The Legend of The Faerie Tears
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|The Cherokee native peoples live
in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. Their
tales and legends are many and mysterious. They revere the "Great Spirit"
and gave worship and thanksgiving in the open air before the stars, the sun
and moon. They believe that everything within and upon the Earth is alive;
that the people live side by side with nature; that the mountains have names
and lives all their own; and that the wind, rain and the fires from heaven
are all sacred mysteries.
Before the Cherokee arrived in the high forest and hidden valleys of the land that rose with the sun, there lived a race of spirit people concealed by the earth, rocks, trees and waters. They were the immortals of the mountains who possess supernatural powers, they were called the Nemu. It is said they lived concealed from the sight of world, in townhouses beneath the Cherokee mounds under the hills, and in caverns deep in the mountains. They often found lost hunters, took them back to their hidden townhouses, fed then, let them rest then showed them the way back to the trail. They celebrated the mother earth by the light of day and
the brightness of the stars and moon lit night. They danced, hunted and played, moving about directed by a force from another world.
There was also a race of little people like the fairies of Europe. The legend of the "Fairy Tears" came about when a messenger from the Great Spirit arrived in these mountain and told the little people that because the humans had been so
destructive of the earth, he was going to send a devestation of Wind, Fire and Water to cleanse the earth of those people who were evil.
Broken hearted by the news, the little people cried tears that fell to the ground and became little stone crosses. The little people were so sad they disappeared into the forest never to be seen again. They tell me that the place this happened was in Fannin County, Georgia where the "Fairy Tears" lie scattered about, just waiting to be picked up. It is also said that these stones have been carried as good luck charms by some very important people in this country's history. "Fairy Crosses" were carried by Thomas Edison, Woodrow Wilson, Charles Lindbergh and Theodore Roosevelt to name a few.
Grandfather told the following story about the "Faerie Tears":
"When I was just a boy of
twelve, my daddy explained that I was never to go into the North mountains.
He said that the Cherokee Indians claimed they were dangerous and filled
with bad spirits. The medicine men even said that the Great Spirit had
told the people to stay away.
Grandfather said, "I sat there
with my head bent over my folded arms crying like I've never cried before.
When I looked up and wiped my eyes I saw the shape of a man
across from me through the fire. He was tall and dark, he wore a shirt and
trousers made of deer skin and shoes to match, and on his head sat a
covering made of rabbit fur with a rawhide band and three eagle feathers
hanging from one side. His physical features were like the Cherokee but his
skin was some what different, a light shone from his face, his eyes
glistened like the sparks of the fire. He looked directly at me for a while
and then spoke. "I heard your cry and saw your tears and I came to help,"
the man said. "I saw you fall yesterday and since your were not hurt I
decided to follow and watch over you, it wasn't till now that I decided to
My Grandfather went on to say, "the stranger asked if he could sit down beside me, I told him, please do, I almost jumped out of my skin when the red stranger stepped right into the fire and out the other side without even stirring the flame or burning his clothes. He sat down beside me and started to talk."
He told my Grandfather that he knew he was lost and that it was ok to cry. He said he could tell my Grandfather was just a boy on the edge of becoming a man. He told Grandfather that often, when boys in his tribe passed through the fire from boyhood to young brave there is a stinging in the heart that causes a great sorrow within, it was nothing to be ashamed of. Grandfather asked him if he were of the Cherokee tribe, the stranger said he was of a tribe that was more ancient than the Cherokee. He told Grandfather a tribal name he never heard before. Grandfather said he was friendly, spoke English and shared his food with him.
Not knowing what to say next, Grandfather showed the stranger his broken gun. The stranger told my Grandfather that he didn't know much about guns but one thing he knew for sure was that neither a gun, or bow and arrow, or hunting knife made a boy a man. It was the sting of the arrow within a young man's heart that brings about a change in what he was yesterday, into what he has become today, it is a quickening of the spirit that brings about this wisdom into a young man's life.
