What are fairies? J.M. Barrie wrote in Peter Pan, “When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” Others believe fairies are not actually tiny winged, sprites, but rather unknowable, inhuman spirits, dangerous to interact with and worthy of respect and fear. Fairies and nature spirits have been a part of many cultures’ spiritual traditions, from the ethereal, winged creatures most people think of when the word “fairy” comes up, to the diminutive brownies of Irish legend or the duende of Hispanic mythology.
When this woman thought she caught a fairy on her finger, she was definitely thinking of the tiny, winged sort.
In this video, a woman films a close up on her finger. Squint the right way and there does seem to be a strange, almost humanoid translucent shape clinging to her skin. It even appears to have flowing, wings.
But what is it? Tough to tell. Most likely it’s a ragged flap of skin or bit of fluff, hair, or fiber, that is inexplicably taking the shape of a fairy as it snagged on the edge of her fingernail or perhaps a callus.
Of note: pareidolia is a cognitive phenomenon that causes our brains, which are pattern-recognizing machines, to see patterns and faces in things that are actually quite random. If you’ve ever seen a face in the knots of a tree trunk or the grill of a car, you are experiencing pareidolia. If the shadow of a coatrack seems to take on human form, thank your sense of pareidolia. And if you look at a shivering scrap of fiber on your thumb and see a fairy—well, you’re quite whimsical. Also: it’s pareidolia.
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