Thursday 8 February 2024
In 2017 the new fairy census was published containing 500 alleged encounters with these remarkable entities. Five years have passed, and now a second fairy census is available, also containing 500 entries, starting from number 501. Although I haven't performed a statistical analysis, my impression is that the second census contains more dubious material. It seems that the site has been brought to the attention of more people who are uncritical, who see things out of the corner of their eyes, or in the penumbra surrounding sleep, or in altered states of awareness, or who have strange, visionary, New Age type ideas. And I am still puzzled that so many adults remember encounters when they were children as genuine. I'm not saying that children may not be more psychically aware than adults. It is just that, if I had seen a real fairy when I was a little boy, I'm sure that by now I would have convinced myself that I had been mistaken, or had imagined it.
Unless, of course, the experience was as vivid as these.
Saturday 6 January 2024
The drunk throws away the empty bottle, the smoker discards the empty packet, but a book addict never throws away anything. Thus it is that I still have many of the books I read and enjoyed fifty years ago, and since my backlog of reading material is almost finished, I have had the chance to read and enjoy them once again. One of these was Mitsinari, twenty-one years among the Papuans by André Dupeyrat (translated by Erik and Denyse deMauny for Beacon Books, 1957). A version was published in the US as Savage Papua. Some of the events he recorded were quite unforgettable, and ten years ago I shared with you his story of the man who apparently turned himself into a cassowary. However, on rereading it, I came across other very strange happenings.
Wednesday 6 September 2023
Edwin E. Robinson, 62 of Falmouth, Maine was bald, blind, and deaf. His baldness, I presume, was natural, but his other disabilities were the result of a brain injury in 1971, when the truck he was driving jacknifed on an icy bridge. He wore a hearing aid and learned Braille. Then, on 4 June 1980, something happened. He was looking for a pet chicken in his back yard during a thunderstorm, and was struck by lightning.
Saturday 22 April 2023
Do you remember having a weird experience - I mean a really weird experience - when you were young - and I mean really young? If you do, how do you remember it now? Do you remember it as a real event, or have you convinced yourself that it must have been a dream, an hallucination, or a misinterpretation of something you didn't understand at the time? It would be comforting if you could so convince yourself. The reason I am asking this is that I am increasingly coming upon people who claim to have encountered as adults what, for lack of a better name, can be called "fairies". But the striking thing is that many others claim to have had such encounters as small children, and yet believe they really did happen.
Such is the case of a man who calls himself only "John". Most of us can remember hardly anything before the age of three, and possess only fragmentary memories of our lives before school. However, John remembers that, when he was three years old, he was plagued by a tiny, terrifying bedtime visitor. To his incomplete memories he has added what his parents told him he had told them at the time, and the fact that they themselves used to hear voices emanating from his room at night. Whether all this was a strange pychological phenomenon or - perish the thought! - something paranormal, it deserves wider distribution. This article originally appeared in the Fairy Investigation Newsletter 16, New Series (June 2022), and is republished with the permission of the author, John and the editor, Simon Young.
Wednesday 9 November 2022
Once upon a time, on the West Samoan island of Tutuila, by the village of Vaitogi, lived a woman called Fonoea, old and blind, with her little granddaughter. One day, having been neglected during a famine, she announced that she was going to commit suicide. But, she added, if they ever wanted to see her again, they should go to the cliffs and call for her. Of course, they took no notice. However, she got her granddaughter to lead her to the cliff, whence they both jumped in. At that point, she was turned into a large turtle, and the little girl into a small shark. The villagers were horrified, of course, but they remembered her promise, and so they called upon her in song to came back. And she did. Even since then, whenever they summon her, the turtle and shark will return.
That is a famous Samoan legend. You will easily find it if you do a web search, even on the Wikipedia. It was first recorded by a missionary in 1884, who treated it as a pagan superstition. But is it?
Wednesday 9 February 2022
"If this is 'all in the mind', then all I can say is the mind is a very fertile field." That was a comment made to me by a missionary in Papua New Guinea about some of the bizarre effects of sorcery and folk religions he had noticed in his work. Well, the mind is a very fertile field, and outside the western world it often manifests in strange culture bound syndromes. Koro, for example, is a mental disorder which causes Chinese and Southeast Asian men to imagine that their penises are retracting into their bodies. Malays run amok. In much of the Muslim world women find themselves possessed by what they call zar spirits, but the syndrome in not necessarily seen as pathological, because many of them make quite a bit of money out of it, just like spiritualists over here. Just the same, one wonders how far the 'fertile field' theory can be stressed before we wonder whether something alien has sprouted there.
Monday 18 October 2021
Recently, I was approached by Wendy Garrett in Kansas, who interviewedme for 40 minutes by telephone about my recent book, Apparitions. You can now access the podcast at https://audioboom.com/posts/7960496-malcolm-smith-10-17-21-aussie-fortean-blogger-writer-researcher-apparitions-paranormal. I hope you find it interesting, if only to listen to the two quite different accents. (I might add, it was a little disturbing to hear myself talking, because you never hear your own voice the way other people do.)
One thing I found interesting was Wendy's account of her own experience at 11.57. She was weeding the garden when she heard an invisible choir chanting something like, "Mother, bring us rain". Then a cloud passed over, there was a short sprinkle of rain, and the voices stopped. I have no explanation for that.