I promised you the last time we spoke that I would tell you how I came to spend time among the Fae and how I eventually returned to what we consider the normal world.
Although I trained as a science teacher I have always had an interest in history and archaeology, in particular the Roman occupation of Britain. On one summer holiday I decided to visit Ireland to see what little evidence there was there for any Roman interaction with that island. There are a few mentions of Ireland in the writings of the period, but nothing definite about a Roman presence there.
One interesting feature of the Irish landscape is that often, even in the middle of fields, if there is a hawthorn bush the farmer will cultivate round it rather than grub it out as it is considered bad luck to disturb it as it is associated with fairies. For the archaeologist this is a god-send as artefacts remain undisturbed in the soil, and in some cases the sites also become places where votive offerings were made increasing the chances of finding traces of past inhabitants of the area.
So it was I with my knapsack, walking stick and good walking boots I spent several happy weeks hiking around the countryside, pausing only to investigate a few of the excellent taverns and refreshing myself with a well earned pint of the native brew. The weather was kind that summer and even the occasional shower that keeps the island emerald green was short lived and only lasted long enough to sink another pint.
It was during my third week that I found some artefacts of interest beneath one of the hawthorn bushes I mentioned. I spent several hours trowel in hand unearthing coins and small inscribed pieces of pottery, as the sun got higher in the sky and the day grew warmer I decided to stop while I ate some lunch from my knapsack and open one of the bottles of stout I had brought with me. Replete from my bread, cheese and ale I settled beneath the shade of the hawthorn bush and closed my eyes. As you will have guessed that is how I woke to find myself in the land of the Fae.
After many adventures, some of which I wrote down while in the realm of the Fae and shared with you before, I managed to piece together from talks with other travellers and the occasional friendly fae, just how this realm of the fae came into being. Oddly it was tied in with my original reason for visiting Ireland,
Before the advent of iron working the Fae had co-existed with man, if not peacefully, then at least on an equal footing. However the new iron weapons were deadly to the Fae, even the slightest scratch would kill them. Even so iron was still a rare luxury, that is until the Romans started their relentless conquests across Europe. The Fae retreated further and further west away from the iron swords and spears of the Roman Army. Eventually only the far north of Scotland and Ireland remained free from the scourge of the ‘blood-metal’. Then under the Emperor Augustus an expeditionary force crossed the sea to Ireland. The Fae had their backs to the sea and no place on earth to retreat to.
In desperation the Fae summoned strong elemental magic and opened portals to another place, somewhere or somewhen where they could safe from the ‘blood-metal’. They did not however want to cut all ties with their old home and so marked these portals with long living hawthorn trees, and on occasion would emerge to visit the world they had left. This explained why these sites in Ireland had become associated with magic and the Fae in the folk memory.
By falling asleep under a hawthorn bush I had unwittingly entered the realm of the Fae, and I eventually realised that if I could find the other side of one of these portals then I might have a chance to return.
My search took years, and it was only through hearing that the Fae sometimes collected the votive offerings left under hawthorn bushes did I succeed in finding a portal home. Tired and weary from my travels I lay down under a hawthorn bush in the Fae realm and awoke to find myself wet from a gentle Irish rain shower.
My return to my own world was confusing, I was dressed in rags and did not know where I was, it took several hours to find a road and it was very late in the day when I reached a village. The locals took me for a wandering lunatic, talking of my many adventures over the years I had been away. It was only after the kind attentions of the village priest and sitting by a peat fire in borrowed clothes with a glass of poteen in my hand did I discover, to me, the strangest aspect of my adventure, this was the same day that I entered the realm of the Fae.