Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fairy Candles

We planted them over a year ago, early last summer. It was always the name that got me.
The association between flowers and fairies in an old one and, to me at least, a natural one.
We planted our “Fairy Candle” (the species name is Actaea Racemosa) in the shady side garden area, where I am struggling to introduce variety and even some color, a year ago. It grew but did not flower last summer.
This year the flowers came in July.
By then the name meant more to me because I was remembering how much fairies meant to our friend, Lee Regan, who passed in June. Lee, a reference librarian with a love of local history and an assurance (generally correct) that she knew what you were interested in, loved fairies. The way she put it, I think, is “I believe in fairies.”
I have flirted with unusual beliefs, including the intimation that every instant of time is repeated endlessly across the multiverse, which is why so much that happens feels vaguely familiar.
Lee pointed me to Irish mythology and folk lore, including a memorable book about Welsh fairy lore and storytellers. The name of Welsh storyteller, Taliesin, has stayed with me since.
Lee also tuned me on to a book about the true origins of Arturian myth – a mental space where nature myths and national folk legends cross-fertilize – that molded my view of early British Isles history. Arthur was the dux bellorum, the leader of the wars, who after the Romans departed the island of the Britons, united the Celts to hold back the invasions from the “Northmen” of the continent, the Angles and the Saxons. Arthur’s legend became a kind of living receptacle into which later ages poured their values and needs – chivalry, the upholding of right over might, the idea of the just king, courtly love.
In the end Arthur went to ground, as the fairies did before him. They exist beyond our sight, our senses. We’ve forgotten how to see them.
If there is some hidden bridge of time/space or some other dimension between a shady spot in our little garden in residential Quincy and the other world where fairies reside, it’s right there between the tiny white florets of the “fairy candles.” Maybe something of Lee is there, too, keeping up her librarian’s garden of great stories, poems, and historical resources, encouraging the fairy light in all our story tellers and urging them to share their stories to keep them alive.