Explaining Nature Through Faeries

Summer Fairy healing a leaf

Do you believe in faeries? Regardless of whether you do, there are “fairy” places everywhere. I have always chased dappled light patterns to see what I could find. Sometimes when alone out in the woods as the wind blew through the trees, I could hear faint whispers titillating through the leaves. And I have always imagined little people were living under the new saplings sprouting out of the earth on the forest floor.

The Origins of Faeries Come From Nature

You might call my ideals romantic in a sense, but nature speaks to me. It is no wonder that our ancestors explained many of nature’s wonders as the work of faeries. I once read that a fairy lore researcher in Scotland said he traveled to a remote lake to study the sounds of what the locals called fairy songs. He discovered that the lake water washing across a particular type of stone sounded like bells. From a distance, it was so convincing that he was even mesmerized. Imagine if you were standing outside your home at night centuries ago and heard the same thing. What would you think it was? You might explain it as faeries singing in the distance too.

Summer Fairy Elegant Lady Smelling Hydrangea Blooms

Our feeble minds always try to explain everything that we see and hear. The sound of a bobcat calling out in the night is often described as sounding like a woman screaming. I have been hiking the mountains with my Father at night and heard that sound, and it makes the hair on my body stand on end. I will never forget how much it startled me and my mind immediately thought something horrible had happened to someone farther up the trail.

But it isn’t just what is heard that can make someone question what is happening. Consider what people must have thought of mushrooms popping up in a perfect circle; how would they explain it? Today we know that it is the way the fungus grows underground that causes this phenomenon. However, the Celts held strong beliefs that these were faerie circles. If you stepped inside the boundary, you could be transported entirely elsewhere.

Those who came before us lived in a world that was dangerous in a way different from our own. This must have made everyday occurrences frightful at times. Allow me to illuminate this idea with an example of my own.

Being Stalked in the Woods on an Unknown Trail

Wild Faerie in Her Garden-Fine Art Photographer Sabrina L Greene

A couple of years ago, I worked an elopement in an area of Burke County I was unfamiliar with on the edge of the Linville Gorge. The hike to the ridge was incredibly steep, and I had not been forewarned of the difficulty of the trail I was embarking on. Once we reached the cliff’s precipice overlooking the gorge, I have to admit it was unlike anything I had beheld before.

After the ceremony, I finished my work faster than the other vendors, so I packed up and headed back down the trail since I had over a two-hour drive back home. Unbeknownst to me, I took the wrong path when I started the 1.5-mile trek back.

About halfway down the mountain, I began to notice two things; one, that the trail didn’t look familiar, and two, that it sounded like someone was following me quietly in the brush. When I stopped, it stopped.

Suddenly the trail abruptly halted, and I was staring into a wall of undergrowth that did not have a visible path. At that moment, I realized I was in trouble.

Summer Fairy Princess Walking In the Evening Sun

In my tired state of mind, after working so hard for my clients, I had gotten myself turned around and taken the wrong trail. I almost panicked because I had no idea where I was and when I pulled my phone out of my camera bag, I had one bar of service. The phone did not have enough signal strength to call out, but I did text my husband to let him know what happened and that my intentions were to hike back up the mountain to regain my bearings.

Discovering What Had Been With Me on the Trail

Thankfully my Dad had taught me how to survive in the woods from our many adventures together growing up, so I kept myself from going into a full-blown panic.

Sitting on a log, I waited impatiently for my phone to pull up google maps. After a few minutes of struggling, it could pinpoint my location and show me the distance to the trailhead. I was an additional mile off course, and the light was fading quickly. I had a pity party for a few minutes, cried out my frustration, and started back up the mountain.

I knew the best thing to do was not to try and navigate the unfamiliar terrain without being on a trail. I was tempted to just head off into the understory of the treetops, but that would have resulted in more frustration.

After heading back up the mountain, I heard the footfalls sneaking up on me again. My mind began playing tricks on me.

Summer Fairy walking through her garden gate

Was someone stalking me? Was it a bear, coyote, or bobcat? Even worse, was Bigfoot real?

Ten minutes later, I simply stopped and decided to wait it out. After scanning the area around me, I saw the flick of an ear and nearly laughed hysterically. A curious doe was standing a little ways off, and she was staring right at me.

Who knows? Maybe she had a fawn nearby and was trying to draw attention to herself, so I would not find her baby. I have had them do that to me before, but I was convinced something had been coming after me for quite some time.

Summer Fairy standing in the sunlight of the garden

With all of the modern technology I had and having at least basic knowledge of the world’s science, I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did. Yet my mind had me believing in all kinds of scenarios.

If my mind could do this to me in this century, how much more would people have tried to explain the unknown in the past?

Imagining Nature Before the Influence of Man

I enjoy imagining what it must have been like to make sense of that world. The forests were untouched, and there were old-growth trees; the understory would have been healthy and unpolluted. I’m sure nature was considered to be more savage then, but it also commanded their respect.

Summer Faeries

I enjoy imagining what it must have been like to make sense of that world. The forests were untouched, and there were old-growth trees; the understory would have been healthy and unpolluted. I’m sure nature was considered to be more savage then, but it also commanded their respect.

Society as a whole has lost its precious relationship with the wild. With gratitude in my heart, I honor it by following in the footsteps of my Father by hiking the mountains around me. Yet I also take the time to pause and let the land’s heartbeat soak into the pores of my being.  

When I do, it often draws my attention to where the faeries of old are still active today.

Featured Photoshoot: Summer Garden Fae Walk at Sunset

Costume Design/Model: Mountain Flower Fantasies

Photography Assistant: Brittany Wood


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About Sabrina

Sabrina is a photographer located near Asheville, NC who loves to create stories through her lens. She is known for her conceptual photography inspired by literature and her love of books.

Sabrina is also a portrait, wedding, and small business photographer. Her artistic style bridges the line of cinema and paintings.

And when she’s not photographing people, you can find her indulging in journaling, reading traditional fairy and folktales, researching her beloved Southern Appalachia, daydreaming, or spending time with her family and her pampered dog, Pixel.

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