“Do you believe in Fairies”? That’s a good question Janice and, indeed, isn’t that the title of one of our posts? What I’m sure of anyway is that many people do, and not only children, I can tell you!
Take a look at the photos we’ve taken on Doon Hill. Aren’t they a most touching expression of folk beliefs in our very materialistic world? The Scottish touch of magic! Mind you, that does not mean that the Scots are not a rationalistic people ! Think about their scientific performances.
To the question “Do you believe in fairies?”, I would certainly have answered YES to save the life of Tinker Bell in the story of Peter Pan and I’m inclined to believe that there is more beyond appearances than what we generally believe …
In Scotland the frontier between the visible and invisible worlds seems to be thinner than elsewhere. I remember asking our way to Doon Hill to a young man working at the Tourist Office in Aberfoyle. “You’re not going there at night ?”, he asked us with some anxiety.
In 2004, we went to Doon Hill at about 5 p.m. and we met nobody on our way up the hill and when we climbed it up again, in 2006, it was past 9 pm and we were alone or, at least, we didn’t see anyone, which doesn’t mean that there was nobody around us in the woods. The wind played gracefully on the little bells hanging in the trees. The atmosphere was silent and quiet. Quite pleasant. We’ve made a little film there. It’s not a very good one but it gives an idea of the place. We’ll insert it soon in our blog.
Now, if we want to understand better the local legend we must go back to its source and that leads us to Reverend Kirk’s life and writings. Not only does the Reverend seem to have been a very learned man (he is the first one to have translated the Psalms in Gaelic) but he also appears to have been a very open-minded minister. The Reverend used to listen to and note down all his parishioners’ accounts of their supernatural experiences. This must have not only aroused the Reverend’s curiosity but also confirmed what he had always believed about the Other World. Reverend Robert Kirk spent more than 20 years in Balquhidder parish, from 1664 (aged 20) to 1685 (aged 41) before moving back to the family manse, in Aberfoyle, where he stayed until his death, seven years later.
We first went to Balquhidder in 2004. It’s a very picturesque place and rich in history too. A nice little church has been built near the ruins of the ancient one and you can walk among very old graves (some of them are very beautiful) in a most romantic churchyard. Of course, the most famous grave is that of Rob Roy, just in front of the ancient church. Inside the church, we found many old religious memorabilia and also a book entitled Robert Kirk, Walker Between Worlds edited by R. J. Stewart.
After our first incursion “au pays des fées”, at Doon Hill (or Fairy Knowe as the place is more commonly known), we wanted to know more about Reverend Kirk but we didn’t find his book The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Faeries. The book had not been published until 1815, first by Sir Walter Scott and then by Andrew Lang. In Wigtown Byre Books shop we were said that the only book available there was a very expensive one. Of course, we didn’t buy it. Only recently did we search the web for the book and finally found several interesting editions of The Secret Commonwealth. Here are some of them.
First a new edition (2007) of the book we had seen in Balquhidder church. On the cover there is the coat of arms which can be seen on Robert Kirk’s grave, in Aberfoyle cemetery. We’ll try to know more about it.
The above facsimile edition of the book has become rare but some other ones are still available.
It’s not easy to make an idea about this Scottish legend though Janice has already said a lot of things about it in her last post. What we must try to keep in mind is that the facts date back to the 17 th century. That was a long long time ago and life must have been quite different from what we live today. The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Faeries is supposed to have been based on Reverend Kirk’s own experiences and observations. So, to begin let us read his book.
Bonne lecture ! A bientôt.