|Living Now Magazine, Thursday, 01 October 2009
If there’s one thing those who love fairies wish for, it’s to see a fairy, or to hear from someone who has. Almost 45 years ago something rather special happened. R. Ogilvie Crombie, or Roc as he was affectionately known by friends, went for a walk in the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, and had an experience there that proved life-changing. ‘It was a glorious day’, Roc recollects. ‘I wandered about for a while enjoying the beauty and peace of the rock garden and other favourite spots. Eventually I began walking along a path skirting the north side of Inverleith House, which is situated on rising ground in the centre of the Gardens and houses the Modern Art Gallery.’
‘Leaving the path I crossed an expanse of grass, dotted with trees and bushes, to a seat under a tall beech tree. When I sat down I leant my shoulders and the back of my head against the tree. I became, in some way, identified with this tree, became aware of the movement of the sap in the trunk and even of the infinitely slow growth of the roots. There was a decided heightening of awareness and a sense of expectation. I felt completely awake and full of energy. There was a tension in the air, almost as if the air itself were beginning to shimmer. I sat there in utter contentment.’
‘Suddenly I saw a figure dancing round a tree about twenty yards away from me—a beautiful little figure about three feet tall. I saw with astonishment that it was a faun, the Greek mythological being, half human, half animal. He had a pointed chin and ears and two little horns on his forehead. His shaggy legs ended in cloven hooves and his skin was honey-coloured. I looked at him in amazement, and even did the obvious: I pinched myself. I was awake.’
‘I wondered for a moment if perhaps he was a boy made up for a school show. Yet he could not be—something about him was decidedly not human. Was he an hallucination? There were one or two other people walking about in the Gardens. I looked at them and then back at this beautiful little being. He was still there and seemed to be as solid and real as they were. I tried hard to analyse this experience and explain him away. Suddenly I was brought up sharp—what was I trying to do? Here was a strange and wonderful experience. Why should I not accept it, see what happened and analyse it later? I watched the little being with delight as he circled around another tree. He danced over to where I was sitting, stood looking at me for a moment and then sat cross-legged in front of me. I looked at him. He was very real. I bent forward and said: ‘Hallo’. He leapt to his feet, startled, and stared at me. ‘Can you see me?’
‘I don’t believe it’, he said. ‘Humans can’t see us.’
‘Oh, yes,’ I assured him. ‘Some of us can.’ As Roc began to converse with this small being, called Kurmos, he began to learn about the extraordinary world of nature spirits – what their role is, and how they view humans. ‘He told me that many of the nature spirits have lost interest in the human race, since they have been made to feel that they are neither believed in nor wanted. ‘If you humans think you can get along without us, just try!’ said Kurmos.
‘Some of us do believe in you and want your help. I do, for one.’ replied Roc, who went on to reflect, ‘The wonderful thing about this meeting was the sense of companionship, I felt an amazing harmony with this wonderful little being sitting beside me. A communication was taking place between us that did not need to be put in words. We sat for some time without speaking. Eventually I rose and said I must return home. ‘Call me when you return here and I will come to you’, he said.
From this unexpected meeting Roc went on to have a series of extraordinary encounters with nature spirits. During these meetings Roc was shown how fairies live, their purpose in tending nature, and how life is for them here on earth.
Roc was also shown what it was like for a tree to be rooted deep in the earth, and just how alive plants and trees are, by experiencing their lives from the inside.
Not all meetings were happy ones. Visiting a forgotten childhood haunt, he experienced in graphic detail how the neglect of nature reflects our own loss of spirit, and how much hurt we cause when we do not care for the natural world.
So who was Roc? Born into an artistic family just over a hundred years ago, he excelled at maths and science, and was fascinated by parapsychology. In quiet moments he enjoyed rambling in the hills close to home. When he was nine he was diagnosed with heart problems, for which there was no treatment. Though Roc didn’t know this at the time, it was the combination of these very experiences that would make possible the extraordinary experiences that lay ahead.
When he left school Roc joined the Marconi radio company, then served as a radio operator in the First World War. At war’s end he went to EdinburghUniversity, studying physics, chemistry and maths, but had to leave due to illness. In his early thirties, he suffered a serious heart attack and was unable to work. This left Roc free to indulge his lifelong love of hill walks, fresh air and bathing in the sea. He also wrote and directed plays, and later on regularly appeared on Scottish television playing small character parts.
Alongside these passions, Roc was interested in the deeper mysteries of life. His connection with the natural world deepened during the ten years he spent living in an isolated rural cottage. Here there was no electricity. He had to fetch his water from a nearby spring. Without modern comforts to fall back on, he became increasingly aware of the powerful presence of nature, as he immersed himself in the deeper rhythms of life. He returned to Edinburgh in 1949 and lived in a flat close to the city centre. It was here also he would have several otherworldly encounters with the fairy realm, which helped him realise just how close nature spirits are to our human world.
Most of Roc’s experiences with nature spirits occurred during the last decade of his life. It was during this period the fledgling Findhorn community was established, which was to experience its own miracles, thanks to the nature spirits. Though he never lived at Findhorn, Roc was central to some of these miracles. One day while at home in Edinburgh he got a clear sense all was not well with the fairies at Findhorn. Roc rang to see what was going on. It transpired that a flowering gorse bush had been cut back without consultation, and so a number of elves who lived in the flowers had lost their homes. Yet again the fairies were far from impressed.
Towards the end of his remarkable life the fairies showed Roc how his passions, ill health and need to withdraw from life made their communications possible, and Roc in turn reminds us that, if he could see fairies, then so too can we.