A fairy (also fata, fay, fey, fae, fair folk; from faery, faerie,
"realm of the fays") is a type of mythical being or legendary creature
in European folklore, a form of spirit, often described as
metaphysical, supernatural, or preternatural.
2 Historical development
4.1 Christian mythology
4.2 Demoted pagan deities
4.3 Spirits of the dead
4.4 A hidden people
8 Protective charms
9.1 Tuatha Dé Danann
9.2 Aos Sí
10 In literature
11 In art
12 Cottingley Fairies
13 See also
16 External links
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According to Thomas Keightley, the word "fairy" derives from the Latin
fata, and is from the
Old French form faerie, describing
"enchantment". Other forms are the Italian fata, and the Provençal
"fada". In old French romance, "fee" was a woman skilled in magic, and
who knew the power and virtue of words, of stones, and of herbs.
Modern English fay. Faierie became fairy, but with that
spelling now almost exclusively referring to one of the legendary
people, with the same meaning as fay. The word "fairy" was used to
represent an illusion, or enchantment; the land of the Faes;
collectively the inhabitants thereof; or an individual such as a fairy
To the word faie was added the suffix -erie (
Modern English -(e)ry),
used to express either a place where something is found (fishery,
nunnery) or a trade or typical activity engaged in (cookery,
thievery). In later usage it generally applied to any kind of quality
or activity associated with a particular type of person, as in English
knavery, roguery, wizardry. In the sense "land where fairies dwell",
the distinctive and archaic spellings Faery and Faerie are often used.
The latinate fay is not to be confused with the unrelated (Germanic)
fey, meaning "fated to die". However, some dictionaries do list
"fey" as a kind of fairy.
Various folkloristic traditions refer to them euphemistically, by
names such as wee folk, good folk, people of peace, fair folk (Welsh
tylwyth teg), etc.
Sometimes the term fairy is used to describe any magical creature,
including goblins or gnomes: at other times, the term describes only a
specific type of more ethereal creature or sprite. The concept of
"fairy" in the narrow sense is unique to English folklore, conflating
Germanic elves with influences from Celtic and Romance (French)
folklores, and later made "diminutive" according to the tastes of
Victorian era "fairy tales" for children.
Fairies have their historical origin in the conflation of Celtic
(Breton, Welsh) traditions in the
Middle French medieval romances.
Fairie was in origin used adjectivally, meaning "enchanted" (as in
fairie knight, fairie queene), but was used as a name for "enchanted"
creatures from as early as the
Late Middle English
Late Middle English period. In English
literature of the Elizabethan era, elves became conflated with the
fairies of Romance culture, so that the two terms began to be used
The Victorian and Edwardian eras saw an increase in interest in
Celtic Revival viewed them as part of Ireland's cultural
heritage. Carole Silvers and others suggest that the fascination of
English antiquarians arose from a reaction to greater
industrialization, and loss of folkways.
Fairies are generally described as human in appearance and having
magical powers. Diminutive fairies of one kind or another have been
recorded for centuries, but occur alongside the human-sized beings;
these have been depicted as ranging in size from very tiny up to the
size of a human child. Even with these small fairies, however,
their small size may be magically assumed rather than constant.
Some fairies though normally quite small were able to dilate their
figures to imitate humans. On Orkney they were described as short
in stature, dressed in dark grey, and sometimes seen in armour.
Wings, while common in Victorian and later artwork of fairies, are
very rare in the folklore; even very small fairies flew with magic,
sometimes flying on ragwort stems or the backs of birds. Nowadays,
fairies are often depicted with ordinary insect wings or butterfly
wings. In some folklore, fairies have green eyes. Some depictions of
fairies depict them wearing some sort of footwear and other depictions
of fairies are always barefoot.
This section contains weasel words: vague phrasing that often
accompanies biased or unverifiable information. Such statements should
be clarified or removed. (January 2018)
The early modern fairies do not have any single origin, representing a
conflation of disparate elements of folk belief, influenced by
literature and speculation. Their origins are less clear in the
folklore, being variously dead, or some form of demon, or a species
completely independent of humans or angels. The folkloristic or
mythological elements combine Celtic, Germanic and Greco-Roman
elements. Folklorists have suggested that their actual origin lies in
religious beliefs that lost currency with the advent of
Christianity. These explanations are not necessarily incompatible,
and they may be traceable to multiple sources.
Title page of a 1603 reprinting of Daemonologie
According to King James in his dissertation Daemonologie, the term
"faries" was used to describe illusory spirits (demonic entities) that
prophesy, consort, and transport individuals they served. In medieval
times, it was believed that a witch or sorcerer who had a compact with
a familiar spirit to serve them could receive these types of
revelations or use them to perform various tasks.
