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A fairy (also ''fay'', ''fae'', ''fey'', ''fair folk'', or ''faerie'') is a type of
mythical Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...

mythical
being or
legendary creature A legendary creature (also known as a ''mythological'', ''mythic'' or ''fabulous'' creature) is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the laws of nature. This term is attributed ...
found in the
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

folklore
of multiple European cultures (including
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
, Slavic,
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...
,
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...
, and French folklore), a form of
spirit Spirit may refer to: *Spirit (animating force) In folk belief, spirit is the vitalism , vital principle or animating force within all life , living things. As recently as 1628 and 1633 respectively, both William Harvey and René Descartes st ...
, often described as metaphysical,
supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such beings, including , , , , and . Th ...

supernatural
, or
preternatural The preternatural (or praeternatural) is that which appears outside or beside (Latin: '' præter'') the natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all ...

preternatural
. Myths and stories about fairies do not have a single origin, but are rather a collection of
folk belief Folk or Folks may refer to: Sociology *Nation *People * Folklore ** Folk art ** Folk dance ** Folk hero ** Folk music *** Folk metal *** Folk punk *** Folk rock ** Folk religion * Folk taxonomy Arts, entertainment, and media * Folk Plus or Folk + ...
s from disparate sources. Various folk theories about the origins of fairies include casting them as either demoted
angel An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such ...

angel
s or
demon A demon is a supernatural being, typically associated with evil, prevalent historically in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in Media (communication), media such as comics, video games, movies, an ...

demon
s in a
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...
tradition, as deities in
Pagan Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
belief systems, as spirits of the dead, as
prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, ...
precursors to
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A speci ...

human
s, or as spirits of nature. The label of ''fairy'' has at times applied only to specific magical creatures with human appearance, magical powers, and a penchant for trickery. At other times it has been used to describe any magical creature, such as
goblin A goblin is a monstrous creature that appears in the folklore of multiple European cultures, first attested in stories from the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th ...

goblin
s and
gnome A gnome is a mythological creature A legendary or mythological creature, also called fabulous creature and fabulous beast, is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.http ...

gnome
s. ''Fairy'' has at times been used as an adjective, with a meaning equivalent to "enchanted" or "magical". It is also used as a name for the place these beings come from, the land of Fairy. A recurring
motif Motif may refer to: General concepts * Motif (chess composition), an element of a move in the consideration of its purpose * Motif (folkloristics), a recurring element that creates recognizable patterns in folklore and folk-art traditions * Motif ...
of legends about fairies is the need to ward off fairies using protective charms. Common examples of such charms include church bells, wearing clothing inside out,
four-leaf clover The four-leaf clover is a rare variation of the common three-leaf clover Clover or trefoil are common names for plants of the ''Trifolium'' (Latin, ''tres'' "three" + ''folium'' "leaf"), consisting of about 300 of s in the or pea family o ...

four-leaf clover
, and food. Fairies were also sometimes thought to haunt specific locations, and to lead travelers astray using
will-o'-the-wisp In folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some ...
s. Before the advent of
modern medicine Medicine is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of what ...

modern medicine
, fairies were often blamed for sickness, particularly
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the in ...

tuberculosis
and birth deformities. In addition to their folkloric origins, fairies were a common feature of
Renaissance literature Renaissance literature refers to European literature which was influenced by the intellectual and cultural tendencies associated with the Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. was a period in European histor ...
and
Romantic art Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1 ...
, and were especially popular in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
during the
Victorian Victorian or Victorians may refer to: 19th century * Victorian era, British history during Queen Victoria's 19th-century reign ** Victorian architecture ** Victorian house ** Victorian decorative arts ** Victorian fashion ** Victorian literature ...
and
Edwardian The Edwardian era or Edwardian period of British history The British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Mainland or continental Europe is th ...
eras. The
Celtic Revival The Celtic Revival (also referred to as the Celtic Twilight) was a variety of movements and trends in the 19th and 20th centuries that saw a renewed interest in aspects of Celtic culture. Artists and writers drew on the traditions of Gaelic lit ...
also saw fairies established as a canonical part of Celtic cultural heritage.


Etymology

The English ''fairy'' derives from the Early Modern English ''faerie'', meaning " realm of the ''fays''". ''Faerie'', in turn, derives from the
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular o ...
form , a derivation from (from
Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is th ...
) with the
abstract noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...
suffix . In Old French romance, a or was a woman skilled in magic, and who knew the power and virtue of words, of stones, and of herbs. "Fairy" was used to represent: an illusion or enchantment; the land of the Faes; collectively the inhabitants thereof; an individual such as a fairy knight. became Modern English '' fay'', while became ''fairy'', but this spelling almost exclusively refers to one individual (the same meaning as ''fay''). In the sense of "land where fairies dwell", archaic spellings ''faery'' and ''faerie'' are still in use.
Latinate Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe t ...

Latinate
''fay'' is not related the
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
'' fey'' (from Old English ''fǣġe''), meaning "fated to die". Yet, this unrelated Germanic word "fey" may have been influenced by Old French ''fae'' (fay or fairy) as the meaning had shifted slightly to "fated" from the earlier "doomed" or "accursed". Various folklore traditions refer to fairies
euphemistically A euphemism () is an innocuous word or expression used in place of one that may be found Profanity, offensive or suggest something unpleasant. Some euphemisms are intended to amuse, while others use bland, inoffensive terms for concepts that the us ...
as '' wee folk'', ''good folk'', ''people of peace'', ''fair folk'' (
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
: ), etc.


Historical development

The term ''fairy'' is sometimes used to describe any magical creature, including
goblin A goblin is a monstrous creature that appears in the folklore of multiple European cultures, first attested in stories from the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th ...

goblin
s and
gnome A gnome is a mythological creature A legendary or mythological creature, also called fabulous creature and fabulous beast, is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.http ...

gnome
s, while at other times, the term describes only a specific type of ethereal creature or sprite.Briggs (1976) – ''The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature'' p. xi. Historical origins of fairies range from various traditions from
Persian mythology Persian mythology or Iranian mythology (Persian language, Persian: افسانه‌های ایران) is the body of the myths originally told by Persian people, ancient Persians and other Iranian peoples, and a genre of Ancient Persian folklore ...
to European folklore such as of Brythonic (
Bretons The Bretons ( br, Bretoned, ) are a Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period ...
,
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
,
Cornish Cornish is the adjective and demonym associated with Cornwall, the most southwesterly part of the United Kingdom. It may refer to: * Cornish language, a Brittonic Southwestern Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, spoken in Cornwall ...
),
Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Whe ...

Gaelic
(
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
, Scots,
Manx Manx (; formerly sometimes spelled Manks) is an adjective (and derived noun) describing things or people related to the Isle of Man: * Manx people **Manx surnames * Isle of Man It may also refer to: Languages * Manx language, also known as Manx ...
), and
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

Germanic peoples
, and of
Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from ...
medieval romances. According to some historians, such as Barthélemy d'Herbelot, fairies were adopted from and influenced by the of Persian mythology.
Peri In Persian mythology Persian mythology or Iranian mythology ( Persian: افسانه‌های ایران) is the body of the myths originally told by ancient Persians and other Iranian peoples The Iranian peoples or the Iranic peoples, ...

Peri
s were angelic beings that were mentioned in antiquity in Pre-Islamic Persia as early as the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
. Peris were later described in various Persian works in great detail such as the
Shahnameh The ''Shahnameh'' or ''Shahnama'' ( fa, شاهنامه, Šāhnāme ; ) is a long epic poem written by the Persian literature, Persian poet Ferdowsi for Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni between c. 977 and 1010 CE and is the national epic of Greater Iran ...
by
Ferdowsi , image = File:Statue of Ferdowsi in Tus, Iran 3 (cropped2).jpg , image_size = , caption = Statue of Ferdowsi in Tus by Abolhassan Sadighi Abolhassan Sadighi ( fa, ابوالحسن صدیقی) (5 October 1894 – 11 December 1995) was an ...

Ferdowsi
. A peri was illustrated to be fair, beautiful, and extravagant nature spirits that were supported by wings. This may have potentially influenced migratory Germanic and Eurasian settlers into Europe, or been transmitted during early exchanges. The similarities could also be attributed to a shared Proto-Indo-European mythology. In the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, ''fairie'' was used adjectivally, meaning "enchanted" (as in ''fairie knight'', ''fairie queene''), but also became a generic term for various "enchanted" creatures during the
Late Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. English language underwent distinct variations and developments following the Old English period. Scholarl ...
period. Literature of the
Elizabethan era The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor period The Tudor period occurred between 1485 and 1603 in and includes the during the of until 1603. The Tudor period coincides with the dynasty of the in England whose first monarch was ...
conflated elves with the fairies of Romance culture, rendering these terms somewhat interchangeable. The modern concept of "fairy" in the narrower sense is unique to
English folklore English folklore consists of the myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (p ...
, later made diminutive in accordance with prevailing tastes of the
Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom The history of the United Kingdom began in the early eighteenth century with the Treaty of Union A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international l ...
, as in "
fairy tale A fairy tale, fairytale, wonder tale, magic tale, fairy story or ''Märchen'' is an instance of European folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common ...

fairy tale
s" for children. The
Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom The history of the United Kingdom began in the early eighteenth century with the Treaty of Union A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international l ...
and
Edwardian era The Edwardian era or Edwardian period of British history spanned the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and is sometimes expanded to the start of the First World War. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of the Victo ...
saw a heightened increase of interest in fairies. The
Celtic Revival The Celtic Revival (also referred to as the Celtic Twilight) was a variety of movements and trends in the 19th and 20th centuries that saw a renewed interest in aspects of Celtic culture. Artists and writers drew on the traditions of Gaelic lit ...
cast fairies as part of Ireland's cultural heritage. Carole Silvers and others suggested this fascination of English antiquarians arose from a reaction to greater industrialization and loss of older folk ways.Silver, Carole B. (1999) ''Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness''. Oxford University Press. p. 47 .


Descriptions

Fairies are generally described as human in appearance and having magical powers. Diminutive fairies of various kinds have been reported through centuries, ranging from quite tiny to the size of a human.Briggs (1976) p. 98. These small sizes could be magically assumed, rather than constant.Yeats (1988) p. 2. Some smaller fairies could expand their figures to imitate humans. On
Orkney Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island A ...

Orkney
, fairies were described as short in stature, dressed in dark grey, and sometimes seen in
armour Armour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage a ...
. In some folklore, fairies have green eyes. Some depictions of fairies show them with footwear, others as
barefoot Barefoot is the most common term for the state of not wearing any footwear. Wearing footwear is an exclusively human characteristic, however some animals held by humans are also issued with footwear, such as horses and, more rarely, dogs an ...

barefoot
. Wings, while common in Victorian and later artworks, are rare in folklore; fairies flew by means of magic, sometimes perched on stems or the backs of birds.Briggs (1976) p. 148. Modern illustrations often include
dragonfly A dragonfly is a flying insect The Pterygota (Ancient Greek ''πτερυγωτός'' (pterugōtós, “winged”)) are a Subclass (biology), subclass of insects that includes the winged insects. It also includes insect orders that are sec ...

dragonfly
or
butterfly Butterflies are insect Insects (from Latin ') are pancrustacean Hexapoda, hexapod invertebrates of the class (biology), class Insecta. They are the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three ...

butterfly
wings.


Origins

Early modern ''fairies'' does not derive from a single origin; the term is a conflation of disparate elements from
folk belief Folk or Folks may refer to: Sociology *Nation *People * Folklore ** Folk art ** Folk dance ** Folk hero ** Folk music *** Folk metal *** Folk punk *** Folk rock ** Folk religion * Folk taxonomy Arts, entertainment, and media * Folk Plus or Folk + ...
sources, influenced by literature and speculation. In folklore of Ireland, the mythic , or 'people of the fairy hills', have come to a modern meaning somewhat inclusive of fairies. The Scandinavian elves also served as an influence. Folklorists and mythologists have variously depicted fairies as: the unworthy dead, the children of
Eve Eve (; ; ar, حَوَّاء, Ḥawwāʾ; el, Εὕα, Heúa; la, Eva, Heva; : romanized: ) is a figure in the in the . According to the origin story, "Creation myths are symbolic stories describing how the universe and its inhabitants came ...

Eve
, a kind of
demon A demon is a supernatural being, typically associated with evil, prevalent historically in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in Media (communication), media such as comics, video games, movies, an ...

demon
, a species independent of humans, an older race of humans, and fallen
angel An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such ...

angel
s. The folkloristic or mythological elements combine
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
,
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...
and
Greco-Roman The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco-Roman culture" or ; spelled Graeco-Roman in the Commonwealth), as understood by modern scholars and writers, refers to geographical regions and countries that culturally—and so historically—were ...
elements. Folklorists have suggested that 'fairies' arose from various earlier beliefs, which lost currency with the advent of Christianity. These disparate explanations are not necessarily incompatible, as 'fairies' may be traced to multiple sources.


Demoted angels

A Christian tenet held that fairies were a class of "demoted"
angel An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such ...

angel
s. One story described a group of angels revolting, and God ordering the gates of heaven shut; those still in heaven remained angels, those in hell became demons, and those caught in between became fairies. Others wrote that some angels, not being godly enough, yet not evil enough for hell, were thrown out of heaven. This concept may explain the tradition of paying a "teind" or
tithe A tithe (; from : ''teogoþa'' "tenth") is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in or s, whereas historically tithes were ...
to hell; as fallen angels, although not quite devils, they could be viewed as subjects of Satan. , in his dissertation ''
Daemonologie ''Daemonologie''—in full ''Daemonologie, In Forme of a Dialogue, Divided into three Books: By the High and Mighty Prince, James &c.''—was first published in 1597 by King James VI of Scotland James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June ...
'', stated the term "faries" referred to illusory spirits (demonic entities) that prophesied to, consorted with, and transported the individuals they served; in medieval times, a witch or sorcerer who had a pact with a
familiar spirit In European folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, ...
might receive these services. In England's
Theosophist Theosophy is a religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, proph ...
circles of the 19th century, a belief in the "angelic" nature of fairies was reported. Entities referred to as Devas were said to guide many processes of
nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...

