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fair folk

The Bad Witch’s Guide

April, 2019

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Faeries

I have stared at this empty page and
title for about 30 minutes. It is not that I don’t know a lot about
fae, the fair folk, the Good Neighbours; it’s just well where to
start?

First off I suppose is that they are more than just the twinkly winged Barbie dolls we push on little girls. Fae are amazingly varied dependent on habitat and what they eat. In fact almost every people have some version of fae folk. Humans don’t have a universal anything, but if they did, fae might be it.

Faery are not “nice”. They are incredible, powerful, wise and witty. They are not “nice”. They respect manners and have a very rigid social observances. As a general rule they are at best ambivalent towards humans. At worst they really fucking hate us. To them we are Vogons. Brutish, unimaginative, untruthful, bureaucratic and destructive. This is not an unfair description.

If slighted or even if you happen to be
in the wrong place at the wrong time a fae might do some horrible
things, from blinding, cursing or even trying to lure you to your
death!

What is a faery?

Well I have an opinion. There is much lore as you would expect from the ancient and seemingly universal bunch of creatures. Most of which is tainted by some truly horrific Christian re-writing (the souls of unbaptized babies? Really?) has them as “small Gods”. My theory which is as far as I can tell makes most sense is they are pan-dimensional beings. They dwell both here and slightly to the left. The natural world is their home but is also a link to their “other” place. That is why they are creatures of “ the ‘tween”. That is why you see them out of the corner of your eye, or in the limnal spaces. Not quite here, or there, but both at the same time.

Faeries can appear as birds, dogs, horses, goats and humanoids. Some sparkle, some do not. Most individuals can be reasoned with, if their laws are properly followed. That said they can still be a dick about it. Their laws will differ from place to place and are dependent on the type of fae you are dealing with.

Hospitality. Food, and drink are appreciated gifts and where
welcome they will respect and even bless your home. However faery
food and drink is not a good idea to consume if you should ever get
the chance.

Truth. Lying is a terrible violation, but hoodwinking, “having
a craic”, taking the piss is somewhat of a faery art form. Just
how far and how much they can bend the truth without actually lying
is a point of pride for most Fair Folk.

Gifts. Even sticky for humans, gifts can be seen as an insult
though this is specific to types of Fair Folk. Clothes in particular
can banish them in quite a huff (Brownies)! Though bread, honey and a
portion of a meal are usually respected through hospitality.

Respect. Disrespect a Faery at your peril. That also goes for their home, whatever or where ever they make it. Cut down the wrong tree, (or pee against it) stomp all over a faery ring, litter or take what they deem as theirs and you are going to have a world of pain. Likewise being gross at faery women bathing, usually means losing an eye! (Bitch, much respect!)

Trade. While taking something from a faery space is usually a bad
idea, they are happy to trade, or even exchange for coin.

You can’t take anything for granted with faery. Not their intentions, or what they mean. Their wisdom or kindness. Their presence or absence. They are free. You do not rule them. You can not, nor should not command them.

So why work with them at all?

Well, in the balance of things they are powerful and knowledgeable
allies to have in circle and out.

Also, and I say this from long experience, if they decide you are “one of theirs” you won’t have a lot of say if they are in your life, only if they are a benefit or bane; as my long suffering husband can attest to!

There is also something wonderful about them. They still inspire
fear, awe and wonder every time I am aware of their presence. They
are great guides when journeying in spirit though that level of trust
takes years to build up.

So how do you work with faery?

I suppose the answer to that one, is carefully. Faery magick is
not for everyone, and that is fine. Faery magick is not for everyone,
and that is fine. Research helps. Know the kind of faery in your
area, the kind that might be most disposed to working with you. Huge
old trees, unspoiled wild places, waterfalls, lakes, sacred wells and
places full of faery plants like bluebells, hawthorn, blackthorn and
elder trees are a good start. Be kind and respectful and leave gifts
of food like honey cakes or a little bit of beer or wine letting them
know it is for them. You might feel a bit of an idiot, but they will
enjoy it all the more. Pay attention to weird wild animals. Birds,
rabbits, strange foxes or the like. Even large butterflies and moths
can be faery, or faery touched.There is an entirely different quality
to these encounters with wild animals that seem to look straight into
your soul. You can tell that you are being “visited” or
watched.

Faery also love music, especially harp, singing, and flutes.
Playing for them even if you think you aren’t good is usually seen as
a fitting gift, or again hospitality. Some like small bells, some
don’t. They don’t seem to mind recorded music but do prefer live
performances.

