Artist: Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fairies 101

"The Meeting of Oberon and Titania" by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939).

Halloo my dearies! I was trying to figure out how to begin our little Fairyland journey on The Fairy Blog, and I decided to begin at the beginning. What is a fairy? A fairy is a resident of Faerie (a.k.a. Fairyland), a being of light, a nature spirit, or flower deva. In short, they are a mystery to us.

Fairies are magical beings that are a part of folklore around the world. They are familiar to us through popular culture, literature, folklore, and mythology. Fairies turn up in stories and tales ranging from Hindu writings to ancient epics to Shakespeare to Peter Pan to Harry Potter.

Typically people think of fairies as tiny human looking beings with wings, but there are many types of magical beings that come under the category of fairies, or fae. According to folklorist Katherine Briggs, “The fairies … are of all kinds. There are good and bad.... There are the big and the little, the beautiful and the ugly, the trooping fairies and the solitary fairies.” Some familiar types include:

Brownie: A type of hobgoblin that helps around the home as long as its rules are followed and it is not annoyed. If angered it can become a boggart and cause great mischief.

Dwarf:  An earth spirit often living in the mountains. Wise beings usually associated with handworks such as mining, crafts, and smithing.

Elf: Alternately depicted as diminutive or human sized, sometimes with pointed ears. Often described as being very beautiful.

Gnome: A small earth elemental known for guarding homes and mines, and for helping in the garden.

Goblin: A small but physically strong fairy, typically malicious. A hobgoblin is, in contrast, a friendly being.

Leprechaun: A small fairy associated with luck, shoe-making, and treasure or gold.

Pixie: A mischievous, but generally good-natured, being. There are several types of pixies, some very small, others of human size, and some like little old men.

Sprite: An elemental fairy, associated with water, fire, or air. Sprites are sometimes described as tiny, winged beings, or nature spirits.

Fairies may fit into more than one category; many have the power to shape-shift. They can be dangerous or helpful to humans. Fairies usually remain invisible, but folklore says that they can be seen by people with second sight or by ordinary people under special circumstances. Fairies live on the other side of the veil between the magical and mundane worlds and can be seen in places where the veil is thinnest and at certain times of year when the veil becomes thinner.That barely touches the tip of the iceberg as far as fairies go, but we'll stop here for today. Fairy blessings to you all!

 Parts of this post originally appeared in Nationally Fairies Examiner article.

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