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Faeries, Elves, and Other Kin

June 1st, 2010

Midsummer Eve:  Second Faerie Festival of the Year

By

Kat Cranston

Midsummer Eve, also known as Litha, Samradh, Alban Hefin, Aerra Litha, Mother Night, and St. John’s Eve, is the second of the three yearly Faerie Realm festivals.  This sabbat is tied to the Summer Solstice, which occurs on 21 June in the Northern Hemisphere this year.  The other two faerie festivals occur on May Eve and November Eve (Samhain).

Midsummer Eve is a sabbat that has a lot of faerie lore attached to it.  This is the time when entrance to the faerie realm is easiest and faerie mounds are practically “open to the public!”  Faerie powers are at their strongest, and they are frolicsome and very merry, dancing around bonfires, singing and cavorting with abandon.

Seeing Faeries

Midsummer Eve at dusk, especially if the moon is full, is precisely the best time for viewing faeries—if you have their favor or they wish to procure your services. Oak, ash and thorn make up the faerie tree triad of Britain, and where they grow together one can see faeries.  Here is a recipe from the 16th century that, when rubbed on the eyelids, will help one to gain faerie sight:

Take a pint of sallet oyle and put it into a vial glasse; and first wash it with rose-water and marigold-water; the flowers to be gathered toward the east.  Wash it until the oyle becomes white, then put into the glasse, and then put thereto the budds of young hazle, and the thyme must be gathered near the side of a hill where fairies use to be; and take the grasse of a fairie throne; then all these put into the oyle in the glasse and sette it to dissolve three days in the sunne and keep it for thy use.

Note that there are several varieties of flowers that go by the name of “marigold.”  The marigold referred to in this recipe is the pot marigold, also known as calendula and native to the European continent, and not to be confused with the common marigold, or tagetes, native to the American continent.

Remember to prepare and set out an offering so they will not feel you are infringing on their privacy and whatever you do, look only!  Faeries can be dangerous and they are capable of playing all kinds of tricks ranging from innocent pranks to inflicting death.  Faerie morality is high unpredictable.

Protective Measures

To gain protection from the faerie tricks and mischief, you should jump the ritual Midsummer Eve bonfire and drive your herds (or better yet, walk with your children) between two bonfires.  To increase the fire’s protection, add the herb St. John’s Wort, which is in full bloom this time of year.  Place St. John’s Wort over your doorway or weave it into a garland with marigolds and ivy, then put it around the neck of any farm animals you possess.  If you don’t feel like you’ve done enough, take your protective measures further by following this description of London written by historian John Stow in 1598:

Every man’s door was shaded with green birch, fennel, St. John’s Wort, orpin, white lilies, and the like, ornamented with garlands of beautiful flowers.  They…had also lamps of glass with oil burning in them all night; and some of them hung out branches of iron, curiously wrought, containing hundreds of lamps lighted at once, which made a splendid appearance.

Steer Clear

An Irish faerie that changes shape from a very wide man in a high hat and scarf to a beast or bearded sheep, the Amadán-na-Briona, also known as The Fool of the Forth, is very dangerous.  His mere touch causes an incurable madness or death.  He is very active the entire month of June with Midsummer being especially provocative.  If you meet him, shout, “The Lord be between us and harm,” otherwise as the Irish say, “To meet the Amadán is to be in prison forever.”  Look for him to knock on your door late at night or pop up from behind a hedge.

A German faerie that loves to create elflocks in people’s hair and beards, the Pilwiz can become dangerous if you trespass in its mountainous lands and it shoots you with an elfbolt.  Worse still, the Pilwiz is a thief, raiding cornfields at night.  If you can catch the Pilwiz in the act of thievery at noon on Midsummer Day, the Pilwiz will die for a year.  However, if the Pilwiz sees you first, you will die.  There are less dangerous means of dealing with a Pilwiz and if one plagues you, I urge you not to take this risk.

