Legends and Sagas
The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries
By W. Y. Evans-Wentz
This is one of the most in-depth and scholarly attempts to explain the
phenomena of the Celtic belief in fairies.
Based on Evans-Wentz' Oxford doctoral thesis,
it includes an extensive survey of the literature from many
different perspectives, including folk-lore, history, anthropology and
The heart of the book is the
ethnographic fieldwork conducted by Evans-Wentz,
an invaluable snapshot of the fairy belief system
taken just on the cusp of modernity.
There are regional surveys of the fairy-faith in
Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany and the Isle of Man.
Evan-Wentz later went on to
become one of the leading authorities on Buddhism, and published many
of the key documents of Tibetan Buddhism including the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Evans-Wentz examines each of the hypothetical explanations of the fairy
Among these are the theories that fairies were a reclusive race of dwarfs,
that they are disembodied spirits, or that they are a
figment of our imaginations.
Evans-Wentz concludes that they may indeed be a manifestation of
inhabitants of a higher reality that only some of us are able to view,
let alone understand.
We come away from this study with a multi-dimensional view of the fairies,
who, much like the grey aliens of UFO belief, inhabit a narrative which
seems too consistent to be the product of insanity, yet too bizarre
for conventional explanation.
Production Notes: This is a complete overhaul of this etext. I have
added linked footnotes, anchored page numbers, the table of contents,
a previously missing chapter,
and corrected numerous formatting and transcription errors.
--John Bruno Hare
January 27th, 2004
Section I: The Living Fairy-Faith
Chapter I: Environment
Chapter II. Taking of Evidence: I. General Introduction
Chapter II. Taking of Evidence: II. In Ireland
Chapter II. Taking of Evidence: III. In Scotland
Chapter II. Taking of Evidence: IV. In the Isle of Man
Chapter II. Taking of Evidence: V. In Wales
Chapter II. Taking of Evidence: VI. In Cornwall
Chapter II. Taking of Evidence: VII: In Brittany
Chapter III. Anthropological Examination of the Evidence
The Recorded Fairy-Faith
Chapter IV. People of the Goddess Dana
Chapter V. Brythonic Divinities
Chapter VI. Celtic Otherworld
Chapter VII. The Celtic Doctrine of Rebirth
Section III. The Cult Of Gods, Spirits, Fairies, and the Dead
Chapter VIII. The Testimony of Archaeology
Chapter IX. The Testimony of Paganism
Chapter X. The Testimony of Christianity
Section IV. Modern Science and the Fairy Faith; and Conclusions
Chapter XI. Science and Fairies
Chapter XII. The Celtic Doctrine of Re-Birth and Otherworld Scientifically Examined