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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » The Cottingley Fairies... (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Voodini
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I've had a long standing interest in the strange tale of the Cottingley Fairies. I like the whole ambiance behind the story, the drama of the Conan Doyle and Houdini public spat, the obviously fake but somehow odd photographs, and the fact that it was a much needed injection of mystery and wonder after the horrors of the First World War.

For those who don't know the story, essentially in 1917 in the English village of Cottingley two young girls (Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths) took a camera to the woods near where they were living and emerged with photographs of fairies. The full story can be found on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies

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I'm lucky enough to live reasonably close to the village of Cottingley, which sadly now has been gobbled up by the near-by city of Bradford. I have visited the site of the fairy photos and the house where the girls lived on several occasions. It is entirely possible to imagine how Cottingley would have been back in the early part of the 20th Century. Terraced houses, cobble-stoned streets, and dirty kids running around in clogs.

The house where the girls lived is still occupied, and not much has changed on the road.

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This is the terraced house where the girls lived.

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This is the back of the houses. The woods and the stream (known as a "beck") lay behind the garages and the trees. I have in the past actually been down to the beck, and despite the fact that there was an old bicycle dumped in the stream, it still held a certain magic. However it is difficult to get down to the stream and the woods as the houses are still occupied and the picture above is essentially showing the back gardens of the houses.

Cottingley itself gives out quite a few clues as to its heritage. A near-by hotel and health club has a fairy design on the car park gates, and little images of fairies can be found on advertisements and business signs. However this is very much an under-current. Cottingley has never really cashed in on its history. I do get the impression that the story is one that Cottingley does not know whether to be proud of or ashamed of.

I have a couple of card routines that I present with the Cottingley fairy back-story. The tale is essentially that when the two girls met the fairies, they were befriended by two fairy queens. The fairy queens asked the girls to bring a pack of cards the next time they visited. When they did this, the girls were told to take out the 4 queens. The 2 black queens represented the 2 fairy queens. The 2 red queens represented the 2 human girls. The girls and the fairy queens would play with the 4 queens, moving them around like dolls, and imbuing them with their own personalities. A few days later the father of one of the girls asked where his pack of cards had disappeared to, and the girls were forced to return them.

But a strange thing had happened. It was as though the 4 queen cards were inseparable. No matter how many times the cards were shuffled, the 4 queens would always find their way back to each other. "Ladies and gentlemen, I have here that actual pack of cards. Aged now and somewhat delicate, they still seem to bristle with magic. Would you like to hold them, feel that energy?"

I then have two simple self-workers that demonstrate this phenomena. Take out the 2 black queens, the cards that symbolise the fairy queens, and the two cards that seem to exert the most magic. While talking place one red quenn secretly on top of the pack of cards, and one red queen on the bottom. You then deal the cards face down, ask volunteer when to stop, place in one black queen face on top of pile and place remaining pile on top (thereby placing bottom red queen on top of black queen). Repeat procedure to place last red queen on top of last black queen. Then go through cards, find the first face up black queen, remove it along with the card on top - "the card next to the black queen". Repeat to find second black queen. "Now let's see where you told me to stop. Because of course you could have said 'stop' anywhere. But where did you actually ask me to stop?" Turn over cards to reveal the 2 red queens. The magic is still strong and the black queens drew the red queens back to them.

Second routine is similar. Still have 2 black queens on display. Secretly place both red queens on top of deck. Hand cards to spectator, and ask them to deal off, from the top, as many cards as they want (between 6 and 12 I usually say) to form a new face down pile. Once they have done that, ask them to deal off a few from the bottom of the deck also onto the new pile, and then ask them to select one or two from the middle of the deck as well ("so you know that this is just a random selection of cards from all parts of the deck"). Then ask them to take the new pile of cards (you take the remaining deck away) and deal them into two pile, still face down. Look out for where they place the last two cards (which will be the two red queens). They will usually place one on either pile, but sometimes they may place them both on the same pile. If the last two cards (which you secretly know are the two red queens) are placed on separate piles, ask the spectator to turn over the top card on either pile. Ta-da! The black queens have called the red queens to them again. If the two red queens were placed on the same pile, use magician's choice to select that pile and have the spectator turn over the top two cards. Again - ta - da!

