Fairy Lore in History and Literature

Fairy tales for those who believe, are not a tale at all.
They are whispered to us in our dreams, by fairies one and all.

A fairy is a small, supernatural creature that dwells in a magical place. In folklore fairies are usually in human form but they are known to disguise themselves well when needed. There are a wide variety of earth spirits, from the elves and gnomes of the deep forest - to the pixies and fairies of flower gardens and meadow lands. Undines, nymphs and sprites are water creatures and sylphs are air spirits.

Have you heard the fairies all among the limes
Singing little fairy tunes to little fairy rhymes?

Belief in fairies is universal among almost all cultures. Scholars attribute fairies to the sirens of Homer, the nymphs of the Iliad, celestial singers in Sanscrit poetry, spirits of the Pacific Islands, and Hathors of ancient Egypt. In more recent folk culture, you will find leprechauns - wee folk of Ireland, the brownies of Britain and the kobold from the faerie realm of Germany.

If you see a faery ring in a field of grass,
Very lightly step around, tip-toe as you pass..

Fairies live in their own enchanted realm but they also have been sighted among the flowers, woodlands, hills and streams - sometimes riding on their fairy steeds or flitting from flower to flower. When fairies gather together to sing and dance, you might find a fairy ring of toadstools / mushrooms after they have left.

That they do dwell within the cowslip's hollow is truth
for I have seen them fly out in intoxicated abandon

Thomas Croker (1789-1854) in his collection of Irish Fairy Tales, described fairies as being
"a few inches high, airy and almost transparent in body; so delicate in their form that a dew drop, when they chance to dance on it, trembles, indeed, but never breaks." Shakespeare wrote of Oberon, a fairy King in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and told of the fairy Queen Mab in "Romeo and Juliet." An English folk song, Tamlin, tells of a young knight bewitched by a fairy queen.

The Queen of fairies caught me
when from my horse I fell...

Then upspoke the fairy queen, an angry queen was she, had I known, Tamiln, she said,
what this night I did see,
I'd have looked him in the eyes
and turned him to a tree...

In folklore, fairies are mainly felt to be charitable to humans. They are known however to be playful and love to play tricks on mere mortals. They must be spoken well of and treated with respect, or you may rouse their anger. Folklore speaks of leaving small trinkets as gifts to fairies, such as small beads and dainty deserts, to gain their favor.

Do you seek the road to Fairyland.....
If you know the very words to cast a spell of might,
And, if the breeze is right,
you sail away to Fairyland along this track of light.



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