The tale of Beehive fairy lore began in 1992 when Missy and I were on tour with our band Voice of the Beehive. We had just recorded a very early television appearance in Victoria, Australia and were on our way back to the hotel. We were practically nodding off in the back of the cab when something caught our attention that made us both gasp loudly. It was a store window, snowy white and full of wings, sparkles, and wands. As if it had been predestined, when we walked into the store, a beautiful “fairy” behind the counter took one look at us still in our band gear from the morning and simply said, “We wondered when you’d get here.” She had seen us on the telly that morning and knew that we were fairies waiting to happen. This wasn’t a shop, this was another world and, again as if by fate, we had three full days to dwell in it and several weeks of wages to shop with… who cares if it meant we wouldn’t have money for trivial things like toothpaste and shampoo?
The shop was called WonderWings and the lady that had greeted us so warmly was Anne. Unlike most stores in this day and age, this shop was about promoting a sensory experience rather than just selling a product. The gentle background music was something that seemed to lift you out of yourself. And, to this day, we have never been able to duplicate the aroma that floated around us, a cross between lemons, eucalyptus and something we never could place. Anne informed us that there was a fairy grotto on the premises. Sure enough, she simply opened the door to the back of the store and when we stepped through it, we were inside a forest. Granted, it was a homemade, but like everything about the place, it cast a certain spell over us. It was a room with leaves on the floor and what seemed like living trees in each corner and a million stars on the ceiling. Anne also led us to the very back of the shop to the wand room where she made wands by the hundreds. It was a tiny room covered with glitter and glue and sequins and sparkling stones. Anne had obviously spent hours here and found it very therapeutic. In a telling statement, she whispered, “When my mother died, I made wands for days”.
Needless to say, Missy and I became obsessed with fairies. But, is it really an obsession when it lasts years and years? As Missy once blurted out to our bass player, Martin, “It’s not a phase, it’s a lifestyle!” Learning about fairy lore changed our life. It gave us a healthy escape into a fantasy world, it taught us a huge respect for nature (don’t step on a discarded walnut shell just because you can, that could be someone’s bed) and it reminded us that man doesn’t really know as much as he thinks he does. Nature is much more cunning and wiser. Missy and I took it as our personal responsibility to leave colored fairy dust in the elevators, corridors and lobbies of every Four Seasons and Hilton we stayed in. We were convinced that we were providing, “A little bit of magic for the weary traveler.” We took it as a personal victory when, on our visit back to our Sydney hotel, there was still traces of fairy dust in the hallways. We were committed to this new phenomenon and took to wearing our wings everywhere, including the airport which gave people tons of ammunition for obvious jokes, “Flying there yourself, are ya?” I still can’t believe we had to nerve to wear our commitment on our sleeves (or our backs) so blatantly but that’s the way you think when you’re in your 20’s and in a band with a successful single. Some people go overboard with drugs – we became addicted to fairies and fairy lore.
Fairy lore is as varied as the many breeds of fairies themselves. Some people believe that they date as far back as the Druids while others proclaim their history is firmly based in Ireland. We know that they at least date back to Shakespeare’s era, which featured a fairy character in “A Midsummer Nights Dream”. While no one seems to agree on much about fairies and their past, there are a few things that Missy and I believe to be true. Fairies are female in the very essence of their nature. The males of this world belong to the realm of elves and pixies. They are highly attracted to things that sparkle (real diamonds, fake rhinestones…it makes no difference to them). They are, of course, vegetarians, adore sweets and their favorite treat is crumbs. They are most likely to be seen at dawn, sunset and midnight. Their favorite habitats are where two places meet, where a beach meets the ocean, where mountains meet flatlands or a forest meets a meadow; and they hold their important ceremonies (weddings, funerals, birthday fairy rings) when the moon is full.
There are two theories about how to look at a fairy if you are lucky enough to chance across one. One school of thought says you must stare right at them and not even slightly shift your gaze. Missy and I believe the second one that says you must look at them sideways, not directly. Fairies are especially fond of children because they believe in their existence without question. Children are also especially fond of fairies. My house is full of doll heads, antique toys, vintage hats and Eiffel towers but the first thing all the children who visit me are drawn to is a large glass bubble with Thea, my sleeping fairy from Australia, in it. It never fails to be the first thing they want to know about.
Every single fairy lore story you read will give you a different story of how fairies are born but these are the two most enchanting ones. First, when fairy dust floats down to Earth on a sunbeam, it embeds itself on the head of a dandelion where it springs to tiny life. Secondly, a fairy is born when a particularly full raindrop breaks open on the brightest leaf of a tree. And of course, fairies are always born when a bubble bursts. Every “expert” has their theories and beliefs about these mysterious little creatures but there is one thing they all agree on for certain. The only fact that is undeniable is that no one really knows for sure and no one will ever really know for sure, we can only imagine. That’s part of the fun and the enchantment of this unique world. There are millions of fairy books. Some are great. Some are awful. Here is a list of fairy books that Missy and I own and highly recommend:
Fairies Compiled by Elizabeth Ratisseau, ISBN 1-883211-12-3 Our favorite book. A wonderful collection of beautiful illustrations and poems that really embody the fairy spirit.
Faeries: Doorways to the Enchanted Realm By Lori Eisenkraft, ISBN 0-7651-1053-9
A very sweet collection of poems, illustrations, stories and fairy lore.
Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book By Terry Jones, ISBN 1-57036-062-6
The mother of creative fairy telling. Based loosely on the photographs mentioned earlier, this is a very clever book that chronicles the life of one of the sisters who masterminded the historic photos. Very funny and imaginative.
Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books By Francesca Lia Block, ISBN 0-0644-0697
You will either love or hate these books of fairy fiction. I love them, Missy doesn’t. They are a mixture of punk rock and fairy lore all rolled up into a street savy story set in modern Los Angeles. She has written tons of books and I love them all.
The Fairies By Suza Scalora, ISBN 0-06-028234-7
More of a photography book than an illustrated one, it’s a beautifully done portrayal of all the different kinds of fairies in the fairy realm.
Betty Bib’s Fairy Handbook: A Field Guide to Fairies and their Habitats, ISBN 1-84483-194-9
Really sweetly done and very funny version of the world of fairies. There’s something here for adults and something here for kids. One of the best and most imaginative books about this subject.
Tatterhood and the Hobgoblins By Lauren Mills, ISBN 0-316-57406-6
All her books are wonderful and offer great and strong role models for little girls. Enchanting illustrations, beautiful text and memorable characters.
Great Encyclopedia of Faeries, Secrets Revealed by Pierre Dubois, ISBN 0-684-86957-8
Very dense text but fun to browse through at a slow pace. Tons of information.
Fairy Dreams By Carol McLean-Carr, ISBN 0-439-19257-9
Kind of like an I Spy book but fairy style. Really intriguing pictures that will appeal to all ages.
The Faeryland Companion By Beatrice Phillpotts, ISBN 0-7607-1890-3
This is really the ultimate fairy encyclopedia. There is everything you would ever need to know about the history and lore of fairies.
The Golden Books Treasury of Elves and Fairies Illustrated by Garth Williams
A collection of basic fairy stories for kids. Very sweet and old fashioned in keeping with the Golden Book tradition.
Missy and I have been asked over and over to retell our fairy story so the narration of this tale is long overdue. I’m so proud of her and the amazing creatures she created over the years. After the band broke up she continued living the fairy lifestyle for 10 years and has been steadfast and devoted to her dream of having a shop similar to Wonder Wings. Today, with the help of Yahoo, she’s been able to bring that dream online – enjoy!