YOU NEVER WANT TO CROSS AN ELF
You Never Want to Cross an Elf
By Brad Steiger
FATE :: May 2006
For many people today, the image of an elf is firmly established in the characters of either the handsome Legolas Greenleaf or the lovely, ethereal Arwen as depicted in the Peter Jackson film of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Ring saga by actors Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler. While the elves in Tolkien’s vision are tall and stately beings, tradition has most often portrayed elves and their fellow citizens from the unseen realm as diminutive, hence, “the wee people.” Small in stature though they may be, elves, the “Hidden Folk,” are not beings with whom to trifle.
Careless or disrespectful humans who trespass on forest glens, rivers, or lakes considered sacred to elves may suffer terrible consequences—even cruel deaths. Entrepreneurs who wish to desecrate land whereon lie fairy circles or mounds in order to build a road or construct a commercial building may find themselves combating an unseen enemy who will accept only their unconditional surrender.
Trouble at the Herring Plant
In 1962, the new owners of a herring-processing plant in Iceland decided to enlarge the work area of the building. According to Icelandic tradition, landowners must not fail to reserve a small area of their property for the Hidden Folk, and a number of the established residents earnestly pointed out to the recent arrivals that any addition to the processing plant would encroach upon the plot of ground that the original owners had respectfully set aside for the elves who lived under the ground.
In a condescending manner, the businessmen explained that they didn’t harbor those old superstitions and neither did their highly qualified construction crew who had modern, unbreakable drill bits and plenty of explosives. But the bits of the “unbreakable” drills began to shatter, one after another.
An old farmer came forward to repeat the warning that the crew was trespassing on land that belonged to the Hidden Folk.
The workmen laughed when the old man walked away—but the drill bits kept breaking.
Finally, the manager of the plant, although professing disbelief in such nonsense, agreed to the local residents’ recommendation that he consult a local elf seer to establish contact with the Hidden Folk and attempt to make peace with them. The seer informed the manager that there was a very powerful member of the Hidden Folk who had selected the plot near the herring-processing plant as his personal dwelling place. He was not an unreasonable being, however.
Elves really do try to get along with humans and compromise whenever they can to avoid violence. If the processing plant really needed the plot for its expansion, the elf seer said, the Hidden One would agree to find another place to live. He asked only for five days without any drilling, so that he could make his arrangements to move.
The manager felt a bit strange bargaining with a being that was invisible—and, as far as he was concerned, imaginary. But he looked over at the pile of broken drill bits and told the seer that the Hidden One had a deal. Work on the site was shut down for five days to give the elf a chance to move. When five days had passed and the workmen resumed drilling, the work went smoothly and efficiently until the addition to the plant was completed. There were no more shattered drill bits.
Because the incident cited above occurred in 1962—practically medieval times in some young people’s minds—many readers will no doubt assume that Icelanders of the 21st century no longer cherish such quaint beliefs. Those readers would be wrong.
In the Boston Herald, December 25, 2005, Ric Bourie wrote that highway engineers and construction crews still regard the Hidden Folk very seriously: “Mischief befalls Icelandic road builders who can’t recognize good elf domain, including breakdowns of heavy equipment and even worker mishaps and injuries. It is said to have happened on more than one job site, enough to take the mythology seriously. Consequently, road planners here consult with an elf expert before routing a road or highway through rock piles that may be elf habitat.”
Bourie interviewed elf seer Erla Stefansdottir, who named elves, gnomes, dwarves, angels, light-fairies, and “the hidden people” as all belonging to classes of what she called elfin beings. Any of the above-named entities, Ms. Stefansdottir said, “…can get quite upset if we ruin their houses or go against their wishes. They get very upset and we have to face the consequences. They can put a spell on us.”
Fairy Mound Disturbed
While some people may be surprised that stereotypically stoic Scandinavians believe in elves and other beings from the hidden world, it seems that the whole world embraces the stereotype of the country folk of Ireland taking their wee people seriously. According to popular leprechaun and elf stories, the Irish know that to disturb the mounds or raths in which they dwell is to invite severe supernatural consequences.
Since ancient times, it seems that the Irish have understood that there are certain areas that the wee ones consider sacrosanct, special to them. Certain mounds, caves, creek areas, and forest clearings have been staked out by the Hidden Ones as their very own, and the wise human, sensitively in touch with the natural environment, knows better than to trespass on such ground.
The trouble at the fairy mound outside the village of Wexford began when workmen from the state electricity board began digging a hole for the erection of a light pole within the parameters of a rath. The villagers warned the workmen that the pole would never stay put, because no self-respecting community of fairy folk could abide a disturbance on their mound.