A Shetland faerie with an aversion to sunlight, Trows, also called Night Stealers or Creepers, live in mounds amongst vast treasure hoards.  At Midsummer, the music-loving Trows contort their squat and misshaped bodies in a crouching and hopping dance called henking.  Trows engage in kidnapping children and leaving changelings in their place, so it’s best not to spend too much time in their company, although they also are fond of giving gifts of money to humans who please them, especially fiddlers.

Faerie Paths

Folklore has well documented the existence of faerie paths; dire were the consequences to those who built a human structure on one.  Invisible to the human eye, one way to check a site to ensure it would not impede any faerie traffic was to nail down four hazel branches, one each at the four corners of the proposed structure, and see if the branches were disturbed the next morning.  If they were, the verdict was in and construction was wisely abandoned.

If you see a procession of lights moving in a direct line from one faerie mound to another on Midsummer Eve, the faeries are on the move along a faerie path.  They are on their way to visit their neighbors for a grand Midsummer Eve party, or they are pulling out and moving to a new location.  Either way, don’t risk getting in their way.

Faerie Brides

Midsummer Eve is when male fae are wont to steal away pretty, human girls to become their brides.  They often appear as tall, dark, noble looking men that charm the desired girl, dancing with her all night long.  The next day the girl, imbued with inhuman, ethereal grace and beauty, will begin to waste away, becoming more beautiful each day, until she dies.  Her soul then travels to Tir Na Og, where it is always summer, and she becomes the bride of her faerie sweetheart.  Such marriages are accompanied by rigorous taboos and conditions, such as the fairy husband must not be looked upon on certain days nor struck a certain number of times nor touched by the bride with iron.  If the faerie husband abandons his human wife, she will waste away and die…again.

Dressing of Wells

The faeries that guard and are responsible for the well-being of fountains, wells, springs, streams and brooks are the naiads.  These faeries may appear in the guise of a fish, a frog, a mermaid, a winged serpent, or even a fly.

To honor and appease these guardians, place garlands of flowers, ribbons and other finery around the well at Midsummer.  First, approach the well from the east and walk about it sunwise three times.  You may also toss offerings of pins or coins into the well.  This will ensure that the water runs fresh and clean for another year.

Battle of the Kings

At Midsummer, the sun seems to stand still, for this is the longest day and shortest night of the year.  From this time onwards, the days gradually grow shorter again.  Although they are not typical faeries, yet neither are they Gods, the Kings of Oak and Holly meet at Midsummer to battle for their kingship.  The Holly King defeats the Oak King and begins his six-month reign until the two Kings meet again at Yule.  These foliate Kings share many aspects of the Horned God and the Green Man of forest, both of which are dedicated to the preservation of nature, as are the fae.  For lovers of the fae to include and honor these two mighty forces in their Midsummer celebration is wholly appropriate.

Bibliography and Works Cited/Recommended Reading:

  • Kowalchik, C. and Hylton, W.H. Editors, Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs , Rodale Books, 1998, p. 60
  • McCoy, Edain, A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk, Llewellyn Publications, 2006
  • Ellis, Jeanette, Forbidden Rites: Your Complete Introduction to Traditional Witchcraft, O Books, 2009, p. 151
  • Lenihan, Eddie, Meeting the Other Crowd, Penguin Putman Inc., 2003
  • Franklin, Anna, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies, Paper Tiger, 2002
  • Franklin, Anna, Working With Fairies: Magick, Spells, Potions & Recipes to Attract & See Them, New Page Books, 2005
  • Briggs, Katharine, An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Pantheon Books, 1976

Faeries, Elves & Other kin: The Fae and their Origin.

The name fairy comes from the Old French word faerie. The word faerie as we commonly know it has been hackneyed by using it to describe paranormal beings and the like. Never the less, there is an enormous amount of differentiation in categorizing a faerie from today’s modern literature and those of literature from the middle ages, particularly those of the Celtic tradition as well as from other faerie traditions such as those from  Germany, England and many Slavic countries.

