I've just returned from a few peaceful days in rural Wales where there was time to think and time to wonder, in the magical surroundings, about the magical things in life.
I recalled tales of supernatural beings, fairies, goblins and other species of little folk, that have intrigued me through the years.
It was easy to believe in the existence of these ethereal beings when I was small. And in this beautiful quiet Welsh valley, once again it seemed somehow possible. Indeed, in the isolation of this lovely place, one only had to take a small leap of faith to imagine the fantastical becoming 'real'.
Whatever 'real' is....
Although fairy folk have been documented since very early times, when there was widespread acceptance of their existence, they passed first into folklore and later into mythology before being largely banished into the realms of pure fantasy as people moved away from a connection with nature and instead embraced science, industry and technology.
Fairy folk were consigned to history and those who professed a belief in the supernatural beings became a source of ridicule.
Sporadic reported sightings of fairy folk were quickly dismissed as nonsense and gradually their memory faded.
But in 2014 a respected professor, John Hyatt, took some photographs which startled the world. Professor Hyatt had apparently captured images of fairies whilst photographing the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire. This was not a replay of the famous Cottingley sensation of the early 20th century when two young girls claimed to have photographed fairies, the resulting images causing a widespread fascination which lasted for decades until the whole episode was exposed as a likely hoax.
This time it really looked as though there might be irrefutable evidence of the existence of the little folk, photographed using modern equipment and by a renowned professor.
Even so, many scoffed at the very notion, ridiculing the pictures and dismissing them as showing nothing more than dancing midges.
But others believed.
And as images of the mysterious beings were shared around the world through social media, the professor was inundated with photographs of fairies from all parts of the planet.
It seemed that the existence of the mystical creatures might not merely be wishful thinking or the imaginings of a few romantics. It suggested, at the very least, that there was a strong desire to believe in something otherworldly, perhaps magical - and maybe even confirmed what many of us have always known, that there is more to life than that which first meets the eye.
Professor Hyatt told the Manchester Evening News that his images were "genuine and have not been altered in any way". He added "The message to people is to approach them with an open mind. There are stranger things in life than fairies, and life grows everywhere".
In some countries the belief in, or should we say 'knowledge of', supernatural beings has never been disputed. In Iceland, for example, elves (another species of fairy folk) are entirely accepted as real by more than half the population. Anthropologist Magnus Skarphedinsson told the South China Morning Post "There is no doubt that they exist. In other countries, with western scientific arrogance [and] the denial of everything that they have not discovered themselves, they say that witnesses are subject to hallucinations.”
I've never given up on my belief in things magical, the type of magic and mystery that exists in the unfathomable beauty of nature. And if that encompasses a willingness to believe in fairies and other supernatural folk then I'm very comfortable with that.
I'm in good company after all. Many respected people are humble enough to know that we don't in fact know it all.
And when I stand amidst the staggering beauty of a mysterious remote Welsh valley, accepting the reality of the supernatural is actually the most natural thing in the world.
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