Apr 8, 2014

Fairy folklore and magick

Mallow and Honeysuckle fairy, by Cecily Mary Barker,
found more on : http://www.flowerfairies.com/ 
The term fairy is generically used to refer together all sorts of spirits, including Celtic “sidhe”, or Slavic “Vila”.  Esscentialy, when we say “fairy” we refer to  enchanting,  volatile,  magickally gifted, powerful, and elusive nature spirits, particularly of a female gender.  So the same word is used for Banshee ( Baoban sidhe ) , or the Forest mother ( Mama Pudri ) or even Rusalka, even though they are all very different, and have their distant, respective characteristics .

What unites all the spirits reffered to as “fairies” is : “association with wild nature and interest in human life circles, especially birth” [1]  Most of the time, also, they all symbolize or embody concepts of virility, wildness, power,  and sometimes curiosity. 

Opposed to the popular belief, they are not just some tiny, insect-size spirits, that are either benevolent, or just tad bit  noxious and annoying. They can be rather nasty and vindictive, and some are plainly evil. Alternative spellings include faerie , fairy, faery  [2] and fae, which is used to both refer to singular and plural form of the noun, or the “race” of the fairies.  

The term “fairy” may come from “fata” , a Latin term for fate,  used simultaneously to refer to Fates, mythological creatures that spin, and cut the thread of life. In Italian, “fata” simply translates as “fairy”, like in Fata Morgana ( or the Fairy Morgana ) , and when spelt together fatamorgana ( lit. a mirage ), it represents optical illusion.   Archaic English term would be “fays” , meaning “enchanted” , “bewitched”. In Slavic countries,  fairies are called either “vila” ( sin. Lit. “a fairy” ), or some variation of it ( Bulgarian and Macedonian “samovila” for example ), and it comes from old,  Slavic term for “gone crazy” which,  is in consistency with  the Slavic belief that the fairies can make someone go crazy.

Fairyland and in-between places

Depending on culture, fairies live either in Fairlyland ( Widespread European ), or in  the Fairy city ( Eastern European ) , then again, the later is also situated in the Fairyland.

In Eastern European folklore, this Fairy ( or Fairy’s ) city, is a motif of old, pre-Christian  poem(s) about an fairy city made with bones of  sacrificed  humans, or even with humans, that were built in, alive, in its walls.  This “fairy city” is neither on Earth, nor in sky, it’s palaces and breathtakingly beautiful places and sceneries, lay either on the clouds, or bellow the ground. In Serbia, there is a town Nish , that the Celtics used to refer to as “Fairy city” , and near the Serbian town Bor, there is a cave, with  geologic forms that resemble petrified human, and is also sometimes reffered to as “Fairy’s city”[3]  

It’s inaccessible to humans, least to those chosen,  as it is a part of fairy land.  Fairy land is a special kingdom  where the fairies live, though it does  not seem to be  situated on the physical plane. The entrance to it however  is.  

It is believed to be possible for human beings to enter, and even spend some time in Fairyland,  and even return from there providing , that they have not eaten or drunk anything there.  Eating or drinking anything in kingdom of the Fae is said to place one under a specific fairy enchantment,  which prevents them from leaving. And those that did, manage to escape the fairy land, report how  the time goes by differently there, and how one hour in  fairy land many equate to years in humans world [4] In England, it’s believed that the entrance to the fairy kingdom lies where their three sacred “trees” ( one of them is  actually a shrub  ) grow, forming a triangle. These  are Hawthorn, Oak and Ash. It is also said that Primroses and Bluebells ( each in their own, specific way ) key’s to the Fairyland.

If a large stone appears, among these there,  fairy-sacred  plants, or if it’s found in field of bluebells, or on the fairy hill ( where fairies are believed  to live or appear ) it’s quite probably the entrance to the Fairyland.  Knocking on it with a right number of Primrose flowers  is  believed to cause  the stone to open, showing entrance to the Fairyland. The “wrong” number of flowers, however, is  believed to be someone’s ticket to doom.

