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I think it's good to start with this article on the Slua Sí. A good subtitle would be not all the fae are nice: http://lairbhan.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-slua-si.html
In Scottish folklore the most daunting fairies are those of the Sluagh (Briggs, 1976). The Slua travels in whirlwinds, or on the wind more generally and because of this the whirlwind is called the séideán sídhe [fairy blast] or sitheadh gaoithe [thrust of wind] and sometimes by the similar sounding name of sí gaoithe [fairy wind] (O hOgain, 1995; MacKillop, 1998). Usually invisible to mortal eyes while traveling in the form of a wind, in Scotland the Slua is also said to appear in the form of clouds (Carmichael, 1900). The Slua is most likely to be active at midnight and most often appears at night in general, but can show up at any time, sometimes startling farmers working in the fields (Evans Wentz, 1911). Anyone who had reason to be out at night, and more so if they were out alone, needed to be careful to avoid the fairy host.

The Slua sí were known to force a human to go along with them while they engaged in their malicious endeavors, making the unlucky person aid them in their activities (O Suilleabhain, 1967). These endeavors often included kidnapping other people....Anyone caught out alone, especially at night, or in a place they shouldn't be in could be swept up by the Slua with little choice but to go along with the Fairy Host until they were released....In folklore people taken by the Slua sí could be taken and left far away, sometimes in foreign countries with no option but to find their way slowly home, or else may be returned to the place where they were taken mostly unharmed. The Slua is utterly capricious in how they treat those they take.

There are also tales of those who were out walking at night and saw another person who had been or was being taken by the Slua, usually as the Slua was passing near the bystander. A folk method to get the Host to release anyone they may have taken is to throw the dust from the road, an iron knife, or your left shoe towards them while saying "This is yours; that is mine!" (McNeill, 1956).Those known to have been taken and released were gone to for advice relating to the fairies and seen as being quite knowledgeable about them, just as those who had more amicable relationships with the fairies were (O Suilleabhain, 1967).

The Slua may include fairy horses, hounds, and a variety of fairy beings, as well as the human dead....[T]here is no simple division to be found here and it is likely that the Slua represent both fairies who were never human and some who may once have lived as humans but are now counted among the fairy host.

The fairy host, like other fairies, is usually invisible to humans but can be sensed in the appearance of a sudden wind and the sound of voices, armor clinking, or people shouting (O Suilleabhain, 1967)....Some say the Slua appears as a dust devil which moves over roads and hedges as the Good Neighbors travel (JCHAS, 2010). When the whirlwind appeared people would react by averting their eyes, turning their backs, and praying, or else saying "Good luck to them, the ladies and gentlemen" (O hOgain, 1995; JCHAS, 2010, p. 319). This of course reflects the common practice of appeasing the more dangerous fairies both by speaking of them in polite, positive terms and also of wishing them well, giving a blessing in hopes they respond in kind. This was done to avert any harm caused by the close proximity of the Host and to hopefully avoid drawing their attention in a negative way. The sí gaoithe [fairy wind] which indicated the Slua was present, could bring illness or cause injury as it passed by, contributing to its fearsome reputation (MacKillop, 1998).

The Slua was known for being mercurial and prone to malicious behavior and unlike more sedentary types of Fair Folk they are not easily appeased but most often must be warded off, usually with iron, driven away, or out-witted. They are strongly associated with the Unseelie court and one Queen of the Unseelie, Nicnevin, in particular.
If you'd like to read more about them, there's a well-regarded thread on the topic that really picks up steam here: topic45835-10.html?hilit=sluagh#p478638


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There's another thread on what to call them..."What's in a Name? Imp, Elf, Fairy, Good Neighbor" is found at https://lairbhan.blogspot.com/2017/05/w ... -good.html
When it comes to the denizens of Fairy, what's in a name? As it happens a lot, but there's also a great deal of confusion because many of the terms in English that we apply today to specific beings are rooted in generic terms that were once interchangeable. The water is further muddied by the widespread use of euphemisms, designed to encourage a positive response should you attract the attention of anything Otherworldly. These terms which we now think of as exclusively applying to one specific type of Otherworldly being a few hundred years ago, or less, were used synonymously with each other and different groupings of terms had certain connotations for good or ill. What one called the beings popularly named fairies today would dictate the way they would respond, and whether that response would be friendly or hostile....

However all of these various terms [in the poem the author quotes which I have left out] are treated synonymously rather than as unique terms for different types of beings. There is no idea that these are different types of beings, but rather that these are all terms that someone might choose to apply to the same being. This reflects an older understanding that saw the members of Fairy more fluidly and less rigidly categorized.

The first two terms mentioned, which are used together, are imp and elf. Imp comes to us as a term in older forms of English that originally denoted a child but by the 16th century had become a term for a small devilish being (Harper, 2017). Similarly the English word elf during that period was often used to both describe a malicious creature, often used interchangeably with incubus and goblin, as well as more generically to describe any Otherworldly being (Williams, 1991). There was often a fine, sometimes indistinguishable, line between the demonic and the Otherworldly and it was not uncommon in older sources to see the same being described by one person as a demon or incubus and by another as an elf or fairy. The activities of some of these beings was also a grey area that could be considered evil as it may involve seduction, violence, or death. So we see in the first line of the poem two terms often used to indicate potentially dangerous beings, with the warning that to call them such is to invite the danger they represent.

