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The Secret Life of Fairies
The Real Truth about the Fairy Folk and the Little People
My great grandmother warned me about fairies. Some are kind, and beautiful, she said, while others are hostile to mortals.
Fairies are not little Tinkerbells at the bottom of your garden, they are spirits of nature, minor deities of the natural phenomena. They are the energies in earth, air, fire and water.
There are many facts that you should know about Fairies, that you must know about Fairies, including how to recognise the most common Fairies you may happen to meet in modern times.
Most especially, you should be aware of Changelings!
Are there Fairies in Australia?
My great grandmother would leave out a saucer of milk at night for the Brownie, but nothing more, in case he took offense.
For the fairy folk were capricious, willful and vengeful. They were quick to anger and easily insulted over trifles, therefore many little rituals had to be played out in the domestic chores to appease the watchful sprites, and my great grandmother knew them all.
How she actually knew all this is somewhat of a mystery. Did a Brownie accompany her father from the Hebrides back in 1845?
There was no need for such fairies to journey to Australia, for this ancient land has many Nature Spirits, there are Elementals in the rocks who are far older than the Celtic Sprites.
Whatever the reason, no matter how the journey was taken, some fairies arrived.
How to Summon a Fairy - Milk Magic
(If you feel you really must summon something fae)
There may be times when you wish the assistance of the fairies. There are various means of calling them, for example the next time you're churning the butter, you can repeat this simple summoning a few times.
"Come, butter, come, Come, butter, come, Peter stands at the gate, Waiting for a buttered cake, Come, butter, come!"
These days the opportunities to churn butter are becoming scarce. You may wish to try this while you make some yogurt, but I warn you that so far I've had no luck with it.
Please let me know if you have some success.
How to Summon a Fairy - Moon Magic
You can also run around a fairy ring nine times on the first night of the New Moon, and keep listening for the sounds of music and laughter coming up from underground.
If all else fails, you can use this powerful summoning but please be very careful. Fairies are not always pleased to be rudely invoked in this way and, if you live in a densely populated area, neighbours are not too keen on the process either.
You need a night of the full moon, go out on the stroke of midnight, face east and chant as loudly as you can ...
Come in the stillness, Come in the night,
Come soon, And bring delight.
Beckoning, beckoning, Left hand and right,
Come now, Ah, come to-night!
Don't forget to let me know if you strike it lucky
Sea Fairies, Elementals and Spirits in the Wells
Fairies can dwell in any element, but a great proportion of them are found in and around water.
The river gods of ancient Greece are fairies, as are the water Nymphs, the Naiads and Hydriads, and the Nymphs of the Fen, the Heleads. The sea fairies were ruled by Poisedon and included monstrous creatures, elementals of whirlpools and tidal races like Scylla and Charybdis, shape-shifting dolphins and the enticing Sirens.
In old places of Britain (and Brittany) you will find water horses and other spirits deep in the rivers and many are the wells in little-known places where a minor deity still reigns.
On moonless nights in Ireland you may yet meet the Phooka, and the seas are still home to mermen and merrows. The Gwragedd Annwn inhabit Welsh lakes and streams like their cousins, the Necks, in the wild woods of Norway.
Next time you pass a well, or spring, drop in a silver gift for the Fairy therein.
Tree and Forest Fairies
Nymphs of the Woods
These fairies were known as Dryads to the early Greeks. They are female spirits of nature,beautiful nymphs, who preside over the groves and forests.
They lived quietly (most Dryads are very shy) and they are still, to this day, terribly nervous of straying too far from the safety of their tree. But whenever Artemis comes along, they abandon all fears and join her hunting expeditions.
Each forest nymph is born connected to a certain tree which she will guard, either living in, or very close to it. Should the tree perish, she also dies.
Sadly, many dryads have been lost to the world in this manner, but the gods will punish thoughtless mortals who would harm the trees.
How to keep yours contented
Your garden is a miniature forest, and every flower, every tree, every plant, has its own fairy.
These benign and beneficial garden spirits need a spot to rest and relax in natural surroundings. If you want to attract fairies, keep a little wild part available, add a few beautiful beach shells and pretty stones to it, and a small earthenware bowl to collect fresh rainwater.
