‘Tis Spring and the fair folk flourish. Indeed, they are at their strongest in the month of May.
I know what you’re saying. Why would you need protection against a cute little fairy? The truth is, in most countries where legends of fairies exist and where the belief in fairies lingers, many of the Fair Folk are not all that cute. Or little.
And they definitely are not nice.
Legend has it that the term “fairy” can be applied to a wide range of supernatural beings who possess considerable magical powers. Sprites, boggarts, pixies, banshees, brownies, hobgoblins, elementals, trolls, elves and many, many other creatures can all be lumped under the single heading of “fairies”.
According to the old stories, fairies could be so beautiful that mortals were unable to resist them, or so ugly that mortals could perish from fear. There were light fairies who were mostly good and dark fairies who were mostly evil. Still others were both friendly and hostile, helpful and mischievous, kind and cruel. This amoral unpredictability made most fairies very dangerous creatures. Your only hope as a mere mortal was to avoid the fairies, repel the fairies or appease the fairies.
|Fairy Mound in Ireland|
In the Celtic countries (Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England), children used to be cautioned to stay away from fairy mounds. These are strange solitary hills in odd places, such as the middle of a field. These round grassy knolls were believed to be entrances to the underground fairy realm. Venture too close and you could disappear, never to be seen again. It was especially dangerous if you were a beautiful woman or a handsome man. You might be spirited away by fairies looking for a mortal mate!
Steer clear of certain trees late at night, especially hazel, thorn, alder and oak, because they’re favorite haunts for fairies. You could find yourself pinched and hit as you walk by – or tangled in the branches until morning.
Farmers knew better than to enter a mill at night. That was the time that fairies brought their grain to be ground. Interrupting fairies when they were working could earn you a failed crop or other curse.
You needed to watch where you were walking because a strange tuft of grass or stray bit of sod could trigger a spell if stepped on. Your path through the woods could suddenly disappear. If you were crossing an open field, you might keep veering in the wrong direction or cross it only to arrive on the same side you started from. It’s called “being pixie-led” and it could happen in broad daylight.
Certain ponds, lakes and rivers were said to be the haunts of kelpies and other water fairies. If you came to these waters alone, you could be pulled in by these nasty creatures and drown. It was said that your spirit would then be forced to live in the fairy realm forever. Stay away or use the buddy system.
|St. John's Wort|
Garlands were often made of marsh marigolds and hung over the barn doors to protect the horses from being ridden to exhaustion by fairies. Flowers, especially primroses, were spread over windowsills and hung above the door-posts of the house for safety. Your best bet, however, was a plant called St. John's Wort. Wearing it was said to provide strong protection from fairy magic and mischief.
Fairies could vanish at will and remain invisible to mortal eyes as long as they pleased. Carrying a four-leafed clover would allow you to see the fairies – but only once. A Celtic tradition was to sew several of the clovers into a tiny bag to be worn around the neck. You could then discern the fairies once for each clover in the bag. In some legends, the clover was said to allow you to see through fairy glamors and magical disguises.
Iron in any form has always been the best protection against fairies – it was like kryptonite to Superman. If you kept an iron nail in your pocket, you couldn’t be carried away by them. A pair of iron shears hung on the wall near a baby’s bed was said to prevent the child from being swapped for an ugly fairy baby. Horseshoes could be nailed over doorposts.
Red berries kept fairies at bay, especially if they were from rowan trees, mountain ash or holly.
Even humble oatmeal was said to be a fairy repellent, if you carried it in your pocket or sprinkled it on your clothes. As long as you didn’t mind looking flaky, you’d be safe.
In many cultures, protection from fairies was achieved by cooperation and respect.
If you were Welsh, for instance, you might leave bread and milk on the back porch at night as an offering for the fairies. This was said to prevent them from playing pranks on the family and might even gain their favor. (Note – they liked butter, cream, and ale too. Especially ale.)
If you spilled salt in Ireland, you might throw some over your shoulder in order to give the fairies their share. If you passed a body of water, or even a well, you could drop in a piece of silver for the fairy that lives there. If you were milking a cow or goat by hand, you would probably let the first few squirts fall to the ground to appease any unseen fairies that were thirsty.
Many of the kindlier fairies were said to be offended when they saw a lack of hospitality and courtesy among human mortals, and would punish such offences severely. On the other hand, if you were fair and honest with your fellow mortals, and practiced generosity, the fairies were likely to treat you in kind. Or, at the very least, leave you safely alone!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
First of all, huge thanks to author Selena Blake, Bitten by Paranormal Romance Reviews and Reading Between the Wines for hosting this terrific hop!
The winner of my giveaway is
She'll be receiving a signed copy of Changeling Dawn (Book 3 in my PNR series) and a Dani Harper tote bag!
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my post on Fairies, and to leave a comment. I was able to add a LOT of books to my TBR list, and hope you were too!
To get back to the list of blogs participating in the Spring Fling Blog Hop, go to this link: http://site.selena-blake.com/2012/04/spring-fling-blog-hop-april-23-27/
Like this post? Please share by clicking one of the links below.