Magickally creating circles or doorways and inviting them to be
present works pretty well. Even bought faery doors will do the jobs
but woven ivy, willow or hazel hoops hung up are usually preferable.
Working outside in somewhere the Veil is thin isn’t a bad start
either. Marking your circle with stones (natural pebbles) or even
wild bird food will work wonders. Though flowers, leaves of a
different colour, or ferns would work too.

There is something special about working with “wildness”.
Something ancient and untamed. They have a unique perspective on
humans, and human lives. It is both in the moment and of the ages.
Full of mirth and vengeance. Human lives are very long and very short
and we do spend a great deal of time not dancing, feasting, or
playing. It is a peculiar waste. We crave connection but will do
almost anything to avoid it. We make conditions and rules for things,
like love that don’t have any. We tie ourselves in knots over our own
natures assigning shame and guilt to things we love or loathe.

Faery advice is rather complicated in it’s simplicity.

“Plant a tree.”

“Cry when you are sad.”

“Dance when you can.”

In the end faery make life more bearable. They add a clarity and
depth to the world. A magickal sparkle, the real kind that no amount
of Mouse can erase.

Notes from the Apothecary

February, 2019

Notes from the Apothecary: Cumin

Cumin
is a fragrant spice in the apiaceae family, meaning it’s related to
carrots, parsley, and the similar looking caraway. We use the seed of
the plant in both cooking and magic.

Cumin
has been used for thousands of years, and most likely originated near
Syria, based on evidence from nearby excavation sites. Cumin was a
table spice in Ancient Greece, a tradition which continues today in
Morocco. The Romans adopted the use of cumin, and Spanish and
Portuguese colonists eventually brought the spice to the Americas,
where it is enjoyed in a range of cuisines.

The
Kitchen Garden

Cumin
is one of those mesmerising flavours that simply doesn’t taste like
anything else. When I was first learning about cooking Indian food, I
had not realised that cumin was such a commonly used ingredient.
Adding it to my store cupboard changed my life. Most curries I cook
now have whole cumin seeds fried until they pop and release their
smoky, earthy goodness into the hot oil. Every chilli con carne is
blessed with my kitchen’s holy triumvirate of cumin, coriander and
turmeric, making the house smell simply divine.

Whole
seeds and ground cumin are both readily available in grocery stores
and supermarkets. I’ve found that the best value way to buy cumin
is to visit an Indian or Mexican store or wholesaler, as shops that
don’t specialise tend to bump the price up.

The
Apothecary

Cumin
seeds are used as a natural medicine all over the world. Alleged
cumin medical properties include being an anti-inflammatory,
diuretic, antispasmodic, carminative, aromatic, digestive, and an
emmenagogue. In their book about healthy seeds, Danny Sarmiento
writes that cumin helps prevent the harmful effects of stress on the
body. That must be why I love a cumin heavy curry on a weekend after
a hard week!

Sarmiento
also states that cumin can offer relief for asthma sufferers as it
may dilate the airways. There’s also some indication that the seeds
may be effective for treating diabetes.

The
seeds are filled with nutritious vitamins and minerals including iron
and manganese, so they’re a great addition to just about anyone’s
diet.

The
Witch’s Kitchen

Cunningham
lists cumin in his encyclopaedia of magical herbs. He states the
spice is masculine, associated with Mars and fire, which makes sense
when you think of how this spice is often used in hot curries and
Mexican food! Heat is definitely linked to cumin. But I also find it
earthy, and grounding.

According
to Cunningham, the spice is used for protection magic, to ensure
fidelity, for exorcism and to prevent theft. Bread baked with cumin
seeds won’t be stolen by spirits, so if you follow this
superstition, don’t leave cumin-spiced bread out for the fair folk!
Cumin can be burnt with frankincense to create a powerful protective
incense. Scatter cumin and salt to create a protective boundary.
Carry in a pouch at handfastings to drive negative thoughts or
energies away from the happy couple. Or add some to the wine later
on, for an exciting wedding night!

Home
and Hearth

Mix
cumin seeds with fine salt. Walk the boundary of your home at Imbolc
or the Spring Equinox. Sprinkle the protective mix while you
visualise your home as a safe and special place. Imagine the sun’s
returning light suffusing your home with a warm, comforting glow. The
salt and spice mix will keep negativity at bay, whilst allowing love
entry, and encouraging loyalty.

I
Never Knew…

There’s
an old superstition that you should curse and shout as you sow cumin
seeds, to ensure a good crop.

All images via
Wikipedia or Wikimedia commons.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is
a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestorsand Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon