Fairies have captured the minds of both children and adults alike for thousands of years but these powerful and illusive earth spirits often come with a stark silver lining. While I condone and often encourage ancestral and deity worship, I would be cautious with one's interest in working with our Good Neighbors, the Faye folk, or the People of the Mounds.
Perhaps, my Irish ancestry is peaking through, and the akashic record of my foremothers' and fathers' superstitions is playing a role in my stance, but while I respect the Faye and recognize them as a critical and integral part of nature I come with some food for thought for those who feel called to work within the parameters of these powerful earth elementals. Do note how I use the phrase “Within their parameters” as I really do mean to seek the counsel of the Earthly courts you have to be prepared and clever enough to play by their rules.
The Faye differ from the High Elves which are closer to beings like Freyja, and they have different laws and doctrines within their courts that must be respected and abided by if you wish to avoid their cold shoulder or worse their wrath!
While my tone may sound more strict in this blog post it is simply because I am a firm believer in respecting the space and the places we operate in, and many of these elementals feel encroached upon in their daily lives and have developed a great distaste for humans as a result.
So, without further ado let us gently and respectfully delve into the history, the folklore, and how-tos of working with and maintaining a sound relationship with the Faerie folk or as any superstitious Irish grandmother would refer to them as “The Good Neighbors”.
Elves Versus Faries
While both beings are very similar there are some key differences and geological/cultural differences to note. Elves are primarily mentioned in Nordic/Germanic texts while faeries as we know and understand them hail from Irish and Celtic lore. Elves from those proto-Germanic texts are described as tall human hybrid beings with pointed ears and are often seen as rather detached from the happenings of humanity, some scholars have even speculated that the Nordic tribe of gods known as the Vanir might also be elves.
Now the Faye folk are smaller, some the height of children, others no bigger than a small bird, nonetheless their iridescent wings should give them deadaway. But in order to understand just a small part of the inner workings of the Faye one must understand their origins which the Irish Celts took care to document what they could into their own mythology.
The Many Ages of Celtic Myth
Celtic/Irish mythology and folklore can be confusing to understand as it follows a very complex and ever winding timeline that flows in and out of Eras through the prehistoric ages of gods all the way to the dawn of man. This timeline though sprawling and ever-unfolding carries within it some critical keys to understanding the Faye who in many pretenses consider themselves the original people of the land humans now occupy.
Irish mythology is organized into four Cycles that recount the tales of the old gods and their exploits. These four cycles are referred to as the Mythological Cycle, The Finnian Cycle, The Ulster Cycle, and The Historical
Cycle (AKA the most current age of Humanity).
While I do want to delve into each of the Cycles (A blog post for another time), we are primarily going to focus on the first cycle, the Mythological Cycle which is the primordial age in which gods freely roamed the land. Also do remind yourself that these myths were forged long before Christianity came to Ireland when the people were predominantly polytheistic in their outlook .
In this mythical primordial age many clans and tribes came to what would become Ireland in a series of six invasions five of which were carried out by otherworldly beings. One specific clan of otherworldly beings were a group of gods who reffered to themselves as the Tuatha Dé Danann or the People of the Goddess Danu. The goddess Danu is seen as the primordial Mother goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann as well as the Irish goddess of the Earth and the land itself. This clan of people descended from the primordial Earth goddess would later become known as the modern-day Faerie folk.
The Tuatha Dé Danann had many fierce battles with a rival clan of gods known as the Fomorians and the two fueded until finding peace after many uneasy battles. However the Tuatha Dé Danann, would soon be replaced by the mortal tribe of the Milesians. Displaced from their abode on the surface the Tuatha Dé Danann, retreated to the sídhe (pronounced like the pronoun “She”) or the hollow hills/mounds where they have remained ever since.
In these mounds beneath the Earth the Tuatha Dé Danann transformed into beings known as Aes Sídhe (Pronounced like “Eye She”) or the people of the mounds. Aes Sídhe is the traditional Irish name for our Good Neighbors, and as a result of being driven out and pushed beneath the mounds many of our Good Folk still share a great deal of animosity towards us mortals for the acts of our predecessors.
Knowing this you can also understand why this animosity grows as humanity stretches its reach to sacred lands still occupied by our neighbors. From their perspective it seems that they cannot be left alone without humans time and time again overstepping their boundaries to expand on the territory they once owned.
The Fairy Mounds or fairy rings, many of which still exist all over the world and in Ireland to this day, and one can always tell a fairy fort by the distinct circular pattern of a grove of trees, plants, or rock formations. These formations should be left alone and untouched, and preferably with nothing stolen or taken from it (such as rocks, flowers, etc), however if you plan to take something from these sacred circles, please give something of yours in return whether it be food or a piece of jewelry (just please no silver! Silver is a natural repellent to them!).
Why the Faye differ from Deities and also why they Don't
Oftentimes the God’s have some kind of stake in interacting and helping humanity along whereas the Faye are an inter-dimensional species all to themselves with their own culture and politics that is separate from humanity. While the Faye have incredible knowledge of nature and prowess in the magical arts their ally-ship is to themselves as is their right to preserve and protect their own way of life. The gods however are superhuman beings/accelerated masters who have chosen to aid humanity in some shape or form either as a benevolent supporter or as an antagonist for growth.
Though similar to the Gods, our Good Neighbors show us that this world is a commonplace we share. Humans are an adolescent species after all which is what I believe the Celtic people now modern day Irish were trying to explain in their myths placing the age of man as the final current cycle.
Because of our youth we are seen by our next door neighbors as naive and absent minded if anything and thus the art of worshiping the Faye is the practice of honoring this sacred yet shared place we occupy. This is why it’s so important to show care and awareness towards the natural world as it is this hyper-dimensional threshold to the realms occupied by ancient beings.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The easiest time of the year to spot the Good Folk in their sacred groves and circles is during the Midsummer nights. While it is a beautiful and merry spectacle to find our Neighbors frolicking amongst themselves enjoying a balmy summer night, I implore you to gently and quietly leave them to their festivities.
The Dos and Don'ts of working with the Faerie Folk
There are rules to how we conduct ourselves in these ancient courts, and understanding that the Faye are a very old, very ancient species that predate man should tell you why they have such little patience for disrespect or dishonesty.
There are a couple crucial rules in my opinion for those who do choose to seek the help from the children of Danu. One, never give them your name. Your name has power and a faerie who knows it can use it to subjugate, trick, or bind you to contracts that you’ll have little to no way of getting out of. Two, never eat their food lest you wish to be stuck in fairyland forever, it is best to kindly decline anything offered. Three, if the courts find your advances rude or if you offend them in any way do apologize, but take care not to apologize too profusely as they find this incredibly annoying and disingenuous. Four, never agree to anything or promise anything in regards to a task you if you can’t complete it or do not feel comfortable taking on, it is best to politely decline rather than to get yourself in too deep with the Faerie courts. So please, use your common sense and if a task seems too tall it probably is.
If you wish to set up a fairy altar, take care to place it in a quiet room far away from any electronics like a computer or TV, the noise of the monitors is disruptive to them, and if you build one outside, place it somewhere hidden where people cannot tread, disrupt, or heaven forbid steal. The Faye love natural and handmade gifts, such as different types of honey, homemade or baked goods like cookies and fresh bread, loose leaf tea blends, etc.
If you truly wish to interact with the High Courts of Nature, I honestly recommend asking for very little in return if at all. The most beneficial relationship we can have with the Faye is one in which we respect their domains and their boundaries. Our Irish-Celtic ancestors knew this well and sought to forge a relationship with them that honored and preserved their lands deep beneath the mounds.
In my own practices I leave the Courts to themselves out of respect, but as someone who has chosen to devote her time to becoming a student of life, I see and breathe the magic of the hidden folk as a direct result of their care towards the natural world. Thus the least we can do is mimic that same care back to nature and in turn to their homes as well. If anything, this blog post should remind you that nature speaks and it is a powerful realm with a jurisdiction of its own with ageless folk who have protected its borders since time immemorial.