I’d heard many an ancient story told, of the magic the Bluebell Woods may hold. Did I believe it, was it for real? If a mortal man stood in a faerie ring, precious time was something they would steal. Could there really be such a thing? The thoughts rattled around my head, I admit by curiosity I was led. It was back in the merry month of May, as I recall, ’twas Beltane day and just as the dimpsey dusk had begun to fall, I heard enchantment call.
I set off down a country lane, clambering over stiles, a rickety bridge across a rhyne and through the fields of Barley, until I stood at the entrance to the Bluebell Woods. I had left the world so mundane, seeking the magic that lives in a space beyond the confines of time. I stood very still, barely holding my breath. What if the myths were true, could meeting the Fae really cause a man’s death? Beautiful Bluebells, their scent pervaded the air. Suddenly I did not care as their tinkling chimes dispelled my fear, I could sense the magic as I drew near.
With glow worms to light the way, I followed a winding trail, determined to return to tell the tale. The leaves begin to sway, dancing to the birds signalling the end of day. Then I saw him, my heart skipped a beat. A little fellow, so dapper and neat. He had a suit of red and green, such a creature I had never seen. Shiny black shoes with silver buckles upon his feet. With cheerful words he greeted me, ‘Good Sir, Merry Meet!’
I was so surprised when he spoke and told me he was of the Elven folk. Reaching up, he took my hand and led me into an enchanted land.How blessed was I to see a sight, granted to a mortal man that warm Summer’s night. In a clearing in the woods, the Beltane fire burned high and bright. Beside the Elf, I felt brave and I felt bold, and so I stood, quite at ease and protected by the trees, and watched it all unfold.
I was midst the Royal Court of the Fae as their magical May procession got underway, led by the Faerie Queen and her Holly King. Oh her beauty had to be seen! Her silken gown was spun from gossamer threads, a golden diadem upon her lovely head. Her flaxen hair was loose and long and came tumbling down. Her Consort, a majestic sight as he took her hand and they sallied forth into the night. The Faerie folk, Elves, Hobgoblins, Dryads, Sprites and Nymphs all bowed down to She who wore the Green Wood Crown.
Enchanted I watched as their Majesties walked by, the Faerie Queen caught my eye. She beckoned me to join her entourage and follow the retinue. I did not hesitate, grabbing the little Elf by the hand, I did as she bid me to and went further into the deep dark woods. Along the way Fireflies flew, tiny sparks of dazzling, dancing light, as the procession came through.
By the Beltane fire, I saw two thrones, hewn from ancient stone. I felt the power build and rise from the forest floor. I had wandered through a liminal corridor. A land of beauty, magic, song and dance. The whole forest was alive, and I was entranced. Beetles, bugs and Bees joined in the festivities. There was nectar to sip and cake to eat. A giant toadstool became my seat. Fallow Deer, Badgers, Stoats, Mice, Foxes, Hedgehogs and Voles are came creeping shyly in to pay homage to the Faerie Queen. Such marvellous sights, the like of which I had never seen!
And through the night music played, on a Harpsichord, flutes and Mandolins, and a Nightingale sang madrigals and songs of Courtly love. Oh how we danced and twirled and spun in circles, round and round. My feet hardly touched the ground! And then from somewhere high above, I heard a Barn Owl screech and in a happy, dizzy haze I fell upon the forest floor. The sights and sounds receded, I looked but although he was needed, my Elven friend was somewhere out of reach.
Beneath the light of a Flower Moon, the Faerie Queen looked upon her blessed realms of The Summerlands, stretching as far as the eye can see. Beauty reaching to infinity. With a wave of her magic wand and the mists begin to rise around Avalon. Sleep fell upon me, and enchanted by the Queen of the Green Wood’s spell, I kept the secret. For their story I would never tell.
Eily Nash (2020)
Gossamer Threads: Short Stories