Next we see the term fairy*, with the warning that to call them that invites great misery. The term fairy is actually a complicated one, of obscure origin, which was originally used to describe the Otherworld itself - the world of Fairy - and as an adjective for beings from that world or a type of enchantment (Williams, 1991). Only later would the word itself shift to indicate an individual being. In this sense it is strongly reminiscent of the Irish term 'sidhe' (later sí) which in the same way is a word indicating a place and used as an adjective, but that has recently started to be used to indicate the individual beings. When it comes to the word fairy in early sources, including Chaucer, we see the beings referred to often as elves and their world as Fairy (Williams, 1991). Why this word would offend them may seem less clear to us today...Since early sources do not indicate the word fairy caused any insult I would suggest that it was this pejorative association that was the source of the offense and with their dislike for the term....

Next we see the term Good Neighbor, one of the more well know euphemisms. I haven't been able to trace how far back this one goes, but I do know that the use of euphemisms has a long history. For example we can find the term Fair Folk [Fair Folkis] in a work from 1513 by Gavin Douglas. The idea of euphemisms is simple: you use a nice term for them and they respond in a nice way. This is illustrated by the poem itself, "If Good Neighbor you call me, then good neighbor I will be". As such we see all the euphemisms reflecting positive qualities, from Good Neighbor and Fair Folk, to Good People and the Gentry.

The final term used in the poem is Seelie wicht, a name we are assured that will gain us the friendship of the Fey folk 'both day and night' if it's used. Wicht is a Scots term, also found in related languages including Old English, Icelandic, and German, that simply means a living thing. Sometimes seen as wight in English it is often used in combination with good as a term for the fairies; guid wichts, good wights, the fairies. Seelie is a Scots term that means lucky, blessed, fortunate. So, in effect, seelie wicht means 'lucky or blessed being'. Understandable why they'd be so pleased at the use of this term then. It is also seen in one of the more well known Scots euphemisms for the fairies, Seelie court, which has grown into a complex concept in itself.

So, what's in a name? Ultimately the meaning and context of the name seems to be the key to whether it pleases or offends the Othercrowd when we call them by it. They respond well to being complimented and flattered with favorable terms, explaining perhaps why the use of euphemisms became so popular, and are angered at being insulted. To offend them is to risk their wrath; to please them is to invite their blessing.


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Then there's this bit on "Fairy Etiquette" at http://lairbhan.blogspot.com/2017/07/fa ... uette.html:
Consider this a bit of a crash course - or the cliff notes version - in fairy etiquette. Like anything else on this subject for every rule or guideline there's an exception (see my last blog on eating fairy food if you don't understand what I mean by that) but this offers the broad strokes. Before reading this its important to keep in mind that the Fair Folk in general are not humans and are not like humans; as Yeats would have it they have few unmixed emotions and are beings of extremes, both good and bad. Often what they do seems perplexing to us, sometimes capricious and sometimes cruel. We cannot approach this subject expecting them to be or do what humans would in any circumstance but we must look at the system they operate in as a guideline to understand their etiquette which is distinct from our own....t is not an equal playing board but one on which they have different sets of rules for themselves and for mortals. This must be understood to understand anything else about them.

So then this guide to etiquette is not so much about the etiquette of fairies among themselves, [but of] etiquette for humans dealing with fairies:

1. Don't lie to the Good People - Fairies are always honest; in folklore and my own experience the Daoine Maithe don't lie but always speak the truth. I suspect this is why they can be tricked in ways we perceive as 'easy' sometimes...Of course as I have mentioned more than once before this does not in any way keep them from tricking us by telling us nothing but the truth in ways that get us to assume a conclusion that is not true. Semantics is an artform of which they are masters. Because they do not lie they don't expect dishonesty from humans either and as you may imagine they react badly to being lied to.

2. Keep your word - Building off that last one, should you ever be in the position to make a promise or take an oath to a member of the Othercrowd under no circumstances should you break your word. They don't grade on a curve for this one - a promise is a promise and an oath is an oath. Do what you say you will do.

3. Lending and Borrowing - It happens that the Good Neighbors do sometimes ask the loan of things from us, and it usually wise to give it. This can range from food to grain to items (usually household items or farm equipment). They always repay their debts, most often with interest but not always in kind...Humans may also borrow from the Gentry but slightly more caution is required as folklore tells us that a deadline for re-payment is always set and must not be missed.

4. The Issue of Wash Water - This one is a bit complex, but generally speaking, one should not throw dirty water on the ground without an audible warning first, to alert the fairies, and one should not pour such water out over a large rock, lest it be the abode of fairies. Fairies abhor filth and seem to have an especial hatred of dirty water and urine (both of which can be used as protection against them). There is also the matter of having dirty water standing in the home, something that was more common in the past when people would come in and wash their feet; this 'foot water' depending on the area of belief would either drive fairies away or conversely allow them entry into an otherwise protected home.

5. Gifts - If offered a gift it is wise to accept it and to offer something in return; however fairy gifts are rarely what the seem. That which seems valuable initially often turns out to be worthless and that which seems like nothing at first is often revealed to be quite valuable. Fairy gifts are also, as often as not, traps, and so great caution should be used with them....Gifts are never straightforward. You really have to use your head here, because accepting them can be a good idea and refusing them can anger the fairies, but sometimes refusing them is the best choice.

6. Nothing is Free - Related to the subjects of lending/borrowing and gifts, try to keep in mind that nothing is free. Even gifts that are given as true gifts without hidden traps still come with obligations. Fairy is a very feudal system in that respect, everything is tied together through debts and obligations and what's owed to who. If you give to them then they owe you in return, even if that owing is paid back simply by not causing you mischief. If they give you gifts then gifts are expected in return. Reciprocity and obligatory return are the foundations of their society, at least in much of folklore and my experience.

