he wept from the red of his eye. The poison was a mixture of malice, jealousy, and disappointment, and was instantly fatal and had no antidote. Out of her love for Peter, Tinkerbell drank the poison that had been intended for him. By the time Peter discovered what had happened, her light was going out and he pleaded with her to come back, saying, “Please Tink, don’t leave me!” Yet her light continued to fade. He turned to the children that were with him and begged them to clap and repeat again and again, “I do believe in Fairies! I do, I do, I do.”
Watching this scene, I clapped and recited this Fairy-affirming mantra along with every other child in the theater. Tears filled my eyes, and though I was slightly embarrassed by this onslaught of pure emotion, I’m sure that most of the other children in the movie theater were also in tears. I’m not so sure about the adults.
Of course, that was just a movie, and I was repeatedly reminded that Fairies really didn’t exist, only in these kinds of stories, a figment of the storyteller’s imagination. It didn’t take long for me to relinquish that belief and put it on the sacrificial altar called “growing up.”
Never thought much about Fairies for many years, other than as a term used for gays. Its original meaning was lost until several years later when I discovered that in many cultures, even in contemporary ones such as Ireland, the notion of Fairies was not only acceptable, but part of the underlying fabric of the culture. I also learned that Fairies were simply one name amongst many for the Nature Spirits, the Spirits who care for the garden of Earth. In various cultures they’re called by different names: Menehune, the Little People, Sprites, Pockwatchies, Chiniques, to name a few.
So Fairies really do exist.
A Dragonfly or a Fairy?
Under the garage where we live is a small area where I have my musical equipment, one that I often refer to as either my music room or my Cave. This is where I go when I’m writing songs or just playing my guitar and singing. It’s a nice setup, and I’m grateful that I have such a place where I can focus my energies on music.
When I enter through the door, I have to climb a small number of steps to get to the area where the musical equipment is. On one particular evening as I started up the stairs, just to my right resting on a shelf was a dragonfly. Since dragonflies are typically found around bodies of water, and there weren’t any swimming pools or ponds nearby, I was surprised to see my diminutive guest, yet quite enthralled with his iridescent wings, phosphorescent light green body, and his huge eyes that dominated his tiny face. I swear he was smiling at me.
Then I recalled various stories that suggested that either dragonflies were actually Fairies who had shape-shifted, or else steeds upon which Fairies rode. When this thought occurred, for some reason that only my soul knew for certain, I determined that he really was a Fairy that had shapeshifted into this form.
This perception of dragonflies as actually being Fairies is not unknown, particularly in the British Isles. As the author (unknown) of the website, Pond Life (http://www.wildinbritain.co.uk/Ponds/DRAGONFLIES.htm) states about dragonflies:
Was it these lace-winged creatures, dancing and racing over the water and flowers that were once the stars of a hundred tales of Fairies and Sprites? With sparkling, electric blue bodies, or furry yellow or red ones; iridescent wings or almost invisible slips of lace, they will probably be the nearest thing that you will ever see to the Fairies of ancient folklore.
No sense in debating whether this wondrous critter was a shapeshifted Fairy. To my eyes, there was no doubt about it.
Also in many traditions the dragonfly is considered sacred. The Swedes recognize the dragonfly as a holy animal, and one Swedish spiritual group believe it symbolizes the goddess Freya. The Chinese and Japanese also view them as holy animals, the Japanese seeing them as symbolic of success, happiness, strength, and courage. In Zuni legends, dragonflies are considered to be shamanistic creatures, very magical and powerful.
Once I realized that this was a Fairy, I talked to him, welcoming him to my own sacred space of the Cave. I also thanked him for patrolling for other bugs and enjoying a meal of any of them that he so desired. I continued up the stairs, strapped my guitar on, put the music I was planning to play on the music stand, and soon began playing and singing. During a pause between songs, I heard this light buzzing sound.
He was flying around the room, and after a few moments, landed on the top of the music stand. Made me smile, like you do when you see an old friend. Must like the music. On second look, I saw that he had something he was holding with his miniscule legs. On closer inspection, there appeared to be thin filaments, much like spider web material, wrapped around a dead fly! I commented about the fly, saying that he was certain to enjoy this meal, and thanking him for his hard work.
Then the first of two completely unexpected actions occurred.
He dropped the wrapped fly to the ground, as if he intended to do so. I immediately knew that this was a gift for me! I was stunned and delighted that he had made this offering, even though I’m not the type of species that would enjoy a meal of a fly! In spite of that, I thanked him profusely for his generosity, and promised to leave a bit of food out that evening for him and his other Fairy friends. They love it when you leave them tasty treats.
Then the second surprise. I played another couple of songs then set my guitar down to take a break. I walked over to get a piece of equipment for my guitar and a glass of water, and when I came back, there he was in the same place on the music stand. Hadn’t moved at all! I asked him if I could stroke his wings, to gently pet them. I gathered that he wouldn’t mind, so I reached out and gently stroked one of his very delicate and stunningly beautiful wings, which he allowed! I thought I heard him purring, but not sure about that!
Needless to say, I was delighted and thrilled with my little friend and our interaction. He continued to sit with me as I played a few more songs. When I left for the evening, I bid him farewell and told him he could have the run of the place. That night I set out some slices of apple as an offering of exchange for the fairies. Next morning they were gone. So was he.
I haven’t seen him since, but will forever remember my little friend who provided me with this encounter with the Fairy kingdom through the form of this beautiful dragonfly and his wonderful gift.