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The Secret Life of Fairies

Updated on August 23, 2017

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

Take care!

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

Water Fairies

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.

Garden Fairies

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

Household Fairies

Benign Guardians

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 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

  1. Teeth

    Always check the teeth. About two weeks after their arrival in the household, Changelings will grow a full set of teeth.

  2. Skin

    Changelings have yellow, parchment-like skin which becomes progressively more yellow and more parchment-like as they grow older.

  3. Eyes

    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.

  4. BadTemper

    Changelings are nasty and ill-tempered, screeching and shrieking in a voice as powerful as a grown man...

  5. 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.

Black Pearls: A Faerie Strand
Black Pearls: A Faerie Strand
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

Leave a little note for the Fairies - (you may have a wish granted)

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    • profile image


      18 months ago


    • profile image


      23 months ago

      We have pixies who visit our house at the full moon closest to the solstices and equinoxes. They are very mischievous and have, amongst other things, terrified my Mother in law and one of our daughters, caused a pipe to burst, hidden peanuts in a closed wall ready to pour out when the wall was removed, laid claim to the dogs baskets etc etc Very funny Guys! :)

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I think I once saw a fairy. They were flickering lights. I knew they were fairies because fireflies can't stay in very hot placed

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I'm caucasian, but I was born with black-brown eyes. Nobody else in my family has dark eyes. I've always had a calling for I'm homesick for a place I've never been. The Changeling stories are spooky. I can't say that I believe, but there's something about it.

    • SusannaDuffy profile imageAUTHOR

      Susanna Duffy 

      6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      There still seems to be some confusion between Fairies, Brownies and Pixies. Brownies are an asset in your house, Pixies are darned aggravating in your house and, as for Fairies, you don't want them anywhere NEAR your house

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have are little note that says,

      I have not seen are fairy yet but I'm still looking for one

      I wish that I could see are water fairy , sun fairy, animal fairy , garden fairy,

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Oooh so much fairy wisdom! Very enjoyable and enlightening lens!

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      There sure are some very frightening tales of fairies. I am so happy that in our modern time we are a little more kind in our images of these creatures.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i would love really love to have a fairy friend i get lonely or board often. i think it would be nice to have a friend

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Cleopatra had a fairy at the bottom of her garden. Or maybe it was a Pharoah

    • profile image


      8 years ago


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've heard of fairies most associated with Celtic beliefs. Some are good and some are evil but most are benign creatures who are representative of nature.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've heard of fairies most associated with Celtic beliefs. Some are good and some are evil but most are benign creatures who are representative of nature.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Lens :D

      Inspired by Susanna's writings (of Strange and Norell) thought you might enjoy my short piece entitled How To Avoid (Or To Invite) Enchantment by Faries, Elves & Elementals; I have recorded soundfile (with music) at top page,

      so settle back and enjoy.....

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Who hasn't dreamt of spotting a fairy as a child? I don't much like the sound of those changelings though!

    • SusannaDuffy profile imageAUTHOR

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @anonymous: That would be a Pixie. Most definitely.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I always wonder if a fairy is the one who has hidden something when I can't find a particular item for ages and then it suddenly turns up, even though I turned the place upside down looking for it!

    • Othercatt profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, You sure know how to captivate your audience. Excellent lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Sock fairies.... where are the sock fairies? More to the point, where are the socks? Great lens!

    • awakeningwellness profile image


      9 years ago

      Beautiful lens...I have always been interested in fairies and I love the information you have about them!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I guess Brownies don't like me because my housework is never finished, lol. I've heard that they will avoid a cluttered house, so I guess that is the real reason. Lensrolling to my fairy lens.

    • Laniann profile image


      10 years ago

      You have acquired some beautiful pictures of the Fairies. Thank you for sharing what you have learned - very interesting and eye opening.

    • CastleRoyLisa profile image


      10 years ago from Rhode Island

      A wonderful way to tell about the Fae wonderful lens and great read, I loved it going to lens roll to my fairy lens 5* wonderful!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I think I may have caught a glimpse of a fairy or two, although I'm not one hundred percent certain. I loved this lens! :-)

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      very well done, and a very interesting read, great job! 5*'s

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      11 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Had to come back and revisit this one today. Blessings.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      After chuckling my way through this gorgeous lens I could barely contain myself when I noticed the binge drinking ad that popped up on top of it...

      Perhaps they're assuming fairies are related to pink elephants?

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great lens! I love the pictures.


    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I am fascinated with faries. So I enjoyed your lens very much.


    • dahlia369 profile image


      11 years ago

      I wonder how fairies choose who to help. My aunt Inge has to have the whole tribe of garden fairies (at least) to help her because every plant she's ever planted - not only grows, but Thrives! Every parrot she's ever owned, talked and her dog would never go into her house without having his paws wiped first...

      Beautiful lens! :)

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      11 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Another beautiful lens. I love it. You have inspired me to do a lens on magical creatures which will incorporate your lenses. Lensrolling to my fairytale lenses.

    • thepartyanimal2 profile image

      The Party Animal 

      11 years ago from Partytown USA

      Loved it - I gave you 5 stars with wings

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I do not know much about these. It was interesting.


    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I was never really into fairies, but your lens was really interesting, especially the part about changelings. I really enjoyed the artwork too.

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      11 years ago from France

      Really like the graphics in this lens, didn't realise fairies were so interesting.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      11 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      It's quite obvious I don't have a household fairy because anything I haven't done the day before still is there waiting to be done the next day. Where's a fairy when you really want one?


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