7. Never Say Thank You - It is a widespread belief, although not ubiquitous, that one shouldn't say thank you to the fairies. I have heard one theory behind this, that it implies a debt to them, a blank check if you will, that would allow them to decide how you repay them. Another theory suggests it is dismissive and implies you feel superior to them. Whatever is the case you should try to avoid saying it. Offering a gift in exchange for something you feel you've received can be a good idea, or saying something else along the lines of expressing gratitude for what happened without saying thank you directly, such as 'I am so happy with ---' or 'I really appreciate ---'.

8. Silence - it is possible for a person to have the favor of the Other Crowd and to gain by it. However the fairies have a strict rule about a person not speaking of experiences or blessing they get from the Good People. I think this is why we have more negative stories than positive and why we have more stories of single encounters than multiple ones. A person can sometimes get permission to speak or to reveal things, but the general rule is that to keep their favor you must stay silent about their activity in your life. Those who brag about fairy blessings or gifts almost always lose them and the future possibility of them.

9. Privacy - Fairies really, really do not like being spied on or having their privacy invaded. Many stories in folklore involve a person who stumbles across the Good People doing their normal thing, is seen watching, and punished severely - in only a few cases does the person manage to talk their way out of any repercussions. Its a good idea to respect their places and to trust your instincts when you feel like you should or shouldn't go somewhere. If you do happen upon fairies it is probably best to stay quiet and hidden, and wait for them to move on, unless they make it clear from the start they know you are there.


It is very much worth emphasizing that these guidelines draw from the traditional lore of living fae and do not apply as hard and fast rules for spirit companions. But they would make a fantastic starting point for bonding with a spirit companion if you have never had one from among the fae before--an ice breaker.


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And, to follow up on the "thank you" taboo: http://lairbhan.blogspot.com/2018/01/fa ... k-you.html
I have to be honest, I don't remember where I learned this one. I have wracked my brain but I can't remember where I may have read it or who might have told me about it originally. As far back as I can remember it has just been a rule I lived by: you speak politely and you never say thank you. When I initially tried to track down where I'd heard it and came up empty I started to wonder if I'd made it up, however further research did provide some validation.

Anecdotally I have met a variety of people across demographics who share this prohibition, not only with strictly Celtic fairies but also with less clearly culturally defined one. I also found a reference in Katherine Briggs Dictionary of Fairies to this taboo. This is something that we can see directly with some specific fairies like brownies and pixies who will become enraged if thanked verbally.

Why is this a taboo? It is hard to say as folklore offers no clear explanation, but we can offer a few suggestions. One school of thought is that saying thank you implies that the Daoine Uaisle are in some way lesser than you and serving you, which offends them - and is why they react with anger. Another thought is that saying 'thank you' is seen as acknowledging a debt owed, and it is never a good idea to owe an unspecified debt to any of the Good People. It is also possible that saying thank you, or overtly acknowledging what They have done for you, is problematic because they prefer not to have that sort of attention or focus on themselves.

What then is one to do if one feels the Other Crowd have done something helpful or kind? Briggs suggests that, "no fault can be found with a bow or curtsy" (Briggs, 1976, p196). I have found that a gift returned for a gift works well, as does a general expression of gratitude for the event or item itself (not the giver). Saying things like 'I am so glad that this worked out this way' or 'I am so happy that this is here' for example.
You can find a short discussion among forum members about this here: topic71658.html


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On "Fairies, Gender Identity, and Sexuality." I'm going to quote almost the whole thing. It's pretty information-dense, and it was hard to determine what to weed out: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/201 ... sexuality/
[A] question was raised a few times about the connection between fairies and non-binary identities or more widely gender identities and sexuality.... [L]ike so many things with the Good People the answer is complicated and impossible to answer concisely. Ultimately the answer to whether they are within the human gender binary and sexuality of traditional Western society is yes, no, and maybe across a swath of different cultural expressions and time periods.

Folkloric Fairies In the Binary
There is evidence for fairies in folklore and literature within a traditional gender binary. In older folklore while sometimes appearing androgynous or effeminate fairies were generally strongly gendered and sexual. Female fairies appear, particularly in literature, as definitively female, alluring, and often beautiful by the standards of the time; male fairies while sometimes described as slightly more androgynous, especially the aelfe, are nonetheless clearly described as male, overtly sexual or masculine, and when they fit within contemporary gender roles they do so in an exemplary fashion. They are described in older stories as distinctly male or female, and both are often explicitly sexual to a point that various types of fairies were equated to incubi or succubi. They are well known in stories for both being described in and acting in ways within the binary and also fathering or bearing children with humans. There’s no example as far as I’m aware of in an older story of fairies being gender fluid, switching genders, or similar. The only existing evidence we have supports heterosexuality, although given the sources for this evidence in stories – either death by seduction or reproduction – there isn’t enough evidence to actually support a definitive conclusion.

