FolkOkay I admit it -I
AM a believer.
Mock me if you wish but I steadfastly believe in the
little people. They are everywhere. They influence nature, our environment and our attitudes to
life. In fact, your own childhood belief system rested on what you read in fairy tales. You'll be
surprised at how influential fairy tales and faeries themselves have been, and still are, over our
culture, religions and morals. Even the most cynical of you out there cannot deny
Still not convinced?
Well, just for you, I'm going to share my own
experiences with faeries, beginning at the beginning, when I first encountered a faerie of my own.
I hold the hope that your imagination will once more be touched by the folk at the bottom of the
garden. But, first, I shall fill you in with the tale of faerie folklore that has affected our
culture for centuries.
Where to start?
In the United Kingdom, faerie legend mainly began in Celtic Scotland,
Ireland and Southwest England, with its roots leading back to Paganism. The peoples of ancient
Ireland were split into two races, the visible race (Celts) and the invisible race (Faeries or
In Irish legend the Tuatha de Danann branch of the spirit race, or
Sidhe ("shee"), were forced to take refuge from the Milesian people to the land of Tir na nog (Land
of Eternal Youth). This is a place few mortals’ escape from alive. In fact, the Tuatha de Danann
knights were said to be giant in size, but over the course of time, legend has dwindled them into
diminutive beings but with huge power and beauty.
Finvarra, king of the Sidhe and thought to be King of the Dead too,
still holds court in his palace, Tara, in the Hill of Knockma, the Tuatha de Danann
As well as this race, ancient Irish folklore tells of a
race of Fenian heroes. They were noble warriors who fought for the Fiana, a great fighting force of
Ireland. In Scotland, the Seelie Court is said to be home of the Daoine Sidhe (deena shee). They
are supposedly fallen angels who live underground and underwater.
From the Sidhe legend derived such faerie legends as the
Heroic Faeries and the Medieval Faeries. King Arthur of England was said to be of Heroic Faerie
descent and was even tended by four faerie queens on the island of Avalon. He is said to still be
waiting deep within the hill to this day; more proof that faerie folklore continues to be as strong
today than ever.
MiddleThe Medieval faerie of England is a
romantic race of magick (Pagan magic), witchcraft, and wizardry. The faerie size was now varying,
from tiny, to hideous monsters. Monks of Christianity wrote most records of this time, so the
faerie legend of Celtic times was adapted to the more modern "fairy", said to enjoy revelling in
Medieval occupations of chivalry.
Fast forward to Elizabethan England. This was the first
time faeries were seen as mischievous, bothersome little flower faeries and goblins. Just as
witches were burned at the stake, in Elizabethan England, faerie believers were taken seriously
too, and in 1576, Bessie Dunlop was burned for receiving herbal cures from the Queen of
By the 17th century, the Jacobean faerie had begun to
evolve even more into the modern day faerie. They were depicted as invisible to the human eye.
Although the image of flower faeries and hobgoblins continued, puritans regarded them all as
demons. They were seen as having the power to control the weather, replace mortal babies with
changelings and even fly.
Each branch of faerie was given a different name and
they were blamed for drought, disease and kidnappings. All these beliefs still exist today and are
all part of the faerie stereotype.
The 18th century faerie is more of a gentle, child of
the earth spiritual character. They punish the bad, reward the good, and dwell in flowers. Cottages
in Ireland were built with front and back doors directly opposite, so they could be left open in
case the house was built on a faerie pathway. That way faeries could pass straight through
without interference. People still believed in bad faeries, but there were now many superstitions
believed to ward them off (i.e. always keep at least one foot outside of a faerie ring to avoid
being kidnapped by faeries).
It was around the 18th century that fairy tales were
born, when moralists started to include witches, faeries and goblins, like Rumpelstiltskin, into
children's stories. Fairy godmothers, like that in the tale of Cinderella, became a popular
It's interesting how, even today, children are taught
right from wrong with tales based on the ancient legend of faerie good and evil. They are
threatened with bad goblins if they are bad and told that if they are good, they will see a flower
faerie in the garden.
History may have changed our perception of faeries, but
who's to say which version is correct and which isn't? Nobody can prove whether small flower
faeries or huge Tuatha de Danann knights are closer to the real faeries.
As for my own experience of elemental beings, I spotted
my first faerie ring a year ago and knew instantly what it was, due to my vast thirst for all
faerie knowledge. Until this point, for me, seeing wasn't, necessarily believing, as I had believed
in faeries without tangible proof of them at all for many years until stumbling across the
It wasn't for another few months that I saw an actual
faerie. Like a leaf, it darted through the air, close to the ground. It had a subtle light, a
visible aura that convinced me it had to be a faerie and nothing else. It was these sightings that
sent my heart a fluttering and I felt like a child again. I had a renewed belief in the existence
of magic and the land of make believe. I hope you too will some day be touched by faerie and
uncover its secret. Only those who believe know the secret.
As for now, I still watch out for signs of faerie life
when near woodland or flowers. They are subtle things, but those who also belief will agree with me
that the signs are obvious if you simply allow them to call out to you.
It's a privilege to be shown a snippet of faerie life
but if you haven't as yet, it really doesn't matter. As long as you allow the faeries to tug at
your imagination and your heart strings and keep believing, you'll be forever closer to uncovering
the truth behind what lives at the bottom of the garden....
Written by Victoria
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