The Fairy Handbook Excerpt

Excerpt from The Faerie Handbook


Folklorists say that few people in history have believed in fairies themselves, but have always believed in a luminous, more romantic time in which others did. But I don’t know: as editor in chief of Faerie Magazine, I’ve met plenty of people who believe fervently in fairies or are open to the possibility of their existence. Too many of us have felt that hypnotic hush in the forest, seen a flicker of wings beating in the periphery, followed glowing lights that lure us onto another path. Maybe it doesn’t really matter where the metaphor ends and the literal begins. What I do know is that fairies—in all their shimmering, gossamer, moonlit gorgeousness—tap into our deep longing for the world to be more than what we see.

There’s an old English story of a country midwife who’s taken to a cottage that is seemingly normal—with a cozy fireplace, lamps, and the usual appointments—until she accidentally rubs her eye with a mysterious ointment. And then the world changes. To her astonishment, the neat cottage has transformed into a massive, ancient oak tree; the fireplace, a hollow, moss-grown trunk; and the lamps, glowworms, glimmering in the dark. In the old lore, being privy to fairy glamour isn’t always the best idea, but I love the notion that there’s an enchanted shadow world of tremendous beauty, just out of our view.

The Faerie Handbook is for all those fairy lovers who want a delicious escape, who see that old-world oak with its moss-grown trunk, who love to read poetry and sip herbal tea on a fainting couch on a rainy afternoon in front of a fire, or walk in long dresses over dewy lawns, feeling the wet grass on their feet and watching the light break over the landscape. This is a book that is meant to stir up childhood wonders, whether it’s picking blueberries on a hazy summer afternoon or those countless hours spent obsessively poring over a treasured storybook filled with color-saturated illustrations you’re delighted to meet again and again. This book is for all those girls (and boys). The ones who love fairy tales and full moons and who’d love nothing more than to attend an extravagant tea party in the forest.

In lore, a magical ointment rubbed on the eyelids could pierce through fairy glamour and allow a human to see past our own “dull world,” as Yeats called it in The Land of Heart’s Desire—to let it fade away and the fairy world come into view.

May this book be your ointment.  

— Carolyn Turgeon