I am delighted to welcome as a guest writer for the next week the esteemed Horatio Grin who takes us back in history to the beginnings of the legends and myths surrounding fairies. You can find out more about the author here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/smorgasbord-guest-writer-19th-june-to-27th-june-author-horatio-grin-biography/
Part 1: Lost Beginnings of the Fairy Races by Horatio Grin
In talking about fairies, we need to distinguish between the two types in popular imagination. The first are nature sprites or elementals, supernatural beings outside the scope of this discussion. The others are fairies of myth and legend. Tales as far apart in time and place as China and the Celtic fringe, speak of fairies as human, despite their extraordinary magical abilities.
When analysing fairy magic, much of it involves fooling mortals into seeing what is not there. Fairy gold turns to ash; palaces become caves or hovels; and splendid feasts, unpalatable muck. While the fairies themselves, appearing young and beautiful, are revealed in their true form only once the spell is broken.
Today, the word for fairy magic ‘glamour’ is used to describe the illusion of beauty achieved through maquillage and toilette. When looked at this way, it appears fairy magic is no more than illusion. Thoughts telepathically implanted into another’s mind.
Although unfashionable to say in this day and age, men and women’s brains are hard-wired in slightly different, but equally effective, ways. Man tends to think in terms of cause and effect as befits the mighty hunter he claims to be. Whereas a woman’s thought processes are more complex, weaving through social networks with a combination of empathy and intuition – aspects of a developed tendency towards telepathy.
Parapsychological studies show telepathy is stronger in women, a fact fitting neatly into the traditional image of fairy societies where women dominate. But where could such telepathic abilities arise?
Research indicates telepathic abilities may be part of our genetic inheritance from cross breeding with Neanderthals, recently proved not to be the brutes we imagined. On average, Neanderthals had a brain a fifth larger than modern humans. They also had larger frontal lobes, which parapsychologists view as the home of telepathic and telekinetic abilities.
If all this is true, fairies are nothing less than our cousins and their story, traceable through prehistory, is very much the same as our own.
For almost half a million years, while the world was held in the grip of the Ice Age, Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals evolved along separate paths. In the warmth of Africa, early Homo Sapiens were free to explore the environment, developing curiosity and creating new technologies to meet the challenges of an ever-changing landscape. Locked in the frozen northern wastes of Eurasia, Neanderthals had nothing to develop but their powers of mind and imagination.
Research indicates when anatomically modern humans came to Europe 40,000 years ago they bred with Neanderthals. Skeletons of children from Mount Carmel in Israel and Lagar Velho in Portugal display characteristics from both sets of parents. The recently completed Neanderthal Genome Project shows modern humans and Neanderthals are virtually genetically identical; with between 99.5% and 99.9% of their genes in common. At least 4% of the genes in modern Europeans, and their descendants across the globe, are unique to the Neanderthals.
Scientists once maintained humans and Neanderthals never crossbred and Neanderthals went extinct over 30,000 years ago. However, the recent finds at Portugal are only 24,000 years old, and so amply demonstrate how science must continually revise its ideas, which are often based on assumption rather than hard fact.
From the 17th century onwards, the Russian Tsar sent explorers to map the furthest reaches of his sprawling empire. Arriving in these remote and previously inaccessible regions, the scientists sent back reports of an extraordinary creature called Alma by the indigenous peoples.
The Alma ranged from Siberia as far south as Kazakhstan and the Caucasus Mountains, lying between the Black and Caspian Seas. The last reliable sighting of one such fabulous creature was made by the Russian scientist Alexander Pronin in 1948.
In the 19th century, a female Alma with dark red hair and a sloping forehead was captured in the Caucasus region. Recent genetic research on remnant Neanderthal DNA concluded they were actually red or sandy haired. It is interesting to speculate whether this accounts for the irrational prejudice against red-haired people throughout history. Many cultures claim being red haired is a sign of being a witch or demonic. Christians have traditionally claimed Judas Iscariot had red hair.
