Walking The Faery Pathway by Harmonia Saille
Review by Kate Russell
The subject of faeries is one that has fascinated and inspired us for eons. But such an ethereal topic can be hard to research. There are lots of images, but little writing on the subject, and this is where Harmonia Saille cuts out a new literary path from the likes of Brian Froud, Cicely Mary Barker et al. With a BA in imaginative writing, Saille is a writer, researcher and practising Hedge Witch from England, where the age of civilizations passed underfoot allows for rich and varied legends of the little folk.
Stepping outside of the expected cliché of faeries as solely delicate little beings with painted wings, Saille delves into characters of all shapes, sizes and temperaments as fodder for her book, ‘Walking the Faery Pathway’.
Aside from her obvious interest and experience with the little folk, Saille also includes suggestions her stepdaughters Tanya (aged 11) and Jo?lle (aged 9) give on the subject. Her reason for this? “Many children are uncluttered by science and are lucky to have loving parents and family around them who ensure they keep the magic of childhood. As a result nothing is impossible. You would be surprised at what some children already know about faeries if you were only to ask them, like I did.” Sometimes the children seem to disagree on the finer details, but both seem to share a similar vision on their perception of the little people. This aspect, along with the simply sketched illustrations of the different fey characters found peering out of the text at you in different points of the book, add a unique and fey-like charm to the writing.
Saille moves beyond just the types of faeries, as are covered in most books, and actually places them and their legends specific to area. Disappointing news for our North American readership perhaps: this book only covers faeries of Western Europe and Scandinavia (i.e. The British Isles, Isle of Man, Brittany, Germany, The Netherlands and Scandinavia) – but other information in this book could be useful for tracking down the little folk in your area.
Saille gives you background on the faery world; the heroes/heroines, the villains and the perhaps misunderstood characters. She also discusses faery pathways and portals and provides an invaluable lesson on dowsing for places of energy where their processions and presence could be found. In chapter 3, Saille discusses methods of communicating with the faeries; potential gifts they might like and sounds that draw them.
For those of you who have children you wish to encourage to the faery pathway, this book also includes suggestions for activities on Samhain (Hallowe’en) and to encourage your children’s imaginations. For the more mature reader, there are also suggestions on how to make your home and garden faery-friendly territories. The suggestions for the garden are particularly intriguing: candles, shiny pebbles, wind chimes and a lamp, among others. One could imagine this garden not only being welcoming to the little folk, but also an inspiring place for the reader and wonderfully so for any children that might also wander there.
The last part of the book is on the Faery Caille, Oracle of Wands. In this section, Saille takes you through a runic-similar divination system of her own devising, used to “… help you connect and contact… the faery folk, while learning a little about trees, which are sacred to them.” Each symbol in this section is thoroughly discussed and includes a piece of folklore on a particular character of legend of faery-lore.
Even though this book is recommended for young adults upwards, there are many exercises and interactive activities within that even younger readers could enjoy with the help and enthusiasm of an older ally. All in all, a fantastic book and a must for those who love, or are intrigued by the world of fey.
Kate Russell is a singer/songwriter and busker from Vancouver, up until recently performing under the stage name Jadis Gloom (www.myspace.com/jadisgloom). Currently she is taking some time out from her solo music projects to write, listen to other styles of music and gain inspiration from other artists and their own creative journeys. Believing that to look into someone’s art is also to look inside their soul, she enjoys the intimate opportunities for understanding others in new ways that being a music critic provides.