In some blessed parts of the world, a typical garden fairy can be a Leprechaun
You doubtless know about Brownies, the small, hardworking fairies of houses and barns.
The Ancient Roman household brownie was one of the benign guardian spirits, the penates, lares and genii who kept watch over the family.
In Scotland the Brownies took on practical household management by spending the night finishing the housework that was left undone. (In the Brothers Grimm, it is the helpful Elves who finish the work of a poor shoemaker overnight, for there are no Brownies in Germany).
A Fairy Story for Everyone
Like all fairy stories, this tale has a lesson. A great resource
A changeling is the offspring of a fairy, left secretly in exchange for a human child. The habit is widespread, children are stolen away from Japan to Skandinavia, and all across the British Isles.
It's especially rife in Ireland!
Changeling stories are folk legends in which mortals are the unwitting foster parents for faery children. The tales are set in an actual past of the same country as the teller.
They are told as true stories of the historical past, part of the ancient belief system in which fairies are not tiny delicate little sweeties, but very real, and very dangerous.
Why do Fairies steal human children?
There are many theories
Some believe that children are stolen to be servants to the fae folk. Or to be kept as curiosities, as superior pets, in the manner in which the Elizabetheans used to keep a dwarf.
Scandinavian trolls longed for the beautiful mortal babes, so much more appealing than their own hairy trollish brats, but aesthetics aside, there is a more compelling explanation.
Very little is known about the reproductive habits of fairies, the only evidence that they reproduce at all is the substitution of a changeling.
We are told that so many of these changelings were wizened creatures with yellow puckered parchment-like skin and stunted legs or crooked backs that it's no wonder the fairies are repelled by their own stunted and deformed young. Perhaps the need is seen to keep the race strong.
(There are tales enough of daemon lovers and lost nights among the hollow hills to lend credence to the possibility of interbreeding).
Five Ways to Recognise a Changeling
Always check the teeth. About two weeks after their arrival in the household, Changelings will grow a full set of teeth.
Changelings have yellow, parchment-like skin which becomes progressively more yellow and more parchment-like as they grow older.
Changelings have very dark eyes which betray wisdom older than their supposed years. If you look into the eyes of a Changeling you will be struck by the depth of wisdom.
Changelings are nasty and ill-tempered, screeching and shrieking in a voice as powerful as a grown man...
- Ravenous Hunger
A Changeling will eat as much as three men and one horse and then wail for more.
A Word of Advice
Never overtly admire a child, gushing over the little innocent will alert a prowling fairy, and before you know - it's too late!
Changelings Across the World
Pitiful stories of substitution
Changelings drain away all good fortune so the poor humans who nurture such a creature are cursed with ill luck and poverty.
In Germany bands of elves steal children and, in their place, leave behind greedy changelings called killcrops, wailing for food.
Nickerts and Water Nixies are fairies with an unenviable reputation for child theft, unwary human parents have no hope and they are doomed to raise a changeling forever.
In India, fairy spirits disguised as tigers (or vice versa) steal mortal children and leave behind disguised tiger cubs, while in Japan infants taken by fairies must be recovered before they eat any fairy food.
It's much the same in Ireland where a tiny morsel of a tiny crumb will condemn the child to 300 years in Fairyland.
The Irish are stoic however, and when their human child has gone forever, the positive attributes of the Changeling are encouraged. Perhaps it is the sweet soft air of Ireland that causes the Changeling, as it begins to grow, to take up an instrument, such as the fiddle or the uillean pipes, and to play with such beauty and grace that all who hear it are entranced forever.
Book : Black Pearls, A Faerie Strand - (Just when you thought it was safe to read fairy tales)
Compassionate and sophisticated, these dark, sensual fairy tale retellings will hold you spellbound.
Behind overgrown hedges of blood-red blossoms and menacing thorns, we find complicated emotions - forbidden love, desperate longing, suicidal despair, wrenching guilt......... and, sometimes, a happy ending.
What's your opinion on Fairies?
Do you believe in Fairies?
© 2008 Susanna Duffy