Monday, 16 November 2009

Fairy Mounds....

The name 'Fairy Mount' evokes thoughts about the Celtic Otherworld, folklore and the romance of the "little people".

Its use as the label for this fine earthwork is therefore all the more striking when one considers that it was built in the late 12th century when they Anglo-Normans seized land at the expense of the native population.

How it actually got this name is therefore of some interest.

It is tempting to suggest that it may have been the result of the romantic imagination of some 18th century Anglo-Irish landowner rather than some timeless lore of the local people.

Fairy Mount is undoubtedly one of the by-products of the Anglo-Norman colonisation of Louth in the 1180s.

The early ecclesiastical settlement at Louth was initially held by the King but was granted to Geoffrey de Lusignan in 1254.

The motte is likely to have been built before 1196 for the medieval documents record that the 'castle' of Louth was burnt in that year.

Wright's plan and section of the monument show the classic profile of an Anglo-Norman motte-castle: a circular flat-topped mound (c.29m in diameter at base, 11m at top) encircled by a fosse (Mount Ash - Knockbridge for details on motte-castles in general).

Though Wright provides no details on the history of Fairy Mount, he does make one important statement regarding its design, describing his plan view (his Fig. 2) as 'Ichnography of same with part of the town trench'.

This is one of only a handful of documentary clues that indicate that the Anglo-Normans established a borough at Louth.

The reason for their choice of Louth was its importance in pre-Norman times as a monastic and diocesan centre.

From the sheer size of the ecclesiastical enclosure (diameter 640m by 320m) that marked its precinct, Louth appears to have been a very large ecclesiastical settlement. Analysis by John Bradley (1985) and others shows that the motte was actually built on the line of this pre-Norman monastic enclosure.

'Borough' is here used in the sense of a legal framework for the creation of an urban settlement, in terms of a plot-pattern of living spaces, fixed rents, rights to hold markets, and legal privledges for its citizens, e.g. burgesses.

Orkney fairy mounds

Fairy Mounds feature heavily in the folk lore of Britain and Ireland. The mounds are believed to be the dwelling place of fairies (or faeries), elves or the sidhe. Fairy favour could bring prosperity and happiness but woe betide the miserable mortal who offends a fairy!

Just one of the many creative ways fairies chose to wreak revenge was by leaving a changeling in place of a human baby.

It’s no wonder that, for fear of angering their supernatural neighbours, Medieval people made offerings and referred to them euphemistically by terms such as ‘the good folk’ or the ‘good neighbours’.

Archaeologists are interested in Fairy Mounds for quite a different reason. When excavated, they usually prove to be interesting sites from the neolithic era. Many of them, like

Maeshowe in the Orkney Islands, are burial chambers but any circular building covered with soil and grass could create the appearance of a fairy mound. If the roof has fallen in, the mound will be solid; if the roof remains, then it will be hollow. Superstition aside, there was a practical reason for keeping yourself and your livestock away from a so-called fairy mound – you might fall in!

Killashee - longford in Midlands

Killashee or Cill na Sidhe when translated means
‘The Church of the Fairy Mound’ or ‘The Wood of the Fairies’.

These translations could be linked to the existence of a number of forts throughout the parish and mounds or hills which overlook the village, notably ‘Carrig’, known locally as ‘Burke’s Hill, ‘Crochans’ on the Lanesboro road, ‘an Culighan’ at the old Rectory.

The earliest references to Killashee as a parish are in the Roman Annates of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Here Killashee is referred to under an astonishing variety of spellings, such are Killacythe, Kylnascyth, Kilnasichigi and under the names indicative of the titular of the Church Kilfegalen, Kilfylan and Kilfulan.

In 1302 Dhomnal O Farrell, Chieftain of Annaly, founded the convent of St John the Baptist at Middletown. But perhaps the most historic religious site was the Grey Friars monastery of Ballinakill, Middletown and Clonough, know as the land of Cluaindoeochra.

Its patron was Ernan and this foundation is almost as old as Clonmacnoise.

