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I just would like to notice that the book "The Psychic Mafia" is online:

http://members.fortunecity.com/misteryo/pm1.html

And the book "Consciousness and the Physical World" too: http://noosphere.princeton.edu/papers/docs/stokes/

Michael, firstly your blog is an unending source of pleasure, sense and instruction!

I am a scientific historian, with a special interest in 17th century English occultism, and as such I found this story fascinating. I wonder if the medium was aware that he was working in a fine old tradition?

One of the classic ploys of the fraudsters and bogus occultists of the period was to extract money from a dupe in return for an introduction to the Queen of the Fairies - usually with the promise of knowledge, marriage or sex. The obvious example is fictitious - Ben Jonson's The Alchemist - but that is based on (and cites) a real incident in 1609-10, where an impecunious disgraced politician, Sir Anthony Ashley, was tried for attempting exactly such a fraud on Thomas Rogers, a Dorset country gentleman.

There are many such cases, the classic being that of Goodwin Wharton (1653-1704), a serious and significant politician and military figure, who was utterly convinced that he was married to Penelope, Queen of the fairies" and duped with complete success to his dying day by the London wise woman Mary Parrish - facts which only emerged in his posthumously discovered autobiography.

It really is intriguing that the same expressions of human gullibility (and spiritual aspiration) reoccur throughout history: perhaps this 19th century case is ` a missing link between the fairyland fraud and the various "sexy saucer people" of the contactee era.

Cheers, Ian

Thanks for your comments, Ian.

Doesn't this same plot device figure in The Merry Wives of Windsor? It's been a long time since I read it, but I seem to recall that Falstaff is taken in by a practical joke involving the "queen of the fairies."

Indeed so, Michael. There's an possible parallel with the way "alien abductions" suddenly became a soap-opera staple in the mid-late 80s. Contemporary audiences recognised such stories as both comic absurdities and yet something that "could happen". The idea of encounters with the Fairy Queen was very much part of the culture.

In this case it's interesting to compare signal to noise. Back in the 80s a friend of mine was cataloging the 17th century tract collection at St David's University College, Lampeter and brought me an astonishing pamphlet detailing the experiences of Anne Jefferies and her encounters with the Fairies in the 1640s. The author was Moses Pitt, a famous British cartographer, publisher and prison reformer, in whose family Jefferies had served as a maid during these events.

To cut a long story short, a Victorian folklorist later reinvented and rewrote the story as a ludicrous fairy romance, which has gravely distorted most subsequent retellings. I unearthed a number of contemporary accounts of the affair, which all confirmed Pitt's narrative. To my knowledge this is the only full version of the text on-line, and well worth reading if one can ignore the background. It is an evocative and intriguing piece - http://www.gandolf.com/cornwall/fairies/AnnJeffries.shtml

Ian

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