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Miniature supernatural beings in the form of humans. The pixies of England and the brownies of Scotland are essentially the same creatures, and just as real. Specific fairies such as Robin Goodfellow (also known as Puck) are said to be helpful though mischievous and can be called upon to perform domestic services.
Incredibly, the famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle accepted the existence of fairies, elves, and other such creatures.
There is no agreement on the origins of the many varieties of fairies. One definition says they are the dispossessed spirits of humans not yet ready for heaven. Another describes them as a distinct life-form capable of the usual reproductive process, and in Devonshire, England, they are “pixies,” the spirits of infants who died before baptism.
The English version wears a red conical cap, a green cloak interwoven with flowers, green trousers, and silver slippers. Others are winged like dragonflies and dressed in filmy negligees. Some are said to dress in perfect miniatures of regular human clothing of the current period. Ones choice of fairy appears to be a matter of taste.
In various cultures, there are both good and bad fairies. The Koran describes the delicate “peri” as the offspring of “fallen spirits,” and such a fairy is always benevolent, pointing out to the faithful the way to heaven. In contrast, a malevolent fairy lives in the mines of England, causing accidents and misleading the miners.
In general, fairies (and witches) fear iron.
See also Cottingley fairies.
Also known as “hag tracks.” Mushrooms found in the forest sometimes tend to grow in the form of circles, due to the fact that the old growths tend to die off from a central point, and often leave behind chemical residues that inhibit growth of other plants. Tradition has it that fairies or witches danced in these circles.
In Shakespeare's Tempest, he referred to the fairies and their artifact:
. . . You demi-puppets,that
By moonshine do the green-sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites.
Today, some of these rings have been labeled as sites of UFO landings, bringing a natural phenomenon up to date in the nonsense business.
When organized medicine fails to supply a satisfactory answer, either through inadequate technology, the simple inability to provide a cure at that time, or the fact that not enough is presently known about the ailment, other modalities which promise miraculous results are often sought.
There are several religious sects who base their entire philosophy on healing modalities. It is found that the “cure rate” experienced by the believers is no higher than that of persons who receive no treatment whatsoever, and often much less. For example, the Christian Scientists forbid their followers to utilize any regular medical care or medication. A recent U.S. survey of students at the college level showed a significantly lower life expectancy for those who attended Christian Science schools than for those who did not. Faced by such revelations, the believers turn their backs on further examination of their convictions.
Faith healers have often answered, when asked for proper evidence of their claims, “God doesn't need to be examined or challenged.” The healers say, when the disease doesn't go away, that the subject has lost faith and thus has failed to “hold” his or her blessing. The guilt is borne by the subject. Saddest of all is the realization that these people subject their children to these restrictions as well, often with crippling or fatal results.
Reformer Martin Luther, among others in the sixteenth century, took credit for spontaneous, miraculous cures while Paracelsus and other savants were attempting — with highly varying degrees of success — to bring out of the superstition of magic, what we know today as the science of medicine. The Mormons and Episcopalians established a history of faith cures as part of their theologies.
In the 1600s, one practitioner known as “Greatraks the Stroker” (or Greatrakes, b. 1628) was astounding England with his performances. A remarkable English author, Charles MacKay, who in 1841 wrote his classic Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, observed in that book that Mr. Valentine Greatraks . . . practised upon himself and others a deception . . . that God had given him the power of curing the king's evil. . . . In the course of time he extended his powers to the curing of epilepsy, ulcers, aches, and lameness. . . . Crowds which thronged around him were so great, that the neighboring towns were not able to accommodate them. (MacKay's reference to the “king's evil” refers to scrofula.)
One can be grateful that MacKay recognized that Greatraks was deceiving both his patients and himself. As with fortune-tellers, healers often begin to believe in their own powers because their subjects tend to give them only positive feedback. Thus they can excuse and forget their many failures, and their legends grow.
Greatraks made a huge impression on the public and accumulated a fortune in the process. In this respect, he helped to establish the precedent for modern faith healers. And in several other important respects he mirrored the modern faith healers, as evidenced in an account written by a contemporary in 1665:
A rumour of the prophet's coming soon spread all over the town, and the hotel . . . was crowded by sick persons, who came full of confidence in their speedy cure. [Greatraks] made them wait a considerable time for him, but came at last, in the middle of their impatience, with a grave and simple countenance, that shewed no signs of his being a cheat. [The host] prepared to question him strictly, hoping to discourse with him on matters that he had heard of. . . . But he was not able to do so, much to his regret, for the crowd became so great, and cripples and others pressed around so impatiently to be first cured, that the servants were obliged to use threats, and even force, before they could establish order among them. . . . The prophet affirmed that all diseases were caused by evil spirits. Every infirmity was with him a case of diabolical possession. . . . He boasted of being much better acquainted with the intrigues of demons than he was with the affairs of men. . . . Catholics and Protestants visited him from every part, all believing that power from heaven was in his hands. . . . So great was the confidence in him, that the blind fancied they saw the light which they could not see — the deaf imagined that they heard — the lame that they walked straight, and the paralytic that they had recovered the use of their limbs.
To anyone who has actually witnessed a modern faith healer in action with crowds of worshipers around and about, that scenario will be familiar.
Sometimes psychics who do the usual ESP, reading, prophecy, and clairvoyance demonstrations eventually turn to claims of healing powers.
See also royal touch.
(also, fakeer) From the Arabic word for “poor man,” a fakir is technically a person who begs professionally. Itinerant fakirs in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka often perform conjuring tricks to earn their gifts. On occasion, one may be charismatic and adept enough to become a “god-man” such as Sai Baba.
Fakirs are better known for their self-mutilation stunts, sitting on beds of nails and otherwise invoking the astonishment and contributions of generous tourists. The bed-of-nails trick depends upon the number of nails per square unit of fakir posterior. Sometimes there are a sufficient number of nails that the area is hardly more than a rough spot and a piece of leather judiciously placed in a loincloth can provide considerable comfort to the performer. Suggestions that the demonstration should begin with only one nail are not looked upon favorably by the fakirs.
See Davenport brothers.
A demon, usually assuming the form of a cat, dog, spider, pig, rat, rabbit, or toad, that acts as companion and assistant to a witch or magician. Trials of witches often included a pet as codefendant, and these animals were just as often executed along with the condemned human. A silly concept cannot be made sillier by expanding it; the quality of silliness is totally saturating and all-encompassing.
Oliver Cromwell, accused by the British Royalists of being a wizard, was said by them to have a familiar named Grimoald. Agrippa's familiar was a black dog named Monsieur, and Simon Magus had a similar companion. It was said that these familiars could be kept in a hollow ring worn by the magician and released upon command.
Apollonius of Tyana wore several such rings, and Paracelsus (Bombastus) carried about his familiar in the hilt of his sword:
Bombastus kept a devil's bird
Shut in the pommel of his sword,
That taught him all the cunning pranks
Of past and future mountebanks.
— Hudibras, Samuel Butler
The Malaysians say that their magicians each have an hereditary spirit/familiar inherited from generation to generation. In Egyptian demonology, a familiar known as a “karina” is assigned to each child at birth.
In medieval times, ventriloquism was explained by assuming the existence of a familiar — known as a “kobold” — accompanying the performer. There are better explanations available.
(stage name) See Hoy, David.
Faustus, Dr. Johannes
(also, Faust) A possibly mythical German sorcerer of medieval times, pictured by Rembrandt in a famous etching. Faustus had the reputation of being a powerful magus and the author of many books on magic. One book wasMagia Naturalis et Innaturalis, subtitled The Three-Fold Harrowing of Hell.
Faust is mentioned by name in a letter written in 1507, and from that and other references he appears to have been a wandering charlatan who made his living by professing magical powers and performing various such services for paying customers. The character may also be a composite of several such actual persons.
Seen here on the title page of Christopher Marlowe's 1636 play, The Tragicall History of Dr. Faustus, the sorcerer is shown in regalia within his protective magic circle.
The persistent legend of Faust and his interesting pact with Mephistopheles/Satan, in which he exchanged his soul for a guaranteed life of riches, pleasure, and debauchery, along with magical devices such as a cloak that would fly him anywhere he chose to be, has been perpetuated by such writers as Christopher Marlowe in his play The Tragicall History of Dr. Faustus and by Goethe, who introduced the idea of Faust's eventual salvation, or escape from the frightful contract, mostly due to the inferior quality of the demon Mephistopheles and the legally shaky contract itself.
Musicians Berlioz, Gounod, and Schumann added to the Faust myth with full-length operas on the subject.
Fay, Anna Eva
(Anna Eva Heathman, 1851 -1927) A spiritualist faker who was very popular in vaudeville in the late 1800s, where she was billed as, “The Indescribable Phenomenon.”
She attracted the very favorable interest of Sir William Crookes in 1874, but Washington Irving Bishop, who had worked with her as an assistant, chose to expose her methods to a newspaper. She was also investigated by conjuror Harry Houdini, to whom she eventually admitted many of her tricks, after her retirement. The Magic Circle of London, a very prominent organization of conjurors, made her an honorary member, carefully designating her an Honorary Lady Associate, since women at that time were not eligible to be regular members.
Her son, John Truesdale Fay (1877 -?) also had an act with his wife, called simply, “The Fays.” The William H. Fay who worked with the Davenport brothers act was not related to this family of Fays.
Filipino Psychic Surgery
See psychic surgery.
See thumb writer.