Folkloric Fairies Breaking the Binary
Despite the blatant male and female gendering of fairies and lack of evidence for gender fluidity or homosexuality, we can’t exactly rush to say that therefore fairies fit into easily defined gender or sexual categories. While fairies as they appear in stories are clearly gendered that gendering itself is fluid in a wider sense, as we see with the Norse and Anglo-Saxon alfar and aelfe who initially are only male beings but in later periods shift into both male and female beings and in some areas even primarily female beings (Hall, 2007). In a more specific sense while we may see male and female fairies in folklore they often act against existing gender norms within their root culture with male fairies doing what would be defined as ‘woman’s work’. This may be further supported by the activities of Fairy Queens in ballads and literature who often appear as powerful female figures, even sometimes eclipsing their kings, during periods when political and social power was the usual domain of men, showing that female fairies were just as likely to take on male social roles as male fairies were to take on female ones. Fairy Queens were also overtly sexual, dangerously so in some cases, intertwining death and fertility, and breaking a common social boundary of the early modern period by teaching women’s skills and knowledge to men, such as the Scottish witch Andro Man (Purkiss, 2000). Buccola says that “Fairy gender identities were, thusly, highly ambiguous...” and that “fairies indiscriminately engage in activities socially ascribed to men or women specifically” (Buccola, 2006, page 41).

Although I did say we don’t have any indication of gender fluidity in fairies that isn’t strictly true, although the source must be kept in mind. There is nothing to my knowledge in myth or folklore about a fairy or fairylike being changing gender or appearing to be genderless but there is such in the grimoire material, at list implicitly. Several of the grimoires that deal with fairies mention female fairies and how to summon and command them but also describe these beings as dukes of Hell, even going so far as to say that their appearance as female beings is illusion despite elsewhere giving instructions on how to summon them as the magician’s lover (Harm, Clark, & Peterson, 2015). At best this is highly uncertain but could be interpreted as gender fluidity; it indicates a lack of concern with specific gender roles that we do see elsewhere in other material.

Social Transgression, Humans, and Fairies
Fairies have always transgressed human social mores, for example the fairy wives who would weep at births and laugh at funerals. They dance wildly and freely in the night when human societies dictate rigid structure to dancing, they bless or curse seemingly on whims, and they cross more ephemeral lines as well by associating with the dead and stealing the living. As Yeats said in Celtic Twilight they are beings of unmixed emotions, and this perhaps more than anything is shown in their willingness to engage with humanity as well as substitute their own rules and mores for human ones. Humans they like, for any inexplicable reason, are rewarded while those they dislike, again sometimes for even the smallest infraction, are punished cruelly.

Fairies have also been associated with specific humans who transgressed social norms and broke boundaries for as long as we have stories of them. The people they were most likely to steal were humans during periods of social liminality, be that birth, marriage, illness, or death (Narvaez, 1991). The witches and wise women said to have gained their knowledge from dealing with fairies were also either approached during liminal times, such as Bessie Dunlop who met the Queen of Elfame while Bessie was in labour with her child, or were people on the margins of society who had already been othered to a degree. Ann Jeffries, a young woman much entangled with fairies in 17th century England, was said to be unusually bold and daring described by author Regina Buccola as “[refusing] to conform to social standards governing gendered behavior even before she was under fairy tutelage” (Buccola, 2006, page 181).

Fairies have also been associated over time with groups of humans who transgressed as opposed to individuals....

Those Pesky Victorians
The picture we have up to the mid-1800’s or so is one of fairies as gendered, ambiguous, transgressing, sexual beings. That all changed as the Victorian period and its influence came in and fairies outside traditional cultures were re-imagined as more childlike and eventually more innocent, although the innocence retained something of an edge. As Purkiss points out in her book ‘At the Bottom of the Garden’ this innocent depiction is difficult for modern audiences to properly interpret as it seems to include a great deal of underlying innuendo that may or may not have been intentional. Fairies in artwork become more childlike physically as we see in the work of Cicely Mary Barker for example and the overt sexuality of traditional fairies is slowly replaced by a subtle sexuality or even asexuality.

Modern Views, Anecdotes, and Fiction
After the Victorians re-envisioned fairies understandings of them were further influenced by theosophy and the new age movement which saw fairies as nature spirits and elemental beings, often depicting or describing them as non-physical and sometimes genderless. Moving into the late 19th and 20th century we start to see anecdotal accounts also reflecting these ideas with stories of people encountering fairies who have no overt genders and for whom sexuality doesn’t seem to be a factor. 20th century pagan authors and fiction writers would also carry this forward with descriptions and in some cases even very specific taxonomy of fairies that explicitly defined them as androgynous and asexual. This view still dominates in certain schools of thought, while the older traditional views still exist as well creating an inevitable tension in trying to understand fairies too narrowly.

Fairies and the Liminal
Fairies have always represented the liminal, the outliers, the forbidden, and the things disallowed by society. In times of repression they were symbols of excess and exuberant joy even in their destruction and danger. I started this by saying that the answer to fairies’ gender and sexuality was ‘yes, no, and maybe’ and that is the most honest answer. The human understanding of the subject has evolved and changed across the centuries but the one constant has been that fairies are always transgressors in relation to human norms. Are they part of the human gender binary? There is certainly evidence that they are and that they act within it, particularly to create children and to prey on humans. Are they outside the human gender binary? Also yes, in that there is evidence that they have always defied human gender roles and acted not only against them in many cases but also moved between them as it pleased them to. The question of sexuality is where the maybe comes in, as there simply isn’t enough information to definitively say anything beyond that fairies historically were often very sexual beings, but in modern contexts may be more varied.
There's a forum topic on this here: topic16401.html


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Of course, a perennial question is (according to the lore) what does fiction get right, and what does it get wrong: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/201 ... l-fairies/

I thought this bit really, really bore mentioning by itself (emphasis mine):
In and of itself its fine to have beliefs from odd sources – entire religions are founded on fiction and there’s nothing wrong with deciding to go with a belief you gleaned from a novel – it only becomes a problem when its put forward as genuinely older folk belief and becomes mainstream. Because when that happens, when it becomes popular under the guise of genuine traditional folklore, it actively erases the older cultural folklore which in many places is already struggling.

