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  • Fairies and Funerals December 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    fairy coffin

    Fairies are often associated with death: indeed, many fairy theorists have suggested that the ‘good people’ were originally believed to be the spirits of the dead. Then there are the various minions of fairy who  predict death including the banshee in Ireland and various bogeys in northern and western Britain. Fairy funerals are commonly described in folklore. Typically, a man or a woman stumbles on a fairy princess being buried in the middle of the night. But what should we make of this very raw experience from the mid late eighteenth century in Carmarthanshire Wales?

    A woman, in Carmarthen Town, protested  to Mr Charles Winter, of the Parish of Bedwellty,  (who was then at the Academy, and since became  a Preacher of the Gospel) that she heard like the  sound of a company, as it were a burying coming  up from a river, and presently as it were the sound  of a cart coming another way to meet the company,  and the cart seemed to stop while the company  went by, and then went on: soon after a dead  corpse was brought from the river from one of the  vessels, and a cart met the burying, and stopped  till the company passed by; exactly as the woman  heard. Mr. W. was no man to tell an untruth, and the woman no self-interest to serve by telling an  untruth. The wonder is, how these Spirits can so  particularly fore-show things to come? Either  their knowledge of future things near at hand,  must be very great, or they must have a great influence  to accomplish things as fore-shown. Be it either way, the thing is wonderful!

    So far there are no fairies and we seem to have rather a ghostly anticipation of a trauma. But the author clearly believed that the spirits were fairies for he continues:

    Of the very minute and particular knowledge of these Spirits in the manner of death and burials. I am now going to give you an account of another remarkable instance, which is as follows: As a certain man was in a field burning turf, he  saw the Fairies coming through the field where he lay blowing the fire in one of the pits; they went by  him like a burial, imitating the singing of psalms as they went; one of them leaped over his legs. He rose up to see where they would go, and followed  them into a field which led into a wood: soon after  a real burying came through that field, and he lay  down by the pit of turf to see what they would do,  and one of the company actually leaped over his legs in passing by, just as one of the Fairies had done before; and they sung psalms at the burial as the  Fairies fore-shewed.

    The only parallel from outside Wales that has turned up is the following from Ireland: Frank Martin and the Fairies  In this story a village hears some strange fairy banging, which anticipates a carpenter making a coffin for a dead child. Any other instances: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    8 Dec 2013: Chris from Haunted Ohio Books. The phantom funeral and the spectral sounds of funerals and of coffins being built are pervasive in the British Isles. See this for phantom funerals And this for phantom coffin makers.   These mysterious visionary phantom funeral processions either can be seen or heard, but not both simultaneously. Invariably, the real funeral is identical to the preview.  They are a relatively rare phenomenon in the United States, but here is a strangely technicolored phantom funeral from Georgia. A DEATH FORETOLD A gentleman from Georgia relates the following curious story: Some years ago, when I was a school boy, attending school at Calvary, Ga., I, in company with one of my cousins, witnessed one of the most wonderful of spirit processions. ‘Twas on a Friday afternoon, in the spring of the year, and we were on our way from school. We came down the road, laughing and talking together. We were just opposite the grave yard, at the Primitive Baptist Church (Piedmont), where we witnessed one of the grandest burials imaginable. Just in front of us, as silent as moonlight, came the burial procession. On, on, it came. First the corpse in a blue wagon drawn by two white mules. Then the mourners in black. Then the rest of the procession in all the colors of the rainbow, moving with silent tread to the grove which surrounds the yard. Coming to the grave they halted, lifted the coffin from the wagon, lowered it into the grave and filled it. Then re-entering their wagons and buggies, all of them moved off, passing over graves, trees and everything else in the way. The whole procession then disappeared like a mist. We knew all of the people, and knew whom they buried. When it disappeared we went home in a hurry and told my mother about it. She would not let us tell Uncle J. and his wife, because it was their little girl that we saw buried. She was at the time, to my certain knowledge, well and hearty. Before Saturday night she was a corpse, and she was carried to the grave in exact accordance with the scene we had witnessed. Logansport [IN] Pharos Tribune 2 April 1889: p. 3  Your account, with the insertion of the fairies instead of “spirits”, is quite anomalous because in nearly all accounts of phantom funerals, the participants are seen to be living people (who later take part in the proceedings). I’m fascinated by the phantom sounds of coffin-making and other noises associated with the funeral. A particular favorite was the sound of a jarring crash from the landing in a house where someone lay ill upstairs. That person died and when his coffin was carried down the stairs, the bearers rammed into the clock that stood on the landing, making the same noise that had been so mysteriously heard before the man’s death. Thanks, Chris!