There are other very interesting historical reminiscences to note about Killashee. In 1430 Ballyclare Castle, the ruins of which are still to be seen today.

Fae mythology ...Part two

Fairies in Legend, Lore, and Literature

by Terri Windling

There are numerous stories of human beings abducted into Faerieland — particularly newborn babies, attractive young children, midwives, and musicians.

When human babies are snatched from the cradle, a fairy "changeling" is left behind.

Sometimes this creature is merely a piece of wood enchanted to look like a child; other times it is a sickly fairy baby, or an old and peevish fairy.

The stolen human children are petted and cosseted for a while — until they grow big and lumpish, or until the fairy court grows bored with them — whereupon they are turned into household slaves for the rest of their mortal lives, or banished from the Realm (for which they'll pine from that day forward).

Some say the fairies are required to pay a blood–tithe to Hell every seven years, and that they steal mortals for this purpose so as not to sacrifice one of their own. A human knight named Tam Lin was destined to be the tithe in one famous old tale, until his true love tricked the Fairy Queen into releasing him on All Hallows Eve.

Some fairies can be alluring creatures — but woe to those who seek their kisses, for few amorous encounters between fairies and mortals ever come to good.

A harp player named Thomas the Rhymer kissed the Fairy Queen under the Eildon Tree, then paid for each of those kisses with seven years of servitude in Fäerie.

Thomas was one of the lucky ones, because many hapless lads and maidens sickened and died after twilight encounters with sweet–talking lovers who turned out to be fairies in disguise.

There are stories in which fairies wed with mortals, but such marriages rarely turn out well — whether it is a woman with a fairy husband or a man with a fairy bride.

Irish seal–people who marry human men and women always return to the sea, and Japanese fox fairies make dangerous brides, stealing the life essence from their husbands.

The children born of such unions are often lonely, melancholic creatures, too mortal to live comfortably in Fäerie and too fey for the human world.

Some fairy lore makes a clear division between good and wicked types of fairies —
between those who are friendly to mankind, and those who seek to cause us harm.

In Scottish tales, good fairies make up the Seelie Court, which means the Blessed Court, while bad fairies congregate in the Unseelie Court, ruled by the dark queen Nicnivin.

In old Norse myth, the Liosálfar (Light Elves) are regal, compassionate creatures who live in the sky in the realm of Alfheim, while the Döckálfar (the Dark Elves) live underground and are greatly feared.

Yet in other traditions, a fairy can be good or bad, depending on the circumstance or on the fairy's whim.
They are often portrayed as amoral beings, rather than as immoral ones, who simply have little comprehension of human notions of right and wrong.

The great English folklorist Katherine Briggs tended to avoid the "good" and "bad" division, preferring the categorizations of Solitary and Trooping Fairies instead.

She noted that the fairies in either group "may be evil, dealing death or sickness to every man and creature they pass on their way, like the Sluagh of the Highlands; they may steal unchurched wives from child–bed, or snatch away unchristened babes leaving animated stocks [pieces of wood] or sickly children of their own in their place, or they may be harmless and even beneficial — fertility spirits watching over the growth of flowers or bringing good luck to herds or children."

Solitary Fairies are generally those associated with a certain location: a bog, a lake, the roots of a tree, a particular hill or household.

The Trooping Fairies, by contrast, are gregarious creatures fond of hunting, feasting, dancing, and holding court.

"This is perhaps particularly true of the British Isles,"
writes Briggs,
"though in France, Italy, Scandinavia and Germany there are the same tales of dancing, revelry and processions."

Other folklorists divide the fairies by their element, rather than by their temperament — harking back to Paracelus' classification system of earth, air, water, and fire.

Fairies associated with the earth are the most numerous group.

Earth elementals include those who live in caves, barrows, and deep underground, and who often have a special facility for working with precious metals. This group includes the Coblynau in the hills of Wales, the Gandharvas of India, the Erdluitle of northern Italy, the Maanväki of Finland, the Thrussers of Norway, the Karzalek of Poland, the Illes of Iceland, the various Dwarves of Old Norse legends, and the Gans of the Apache tribe.