I'm sure these self-workers will be well known to you, but if not just ask for more details if you don't understand the above explanation, and I'll endevour to assist.

:)
Voodini - cold reading, past life regressions, remote viewing, Q&A, palm reading, bizarre & seance...
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Marqus
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Paul,

Nice storytelling & presentation.

Thanks!
The Curator
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At the Surnateum, I've a section devoted to the Cottingley fairies, along with the original Dec 1920 and March 1921 issues of the Strand Magazine and more fairies hunter stuff.

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Jon_Thompson
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Smashing stuff. I grew up with these lovely images. There's a certain "innocence" to them.
Ms. Merizing
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A terrific film concerning the fairies is Fairy Tale: A True Story.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119095/
Pleased to continue finding that all the world's a stage.
Van Helmont
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Synchronicity quand tu me tiens!
I'm working on this as we speak!
Pics will be posted as soon as I've got my missing item!

Great stuff Voo!
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PhiltheBear
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The strange thing about the Cottingley Fairies is that the 'fairies' were obviously cut out pictures but Arthur Conan Doyle was so desparate to believe they were real.
--

PhiltheBear
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Voodini
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Quote:
On 2012-01-31 13:56, PhiltheBear wrote:
The strange thing about the Cottingley Fairies is that the 'fairies' were obviously cut out pictures but Arthur Conan Doyle was so desparate to believe they were real.

There is one photo that was never released to the public. According to the daughter of one of the girls, on her death bed the lady said that the other photos were faked but this one "missing" photo was genuine. There's a really interesting piece of footage from a UK antiques TV show where she talks about this. I'll try and dig it out a link later. Fascinating stuff, if only from a cultural point of view.
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tctahoe
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Obviously cut out pictures?
Or do Fairies just appear that way when photographed?
Thank you Paul for your post.
Diasgemini
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Quote:
On 2012-01-31 14:32, tctahoe wrote:
Obviously cut out pictures?
Or do Fairies just appear that way when photographed?


Now am really scared!
:D
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Would you give up your hands to fly? That is what the birds have done!
Andre Hagen
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Thanks for sharing the story, photographs and routines!

Andre
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein
Voodini
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The clip of the daughter of Frances Griffiths talking about the "missing, authentic" photo, and displaying the original photos, can be seen here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CN3DpHDKFMg

It's well worth watching. The TV show, Antiques Roadshow, is a very genteel programme that is usually broadcast in the UK on a Sunday evening to calm the masses down before they have to return to work on Monday morning. Quite by accident they captured a genuine moment of esoteric history.

If you like your Lebanon Circle & Outlaw props and your "bundles", you'll love this...
Voodini - cold reading, past life regressions, remote viewing, Q&A, palm reading, bizarre & seance...
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WayneCapps
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Thanks Paul,
I am so intrigued by this story. I am a film guy and have always thought this would make a great documentary, especially with the new information about the true fairy photo. Great stuff!

Wayne
Voodini
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Wayne - have you seen the film "Fairy Tale: A True Story"? It's based on the Cottingley Fairies, and in my opinion is a wonderful, enchanting film.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119095/
Voodini - cold reading, past life regressions, remote viewing, Q&A, palm reading, bizarre & seance...
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Slim King
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I believe I heard that the girls had an original photo but the Fairies couldn't be seen very well so they fabricated others to support the truth with deception.
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
WayneCapps
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I have seen it. Great stuff!
mindmagic
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Thanks, Paul, for the link to that BBC clip. I saw it at the time but I'm pleased to be able to watch it again.

Barry
Van Helmont
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Couldn’t contain myself!
So here are a few snapshots from my take on what happened at Cottingley.

Credit where credit’s due: my collection was inspired (and more than that) by what my good friend Christian Chelman presents at the Surnateum.

1. Through the Seeing Stone
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2. Some props
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3. Bait
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4. Greed
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There are of course several strange (magical) things that happen when you dwell into realm of faerie, but more about that later…

VH
The Epiphany Before Christmas: this day (12/23/13) I leave the Café for good!
Voodini
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Excellent VH! A wonderful collection.
Voodini - cold reading, past life regressions, remote viewing, Q&A, palm reading, bizarre & seance...
www.readerofminds.co.uk
halewyn
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It remembers me a good friend of mine: pierre Dubois !
If you are interested in faieries, find his books !
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