He went on to tell my
Grandfather all about the customs of his
people, how they lived out of the sight of both the white man and Cherokee
tribe. He told me how his people lived in houses grouped tightly together
underground. The stranger told Grandfather that his people had lived in this
region since the beginning of time, both his tribe and a tribe of little
people. He told of a time after the great flood when his people and the
little people divided over who had control over the sacred powers. He told
Grandfather how the little people had stole the sacred basket of potions,
magic and the secrets of making charms. The little people then escaped into
the far southern reaches of the Mountains of the Blue Sky.
He told Grandfather that the young men of his tribe have had to pass several trials in order to become a warrior. One of those trials was that each young brave had to steal back one of the magical charms of the little people, the most valuable charm, being the charm of the crossed stones. The power of these stones would enable a warrior to travel through the ground or make himself invisible. He said he had followed Grandfather for nearly two days, within arms distance and Grandfather didn't know he was there.
My Grandfather was spellbound, he asked this visitors if he had one of those crossed stones. The stranger reached into his medicine pouch and pulled out a crossed stone two inches long by two inches across, showed it to him and said it was his most prized possession even though there were other charms of great
power. Grandfather asked him why it was so special, this is what the stranger had to say:
"In the North mountain lands that the white man now calls Georgia, the little people lived hiding in seclusion from his tribe, only coming out at night because they were afraid the people of his tribe would steal back the magical powers.
"One night, many many generations ago, the little people gathered together to celebrate the coming of the Great Spirit. They danced, sang and feasted through the night, near a pool deep in the woods. At the height of their celebration a spirit messenger appeared before them and said he was from a village in the distant called "Land of the Dawn." The spirit messenger told them that Great Spirit had become angry with humanity. The little people listened quietly as the messenger explained that because of the Evil that man had done against the Earth, he was going to cleanse the world of this evil by fire, air, earth and water.
"The little people's hearts were filled with sadness and they began to cry. As they cried, their tears fell to the ground and turned into stones. The stones were not round or square but formed the shapes of tiny crosses. Long after the messenger left, the little people continued to cry, they cried until all their magic poured out in tears onto the ground. They knew the ways of old were coming to an end and that the sacred magic would no longer be theirs to possess. The little people disappeared into the forest around the fields that held their tiny crosses. When
they saw someone come and pick up one of their tear made crosses, they would follow them and watch over them, bringing them good luck. The little people too were changing with the times."
With that, the stranger handed my Grandfather the crystal cross and said, "I give this to you because your tears today are special, you are becoming a man and you will need great strength to endure what lies ahead in your life. Keep this tiny crystal cross with you always and when you grow old and are ready to pass beyond this world, give the cross to someone special, you will know who that will be when the time comes."
He went on to tell Grandfather that tomorrow he would lead him to a secret trail that will lead out of the valley and back home, but now he should rest, for the journey is long. The next morning, Grandfather woke up to find the stranger was gone. On the ground was an arrow made of stones. A short distance away
was another arrow which led to the next, till Grandfather found the secret trail. When Grandfather got home his mama and daddy were sure glad to see him. His daddy said he would get the shotgun fixed right away, but from now on, let them know before he took off again. Grandfather said he stood there in front of his mama, daddy, brothers and sisters clutching the stone in his pocket, never telling his family just exactly what happen. He told me he never told anyone including granny, but everyone that was close to Grandfather knew he always carried that stone.
He gave me that stone on my twelfth birthday, later that week he died in his sleep. Now Grandfather was a wise and honest man and he did like to tell a story or two and some of those stories he told me might have been a little too big to behold. The Faerie Tears story found a place in my heart, and I've never walked a day in my life without carrying Grandfather's good luck charm.
As I grew older I heard people
called those crystal crosses "Fairy Crosses". I don't really know where the
line between fact and fiction lies when it comes to this tale, but one thing
I do know for sure, I'm really fond of the way my Grandfather told me that
story and nobody can take that from me.
When we part, we always say:
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