Forest fairies are also earth elementals, and are the most numerous type of fairy around the world.

Fairies of this type include the shy Aziza in the forests of West Africa, the Mu of Papua New Guinea, the Shinseen of China, the Silvanni of Italy, the Oakmen of the British Isles, the Skogsra of Sweden, the Kulaks of Burma, the Hantu Hutan of the Malay Peninsula, the Bela of Indonesia, the Patu–Paiarehe of the Maori, and the Manitou of the Algonquin tribe.

Other earth fairies are those who guard standing stones, such as the web–footed Couril of Brittany, and sand fairies in desert environments, such as the Ahl Al–trab found in Arabic lands.

Fairies associated with air include the various winged fairies and sylphs that are so numerous in modern picture books, popularized by Tinkerbell and Victorian–era fairy paintings.

Examples of air fairies include the luminous Soulth of Irish fairy lore, the Star Folk of the Algonquin tribe, the Atua of Polynesia, and the Peri, the "good fairies" of Persian legends, who are said to dine exclusively on perfume and other delicate scents.

Fairies who account for weather phenomena, such as mistral winds, whirlwinds, and storms, are associated with the air element, including the Spriggans of Cornwall, the Vily of Slavonia, the Vintoasele of Serbia and Crotia, the Rusali of Romania, and the mischievous Folletti of Italy.

The most common type of fire fairy is the salamander, an elemental spirit much prized by Renaissance alchemists.

Also associated with fire are the Djinn, who are the "bad fairies" of Persian lore, and the Drakes (or Drachen), fire fairies found across the British Isles and western Europe who resemble streaking balls of fire and smell like rotten eggs.

Luminous, will–o'–the–wisp type fire fairies are famous for leading travelers astray — including the Ellylldan of Welsh marshland, the Teine Sith of the Scottish Hebrides, the Spunkies of southwest England, Le Faeu Boulanger of the Channel Islands, the Candelas of Sardinia, and the Fouchi Fatui of northern Italy.

The various fairies who guard hearth fires are also associated with this element, such as the Gabija of Lithuania and Natrou–Monsieur of France. The Muzayyara are fiery, seductive fairies in old Egyptian tales; and the Akamu is a particularly dangerous fire fairy found in Japan.

Although (as the brief list above indicates) fairies are known all around the world, nowhere are they quite so varied and populous as they are in the British Isles — which is probably why we find so many of them in English literature.

Fairies can be found in many of the courtly Romances of the medieval period — although they're rarely named as such, "fairy" being a relatively late term.

These ancient stories are filled with fairy–like men and women who wield magic, live in enchanted palaces, forge magical weaponry, and bewitch or beguile innocent mortals — such as the Lady of the Lake who gives Arthur his magical sword, Excalibur.

The tales of King Arthur and his court are particular rife with fairy–like beings, especially in the Welsh and Breton traditions — as are the splendid Lays of Marie de France, written for the English court sometime around the 12th century.

The Wife of Bath in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales speaks wistfully of an elf queen and her merry court in the old days of King Arthur, when "al was this land fulfild of fayerye" — as opposed to the Wife of Bath's own time (the 14th century), when fairies were rarely seen.

A 15th century French Romance called Huon of Bordeaux was popular among English readers.

This sprightly story of King Oberon, Queen Mab, and assorted knights of the fairy court is notable for providing inspiration for the fairy plays of William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare seems to have been well versed in traditional English fairy lore, for he borrowed liberally from this tradition to create the fairies who quarrel, scheme, and cavort in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest.

Along with "Queen Mab" from Mercutio's famous speech in Romeo and Juliet, these are the best known and most influential fairies in all English literature —

which is why diminutive fairies
"no bigger than an agate–stone on the fore–finger of an alderman"
are better known today than their human–sized cousins found in many older stories.

Fairies are also the subject, of course, in Edmund Spenser's extraordinary poem,
The Faerie Queene, written in the late 16th century
— although Spenser's fairy court owes more to Italian Romance than to homegrown English fairy legends.

