Mythical Monday: Trooping and Solitary Faeries

Trooping faeries and Solitary faeries…what are they?

I’ve mentioned previously that faeries can be classified as Seelie and Unseelie. Faeries can also be classified as either Trooping and Solitary.

W.B. Yeats and writer James Macdougall have used these classifications and Katherine Mary Briggs, an English writer and folklorist added the category of household spirit.

Trooping Faeries

Trooping FaeriesTrooping faeries got their name because they often travel in long processions. They are often gregarious and live in groups.

If you ever stumble upon a trooping faery, chances are there are others of the same kind close by.

They can live in mounds, hills or in faeryland. They can be large or small, friendly or sinister, helpful or mischievous.

They are similar to the Seelie Court, though whether they are good or evil depends more so on their actions in groups.

As far as faery hierechary goes, Trooping Faeries are generally thought of as the fairy Pixiearistocracy. Some examples of well known Trooping Faeries are Pixies and Nymphs.

The Heroic Faeries, a class of Trooping faery, live like the medieval nobility with a court and a king and queen, knights and ladies. They are typically human size. They enjoy hunts, battle and sporting matches as well as feasts and balls. They are the most powerful and also the most beautiful of the faeries.

If the Heroic Faeries are the nobility, then the Rustic faeries are the peasants. The Gentry are in between the two. They tend to be more refined that the Rustic Faeries. They are also the faeries who are most likely to interact with humans. Many of them have human ancestry.

Whether Heroic, Rustic or Gentry, they all will congregate in groups called Fairy Rades, a matter of great importance. They usually occur with the coming of summer, though they can occur at any time of year.

They wear their finest clothing during a rade, are either on foot or mounted, with music and revelry.

A Faery Rade is dangerous for humans to observe, however a rowan branch placed over the door allowed humans to watch from inside the house. Bowls of milk are customarily put out for them.

sluaghIn Scotland, the Sluagh of the Seelie Court, and another type of Trooping faery, fly through the sky during a Rade, and kidnap any travellers that happen to be out at midnight. They are destructive and cause trouble.

They are spirits of the unforgiven dead, neither welcome in heaven or hell and are also not welcome in the world of Faeries.

They are dark spectres, and usually fly overhead in the form of black birds.

Also known as the Host, or the Host of the Unforgiven Dead, they would always fly to the west to capture the souls of the dying before they dissipate and they will only enter windows facing west.

There are several other known creatures who hunt in packs, Cwn Annwn are Welsh cwn-annwnhounds, whose arrival is considered a death portent. These hounds are similar to Gabriel hounds and Ratchett hounds in England.

Other malevolent faeries are the Duergar (grey dwarves), the Black Dwarfs of English folklore, Redcaps living on the border between England and Scotland. Dunters and Powries live in the same locations as the Redcaps but their main activity is making noise, which if it goes on longer than normal is a death or misfortune portent.

Solitary Faeries

Bean Sidhe Clann by Eithne O'Hanlon
Bean Sidhe Clann by Eithne O’Hanlon

Solitary Faeries are the opposite of the trooping faeries. They prefer to be alone and live in solitude. They can be found almost anywhere and have no formal dwelling.

They tend to be less inclined toward humans than Trooping Faeries but only the evil ones are truly hostile.

They may live alone, or in small families, often frequenting or haunting a particular place. They have no formal social structure as the Trooping faeries do.

Of all the faeries, Solitaries are most likely to obtain human midwives for their offspring.

They can be either domesticated or wild Solitaries, though these distinctions sometimes overlap.

Domestic Faeries, such as Brownies live with humans and help with the work. Wild brownieFaeries live in nature and protect it from humans.

Sometimes, domestic faeries cause trouble and sometimes wild faeries help with herding and the harvest.

If a domestic faeries is insulted, spied upon, thanked or given a gift of clothing it can go wild just as a wild faery can be very helpful by showing it kindness.

Some examples of Solitary faeries include the Habetrot or spring faery, the Irish cluricans and leprechauns.

Water Feary Reiko Murakami
April by Reiko Murakami

Nature faeries such as water sprites and mermaids are common in English folklore. The Scots have kelpies, shape shifting water spirits in lochs and pools and the Nuckleavee, a horse-like sea creature that can appear on land.

In Britain, Jenny Greenteeth haunts stagnant pools. She is a hag the pulls children and the elderly underwater and drowns them.

Cailleach Bheur is known as the wintry blue hag in the Highlands, the Churn-milk Peg protects fruit and nuts. The Brown Man of the Muirs is a guardian of wild animals.

Household Spirits

Household Spirits are usually found as single entities in a household, though they have been found to participate in a few trooping activities.

The Tutelary type, or guardians are attached to a human family and can be diviners or omen bearers. The household brownie and the clan banshee are included in this group.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Trooping, Solitary and Household faeries!

What would you do if you came across a faery? Would you interact with it or look away?

Thanks for reading,





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