nature
, such as
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
of organisms, growth of
plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel ...

plant
s, etc., many of which resided inside the Sun (Solar
Angels An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such ...
). The more Earthbound Devas included ''nature spirits'', ''
elemental An elemental is a mythic being that is described in occult and alchemical works from around the time of the European Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. was a period in European history marking the transiti ...

elemental
s'', and ''fairies'', which were described as appearing in the form of colored flames, roughly the size of a human.
Arthur Conan Doyle Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for ''A Study in Scarlet'', the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Hol ...
, in his 1922 book ''The Coming of the Fairies''; ''The Theosophic View of Fairies'', reported that eminent theosophist E. L. Gardner had likened fairies to butterflies, whose function was to provide an essential link between the energy of the sun and the plants of Earth, describing them as having no clean-cut shape ... small, hazy, and somewhat luminous clouds of colour with a brighter sparkish nucleus. "That growth of a plant which we regard as the customary and inevitable result of associating the three factors of sun, seed, and soil would never take place if the fairy builders were absent." For a similar concept in Persian mythology, see
Peri In Persian mythology Persian mythology or Iranian mythology ( Persian: افسانه‌های ایران) is the body of the myths originally told by ancient Persians and other Iranian peoples The Iranian peoples or the Iranic peoples, ...

Peri
.


Demoted pagan deities

At one time it was thought that fairies were originally worshiped as deities, such as
nymph A nymph ( grc, νύμφη, nýmphē, el, script=Latn, nímfi, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Gree ...

nymph
s and tree spirits, and with the burgeoning predominance of the
Christian Church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. ...

Christian Church
, reverence for these deities carried on, but in a dwindling state of perceived power. Many deprecated deities of older folklore and myth were repurposed as fairies in Victorian fiction (See the works of W. B. Yeats for examples).


Fairies as demons

A recorded Christian belief of the 17th century cast all fairies as demons. This perspective grew more popular with the rise of
Puritanism The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and should become more Protestant. ...
among the
Reformed Church Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christianity, Christian practice set ...

Reformed Church
of England (See:
Anglicanism Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia * ...
). The
hobgoblin A hobgoblin is a household spirit A household deity is a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/su ...
, once a friendly household spirit, became classed as a wicked goblin. Dealing with fairies was considered a form of witchcraft, and punished as such.Briggs (1976) "Traffic with fairies" and "Trooping fairies" pp. 409–12. In
William Shakespeare's William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of the world's greatest dramatists. He is often called England' ...
''
A Midsummer Night's Dream ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' is a comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Humour (Commonwealth English The use of the Eng ...

A Midsummer Night's Dream
'',
Oberon Oberon () is a king of the fairies A fairy (also ''fay'', ''fae'', ''fey'', ''fair folk'', or ''faerie'') is a type of mythical Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of pe ...

Oberon
, king of the faeries, states that neither he nor his court fear the church bells, which the renowned author and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis cast as a politic disassociation from faeries. In an era of intellectual and religious upheaval, some Victorian reappraisals of mythology cast deities in general as metaphors for natural events, which was later refuted by other authors (See: '' The Triumph of the Moon'', by
Ronald Hutton Ronald Edmund Hutton (born 19 December 1953) is an English historian who specialises in Early Modern Britain, British folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions ...
). This contentious environment of thought contributed to the modern meaning of 'fairies'.


Spirits of the dead

One belief held that fairies were spirits of the dead.Lewis (1994) p. 136. This derived from many factors common in various folklore and myths: same or similar tales of both ghosts and fairies; the Irish , origin of their term for fairies, were ancient burial mounds; deemed dangerous to eat food in
Fairyland Fairyland (''Faerie'', Scottish ''Elfame'', c.f. Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian was a North Germanic languages, North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their Viking expansion, overseas ...
and
Hades Hades (; grc-gre, ᾍδης, Háidēs; ), in the ancient Greek religion Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture share ...

Hades
; the dead and fairies depicted as living underground. Diane Purkiss observed an equating of fairies with the untimely dead who left "unfinished lives". One tale recounted a man caught by the fairies, who found that whenever he looked steadily at a fairy, it appeared as a dead neighbor of his.Briggs (1967) p. 15. This theory was among the more common traditions related, although many informants also expressed doubts.Briggs (1967) p. 141.


Hidden people

There is an outdated theory that fairy folklore evolved from folk memories of a prehistoric race: newcomers superseded a body of earlier human or humanoid peoples, and the memories of this defeated race developed into modern conceptions of fairies. Proponents find support in the tradition of cold iron as a charm against fairies, viewed as a cultural memory of invaders with iron weapons displacing peoples who had just stone, bone, wood, etc., at their disposal, and were easily defeated. 19th-century archaeologists uncovered underground rooms in the Orkney islands that resembled the Elfland described in
Childe Rowland Childe Rowland is a fairy tale, the most popular version written by Joseph Jacobs in his ''English Fairy Tales'', published in 1890, based on an earlier version published in 1814 by Robert Jamieson (antiquary), Robert Jamieson. Jamieson's was repeat ...

Childe Rowland
, which lent additional support. In folklore, flint arrowheads from the
Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology ...

Stone Age
were attributed to the fairies as "
elfshotElfshot or elf-shot is a medical condition described in Anglo-Saxon medical texts, notably ''Wið færstice'', and believed to be caused by invisible elves shooting invisible arrows at a person or animal, causing sudden shooting pains localised to a ...
",Froud, Brian and Lee, Alan (1978) ''Faeries''. New York, Peacock Press . while their green clothing and underground homes spoke to a need for camouflage and covert shelter from hostile humans, their magic a necessary skill for combating those with superior weaponry. In a Victorian tenet of evolution, mythic cannibalism among
ogre An ogre (feminine Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with and s. Although think of femininity as , there is also widespread recognition that some behavio ...

ogre
s was attributed to memories of more savage races, practising alongside "superior" races of more refined sensibilities.


Elementals

A theory that fairies, et al., were intelligent species, distinct from humans and angels.Lewis (1994) p. 134. An alchemist,
Paracelsus Paracelsus (; c. 1493 – 24 September 1541), born Theophrastus von Hohenheim (full name Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim), was a Swiss physician, alchemist Alchemy (from Arabic: ''al-kīmiyā''; from Ancient Greek: ' ...

Paracelsus
, classed
gnome A gnome is a mythological creature A legendary or mythological creature, also called fabulous creature and fabulous beast, is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.http ...

gnome
s and
sylph A sylph (also called sylphid) is an air spirit stemming from the 16th-century works of Paracelsus Paracelsus (; c. 1493 – 24 September 1541), born Theophrastus von Hohenheim (full name Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim), ...

sylph
s as
elemental An elemental is a mythic being that is described in occult and alchemical works from around the time of the European Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. was a period in European history marking the transiti ...

elemental
s, meaning magical entities who personify a particular force of nature, and exert powers over these forces.Silver (1999) p. 38. Folklore accounts have described fairies as "spirits of the air".