In the 17th century, fairies inspired Michael Drayton's Nymphidia, the Court of Fayre, a satirical work featuring King Oberon, Queen Mab and a hapless knight named Pigwiggen.

A series of poems in Robert Herrick's Hesperides also feature King Oberon, and also have a satirical edge, but this is a darker, more sensual look at Fairyland than Drayton's.

In the 18th century, the fairies appeared in Alexander Pope's arch tale, The Rape of the Lock; and also, covertly, in Gulliver's Travels, the great satire by Jonathan Swift, for Swift used many elements of fairy lore to create his tiny Lilliputians.

It was in the same century that Bishop Thomas Percy began to collect old British folk ballads, which he published in an influential volume called Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.

Without Percy's labors, many traditional ballads might have been lost forever — he rescued one old manuscript from kitchen maids who were using it to light the fire.

Percy's work had a notable influence on the writers of the German Romantic movement, who in turn influenced such English Romantics as

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, and John Keats.

All three of these writers wrote fairy poems, but the ones that are best known and loved today are

Keats' evocative "Lamia" and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci."

Other writers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries who were much beloved by the fairies, and vice versa, were

Tom Moore, Thomas Hood, Allan Cunningham, and especially James Hogg.

Known as The Ettrick Shepherd, Hogg was a working shepherd for most of his life as well as a writer of popular tales that drew upon old Scottish legends.

James Hogg's good friend Sir Walter Scott was another writer who found inspiration in Bishop Thomas Percy's efforts to preserve the folk heritage of Britain.

Scott's fiction is permeated with the fairy lore of his native Scotland, and he was an enormously influential figure in the 19th century folklore movement.

As a collector of tales and ballads himself, Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border preserved important fairy ballads such as Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin, and did much to educate readers about the value of Scotland's rich folk history.

In addition, Scott gathered around him a group of poets and antiquarians who were likewise interested in preserving the old country tales of a nation that was rapidly urbanizing.

Scott was fond of fairy lore in particular — for he'd believed in fairies in his youth, and never entirely lost faith in

"things invisible to mortal sight."

Partially due to Scott's influence, two extensive volumes of fairy lore appeared in the early 19th century:

Thomas Keightley's The Fairy Mythology

and Thomas Crofton Crock's Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland.

They proved to be enormously popular and kicked off an explosion of folklore books by

Reverend Sabine Baring–Gould, Anna Eliza Bray, Joseph Jacobs,

and many others.

These books are important when looking at English literature and art of the 19th century, for they were avidly read by a wide variety of Victorian writers and artists.

Folklore was still a new field back then — the name itself wasn't coined until 1846 — and these groundbreaking publications generated talk and excitement among the intellectuals of London.

At the same time, the magical tales and poems of the folklore–loving German Romantic writers

(Johann Wulfgang von Goethe, Ludwig Tieck, Novalis, etc.)

frequently appeared in English magazines of the period.

One German story, in particular, captivated Victorian readers:

Undine by Baron de la Motte Fouqué,

about a water nymph's love for a mortal knight and her attempt to gain an immortal soul.

Undine inspired a large number of subsequent stories, paintings, and dramatic productions about doomed fairy lovers of various kinds (including, over in Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid).

Such stories were particularly appealing to readers who were interested in matters of the occult and in psychic phenomena — which was a substantial segment of the reading public once the Spiritualist movement crossed the sea from America and took England by storm.

These various influences came together to create a wide–spread interest in the fairy race that was unprecedented. At no other time in British history have the fairies been so popular among all types of people, from the working class to the aristocracy.

n visual art, following in the footsteps of the 18th century painters

Henry Fuseli and William Blake , artists such as Joseph Noël Paton, John Anster Fitzgerald, Richard Dadd, Richard Doyle, Daniel Maclise, Thomas Heatherly, Eleanor

and many, many others created an entire genre of Victorian Fairy Art — a genre found in prestigious galleries and at the Royal Academy exhibitions — not marginalized, as fantasy art tends to be today.