One other Christian belief held that fairies were a class of "demoted"
angels. One popular story described how, when the angels revolted,
God ordered the gates of heaven shut: those still in heaven remained
angels, those in hell became demons, and those caught in between
became fairies. Others suggested that the fairies, not being good
enough, had been thrown out of heaven, but they were not evil enough
for hell. This may explain the tradition that they had to pay a
"teind" or tithe to hell: as fallen angels, though not quite devils,
they could be seen as subjects of the devil. For a similar concept
in Persian mythology, see Peri.
Demoted pagan deities
Another, perhaps incorrect, theory is that some fairies were
originally worshiped as minor deities, such as nymphs or tree
spirits, but with the coming of Christianity, they lived on, in a
dwindled state of power, in folk belief. In this particular time,
fairies were reputed by the church as being 'evil' beings. Many beings
who are described as deities in older tales are described as "fairies"
in Victorian fiction.
Yet another belief was that the fairies were demons entirely. This
belief became much more popular with the growth of Puritanism. The
hobgoblin, once a friendly household spirit, became a wicked
goblin. Dealing with fairies was in some cases considered a form
of witchcraft and punished as such in this era. Disassociating
himself from such evils may be why Oberon, in A Midsummer Night's
Dream, carefully observed that neither he nor his court feared the
church bells. Victorian inventions of mythology, which accounted
for all gods as metaphors for natural events that had come to be taken
literally, explained them as metaphors for the night sky and
stars. This entire Victorian view has been debunked and refuted
and is now considered by scholars an antiquated and incorrect
Spirits of the dead
One popular belief was that they were the dead. This noted that
many common points of belief, such as the same legends being told of
ghosts and fairies, the sídhe in actuality being burial mounds, it
being dangerous to eat food in both Fairyland and Hades, and both the
dead and fairies living underground.
Diane Purkiss observes an
equating of fairies with the untimely dead who left "unfinished
lives". One tale recounted a man caught by the fairies, who found
that whenever he looked steadily at one, the fairy was a dead neighbor
of his. This was among the most common beliefs expressed by those
who believed in fairies, although many of the informants would express
the belief with some doubts.
A hidden people
1896 illustration of a fairy from Ernest Vincent Wright's The
Wonderful Fairies of the Sun
At one time it was a common belief that fairy folklore evolved from
folk memories of a prehistoric race. It was suggested that newcomers
drove out the original inhabitants, and the memories of this defeated,
hidden people developed into the fairy beliefs we have today.
Proponents of this theory claimed to find support in the tradition of
cold iron as a charm against the fairies, which was viewed as a
cultural memory of invaders with iron weapons displacing inhabitants
who had only flint and were therefore easily defeated. Some
19th-century archaeologists thought they had found underground rooms
in the Orkney islands resembling the
Elfland in Childe Rowland.
However the idea of a fallen vanquished race in hiding has fallen out
of favour with scholars.
In popular folklore, flint arrowheads from the Stone Age were
attributed to the fairies as "elf-shot". Their green clothing and
underground homes were credited to their need to hide and camouflage
themselves from hostile humans, and their use of magic a necessary
skill for combating those with superior weaponry. In Victorian
beliefs of evolution, cannibalism among "ogres" was attributed to
memories of more savage races, still practicing it alongside
"superior" races that had abandoned it.
Another belief is that the fairies were an intelligent species,
distinct from humans and angels. In alchemy in particular they
were regarded as elementals, such as gnomes and sylphs, as described
by Paracelsus. This is uncommon in folklore, but accounts
describing the fairies as "spirits of the air" have been found.
The belief in their angelic nature was common in Theosophist
Much of the folklore about fairies revolves around protection from
their malice, by such means as cold iron or charms of rowan and herbs,
or avoiding offense by shunning locations known to be theirs. Some
pranks ascribed to them, such as tangling the hair of sleepers into
"Elf-locks", stealing small items or leading a traveler astray, are
generally harmless. But far more dangerous behaviors were also
attributed to fairies. Any form of sudden death might stem from a
fairy kidnapping, with the apparent corpse being a wooden stand-in
with the appearance of the kidnapped person. Consumption
(tuberculosis) was sometimes blamed on the fairies forcing young men
and women to dance at revels every night, causing them to waste away
from lack of rest.
Rowan trees are considered sacred to the
Classic representation of a small fairy with butterfly wings commonly
used in modern times. Luis Ricardo Falero, 1888.