Characteristics

Much folklore of fairies involves methods of protecting oneself from their malice, by means such as cold iron, charms (see
amulet An amulet, also known as a good luck charm A good luck charm is an amulet or other item that is believed to bring good luck. Almost any object can be used as a charm. Coins and buttons are examples, as are small objects given as gifts, due t ...

amulet
,
talisman A talisman is any object ascribed with religious or magical powers intended to protect, heal, or harm individuals for whom they are made. Talismans are often portable objects carried on someone in a variety of ways, but can also be installed perm ...

talisman
) of
rowan The rowans ( or ) or mountain-ashes are shrubs or trees in the genus ''Sorbus ''Sorbus'' is a genus of over 100 species of trees and shrubs in the rose family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals in ...

rowan
trees or various
herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is app ...

herb
s, or simply shunning locations "known" to be theirs, ergo avoiding offending any fairies. Less harmful pranks ascribed to fairies include: tangling the hair of sleepers into fairy-locks (aka elf-locks), stealing small items, and leading a traveler astray. More dangerous behaviors were also attributed to fairies; any form of sudden death might have stemmed from a fairy kidnapping, the evident corpse a magical replica of wood. Consumption (
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the in ...

tuberculosis
) was sometimes blamed on fairies who forced young men and women to dance at
revels ''Revels'' is a contemporary series of American seasonal stage performances, incorporating singing, dancing, recitals, and theatrics loosely organized around a central theme or narrative. The folk-tradition-based performances started in 1957, we ...
every night, causing them to waste away from lack of rest.
Rowan The rowans ( or ) or mountain-ashes are shrubs or trees in the genus ''Sorbus ''Sorbus'' is a genus of over 100 species of trees and shrubs in the rose family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals in ...

Rowan
trees were considered sacred to fairies, and a charm tree to protect one's home.


Classifications

In
Scottish folklore Scottish folklore encompasses the folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Phil ...
, fairies are divided into the ''Seelie Court'' (more beneficently inclined, but still dangerous), and the ''Unseelie Court'' (more malicious). While fairies of the Seelie Court enjoyed playing generally harmless pranks on humans, those of the Unseelie Court often brought harm to humans for entertainment. Both could be dangerous to humans if offended. ''Trooping fairies'' refers to those who appear in groups and might form settlements, as opposed to solitary fairies, who do not live or associate with others of their kind. In this context, the term ''fairy'' is usually held in a wider sense, including various similar beings, such as dwarves and
elves An elf (plural: ''elves'') is a type of humanoid A humanoid (; from English ''human'' and ''-oid In linguistics, a suffix (sometimes termed postfix ) is an affix which is placed after the Stem (linguistics), stem of a word. Common ...

elves
of
Germanic folkloreGermanic folklore is the folklore of the Germanic peoples: *Dutch folklore *English folklore *German folklore *Scandinavian folklore *Scottish folklore, Lowland Scottish folklore *Swiss folklore See also *Germanic mythology *Germanic paganism *Germ ...
.Briggs (1976) "Traffic with fairies" and "Trooping fairies" pp. 409–12.


Changelings

A considerable amount of lore about fairies revolves around
changeling A changeling, also historically referred to as an auf or oaf, is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, ...

changeling
s, fairies left in the place of stolen humans. In particular, folklore describes how to prevent the fairies from stealing babies and substituting
changeling A changeling, also historically referred to as an auf or oaf, is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, ...

changeling
s, and abducting older people as well.Briggs (1976) p. 25. The theme of the swapped child is common in medieval literature and reflects concern over infants thought to be afflicted with unexplained diseases, disorders, or developmental disabilities. In pre-industrial Europe, a peasant family's subsistence frequently depended upon the productive labor of each member, and a person who was a permanent drain on the family's scarce resources could pose a threat to the survival of the entire family.


Protective charms

In terms of protective charms, wearing clothing inside out, church bells,
St. John's wort ''Hypericum perforatum'', known as perforate St John's-wort, is a flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plants, with 64 Order(biology), orders ...
, and
four-leaf clover The four-leaf clover is a rare variation of the common three-leaf clover Clover or trefoil are common names for plants of the ''Trifolium'' (Latin, ''tres'' "three" + ''folium'' "leaf"), consisting of about 300 of s in the or pea family o ...

four-leaf clover
s are regarded as effective. In
Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador (, ) is the easternmost provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic Canada, Atlantic region. It is composed of the island of Newfoundland (island), Newfoundland and the continental ...
folklore, the most popular type of fairy protection is bread, varying from stale bread to
hard tack Hardtack (or hard tack) is a simple type of biscuit or Cracker (food), cracker made from flour, water, and sometimes salt. Hardtack is inexpensive and long-lasting. It is used for sustenance in the absence of perishable foods, commonly during long ...
or a slice of fresh homemade bread. Bread is associated with the home and the hearth, as well as with industry and the taming of nature, and as such, seems to be disliked by some types of fairies. On the other hand, in much of the Celtic folklore, baked goods are a traditional offering to the folk, as are cream and butter. "The prototype of food, and therefore a symbol of life, bread was one of the commonest protections against fairies. Before going out into a fairy-haunted place, it was customary to put a piece of dry bread in one's pocket." In
County Wexford County Wexford ( ga, Contae Loch Garman) is a county A county is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geogr ...
,
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
, in 1882, it was reported that: "if an infant is carried out after dark a piece of bread is wrapped in its bib or dress, and this protects it from any witchcraft or evil." Bells also have an ambiguous role; while they protect against fairies, the fairies riding on horseback — such as the fairy queen — often have bells on their harness. This may be a distinguishing trait between the
Seelie Court The fairies A fairy (also ''fay'', ''fae'', ''fey'', ''fair folk'', or ''faerie'') is a type of mythical Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the ...
from the Unseelie Court, such that fairies use them to protect themselves from more wicked members of their race. Another ambiguous piece of folklore revolves about poultry: a cock's crow drove away fairies, but other tales recount fairies keeping poultry. While many fairies will confuse travelers on the path, the
will-o'-the-wisp In folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some ...
can be avoided by not following it. Certain locations, known to be haunts of fairies, are to be avoided; C. S. Lewis reported hearing of a cottage more feared for its reported fairies than its reported ghost. In particular, digging in fairy hills was unwise. Paths that the fairies travel are also wise to avoid. Home-owners have knocked corners from houses because the corner blocked the fairy path, and cottages have been built with the front and back doors in line, so that the owners could, in need, leave them both open and let the fairies troop through all night. Locations such as fairy forts were left undisturbed; even cutting brush on fairy forts was reputed to be the death of those who performed the act. Fairy trees, such as thorn trees, were dangerous to chop down; one such tree was left alone in Scotland, though it prevented a road from being widened for seventy years. Other actions were believed to offend fairies. Brownies were known to be driven off by being given clothing, though some folktales recounted that they were offended by the inferior quality of the garments given, and others merely stated it, some even recounting that the brownie was delighted with the gift and left with it. Other brownies left households or farms because they heard a complaint, or a compliment. People who saw the fairies were advised not to look closely, because they resented infringements on their privacy. The need to not offend them could lead to problems: one farmer found that fairies threshed his corn, but the threshing continued after all his corn was gone, and he concluded that they were stealing from his neighbors, leaving him the choice between offending them, dangerous in itself, and profiting by the theft. Millers were thought by the Scots to be "no canny", owing to their ability to control the forces of nature, such as fire in the kiln, water in the burn, and for being able to set machinery a-whirring. Superstitious communities sometimes believed that the miller must be in league with the fairies. In Scotland, fairies were often mischievous and to be feared. No one dared to set foot in the mill or kiln at night, as it was known that the fairies brought their corn to be milled after dark. So long as the locals believed this, the miller could sleep secure in the knowledge that his stores were not being robbed. John Fraser, the miller of Whitehill, claimed to have hidden and watched the fairies trying unsuccessfully to work the mill. He said he decided to come out of hiding and help them, upon which one of the fairy women gave him a ''gowpen'' (double handful of meal) and told him to put it in his empty ''girnal'' (store), saying that the store would remain full for a long time, no matter how much he took out.Gauldie, E. (1981) ''The Scottish Miller 1700–1900''. Edinburgh, John McDonald. p. 187. It is also believed that to know the name of a particular fairy, a person could summon it and force it to do their bidding. The name could be used as an insult towards the fairy in question, but it could also rather contradictorily be used to grant powers and gifts to the user. Before the advent of modern medicine, many physiological conditions were untreatable and when children were born with abnormalities, it was common to blame the fairies.