These were paintings for adults, not children.

John Anster Fitzgerald's fairy imagery, for instance, was often dark and hallucinatory, full of references to opium pipes and opium medicines.
Richard Dadd's obsessively detailed fairy paintings were created in a mental hospital where Dadd was interred after he lost his reason and killed his father.

Many fairy paintings were distinctly salacious, such as Sir Joseph Noël Paton's huge canvases of luscious fairy maidens in various states of undress.

Fairies enabled Victorian painters to explore the subject of sexuality during the very years when that subject was most repressed in polite society.

Paintings of the nude were deemed acceptable so long as those nudes sported fairy wings.

The passion for fairies among Victorian adults must also be viewed in light of the rapid changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution, as Britain moved from the rhythms of its rural past toward the mechanized future.

With factories and suburban blight transforming huge tracts of English countryside, fairy paintings and stories were rich in nostalgia for a vanishing way of life.

In particular, the art of the Pre–Raphaelite Brotherhood — depicting scenes from Romance, legend and myth — promoted a dreamy medievalism and the aesthetics of fine craftsmanship to counter what they saw as a soul–less new world created by modern forms of mass production.

"For every locomotive they build,"

vowed artist Edward Burne–Jones,

"I shall paint another angel."

The Arts & Crafts movement, which grew out of Pre–Raphaelitism, embraced folklore and fairies to such a degree that by the end of the 19th century fairies could be found in middle class homes in every form of decorative arts: wallpaper, draperies, ceramics, stained glass, metalwork, etc.

Advances in printing methods allowed the production of lavishly illustrated fairy–tale books, ostensibly aimed at children but with production values calculated to please adults (and the growing breed of book collectors).

Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Warwick Goble, the Robinson brothers, Jessie M. King,

and numerous others produced wonderful fairy pictures for these volumes.
Jessie M. King, like William Blake before her, was an artist who passionately believed in the fairies.
Her lovely illustrations were based, she said, on visions seen with her "third eye."

Fairy music was another popular phenomenon, much of it imported from Germany – such as Weber's fairy opera Oberon, Hoffman's Ondine (based on Fouqué's Undine), Wagner's Die Feen (The Fairies), and Mendelssohn's overture for A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Fairy music for the harp was composed and performed by charismatic musicians as popular then as pop stars are now, and young women swooned and followed their favorite harpists from concert to concert.

Magical music and dance reached its height in the works of Tchaikovsky, the brilliant Russian composer who took London — indeed, all of Europe — by storm.

The popularity of his fairy–tale ballets (Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker) fuelled the Victorian public's love of all things magical and fey.

In literature Anne Thackaray Ritchie's Fairy Tales for Grown–ups, the Arthurian poems of Lord Tennyson and William Morris, and (at the turn of the century) the remarkable fairy poetry of "Celtic Twilight" writers such as William Sharp (writing as Fiona McCleod)
and William Butler Yeats.

famous series edited by Andrew Lang:

The Blue Fairy Book
, The Green Fairy Book, The Red Fairy Book, etc.

Fairies flittered across London stages and nested in bucolic scenes on gallery walls, but outside on the city streets it was a long, long way from Never Land, crowded as they were with beggars, cripples, prostitutes (many of them children), and with homeless, desperate men and women displaced by the new economy.
While the upper classes charmed themselves with fairy books and dancing nymphs, and clapped to bring Tinkerbell back to life, in the lower classes, both urban and rural, fairies remained a different matter altogether.

Here, the delicate winged maidens depicted by painters and ballet dancers were superceded by the fearsome creatures of the still–living oral tradition.

Throughout the 19th century, the British newspapers reported cases of fairy sightings, curses, and abductions.

The most famous of these incidents occurred as late as 1895, and riveted newspaper readers all across the British Isles.

This was the murder of Bridget Cleary, a spirited young woman in Ireland who was killed by her husband, family, and neighbors because they thought she was a fairy changeling.

Bridget Cleary had fallen gravely ill, and the family had consulted a "fairy doctor."

