May 8th, 2013 by James Ayre
Back in 2007, an English sculptor/illusion designer by the name of Dan Baines posted photographs on his website showing what he claimed were the mummified remains of a dead fairy, that were supposedly found by someone walking their dog in Derbyshire. The photographs were uploaded on April 1st… For some reason the post and photographs really blew up virally, with many people believing it to be real.
And, amazingly, the dead fairy hoax is still going strong now, 6 years later. People just can’t get enough of the idea of a dead mummified fairy I guess? Or maybe just faeries in general. As a result of this hoax, and another that occurred in Mexico recently, I’ve decided to write an article on the subject, and on faeries in general. Enjoy.
With regards to the dead fairy in Derbyshire, a couple of days before April 1, 2007, an illusion designer/sculptor by the name of Dan Baines posted images to his website depicting what he described as the remains of a dead fairy. The mummified body was supposedly discovered by a dog walker at Firestone Hill in Duffield, Derbyshire. As per the photographs, the dead fairy body possessed ears, wings, hair, skin and teeth. And according to Baines had been examined by anthropologists and forensic experts who were able to verify that the body was of a real and scientifically unknown animal/life form. Baines also stated that X-rays taken of the body showed that its physiological structure was rather similar to that of a human child, but that its bones were hollow like with many species of birds.
Even though the post was made very close to April Fool’s Day, many people apparently fell for the hoax. So on April 1st, Baines updated his site to clarify that the dead fairy was in fact a hoax. He then subsequently listed the mummified fairy on eBay, and sold it. Interestingly, even after the hoax’s creator stated that it was in fact a hoax, people still believed it to be real. There are still many people that believe it to be real, some of which have stated that the acknowledgment of it as a hoax was simply a coverup. As of now that’s the end of that story…
The one is Mexico is quite a bit funnier though. Rather than simply finding a dead fairy, this one was actively killed by its discoverer, placed in formaldehyde, and is now a cash cow for the man…
Here’s a quote from the guy himself (transcribed from a video on YouTube): “I was picking guavas and I saw a twinkling. I thought it was a firefly. I picked it up and felt that it was moving; when I looked at it I knew that it was a fairy godmother.” And his first impulse was then, apparently, to put it into formaldehyde and kill it.
Interestingly, the man’s mother in an interview with a local TV station stated that she experienced a “spiritual awakening” after seeing the dead fairy… that was killed by her son. There must be something that I’m missing here — finding a supposedly extremely rare “magical creature”, killing it, and then crassly charging others to see the dead creature — that’s “spiritual”? Sounds more like a very cynical form of entertainment, to put it lightly…
Now onto the, arguably, most interesting part of the article — faeries themselves.
Faeries are considered to be a type of “mythical” being or creature, or alternately a form of spirit. They are sometimes described as being, not physical creatures, but supernatural or metaphysical ones. The word is used to describe a large variety of different legendary characters and peoples in stories. And the concept matches up well with various stories from cultures around the world, though faeries are often considered to be of European or Celtic origin. Sometimes, especially in stories with older origins, the word is used to also describe “goblins” and “gnomes”, or other more ethereal creatures.
While they are generally described as being human-like in appearance, all of the other factors vary considerably. Sometimes possessing magical powers, sometimes not. Sometimes being tiny, sometimes being taller than humans, sometimes being short and stout. Throughout history they have sometimes been referred to as the spirits of dead people, demons, or a species similar to humans but independent of them. It is a somewhat popular idea currently that the stories may have their origin in isolated/or somewhat-isolated populations of ice age Europeans. It’s worth noting that the addition of wings seems to be a modern invention, older stories almost never make any mention of wings.
Wikipedia has more: “Much of the folklore about fairies revolves around protection from their malice. Although in modern culture they are often depicted as young, sometimes winged, humanoids of small stature, they originally were depicted quite differently: tall, radiant, angelic beings or short, wizened trolls being two of the commonly mentioned forms. One common theme found among the Celtic nations describes a race of diminutive people who had been driven into hiding by invading humans. When considered as beings that a person might actually encounter, fairies were noted for their mischief and malice.”
“The word fairy derives from Middle English faierie (also fayerye, feirie, fairie), a direct borrowing from Old French faerie (Modern French féerie) meaning the land, realm, or characteristic activity (i.e. enchantment) of the legendary people of folklore and romance called (in Old French) faie or fee (Modern French fée). This derived ultimately from Late Latin fata (one of the personified Fates, hence a guardian or tutelary spirit, hence a spirit in general); cf. Italian fata, Portuguese fada, Spanish hada of the same origin.”
Interestingly, iron was considered to be poison to faeries. They won’t go near it, according to many stories. In many of the Celtic and Northern European nations iron didn’t enter wide scale use until after roman invasion/war. Roman weapons were typically of not very high quality, being designed and manufactured more with large-scale production in mind, and iron easily fulfilled that role. Whereas in many of the Celtic nations at the time, high quality craftsmanship was generally of very high value, especially with regards to weapons, and most of the systems and traditions in place at the time made use of bronze for the creation of these quality weapons. With cheap iron entering use with roman expansion this engrained system of producing high quality bronze weapons/tools was replaced by new systems using the cheaper material iron. It took some time for the weapons made out the iron to approach the quality of the previous bronze weapons — an interesting side note.
As an ending note, in many folk stories faeries often have green eyes and like to bite. They can be quite skilled at confusing some one with their choice of words, but they cannot lie. “They hate being told ‘thank you’, as they see it as a sign of one forgetting the good deed done, and, instead, want something that will guarantee remembrance.”
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