When a dominant culture starts to rewrite minority folklore not from a place of belief but for entertainment, even if those rewritten ideas are then absorbed again as beliefs, it’s a big problem. Not only because it accelerates the decline of the original culture but also because it raises the question of how much depth these new beliefs actually have to them.
Then on the the body of the article:
Where Fiction Gets it Right
...Iron – most books I’ve seen do correctly make iron a substance fairies avoid or are harmed by. Different authors handle this a variety of ways because folklore is vague on the how and why of iron’s apotropaic qualities. It is widespread and well known and something that is found in many books in a way that is either true to folklore or fairly close.

‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ – although it’s often played as a trope, and sometimes terribly mauled especially in young adult novels, many authors do follow the Scottish folklore of there being two groups of fairies, one of which is more positively inclined towards humans the other being more malevolent. While this isn’t a universal concept it is from Scottish folklore specifically and has gained wider popularity.

Human-sized Fairies – a bit more hit or miss but increasingly more common in books to see fairies being depicted in a range of human sizes rather than as tiny. In folklore its clear that fairies appeared in many different forms and could be tall or short. While we do see some very tiny fairies those are actually rare in folklore and very specific in location and backstory. Most fairies are described as being between 4 and 6 feet tall, occasionally a bit shorter or taller.

Variety – Fiction is usually pretty good about breaking out of the idea that fairies are all tiny winged sprite-like beings and instead including a selection of different beings. This is true to folklore, where the word fairy is a generic term for an Otherworldly being. Also fiction recently seems to be doing well using synonymous terms like fae along with various spellings of fairy, all of which are inline with folklore (fun fact there’s something like 90 different recorded spellings for the word ‘fairy’ in writing since the term first appeared.)

Time Shift Between Worlds – The fiction I’ve read does a good job of staying true to the idea that there is a time shift between our world and Fairy, which is very accurate to folklore.


Where Fiction Gets It Wrong
...Multiple Named Courts – In Scottish folklore there are two courts of Fairy, the Seelie and the Unseelie; in other folklore there aren’t named courts at all. But its become popular in fiction over the last 20 years or so to expand the Scottish system, first including a third ‘wyld’ court then going further. One series has 7, while a popular RPG has more than a dozen. This is something I know for a fact is finding its way into paganism because I am often asked about it and run across people referring to ‘courts’ I recognize from specific books or games.

[Who's] In Charge? – Modern fiction has not only created new named courts but has also given new Queens to the existing Seelie and Unseelie courts of Scottish lore. These range depending on the story but Shakespeare’s fairy queens, Mab and Titania, often put in appearances. This is also highly problematic from the perspective of actual folklore where the Queen of the Unseelie court is usually understood to be Nicnevin and the Seelie queen is never named; putting English fairy Queens on Scottish fairy thrones is a lot of politics that are painful to even consider and speak of authors choosing names out of convenience rather than doing research[(emphasis mine)]. Some books choose random deities to head a known fairy court – usually the traditional Seelie and Unseelie – while in other cases entirely new beings have been invented.

Unseelie Emo Love Interests – Super popular trope in young adult urban fantasy and also edging into adult genres. The idea that the Unseelie aka the ‘Bad’ fairies, are actually the good guys and just need the right person to show them their good guy potential/save them/motivate them/whatever. Cue My Chemical Romance playlist here. The reality is that while the Unseelie are certainly more nuanced than straight up evil they certainly aren’t a bunch of eternal teenage boys looking for the love of a good misfit.

Important Humans – This one makes complete sense in a novel, because obviously in most stories the main character (MC) is going to be human and therefore obviously special and significant and get into magical adventures. So we see lots of stories where the human MC is absolutely pivotal to the local fairies, meets the Queen, marries the prince, saves the world, etc., The reality in folklore is that when fairies take an interest in humans its always for a reason and that reason is always to the fairies’ advantage. In some cases they would connect to human witches and teach them, true, but the witch always had reciprocal obligations. In most stories the human ended up as a servant, entertainment, or breeding stock. Basically in folklore (and reality) humans aren’t the center of very much.

Over Anthropomorphizing – Not physically but emotionally and mentally. In folklore it’s clear that fairies are very alien in their motivation and actions to human beings yet in fiction they often act pretty much like humans. This lends itself to an increasing idea that fairies are kinder and nicer than they often appear in folklore and also changes the way people approach interacting with them. In folklore they often seem cruel and it may not be that they are but that we are unable to understand their motivations most of the time. Like mice trying to understand house cats.
The author comes back to why this important, and I think that bears repeating again (emphasis is mine again):
People often question why any of this matters, why we should care whether a belief is genuinely folkloric or pulled from modern fiction or invention. There is of course a fluidity to folklore that means today’s urban legend is tomorrow’s folk belief and sometimes today’s fiction becomes the folk belief of the next century. This is a particularly touchy question in modern paganism where people are often looking for any and all sources on a subject like fairies. But I think Nimue Brown sums it well in a recent blog, saying that there is a difference between being part of a culture and its evolution and being outside of it and taking material from it to use outside its context. Too often what’s being taken as belief from modern fiction is the latter, material that is disconnected from actual cultural belief and born simply as a plot device.

If you are seeking to incorporate belief in fairies into your spirituality, to approach belief in them the way the modern living cultures that believe in them do, I suggest treating them as you would a foreign human culture you are interested in learning about. And I would sincerely hope, to forward that analogy, if you want to learn about Ireland you would look to solid non-fiction sources and accounts written by people with first hand experience, rather than fiction. In the same way with fairies while fiction can be fun and entertaining we need to be careful not to blur that line and start seeing it as depicting actual folklore, because most of the time it isn’t.


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"Why Do We View Fairies As Nature Spirits?" (http://lairbhan.blogspot.com/2019/03/wh ... irits.html) has the bonus of coming with a YouTube video (https://youtu.be/kggX1Eybhl8)
It's a widespread idea at this point particularly in modern paganism and popular Western culture that fairies are nature spirits, that is that they are intrinsically bound to our natural world in some way. This idea is often simply stated as fact, implied to have always been true, or even argued as the older or more legitimate belief. In paganism its one aspect of a current trend I'm seeing to homogenize and simplify fairies by defining them as easily as possible, erasing all the nuances and complexity that we find in the actual folklore and beliefs.

I'm not telling anyone what to believe but what does bother me is seeing people claiming that the idea of fairies as spirits of nature is ancient, from a Celtic culture, or in line with folklore. Of course there are examples of beings that we might now classify as fairies from various cultures...that are heavily tied into nature and might fit the description of a nature spirit....

So what then is a nature spirit? I don't think there is any one agreed on definition of this term which is used rather nebulously by different groups. The most basic view of course is that a nature spirit is a spirit of nature, that is a spirit which inhabits or ensouls any natural object or phenomena....

What is a fairy? At its most basic a fairy is an Otherworldly being, although the term is often applied more to such beings from the Celtic cultural milieu than elsewhere. The word is also often used as an adjective, hence 'fairy woman' (bean sidhe), fairy godmother, or fairy hound to describe a more specific type of being that is from Fairy/the Otherworld....Many, many different kinds of Otherworldly beings that are known in folklore and anecdotes under specific names from Brownies to Urisgs, from Bean Sidhe to Each Uisce, would fall under the wider term of fairy.

While many modern pagans and some non-pagan academics may view fairies, in toto, now as nature spirits that is definitely not how they have been understood across history, although as noted some nature spirits do fall into the wider definition of 'fairy'. Rather from its inception in the 12th and 13th centuries the word fairy was applied to beings from the Otherworld (i.e. the world of Fairy) that is beings who were inherently not from the human world. Fairies could pass between the human world and their own world as they chose to, could be seen or be invisible, could - in fact were known to - change their habitations regularly. They were even known to emigrate across oceans with populations or individuals something nature spirits cannot do being bioregion specific. While they may defend natural locations or things like a tree or boulder this is never done because its a tree or boulder but because it belongs to the fairies, or put another way it isn't based on a desire to protect the environment generally but out of territoriality (the same as humans fighting over territory will defend what they perceive to be theirs). As often as we see stories of fairies defending a fairy tree we see stories of them striking a person down for building on a fairy road or fouling a fairy well; its the violation of their possession of a space not the natural world they are angry over.

So, how did this current Westernized view comes about? It was a confluence of different factors rooted in upper and later middle class media and occultism, which explains why the viewpoint is predominantly found today in popculture and modern paganism, but is less common in cultures that still hold older views and understandings of fairies. A concise timeline of the shift in how mainstream Western culture viewed fairies in relation to nature:

-Victorian Era - The Victorian era ran from roughly 1837 to 1901, encompassing the reign of British monarch Queen Victoria. It marked a period that included the end of the Industrial Revolution and many social changes including the growth of the middle class in both the United States and Britain. This period is notable for its romanticism of nature and the natural world, poetic appreciation of paganism and pagan themes, and its radical re-envisioning of fairies in art and literature. Victorian culture, divorced from actual belief in fairies, instead made them the fodder of entertainment infantilizing them, diminishing them, and gentling them in character and appearance, among many other things*.

-Theosophy - beginning in the last quarter of the 19th century Theosophy was the precursor for the 20th century New Age movement and drew on concepts from Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, and Rosicrucianism. It forwarded an understanding of fairies drawn from a blend if contemporary cultural romanticism of nature (see previous point) and the 15th century alchemical classification of fairies as elemental beings. Combining these two concepts resulted in a view of fairies as tied to natural elements and strongly connected to the natural world.

-Edwardians - following the Victorian era we move into the Edwardian, and we see a continuation of the shift in fairies in mainstream culture. JM Barrie's Peter Pan play and book are released during this time and the infamous Cottingley fairy pictures begin at the end of this era; both typify the way that modern popular culture has come to view fairies as small, fairly harmless**, and connected to the natural world in dress, home, and appearance. Immediately following this period we see Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairy books emerging which crystalize all of the previous influences into a single form: the fairy as small nature spirit.

-20th Century Pagans - moving into the later 20th century we find these previous influences taken into different corners of paganism and appearing in diverse books. Fairies are defined as spirits of nature, often directly conflated to elementals using the classical alchemical system, and sometimes further seen as guardians of nature and guides to human evolution and right relationship with the earthly world.

This modern view of fairies as nature spirits then is one that has been woven across the last 150 years or so initially coming from groups who did not necessarily believe in fairies but were indulging in a need for entertainment using fairies as the players on the stage, taken from there back into belief, then out again, then back in. This process has largely divorced the fairy-as-nature-spirit from the folkloric fairy, and even perhaps the actual nature spirits from the popular culture ideas of nature-fairies.