He claimed that Bridget had been abducted and taken under a fairy hill, and that the sickly creature in her bed was a fairy changeling in disguise.

The doctor devised several ordeals designed to make the changeling reveal itself — ordeals that soon grew so extreme that poor Bridget died.
Convinced it was a fairy he had killed, Bridget's husband then went to the fairy fort to wait for his "real" wife to ride out seated on a milk white horse.

Bridget's disappearance was soon noted, the body found, the horrible crime brought to light, and Michael and other family members and neighbors found themselves prosecuted for murder. Although this was the most flamboyant case of changeling–murder in the Victorian press, sadly it was not the only account of brutal mistreatment of those deemed to be fairies.

Usually the poor victims were children, born with physical deformities or struck by sudden wasting illnesses.

It wasn't until the 20th century that reports of fairy abductions began to dwindle — when reports of abductions by aliens began to take their place.

The last major fairy encounter reported widely by the British press took place in the tranquil countryside of Yorkshire in 1917 — when Elsie Wright, sixteen years old, and Frances Griffith, her ten–year–old cousin, contrived to take photographs of fairies at play in their Cottingley garden.

Elsie's mother had the photographs sent to Edward Gardner, head of the Theosophical Society, who then passed them on to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes).

Although the photographs are rather unconvincing by today's standards, professionals at the time could find no evidence of photographic doctoring.

The pictures, championed by Conan Doyle, caused an absolute sensation, and brought the fairy craze well into the 20th century.

Only when Elsie and Frances were old ladies in the 1980s did they admit that the Cottingley fairies were actually paper cut–outs held in place by hat–pins.

Even so, their deathbed statements on the subject were more ambiguous, implying that the fairies, if not the photographs, had been real after all. Especially one of the photographs.....

In her fascinating book Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness,

Carol G. Silver points out that the Cottingley incident, despite briefly reviving interest in the fairies, was actually one of the factors that ended the "Golden Age" of fairy art and literature. "Ironically," she says, "the photographs, the ostensible proof of the actual existence of the fairies, deprived the elfin people of the grandeur and their stature . . .

The theories that Gardner formulated to explain the fairies' nature and function reduced them to the intelligence level of household pets and the size of insects."

In addition to this, the massive popularity that the fairies had enjoyed throughout the 19th century insured that they'd be branded old–fashioned by the generations that immediately followed.

Those who'd survived the hard trials of World War I had little interest in the faux–medievalism and fairies of their grandparents' day. And yet, it is interesting to note that one of the most popular art prints of the war era depicted a simple country boy playing a pipe, surrounded by fairies.

This was "The Piper of Dreams," a painting by the Anglo–Italian artist Estella Canziani — an image as ubiquitous in England then as Monet's water lilies are now.

Canziani's gentle, forgotten fairy picture once rivaled
William Holman Hunt's
"The Light of the World"

in popularity, and was said to be a favorite of English soldiers in the trenches of World War I.

During the middle years of the 20th century, the fairies seemed to go underground, rarely leaving the Twilight Realm to interact with the world of men — except to appear in sugar–sweet guise in children's books and Disney cartoons.

Then an Oxford don named J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about elves in a place called Middle–Earth that fairies came back to popular art in any numbers.

And then they came with a vengeance. Professor Tolkien was a scholar of folklore, myth, and Old English literature, so when he created the elves of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, he knew what he was doing.

Although written and published some years earlier, it was not until the 1970s that Tolkien's books dominated the bestsellers lists and became part of British and American popular culture. This in turn created an enormous interest in all things magical, wondrous, and fey.

Suddenly there were fairies, dragons, unicorns, mermaids, and wizards everywhere.

People started seeking out folklore texts, and teaching themselves to speak Elvish.

What Tolkien did was to prove to us that we needn't give up these worlds at age eighteen — or at twenty–eight or forty–eight for that matter.

Back in the 1970s, this was a radical notion.

Tolkien dismissed the post–Victorian idea that fantasy was fit only for children, and reached back to an older adult fantasy tradition running from Beowulf to William Morris.

