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Explanations of Faery beliefs in folklore


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#1    aimlesswalk

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 10:38 AM

Looking at the folklore of the British Isle's it is full of accounts of Faeries referred to euphemistically in some folkloristic traditions by names such as wee folk, good folk, people of peace, fair folk and the good people. The are accounts of all manner of other spirits such as Boggarts, Brownies and other such supernatural beings. This has many parallels with the indigenous folklore of other countries which all have a common theme of interaction with non human entities. Focusing specifically on British folklore I would like to invite speculation on the possible origins of these once widely held beliefs.

There are several oft repeated explanations for the belief in Faery beings:

The classical Christian explanation equates all Faery beings with 'Fallen Angels' who where condemned to exist on Earth.

A more modern view is that these beings are Christianised depictions of the older Pagan Gods or deities reduced to spirits associated with superstition and certain geographical areas associated with 'bad luck' (e.g. fairy rings and mounds) or 'mischievous spirits' belaying a far greater significance they once had in pre Christian times.

Another explanation that they may be ancestral memories of a race of mythical humans or an earlier civilisation lost to antiquity. The mythical Irish civilisation of the 'Tuatha De Danann' could be an example of this who where said to be a magical race of beings who retreated to the hollow mounds after the oncoming of other people's and who subsequently became the 'Sídhe' of Irish folklore.

Another belief was that faeries where the souls of the dead.

Something that always interested me was the dependency the faery people seemed to have on human beings for instance in the case of faery midwives and replacing human offspring with changelings. Also stories of people entering the faery realm and upon leaving discover that years or even centuries have elapsed or being warned by a mysterious figure known as the 'Far Darrig' not to eat faery food.

There seem to be two distinct class of Faeries 'trooping fairies' who existed in a society presided over by the fairy Queen and 'solitary fairies' which would include 'leprechauns', 'boggarts' and 'brownies'.

It seemed that the fairy people could be capable of helping certain humans but also of malice (afflictions such as 'elf-shot') and one story is that the Scottish folklorist Robert Kirk was abducted by the Faeries for revealing their secrets in his book 'The Secret Commonwealth'. His body was found on a hill in a well known fairy locality.

en.wikipedia.org...(folklorist)#Death

I also remember the great Irish poet W.B Yeats was said to have a met a congregation of trooping faeries in Ireland and was warned 'be careful not to know to much about us'.

Whatever one thinks about these traditions until relatively recently (no more than a century ago) Faery beliefs where widely held throughout the rural areas.

It is regretful that the modern sanitised 'Disney' depiction of fairies as magical diminutive beings has gained such precedent as it has it's origins in Victorian art and literature and has little or nothing in common with actual folkloric beliefs where the Good People could people be very dangerous if trifled with but also rewarding to those who showed them the appropriate respect.  

An excellent compendium of information is 'A Dictionary of fairies' by Katherine M. Briggs


#2    Moon Gazer

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 12:00 PM

I believe in Faeries :)  In fact I am going to a Samhain Faerie ball in Glastonbury this weekend!


#3    Frank Merton

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 12:23 PM

I think if I were creating the world I would populate it with fairies and gnomes and hobbits and elves and all such sorts of wee folk, rather than people.  Far more interesting and less harmful to the woods.


#4    aimlesswalk

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 03:18 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 24 October 2013 - 12:23 PM, said:

I think if I were creating the world I would populate it with fairies and gnomes and hobbits and elves and all such sorts of wee folk, rather than people.  Far more interesting and less harmful to the woods.

That is a world I should like to live in. Well a world of Faery and Gnomi would do but Hobbits and Elves is a little too much Tolkien for my liking.


#5    BettyTheYeti

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 01:51 AM

I believe that they are still around, but have been driven into hiding by modern man. It is a shame, because think of what we could learn.


#6    coolguy

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 04:24 AM

I think they are real

Edited by coolguy, 25 October 2013 - 04:33 AM.


#7    Sir Wearer of Hats

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 03:39 AM

Looking at the mythology, I'd rather NOT live in a world with the Fair Folk possibly under every rock or hole in the ground.

I must not fear. Fear is the Mind-Killer. It is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and to move through me. And when it is gone I will turn the inner eye to see it's path.
When the fear is gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

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#8    Witchygirl94

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 08:15 PM

The fairies were creepy. Just thinking about then gives Mr the creeps. Wonder if that's what the greys are.


#9    Ryu

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 09:22 PM

Lots of mythological beings appear in many cultures but like the faeries, they're not real.

View Postaimlesswalk, on 24 October 2013 - 10:38 AM, said:

Something that always interested me was the dependency the faery people seemed to have on human beings for instance in the case of faery midwives and replacing human offspring with changelings

As far as the myth is concerned, I do not see it as a dependency but rather it would seem some faeries raised human children as their own so they'd have a living link between the human and faerie world. A child would have understanding of both worlds.
Who knows...it's a myth so one can invent any reason for it.


#10    Sir Wearer of Hats

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 10:55 PM

I think they exist for a very simple reason.
"We daren't go a huntin' for a fear of little men".
Boogeymen are very useful as tools of societal control and explanation for eerie sighting and unexplained events.
Crops failed? Faeries.
Someone wandered off and was never found again? Faeries.
Wanting to keep wayward children in line? Faeries.

The people who want to live in a world with the Fair Folk are the people who haven't done the research beyond Tinkerbell (who could be malicious if she wanted to be as well).

I must not fear. Fear is the Mind-Killer. It is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and to move through me. And when it is gone I will turn the inner eye to see it's path.
When the fear is gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

You may think you're cool, but you'll never be as cool as Peter Capaldi with an electric guitar, on a tank, playing the Doctor Who theme.

#11    Harte

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 11:03 PM

Heat wave?  Climate change.

Cold wave? Climate change.

Dry spell ? Climate change.

Deluge? Climate change.

Yes, boogeymen certainly are useful.

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#12    Rafterman

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 12:00 AM

People wove quite elaborate tales to keep their children from wandering off and encountering the world's REAL dangers.

"For me, it is better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."
                                                                                                                                           - Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World:  Science as a Candle in the Dark

#13    MissJatti

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 10:37 AM

ahhh the likes of tinkerbell and arwen, fairydust and the evenstar

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#14    AbyssWalker

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 12:00 PM

Even though I believe fairies have no basis in reality, there was a time I saw fairies twice in about a week, but then I quit going there.


#15    Frank Merton

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 12:17 PM

Yes I guess it's a good idea to avoid places where one sees things.





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