Dangers in Faery
Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder
Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamor.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice!
- Terry Pratchett
Hi dear seeker of the Fae,
I hope you had a lot of wonderful experiences in last weeks lesson. I would love to hear from you.
For this lesson we will explore the dangers of Faery, the dangers that are mentioned in folklore and we will explore how we should behave when we enter the Realm of Fae.
So many of these things may or may not make sense to you, and it is hard to distinguish from mere superstition and actual danger.
But let’s have a look at some common rules we can find when dealing with the Fae.
One of the first things is, that you actually shouldn't call them faeries. It is always advised to use euphemisms, like the gentle folk, the gentry, the wee ones, the little people, the hill folk, knockers, the hidden ones, the elven folk, the shining ones, the house guests. I personally like to call them the fair folk, or good neighbors.
There is also an old Scottish poem which demonstrates some of the variety of synonyms terms we see in the folk cultures:
If you call me imp or elf
I counsel you, look well to yourself;
If you call me fairy
I’ll work you great misery;
If good neighbor you call me
Then good neighbor I will be;
But if you call me seelie wight
I’ll be your friend both day and night.
We are often warned in folklore not to accept food and drink from faeries, as it is believed it can entrap us inside the Faery Realm, a well known poem about this matter is „The Goblin Market“ by CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, you can actually find this text online if you would like to read it.
Still today many modern books about faeries advise you to never accept Faery food, I see it a bit differently, due to personal experience and the fact that Celtic society placed the obligations of hospitality high on their code of honor.
Also R.J. Stewart writes in his book „The Well of Light“ :
"If you are offered food or drink in the Faery realm, take it! Traditionally we are told not to take it, which means take it quickly before they withdraw the courteous and wonderful offer….“
Another well known danger of Faery is the matter of changelings. In many a stories it is said that a foreign being, often one of the good people themselves, or an object is left behind in exchange for a desired human. The changeling who was replaced, acted very differently, if it was a baby who was stolen, the changeling would often be sickly, always hungry and impossible to please. Also adults who have been taken are said to behave in a very different manner.
However remember that the lore regarding changeling children evolved during the post-Christian era to blame the Faeries for stillbirths and infant mortality.
Now let’s have look at a few basic ground rules on building a relationship with faery.
Approach them with respect, see yourself and them as equals, give offerings of value, as we discussed already in a previous lesson, to give more than you take, and not to underestimate their power.
Their moral code is different from ours, and in general there are different rules for faeries and mortals.
When dealing with the good neighbors it is important to always be honest with them, as they will also never lie to you, but they have a thing for words and word play, so be aware of this. Also important is it to never, I mean never, never, to break your promise, so always make sure your can keep your promises, if you chose to make one.
There are a few characteristics that the faeries prefer in people, these include generosity, politeness, cleanliness, cheerfulness, but also a sense for adventure. We established most of those already, but I haven't mentioned their preference for a clean and tidy space yet. They are more likely to visit your home if you keep everything nice and tidy, they don't like a messy space or chaos. So if you have an altar or shrine dedicated to them, always keep it clean.
Avoid angering them by taking away their privacy, they are very private beings and don't like it to be spied upon, and they don't like people trespassing on their land. It is also said to not speak too openly about the experiences you have with them, and especially not to brag about the good things you've received from them. I find this to be very true, except for a couple of anecdotes, I’m not willing to share my encounters with the Fae with the world. I’m okay with sharing a few things with people I truly trust (admittedly this is only one person in my case), but I cannot imagine sharing those personal experiences on a public platform of any kind, at this point.
Something else you may come across regarding dealing with the gentle folk, is to avoid saying „Thank you“. There are different reasons for this, some people say it would be dismissive and it would so insult the faeries by implying they are less than we are.
Others say that by saying thank you, you admit being in their debt, and so you owe them and they can ask you anything in return to even out your debt.
Personally I just like to say that I appreciate their help, and I leave an offering for them.
It was an old custom to always yell „Beware“ or „Watch out“ before tossing dirty water out of the door or window after cleaning, because you didn't want to hit a faery with that water, should one be passing by.
Always remember not to use their powers for your own benefit. They are not your personal little helpers, so don't issue commands to them.
There are also a few ways how you can protect yourself from the Fae, in case it would ever be necessary. This is not to scare you, but only to prepare you, as you know by now there is light and shadow in every realm. However in my experience it will probably never be necessary to seriously protect yourself from the Faeries, as most of those that don't like humans will also ignore them.
But maybe you will anger them one day, or just come across the wrong being and for this case I want to give you a few ideas how you can protect yourself.
The most well known protection is iron, it is thought that the reason for this is because the Tuatha de Danann, who only had bronze weapons, were finally defeated by the Celts who had learned to make iron tools. When you are outdoors you can put an iron nail in your pocket, and at home you might hang up a horseshoe, or you could have a knife under your bed.
However there are also faeries who don't have a problem with iron, such as mine faeries, or beings who are forging, also most of the house faeries don't have a problem with faeries, so you might keep that in mind.
Salt can also be used to protect yourself against the Fae, same as bells, fire and in some sources it is even stated that hag stones can be used as protection. Again certain things sometimes contradict each other.
Protective herbs are St.John’s wort, broom, rowan berries, and yarrow. But I would advice you to do your own research and maybe ask your Faery Guide.
If you are outdoors and want to avoid to be pixie-led you can turn your jacket inside out.
Also when outside and you find yourself in danger from the fae, you can cross running water to protect yourself. But remember the lesson about the element of water where I mentioned the Kelpies.
If you would ever come across the Faery raid and they took a human with them, and you want to get them to release the person, you should throw dust from the road, an iron knife, or your left shoe and say : „This is yours; that is mine!“ (McNeill 1956)
If you don't want them to enter your home you can nail a horseshoe over the doorway with the open end up. It is also said that wind chimes frighten evil spirits away, just as bells and especially church bells.
You can also wear a daisy chain, which especially protects children to be taken by the good folk.
It is also said that gorse and heather planted at your door will protect you, however this really depends on location, as in other regions those are plants especially loved by the faeries, the same thing is true for the rowan tree.
If you don't want them to leave, but only want to be occupied it is said that you can place small mirror outside your home, as they spend hours gazing at their reflection.
With all the dangers and the protections which we discussed now I also want to quote the author Elen Sentier from her book „Following the Deer Trods“
„This attitude of fear is something of an arrogant and self-absorbed one. Do you really think the beings of Otherworld have nothing better to do than hang around playing tricks on you and making life a misery? Of course not, they are very busy looking after the world, the universe and everything! Humans are only a small (if significant) part of what they do.“
I must admit I applauded while reading this part in the book.
Still today, while going through some websites or groups on social media I often read some of the old superstitions, and sometimes even protection for changelings are asked. Some state it is way too dangerous to work with the Fae, and that they are going to harm you, and that you need to get rid of them.
So we see that some of these folklore warnings definitely run deep.
If you want to know my personal opinion, I agree pretty much with Elen Sentier, I don't neglect the dark side of Faery but I definitely don't believe a water fae is going to eat me alive.
The Fair Folk have many powers and they can have great influence over humans, they can also either help or harm us, but I also think that if they don't like us, they will not approach us…why bother, right?
I see them as older and wiser than us, and I think they can be much more forgiving than lore tells us.
As we established already in the previous lesson, it is essential to know ourselves, and to know our own limits, know exactly what you are capable of doing. Then you can move freely without fear through the Faery Realm.
Your Faery Homework
- Do your own research about protective plants
- Continue working with your Faery Guide
- Take a day off to spend the day with the fae in nature