Oftentimes when one thinks about the Fae, they envision them as tiny winged creatures flittering around a glittering unearthly light in some children’s fairy tale or a Disney movie (Tinkerbelle and Thumbelina). These modern Fearies found their origins in the oral traditions, which began to be written down throughout the 18th and 20th centuries.

Faeries can be best described as spirits. They are not divine being because they are not goddess or gods (as some of them would like us to believe,) nonetheless, they are not corporeal (mortal); and for this reason, the Fae are oftentimes, classified as minor divinities or lesser gods.

Nevertheless, if one would for a moment consider the idea of faeries, then they would find that faery folk have been around far longer than most would have expected. According to Joe (1999),

Perhaps the earliest form of faeries can be found loosely in the mythical beings in Greek mythology, such as the nymphs, satyrs and sileni. The nymphs from ancient Greek myths can be considered as fairies and they existed as early as the time of Homer writing the Iliad and the Odyssey. Even the river gods in Greek myths can be classified as fairies. These are spirits or minor deities of nature or of the natural phenomena. (p.1)

Moreover, the Norse adaptations of the Fae can be seen in a vast array of dísir (“lesser female deities in the Norse religion”) (Joe, 1999) and elves that belong to the Teutonic traditions. Valkyries were also classified as faeries.

Who are the Fae? Where do they come from?

Many civilizations and cultures have their own adaptations of faeries. But for the sake of starting somewhere, we will begin with the Celtic tradition. In the Celtic belief there were deities in Britannia, Gaul (Belgium and France), and Hispania (Spain) throughout the time the Romans occupied these regions. However, once Christianity over took the region the situation changed. The deities that were once worshipped before the widespread adoption of Christian beliefs were condensed to the standing of faeries in Celtic folklore and mythology; The same stands true in Ireland and the gods of the Tuatha De Danann who were stripped of their titles as gods and goddess and given instead the roles of fairies or lesser gods (e.g. Lugh and Dagda).

The early Celtic tradition of fairies, the earlier Welsh or Irish deities were not fairies in the customary sense. Their appearance was much like that of mortal man, both in shape and size, with the exception that they have magical and mysterious powers and they appeared to be forever young, save for they do not  have wings contrary to popular belief. Conversely, the Dananns were typically seen as a “race of fair people. They can die just as mortals can, but their lives could last hundreds or even thousands of years” (Joe, 1999).

The major quandary with the way that these earlier Celtic traditions had their status lowered is in how the Christians have twisted them into beings in the service of the Devil; furthermore, Christian authors have written that faeries were in reality demons. Fortunately, this outlook is no longer shared, in our day.

Ending on a Poetic Note

Faery Queen of the Rainbow Realm

Cerulean skies and raindrops form her realm.

On her throne she sits her rainbow hued wings outspread.

Dressed grandly in deep sky draperies, iris blossom crown her head.

From her hand Faery archer’s dip their arrows into her shimmering light,

Taking aim fiery arrows soar high into the stormy night, illuminating the murky sky with polychromatic rays of hope to darkened hearts.

Promising joy and healing to come.

~ Michele Burke (Burke, 2008)

Bibliography and Works Cited:

Joe, J. (1999). Dísir. Retrieved May 18, 2009, from

http://www.timelessmyths.com/norse/beings.html#Disir

Joe, J. (1999). Timeless Myths. Retrieved May 19, 2009, from

http://www.timelessmyths.com/celtic/faeries.html

Spiritfae.com, (1999). Types of Faeries, Retrieved May 19, 2009. From

http://spritefae.com/types.htm

Faeries, Elves, & Other Kin: The Fae and their Origin

The name fairy comes from the Old French word faerie. The word faerie as we commonly know it has been hackneyed by using it to describe paranormal beings and the like. Never the less, there is an enormous amount of differentiation in categorizing a faerie from today’s modern literature and those of literature from the middle ages, particularly those of the Celtic tradition as well as from other faerie traditions such as those from  Germany, England and many Slavic countries.

Oftentimes when one thinks about the Fae, they envision them as tiny winged creatures flittering around a glittering unearthly light in some children’s fairy tale or a Disney movie (Tinkerbelle and Thumbelina). These modern Fearies found their origins in the oral traditions, which began to be written down throughout the 18th and 20th centuries.