Main article: Classifications of fairies
In Scottish folklore, fairies are divided into the Seelie Court, the
more beneficently inclined (but still dangerous) fairies, and the
Unseelie Court, the malicious fairies. While the fairies from the
Seelie court enjoyed playing pranks on humans they were usually
harmless affairs, compared to the Unseelie court that enjoyed bringing
harm to humans as entertainment.
Trooping fairies refer to fairies who appear in groups and might form
settlements. In this definition, fairy is usually understood in a
wider sense, as the term can also include various kinds of mythical
creatures mainly of Celtic origin; however, the term
might also be used for similar beings such as dwarves or elves from
Germanic folklore. These are opposed to solitary fairies, who do not
live or associate with others of their kind.
Main article: Changeling
A considerable amount of lore about fairies revolves around
changelings, fairy children left in the place of stolen human
babies. In particular, folklore describes how to prevent the
fairies from stealing babies and substituting changelings, and
abducting older people as well. The theme of the swapped child is
common in medieval literature and reflects concern over infants
thought to be afflicted with unexplained diseases, disorders, or
developmental disabilities. In pre-industrial Europe, a peasant
family's subsistence frequently depended upon the productive labor of
each member, and a person who was a permanent drain on the family's
scarce resources could pose a threat to the survival of the entire
In terms of protective charms, wearing clothing inside out, church
bells, St. John's wort, and four-leaf clovers are regarded as
effective. In Newfoundland folklore, the most popular type of fairy
protection is bread, varying from stale bread to hard tack or a slice
of fresh home-made bread. Bread is associated with the home and the
hearth, as well as with industry and the taming of nature, and as
such, seems to be disliked by some types of fairies. On the other
hand, in much of the Celtic folklore, baked goods are a traditional
offering to the folk, as are cream and butter. “The prototype of
food, and therefore a symbol of life, bread was one of the commonest
protections against fairies. Before going out into a fairy-haunted
place, it was customary to put a piece of dry bread in one’s
pocket.” In County Wexford, Ireland, in 1882, it was reported
that “if an infant is carried out after dark a piece of bread is
wrapped in its bib or dress, and this protects it from any witchcraft
Bells also have an ambiguous role; while they protect against fairies,
the fairies riding on horseback — such as the fairy
queen — often have bells on their harness. This may be a
distinguishing trait between the
Seelie Court from the Unseelie Court,
such that fairies use them to protect themselves from more wicked
members of their race. Another ambiguous piece of folklore
revolves about poultry: a cock's crow drove away fairies, but other
tales recount fairies keeping poultry.
While many fairies will confuse travelers on the path, the will o' the
wisp can be avoided by not following it. Certain locations, known to
be haunts of fairies, are to be avoided;
C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis reported hearing
of a cottage more feared for its reported fairies than its reported
ghost. In particular, digging in fairy hills was unwise. Paths
that the fairies travel are also wise to avoid. Home-owners have
knocked corners from houses because the corner blocked the fairy
path, and cottages have been built with the front and back doors
in line, so that the owners could, in need, leave them both open and
let the fairies troop through all night. Locations such as fairy
forts were left undisturbed; even cutting brush on fairy forts was
reputed to be the death of those who performed the act. Fairy
trees, such as thorn trees, were dangerous to chop down; one such tree
was left alone in Scotland, though it prevented a road being widened
for seventy years.
A resin statue of a fairy
Other actions were believed to offend fairies. Brownies were known to
be driven off by being given clothing, though some folktales recounted
that they were offended by inferior quality of the garments given, and
others merely stated it, some even recounting that the brownie was
delighted with the gift and left with it. Other brownies left
households or farms because they heard a complaint, or a
compliment. People who saw the fairies were advised not to look
closely, because they resented infringements on their privacy. The
need to not offend them could lead to problems: one farmer found that
fairies threshed his corn, but the threshing continued after all his
corn was gone, and he concluded that they were stealing from his
neighbors, leaving him the choice between offending them, dangerous in
itself, and profiting by the theft.
Millers were thought by the Scots to be "no canny", owing to their
ability to control the forces of nature, such as fire in the kiln,
water in the burn, and for being able to set machinery a-whirring.
Superstitious communities sometimes believed that the miller must be
in league with the fairies. In Scotland, fairies were often
mischievous and to be feared. No one dared to set foot in the mill or
kiln at night, as it was known that the fairies brought their corn to
be milled after dark. So long as the locals believed this, the miller
could sleep secure in the knowledge that his stores were not being
robbed. John Fraser, the miller of Whitehill, claimed to have hidden
and watched the fairies trying unsuccessfully to work the mill. He
said he decided to come out of hiding and help them, upon which one of
the fairy women gave him a gowpen (double handful of meal) and told
him to put it in his empty girnal (store), saying that the store would
remain full for a long time, no matter how much he took out.
It is also believed that to know the name of a particular fairy could
summon it to you and force it to do your bidding. The name could be
used as an insult towards the fairy in question, but it could also
rather contradictorily be used to grant powers and gifts to the
Before the advent of modern medicine, many physiological conditions
were untreatable and when children were born with abnormalities, it
was common to blame the fairies.
Sometimes fairies are described as assuming the guise of an
animal. In Scotland it was peculiar to the fairy women to assume
the shape of deer; while witches became mice, hares, cats, gulls, or
black sheep. In "The Legend of Knocksheogowna", in order to frighten a
farmer who pastured his herd on fairy ground, a fairy queen took on
the appearance of a great horse, with the wings of an eagle, and a
tail like a dragon, hissing loud and spitting fire. Then she would
change into a little man lame of a leg, with a bull's head, and a
lambent flame playing round it.
In the 19th-century child ballad "Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight", the
elf-knight is a
Bluebeard figure, and Isabel must trick and kill him
to preserve her life.
Child ballad "Tam Lin" reveals that the
title character, though living among the fairies and having fairy
powers, was in fact an "earthly knight" and though his life was
pleasant now, he feared that the fairies would pay him as their teind
(tithe) to hell.
"Sir Orfeo" tells how Sir Orfeo's wife was kidnapped by the King of
Faerie and only by trickery and excellent harping ability was he able
to win her back. "Sir Degare" narrates the tale of a woman overcome by
her fairy lover, who in later versions of the story is unmasked as a
mortal. "Thomas the Rhymer" shows Thomas escaping with less
difficulty, but he spends seven years in Elfland.
Oisín is harmed
not by his stay in Faerie but by his return; when he dismounts, the
three centuries that have passed catch up with him, reducing him to an
aged man. King Herla (O.E. "Herla cyning"), originally a guise of
Woden but later Christianised as a king in a tale by Walter Map, was
said, by Map, to have visited a dwarf's underground mansion and
returned three centuries later; although only some of his men crumbled
to dust on dismounting, Herla and his men who did not dismount were
trapped on horseback, this being one account of the origin of the Wild
Hunt of European folklore.
A common feature of the fairies is the use of magic to disguise
Fairy gold is notoriously unreliable, appearing as gold
when paid but soon thereafter revealing itself to be leaves, gorse
blossoms, gingerbread cakes, or a variety of other comparatively
These illusions are also implicit in the tales of fairy ointment. Many
tales from Northern Europe tell of a mortal woman summoned to
attend a fairy birth — sometimes attending a mortal, kidnapped
woman's childbed. Invariably, the woman is given something for the
child's eyes, usually an ointment; through mischance, or sometimes
curiosity, she uses it on one or both of her own eyes. At that point,
she sees where she is; one midwife realizes that she was not attending
a great lady in a fine house but her own runaway maid-servant in a
wretched cave. She escapes without making her ability known but sooner
or later betrays that she can see the fairies. She is invariably
blinded in that eye or in both if she used the ointment on both.
There have been claims by people in the past, like William Blake, to
have seen fairy funerals. Allan Cunningham in his Lives of Eminent
British Painters records that
William Blake claimed to have seen a
fairy funeral. "'Did you ever see a fairy's funeral, madam?' said
Blake to a lady who happened to sit next to him. 'Never, sir!' said
the lady. 'I have,' said Blake, 'but not before last night.' And he
went on to tell how, in his garden, he had seen 'a procession of
creatures of the size and colour of green and grey grasshoppers,
bearing a body laid out on a rose-leaf, which they buried with songs,
and then disappeared." They are believed to be an omen of death.
Tuatha Dé Danann
Main article: Tuatha Dé Danann
The Tuath(a) Dé Danann are a race of supernaturally-gifted people in
Irish mythology. They are thought to represent the main deities of
pre-Christian Gaelic Ireland. Many of the Irish tales of the Tuatha
Dé Danann refer to these beings as fairies, though in more ancient
times they were regarded as goddesses and gods. The Tuatha Dé Danann
were spoken of as having come from islands in the north of the world
or, in other sources, from the sky. After being defeated in a series
of battles with other otherworldly beings, and then by the ancestors
of the current Irish people, they were said to have withdrawn to the
sídhe (fairy mounds), where they lived on in popular imagination as
They are associated with several
Otherworld realms including Mag Mell
(the Pleasant Plain),
Emain Ablach (the Fortress of Apples or the Land
of Promise or the Isle of Women), and
Tir na nÓg
Tir na nÓg (the Land of Youth).
Main article: Aos Si
The aos sí is the Irish term for a supernatural race in Irish and
Scottish, comparable to the fairies or elves. They are variously said
to be ancestors, the spirits of nature, or goddesses and gods. A
common theme found among the Celtic nations describes a race of
diminutive people who had been driven into hiding by invading humans.
In old Celtic fairy lore the
Aos Sí (fairy folk) are immortals living
in the ancient barrows and cairns. The Irish banshee (Irish Gaelic
bean sí or
Scottish Gaelic bean shìth, which both mean "woman of the
fairy mound") is sometimes described as a ghost.
In the 1691 The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies,
Reverend Robert Kirk, minister of the Parish of Aberfoyle, Stirling,
These Siths or Fairies they call Sleagh Maith or the Good People...are
said to be of middle nature between Man and Angel, as were Daemons
thought to be of old; of intelligent fluidous Spirits, and light
changeable bodies (lyke those called Astral) somewhat of the nature of
a condensed cloud, and best seen in twilight. These bodies be so
pliable through the sublety of Spirits that agitate them, that they
can make them appear or disappear at pleasure
"Prince Arthur and the
Fairy Queen" by Johann Heinrich Füssli; scene
from The Faerie Queene
The word "fairy" was used to describe an individual inhabitant of
Faerie before the time of Chaucer.
Fairies appeared in medieval romances as one of the beings that a
knight errant might encounter. A fairy lady appeared to Sir Launfal
and demanded his love; like the fairy bride of ordinary folklore, she
imposed a prohibition on him that in time he violated. Sir Orfeo's
wife was carried off by the King of Faerie.
Huon of Bordeaux is aided
by King Oberon. These fairy characters dwindled in number as the
medieval era progressed; the figures became wizards and
The oldest fairies on record in England were first described by the
historian Gervase of Tilbury in the 13th century.
Morgan le Fay, whose connection to the realm of Faerie is implied in
her name, in
Le Morte d'Arthur
Le Morte d'Arthur is a woman whose magic powers stem from
study. While somewhat diminished with time, fairies never
completely vanished from the tradition. Sir Gawain and the Green
Knight is a late tale, but the Green Knight himself is an otherworldly
Edmund Spenser featured fairies in The Faerie Queene.
In many works of fiction, fairies are freely mixed with the nymphs and
satyrs of classical tradition, while in others (e.g., Lamia), they
were seen as displacing the Classical beings. 15th-century poet and
John Lydgate wrote that
King Arthur was crowned in "the land of
the fairy" and taken in his death by four fairy queens, to Avalon,
where he lies under a "fairy hill", until he is needed again.
The Quarrel of
Titania by Noel Paton: fairies in
Fairies appear as significant characters in William Shakespeare's A
Midsummer's Night Dream, which is set simultaneously in the woodland
and in the realm of Fairyland, under the light of the moon and in
which a disturbance of nature caused by a fairy dispute creates
tension underlying the plot and informing the actions of the
characters. According to Maurice Hunt, Chair of the English Department
at Baylor University, the blurring of the identities of fantasy and
reality makes possible “that pleasing, narcotic dreaminess
associated with the fairies of the play”.
Michael Drayton features fairies in his
Nimphidia; from these stem Alexander Pope's sylphs of The Rape of the
Lock, and in the mid-17th century, précieuses took up the oral
tradition of such tales to write fairy tales;
Madame d'Aulnoy invented
the term contes de fée ("fairy tale"). While the tales told by
the précieuses included many fairies, they were less common in other
countries' tales; indeed, the
Brothers Grimm included fairies in their
first edition but decided this was not authentically German and
altered the language in later editions, changing each Fee ("fairy") to
an enchantress or wise woman.
J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien described these
tales as taking place in the land of Faerie. Additionally, not all
folktales that feature fairies are generally categorized as fairy
The modern depiction of fairies was shaped in the literature of
Romanticism during the Victorian era. Writers such as
Walter Scott and
James Hogg were inspired by folklore which featured fairies, such as
the Border ballads. This era saw an increase in the popularity of
collecting of fairy folklore and an increase in the creation of
original works with fairy characters. In Rudyard Kipling's Puck of
Pook's Hill, Puck holds to scorn the moralizing fairies of other
Victorian works. The period also saw a revival of older themes in
fantasy literature, such as C.S. Lewis's
Narnia books, which, while
featuring many such classical beings as fauns and dryads, mingles them
freely with hags, giants, and other creatures of the folkloric fairy
tradition. Victorian flower fairies were popularized in part by
Queen Mary’s keen interest in fairy art and by British illustrator
and poet Cicely Mary Barker's series of eight books published in 1923
through 1948. Imagery of fairies in literature became prettier and
smaller as time progressed. Andrew Lang, complaining of "the
fairies of polyanthuses and gardenias and apple blossoms" in the
introduction to The Lilac
Fairy Book, observed that "These fairies try
to be funny, and fail; or they try to preach, and succeed."
A story of the origin of fairies appears in a chapter about Peter Pan
in J. M. Barrie's 1902 novel The Little White Bird, and was
incorporated into his later works about the character. Barrie wrote,
"When the first baby laughed for the first time, his laugh broke into
a million pieces, and they all went skipping about. That was the
beginning of fairies." Fairies are seen in Neverland, in Peter and
Wendy, the novel version of J. M. Barrie's famous
Peter Pan stories,
published in 1911, and its character
Tinker Bell has become a pop
culture icon. When
Peter Pan is guarding Wendy from pirates, the story
says, "After a time he fell asleep, and some unsteady fairies had to
climb over him on their way home from an orgy. Any of the other boys
obstructing the fairy path at night they would have mischiefed, but
they just tweaked Peter's nose and passed on."
At that moment she was changed by magic to a wonderful little elf by
Images of fairies have appeared as illustrations, often in books of
fairy tales, as well as in photographic-based media and sculpture.
Some artists known for their depictions of fairies include Cicely Mary
Barker, Arthur Rackham, Brian Froud, Alan Lee, Amy Brown, David
Delamare, Meredith Dillman, Jasmine Becket-Griffith, Warwick Goble,
Kylie InGold, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Myrea Pettit, Florence Harrison,
Suza Scalora, Nene Thomas, Gustave Doré,
Rebecca Guay and Greta
Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor, MI
Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor, MI are small doors installed into local
buildings. Local children believe these are the front doors of fairy
houses, and in some cases, small furniture, dishes, and various other
things can be seen beyond the doors.
Victorian era was particularly noted for fairy paintings. The
Richard Dadd created paintings of fairy-folk with a
sinister and malign tone. Other Victorian artists who depicted fairies
include John Atkinson Grimshaw, Joseph Noel Paton, John Anster
Fitzgerald and Daniel Maclise. Interest in fairy-themed art
enjoyed a brief renaissance following the publication of the
Cottingley Fairies photographs in 1917 and a number of artists turned
to painting fairy themes.
This section may stray from the topic of the article. Please help
improve this section or discuss this issue on the talk page. (July
Main article: Cottingley Fairies
Cottingley Fairies photographs in 1917 (revealed by the
"photographers" in 1981 to have been faked) were originally publicized
by Theosophists, many of whom believed them to be real. In the
teachings of Theosophy, Devas, the equivalent of angels, are believed
to help to guide the operation of the processes of nature such as the
process of evolution and the growth of plants. Smaller, less
important, evolutionarily undeveloped minor angels are called nature
spirits, elementals, and fairies.
E. L. Gardner likened fairies to butterflies, but whose function was
to provide an essential link between the energy of the sun and plants
in order to stimulate growth. "That growth of a plant which we regard
as the customary and inevitable result of associating the three
factors of sun, seed, and soil would never take place if the fairy
builders were absent." He described them as having "...no
clean-cut shape normally, and one can only describe them as small,
hazy, and somewhat luminous clouds of colour with a brighter
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The Spiderwick Chronicles (book series)
True Blood (TV series)
D. L. Ashliman,
Fairy Lore: A Handbook (Greenwood, 2006)
Brian Froud and Alan Lee, Faeries, (Peacock Press/Bantam, New York,
Ronan Coghlan Handbook of Fairies (Capall Bann, 2002)
Lizanne Henderson and Edward J. Cowan, Scottish
Fairy Belief: A
History (Edinburgh, 2001; 2007)
C. S. Lewis, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and
Renaissance Literature (1964)
Harmonia Saille "Walking the Faery Pathway", (O Books, London, 2010)
Patricia Lysaght, The Banshee: the Irish
Supernatural Death Messenger
(Glendale Press, Dublin, 1986)
Peter Narvaez, The Good People, New Fairylore Essays (Garland, New
Eva Pocs, Fairies and Witches at the boundary of south-eastern and
Europe FFC no 243 (Helsinki, 1989)
Fairy Tales, Now First Collected: To which are prefixed
two dissertations: 1. On Pygmies. 2. On Fairies, London, 1831
Diane Purkiss, Troublesome Things: A History of Fairies and Fairy
Stories (Allen Lane, 2000)
Tomkinson, John L. Haunted Greece: Nymphs, Vampires and other Exotika,
(Anagnosis, 2004) ISBN 960-88087-0-7
^ "Dictionary.com". Definition of "fey".
