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  • Children, Folklore and the Supernatural January 7, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern , trackback


    Children, we are told, have supernatural encounters more easily than adults. On several levels this would make sense. But forgetting, for a moment, about whether this is true or false, where does the idea come from? There is a very strong notion among spiritualists and theosophists in the later 19C that kids had greater potential to see fairies and the dead. This apparently had to do with their innocence. Beach can’t recall the exact mumbo jumbo terms used to describe their capacity but it included ‘fluids’. Often puberty was given as a reason that children stop seeing things: this was wheeled out for Cottingley, for example.  But does the idea that children are more likely to encounter, say, a ghost exist prior to this?

    What Beach is struck by is the fact that there is nothing known to him in the folklore of the Anglo-Saxon countries that would suggest that infants were believed to have a greater capacity to see the impossible: fairy sightings involve children, as they involve adults. There is, on the other hand, the very strong idea that animals can see impossible things and that the movements of cats, dogs and horses were watched with a certain attention. Going wider there are traditions about using the very young in acts of crystal scrying and the like: here there are important parallels from around the world. The idea that children can be what might be loosely called a medium. So where does this notion about children and the supernatural come from? Is it just a late 19C invention or does it have deeper roots: drbeachcombing AT gmail DOT com. Again this is not a question about whether children really do see the supernatural more or not.