Monday, 16 November 2009

Fae mythology...part one

Fairies in Legend, Lore, and Literature

by Terri Windling

Where do fairies come from? Folklorists, philosophers, historians, mystics and others have debated this question for centuries. No one really knows how fairies originated — unless it's the fairies themselves, and they're not telling. What we do know is that tales of the fairies can be found on every continent around the globe, and that belief in the existence of the "Hidden People" is surprisingly widespread today.

In the 15th century, an alchemist named Paracelus divided fairies into four elemental groups:

sylphs (air), gnomes (earth), undines (water), and salamanders (fire).

They are made of flesh and blood, he said, and procreate like human beings but are longer lived than man and do not possess immortal souls.

In the 17th century, a Scottish minister named Robert Kirk wrote that fairies
"are of a middle nature betwixt man and angel,"
"light changeable bodies, like those called astral, somewhat of the nature of a condensed cloud, and best seen at twilight."

In the 19th century, the physiology of fairies was of great interest to the Spiritualists , who divided them into two basic types:

nature spirits tied to features of the landscape (a river, a pool, a copse of trees),

and higher spirits who lived on an astral plane between flesh and thought.

In the early 20th century, a Theosophist named Charles W. Leadbeater developed an elaborate system of fairy classification inspired by Darwin's theory of evolution.

Leadbeater maintained that fairies live on an astral plane divided into seven levels.

(Septagram symbol)

He believed the fairy race to be the original inhabitants of England, driven to its margins by the invasion of mankind; and he drew elaborate diagrams showing how the fairies had evolved.

His chart began with mineral life and then rose upward through water and earth, and through seaweed, fungi, and bacteria.

Further up the evolutionary ladder he showed how fairies developed through grasses and cereals, reptiles and birds, sea flora and fauna, until they matured into nature spirits linked to each of the four elements.

But evolution didn't stop there;

these nature spirits would in turn evolve into sylphs, then devas, and then into angels.

On the top rung of the ladder the fairies would become what he called "solar spirits" where they'd join with evolved humans in a more enlightened age.

Another Theosophist, Edward Garner, argued that fairies are allied to the butterfly genus, and are made of a substance lighter than gas which renders them invisible to human beings (except clairvoyants).

The function of fairies in nature, he said, is to provide a link between plants and the energy of the sun.

He wrote that the "growth of a plant which we regard as the customary and inevitable result of associating the three factors of sun, seed, and soil would never take place if the fairy builders were absent."

Franz Hartmann, a medical doctor, believed that fairies have a role in human psychology, explaining that

"the spirits of nature have their dwellings within us as well as outside of us, and no man is perfectly master of himself unless he thoroughly knows his own nature and its inhabitants."

Hope you enjoyed

Love and light
Trace x

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