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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in fairies

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Magical Month of Hawthorn

Following the wheel of the year through the Celtic tree calendar, May 13th begins the time of the hawthorn tree and its ogham character Huath. While the tree calendar is a modern construct, it holds meaning because of the concepts it has come to symbolize and the significance it has for twenty-first century magic, ritual, and everyday life.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I love Hawthorn, and the one in my backyard is a good 30 feet tall. This year I harvested blossoms and leaves that I'm busy tinctu
Uniting Personal Gnosis and Folklore with Fairies

It's a perennial discussion that goes around online and in-person: how much should we rely on personal gnosis and how much should we look to recorded material and other people's experiences (i.e. folklore)? This is a particularly pertinent question when it comes to those who interact with fairies because of the diversity of understandings that exist in relation to them. There are those who argue in favour of relying solely on personal experiences and those who reject the idea of modern experiences entirely, and some who advocate different balances of the two. I used to think balance was the ideal approach myself, but as I've thought about it I've come to a different view.

Folklore is an essential groundwork for anyone, in my opinion, who wants to understand the Good People. Whatever culture we happen to be talking about looking at the accumulated material that has been collected to describe previous people's experiences with and beliefs around fairies is enormously helpful in building our own understanding. Such folklore represents a valuable corpus of belief going back countless generations that can be relied on to teach us how to safely interact with Otherworldly beings, what to expect in different circumstances, and show us various outcomes of previous encounters. In short, immersing in this folklore means we don't have to learn all the hard lessons (hopefully) all over again for ourselves because we can look back to other people's previous experiences to help guide us.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Finding Fairies in Grimoires - Part 2

Last time we looked at the female fairies which appear in the grimoire material; this time I thought we'd look at one of the main Fairy Kings that appears in the grimoires, Oberon. 

Oberon first appears in a French romance called Huon de Bordeaux in the 15th century and a hundred years later in Shakespeare's a Midsummer Night's Dream (Harm, Clark, & Peterson, 2015; Briggs, 1976). His description between the two accounts is very different however: in the 15th century account he is a king of the fairies but his form is that of a 3 year old child although he is still a very powerful being, in Shakespeare he is an adult in appearance and his form is taller. In Huon of Bordeaux Oberon is described as beautiful even though he is small and deformed, and he appears wearing a glowing, jeweled gown. His physical description is not given in Shakespeare but his power and temperament are intense and he is described as a lover of mortal women.  

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Finding Fairies in Grimoires, part 1

Generally when we look for resources on fairies, particularly fairy Queens, we look (rightly) to folklore. There is however another more obscure source that can provide us some information and this is the later ceremonial magic grimoires. These texts are very different in nature and tone1 than other sources and we must keep that in mind as we look at them but they do give us a glimpse at a particularly English view of fairies from the 16th and 17th centuries. 

For our purposes today we will be looking at the material that addresses female fairies, which interestingly includes the only female beings found in the grimoire material2. When we look at the Grimoire material we find two main groupings of beings: Fairy Queens and the so-called Seven Sisters. These are all given names although the names vary in different manuscripts. The Seven Sisters can be bound to teach a person about herbs, nature, and provide a ring of invisibility (Harms, Clark, & Peterson, 2015). The queens can be called on for scrying, manifestation, sex magic, knowledge of nature, truth, and may also provide a ring of invisibility (Brock & Raiswell, 2018; Harm, Clark, & Peterson, 2015). All of the names given, however, are somewhat problematic in that they either can be found nowhere else outside the grimoire material or else they closely resemble common names or words.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Witches, Fairies, and Hallowe'en

 When people think of Halloween, or from a more pagan perspective Samhain, the image of witches comes quickly to mind and it may be the single day of the year most strongly associated with witches in Western culture. Yet there is another layer to Halloween that also intersects with witchcraft and witches but isn't as commonly acknowledged in mainstream culture and that is fairies. Halloween and the general period of time around Halloween has long been known in the folklore and folk practices of the various Celtic-language speaking countries to be a time when the Good Folk are more active and more present.

The connection between witches and fairies more generally is complex and multi layered. Scottish witches who were brought to trial mentioned dealing with fairies as often as dealing with demons and were as likely to say they had sworn themselves to the Queen of King of Fairy as to the Christian Devil. This is discussed in Emma Wilby's books 'Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits' and 'The Visions of Isobel Gowdie' and touched on in Davies 'Popular Magic' which all review various material from the Scottish witchcraft trials in which confessed witches talk about their connections to the fairies. We also see references to both Irish witches and mná feasa [wise women] who learned their skill from the Good Neighbours, as well as specialists called fairy doctors in English who were supposed to have been taught by the fairies (Daimler, 2014). This overlap, briefly summarized here, was one where the witch might both serve Fairy and also be served by it. 

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Experiencing Iceland: Stories and Spirits

I was fortunate enough last month to be able to visit Iceland for just under two weeks. I had never been there before and had been looking forward to the trip, as Iceland has a reputation for its beauty and for its deeply ingrained folklore. Neither disappointed. 

Words cannot do the country's beauty justice. It is truly amazing and everywhere you look seems more gorgeous than the last. Not only the natural places but even the cities, which I am not prone to favouring, are beautiful and full of statues and street art. I saw more murals on walls in Reykjavik than I have ever seen anywhere else and the art was a nice counterpoint to the natural beauty. My main focus wasn't on the ambience though, impressive as it was, but on the spiritual connection and folklore. 

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  • Morgan Daimler
    Morgan Daimler says #
    We did. When we first arrived we did something quiet and personal individually to introduce ourselves and to get to know the feel
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Great story! Iceland is now firmly cemented on my bucket list. I'm land-spirit sensitive, and I'm glad that Iceland was welcoming

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Setting Out on the Fairy Road

For many people the concept of fairies and the land of Fairy is the subject of children’s stories and cartoons; for some of us though these beings and their home is very real. Finding the truth about them, however, is a difficult proposition in a world that in many ways would rather relegate them to the toy bin and juvenile book shelf. Yet stories of fairies and encounters with them persist, enough that author Simon Young conducted a fairy census published in early 2018 that included hundreds of modern sighting of fairies which filled over 400 pages. Rather than relics of the past or twee kids’ tales we find a rich history of fairylore that extends fully into our modern era and persists today, but which is being buried beneath the more well known and popular mainstream cultural views. And that could be a problem when those mainstream cultural views only show one tiny piece of the picture and leave out the parts with teeth and claws.

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