The big city electrical workmen had a coarse laugh and made uncomplimentary remarks about the level of intelligence of the townsfolk of Wexford. The workmen finished digging the hole to the depth that experience had taught them was adequate, then placed the post within the freshly dug opening and stamped the black earth firmly around its base. The satisfied foreman pronounced for all within earshot to hear that no fairy would move the pole from where it had been anchored.
However, the next morning the pole tilted askew in loose earth.
The villagers shrugged that the wee folk had done it, but the foreman of the crew voiced his suspicions that the fairies had received some help from humans bent on mischief. Glaring his resentment at any villagers who would meet his narrowed, accusative eyes, the foreman ordered his men to reset the pole.
The next morning that particular pole was once again conspicuous in the long line of newly placed electrical posts by its weird tilt in the loose soil at its base. While the other poles in the line stood straight and proud like soldiers on parade, that one woebegone post reeled like a trooper who had had one pint too many.
The foreman had endured enough of such rural humor at his expense. He ordered the crew to dig a hole six feet wide, place the pole precisely in the middle, and pack the earth so firmly around the base that nothing short of an atomic bomb could budge it.
Apparently fairies have their own brand of nuclear fission, for the next morning the intrusive pole had once again been pushed loose of the little people’s rath.
The foreman and his crew from the electricity board finally knew they were licked. Without another word to the grinning villagers, the workmen dug a second hole four feet outside of the fairy mound and dropped the pole in there. And there it stood, untouched, untroubled—exactly where the wee folk permitted it to stand.
The Wee People’s Rock
In The Times, November 21, 2005, Will Pavai and Chris Windle tell how a small colony of wee folk living beneath a rock in St. Fillans, Perthshire, cost developer Marcus Salter, head of Genesis Properties, nearly $40,000 when community pressure forced him to scrap his building plans and start again. A group of his workmen had been about to move a large rock from the center of a field to make way for the new housing development.
According to Salter, one of the residents of St. Fillans came running, shouting that they couldn’t move the rock or they would kill the fairies. At first Salter thought the man was joking. Then came the series of angry telephone calls.
Salter attended a meeting of the community council where he learned that the council was considering lodging a complaint with the planning authority, which was likely “to be the kiss of death for a housing development in a national park.”
Although the Planning Inspectorate has no specific guidelines on how to deal with fairies, a spokesman told Salter that “Planning guidance states that local customs and beliefs must be taken into account when a developer applies for planning permission.”
Salter was forced to redesign the new estate so that the wee people’s rock would be in the center of a small park nicely situated within the new community.
When some friends and I were discussing the recent accounts of wee people activity receiving media attention in late 2005, Patty recalled staying with an Irish family some years ago.
“They owned a large hotel that dated back to before the Easter Rebellion (1916) and had housed lots of IRA activity,” Patty said. “The owner of this place, Mr. Conroy, told me that there are fairy rings all around the area outside of Dublin—especially in St. Kevin’s Bed. There is a story of a truck driver that made fun of the villagers for their superstition about the fairy circles and to prove how stupid he felt they were, he drove his truck through one of them! Then he got out of the truck, laughed at the crowd watching him, and promptly died of a heart attack! Conroy swore that this man was a big fellow in perfect health.”
Patty heard another story while she was in Ireland about some construction workers who wanted to remove a stump near a fairy ring. They felt that since it wasn’t actually in the fairy ring, the coast was clear. They tried to dynamite the stump three or four times and nothing happened. They checked the dynamite, the wiring, and so forth and found nothing wrong. Finally, they all saw a little man dressed in green climb out of the stump and run. Just as he ran off, the stump exploded into a million pieces!
As crazy as this sounds, there was a photographer there from the local newspaper who had heard about all the problems and was going to take a picture of them trying to blow up the stump. He did actually get a picture of the leprechaun. However, Patty was told, it is locked away somewhere in Trinity College.
Patty recalled many conversations with the maid at the hotel where she stayed and she said that she had heard many stories of people who had seen the “wee folks.” And on one thing all the stories agreed, Patty said, “You never want to cross one! Not ever!”
I have concluded in my research that there exist throughout the world pockets of energy in which another order of intelligence abides. And I should make clear that I agree wholeheartedly with elf seer Erla Stefansdottir, who includes elves, gnomes, dwarves, angels, light-fairies, nisse, brownies, skaramooshes, and devas as a single shape-shifting intelligence that we have come to call “The Hidden People.” In some instances, these pockets of intelligent energy may be influenced by human intelligence and manifest in a physical form as a variation on the theme of a human image. In other circumstances, this energy may direct and control—even possess—human beings.
In essence, these “nature spirits” may be the “Elder Race” or “The Old Ones” referred to in so many myths and legends. These vortexes of intelligence may comprise a companion species to our own and may well have maintained a strange kind of symbiotic relationship with us throughout the centuries of mutual evolution.
