The Scientist and the flower Fairy
A modern fairy-tale for enquiring minds
Guest article by Erika Hahn
Introduction by Occult Mysteries
This delightful story speaks for itself. It reminds us that, in the words of J. R. R. Tolkien: "He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom." And that true Beauty is the reflection on earth of the beauteous thoughts of the Gods. In the degree that we are capable and willing to perceive the realities behind these reflections, so shall we draw closer to their Source, which is the Mind of the Creator and Maker.
N AN ORDINARY semi-detached house, in an unimportant little town no one with any pretensions to social mobility would possibly want to live in, there was born a most extraordinary child who dreamed strange dreams. During sleep he often visited a faraway country peopled with shapes too bright to see and flowers that declaimed poetry in the accents of angels. When he told his mother what he had seen and heard she looked very thoughtful and said that it must be Heaven for no such place existed on earth. When the little boy questioned her further, she would take him in her arms and smile sadly, for she knew that angels sometimes descend to earth to deliver an important message to the world. She hoped her son was not one of these, for their lives were often very hard and cruel. In that way she was a very ordinary mother, for what parent wants their child to suffer?
The first inkling the boy's very ordinary father had that his son was in any way unusual was when he saw him absorbed in the contemplation of the flowers and insects in their tiny garden. Sometimes the little boy would lie on his stomach for hours at a time, his chin cupped in his hands, gazing in wonderment at the strange creatures which disported themselves among the blades of grass, or peering intently into the golden hearts of the daisies which had escaped the sharp blades of his father's lawnmower. Then his father would shake his head disapprovingly, and ask him why he was so engrossed in 'watching dirt' as he called it, when other boys played football or computer games. But his mother said that the flowers have a lot to teach us if only we know how to listen to them.
"Woo-woo nonsense," said her husband derisively, "Everyone knows flowers can't talk. You shouldn't encourage the boy's fantasies."
His mother smiled for she knew that Nature is the canvas upon which the Divine Artist writes mysteries only innocent little children can read. So she said wistfully: "Perhaps he will become a gardener, or even a great scientist."
"An idle good-for-nothing, more likely," replied her husband, and stalked into the house to read his newspaper. This conversation was more prescient than either of them realised. For one day, not long afterwards, they discovered their prized possession was unaccountably missing from its customary place of honour on the mantelpiece of their tiny sitting room. It did not them take very long to find it, for the unmistakable sound of a Westminster chime could be heard coming from their son's bedroom. There, on the floor sat the thief, surrounded by the cogs, springs, count wheels, screws and the other internal organs of a brass carriage clock.
The lad dropped the chiming mechanism he was gently tapping with a small screwdriver and looked up in surprise as his father burst through the door, closely followed by his mother.
"The little vandal!" exclaimed his father. "That clock belonged to my great-grandfather and is worth over a thousand pounds!"
"I'm sure Jack (for that was the little lad's name) didn't mean any harm," said his mother. "And he is putting it back together."
"How can he put it back together, he's only eight!"
"I can, dad," said Jack, "I noted down where all the pieces go on this paper. Here, look for yourself."
His father snatched up the paper and glared suspiciously at it. His mouth opened and closed several times until eventually he said: "Well, I'll be damned."
"George," said his wife. "Please don't swear in front of Jack."
"Swear? I'll do more than bloody-well swear if there is one piece missing from that clock when the little bugger has put it back together!"
"Don't take on so," said his wife. "I'm sure Jack had a perfectly good reason for taking the clock apart, didn't you darling?"
"Well. . .um. . .yes," said Jack.
"It had better be a damn good one," said his father.
"I wanted to find out what made it beautiful," said Jack sheepishly.
"Beautiful? BEAUTIFUL! I'll give you beautiful you thieving little hooligan! Beautiful! I never heard such woo-woo nonsense. I blame your mother for filling you head with her mystical mumbo-jumbo. Now tell the truth my lad and I might go easy on you. Let's have no more of these cock-and-bull fairy-tales. You wanted to know what makes the clock go. Isn't that right? Isn't that the truth?"
"No, dad. I already knew how it works." Picking up a some pieces from the floor, Jack held them out to his father. "This bit here is the escapement mechanism which regulates the movements of the hands. It works with this pendulum and this balance wheel to tell the proper time and keep the hands moving at a constant rate."
"Well, I'll be damned!"
"Well, what am I supposed to say? It seems I may have misjudged the lad and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
"What's this bit for then?" he asked, picking up a small, threaded brass rod.
"Centre post," said Jack. "It's what the minute hand fits on."
"Suspension spring. Fits on the suspension arm."
"What's that do?"
"Controls the recoil of the pendulum."
"Well, I'll be. . . How on earth did you learn all this?"
"Great-grandfather's clock books. And I took your old pocket watch apart."
"You did? When?"
"Oh, ages ago," said Jack, a faint smile gathering on his face."
"Well, if that doesn't take the biscuit!"
George sat down beside Jack and embraced his son warmly. "It looks like you were right when you said he'd be a scientist, Margaret."
Margaret beamed with pleasure. "Well an engineer at any rate."
"Better a scientist," said George. "They make more money. At least the famous ones do. And I have no doubt Jack is going to be very famous. Aren't you my boy?"
"I don't want to be famous," said Jack. "I want to find out what makes things beautiful. Especially flowers."
"And have you found out what makes this clock beautiful?" asked his mother.
Jack's smile disappeared and he looked very thoughtful. "Not really, no. But I think I know why."
"Why?" asked George.
"You'll think it sounds very silly," said Jack.
"Your father might, I shan't," said Margaret.
"Because what makes the clock beautiful isn't inside it."
"Isn't it?" asked George. "Isn't it the chime that makes it beautiful, or at least sound beautiful?"
"Well, yes, there is that," said Jack, "but. . ."
"I think that Beauty is more than the sum of the parts of a clock—or a flower—or anything at all—even people. But I'm not sure where to look for it yet."
"That sounds more like philosophy than science to me," said Margaret, "and much more interesting than pulling things apart. If anyone can find where Beauty is and what it is, you will." She smiled and kissed Jack fondly.
"Poppycock," said George not unkindly. "I'd stick to finding out how things work. Leave philosophy to folks who can't do a proper job. There's no money in chasing wishy-washy day dreams."
"I don't want money," said Jack.
"Don't want money?!" exclaimed George, getting to his feet. "You really are a strange boy! Perhaps your mother's right and the fairies swapped you for a normal baby in the hospital."
He left the room chuckling softly to himself. Jack looked up at his mother questioningly. "Am I your son?"
"Of course you are, darling." I only said that to your father to shut him up when he used to go on about how odd you were."
"Am I very odd?"
"Yes, but in a nice way."
"I'm glad," said Jack. "I wouldn't want to be odd in a nasty way."
"You'll never be that. Nasty people aren't interested what makes things beautiful only what makes them ugly."
That is how Jack became a scientist, or rather a botanist. One day when he was working late in his laboratory, very tired and thinking of nothing in particular, he drifted off into a state between sleeping and waking. He awoke from his reverie to hear a musical voice softly ask: "What are you doing?" He sat bolt upright in his chair and glanced rapidly round the lab to discover the source of the voice, but there was no one to be seen. As he sat down again a flash of light caught his attention, just on the edge of his vision. Again the voice asked him: "What are you doing?"
"I—I'm not sure," he answered.
"Well you won't find out what makes things beautiful by taking them apart!"
Once again the bright, white light appeared before his startled eyes, but this time it hovered above a bowl of daffodils on his workbench.
"What are you?" Jack asked.
"I am the guardian of these flowers."
"A flower fairy you mean?"
"If you like."
"I thought fairies had wings and looked like tiny human beings?"
"Like this, you mean?" said the fairy, as the light suddenly changed into a diminutive figure about six inches tall which alighted on his open palm. Her perfectly proportioned elfin face looked fearlessly up at him; a faint, mocking smile, as if she were enjoying a private joke at Jack's expense, playing upon her coralline lips. Her gossamer wings appeared to be woven from constantly shifting threads of light ranging from pale yellow, through soft, emerald green to dazzling turquoise, while a nimbus of pure gold surrounded her entrancingly beautiful form.
"Or perhaps like this?" said the fairy as she vanished, only to reappear on the other side of the workbench, the same size as Jack, who stared at her so hard in astonishment that she burst into merry laughter. "Size is not what humans think it is," she explained as she resumed her diminutive form, and stepping lightly into the centre of the flower bowl, regarded him from the midst of the daffodils, which now shone with an added radiance and sounded forth an unearthly melody—utterly entrancing—which tugged at Jack's heartstrings.
No matter how hard he rubbed his eyes or whether he opened or closed them, the flower fairy was still there, smiling up at him from the centre of the flower bowl. Slowly, his eyes filled with tears, until at last he exclaimed in delighted astonishment mingled with gratitude: "Oh how lovely! You are what makes the flowers beautiful!"
"Not exactly," said the fairy. "I and my sisters only help them to become more of what they truly are."
"How do you mean?" asked Jack.
"Close your eyes and concentrate on the flowers," said the fairy.
Jack did as he was told and to his surprise he found he could still see the daffodils with his eyes shut, as if he were gazing into another dimension. The blossoms were many times larger and a fiery radiance streamed from their golden hearts, as if they were alight within with a divine luminosity, not of the earth.
"Oh how glorious!" he exclaimed. "It fills me with such joy just to look at them!"
"That is because every flower and every plant, large or small, has a special mission to fulfil."
"What is the mission of the daffodil?" asked Jack.
"To dispel depression, fear, sorrow and self-hatred. Each plant has some extra quality—unseen by those who do not have the inner sight—quite apart from its outward form. The inner part of a flower can act as a healer of the inner (and therefore higher) part of a man. When I speak of those who do not have the sight, who are blind to inner beauty, I mean the average human who wanders through life without being able to behold the true spirit that is within everything. They see only the outside of things, which is the shell of the vessel of life, but they do not realize what that shell contains. Each plant has a spirit, an angel. As the plant grows up on earth so it grows at the same time in a higher realm, which you call Heaven, where, as you can see, it looks much more beautiful than here. Now, open your eyes and you will see that your daffodils look very different to how they looked when you could only see their outward form."
Jack obeyed, and was astonished to see an aureate haze surrounding the entire bowl of flowers, which extended far beyond it, merging into indescribably beautiful shades of pale blue, violet and indigo. And within the heart of each bloom he saw a rapidly rotating fiery wheel, which shot out multicoloured rays in all directions, quite impossible to describe. "Do all flowers and plants look so beautiful in their real selves?" he asked.
"Not all of them. There are evil plants too, the same as there are evil men, which belong to the nightside of life, and they dwell in the dark places. When we look at any plant, good or bad, we see only a shadowy reflection of its real self."
"Is this true of humans too?" asked Jack.
"Yes. There are humans that belong to the realms of Light, which is their true Home, and there are just as many that belong to the Shadows or the dark places, from which they come to earth for a while in order to torment the others if they can."
"How do the plants live and grow in Heaven? Do they use photosynthesis as they do on earth and draw in nutrients from the soil?"
"Not exactly, no. There they exist upon a higher form of light which is also life. It is this subtle force that they absorb, and so need no roots on which to rely for food and drink as earthly plants do."
"What is Beauty?" asked Jack softly.
The flower fairy smiled—such a dazzling smile. "True Beauty is the cloak of God, and the nearer we draw to God the more refined our conception of Beauty becomes. It is the mirror of perfect Love. And if you ask me what Love is I should have to say God. The rest is the secret of those who have sought and found."
That was how Jack learned what Beauty is and where it is, but as the fairy hinted, this knowledge cannot be expressed in words, but only experienced within. So it came to pass that the fairy taught Jack all the secrets of the plants and flowers. Secrets hidden from the probing scalpels of dry-as-dust scientists and the eyes of the unseeing who do not know how to look within. In time he learned all their virtues and how the life within them could be strengthened to increase their hidden powers and how to transmit it to those in need of healing, whether of the body or the mind. But the fairy cautioned him not to reveal these secrets to anyone who lacked the inner sight, for she added gravely: "The unseeing would only tear them to shreds in their dire ignorance and envy. Keep these secrets locked in your heart but use their fruits for the healing of all mankind."
Despite the fairy's warning, Jack shared the results of his discoveries with his colleagues. Most were indifferent, some laughed, whilst others shook their heads in disbelief. Among the most sympathetic was an old botanist who had tutored Jack when he obtained his doctorate.
"You mean you have successfully treated people for depression with daffodils?"