Legends

Sometimes fairies are described as assuming the guise of an animal. In Scotland, it was peculiar to the fairy women to assume the shape of deer; while witches became mice, hares, cats, gulls, or black sheep. In "The Legend of Knockshigowna", in order to frighten a farmer who pastured his herd on fairy ground, a fairy queen took on the appearance of a great horse, with the wings of an eagle, and a tail like a dragon, hissing loud and spitting fire. Then she would change into a little man lame of a leg, with a bull's head, and a lambent flame playing round it. In the 19th-century
child ballad The Child Ballads are 305 traditional ballad A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads derive from the medieval French ''chanson balladée'' or '' ballade'', which were originally "dance songs". Ballads were par ...
"
Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight The word ''lady'' is a term of respect for a girl or woman, the equivalent of gentleman. Once used to describe only women of a high social class or status, the female equivalent of lord, now it may refer to any adult woman. Informal use of this ...
", the elf-knight is a
Bluebeard "Bluebeard" (french: Barbe bleue, ) is a French folktale, the most famous surviving version of which was written by Charles Perrault Charles Perrault ( , also , ; 12 January 1628 – 16 May 1703) was an iconic French author and member of th ...

Bluebeard
figure, and Isabel must trick and kill him to preserve her life.Child, Francis ''The English and Scottish Popular Ballads''. The child ballad "
Tam Lin Tam (or Tamas) Lin (also called Tamlane, Tamlin, Tambling, Tomlin, Tam Lien, Tam-a-Line, Tam Lyn, or Tam Lane) is a character in a legendary ballad originating from the Scottish Borders. It is also associated with a Reel (dance), reel of the sa ...
" reveals that the title character, though living among the fairies and having fairy powers, was, in fact, an "earthly knight" and though his life was pleasant ''now'', he feared that the fairies would pay him as their
teind In Scotland a teind () was a tithe A tithe (; from : ''teogoþa'' "tenth") is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in or ...
(tithe) to hell. "
Sir Orfeo ''Sir Orfeo'' is an anonymous Anonymous may refer to: * Anonymity, the state of an individual's identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown ** Anonymous work, a work of art or literature that has an unnamed or unkno ...
" tells how Sir Orfeo's wife was kidnapped by the King of Faerie and only by trickery and an excellent harping ability was he able to win her back. "Sir Degare" narrates the tale of a woman overcome by her fairy lover, who in later versions of the story is unmasked as a mortal. "
Thomas the Rhymer Sir Thomas de Ercildoun, better remembered as Thomas the Rhymer (fl. c. 1220 – 1298), also known as Thomas Learmont or True Thomas, was a Scottish laird and reputed prophet from Earlston (then called "Erceldoune") in the Scottish Border ...
" shows Thomas escaping with less difficulty, but he spends seven years in Elfland.
Oisín Oisín ( ), Osian, Ossian ( ), or anglicized as Osheen ( ) was regarded in legend as the greatest poet of Ireland, a warrior of the Fianna in the Ossianic or Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. He is the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill and of Sadhbh ( ...
is harmed not by his stay in Faerie but by his return; when he dismounts, the three centuries that have passed catch up with him, reducing him to an aged man. King Herla (O.E. ''"Herla cyning"''), originally a guise of Woden but later Christianised as a king in a tale by
Walter Map Walter Map ( la, Gualterius Mappus; 1130 – 1210) was a medieval writer. He wrote ''De nugis curialium ''De nugis curialium'' (Medieval Latin for ''"Of the trifles of courtiers"'' or loosely ''"Trinkets for the Court"'') is the major surv ...
, was said, by Map, to have visited a
dwarf Dwarf or dwarves may refer to: Common uses *Dwarf (folklore) Two dwarfs as depicted in a 19th-century edition of the '' Poetic Edda'' poem ''Völuspá'' (1895) by Lorenz Frølich">Völuspá.html" ;"title="Poetic Edda'' poem ''Völuspá">Poetic ...
's underground mansion and returned three centuries later; although only some of his men crumbled to dust on dismounting, Herla and his men who did not dismount were trapped on horseback, this being one account of the origin of the
Wild Hunt The Wild Hunt is a folklore motif (Motif E501 in Stith Thompson Stith Thompson (March 7, 1885 – January 10, 1976) was an American folklorist. He is the "Thompson" of the Aarne–Thompson–Uther Index, which indexes folktales by type, a ...
of
European folklore European folklore or Western folklore refers to the folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral tradi ...
. A common feature of the fairies is the use of magic to disguise their appearance. ''Fairy gold'' is notoriously unreliable, appearing as
gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...

gold
when paid but soon thereafter revealing itself to be leaves,
gorse ''Ulex'' (commonly known as gorse, furze, or whin) is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defin ...

gorse
blossoms,
gingerbread Gingerbread refers to a broad category of baked goods, typically flavored with ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon and sweetened with honey, sugar Sugar is the generic name for Sweetness, sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of whic ...

gingerbread
cakes, or a variety of other comparatively worthless things. These illusions are also implicit in the tales of '' fairy ointment''. Many tales from
Northern Europe Northern Europe is the northern region of Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54th parallel north, 54°N, or may be based on other geographic ...
''Northumberland Folk Tales'', by Rosalind Kerven (2005) Antony Rowe Ltd, p. 532. tell of a mortal woman summoned to attend a fairy birth — sometimes attending a mortal, kidnapped woman's childbed. Invariably, the woman is given something for the child's eyes, usually an ointment; through mischance, or sometimes curiosity, she uses it on one or both of her own eyes. At that point, she sees where she is; one midwife realizes that she was not attending a great lady in a fine house but her own runaway maid-servant in a wretched cave. She escapes without making her ability known but sooner or later betrays that she can see the fairies. She is invariably blinded in that eye or in both if she used the ointment on both. There have been claims by people in the past, like
William Blake William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his life, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the Romantic poetry, poetry and visual art of t ...