In the end, Fairies might live in their own kingdom , but they visit the  physical plane so frequently that it appears as If they are living here. In fact some of them spend time between Beltaine and Samhaine , on the physical plane, in the secluded, isolated places, that are not  frequently visited by human beings, such as forests, and mountains.

In Eastern European folklore it is believe how, some of the fairies, are born on the physical plane, and will always remain close to  the place where they are born, for example, mountain fairies, forest fairies, field fairies and so  on. On Balkan peninsula, superstitions say how ( some ) fairies are born from the dew appearing on red flowers, and during the times when it both rains and shines, and the rainbows appear. [5] Sometimes, like in the case of different Nymphs and Dryads, which are also referred to as fairies , they live inside a tree or a rock, and come out when they need to protect it, or on rare occasions to interact with humans.

In Celtic countries, the Fairies were believed to inhabit the Otherworld, a place where the supernatural creatures and spirits of the dead live, but also some islands on the physical plane, which are mystical in/of themselves, and sometimes seen as transcendent, or coexisting in   multiple planes [6], such as the one in Lough Derg ( Red Lake ) in Connty Donegal in Ireland.  Fae are sometimes also seen ( in Celtic countries ) , at least some of them are, as descendants of Teutonic deities ( Tuatha de danan ).

Finally, some fairies, which are interested in humans, live near human inhabitants, or even in human houses  such as brownies and pixies ( some say they are one and the same ).  And many brownies and pixies live in nice human gardens. Even the Bulgarian and Macedonian Samovili can be  found dancing in beautiful, opulent,  human-made gardens. In fact, many  magickal  practitioners who work with the Fae will build a garden for them, making sure it  has some of  the plants that the Fairies will enjoy, and paying attention to evade those that would repel them. 

Fairies will be drawn to and enticed to dwell in, gardens that contain : butterfly bush,carnations (particularly red ones), clover, coreopsis, cosmos,cowslips, daisies, foxglove, hollyhock, hyssop, lavender, lobelia,pansies, petunias, primroses (particularly blue and red ones),roses (all types), shamrock, thyme, vervain, yarrow, and zinnias, but they might get repel by gardens that  have: dill, morning glory, peonies, prickly gorse, or rosemary, according to Gerina Dunwich. [7]

It can be a section of a garden merely, and a part of it should be left with wild plants and weeds  growing, be it a tiny corner. Fountains, and crystals placed strategically in  such garden, shall also help to call the fairies.

In-between places, like seashore, river shore, doorways, fairy rings, dolmens and megaliths,  are places on which there   is always a good chance to spot a fae.

Birth and origins of the Fairies

We have already mentioned that some of the fairies, are born with/on plants, such as flower fairies and dryads.

One legend says that Fairies came to be from Adam’s and Eve’s  children, which they tried to conceal from G’d , when he asked   them  how many children do they have. Being that they hid some, and reported only  the remaining, G’d made their hidden children intangible from them onwards.

Some people believe that Fairies emanate from elemental energy,  therefore making them elemental spirits of a kind.

According to Rosemary Ellen Guiley, there are several main theories about the origin of the fairies.


1)    They might be the souls of deceased pagans, who, not being baptized, remain between Heavens and Earth

2)    They might be the guardians of the dead. Many fairies are indeed psychopomp spirits

3)    Fairies could be ancestral ghosts

4)    Fairies could be fallen angels, cast out from Heaven, alongside Luci*er, but condemned by G’d to remain in the elements of Earth

5)    Fairies are  nature spirits bound to specific places or elements, which indeed seem to be most likely theory

6)    Fairies are a “race” of small-statured human beings [8]


Threats or spirit allies

“Fairies also are traditionally propitiated with offerings

and rites at sacred wells, fountains, lakes and tree groves

so that humans may ward off illness and misfortune.”

Rosemary Ellen Guiley, “Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits”

Fairies, being extremely skilled in magick, and very powerful, can be either  a guiding and protecting sprits to humans, or their doom.  It depends on two things mainly:

-          Fairy’s  mentality/nature

-          Human behaviour in regards to them

Some fairies are naturaly very malevolent, and should simply be avoided, or warded off, if one is to be found in the proximity.  Ruslake, for example, Slavic water fairies, are almost always evil, although, sometimes people petition them  for love issues, in regards to which they express sympathy, being that they came to be from girls who suicide by jumping into lakes of rivers, because of unfortunate love story.  Most time however they enjoy to either  beacon, or forcefully take humans, into the watery grave.

