Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The nature of faeries

Do you believe in faeries? Or do you think they are just a figment of the imagination, dwelling only between the pages of books and on the silver screen?

And, if you do believe in faeries, what do you think they are? Do you believe they are intangible, elusive spirits or do you believe they are creatures of flesh and blood?

I've just finished reading two books on faeries that are both very similar in their content and scope. They are both thick books, full of information about faerie lore, mythology and magic. They both provide some lovely ideas on how to get more in contact with the fae. Both books are well written and enjoyable to read. They are both works of love created by people with a deep and profound belief in faeries.

But there is one big difference between the books - what the authors perceive faeries to be.

To Jacky Newcomb and Alice Geddes-Ward, authors of A Faerie Treasury, faeries are spirits of nature or magical hidden people who may once have been the ancient gods of the land. They dwell in a realm that touches ours, but are not quite of our world. They might have souls, but do not have physical bodies.

However, to Lucy Cavendish and Serene Conneeley, authors of The Book of Faery Magic,faeries can sometimes also be creatures of flesh and blood and can live in this world among humans. We could be sitting next to one on the bus. They could potentially be our ancestors and, if so, their blood runs in our veins and we have inherited their DNA.

These are both very different views on the nature of faeries, and reading both books back to back really got me thinking.

Now, before I go any further, I feel I ought to state my own opinion on the matter.

I believe that some - like Tinkerbell for example - are fictional characters, but can still be powerful symbols and archetypes to work with magically. Some, I believe, are spirits of nature or the elements, and I think I may have encountered these at least once myself.

I am willing to accept, also, that faeries may be aspects of the old gods of this land, or beings of another dimension that touches on ours. However, I do not believe that faeries are, or ever were, living creatures of flesh and blood.

Put it another way - I think it is possible to have a faerie godmother, but not a faerie grandmother.

Of course, if in a year or two archaeologists unearth a faerie skeleton or scientists find a way of testing humans positively for faerie genes, I will eat my words and my pixie hat. But, until then, call me a skeptic.

Having got that out of the way, I do hope I haven't offended anyone. I realise that many people do believe that they have faerie ancestors. They point to all the folk tales of people taking faerie brides or husbands. They point to stories about changelings - faeries raised by human parents as their own children. Those are perfectly valid matters of discussion.

I am also sure that those who think faeries are entirely fictional would say I am just as wrong in my own belief in nature spirits.

So, I'm really not trying to poo-poo anyone's theories here, but I am curious about what others think.

Do you believe in faeries?

If so, what do you think they are?

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Rhiannon said...

I've heard different theories but funny enough, I've never put those theories to test in my own mind...but you've definitely given me some food for thought, and a couple good reads to look into :)

City Wiccan said...

Great post!! This is something I've wanted to explore more but haven't had the time. I've often wondered if faeries are just humans' explanation of something we don't understand scientifically. For example, the disembodied souls of people that they want to personify.
Do I believe in faeries? I'll let you know when I figure out what the definition of faeries is for me :)

Unknown said...

I've often heard of faeries and witches, I do believe in faeries as they are really very beautiful imagination.

queenbeebear said...

I've always equated the Fae with the personification of nature, representatives of the elements so to speak. Of course they are much more in terms of access to the hidden places, they can be tricky, and allureing too. Showing us the mortal world we inhabit is but an illusion, and questioning our definition of time and reality.