William Blake
, to have seen fairy funerals. Allan Cunningham in his ''Lives of Eminent British Painters'' records that William Blake claimed to have seen a fairy funeral:
'Did you ever see a fairy's funeral, madam?' said Blake to a lady who happened to sit next to him. 'Never, sir!' said the lady. 'I have,' said Blake, 'but not before last night.' And he went on to tell how, in his garden, he had seen 'a procession of creatures of the size and colour of green and grey grasshoppers, bearing a body laid out on a rose-leaf, which they buried with songs, and then disappeared.' They are believed to be an omen of death.


Tuatha Dé Danann

The Tuatha Dé Danann are a race of supernaturally-gifted people in Irish mythology. They are thought to represent the main deities of pre-Christian Ireland. Many of the
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
modern tales of the
Tuatha Dé Danann The Tuath(a) Dé Danann (, meaning "the folk of the goddess Danu"), also known by the earlier name Tuath Dé ("tribe of the gods"),Koch, John T. ''Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia''. ABC-CLIO, 2006. pp.1693-1695 are a supernatural rac ...
refer to these beings as fairies, though in more ancient times they were regarded as
goddess A goddess is a female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex Sex is either of two divisions, typically male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, ...

goddess
es and
god In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...

god
s. The Tuatha Dé Danann were spoken of as having come from islands in the north of the world or, in other sources, from the sky. After being defeated in a series of battles with other otherworldly beings, and then by the ancestors of the current
Irish people The Irish ( ga, Muintir na hÉireann or ''Na hÉireannaigh'') are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has ...
, they were said to have withdrawn to the ''sídhe'' (fairy mounds), where they lived on in popular imagination as "fairies". They are associated with several Otherworld realms including ''
Mag Mell In Irish mythology The mythology Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfictional ( memoir, biography, news report, docume ...
'' (the Pleasant Plain), ''
Emain Ablach Emain Ablach (also Emne; Middle Irish Emhain Abhlach or Eamhna; meaning "Emhain of the Apples") is a mythical island paradise in Irish mythology. It is often regarded as the realm of the sea god Manannán Mac Lir and identified with either the Is ...
'' (the place of apples)), and '' Tir na nÓg'' (the Land of Youth).


Aos Sí

The ''aos sí'' is the Irish term for a supernatural race in
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
, comparable to the fairies or elves. They are variously said to be ancestors, the spirits of nature, or goddesses and gods. Evans Wentz, W. Y. (1966, 1990
The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries
Gerrards Cross, Colin Smythe Humanities Press
A common theme found among the Celtic nations describes a race of people who had been driven out by invading humans. In old Celtic fairy lore the '' Aos Sí'' (people of the fairy mounds) are immortals living in the ancient barrows and cairns. The Irish
banshee A banshee ( ; Modern Irish Irish ( in ), sometimes referred to as Gaelic, is a of the branch of the , which is a part of the . Irish is to the and was the population's until the late 18th century. Although has been the first langu ...

banshee
(
Irish Gaelic Irish ( in Standard Irish Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrology), an object that bears a d ...
''bean sí'' which means "woman of the fairy mound") is sometimes described as a ghost.Briggs (1976) p. 15.


Scottish Sìthe

In the 1691 ''The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies'', Reverend Robert Kirk, minister of the Parish of
Aberfoyle, Stirling Aberfoyle ( gd, Obar Phuill) is a village in the historic county and registration county A registration county was, in Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. Wi ...
, Scotland, wrote:
These Siths or Fairies they call Sleagh Maith or the Good People...are said to be of middle nature between Man and Angel, as were Daemons thought to be of old; of intelligent fluidous Spirits, and light changeable bodies (lyke those called Astral) somewhat of the nature of a condensed cloud, and best seen in twilight. These bodies be so pliable through the sublety of Spirits that agitate them, that they can make them appear or disappear at pleasure


In literature

The word "fairy" was used to describe an individual inhabitant of Faerie before the time of
Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (; – 25 October 1400) was an English poet and author. Widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th ...

Chaucer
. Fairies appeared in medieval romances as one of the beings that a
knight errant A knight-errant (or knight errant) is a figure of medieval chivalric romance literature. The adjective ''errant A knight-errant (or knight errant) is a figure of medieval chivalric romance literature. The adjective '' errant'' (meaning "wander ...
might encounter. A fairy lady appeared to
Sir Launfal ''Sir Launfal'' is a 1045-line Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent ...
and demanded his love; like the fairy bride of ordinary folklore, she imposed a prohibition on him that in time he violated.
Sir Orfeo ''Sir Orfeo'' is an anonymous Anonymous may refer to: * Anonymity, the state of an individual's identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown ** Anonymous work, a work of art or literature that has an unnamed or unkno ...
's wife was carried off by the King of Faerie. Huon of Bordeaux is aided by King
Oberon Oberon () is a king of the fairies A fairy (also ''fay'', ''fae'', ''fey'', ''fair folk'', or ''faerie'') is a type of mythical Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of pe ...

Oberon
.Lewis (1994) pp. 129–30. These fairy characters dwindled in number as the medieval era progressed; the figures became wizards and enchantresses.Briggs (1976). "Fairies in medieval romances". p. 132. The oldest fairies on record in England were first described by the historian Gervase of Tilbury in the 13th century. In the 1485 book '' Le Morte d'Arthur'',
Morgan le Fay In Arthurian legend, Morgan le Fay (, meaning "Morgan the Fairy"), alternatively known as Morgan ''n''a, Morgain ''a/e Morg e, Morgant Morge , and Morgueamong other names and spellings ( cy, Morgên y Dylwythen Deg, kw, Morgen ...
, whose connection to the realm of Faerie is implied in her name, is a woman whose magic powers stem from study. While somewhat diminished with time, fairies never completely vanished from the tradition. ''
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ''Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'' is a late 14th-century in . The author is unknown; the title was given centuries later. It is one of the best-known stories, with its plot combining two types of folk motifs: the , and the exchange of wi ...
'' is a 14th-century tale, but the Green Knight himself is an otherworldly being.
Edmund Spenser Edmund Spenser (; 1552/1553 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for ''The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English Epic poetry, epic poem by Edmund Spenser. Books IIII were first published in 1590, then republished i ...

Edmund Spenser
featured fairies in his 1590 book ''
The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesth ...
''. In many works of fiction, fairies are freely mixed with the
nymph A nymph ( grc, νύμφη, nýmphē, el, script=Latn, nímfi, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Gree ...

nymph
s and
satyr In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A be ...

satyr
s of classical tradition, while in others (e.g.,
Lamia Lamia (; grc-gre, Λάμια), in ancient Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradit ...
), they were seen as displacing the Classical beings. 15th-century poet and monk
John Lydgate John Lydgate of Bury (c. 1370 – c. 1451) was an English monk and poet, born in Lidgate, near Haverhill, Suffolk, Haverhill, Suffolk, England. Lydgate's poetic output is prodigious, amounting, at a conservative count, to about 145,000 lines. He ex ...

