Faeries are unique supernatural beings that have their own hierarchy amongst themselves. Some types of faeries are more powerful than others, and have their own powers, strengths and temperaments.
They are capable of bringing good fortune to humans or bad luck if they become offended. It can be dangerous to anger them, even some of the weakest ones.
They can heal injuries and cure the sick, but they can also cause blight on plants and illness in animals and humans.
Problems Faeries can Cause
Have you ever woken to find your hair in tiny tangles? These are called Elf-locks or Faery knots.
They may have the power of Glamour, making people see what they wish for them to see. Or, not see what is actually there.
They can cause people to get lost by changing landmarks, or disguise treacherous ground to make it appear safe.
They have been known to steal small items or lead travellers astray, but they are also
capable of more dangerous behaviour.
Consumption, also known as tuberculosis was sometimes blamed on the faeries forcing men and women to dance at their revels every night, and waste away from lack of rest.
Kidnapping and Changelings
Some believe that a sudden death might actually be a faery kidnapping, the corpse being a wooden stand-in or stock, about the same size as the kidnapped person. It would be crudely carved and then glamoured to make it look like the victim. Humans bury it, and the victim is not missed nor is rescue attempted.
Women were kidnapped to be used as midwives, nurse maids or nannies. Stories are told of the woman being asked to rub the eyes of the faery child with Faerie ointment, said to be made from shamrocks. When she inadvertently touches her own eyes, the ointment allows her to see through the Faerie glamour, and see the Faery world as it is. Grease on the fingers from a meal will have the same effect.
Humans can be taken to be used for their skills at a craft, music or singing.
A man might be kidnapped to participate in a war or ball game, or he may have caught the eye of a Faerie lady. He may be used as a lover, and possibly as a stud.
Women, as well might be used as breeding stock.
Sometimes faery children are left in place of stolen human babies, called changelings. It’s likely that these children may have been afflicted with unexplained diseases, disorders or developmental disabilities, and changelings were used to explain their infirmities.
A more sinister reason for taking captives is to pay a teind or tithe to the Devil. Every seven years, one of their own must be given as tribute, and many legends hint that humans are used so the faeries may be spared.
As long as the human captive does not eat or drink any Faerie food, he or she may be rescued. He or she will be otherwise trapped forever.
Faeries have no scruples about stealing grain, milk or even cattle. They believe they are entitled to take whatever they need. Yet, they become furious if humans take from them.
They delight in playing tricks on people, but when the joke is on them, they usually do not take it in good humour.
Even when faeries are being kind, their goodwill can be embarrassing. It is not unusual for faeries to reward a human friend by stealing from his neighbours.
Locations known to be faery haunts are to be avoided. Even cutting brush on faery forts was said to be the cause of death to those who did so.
Mythical Monday is part of series of posts on myths and legends. I hope you enjoy learning about Faeries and the legends and folklore surrounding them. Next week, I will continue the series with How to Win the Favour of the Faeries and Faults Condemned by Faeries.
See my other Posts on Mythical Monday: