Searching for a Blue Horse in the Faerie World
Amy walks us through the faerie landscape of childhood, and considers how magic might stay with us always.
As a young child I struggled to concentrate and lived in a constant lucid daydream. My favourite teacher, who for the purposes of this essay we will call Mr Broadbean, told me it was because I was fae, and not wholly of this world. I dreamed and dreamed of the faerie court, where King Finvarra and Queen Oonagh would welcome me home as their long -lost daughter, stolen away from them by an evil witch named Sycorax. Often, in the corporeal world, I would try to invite them closer; try to find some way of letting them in. The key to communicating with the faerie people is to find a between place. A place that is not quite one place if you can believe the concept. Between places are steeped in old magic. If you call on the faerie people at midnight, the between point of night and day, the middle of the sun and moon’s journey, from an open window, should the wind be blowing the right way, they may respond to your invitation. But if the wind is blowing the wrong way, they will cast a spell on your face, so it is stuck for three lunar cycles in the same expression.
My calls were not loud enough, so I wrote an invitation. I invited the royal court to attend a tea party at the bottom of my grandparent’s garden, at November Cottage on the small island in the largest pond. My Grandfather had told me that before my Grandmother fell in love with him, she was not a real woman, but actually the Faerie Queen Mab, a distant cousin of King Finvarra. Her Kingdom was the English countryside. He told me that when they met, he employed his own magic, the magic of lovely words, to compel her to take human form. Therefore, I knew he would be able to get this letter to the Faerie court. A few weeks went by before my next visit to November Cottage, and when I returned my Grandad turned to me and said, ‘Ear, I nose you, my fingers never leave my hands and I have reply for you.’ I was ecstatic. I ran to him as he prepared the dinner. ‘We’re having swan tonight; I got a direct dispensation from the Queen.’
We sat together, gobbling our food with a runcible spoon. I thought that the swan tasted a lot like good. My Grandad really was quite magical. He told me he could turn into a bear at will and that when he was a child, he would often take the form of a little girl to confuse people. Grandad smacked his lips once more and spoke in his enchanting voice ‘Right, I once spied a blue horse. Your Faerie peoples want one and this will be how you can travel to the court. Now every time we go off galivanting we must keep our eyes open and our mouths quiet, so we can spy the creature. It will be very difficult, they are much fabled creatures now, hunted to extinction.’
This puzzled me of a muchness. I set about exploring November Cottage for clues on where best to find the fabled blue horse. The cottage was very large, with lots of little rooms filled with little trinkets and treasures. I would search for a blue horse for the rest of my life if need be. Finally, I found my trinket of trinkets, a small wooden music box, beautiful horses all various hues of blue galloped along its many faces, their long lustrous manes flying behind them. I opened the delicate little music box and found a note carved in the wood, ‘Cerulicanus Bicornii Hillannii.’ Below the words there was a painting of a blue horse, stalking a forest of ethereal white trees. There was no map to guide me on my search – Just one instruction, ‘Follow your dreams.’
To conclude my little essay on the magic of my life, I was encouraged by a somewhat eccentric grandfather to believe in magic as much as magic believed in me. Although we never actually ate swan, and indeed he didn’t actually turn into a bear in the winter, nor to my knowledge was he ever a little girl. Nevertheless, he planted the seed for the magic flowers that could return every spring for the rest of my life. Whenever anyone asks, do you believe in magic? I reply with a smile and a happily remembered phrase ‘as true as I am riding this bicycle.’
Years and years went by and I had all but forgotten the blue horse. I had been searching for it for so long in forests all over the world I had all but given up hope when one day, a small package was delivered to me, with that little music box from childhood. I wound it up and set it down on the dining room table to play, its twinkling tune stung the air and on closer inspection I could see the note had changed, above the pale blue horse that stalked the trees, the line now read, ‘Live your dreams, Amy.’ I realise in this moment, that whilst I had stopped searching for the blue horse, it is still looking for me.