John Lydgate
wrote that
King Arthur King Arthur ( cy, Brenin Arthur, kw, Arthur Gernow, br, Roue Arzhur) was a Legend, legendary Celtic Britons, British leader who, according to Historians in England during the Middle Ages, medieval histories and Romance (heroic literature), ...

King Arthur
was crowned in "the land of the fairy" and taken in his death by four fairy queens, to
Avalon Avalon (; la, Insula Avallonis, cy, Ynys Afallon, Ynys Afallach; kw, Enys Avalow; literally meaning "the isle of fruit r apple R, or r, is the eighteenth letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter ...

Avalon
, where he lies under a "fairy hill" until he is needed again. Fairies appear as significant characters in
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

William Shakespeare
's ''
A Midsummer Night's Dream ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' is a comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Humour (Commonwealth English The use of the Eng ...

A Midsummer Night's Dream
'', which is set simultaneously in the woodland and in the realm of Fairyland, under the light of the Moon and in which a disturbance of nature caused by a fairy dispute creates tension underlying the plot and informing the actions of the characters. According to Maurice Hunt, Chair of the English Department at Baylor University, the blurring of the identities of fantasy and reality makes possible "that pleasing, narcotic dreaminess associated with the fairies of the play". Shakespeare's contemporary
Michael Drayton Michael Drayton (1563 – 23 December 1631) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval Engla ...
features fairies in his ''Nimphidia'', and from these stem
Alexander Pope Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) is seen as one of the greatest English poets and the foremost poet of the early 18th century. He is best known for satirical and discursive poetry, including ''The Rape of the Lock ''The Rape o ...

Alexander Pope
's sylphs of the 1712 poem ''
The Rape of the Lock ''The Rape of the Lock'' is a mock-heroic Mock-heroic, mock-epic or heroi-comic works are typically satire Satire is a of the , , and s, usually in the form of and less frequently , in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcoming ...
''. In the mid-17th century the French literary style ''
précieuses The French literary style called ''préciosité'' (, ''preciousness'') arose in the 17th century from the lively conversations and playful word games of ''les précieuses'' (), the intellectual, witty and educated women who frequented the salon S ...
'' took up the oral tradition of such tales to write
fairy tale A fairy tale, fairytale, wonder tale, magic tale, fairy story or ''Märchen'' is an instance of European folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common ...

fairy tale
s, and
Madame d'Aulnoy Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d'Aulnoy (1650/1651 – 14 January 1705), also known as Countess d'Aulnoy, was a French writer known for her literary fairy tale A fairy tale, fairytale, wonder tale, magic tale, fairy story o ...

Madame d'Aulnoy
invented the term ''contes de fée'' ("fairy tale"). While the tales told by the ''précieuses'' included many fairies, they were less common in other countries' tales; indeed, the
Brothers Grimm The Brothers Grimm ( or ), Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب '' Yaʿqūb'', gr, Ἰακώβ, ''Iakṓb''), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל; ar, إِسْرَائِيل), officially known as the ...
included fairies in their first edition but decided this was not authentically German and altered the language in later editions, changing each ''Fee'' ("fairy") to an enchantress or wise woman. J. R. R. Tolkien described these tales as taking place in the land of Faerie. Additionally, not all folktales that feature fairies are generally categorized as fairy tales. The modern depiction of fairies was shaped in the literature of
Romanticism Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to ...
during the
Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom The history of the United Kingdom began in the early eighteenth century with the Treaty of Union A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international l ...
. Writers such as
Walter Scott Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832), was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright and historian. Many of his works remain classics of European and Scottish literature Scottish literature is literatu ...

Walter Scott
and
James Hogg James Hogg (1770 – 21 November 1835) was a Scottish poet, novelist and essayist who wrote in both Scots and English. As a young man he worked as a shepherd and farmhand, and was largely self-educated through reading. He was a friend of many o ...
were inspired by folklore which featured fairies, such as the ''
Border ballad Border ballads are a group of songs in the long tradition of ballad A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads derive from the medieval French ''chanson balladée'' or '' ballade'', which were originally "dance songs" ...
s''. This era saw an increase in the popularity of collecting fairy folklore and an increase in the creation of original works with fairy characters. In
Rudyard Kipling Joseph Rudyard Kipling ( ; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)''The Times ''The Times'' is a British daily Daily or The Daily may refer to: Journalism * Daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical pub ...

Rudyard Kipling
's 1906 book of short stories and poems, ''
Puck of Pook's Hill File:Inscription on Smugglers Inn, Osmington Mills - geograph.org.uk - 414702.jpg, Quotation from ''A Smuggler's Song'' on an inn in Dorset, with "Smugglers" replacing "Gentlemen". ''Puck of Pook's Hill'' is a fantasy book by Rudyard Kipling, p ...
'', Puck holds to scorn the moralizing fairies of other Victorian works. The period also saw a revival of older themes in
fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy lit ...

fantasy
literature, such as C.S. Lewis's
Narnia ''The Chronicles of Narnia'' is a series of seven fantasy novels by British author C. S. Lewis. Illustrated by Pauline Baynes Pauline Diana Baynes (9 September 1922 – 1 August 2008) was an English people, English illustrator, a ...

Narnia
books, which, while featuring many such classical beings as
faun The faun (, grc, φαῦνος, ''phaunos'', ) is a half-Human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, includi ...

faun
s and
dryad A dryad (; el, Δρυάδες, ''sing''.: ) is a tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a ...

dryad
s, mingles them freely with
hag A hag is a wizened old woman, or a kind of fairy A fairy (also ''fay'', ''fae'', ''fey'', ''fair folk'', or ''faerie'') is a type of mythical Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a parti ...

hag
s,
giant In folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that so ...

giant
s, and other creatures of the folkloric fairy tradition. Victorian flower fairies were popularized in part by Queen Mary's keen interest in fairy art and by British illustrator and poet Cicely Mary Barker's series of eight books published in 1923 through 1948. Imagery of fairies in literature became prettier and smaller as time progressed.
Andrew Lang Andrew Lang (31 March 1844 – 20 July 1912) was a Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation Evaluation is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interactin ...

Andrew Lang
, complaining of "the fairies of polyanthuses and gardenias and apple blossoms" in the introduction to ''
The Lilac Fairy Book ''The Langs' Fairy Books'' are a series of 25 collections of true and fictional stories for children published between 1889 Events January–March * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the Gregori ...
'' (1910), observed that: "These fairies try to be funny, and fail; or they try to preach, and succeed." A story of the origin of fairies appears in a chapter about
Peter Pan Peter Pan is a fictional character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. A free-spirited and mischievous young boy who can fly and never grows up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood having adventures on the mythi ...

