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Isle of Man - The Testimony of John Davies, herb doctor and seer

Identifier

014002

Type of spiritual experience

Hallucination

A description of the experience

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, [1911]

TESTIMONY OF A HERB-DOCTOR AND SEER

At Ballasalla I was fortunate enough to meet one of the most interesting of its older inhabitants, John Davies, a Celtic medicine-man, who can cure most obstinate maladies in men or animals with secret herbs, and who knows very much about witchcraft and the charms against it.

'Witches are as common as ducks walking barefooted,' he said, using the duck simile, which is a popular Manx one; and he cited two particular instances from his own experience.

But for us it is more important to know that John Davies is also an able seer. The son of a weaver, he was born in County Down, Ireland, seventy-eight years ago; but in earliest boyhood he came with his people to the Isle of Man, and grew up in the country near Ramsay, and so thoroughly has he identified himself with the island and its lore, and even with its ancient language, that for our purposes be may well be considered a Manxman. His testimony about Manx fairies is as follows:--

Actual Fairies Described.--'I am only a poor ignorant man; when I was married I couldn't say the word "matrimony" in the right way. But one does not have to be educated to see fairies, and I have seen them many a time.

I have seen them with the naked eye as numerous as I have seen scholars coming out of Ballasalla school; and I have been seeing them since I was eighteen to twenty years of age. The last one I saw was in Kirk Michael.

Before education came into the island more people could see the fairies; now very few people can see them. But they (the fairies) are as thick on the Isle of Man as ever they were. They throng the air, and darken Heaven, and rule this lower world. It is only twenty-one miles from this world up to the first heaven.

There are as many kinds of fairies as populations in our world. I have seen some who were about two and a half feet high; and some who were as big as we are.

I think very many such fairies as these last are the lost souls of the people who died before the Flood. At the Flood all the world was drowned; but the Spirit which God breathed into Adam will never be drowned, or burned, and it is as much in the sea as on the land.

Others of the fairies are evil spirits: our Saviour drove a legion of devils into a herd of swine; the swine were choked, but not the devils. You can't drown devils; it is spirits they are, and just like a shadow on the wall.'

I here asked about the personal aspects of most fairies of human size, and my friend said:--'They appear to me in the same dress as in the days when they lived here on earth; the spirit itself is only what God blew into Adam as the breath of life.'

The source of the experience

Celtic

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

 

Activities