I remember watching a few movies involving faeries growing up, although most of the titles escape me, aside from Peter Pan of course. Traditionally, however, faeries are nothing like Tinker Bell, except maybe when she’s ticked off. Faeries were traditionally considered do be dangerous creatures who blind, kill or paralyze with arrows called elf-strokes. These ancient stories were distorted by Victorian and Gregorian legends who made them gentile creatures with gossamer wings. In fact the Irish traditionally referred to them as the “good folk” because they are feared.
Some typical Faerie tidbits
- Repulsed by steel and iron
- Usually fly with levitation, magic passwords and enchantments rather than with wings
Seeing a faerie;
- If you catch one in your peripheral vision, it will disappear as soon as you look away
- They can be seen with protection of 4-leaf clover and manufactured Fairy ointments
- 2nd sighted people ( those who see glimpses of future, unknown past and unknown present) can see them
- Best times to see them are at twilight, midnight, an hour before sunrise, and noon, (thresholds are important- they allow forces of other worlds to break in)
- Don’t like to be seen- they may blast eyes with fairy breath causing blindness
- St. John’s Wort
- Red Berry trees
- Running water
- Self-bored stones- symbol of womb
- Bread and Salt
- Wearing clothing in reverse
- Christian icons added later- Holy water, holy oil, Cross, Church yard where dead are buried
Who are Faeries?
- Irish- any supernatural being except angel, demon, or god
- Vary in form, size and habits, range in size from tiny to giant
- Some live on land, under water, or beneath the earth (these can pass through rock like fish do water, they are powerful blacksmiths who make enchanted weapons)
- Avoid them, don’t go with them, don’t eat anything they give you or that comes from their world.
- Glamour- magic to make something appear appealing
- Some highly civilized while others are wild and savage
Origins- accounts vary widely
- Remnant of older race who lived openly until they were driven underground by humans
- Old Gods who were pushed away by Christianity- They have fallen from past greatness and are sadly dying out
- Resembles this world but it is more vivid, dramatic and wild
- Sometimes a little door in a little hill leads to a vast endless city
- Could be a parallel universe- Fairies may be higher dimensional beings
- Enter via a portal or wormhole to another world
- entrance is invisible to senses
- The Fairies know ways to get here and they come here at will
- Look for a glimmer of strange light
- Strangely peculiar world not corrupted by man and technology
- Time either goes faster or slower in the fairy realm
Pathways to the realm
- Fairy ring/fairy circles – found in bushes, woodlands, but never in buildings
- Enter and dance
- You must be the right person at the right time and do the right dance
- If you are not aware of the entrance you can pass it thousands of times
- Portal may be like a funnel – this would explain why they’re small when they come to our world
- Chronicles of William of New Bridge - Told of two green children who came to the village. The boy died, but the girl was taken in by villagers. After eating human food, she lost her green color. She said she was from a land where everyone is green and there is no sun – always in twilight. She and her brother were herding sheep and heard the sound of bells. They followed the sound and ended up in our world where they became disoriented by the brightness and temperature.
- Gerald a 12th century historian - Told of Elidor a 12 year boy from our world who liked to play in the forest. He was approached by 2 strange little men along a river bank. They told him to follow them and led him down a dark subterranean path to a beautiful country always in twilight. The people were small but of proper proportion, and they rode horses the size of greyhounds. They ate no meat or fish, only milk mixed with saffron. There was no religious worship they merely revered and loved truth. They often visited our world, but they were displeased with our lies, infidelity and ambition. Elidor was allowed to go back and forth between the worlds as long as he kept it a secret. He eventually told his mother of the gold and silver all over the realm. She told him to steal a gold nugget. He did as she told him and was caught. He dropped the nugget as they pursued him, but he could never again find the entrance to the fairy realm. He eventually became a priest and reported that he could speak the fairy language.
Faeries in Popular Media
I, admittedly, haven’t read many books with faeries. The graphic novel, Berserk, has a faerie as part of the main story (and later a second faerie). In this series Puck has a childlike innocence and normally serves as a comedic element to an otherwise serious story. Other faeries are also present in the series who are malevolent and feast on humans. As far as other books, the only one I can think of is Her Vampire Husband, and that faerie was barely in the story. On television, I recall an episode of Torchwood with malevolent faeries, as well as an episode of Merlin and an episode of an old show, Poltergeist: the Legacy. There are probably far more examples, but these provide a small sampling of the ways that faerie characters can be used.