^ a b c Kready, Laura. A Study of
Fairy Tales, Houghton Mifflin
Company, Boston, 1916
^ "Online Etymology Dictionary".
^ "Dictionary.com". Definition of "fey".
^ Briggs, Katharine Mary (1976) An Encyclopedia of Fairies. New York,
Pantheon Books. "Euphemistic names for fairies" p. 127
^ Briggs (1976) – The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature p.
^ a b c Silver, Carole B. (1999) Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies
and Victorian Consciousness. Oxford University Press. p. 47
^ Briggs (1976) p. 98.
^ Yeats (1988) p. 2.
^ William Godwin (1876). "Lives of the Necromancers".
^ "Orkneyjar – Descriptions of the
^ Briggs (1976) p. 148.
^ Lewis, C. S. (1994 (reprint)) The Discarded File: An Introduction to
Medieval and Renaissance Literature. Cambridge, Cambridge University
Press. p. 122 ISBN 0-521-47735-2.
^ a b Yeats, W. B. (1988) "
Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish
Peasantry", in A Treasury of Irish Myth, Legend, and Folklore.
Gramercy. p.1 ISBN 0-517-48904-X
^ King James (1597). Daemonologie.
^ Lewis (1994) pp. 135–6.
^ Briggs (1976) p. 319.
^ Yeats (1988) pp. 9–10.
^ Briggs (1967) p. 9.
^ "Trees in Mythology". Mythencyclopedia.com. 2007-02-19. Retrieved
^ Lewis (1994) p. 137.
^ Briggs (1976) "Origins of fairies" p. 320.
^ Briggs (1976) p. 223.
^ Briggs (1976) "Traffic with fairies" and "Trooping fairies" pp.
^ Lewis (1994) p. 138.
^ Silver (1999) p. 44.
^ Hutton, Ronald. The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan
^ Lewis (1994) p. 136.
^ Silver (1999) pp. 40–1.
^ Priest, Hannah. "The king o fairy with his rout", Hortulus
^ Briggs (1967) p. 15.
^ Briggs (1967) p. 141.
^ Yolen, Jane (2000) Touch Magic. p. 49 ISBN 0-87483-591-7.
^ "Orkneyjar – The Origin of the
^ a b Froud, Brian and Lee, Alan (1978) Faeries. New York, Peacock
Press ISBN 0-553-01159-6.
^ Silver (1999) p. 45.
^ Lewis (1994) p. 134.
^ Silver (1999) p. 38.
^ Briggs (1967) p. 146.
^ a b Evans-Wentz, W. Y. (1966, 1990) The Fairy-Faith in Celtic
Countries. New York, Citadel. pp. 167, 243, 457
^ Briggs (1976) pp. 335–6.
^ a b Briggs (1976) p. 25.
^ Briggs (1976) p. 80.
^ Colum, Padraic. "The Story of the
Fairy Rowan-Tree", The King of
Ireland's Son, New York, H. Holt and Company, 1916
^ Briggs (1976) "Traffic with fairies" and "Trooping fairies" pp.
^ Ashliman, D.L. "Changelings". University of Pittsburgh.
^ "Protect your property and yourself – make a Parshell – World
^ Briggs (1976) p. 41.
^ Opie, Iona and Tatem, Moira (eds) (1989) A Dictionary of
Superstitions Oxford University Press. p. 38.
^ Briggs (1976) "Bells" p. 20.
^ Briggs (1967) p. 74.
^ Lewis (1994) p. 125.
^ Silver (1999) p. 155.
^ Lenihan, Eddie and Green, Carolyn Eve (2004) Meeting The Other
Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland. pp. 146–7
^ Lenihan (2004) p. 125.
^ Silver (1999) p. 152.
^ Briggs (1976) "Brownies" p. 46.
^ Briggs (1967) p. 34.
^ Briggs (1976) "Infringement of fairy privacy" p. 233.
^ Briggs (1976) "
Fairy morality" p. 115.
^ Gauldie, E. (1981) The Scottish Miller 1700 – 1900.
Edinburgh, John McDonald. p. 187.
^ Eason, Cassandra. "Fabulous creatures, mythical monsters and animal
power symbols". Fabulous creatures, mythical monsters, and animal
power symbols: a handbook. pp. 147, 148. Retrieved 11 May
^ Briggs, K. M. (1967) The Fairies in English Tradition and
Literature. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. p. 71.
