14 Oct 2011


By popular demand today's post is all about faeries or to use my preferred spelling fairies.

Used to describe a supernatural being, the word actually comes from the French word faerie and, along with faery, fay, and fae, is often used to describe the wee folk, the good folk or the people of peace. 

Around for much longer than many of us would believe, fairies, perhaps best described by the Greek word Daimon (meaning Spirit), have actually been around since ancient times.

So what does a fairy look like, how would we know one if we were to see one?

Well ..........

Though generally invisible to the human eye, many of us would describe a fairy as a tiny, magical being with wings (perhaps like Tinkerbell of Peter Pan fame) BUT I'm sure you won't be surprised to know that traditionally there are all kinds of fairy in folk lore. All shapes and sizes, some fair of face, others ugly, grotesque to look at, different types of fairy had different types of magical powers.

Different types?

Yes, though generally attributed to either being a result of nature OR to being demonic creatures, there are several different types of fairy - leprachauns, gnomes, trolls and goblins included - which is why it is difficult to actually describe one.

OK, so lets stick with the modern vision of a fairy, small, kindly, flitting from one flower to another in a shaded glade complete with 'fairy rings'.

No, let's not. 

The 17th century fairy was commonly associated with the Devil, malicious towards humans, it was said they could prolong winter OR withhold the rain causing drought, turning a good harvest to dust. It wasn't until the 18th century when the fairy became less associated with evil, when they became reconnected with nature, that we began to think of them as the Flower Fairy which is the form most of us envisage today when we hear the word fairy.

That sorted, where would one go to meet a fairy?

Fairyland? But, of course, in order to see into Fairyland one would have to ......... 

  • Wear ones coat inside out OR
  • Closing ones right eye, peer through the left eye OR
  • Wear a posy of primroses OR
  • Carry a four-leaf-clover.
If not Fairyland, how about standing inside a Fairy Ring OR touching certain standing stones? OR maybes you were born at night (I was) and can sometimes see fairies as they move about - a 'power' those born during the day do not have. OR maybes you are the seventh child of a seventh child.

Enough of where to see a fairy, given that this is primarily a book blog what about the term Fairy Tale?

More often than not about ordinary people who sometimes get caught up in magical events many of the best known Fairy Tales do not actually have fairies in them.

Why then do we call them Fairy Tales?

Popular in France in the 17th century many such stories were described as 'Conte de Fee' which roughly translates into English as Fairy Story. 

PS Please let me know which Folk Lore creature you would like me to post about next, the Mermaid OR the Banshee?


Dizzy C said...

Great post, Tracy.

Have tweeted it.

I would say Mermaids next and then Banshee :)

have a great weekend


Erratic Thoughts said...

Oh I have always loved Tinkerbell...
You know as child I used to think my mommy was a fairy, sweet and reciting fairy tales to me...and then I grew up and stopped believing in fairy tales!!
Superb Post,Tracy :)

Kelly said...

Thanks for doing this one - it's the one I've been waiting for!! Very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My daughter use to watch a show called "So Weird" that had interesting storylines about things like Banshees, mermaids, etc. I have no preference which order you do them in...just include both at some point, please!

Trac~ said...

Tinkerbell is one of my favs! What a neat "story" Thanks for sharing and can't wait to see what's "next". Happy weekend my friend! :)

NRIGirl said...

Mermaids please! I have been always curious!

Oh! Did I lost my manners? My apologies; thank you for the detailed post on fairies.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Such a great post. My preferred spelling is faerie. :) I don't know why...

I love mermaids. Despite me being a landlocked gal, I always have... so I guess I'll vote for them. :)

Jenners said...

Thanks for the info on FAIRIES! : )

I vote for mermaid!

anilkurup said...

As usual a good lesson in GK ( General Knowledge). And what a topic, "fairies". I would prefer the ones without wings, I guess they are an unnecessary intrusion or add on. But sure the fairy must fly. Pretty, beautiful, and must have sweet voice too.
I cannot identify fairies with evil. But yes the ones like elf etc are naughty I suppose.

naida said...

fun post Tracee ;)
I'd like to hear about mermaids next.

joan said...

i'm in for the mermaids next please