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Written by: Ginger Red Hawk
Published on: July 10, 2011
Category: Mystical Creatures


A different world, a realm that exists beyond our ken, a plane in which live pagan creatures of the woods. Where do these wee folk come from? There are many myths and legends describing the origin of faeries.

In one myth faeries were originally immortal beings that lived in Italy. With the spread of the Roman Empire they traveled to France and the British Isles. However, the Nymphs and Dryads kept them out of Greece, and pixies out of Cornwall. Originally, faeries were thought to bestow gifts upon children and punish evil adults, but slowly their interference spread to all parts of human life.

In another version, faeries are thought to be spirits of the dead. Since faeries are thought to live under hills, many of which are the burial sites of the Celts, this version may have some truth in it. Additionally, like the dead realm of Hades, fairy food must never be eaten because once eaten, a mortal can never leave.

Another myth believes them to be elemental nature spirits of the trees, hills and waters. They are also thought to be maggots emerging from the corpse of the giant Ymir according to Norse mythology. The Icelandic myth believes them to be the unwashed children of Eve.

Whatever the origin of faeries, for the common man a fairy is a beautiful, untouchable, wand wielding, wish bestowing Godly creature. In popular media faeries are almost always depicted as young and lovely. However, the passage of time for faeries is not the same as it is for mortals. Some legends say that faeries are born old and grow young as they age. Others believe that they are ageless and stay forever young. In faerie lands time is not consistent with that of mortals. There are instances of men entering faerie lands and sleeping for a night... while 50 years have passed. If one faerie night is equivalent to 50 mortal years, then it might explain why faeries seem forever young.

Just as mortals celebrate many festivals and occasions there are a number of days that hold significance for faeries.

March 15 Ides of March
Festival of river nymphs and water faeries.

August 7 Lammas Tide
Faerie hills and houses are revealed as they rise above the ground on great pillars. The homes are set ablaze with light as the faeries go trooping off to a nearby hill.

September 29 Gwynn ap Nudd
The gate to faerie land is open. A mortal may wander into faerie land but must leave before the doors shut.

November 8 Gwynn ap Nudd
Once again, the Lord of Faeries allows mortals to glimpse the faerie world.

November 11 Hollantide
The most feared of Manx Faeries, Hillmen or Hogmen move their homes. This day is also Lunantishees, the faerie festival of the spirits who guard blackthorne trees - a sacred plant to faeries.

Faerie Trees

There are several trees that find favor with faeries so if you're hoping to meet one, you know where to look.

Alder - This tree houses the 'dark faeries'. They are very protective and take the form of the Raven when they leave their home.
Apple - Apple trees are the home of the stunning Unicorns.
Birch - This tree is sometimes called the Lady of the Woods.
Elder - The tree of the beginning and the end, the Elder is sacred to the Druids. It is said to protect faeries from the evil night, and works for mortals as well.
Oak - These are the faeries to go to if you want to awaken visions of your future.
Willow - Opens vision and communication and is associated with Brigid as per Celtic tradition.
Acorn - These can be made into Faerie talismans when found by the light of the full moon.

Faerie Fears

All faerie tools are made of copper, silver or wood. Oak is the favorite. Faeries are said to have a strong aversion to iron. Some of the wee folk cannot bear to touch it, while others are actually driven away by it. Iron nails on the door ward of faerie spirits from a house, while placing a piece of iron in a baby's cot will keep a changeling from taking its place.

Some Faerie Facts

Faeries dislike profuse displays of thanks. They prefer to be thanked with sweets and libations.
Most faeries love pretty things to adorn themselves with and luxury. They like shiny tumbled stones too. You will often find them resplendent in their foliage, flowers, gold and treasured jewels.
Faeries seem to have a fondness for horses. This is the only animal never harmed by a faerie in any lore. The "Lucky Horseshoe" is said to have been originated in this belief of the Fey's love of this animal.
Never lie to a faerie - they can tell immediately.
Black cats and water serpents are said to be the keepers of faerie treasure.