The exception to this prejudice against red hair is found in Gaelic countries. In Ireland and Scotland, red or strawberry blonde hair is considered a sign of physical beauty, especially in women. Ireland and Scotland along with the other Celtic countries continue to have a strong enduring fairy tradition.
According to the historian Boris Porshney, the female Alma, named Zanya, mothered four surviving children by different men. He reported all the children were said to look similar to normal humans except they were stronger.
Porshney investigated Zanya’s living descendants and remarked on their unique features, including a robust jaw. Although he failed to find her grave, he dug up the remains of her direct offspring and concluded their skeletal structure was more similar to Neanderthals than modern humans.
The legend of the Alma supports the idea the Neanderthal race is not extinct, but still lives in the isolated and inhospitable parts of Eurasia that formed their traditional home territory.
The period Homo Sapiens first met our Neanderthal cousins is marked by a huge explosion of creativity and imagination in our species, not previously found in the paleontological record. For the first time, we produced art.
It is quite feasible this blossoming resulted from the mix of the two races. Neither is it unreasonable to believe in some members of the population, the Neanderthal genes were dominant, producing enlarged frontal lobes and attendant telepathic abilities. These people would be the very beginnings of the modern fairy races.
Before farming, small groups of humans roamed large territories hunting and gathering food with the seasons. These groups were often extended families of about 30 individuals. It is estimated each group needed 100 sq miles to provide enough wild food for the whole year – whereas with farming, one sq mile feeds a 100.
Stone Age burials usually have different grave goods. Men are invariable buried with napped flint tools, while women are buried with drilled and carved shell beads. The exceptions are burials containing both stone axe-heads and drilled beads, regardless of the sex of the corpse. Palaeontologists deem these to be the remains of the tribe’s shaman. They suggest an elite whose status was passed down through the female line due to the offering of beads even in men’s graves.
It is easy to see how with family groups sharing some rudimentary telepathic ability, the most powerful telepathic individuals would become the shaman of the tribe.
Evidence for women taking a leadership role comes from the many Neolithic Venus statues – not one male figurine has ever been found. Scientists emphasise the sexual nature of the carvings. While procreation is a powerful factor in society, that cannot explain a beautiful head of a young woman.
Fertility symbols or something more?
Unfortunately for long periods following the Ice Age, there is no evidence of the development of the fairy race, other than the myths buried deep in our psyche. Then comes Çatal Hüyük in Turkey. Settled 9,500 years ago, it is one of the first proto-cities in the world.
Çatal Hüyük is built as if it were underground, with the entrance to each house through the roof, surely reminiscent of ancestral cavemen and the dwellings of their descendants, the fairy folk, who are said to live underground in hollow hills.
Although men and women were equal in Çatal Hüyük, only female figurines are found. One in particular showed a goddess seated on a throne between two lionesses.
When excavated, every house was scrupulously clean. Perhaps this is evidence of a society run by women. For among the mammals, what mother does not keep her nest clean to protect her children from infection?
As each fairy race is as culturally different from each other as we are from our fellow human beings across the globe, I will conclude by concentrating on the evolution of Northern European fairies.
After the Ice Age, Europe was the last place to thaw and the last to be farmed. The spread of farming from the Middle East to the Hebrides of Scotland, took six thousand years – an extraordinary amount of time.
Heavily forested and largely unpopulated Northern Europe became the home for another set of myths, those of the dwarfs and trolls. Described as living in isolated mountains and caves, they were said to be ancient and strong, but slow-witted and notably ugly.
Perhaps the description is a racial memory of our Neanderthal cousins, who survived into historical times at the northern edges of the world, before being overwhelmed by the greater population farming brought. The probable fate of Neanderthals living anywhere touched by farming was the same as any other nomadic group of hunter-gatherers; to be absorbed into the more adaptable, and maybe more aggressive, culture of humans.
Maybe the old legends of trolls and dwarves marrying our ancestors are no more than early memories passed down through the generations. What is certain is that legend claims the descendants of human and troll intermarriage were the elfin; very first race of what we now think of as fairies.
My thanks to Horatio Grin for this fascinating insight into the origins of fairies and please join us again tomorrow at the same time for part two of the story.