He opened a door to Fäerie, and readers discovered this door was not child–sized after all, but tall and wide, leading to lands one could spend a life–time wandering in.

Love and light
Tracey-anne x

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

Read about the fae....

Reading about the fae :
Adult Fiction:
The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson
A Midsummer Tempest by Poul Anderson
Strands of Starlight by Gael Baudino
The Wild Reel by Paul Brandon
The Hob's Bargain Patricia Briggs
The Truth About Celia Kevin Brockmeier
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
Possession by A.S. Byatt
The Dreaming Tree by C.J. Cherryh
The Fairy of Ku–She by M. Lucie Chin
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (winner of the World Fantasy Award)
The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
Little, Big by John Crowley (winner of the World Fantasy Award)
The Ill–Made Mute by Cecilia Dart–Thornton
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
Jack of Kinrowan by Charles de Lint
The Little Country by Charles de Lint
The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint
Widdershins by Charles de Lint
The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue
The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
Fairy Tale by Alice Thomas Ellis
Faerie Tale by Raymond Feist
Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess
Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon by Lisa Goldstein
The Kappa Child by Hiromi Goto (winner of the Tiptree Award)
The Lastborn of Elvinwood by Linda Haldeman
Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand
Ill Met by Moonlight by Sarah A. Hoyt
The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce
Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner (winner of the World Fantasy Award)
The Fairy Godmothers by Mercedes Lackey
The Wandering Unicorn by Manuel Mujica Lainez
Eccentric Circles by Rebecca Lickiss
The Grey Horse by R.A. MacAvoy
The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Once Upon a Winter's Night by Dennis McKiernan
Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip
Something Rich and Strange by Patricia A. McKillip (winner of the Mythopoeic Award)
Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip
The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea
The Sacrifice by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo
The Flight of Michael McBride by Midori Snyder
Singer of Souls by Adam Stemple
Photographing Fairies by Steven Szilagyi (winner of the World Fantasy Award)
The Mysteries by Lisa Tuttle
Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner
The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins
The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams
Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede
Young Adult Fiction
The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley
Tithe by Holly Black
Valiant by Holly Black
I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block
Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan
Summerland by Michael Chabon
Shadow Castle by Marian Cockrell
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Stealing the Elf–King's Roses by Diane Duane
The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman
Indigo by Alice Hoffman
A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
A Midsummer's Nightmare by Garry Kilworth
The Stones Are Hatching by Geraldin McCaughrean (winner of the Carnegie Medal)
The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw
Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton
Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli
The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Changeling by Delia Sherman
Hannah's Garden by Midori Snyder
I Am Morgan le Fay by Nancy Springer
The New Policeman by Kate Thompson
The Faery Flag by Jane Yolen
Pay the Piper by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
Troll Bridge by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple

So Fey: Queer Faery Fiction edited by Steven Berman
The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Faery edited by Terri Windling
Fair Folk edited by Marvin Kaye
Fairy Folklore
The Vanishing People: Fairy Lore and Legends by Katherine Briggs
Erotic World of Faery by Maureen Duffy
The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by W.Y. Evans-Wentz
Fairy Mythology by Thomas Keightley
At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs and Other Troublesome Things by Diane Purkiss
British Goblins: Welsh Folklore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions by Wirt Sikes
Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness by Carole G. Silver
British Fairy Origins by Lewis Spence
Irish Fairy and Folk Tales by William Butler Yeats
Reference Volumes:
An Encyclopedia of Fairiesby Katharine Briggs (emphasizing British folklore)
The Great Encyclopedia of Fairies by Pierre Dubois (emphasizing French folklore)
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies by Anna Franklin (fairy lore from around the world)

more will be added :o)

love & light
Trace x

Sunday, 15 November 2009



The Irish word for fairy is sheehogue [sidheóg], a diminutive of "shee" in banshee.

Fairies are deenee shee [daoine sidhe] (fairy people).

Who are they?