Faeries can be best described as spirits. They are not divine being because they are not goddess or gods (as some of them would like us to believe,) nonetheless, they are not corporeal (mortal); and for this reason, the Fae are oftentimes, classified as minor divinities or lesser gods.

Nevertheless, if one would for a moment consider the idea of faeries, then they would find that faery folk have been around far longer than most would have expected. According to Joe (1999),

Perhaps the earliest form of faeries can be found loosely in the mythical beings in Greek mythology, such as the nymphs, satyrs and sileni. The nymphs from ancient Greek myths can be considered as fairies and they existed as early as the time of Homer writing the Iliad and the Odyssey. Even the river gods in Greek myths can be classified as fairies. These are spirits or minor deities of nature or of the natural phenomena. (p.1)

Moreover, the Norse adaptations of the Fae can be seen in a vast array of dísir (“lesser female deities in the Norse religion”) (Joe, 1999) and elves that belong to the Teutonic traditions. Valkyries were also classified as faeries.

Who are the Fae? Where do they come from?

Many civilizations and cultures have their own adaptations of faeries. But for the sake of starting somewhere, we will begin with the Celtic tradition. In the Celtic belief there were deities in Britannia, Gaul (Belgium and France), and Hispania (Spain) throughout the time the Romans occupied these regions. However, once Christianity over took the region the situation changed. The deities that were once worshipped before the widespread adoption of Christian beliefs were condensed to the standing of faeries in Celtic folklore and mythology; The same stands true in Ireland and the gods of the Tuatha De Danann who were stripped of their titles as gods and goddess and given instead the roles of fairies or lesser gods (e.g. Lugh and Dagda).

The early Celtic tradition of fairies, the earlier Welsh or Irish deities were not fairies in the customary sense. Their appearance was much like that of mortal man, both in shape and size, with the exception that they have magical and mysterious powers and they appeared to be forever young, save for they do not  have wings contrary to popular belief. Conversely, the Dananns were typically seen as a “race of fair people. They can die just as mortals can, but their lives could last hundreds or even thousands of years” (Joe, 1999).

The major quandary with the way that these earlier Celtic traditions had their status lowered is in how the Christians have twisted them into beings in the service of the Devil; furthermore, Christian authors have written that faeries were in reality demons. Fortunately, this outlook is no longer shared, in our day.

Ending on a Poetic Note

Faery Queen of the Rainbow Realm

Cerulean skies and raindrops form her realm.

On her throne she sits her rainbow hued wings outspread.

Dressed grandly in deep sky draperies, iris blossom crown her head.

From her hand Faery archer’s dip their arrows into her shimmering light,

Taking aim fiery arrows soar high into the stormy night, illuminating the murky sky with polychromatic rays of hope to darkened hearts.

Promising joy and healing to come.

~ Michele Burke (Burke, 2008)

Coming In November:

The Woman of Peace and the Spirit of the Air (Bean sidhe (Banshee.)

Bibliography and Works Cited:

Joe, J. (1999). Dísir. Retrieved October 14, 2008, from

http://www.timelessmyths.com/norse/beings.html#Disir

Joe, J. (1999). Timeless Myths. Retrieved October 14, 2008, from

http://www.timelessmyths.com/celtic/faeries.html

Spiritfae.com, (1999). Types of Faeries, Retrieved October 14, 2008. From
http://spritefae.com/types.htm

Faery Oils


Dryad Oil

musk (main  scent)
oakmoss (minor scent)
civet (trace)
vanilla (trace)
An  excellent blend for pursuing the arts of natural magick, this 
preparation was  specially designed for contacting the elemental spirits of the 
earth.




Faerie  Enchantment Oil

10 drops rose
5 drops thyme
1 drop evening primrose  oil





Faerie Fire Oil

(Useful  in contacting Faeries connected with the Fire element: Will o' 
the wisps, Flame  Dancers, etc.)