Ultimately we can perhaps argue that some fairies are nature spirits, given how loose the definitions of both terms are, but it's an egregious oversimplification to say that all fairies are spirits of nature. We can also say that people who are seeking nature spirits and calling them fairies are getting nature spirits and this undoubtedly adds to the current muddy waters on the subject. But we must be very careful not to generalize out and assume that all fairies are nature spirits because some may be, or even because the ones that a certain author writes about or a certain person connects to are. The bulk of fairylore and modern anecdotal accounts from living cultures with active fairy beliefs show that these Otherworldly beings are not directly tied to the natural world but are travellers who come and go here.

The best way to understand fairies is to look to the living cultures the beliefs come from. Much of what we have as mainstream or popculture beliefs, while not necessarily useless, must be understood in context to really be understood. If you want to understand nature spirits, look to the world around you and work to connect to it; if you want to understand fairies look to generations of gathered knowledge, experience, and be very careful. One of these things is not like the other.
There's a forum topic on this subject here: post463742.html?hilit=stories#p463742


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This one is a little more current-events-y--"The Re-emergence of the Fair Folk in the Ordinary World" (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbecke ... world.html) but I think it carries some very good short and simple reminders for those interacting with living Fae (emphasis mine):
Start with The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries by Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz. It’s a survey of encounters with a variety of fae in the Celtic lands. It was first published in 1911 – most of the stories in it are from the 19th century. It’s a book that likely could not be written today, in part because most of the believers in the Otherfolk have died off, and in part because no serious academic today could dare write a book so sympathetic to the supernatural without killing their career.

A quote:
The great majority of men in cities are apt to pride themselves on their own exemption from ‘superstition’ and to smile pityingly at the poor countrymen and countrywomen who believe in fairies. But when they do so they forget that, with all their own admirable progress in material invention, with all the far-reaching data of their acquired science, with all the vast extent of their commercial and economic conquests, they themselves have ceased to be natural.
After that, get Morgan Daimler’s book Fairycraft: Following The Path Of Fairy Witchcraft, particularly if you think you want to “work with the faeries....”

This is not a “what are the fae?” post, but I will say this: everything Disney taught you about faeries is wrong, and dangerous. They are not small, cute, and harmless. They range in size from tiny to giants, and while some are creatures of amazing beauty, others are the stuff of nightmares. As with humans, outward appearance is no guide to inner qualities. Some see us as occasionally useful simpletons, some as entertaining playthings, and some as lunch.

Almost all the legends and tales say they either cannot lie or will not lie, but they can and will twist the truth so grotesquely you’ll think up is down. If you deal with them, pay careful attention and be scrupulous with your word. Do not promise what you cannot, will not, or do not want to do.

I say the Fair Folk are re-emerging in the ordinary world (do not call it “our world” for it was once theirs, and they have not forgotten this), but they never really went away, not entirely. Perhaps they came into this world less often, but mainly we stopped noticing them, and we ridiculed those who did.

Now we’re seeing them, hearing them, and feeling the impact of their presence on an increasingly frequent basis....

Given what our ancestors thought of the fae, why should we deal with them at all? Why not just ignore them when we can and placate them with whiskey and cream when we can’t?

Because there is much we can learn from them. Now, do not think for a minute they are here to be our teachers. If they are in this world, they are here for their own reasons, not to “help us learn and grow in love and light” or anything naïve and self-centered like that. That’s one of the things we can learn from them – to remember that life isn’t all about us and to respect the sovereignty of all beings. We can learn to be true to our word, and we can learn to be so precise in our language that our magic improves because we’re always working for exactly what we want.

We should interact with the Fair Folk because we have common interests. Again, do not think for a minute they are “on our side.” They are on no one’s side but their own – forget that at your peril. While certain fae would be quite happy if we drove ourselves to extinction, we share this world with them, or at least parts of it. And if the Earth becomes inhospitable for us, it is likely to become inhospitable for them as well. We have a common interest in caring for the Earth, or at least not screwing it up even worse than we already have.

Mainly, though, we should deal honestly with the Good Neighbors because they are our neighbors. If we treat them like good neighbors, then good neighbors they will be. If we treat them condescendingly, dismissively, or aggressively, then they will be our enemies and they will make our lives far more difficult and unpleasant than they need to be.

The virtues of hospitality and reciprocity apply to all our neighbors....


But our world is changing rapidly and not for the better. We need the help of all our allies, which means we need to be allies worthy of help. The Fair Folk are re-emerging in the ordinary world. Take the time to learn a thing or two about them so they will be more likely to see you as an honorable person who they can deal with honorably.


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Less scholarly, but just as thoughtful is "Why the Fair Folk aren't Nature Spirits" (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbecke ... irits.html)
When you say the Fair Folk are nature spirits, you’re trying to force them into a box where all of them don’t fit well and some of them don’t fit at all.

Our ancestors didn’t see them as nature spirits
Read the stories our not-so-distant ancestor told about the Good Neighbors. They described them as men and women, often of unusual but not extraordinary appearance, and frequently dressed out of date. But they described them using human terms – many of them could pass for human, some without using glamours.

That doesn’t sound like a “nature spirit” to me.

As Morgan Daimler has pointed out before, while most of us conceive of fairies and such as spiritual beings, our ancestors saw them (sometimes literally) as persons with bodies, similar to us if not exactly like us....

I’m reimagining Paganism for our world, not trying to reconstruct the Paganism(s) of our ancestors line by line. But their beliefs and practices provide the foundation for mine. They didn’t think the Fair Folk were nature spirit, and although it took me a while to get there, neither do I....

The Fair Folk are the Fair Folk
If you attended the Morrigan Devotional Ritual at Mystic South last year or at Sacred Space this year, you saw some fairly standard invocations – particularly if you have any experience with ADF’s Core Order of Ritual. We invited the spirits of the land where we were to join us. We invited our ancestors of blood and of spirit. Of course we invited the Great Queen, who was our Guest of Honor. But we also had a separate invocation for the Fair Folk. We honored them as our Good Neighbors, for as Robert Chambers wrote in 1842 “If good neighbor you call me, then good neighbor I will be.”

The stories of our ancestors tell us they are proud people who do not tolerate slights and disrespect. They seem pleased with this change.

Attempts to lump them in with spirits of the land and of natural forces is inaccurate, unnecessary, and unwanted. They are the Fair Folk. That is how I understand them, and how I will relate to them.

You, of course, must do as you think best. Best of luck to you.


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Musing on "What is a Fairy?" (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/201 ... s-a-fairy/)
A Few Misunderstandings
First I want to tackle a couple things that have shown up in books across the decades. If any of these ideas work for you I’m not saying ditch them immediately but I do want people to be aware of the sources and consider not forwarding them as ancient.

-fairies as elementals – this came into paganism via theosophy which expanded on the 15th century idea from alchemy that each element was ruled by a spirit which were listed as sylphs, salamanders, undines, and gnomes. Theosophy took the idea further, along with viewing all fairies as nature spirits.
-fairies created by humans – this one came in, I think, from a specific book where the author suggested creating a fairy to serve the witch. What was actually being done was the creation of a magical servitor and it’s really unfortunate that the author chose to label it a fairy. Yes you can create energetic beings or thought forms. No you cannot create a fairy.

Nature Spirits
It’s really hard to pin down a clear definition of what a nature spirit is because the term itself is fairly new and different groups have very different ideas of what it means. Most, however, seem to at least generally agree that a nature spirit is a spirit tied or bound to the physical world, i.e. ‘nature’, in some way....I do see nature spirits in the same general category as fairies and often look at them as a kind of sub-grouping of fairies although I’m ambivalent about that; I worry that humans over-categorize everything and that if anything we should simply view these spirits as part of the wider grouping of fairies without worrying about it otherwise.

That said though, I don’t think there’s any solid argument for all fairies as nature spirits. Too many beings that we call fairies are not connected to anything in the natural world, are tied explicitly to humanity in some sense (such as the Leannan Sidhe or Redcaps), or have a transitory nature between this world and the Otherworld. Even as an animist I can’t simply say that all fairies are nature spirits because some simply aren’t, unless we broaden the definition of nature spirit out so widely that it would also encompass human beings and earthly animals, in which case everything is a nature spirit by default anyway.

So, some fairies are nature spirits but not all.

Humans
There’s a very long history of human beings, living and dead, joining the fairies. Folklore and anecdotal accounts make it clear that it is not only possible for a human being to become a fairy but that this is how the fairies increase their numbers to supplement what is often described as a low birthrate of their own. Stories of changelings, stolen brides, and the recently dead being seen among the fairy throng are widespread across all the Celtic language speaking cultures.

There is some debate as to whether the ‘dead’ humans are actually dead or were taken alive and magic used to make their family and community believe they had died, but for this article we’ll just assume that they were dead. There are some types of fairies who may have their roots in a human life cut short in some violent or tragic manner who then became a fairy as well. In any event it’s clear that humans can be a source of fairies, and we see this mentioned explicitly in the Ballad of Tam Lin and the story of Selena Moor.
That said we also know that humans, dead or otherwise, are not the only way fairies increase their numbers so not all fairies were originally human. There are references, including in the aforementioned Selena Moor, of fairies producing their own children and some changeling lore involves fairies trading their own sickly baby for a healthy human one. There are also some types of fairies that do not seem to be connected to taking or transforming humans, such as fairy hounds or leprechauns, meaning we do know that some fairies are not believed to be former humans.

So, some fairies were once human but not all.

Gods
Another explanation for some fairies is that they were once Gods. The Irish Tuatha De Danann for example were said to have gone into the fairy hills after being defeated by the Gaels and become the aos sidhe [people of the fairy hills]. Many named beings who we know were considered deities in mythology including the Dagda and Aine were also later described as Kings or Queens of fairy hills. We see this also with the Welsh Gwyn ap Nudd and his connection to the Welsh fairies. There is an undeniable connection between some Gods and the fairies.

However, just because some Gods are associated with the fairies, usually as rulers, doesn’t mean that all fairies are former pagan Gods or even that all types of fairies have their roots in a specific pagan deity (and by the way, no leprechaun isn’t connected to the God Lugh). The vast majority of Otherworldly beings are not Gods.

So, some fairies were once pagan gods but not all.

So Then What Are Fairies?
It is sometimes easier to say what fairies aren’t than to clarify what they are, but what we can say for certain, based on the long-term understandings of what fairies are, is that they are beings of the Otherworld, literally ‘of Fairy’. Are some of them what we might now call nature spirits? Are some of them human dead? Are some pagan Gods? Yes, clearly some fall into each of those groups. But no one category or explanation fits all of them.

The best way to understand what fairies are is to appreciate the nuances. There is no simple answer. Rather, what we see is a diverse grouping that encompasses an array of Otherworldly spirits and land spirits which we label fairies for convenience. Hundreds, if not thousands, of different kinds of named and even unnamed types of beings fall into this wide category and it makes sense that there is no easy way to understand them all as a whole beyond the broadest strokes.


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