A considerable amount of lore about fairies revolves around changelings , fairy children left in the place of stolen human babies. 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 family.
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.
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. 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.
Lewis reported hearing of a cottage more feared for its reported fairies than its reported ghost. Paths that the fairies travel are also wise to avoid.
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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. 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.
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.
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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 user. 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 "The Legend of Knockshigowna ", 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.
A common feature of the fairies is the use of magic to disguise appearance. 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 worthless things. 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. They are thought to represent the main deities of pre-Christian Gaelic Ireland.
They are variously said to be ancestors, the spirits of nature, or goddesses and gods. These bodies be so pliable through the sublety of Spirits that agitate them, that they can make them appear or disappear at pleasure . 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. 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 is a woman whose magic powers stem from study.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late tale, but the Green Knight himself is an otherworldly being. Fairies appear as significant characters in William Shakespeare 's A Midsummer Night's 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. Tolkien described these tales as taking place in the land of Faerie. 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. 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.
Imagery of fairies in literature became prettier and smaller as time progressed. A story of the origin of fairies appears in a chapter about Peter Pan in J. Barrie 's 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. Barrie 's famous Peter Pan stories, published in , 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.
Images of fairies have appeared as illustrations, often in books of fairy tales , as well as in photographic-based media and sculpture. 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.
The Victorian era was particularly noted for fairy paintings. The Victorian painter Richard Dadd created paintings of fairy-folk with a sinister and malign tone. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. See also Fairy disambiguation , Fay disambiguation , or Feary surname.
A portrait of a fairy, by Sophie Gengembre Anderson Main article: Classifications of fairies. Main article: Changeling. Main article: Aos Si. See also: Fairy painting.
A Study of Fairy Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Online Etymology Dictionary. An Encyclopedia of Fairies. New York: Pantheon Books. Oxford University Press. Cambridge University Press. The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. Sereya's Song Little Sereya has given up her power of speech because she thinks that no-one understands, and no-one listens.
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