The world of faeries is real, and it's all around us. You just have to pay attention. Now at last, acclaimed faerie artist Brian Froud and Pirates author John Matthews are sharing the secrets of glimpsing the faerie realm.
Their new book, How to See Faeries breaks it down for you, with helpful guides to the hidden signs of the faerie land. We've got some gorgeous images from the book, plus two excerpts — one written by Froud and one by Matthews. Get started on your journey below!
Here's the book's official description:
International bestselling artist Brian Froud and New York Times bestselling author John Matthews come together for the first time to create a spectacular interactive book that opens the doors to the enchanted world of Faerie. How does one discover faeries in one's backyard or a garden, forest, or meadow? Through insets, hidden messages, magical signs, reflective mirrors, and other paper mechanics, Froud and Matthews reveal how anyone may discover the way to the land of Faerie. All you need is to believe and to own this book!
Check out our gallery of faerie art above, and below are two excerpts from the book.
Once, a long time ago, when I was a child, I had a curious dream. In it, I was in a garden with the most beautiful flowers, the scents of which filled me with delight. There were birds in the trees, singing so melodiously it brought tears to my eyes. And, there were people there – only they weren't people like you and me, they were strange, lovely, curious beings. Some of them had wings; others didn't.
At first they didn't seem to notice me, but after a while some came over and sat or stood in a circle around me and stared, or smiled, or made faces until I laughed. One or two began to dance, and even invited me to join in. I did, my big clumsy feet falling over each other as I tried to copy the steps.
The sun shone down from a blue sky and the leaves of the trees whispered together. The wonderful folk were so kind and so full of plain old-fashioned goodness it was impossible to feel anything but happiness. My heart sang in my body and I felt more wonderfully alive than I ever had.
I don't know how long I stayed. It might have been hours or weeks or centuries. But in the end I had to leave. It was time to wake up.
I never forgot the garden, and for a long time after that I tried very hard to find it. And one day, many years later, I did. I discovered a little low gate in a high wall in the heart of a busy city. It had no lock or key, just a big ornate handle with a face on it. I went up to it and it opened at a touch. Inside was the garden, or one just like it. All the noise and smells of the city faded away and there I was, a child again, back in the place I remembered. Only now I knew who the wonderful strange people were. Faeries.
Just as before, they crowded around me. Only this time they talked as well, and told me wonderful stories about themselves and their world. Some of these I wrote down, others I just kept in my head, where they lay, like wonderful coloured leaves that never faded or changed.
Sometime after that I met Brian, who had been painting pictures of faeries for years. The strange thing was, the people in his pictures looked very much like the ones I had met in the garden long ago. After a while we sat down and talked about the things we had seen and the things we had been told and found that many of our experiences were the same. Both of us could see faeries, and could talk to them (when they wanted to, of course). Brian drew and painted their likeness. I wrote stories about them, describing them in words.
We also talked about them at gatherings of people who had their own experiences. And everywhere we went, people asked: "How can we see faeries?"
Neither of us could answer that at the time; but we did think about it. Finally, we asked the faeries themselves. "Well, you could do this…," they said, showing us pictures inside our heads. "Or this…," showing us some more. "Or you could just do what you've always done – draw, and paint, and write about us. And put it all into a book."
So we did. And here it is. Some of the pictures Brian drew and painted, and some of the words I wrote – and some of the things the faeries told us. If you want, and of course if they are willing, this book will help you get into the Faeries' Garden – or to one of the other places where they live. Because we believe that anyone can see faeries.
It's all about seeing things in a particular way, and in this book we have tried to show you how to do that. We want you to fall into the pictures – into the depths where you'll be changed and learn to see by creating a place that exists between the world we live in and the world inhabited by the faeries.
So, take a journey through the book. Turn every page carefully and look really hard at everything. Read the words – some of which we wrote and others which might have been written by the Faeries themselves. Read between the lines. Look into their faces, stare into their eyes.
And don't forget to listen. Sometimes you'll overhear snatches of conversation, other times you'll see things that are secret and wonderful but which open themselves up for you. We can't promise you'll see faeries – at least not right away. But if you look carefully enough and keep looking – you almost certainly will. You have to open the door behind your eyes, to help you see what has always been there but that the world has told you can't exist and therefore can't be seen. This book is part of our journey and maybe the start of your journey too. It doesn't end when you finish reading, or when you close the book. What comes next is even more exciting!
And there's a little device at the back of the book to help you keep looking. The rest is up to you – and the faeries, of course.
John Matthews, Oxford, 2010
It is no accident that we approach the way to see faeries though a book of interwoven words and images. This is how I began, with books of fairy tales that opened up a doorway to strange enchantments and visual transformations. Here were clues, I discovered, to the hidden, deeper reality – that we share our world with normally invisible beings, the Faerie Folk who subtly interact with and influence our everyday life.
You, who hold this book, seek a glimpse of the faeries. There is work to be done if you are to do so. However, the good news is that you have already begun – the work started some time ago, and you didn't even notice. The turning of a page in this book moves you deeper into Faerie and closer to what you desire. Faeries appear in bewilderingly variant forms and dispositions – every shape, every colour, and every gesture they make tries to tell us something. The faeries bestow their gift of vision in mysterious ways. They are watching and waiting for you. Listen – can you hear them calling? Can you see them in the shadows, sense their lovely luminescence?
For many years I've walked along the lane near our house. How many times I've passed one particular spot I cannot say, but of this I am sure – I was never aware of anything strange. Then one day, at a moment when I had passed the place by, I was certain that on top of a stone and earth bank, at the base of an old tree, sat some gnomes. "What a wonderful discovery," I thought, but how curious that I had not seen them before. So, on my way back, I decided I would say hello. The next day, as I embarked on my familiar route, I suddenly realized that I had completely forgotten to greet them. No matter. I could do it now as I was nearing where they were.
Sometime later I found that I had again passed them by. This continued for days. Each time I approached the place with focused intent, and each time I found myself beyond the mysterious space.
Was it my continuing determination to acknowledge them, or was it that I had proved myself worthy, or was it that they were just tired of their game? Whatever the reason, one day, as I passed their dwelling place, I saw them again. They crouched in a row amongst the tree roots – their forms vague and elusive – strange, amorphous ghost gnomes looking out with dark, unfathomable eyes. Were they sad or did they twinkle with mischief? They had let me into their secret space but their secrets were still cloaked with mystery.
Since then they have continued to allow me to acknowledge them. More have become visible, in an ever-extending row of ancient watching figures, invisible to those that pass by. Waiting perhaps, but for what?
Someday, perhaps they will allow me to paint them in all of their strangeness. Meanwhile, I have painted other gnomes, some of whom you'll see in this book. They don't look like the gnomes that live down the lane, but there is something similar about them. Like many of the pictures in this book, they depict something that was not there, but then again, is always there.
Brian Froud, Devon, 2010