"Fallen angels who were not good enough to be saved, nor bad enough to be lost," say the peasantry. "The gods of the earth," says the Book of Armagh.

"The gods of pagan Ireland," say the Irish antiquarians, "the Tuatha De Danān,

who, when no longer worshipped and fed with offerings, dwindled away in the popular imagination, and now are only a few spans high."

And they will tell you, in proof, that the names of fairy chiefs are the names of old Danān heroes, and the places where they especially gather together, Danān burying-places, and that

the Tuath De Danān used also to be called the slooa-shee [sheagh sidhe] (the fairy host),

or Marcra shee (the fairy cavalcade).

‘daoine sidhe’ (pronounced deenee shee)

Tuatha de Danann means ‘Children of Danu or Dana’ a legendary race of people who overthrew the Irish in ancient times. When the Tuatha de Danann was overthrown themselves by the Milesians they took shelter in earth barrows (sidhe).
Deprived of offerings and affection the Tuatha de Danann shrivelled and withered until they became the little people.

On the other hand, there is much evidence to prove them fallen angels.

Witness the nature of the creatures, their caprice, their way of being good to the good and evil to the evil, having every charm but conscience--consistency.

Beings so quickly offended that you must not speak much about them at all, and never call them anything but the "gentry", or else daoine maithe, which in English means good people, yet so easily pleased, they will do their best to keep misfortune away from you, if you leave a

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little milk for them on the window-sill over night. On the whole, the popular belief tells us most about them, telling us how they fell, and yet were not lost, because their evil was wholly without malice.

Are they "the gods of the earth"? Perhaps! Many poets, and all mystic and occult writers, in all ages and countries, have declared that behind the visible are chains on chains of conscious beings, who are not of heaven but of the earth, who have no inherent form but change according to their whim, or the mind that sees them. You cannot lift your hand without influencing and being influenced by hoards. The visible world is merely their skin. In dreams we go amongst them, and play with them, and combat with them. They are, perhaps, human souls in the crucible--these creatures of whim.

Do not think the fairies are always little.

Everything is capricious about them, even their size.

They seem to take what size or shape pleases them. Their chief occupations are feasting, fighting, and making love, and playing the most beautiful music. They have only one industrious person amongst them, the lepra-caun--the shoemaker. Perhaps they wear their shoes out with dancing. Near the village of Ballisodare is a little woman who lived amongst them seven years. When she came home she had no toes--she had danced them off.

They have three great festivals in the year--

May Eve, Midsummer Eve, November Eve.

On May Eve, every seventh year, they fight all round, but mostly on the "Plain-a-Bawn" (wherever that is), for the harvest, for the best ears of grain belong to them. An old man told me he saw them fight once; they tore the thatch off a house in the midst of it all. Had anyone else been near they would merely have seen a great wind whirling everything into the air as it passed. When the wind makes the straws and leaves whirl as it passes, that is the fairies, and the peasantry take off their hats and say, "God bless them".

On Midsummer Eve, when the bonfires are lighted on every hill in honour of St. John, the fairies are at their gayest, and sometimes steal away beautiful mortals to be their brides.

On November Eve they are at their gloomiest, for according to the old Gaelic reckoning, this is the first night of winter.

This night they dance with the ghosts, and the pooka is abroad, and witches make their spells, and girls set a table with food in the name of the devil, that the fetch of their future lover may come through the window and eat of the food.

After November Eve the blackberries are no longer wholesome, for the pooka has spoiled them.

When they are angry they paralyse men and cattle with their fairy darts.

When they are gay they sing. Many a poor girl has heard them, and pined away and died, for love of that singing. Plenty of the old beautiful tunes of Ireland are only their music, caught up by eavesdroppers. No wise peasant would hum "The Pretty Girl milking the Cow" near a fairy rath, for they are jealous, and do not like to hear their songs on clumsy mortal lips. Carolan, the last of the Irish bards, slept on a rath, and ever after the fairy tunes ran in his head, and made him the great man he was.

Do they die?

Blake saw a fairy's funeral; but in Ireland we say they are immortal.