Peter Pan
in J. M. Barrie's 1902 novel ''
The Little White Bird ''The Little White Bird'' is a novel by the Scottish writer J. M. Barrie, ranging in tone from fantasy and whimsy to social comedy with dark, aggressive undertones. It was published in November 1902, by Hodder & Stoughton Hodder & Stoughton is ...
'', and was incorporated into his later works about the character. Barrie wrote: "When the first baby laughed for the first time, his laugh broke into a million pieces, and they all went skipping about. That was the beginning of fairies." Fairies are seen in
Neverland Neverland is a fictional island featured in the works of J. M. Barrie and those based on them. It is an imaginary faraway place where Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook, the Lost Boys (Peter Pan), Lost Boys, and some other mythical beings and c ...

Neverland
, in ''
Peter and Wendy ''Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up'' or ''Peter and Wendy'', often known simply as ''Peter Pan'', is a work by J. M. Barrie, in the form of a 1904 play and a 1911 novel. Both versions tell the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous yet ...
'', the 1911 novel version of J. M. Barrie's famous
Peter Pan Peter Pan is a fictional character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. A free-spirited and mischievous young boy who can fly and never grows up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood having adventures on the mythi ...

Peter Pan
stories, and its character
Tinker Bell Tinker Bell is a fictional character In fiction, a character (sometimes known as a fictional character) is a person or other being in a narrative (such as a novel, Play (theatre), play, television series, film, or video game). The character may b ...
has become a pop culture icon. When Peter Pan is guarding Wendy from pirates, the story says: "After a time he fell asleep, and some unsteady fairies had to climb over him on their way home from an orgy. Any of the other boys obstructing the fairy path at night they would have mischiefed, but they just tweaked Peter's nose and passed on."


In visual art

Images of fairies have appeared as illustrations, often in books of
fairy tale A fairy tale, fairytale, wonder tale, magic tale, fairy story or ''Märchen'' is an instance of European folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common ...

fairy tale
s, as well as in photographic media and
sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling (the addition of material, as clay), ...

sculpture
. Some artists known for their depictions of fairies include Cicely Mary Barker, Amy Brown, David Delamare, Meredith Dillman,
Gustave Doré Paul Gustave Louis Christophe Doré ( , , ; 6 January 1832 – 23 January 1883) was a French artist, as a printmaker 300px, Rembrandt, ''Self-portrait'', etching">Self-portrait.html" ;"title="Rembrandt, ''Self-portrait">Rembrandt, ''Self ...

Gustave Doré
,
Brian Froud Brian Froud (born 1947) is an English fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often inspired by real world myth and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy literature and dr ...

Brian Froud
,
Warwick Goble Warwick Goble (22 November 1862 – 22 January 1943) was an illustrator of children's books. He specialized in Japanese and Indian themes. Goble was born in Dalston, north London, the son of a Vendor (supply chain), commercial traveller, and ...
, Jasmine Becket-Griffith,
Rebecca Guay Rebecca Guay is an artist known early in her career as an illustrator, commissioned for work on role-playing games, collectible card games, Comics, comic books, as well as work on children's literature. Guay subsequently turned primarily toward Pai ...
, Florence Harrison, Kylie InGold, Greta James, Alan Lee (illustrator), Alan Lee, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Myrea Pettit, Arthur Rackham, Suza Scalora, and Nene Thomas. The Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor, MI are small doors installed into local buildings. Local children believe these are the front doors of fairy houses, and in some cases, small furniture, dishes, and various other things can be seen beyond the doors. The
Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom The history of the United Kingdom began in the early eighteenth century with the Treaty of Union A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international l ...
was particularly noted for fairy paintings. The Victorian painter Richard Dadd created paintings of fairy-folk with a sinister and malign tone. Other Victorian artists who depicted fairies include John Anster Fitzgerald, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Daniel Maclise, and Joseph Noel Paton. Interest in fairy-themed art enjoyed a brief renaissance following the publication of the Cottingley Fairies photographs in 1917, and a number of artists turned to painting fairy themes.


See also


General

* Fairy godmother * Tooth fairy * Fairy ring#Cultural references, Fairy ring § Cultural references * Fairy Investigation Society


Popular culture

* Donas de fuera – Sicilian fairy-like folklore and witch trials * List of fairy and sprite characters * ''Artemis Fowl'', book series * ''Carnival Row'', TV series * ''The Chronicles of Prydain'', book series * ''Disney Fairies'', multimedia franchise * ''The Dresden Files'', book series * ''The Fairly OddParents'', animated TV series * ''A Little Snow Fairy Sugar'', anime * ''Lost Girl'', TV series * ''Rainbow Magic'', book series * ''Smile PreCure!'', anime * ''The Spiderwick Chronicles'', book series * ''Supernatural (American TV series), Supernatural'', TV series * ''True Blood'', TV series * ''Winx Club'', animated TV series


References


Citations


Bibliography

* D. L. Ashliman, ''Fairy Lore: A Handbook'' (Greenwood, 2006) *
Brian Froud Brian Froud (born 1947) is an English fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often inspired by real world myth and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy literature and dr ...

Brian Froud
and Alan Lee (illustrator), Alan Lee, ''Faeries (book), Faeries'' (Peacock Press/Bantam, New York, 1978) * Nicola Bown, ''Fairies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Art'' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) * Katharine Mary Briggs, Katharine Briggs, ''A Dictionary of Fairies: Hobgoblings, Brownies, Bogies, and other Supernatural Creatures'' (Bungay: Penguin, 1977) * Katharine Mary Briggs, Katharine Briggs, ''The Fairies in Tradition and Literature'', 2nd edition (London: Routledge, 2020) * Ronan Coghlan ''Handbook of Fairies'' (Capall Bann, 2002) * Richard Firth Green, ''Elf Queens and Holy Friars: Fairy Beliefs and the Medieval Church'' (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016) * Lizanne Henderson and Edward J. Cowan, ''Scottish Fairy Belief: A History'' (Edinburgh, 2001; 2007) * Ronald Hutton, "The Making of the Early Modern British Fairy Tradition", ''Historical Journal'' 57(4), 1135–57 * C. S. Lewis, ''The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature'' (1964) * Harmonia Saille "Walking the Faery Pathway", (O Books, London, 2010) * Patricia Lysaght, ''The Banshee: the Irish Supernatural Death Messenger'' (Glendale Press, Dublin, 1986) * Peter Narvaez, ''The Good People, New Fairylore Essays'' (Garland, New York, 1991) * Eva Pocs, ''Fairies and Witches at the boundary of south-eastern and central Europe'' FFC no 243 (Helsinki, 1989) * Joseph Ritson, ''Fairy Tales, Now First Collected: To which are prefixed two dissertations: 1. On Pygmies. 2. On Fairies'', London, 1831 * Diane Purkiss, ''Troublesome Things: A History of Fairies and Fairy Stories'' (Allen Lane, 2000) * Carole G. Silver, ''Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness'' (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) * Tomkinson, John L
''Haunted Greece: Nymphs, Vampires and other Exotika,''
(Anagnosis, 2004)


External links

* * *
Audio recording of a Scandinavian folktale explaining fairy origins
(streaming and downloadable formats)
Audio recording of a traditional fairy story from Newfoundland, Canada
(streaming and downloadable formats) {{Authority control Fairies European legendary creatures tt:Дию пәрие