Pokémon is a Poor Substitute for Faeries

Photo by Jeff Finley on Unsplash

The world is full of magical beings. Not just the fairytale world of long ago and far away, but the world right outside your window, right now. Every traditional culture believes that some manifestation of elves, brownies, gnomes, pixies, dryads, jinn, magwai, spirits, or other varieties of faery-type beings make their homes right alongside us humans.

Our modern, industrialized, supposedly logic-driven culture has banished these beings to the realm of fantasy, and yet has gone to great lengths to re-create them in digital form! It appears that the only acceptable way to believe in faeries now is through your smartphone, hunting for digitally projected Pokémon in places where the real faeries used to live.

For all of human history, including the present, every culture has had a relationship with other-than-human beings who both helped and harmed, who flew and burrowed, who lived in the eaves of houses and the boughs of trees, who rode on the wind. And most people in modern, westernized society won’t admit it, but we miss them. We recreate them in Leprechaun memes on St. Patrick’s Day and in Dungeons and Dragons games, in our Harry Potter obsession and our delight in the story of Tinkerbell and Peter Pan. And yes, in our endless hunt for the rarest of Pokémon.

People have DIED hunting for Pokémon. Died. Traded their lives in search of a digital phantasm. Divorced themselves so thoroughly from the actual reality of their actions that the virtual reality became more real. There is a whole website, the Pokémon Go Death Tracker, dedicated to cataloging these unnecessary tragedies.

Ancient legend warns of such phenomenon. The Sirens, sea-dwelling bird women, lured sailors off course in the Mediterranean. In the British Isles, the unseelie court enjoyed toying with humans, guiding them off their paths to untimely demise. Cultures across the globe have legends of shape-shifting beings with various levels of trickerie or friendliness towards humans. Becoming obsessed with the faerie world is notoriously dangerous.

Pikachu’s entirely worth obsessing over. He’s ridiculously cute, and who wouldn’t want a funny, sweet, squishable, helpful, friendly little ally? But Pikachu and his kin are faerie creation of the digital realm, and all other fae arose from the landscapes in which they dwelled. Faeries reflect the landscape, weather, culture, and history of the place in which they were formed. If your smartphone died and the digital grid crashed around you, all the Pokémon would vanish into oblivion, but the faerie realm would remain. There are plenty of friendly little allies right outside your door when the grid is dark and the stars are bright.

Iceland takes this seriously. Over half the population believes in other-than-human beings, and they respect those beings in daily life including in the constructions of buildings and roads. It’s notable that this was considered newsworthy. Reporting on it implies that it’s an unusual phenomenon, when in fact the practice of NOT consulting with the spirits of the land before construction is far more new and unusual in the long arc of human experience. Pokémon is no substitute for knowing where you live, and who lives there with you.

This article was republished from www.EcoSpiritualEducation.com, with permission.

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