Yesterday I said I believe in fairies. I also talked about encountering fairies. By now, I expect some of you reading A Bad Witch's Blog are convinced I am another fluffy pagan who is away with the fairies, some of you are thinking my experiences are similar to experiences you have had, and others are asking "How do I find fairies?"
Actually, I hope some are also thinking, "You stupid witch, what do you want to mess with fairies for? Don't you know they are trouble?"
In most accounts, fairies really are trouble. They play horrible tricks on people, they lead people astray, they send people mad, they steal people away to fairyland for hundreds of years and sometimes they lure people to their death. Why would anyone want to have anything to do with fairies?
The enticement of the fairy world is that it offers an intensity hard to find in the real world. Fairy places are more intensely beautiful - or more intensely scary - than mundane places. Fairy gifts, fairy food and fairy music are more lovely than anything you could find in a high street shop, even wrapped up in tinsel and glitter. Something like that leaves a lasting attraction. Does that sound like how people describe drugs? Well, you know what they also say, "Just say no..."
But, if you are setting out to play with something dangerous, you need to be careful.
There are certain time-honoured rules about fairies that no-one can really prove or disprove, but might be sensible to bear in mind.
Fairies hate iron
If you are heading into fairy territory, don't bring things made of iron or steel, including knives, athames or utensils of any kind. Mind you, keeping a small iron nail hidden in your pocket might be a sensible precaution in case things get out of hand.
Respect their environment
If you enter a fairy place, ask permission. Offer a small gift such as sweets or cake. Don't blunder in and start casting a circle - how would you like it if someone walked into your living room uninvited and started rearranging the fixtures and fittings? Don't go picking the flowers, or anything else, in a fairy glade unless you are absolutely certain you have been offered one as a gift.
Never eat fairy food
That includes berries or fruit growing wild in fairy places. Legends say that if you do, you will never be able to leave their realm.
Never thank a fairy
If they offer you something, never say thank-you. According to the tales, fairies consider that an insult. Instead you should praise the gift and say how lovely it is. Then you should either accept it without thanks, or decline politely. It is acceptable to offer a gift in return. In fact, it is a good idea, as fairies are reputed to consider the acceptance of an unreciprocated gift as the acceptance of an obligation. You don't want to leave yourself obligated to fairykind.
So you still want to go looking for fairies?
You will find them in unexpected places - at the edges of woods or meadows or where the water meets the land, in twilight or morning mists, by pools or at crossroads and at times when the veil between the worlds is thin, such as at Samhain, the solstices or May Eve. You will find them when there are few others around, when your mind is open, when you least expect it.
Anyone who truly wishes to find fairyland can do so, but it is also wise to be careful about what you wish for. It might come true.
A Fairy Magic: All About Fairies and How to Bring Their Magic into Your Life
The Faerie Book