The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries - The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries is an in-depth investigation of folklore beliefs from the Celtic nations of Europe: as well as fairies, the Celtic Gods and creatures such as elves, leprechauns, and pixies are examined.
The author strives to determine where the beliefs of the Celts originated, how they evolved over time, and what influence they carried in terms of spiritual beliefs and effects on culture. How the traditions are practiced in the author's day are discussed in interviews obtained with elderly people familiar with the fairy beliefs. Some claim to have seen them, and the tone of these sightings vary: some fairies are beautiful and tranquil, while others are bizarre and fear-inducing.
Later in the text, we receive a broader examination of discoveries turned up in archaeology. The evidence for Celtic cults dedicated to the worship of certain unusual beings is growing; the remnants of the granges and priestly mounds shows there to have been much ritualism and activity. Nature worship, such as veneration of the seasons and even large trees, is established. We also discover how Christianity co-opted aspects of Celtic tradition to increase its appeal; though paganism fell out of favor, there is evidence it shaped how Christianity established itself across Northern Europe.
Although the author displays an occasional tendency to overzealously assert conclusions from limited knowledge, there is no denying the fact that this work is a comprehensive and ambitious investigation of the ancient Celtic belief system. The investigation ranges between the various deities and personages the Celts had in their religious lore, and how these were related to mystical beings such as the titular fairies, and other beings such as the elves.
In all, this work is an eclectic and wide-ranging account which pieces together aspects of Celtic spirituality. This edition contains the author's original notes in their entirety.
Walter Evans-Wentz was a respected anthropologist famed for his study of Tibetan Buddhism. His historical interests in old lore, together with religion and philosophy, was established from an early age: this book was adapted from the author's university thesis, and would serve as a forerunner to his acclaimed later investigations of Buddhist lore and the yoga traditions of the Far East.