All kind of Sidhe, enjoy feeding on human’s blood and/or energy,  killing their victims eventually, least some  kind of  ( magickal ) countermeasure  is  undertaken.

The malevolent fairies, however show extremely strong aversion to several apotropaic items, such as iron, holey stones or feathers of certain birds.

Most of the fairies, however, are either ambivalent or benevolent towards human beings, and often quite curious about them.  In fact, in Balkan peninsula folklore, humans often make pacts with fairies, both the good and bad ones. Folk make pact with the bad fairies to spare their towns, Villages, areas of the fairies wrath, and thus often include a sacrifice of a kind, once it was a human being or  animal, but nowadays these are food, fruits, money and alike.  

Pact with the good, benevolent, kind fairies, often comes as an offer from the fairies
Painting "Milosh, Marko i Vila" by
 Paja Jovanovic, 1906th 
themselves. In Balkan peninsula folklore, fairies  like to make pacts with neat, strong, kind and helpful men, particularly with those that might have helped them in some way, be it merely making a shade for them, as they sleep, to  protect them from the too strong sun. In return fairies “brother” the man, and may bestow all sorts of gifts upon them, and will protect and guide their human protégés. [9]  In Serbia, Croatia, and Montenegro, there is a popular folk-epic poem “Prince Marko and the Vila  about Prince Marko , and his “sister” ( sometimes “godmother” ) fairy that nursed him back to health after he’s been fatally injured.

Fairies also love children, and in Celtic folklore, they are known   to  sometimes kidnap human babies, and take them to the Fairyland, to  raise them  as their own , sometimes leaving  their own babies ( “changelings” ).  Little human children are believe to be naturally able to see  and interact with fairies, yet as humans grow  up, and lose  that child-like innocence, the vast majority stop seeing them. And quite frankly most people simply do not care about  the fae when they grow up. This is just one, of the many reasons why one should always keep and cherish the child within. 

As our spirit allies, the Fae are known to :

-          Heal us, even remove life threatening and terminal conditions

-          Bring love

-          Tend plants – dryads and flower fairies, the latter being as diverse as flowers. In fact,  the flower fairies resemble flowers they were born from, inhabit or care for. This is brilliantly depicted in the “Flower fairies” by Cicely Mary Baker

-          Teach women and men, herbal lore,  herbal medicine, and magick

-          Bestow gifts – like the so called “birth fairies” do. The classical example being the “ The Sleeping beauty” ,  which is more than just a silly fairytale. It’s based on actual, old European ritual, where  upon the arrival of the newborn, the feast was  appropriated for the fairies, and from 3-13 ( most often )  plates, with all the following cutlery were set, and all served with lavish meals and sweets. [10] Oftentimes, they will bestow spiritual gifts, such as premonition, or green fingers, to humans, like in the case of “True Thomas”  . And   “ The Sleeping beauty” in fact serves to remind that it’s always good to set one or two more plates, just in case ;)

-          Guide and protect, particularly in times of war, tribulation, when traveling alone at night, or when threatened by evil magick or spirits

-          Fulfill wishes and petitions, also help with household chores and difficult to achieve tasks

As You see, Fairies can be invaluable spirit allies, but they must be approached properly. It’s quite ill-advised to approach to fairies with arrogance  or desire to dominate them, and force them to do our biddings. Even when this is possible, the fae will seek vengeance, afterwards. Not only that this does not pay off , but it’s also  completely unnecessary. The fae hold great respect and esteem dearly  love towards nature, devotion, care, and sincerity. 

Fairies will highly appreciate gifts, in form of flowers, cakes, honey, poems written for them, caring of the plants  where they live, or nice fabrics and ornaments. So the proper way to “make a pact”, or rather,  petition the fae is to approach them  respectfully and humbly , offering some small token of gratitude  to them. I wrote about spells and rituals to work with Fae before, on here,  and there are some ideas and illustrative examples. 

