One of my favorite things to write about are fairies because they can be so diverse in writing. When you read about fairies, typically they take the Tinkerbell form: they are small, humonoid beings with wings. But the term fairy, or fae, doesn’t just mean the winged kind of fairy. Fairies come in all kinds of forms. At times sprites are referred to as fairies as well as goblins, trolls, gnomes, and a host of other nature spirits.
But for now let’s focus on the winged being that we are all so familiar with. Fairies, however, weren’t always small winged beings. There was a time when they were believed to be tall, radiant beings. Some people thought of fairies as angels, and others thought of fairies as demons. Still, there are some people who believed they were a race that wasn’t demon, human, or angel. They were the wee folk, or the good folk. This is the image that persists through this day.
But when we talk about fairies, we often imagine fun-loving, mischievous beings with a penchant for pranks and skulduggery. But if fairies were thought to be fun-loving, why would people have such protections from them as cold iron and herbs to keep them away? They certainly didn’t get a name as demons without some malice.
SEELIE AND UNSEELIE
More recently we see authors that write about fairies mentioning different courts for the fairies: the seelie court and the unseelie court. But what are these? You guessed it, one is good (seelie) and one is bad (unseelie).
While both kinds of fairies are still mischievous and will repay unkindness with malice, the seelie court seeks help from humans as well as helping them in return. They are the more loving side of the spectrum, and they enjoy their time among humans. Their fun nature and their magic can still make them dangerous, but not in a malicious way. Often they don’t realize the effects their magics and their pranks will have on humans.
The unseelie court isn’t always malicious, just as the seelie court isn’t always nice. They can take a shine to certain humans they find to be pleasing, and may even take a human as a pet. More often, however, these fairies aren’t the type you want to meet in the forest by night. They can enslave the mind to make humans do as they wish. They’ve also been known to toss unsuspecting humans through the air and assault them in other, more violent ways.
We see good and evil fairies in a lot of other writings as well, such as the light and dark fairies in Norse mythology and French fairy-tales.
Okay, so we understand that fairies are nature spirits, but how did they come about? What precisely are they? A lot of people have speculated this, and there are some theories as to what, precisely, a fairy could be.
Some people believe that when Christianity came to new places the gods and goddesses of the land faded in power and were no longer full gods and goddesses, but were instead a lesser being: fairies and other nature spirits. The church condemned fairies as evil, so that could be part of the reason some people assume fairies are demons.
There are some people who theorize that fairies are really ghosts of the dead. One man was reported being abducted by fairies, but couldn’t force his eyes to focus on one face. When he finally looked at the face before him, he found it was his dead neighbor. This could also be the reason why people think fairies live in big mounds of earth, because of the burial mounds the dead were placed in.
Alright, so I guess not so much “fallen angels” as trapped angels. In Christian mythology it’s said that when the angels revolted behind Lucifer, God ordered them out of heaven. Those angels that remained in heaven were known as angels, those angels that were banished to hell were called demons, and those that were caught between heaven and hell became fairies. Another belief says that the fairies are trapped on Earth because they are neither good enough to enter heave, nor bad enough for hell.
There are beliefs that fairies are nothing more than humans that were driven off their lands by invading humans. They went into hiding, and now when they are seen, they are thought to be spirits or fairies. There’s another myth where a mother had hidden her children from god, but when she went looking for them once more they were nowhere to be found because they’d become the hidden people: fairies.
Personally when I think of fairies, I think of them as nature spirits. To me, nature spirits could be any range of mythical creature you would find in the forest: gnomes, fauns, dryads, elves, etc. Whatever form they appear as is what we call them. One form of energy could appear as a dryad to one person, but a faun to another.
I remember once when I worked at a new age shop a woman came in saying that her neighbor’s child was being haunted by three woman in his dreams. It was interesting to find that fairies can sometimes appear to children in the form of three woman. The more we dug, the more we found that was interesting. The neighbors had recently started tearing down trees around their yard to expand their property. The neighbors were encouraged to make some kind of offering to the fairies to stop the haunting, and apparently it worked.
What do you think of fairies? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment below! Let’s chat!
Since it works so well with my paranormal column, I’m going to let you decide what I write about next week! What would you like to hear about?