Mythical Monday: The Fey

Who are the Fey?

From the book Faeries, a collection of faeries artwork by Matt Dixon and Emily Hare
From the book Faeries, a collection of faeries artwork by Matt Dixon and Emily Hare

So, we’ve all seen those cute little fairy tale fairies in Disney cartoons and anime–Tinkerbell and the like.

Through the ages, Faeries weren’t alway little, cute and happy, spreading magic fairy dust wherever they go.

Here are the faeries that have originated from legends and folklore, the stories that have been passed down for millennia.

Don’t Offend Them

Fairies can be very sensitive and have their feelings hurt very easily. Folk from cultures all over the world have been wary and cautious of offending the faeries and have many superstitions to avoid losing their favour. Sometimes they leave out some milk for them to gain their approval.

Celtic Fae

brownieIn Scotland, the word for faery is sith, pronounced shee, just as the Irish Sidhe. Other Scottish names for faeries include the Still Folk, People of Peace, The Silent Moving Folk, Pixies, The Wee Folk, and Prowlies.

As mentioned in my last blog post on Mythical Monday, in Scottish folklore they have been known as either Seelie or Unseelie. The Seelie Court tends to be more well disposed toward humans, whereas the Unseelie Court tend to be more on the malicious side of things.

Fairies can be whimsical and mischievous, benevolent or malevolent. They sometimes help humans and sometimes cause harm. Either way, it is believed that fairies cannot tell lies.

Helpful fairies may sweep floors, tend to fires and wash dishes, though they are also capable of ruining or stealing crops, tools, food or drink. They have even been known to milk cows or ride horses at night.

Types of Faeries


Faeries can range in ranking from nobility, such as the Sidhe to Brownies and Pixies. Other examples of the Fey include:

  • Dwarfish, subterranean imps with magical powers, green hair and clothing.
  • Tiny, protective household sprites.
  • Beautiful winged females.
  • Nature fairies
  • Supernatural hags, monsters and giants
  • Morgan le Fay
  • Trooping Fairies and Solitary Fairies

Some say they are small in size, supernatural and have magical powers. They are typically invisible or can disappear at will, and can change their size and shape-shift into birds or other animals. They are sometimes beautiful and sometimes hideous.

They may don a magic cap or use herbs to become invisible and may have the power of glamour.

In Highland and Irish folklore the ‘fairy washer’ was viewed as a ghost, or as harbinger a warning imminent death.

Where Did They Come From?

There are many theories on where fairies originated. Some speculate that they are a natural or hidden species. Others say that they are the descendants of an earlier population that was driven underground by invading tribes. They may also be ancestral spirits or ghosts, or maybe even fallen angels.

The fey are not unique to Celtic, Welsh and Breton folklore. There are stories of fairy-like


creatures in other European traditions including the Latin and the Slavic, and medieval French romance. In China, India and Arabia are the Jinns, supernatural entities that can take on various forms.

Best Times to See Them

The most common time of day to see them is twilight. At one time, fairies would appear during any time of day, but as human beings populated more and more regions, fairies and their realms became less visible to us.

They are said to appear in “border regions”, such as twilight, the night between April 30 and May 1st and between October 31 and November 1st.

There is a strong connection between fairies and ghosts. Both are considered to be more active during these times, especially during the twilight hours, Halloween, the festivals of Beltane, Midsummer, Samhain, Wednesdays and Fridays and during hours of darkness.

Poltergeist activity has been blamed on fairies.

Abduction and Changelings

ChangelingThere have been many tales of abduction of humans by fairies. Sometimes they are women that are taken to act as midwives at a fairy birth or even as wet nurses. Human milk is highly prized by fairies.

Children are especially at risk of abduction, either accidentally entering fairyland or by being lured into the realm of the fairies.

Fairies have been known to exchange their own offspring for human babies, leaving their own misshapen fairy baby or changeling’ baby in exchange.

They rarely will harm those they abduct or lure to fairyland. However, a mistreated fairy will retaliate.

Fairies love dancing, singing, music, feasting and revelry with grand processions of whiteElves-and-Faeries horses adorned with silver bells. One can sometimes hear their music in the hillocks of Ireland at night. They have even been known to take a human lover.

More to come on Fairies! Every Monday, I will post another article in my series of Faeries.

What do you think? Do faeries really exist?

Thanks for reading!






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