"Once upon a time there was a great wizard who lived in a far country. Once upon a time, in a deep forest, there was a poor woodchopper and his wife. Once upon a time a deep sleep fell upon all the inhabitants of the palace [...] Once upon a time, which is to say at a time beyond time, or at a different kind of time altogether from the kind the clock measures, or at a time that is no time because it is without beginning and without end. There was a wizard, a woodchopper, a king, which is to say that if you are to believe that there was, you have to give up other beliefs you believe in including the belief that there was not because there could not be such creatures as these. A far country, a deep forest, a palace, which is to say that if you care to enter these places for yourself, you must be willing to enter them in some measure as a child because it takes a child to believe in the possibility at least that such places exist instead of dismissing them out-of-hand as impossible."

Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale

For centuries, we have poured our deepest hopes, fears, and longings into a realm of mystery and shadow, a realm beyond the edges of the waking world. This realm is accessed in different ways: through a hole under a stump, through a deep forest, by stepping into a circle of mushrooms. It lies just beyond and behind everything we know, adjacent and underneath everything we know, but inaccessible by normal means. Once there, we play by different rules, which we have to learn as we go. Once there, we will be challenged, tested, and refined, until we become the heroes we were meant to be or submerge all the land in shadow. Fairyland knows no middle paths.

We are not concerned in these courses with fairy tales, we are concerned with fairies. Darker, more mischievous, and more beautiful than our current merchandising will show, these creatures have much to say about what it means to be human, and what really matters.

These courses will take the readers on a fantastical journey of discovery, inviting them to see the world and themselves more clearly: both more critically and more charitably at the same time. Offered at three different levels for different age groups, this is a rare chance for members of a family to study the same material in age-appropriate settings. Common books among the three courses will offer much material for discussion, and books unique to each course will give each student something uniquely their own to bring to the conversation.

Fairy Book

Fairies: Once Upon a Time

"Once upon a time:" the most magical of words. And to a child in these early years of reading, a golden ticket to anywhere the human mind can conjure. This class will send your child down a series of delightful journeys, introducing them to characters who will be companions, heroes, guides, and ultimately friends for all the long years of their lives to come.

Ages 8 - 12

Fairies: Behind the Veil

Readers this age are caught between being children and adults, much as the heroes of these stories are caught between our world and the fairy realm. Their books will ask harder questions, challenging them to choose the good even when it hurts, even when it costs everything. They will also read some essays about fairy stories, and how important the sense of wonder is to a mature heart.

Ages 13-18

Fairy Shell

Fairies: A Study in the Edges of Reality

In the adult course, our task is nothing less than pressing out our understanding of the boundaries of existence, which have been steadily closing in since we left childhood. We will dredge the wellspring of wonder in our hearts, cleansing it of the detritus left by the pressures of adult existence. Our stories will be delightful, but also darker, and we shall have to listen to the wisdom of writers who have thought hard to integrate the fairy into the waking world. Screw up your courage to the sticking place, for Fairyland will test your mettle.

Ages 18+

Fairies Adult Square
  • Participating in a course led by Dr. Junius Johnson is a wonderful journey of exploration, seeking hidden gems in unexpected places. It is an opportunity to learn to look deeper than the surface, both in reading and in the mundane of life. A delightful feast for the mind that lasts far beyond the actual banquet.

  • This course was a quirky online educational option shared with us by a friend during a tough, miserably boring (and educationally uninspired) quarantine period of the pandemic. But I quickly became a fan of Professor Junius Johnson and dragons, as my son became completely entranced by both the class materials and the professor’s excitement. I loved that the professor was so engaged with the students and included a broad discussion of readings from philosophy, classic children’s literature, and more mainstream stories. My son has now taken two additional courses with Professor Johnson, each better than the last, and I hope he will continue to offer more courses even after the pandemic is over.

  • Every time I hear Junius Johnson speak, I walk away asking: "Did I forget how exciting and joyful the life of the mind can be?”

  • A deep perspective on the human need for wonder, and the essential desire for things powerful and uncontrollable.

  • Why do you suppose dragons have possessed the imagination of writers and readers for most of our recorded history. Junius Johnson has come away from the dragons hoard with a few secrets to share. I found his treatment personally encouraging and a call to pick up my lance (or my pen), and join in the battle.

  • Junius shares such a wondrous view of the purpose of dragons in literature and why we need our imagination to be refreshed and invigorated by them.