1/4 oz. almond oil
12 drops peach oil
5 drops ylang  ylang
4 drops new-mown hay oil
4 drops dark musk
2 drops chamomile
2  drops poppy oil
2 drops dragons blood oil
chamomile  flowers
oatstraw
peridot
garnet
 




Gnome's Cap Oil

(useful in  contacting Faeries connected with the Earth element: 
Gnomes, 
Dwarfs,  etc.)

1/4 oz. almond oil
10 drops cypress e.o.
5 drops lilac  oil
25 drops Siberian fir oil
10 drops dark musk oil
2 drops narcissus  oil
cedarwood
fir needles
tiger's eye





Gossamer Wings  Oil

(useful for contacting Faeries connected with the Air element:  Sylphs, 
Elves, etc.)

1/4 oz. almond oil
12 drops violet oil
20  drops lavender oil
10 drops lemon oil
5 drops cajeput oil
lavender  buds
clear quartz




Siren Song Oil

(useful in contacting Faeries  connected with the Water element: 
Undines, 
Naiads, Sirens, etc.)

1/4 oz.  almond oil
4 drops lavender
15 drops camphor oil
3 drops lemon
3  drops primrose oil
3 drops rose geranium
geranium petals
rose  buds
iolite
amethyst

Faeries, Elves, and Other Kin: The Woman of Peace and the Spirit of the Air (Bean sidhe (Banshee)

Announcing mortal’s deaths with her keening cries

Piercing throughout the night rising and falling like the oceans waves

White Lady of Sorrow spirit of the air

Mourning and forewarning the ancient Celts and their decedents with her unearthly cries

Woman of peace, her voice blending in with the mournful cries of loved ones left behind

The Faery woman contrasts against the nights black skies

Eyes red from crying, her face pale

Cloaked in a raiment of grayish-white clinging to her tall slender frame

Her hair of silver and gray streaming down to the ground

Yet in all her mourning she is graced with a mode peace

Unseen she attends the rites of the beloved deceased

Where ever the old Irish families have gone across oceans and land

She follows her mortal family never forgetting her ties of blood to man.

~ Michele Burke (2008).

Whatever the Banshees origins, in one of three different guises she appears: a raddled old hag, a young woman, or a stately matron. It is in these guises that the triple aspects of the Celtic goddess of death and war, i.e. Macha, Badhbh, and Mor-Rioghain.) She is usually seen wearing either a winding sheet or grave robe of the unshriven dead, or a grey hooded cloak The Scottish counterpart of th banshee may also emerge as a washer-woman, and is apparently seen “washing the blood stained clothes of those who are about to die. In this guise she is known as the bean-nighe (washing woman)” (Hidden Ireland, n.d.).

Coming In December:

Water-Faeries:  providers of food, nourishes of crops, and takers of lives.

Bibliography and works cited:

Hidden Ireland, (n.d.). The Banshee. Retrieved November 24, 2008, from

http://www.irelandseye.com/animation/explorer/banshee.html

Normally I would have written something about the Fae and had fully intended on writing an article based on the Water faeries but when I got up this morning and turned on my computer I received a bit of extremely sad news; a very good friend of mine’s mother had just passed away. As I tried to get my mind on the work at hand I just could not get my friend off my mind. What do you say when someone has lost a loved one, let alone their mother? Do I call or perhaps send some flowers? These things all fade away. So in dedication of a life taken to soon I wrote this little verse.

Time stands still in Tir na nÓg (In Memory of Patrick’s Mom, you will be missed)

Come with me to the land hidden amidst the sea

No sorrow, no pain. Never more to age again

Houses are made from jewels and gold. Shinning like castles in the sun

Birds singing, whilst blossoming flowers grow all around

Ocean breezes soft and warm

Awakening the soul to the sounds of celestial song

So come with me to Tir na nÓg

For time stands still

In the land of the forever young

~ M. Burke (2008)

In times of sorrow when you feel as if you just cannot carryon, keep your head held high and remember the land of Tir na nÓg where time stands still.

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