^ Croker, Thomas Crofton. "The Legend of Knocksheogowna", Fairy
Legends and Traditions, 1825
^ a b Child, Francis The English and Scottish Popular Ballads.
^ "The Child Ballads: 37. Thomas Rymer". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved
^ Briggs (1967) p. 104.
^ Briggs (1967) pp. 50–1.
^ De Nugis Curiallium by Walter Map, Edited by F. Tupper & M.B
Ogle (Chatto & Windus, London 1924)
^ Lenihan (2004) pp. 109–10.
^ Northumberland Folk Tales, by Rosalind Kerven (2005) Antony Rowe
Ltd, p. 532.
^ Narváez, Peter (1997) The Good People: New Fairylore Essays.
University Press of Kentucky. pp. 126
^ Briggs (1976) "
Fairy ointment" p. 156.
^ Evans Wentz, W. Y. (1966, 1990) The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries.
Gerrards Cross, Colin Smythe Humanities Press ISBN 0-901072-51-6
^ Briggs (1976) p. 15.
^ Kirk, Robert; Lang, Andrew (28 December 2007). "1. Of the
subterranean inhabitants". The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and
Fairies. Easy Reading Series. Aberfoyle, Scotland: Forgotten Books.
p. 39. ISBN 1-60506-185-9. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
^ Lewis (1994) pp. 129–30.
^ a b Briggs (1976) "Fairies in medieval romances" p. 132.
^ "The Origins and History of Fairies".
^ Briggs (1976) "Morgan Le Fay" p. 303.
^ Briggs (1976) "Faerie Queen", p. 130.
^ Briggs (1967) p. 174.
^ The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies, Anna Franklin, Sterling
Publishing Company, 2004, p. 18.
^ Shakespeare, William (1979). Harold F. Brooks, ed. The Arden
Shakespeare "A Midsummer Nights Dream". Methuen & Co. Ltd. cxxv.
^ Hunt, Maurice. "Individuation in A Midsummer Night's Dream." South
Central Review 3.2 (Summer 1986): 1–13.
^ Zipes, Jack (2000) The Great
Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola
and Basile to the Brothers Grimm. W. W. Norton. p. 858
^ Tatar, Maria (2003) The Hard Facts of the Grimms'
Princeton University Press. p. 31 ISBN 0-691-06722-8.
^ Tolkien, J. R. R. "On Fairy-Stories", The Tolkien Reader, pp.
^ Briggs, (1967) pp. 165–7.
^ Briggs (1967) p. 203.
^ Briggs (1967) p. 209.
^ "Lewis pp. 129-130".
^ Lang, Andrew Preface The Lilac
^ J. M. Barrie,
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy,
Oxford Press, 1999, p. 32.
^ J. M. Barrie,
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens as well Peter and
Wendy, Oxford Press, 1999, p. 132.
^ David Gates (November 29, 1999). "Nothing Here But Kid Stuff".
Newsweek. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
^ Windling, Terri, "Victorian
Fairy Paintings Archived 2006-11-11 at
the Wayback Machine.".
^ Hodson, Geoffrey, Kingdom of the Gods
ISBN 0-7661-8134-0 — includes color pictures of what Devas
supposedly look like when observed by the third eye — their
appearance is reputedly like colored flames about the size of a human
being. Paintings of some of the devas claimed to have been seen by
Hodson from his book "Kingdom of the Gods":
^ a b Doyle, Arthur Conan. "The Theosophic View of Fairies", The
Coming of the Fairies, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1922
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Fairies
The dictionary definition of fairy at Wiktionary
Media related to Fairies at Wikimedia Commons
Fairies on In Our Time at the BBC.
Audio recording of a Scandinavian folktale explaining fairy origins
(streaming and downloadable formats)
Audio recording of a traditional fairy story from Newfoundland, Canada
(streaming and downloadable formats)
Classifications of fairies
Royalty in folklore
Freyr and Yngvi
Gwyn ap Nudd
Gwythyr ap Greidawl
Manannán mac Lir
Queen of Elphame
Royalty in literature
Fairylands in folklore
Avalon, Afallach, and Emain Ablach
Brú na Bóinne
Cnoc na Teamhrach
Svartálfar and Svartálfaheimr
Tír na nÓg
Fairies in culture
The Blue Fairy
The Faerie Queene
The Fairly OddParents
Fairies in folklore
Gwyn ap Nudd
The Hedley Kow
Jack o' the bowl
Joan the Wad
Tuatha Dé Danann
Fairy-like beings in folklore
Bagiennik & Bannik
Tuatha Dé Danann
Treatises on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants
Goethe's Faust (1832)
List of beings refe