"Not just daffodils," said Jack excitedly. "I have used dozens of different flowers and plants to cure all sorts of mental and physical disorders. And I have hundreds of case-notes to prove it."
"Amazing! It should be impossible, but clearly it isn't."
"It's the science of the future," said Jack enthusiastically. "I'm convinced of it."
"It may well be," said the old man, "but you won't have any future in science if you publish your work. For every thinking scientist brave or foolish enough to even consider your ideas, there are a thousand others who'll take the greatest pleasure in ripping them to shreds, and your career with it."
"That was what the fairy said too," said Jack thoughtfully.
"Then you should heed its advice," replied the old botanist.
It was not long before word of Jack's unorthodox activities reached his professor.
"So this is one of your famous 'healing' plants, is it?" said he, flicking the petals of a wild rose that stood in a glass on his desk. "I don't see any talking fairies hovering over it."
"Fairies don't live in flowers," said Jack patiently, "they overshadow them. And they don't talk to people who don't believe in them."
"I beg your pardon," sneered the professor. "I thought I was dealing with a rational scientist, not a tree-hugging quack suffering from delusions."
"There's nothing delusional about the results of my research."
"Oh, you mean your so-called experimental 'data' on the effects of the non-existent 'life-force' on the equally non-existent maladies of your motley assortment of so-called patients? Anecdotal placebo nonsense, my boy."
"Whatever you may think of my methods, you can't ignore the results," said Jack.
"That's where you're mistaken. Not only can I ignore them, I will!"
"I'm amazed at you, Jack," said the professor. "To think that all the years of expensive training you've received, all the papers you've written and all the awards you've won should end in such complete and utter foolishness."
"Better a complete fool than a half-witted scientist," retorted Jack.
The professor shook his head sadly. "This," he said, as he tore one petal after another from the rose to emphasise his words, "is just a fortuitous congruence of sub-atomic particles—or possibly electromagnetic waves. It's blind, senseless matter, which came out of nothing and will return to nothing," adding angrily "which is where you're headed if you continue with this mystical mumbo-jumbo."
"Funny," said Jack, "that's what my father used to say."
"Then you should have listened to him."
"I did," said Jack, "much good it did me. But not any more. I'm going to publish whether you like it or not."
The professor laughed; it wasn't a kind laugh. "You can try. . .you won't find a single journal that will touch your pile of pseudo-scientific piffle with a ten foot pole."
The professor was right. Doors that had previously swung wide for Jack were slammed in his face. Colleagues who had vied with one another to invite him to speak at international conferences on plant science, cut him dead. Not that he received any invitations, for no one was foolish enough to make any. And the talentless, the jealous, the mean-spirited and acrimonious who make up the bulk of any profession, tore Jack's reputation to shreds as vindictively as the professor had destroyed Jack's rose. That might have been the end of Jack, for many a genius the world has treated harshly sinks into loneliness, despair and poverty, whilst others take their own lives, not able in their great sorrow to bear the heavy blows of fate. But Jack was not one of these, and he remembered the words of the flower fairy to keep the secrets he had learned locked in his heart but to use their fruits for the healing of all mankind. And the fairy heard his thought and rejoiced.
Using the small amount of capital he had amassed as a botanist he opened a small florists shop. Soon word spread that Jack's flowers lasted ten times longer than any others and possessed healing virtues that gladdened the hearts of all who beheld them. In no time at all he opened a second shop, then a third, until, within a few, short years, his 'fairy flowers' were in demand all over the world. And though many clever and many more not so clever scientists tried to discover the secret of their longevity, beauty and healing powers, none succeeded, for the flower fairies kept aloof from them, as they do from all those who lack the simplicity of the truly wise. So it was that Jack not only became famous, but wealthy too, though not in the way his father had hoped. All the treasures of the Kingdom of Nature were his to use for the glory of God and the healing of man. And the flower fairy rejoiced!
F I N I S
NOTE: If you have enjoyed this story you may also like The Adept and the Imp—a tall tale of temptation, devilry and magic in which you can find a number of occult teachings concealed in a seemingly daft manner.
Story © Erika Hahn. All worldwide rights reserved. Introduction and Afterword © Copyright occult-mysteries.org and J Michaud PhD. Published 18 June 2017. Updated 12 June 2022.