David Spangler of Findhorn claimed that he was told by such an intelligence that they recognize humankind as a necessary and vital part of the synergistic state of the planet, thus they are essentially benignly concerned with human survival because it bears directly upon the survival of Earth. Spangler’s understanding of humankind’s relationship to these entities is that we were “first cousins,” and that we somehow had a common ancestor.
The elves’ benign nature has been experienced by those men and women who have won their favor. On behalf of such humans, the Hidden Ones can materialize to help a poor farmer harvest a crop and have it in the bins before a storm hits, or they can clean a kitchen in the twinkling of an eye to ease the stress of an exhausted housewife. If they see fit to do so, the elves can guide their favored humans with their ability to divine the future, and they will stand by to assist at the birth of a special couple’s child, whom they will tutor and protect throughout his or her lifetime.
Other researchers, biblically inspired, see the elfin clans as forms assumed by the rebellious angels who were driven out of Heaven during the celestial uprising led by Lucifer. These fallen angels, cast from their heavenly abode, took up new residences in the forests, mountains, and lakes of Earth. They exist in a much-diminished capacity, but still possess more than enough power to be deemed supernatural by the human inhabitants of the planet. These paraphysical beings on occasion take humans as mates, thereby breeding a hybrid species of entities “betwixt Man and Angel.”
Among the more than 30,000 men and women who have returned the Steiger Questionnaire of Mystical, Paranormal, and UFO Experiences, a remarkable 29 percent claim to have seen elves, fairies, or some form of nature spirit. In certain cases, recounted in the questionnaires, such a being may have considered a deserted house or barn its own. Generally, if the elfin entity understands that a human wishes to occupy the dwelling place and if it is treated with respect, it will quietly move out. At most, a token gift of fruits, nuts, or meal would compensate the spirit squatter and make it agree to move on to a more natural habitat. However, in some instances, humans have just walked into a particular situation at the wrong moment, and they can experience some trauma before squatting rights are straightened out and understood.
Together with the return of her questionnaire, Lorrie Jastrow sent an account of an experience which occurred to her and her fiancé, Karl, shortly before their marriage. They had gone to a movie, then decided to drive out to the tiny house in the country where they would live after they had celebrated their nuptials.
Lorrie thought it was fun to go out there and plan their future. The house was on land that was too wooded to be good farmland, but they intended only to plant a small garden for vegetables. Karl would continue his job in town.
“Our only lights that night were our flashlights. Since we wouldn’t be moving in for another month or so, the landlord had yet to switch on the electricity. He had given us keys to the place, though, and he didn’t mind that we would drive out there to dream about our future life together.”
That night when they walked into the house, Lorrie had an eerie feeling that something was wrong, that they were not alone. “Karl must have felt the same way as I did, because he kept looking over his shoulder, like he expected to catch sight of someone spying on us.
“Then we heard a strange chattering, like some giant squirrel or chipmunk, coming from a dark corner in the room. It suddenly seemed so unreal, unearthly, and a strange coldness passed over my body. I told Karl that I wanted to leave, that I was frightened.”
But before they could move toward the door, Karl suddenly threw his hands up over his head as if he were trying to grab at something behind him. His head seemed pulled back and to one side. His mouth froze in a grimace of pain and fear, and his eyes rolled wildly. He lost his balance, fell to his knees, and then to his side. He rolled madly on the floor, fighting and clawing the air around his neck.
Lorrie stood stunned with fear and bewilderment. Karl managed to struggle to his feet. His eyes bulged, and he gasped fiercely for each breath. Some unseen thing seemed to be strangling him. He gasped that they must run to the car, that Lorrie must drive.
Somehow, they got out of the house with Karl stumbling, staggering as if something heavy and strong were perched atop his shoulders with a death grip about his throat.
“I...can’t get the damned thing off of me!” he gasped.
At last they got to the car. Lorrie got behind the wheel, and Karl told her to drive, fast. He was still trying to pry the invisible thing’s hands from his throat.
Lorrie drove for about two miles down the road—and suddenly there was a blinding flash inside the car. A brilliant ball of light about the size of a basketball shot ahead of their car, then veered sharply to the left and disappeared into a clump of trees.
“I did not stop until we were back in town,” Lorrie said. “Karl lay gasping beside me, his head rolling limply on the back of the seat. He did not speak until we were well inside the city limits, then he said that some inhuman thing had jumped on him from the shadows of the house. He was certain that it could have killed him if it had really wanted to do so.”
Lorrie Jastrow concluded her account by writing that although they returned to their small home in the country with some trepidation, they never again encountered that monstrous, invisible strangler that chattered like a giant rodent. Once the nature spirit had time to calm down and come to terms with the fact that humans were reclaiming the empty house, it moved on to another, more appropriate dwelling. But it certainly did give Karl and Lorrie a piece of its mind before it did so.
To be continued tomorrow