In-between places and times, like for example coast ( where the land and water meet ) or midnight ( where the day and night meet )  provide best chances for seeing fairies   and items like holley stones, or loops made from Rowan twigs  can help greatly. On Beltane, they say it’s enough to place a “crown”  of elder twigs, or sleep bellow an Elder tree to  see the Fae.  Sleeping in the field with Thyme flowers placed on eyelids is another way that may enable one to catch a glimpse of these elusive spirits.

Remember, insulting the Fae, recklessly cutting down the trees in their forests, or  hunting down animals for fun, in fae-inhabited areas is never a good idea. Cakes and honey, songs and vine for them, now that is a good idea J

Following and few belifs,  practical tips and ideas,  about working fairy magick J

To become as strong as Samovila

To become as strong as Samovili, and thus able to pluck the whole tree out with the roots and all, one should drink from Samovila’s spring,  but  should leave some offerings  nearby. They say that the offspring of this person will be white-haired, winged elf children with flaming eyes. [11]

Heal eye conditions

Some night, when the Moon is full, go to some spring which is believed to be frequented or  blessed by fae. These can be found in secluded places, like European countryside, and often have “Fairy” somewhere in their name, for ex. “Fairy’s spring” . Leave cakes and honey near it, and petition the fae to heal  Yours/N.N’s eyes  .  Take some water with You home, place a clear fluorite and/or staurolite in it, and place it on the window, where it will be exposed to the moon beams for the night. Go to sleep.

In the morning, take the crystals out and   wash the eyes and face with this water. Do it couple of times per day , until You’ve spent all of the liquid. You may also take a sip of it.

Charm to draw fairies

In a green velvet bag, place Staurolite and White Rowan blossoms. Carry with You to attract the fae and sleep on it.
Gossamer wings oil
This wonderful oil is used to help contact air element fairies, such as sylphs, elves and alike
Combine: 1/4 part Violet, 1/4 part Lemon, 1/2 part Lavender , and Cajeput in a few drops. If You combine Carnations and Gardenia petals 1/2 each, in an oil You'll get a powerful formula for communication with elemental spirits and celestial spirits [12] 
NOTES: This article was written/composed by myself, therefore, If you wish to use any part of it elsewhere online, feel  free, but add credits  Shadow of Shadows magick place, Shadow-333@hotmail.com or a direct link to this  page.
[1] Judika Illes, “The Encyclopedia of spirits”,  402nd page, first edition 2009th, Harper one
[2] Acc. to Encyclopedia Britanica http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/200456/fairy
[3] Acc. to Gajic Nenad “Slovenska mitologija” ( lit. “Slavic mythology” ) pg. 145th , Laguna, Belgrade 2011th
[4] According  to “Fantasy encyclopedia” by Judy Allen, Richard Hook et all. , pg 16th  Kingfisher, 2005th
[5] As under [3] page 144th
[6] “Fairy faith in Celtic countries” W.Y. Evans-Wentz 1911th , available ( 2014th ) here http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ffcc/
[7]  List of proffered and disliked    garden plants for fairies  is taken from : “Herbal magic; a witches guide to Herbal folklore and enchantments” 2002nd , New Page Book s,  by Gerina Dunwich,  and is used here for educational and explanatory purposes without any ill will
[8] According to “Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits” , 3rdEition, pg.164th and 165th , by Rosemary Ellen Guilley
[9] Acc. to source listed under [3] , page 146th
[10] Acc. to same source as under [1] page 403rd
[11] Acc. to  the  source listed  under  [3] page 149th
[12] Retrieved  from: Llewellyn's Complete Formulary of Magical Oils: Over 1200 Recipes, Potions & Tinctures for Everyday Use, used here for educational purposes without any ill will
IMAGE CREDITS: The first two images are from "Flower fairies" by Cecily Mary  Barker,   these used here are  retrieved from:
used here for illustrative  purposes without any ill will.  The third image, is from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Milo%C5%A1,_Marko_i_vila.jpg 

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