Real Fairy Pictures: The Cottingley Fairies & Other Photos of Real Fairies
Real Fairies Caught on Film?
Do you believe in fairies? You know...those tiny illusive creatures who live between the veil of this world and another? For centuries, maybe even millennia, people all across the world have believed and seen the "wee folk" or what are more commonly referred to as fairies. Some have even claimed to have captured two particular types of fairies - pixies and gnomes on film! Whether you believe the fairy pictures are real or not is entirely up to you...here are some of their fairy tales...errrr...stories.
The Notorious Cottingley Fairies' Photographs
The Cottingley Fairies' photographs were a collection of five photographs taken by two young girls in Cottingley, England in 1917 through the early 1920s. The two young girls were ages ten and sixteen and were cousins. Apparently they wanted to have a bit of fun and at the same time prove the existence of fairies to their relatives, so they took some pictures of what they claimed to be fairies, or pixies, to be exact. These fairy pictures caused these young girls to acquire fame very quickly.
There were a total of five fairy photographs taken by Elsie and Frances while in Cottingley, England. The two top fairy photos here are of the two most famous of the set. To me it is obvious that these fairy pictures were fakes; however, the European people of the roaring twenties thought that these fairy photos were the real deal and even skeptics admitted to believing in fairies, after viewing these photographs.
The word spread like wildfire that these two girls had snapped pictures of real fairies living in England and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (of Sherlock Holmes fame) preached the word that the fairies were a real species! The girls admitted later that the first four fairy pictures of the five were pretend and that they felt so bad for so many people believing in them, that they kep going along with the idea. It was meant to be all in good fun when they snapped the fairy photographs, using cut-outs of a magazine and hat pins to position the fairies in various ways.
The last fairy picture posted here was the fifth and final photograph, taken by Frances Griffiths. This photograph was said to be the one and only true photo of fairies. Frances Griffiths apparently claimed that this one was real until her death. You can watch the interview with Frances' daughter to the right. The difference of the four fake fairy photographs as compared to the alleged real fairy photograph is that the first four have fairies with opaque bodies and wings and in the fifth photograph the fairies are translucent. Some theories have been drawn up that state that the effect came from a double-exposure but I am no expert on film and photography methods. It is very intriguing to me to learn that though Frances admitted to faking the first four fairy photographs, she would not let go of the fact that the fifth fairy photograph was indeed real. She believed in fairies and so did Elsie and that was the main reason they began taking the photographs to begin with...to prove that they existed. Even if it meant faking the first four photographs to prove that fairies live.
Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.
~William Butler Yeats, "The Land of Heart's Desire," 1894
Modern Fairy Pictures
Other "real fairy pictures" have surfaced in more recent times, some being very obviously hoaxes while others seem to have some merit.
Another large hoax coming out of England more recently is the image to the right of the seemingly mummified remains of a fairy. This image of a dead fairy spread like wildfire with the media and went viral on the internet in a mere amount of days following the capture of this fairy photograph. The fairy remains were actually a piece of artwork created by an artist/sculptor named Dan Baines, originally as an April Fool's Day joke in 2007. He posted the fairy's pictures to his website and received almost 20,000 clicks in the first day! People were astonished and some were even upset that he had revealed the whereabouts of the fairy's grave. He ended up admitting to the public that the fairy picture was nothing but a joke, but he claims that people's interest in the fairy did not subside and many still believed that the image was in fact real. Still receiving emails on the fairy to this day, Dan has said that the belief in fairies is something still very much present in society and will probably never diminish.
More questionable and potentially real fairy pictures are also posted here to the right. One of which was taken by a lady in Nevada during a camping trip. The story consisted of the lady purchasing a fairy charm off of the internet that was supposedly "charged" with fairy energy. She took this fairy pendant with her on her camping trip and invoked the fairy who had charged the pendant...the fairy even had a name, Arianna. Not a minute after the invocation of the fairy, the lady snapped this picture of a bright tiny creature (what appears to be a fairy) running away from the campsite. She claims to have used no flash and this was taken with a digital camera. If you look close at the illuminated being, it looks nothing like a firefly but does resemble a human with wings...a fairy, glowing like a nightlight.
For centuries, people have claimed to have encounters with fairy beings. Pixies, gnomes, trolls, will-o-wisps, dryads, the bean-sidhe...all of these types of fairies have been encountered and even summoned for magical aid by the people of old (and even modern folks) and have been recorded or passed down by story-telling from generation to generation. As wild and ridiculous as some of these fairy tales may seem to the skeptic, we all have to realize that these legends and beliefs in fairies take root in something true. Just as the monstrous squid scared sailors for hundreds or thousands of years and then later turned out to be a surprisingly real and frightening species! Maybe the belief in fairies originates from truth...maybe fairies did walk in our world long ago...maybe they still visit our world even today for the lucky (or blessed) ones to catch a passing glimpse of their glow.
Questions & Answers
What are fairies?
That's a question that is debated. Some say they are small people left-over from neolithic times, driven into hiding in hills and forests. Others believe they are the spirits of nature.
© 2011 Nicole Canfield