An Afternoon in Fairyland

They say that sometimes you need to get lost to find yourself, and last summer, I was in dire need of finding. Just when I was feeling especially aimless and uninspired in all aspects of my life, I happened upon an article about the upcoming World of Faeries Festival, held annually about 25 minutes from where I live in northwest suburban Chicago.

I still remember being enthralled – dare I say enchanted – reading about the festival. What better way to get lost than heading into an actual forest with a bunch of mythical, woodland creatures? Who better to lift my spirits than sprites? I hopped on the web to learn more about the festival, and was sold as soon as I saw the schedule, signaled by a playful little faery floating on my screen:

I reached out to my only friend who would not only not shame me for my interest in this supernatural spectacle, but would also probably want to go with me – and dress the part.

As predicted, my eternally festive friend responded to my invitation immediately, and her first (and only) question was not whether we should go, but what we were going to wear. She then proceeded to find us all sorts of bright, glimmering, accessories on very short notice. My contribution was our oversized, glittering, rainbow-splashed wings. If we were going to the World of Faeries Festival, we agreed, it would be important to pay tribute to the culture. Little did we know the magic we were about to experience…

When we arrived at the festival, we were immediately in awe of the stunningly elaborate, hand-crafted ensembles, stitched together with great care. There was glitter and gossamer everywhere we looked, something or someone around every corner to capture our imagination anew. We not only saw fairies, but wizards, warlocks, witches, vikings, elves, mermaids, even a centaur. There were tea parties, sword fights, fortune tellings, bubbles, bagpipes, bellydancers, and balloon animals.

It was a lot to take in – and I was suddenly very aware of our mass-produced party-store wings and wigs. Still, despite being somewhat obvious outsiders, the festival-goers were incredibly welcoming, drawing us in, including us, and inviting us into their world with open wings. I felt suddenly light and free just spending an afternoon in their presence.

I realized right away that there’s much more to this world than what we see in fairytales. The world of faeries is a community, and every detail is crafted with care. It may be a fantasy world, but it’s also about real human connection.

Before we headed out of the forest, back into the real world, we had our fortunes read – actually sung – by a stunningly beautiful, completely enchanting, ruby-haired fairy. I don’t recall everything about my fortune-telling, but I do remember this, and will likely never forget it. The fortune-telling fairy gazed deep into my soul and told me something I didn’t know I needed to hear:

“Remember to use your superpowers on yourself.”

I took this with me as a gift that I’m still carrying a year later, a reminder to make my own magic and care for my heart, soul, and spirit with the same enthusiasm as I do for others. As it turned out, spending an afternoon in fairyland helped me discover the spell I needed to reignite my spark, and it was within me all along.