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  • So You Want to Catch a Fairy… June 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    So you want to catch a fairy. Well, first get a butterfly net and collecting jars and for good measure a mousetrap bated with sugar and nutmegs… Ok seriously here are a couple of ‘recipes’ from a seventeenth-century (?) alchemist’s collection.

    An excellent way to gett a Fayrie. (For myself I call Margarett Barrance; but this will obteine any one that is not allready bownd.) First, gett a broad square christall or Venice glasse, in length and breadth three inches. Then lay that glasse or christall in the bloud of a white henne, three Wednesdayes, or three Fridayes. Then take it out, and wash it with holy aq. and fumigate it. Then take three hazle sticks, or wands of an yeare groth ; pill them fayre and white; and make them soe longe, as you write the Spiritts name, or Fayries name, which you call, three times on every sticke being made flatt on one side. Then bury them under some hill, whereas you suppose Fayries haunt, the Wednesday before you call her: and the Friday followinge take them uppe, and call her at eight or three or ten of the clocke, which be good planetts and houres for that turne: but when you call, be in cleane life, and turne thy face towards the east. And when you have her, bind her to that stone or glasse.

    Beach has so many questions here: Margarett Barrance? Cleane life? And what about Venice Glass?

    Then if you don’t want to catch the fairy in question but just to see ‘her’?… Good presumably for a long walk in the wood at twilight.

    An unguent to annoynt under the eyelids, and upon the eyelids eveninge and morninge: but especially when you call; or find your sight not perfect. R. [?] A pint of sallet-oyle, and put it into a viall glasse: but first wash it with rosewater, and marygold-water : the flowers ‘to’ be gathered towards the east. Wash it till the oyle come white; then put it into the glasse, ut supra: and then put thereto the budds of holyhocke, the flowers of marygold, the flowers or toppes of wild thime, the budds of young hazle : and the thime must be gathered neare the side of a hill where Fayries use to be: and ‘ take’ the grasse of a fayrie throne, there. All these put into the oyle, into the glasse : and set it to dissolve three dayes in the sunne, and then keep it for thy use; ut supra.

    Many ‘fairy stories’ (as opposed to fairy tales) involve human interlopers accidentally sealing their eyes with a fairy cream that allows them to see fairies. Typically, they see fairies doing something they should not – e.g. robbing a market stall – and the fairy turns and blinds the impudent human by sticking a finger in their eye. If you do see fairies after anointing yourself then Beach would advise you not to let on.

    Beach went to a Church of England school, has an uber Catholic wife, likes white hens and is frankly terrified of the idea of summoning or ‘seeing’ fairies. If any reader wants to give it a go though please do bring along your digital camera (packed with your Venice glass and pentagram). Beach would, in fact, be grateful for a full report: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com And would genuflect before photographs.