View Full Version : The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies

31st August 2014, 13:31
In 1691 a Scottish scholar, Reverend Kirk of Aberfoyle, gathered all the accounts he could find about the visitors and wrote a manuscript intitled The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies. It was the first systematic attempt to describe the methods and organization of the strange creatures that plagued the farmers of Scotland.

Here's a short summary of his findings compiled by Jacques Vallee in his book Passport to Magonia: On Ufos, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds:

They have a nature that is intermediate between man and the angels.

Physically, they have very light and fluid bodies, which are compared to a condensed cloud. They are particularly visible at dusk. They can appear to vanish at will.

Intellectually, they are intelligent and curious.

They have the power to carry away anything they like.

They live inside the earth in caves, which they can reach through any crevice or air passes.

When men did not inhabit the world, they used to live there and had their own agriculture. Their civilization has left traces on the high mountains; it was flourishing at a time when the whole countryside was nothing but woods and forests.

At the beginning of each three month period, they change quarters because they are unable to stay in one place. Besides, they like to travel. It is then that men have terrible encounters with them, even on the great highways.

Kirk notes that the scots avoid all travel during those four periods of the year, and he adds that some country folk go to church on th first Sunday of every three-month period to have their family, crops, and cattle blessed in order to keep away the elves who steal plants and animals.

Their chameleonlike bodies allow them to swim through the air with all their household.

They are divided into tribes. Like us, they have children, nurses, marriages, burials, etc., unless they just do this to mock our own customs, or to predict terrestrial events.

Their houses are said to be wonderfully large and beautiful, but under most circumstances they are invisible to human eyes. Kirk compares them to enchanted islands. The houses are equipped with lamps that burn forever and fires that need no fuel.

They speak very little. When they do so, when they talk among themselves, their language is of a whistling sound.

Their habits and their language when they talk to humans are similar to those of local people.

Their philosophical system is based on the following ideas: nothing dies; all things evolve cyclically in such a way that at every cycle they are renewed and improved. Motion is the universal law.

They are said to have a hierarchy of leaders, but they have no visible devotion to God.

They have many pleasant books, but also serious and complex books, rather in the style of the ROSICRUCIANS, dealing with abstract matters.

They can be made to appear at will before us through magic.

It is said a pact can be made with these creatures, and they can be made to appear and answer questions at will.

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The commonwealth of fauns and fairies is one of the most sought after and enigmatic texts about Celtic fairies. Written by a Scottish clergyman, Robert Kirk, in 1691, and not committed to print until the early 19th century, The Secret Commonwealth is an unusually sympathetic account of the denizens of fairyland, and a complex of still mysterious extrasensory phenomena including poltergeists, clairvoyance and doppelgangers (here called 'co-walkers').

This version was issued in 1893 in a very limited edition by the renowned folklorist Andrew Lang, and it includes a 'comment' and some endnotes by Lang which are actually about as long as the Kirk material. This book is very rare. I was extremely fortunate to acquire a copy of the first (and to my knowledge, only) edition of this work when it came up for sale at a local used bookstore. This copy is signed on the flyleaf by Uma Jeffers, wife of the poet Robinson Jeffers, and bears their bookmark, "The Hawk Tower, Tor House, Carmel-by-the-Sea".

The only version of Kirk recently in print was converted to modern spelling, and it is unlikely that Lang's edition will be readily available to scholars and other interested individuals, unless it is reprinted. Therefore I have taken great pains to retain the spelling and formatting of Lang's redaction of Kirk's text. I have departed from site standards in this section and not merged cross-page hyphenated words. By far the stickiest issue was Kirk's spelling, particularly the 'long' s, which in Lang's book was indistinguishable from normal f. I have used the ƒ character () throughout where I could infer the presence of an 's'. In some rare cases I could not decide whether an 'f' or an 's' was implied; these are noted in green italic type. (Annotations in Kirk with square brackets are Lang's).

--John Bruno Hare, February 27th, 2004

The secret Commonwealth of Elves, fauns and fairies can be read here


18th September 2014, 13:23

interesting website here