A book that was read much more than once in my teenage years is called Tithe, by Holly Black. Now, you can tut-tut all you like, but I always have been and always will be enchanted with things fairy related. I think the earliest ones I was exposed to were in the books by Cicely Mary Barker. They were these sweet little books, called things like Flower Fairies of the Spring. There were pictures of each flower with it's accompanying fairy, and a poem to go with it. At one point we had the books for all of the seasons. Our favourite game was to look through and find which one we and people we knew looked like. My mum always said I looked like the Rose Fairy, and it's true, that picture on the left is pretty much what I looked like, sans rose petal dress. These days I'd say I look a lot more like the Wind Flower Fairy.
Girl Guides also had fairies on the brain. I get the feeling that that isn't as much of the focus now, but when I joined brownies as a 7 year old, it was a big part of it. There were different badges for the different groups: Elves, Dryads, Nymphs, Gnomes, Fairies, Kelpies, Leprechauns, Pixies, Sprites, Djinn and Lares. Our handbook was full of stories of them helping good and honest girls. At camp there was The Enchanted Forest. It was a large forested area of the camp that was decorated by all the Girl Guides that had come before me. There was a trail of painted yellow rocks to take you through the woods, and glitter cast on the ground. Handmade creatures, mobiles, bells, sparkling stone murals, strings of stars; to us, it was a magical place. We would always trick ourselves into thinking that we had seen... something darting into that hollow log, some light being peeking out from behind a mossy stone and then hiding again, leaving us boasting, and secretly hoping.
As I grew up, I would seek out these stories. Whether traditional or modern, I would devour them, and then dream of colourful wings and ageless creatures. I started to research folk tales and old myths, immersing myself in the endless versions and re-imaginings and ballads. John Bauer and Holly Black fueled my imagination.
I don't really know where I'm going with this anymore. Maybe that I'm just a big ol' fag, hahaha. I just read Tithe for the umpteenth time, and my head is still dwelling on the fantastic. I really like the way Holly Black describes her creautures, kind of beautiful and terrible at the same time. I'm going to draw my own interpretations of these, I think.
I just made toast with peach jam, and the flavours are still playing over my tongue. What a nice way to finish off the night. And just so you know, here is my current favourite line:
For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art black as hell, as dark as night.
- William Shakespeare, Sonnet CXLVII