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Monday, 21 April 2014

Fairies origin and culture

Fairies origin and culture

We don't know when the belief in fairies or faie started. There are legends from indigenous peoples whose traditions have survived for thousands of years. Over the years these legends have changed.

Each culture has a different take on fairies and a different belief system. One theory states that fairies are former gods and spirits of wise pagans such as the Druids. There is a belief that fairies are the descendants of the small, dark Neolithic people who retreated to remote areas away from other people. This was popular in Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall and Scandinavia. One Wiccan belief is in a hierarchy. At the top level are the gods/goddesses, next are angels, fairies, and then humans.

There is the idea that fairies are jealous of the angels and they are either pranksters or mischief makers because they did not become angels, or they were before and that is why they are not angels now.

A lot of fairy tradition and legend has been changed due to religious battles and control. Many goddesses were pulled into the early Christian religion and recreated as saints as a way to pull in more followers. As with people becoming saints there are stories of druids or healers who have become known as fairies over the course of time. Some of these were women who changed into fairies as a reward for their lives of good deeds.

Some believe that fairies are the spirits of the dead. Some cultures believe fairies to be spirits of the world around us, the spirits of the trees, water, fire, wind, animals, etc. Many people make elemental connections which they believe to be a connection with the fairy realm.

As shown in art, fairies have taken on many different forms throughout history. Some fairies are believed to be shape shifters, using glamour or other magic to change their form. Interpreted through art we have seen fairies as human in form, if not size. They range in size from tiny beings that we cannot see to slightly larger so we can see them, to almost full-sized humans, as in a fairy godmother.

Fairies have taken on animal resemblance, as they are part of the animal world, or spiritual representatives of the animal realm.

Through the elements they take on natural forms that we take for granted. There are those who see them in trees, water, rocks, flowers, fire, ice, and other basic elements.

They can also appear as mermaids or fairies of the of the sea.

Some believe that fairies do not have souls. Whether they live hundreds of years or only days, when they die it is thought they simply cease to exist. They are no longer there and nothing of them remains.

There are many different fairy forms. Many have been noted above. All are based on a cultural belief. Here are some other kinds of fairies:

Sidhe or Sith - This is the fairy originating in Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. The fairies are portrayed as beautiful and noble, either as tall as humans or even more statuesque and resembling humans. They are believed to the of the fallen angel or diminished deity genre, unable to return to heaven. The sidhe live in subterranean palaces of gold and crystal. They are endowed with gifts of the Celtic Otherworld, of joy, beauty, youth and music abilities.

Daoine Sidhe - The people of the Mother Goddess Dana of Ireland is the most famous fairy court. They are credited with building the megaliths of Ireland which are seen as gateways to the world of the faie. They are famous for their music.

Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court - In Scotland the Seelie or Blessed Court represent air spirits who would ride the winds and oversee mortal affairs, offering help when needed. They also live in underground palaces of gold and crystal. The Unseelie Court are the unblessed dead or those who were cast out of the Seelie Court. They are often blamed for disasters in the mortal world, often kidnapping less desirable humans to increase their numbers.

Trooping Fairies - This is usually the name given to tribes of fairy beings in the Celtic lands who fall under their own rule. During fairy festivals they come together with other tribes to celebrate. In non-Celtic lands they are any fairies who live in groups, often associated with fairy rings, green hillsides, woodland, meadows and fairy paths. They are described as elf-like and having trickster's behavior.

Pixies are the most famous of the trooping fairies. They are no larger than the human hand, but are shape-shifters and can increase or decrease their size. They have pointed noses, pointed ears, translucent wings, and large heads. They were tricksters and would often cause humans to get lost or lead them around in circles. They also had midwifery skills and herbal knowledge, and were famed for their work in gold, silver and bronze. Whereever the pixies go they leave a trail of dust and sparkles.

Dwarfs – Dwarfs dwell in mountains in Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia. They are legendary for their mining and metalwork skills. They could be turned to stone by any contact with sunlight, so they only came out at night. They worked underground to avoid exposure to the sun. The elven kings and queens of Viking and Germanic tradition possessed magical and prophetic ability. They are made up of light and dark (good and not-so-good) elves.

Solitary Fairies - Some fairies live alone. They may be avoiding human contact or they may have been banished from the fairy court.

Household Fairies - Household fairies are attached to a certain family, not the dwelling. They are usually solitary fairies who guard the children, pets and hearth. They can also help with household chores.

Brownies - Brownies are the most famous of the household fairies in Scotland and England. While they prefer to work outdoors they will complete tasks unfinished by mortals. They are good at building with wood, baking bread, and repairing broken tools. They also bring good fortune when they adopt a home.

From my own research

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