The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

Side Note: There have been concerns about my using Wikipedia because it is not a reliable resource. I am well aware of wikipedia's unreliable nature--but that's exactly why I use it. Fantasy creatures are available to all, and everyone should have a chance to add their "discoveries." This website is supposed to be a fun collection of fantastical creature information with fun images to go with. I am not a reliable source--I'm just a collector. Though at this point, I am flattered that people are concerned with the validity of my site. :)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Faerie also known as Fairy


"The wall is silence, the grass is sleep,
Tall trees of peace their vigil keep,
And the Fairy of Dreams with moth-wings furled
Plays soft on her flute to the drowsy world."
~Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

A fairy (fey or fae; collectively wee folk, good folk, people of peace, and other euphemisms) is a Spirit or Supernatural being. The fairy is based on the fae of medieval Western European folklore and romance. Fairies are often identified with related beings of other mythologies (see list of beings referred to as fairies).
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Much of the folklore about fairies revolves about 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. In particular, folklore describes how to prevent the fairies from stealing babies and substituting changelings, and abducting older people as well. However, many tales also involve the good side of faeries as well. In Medieval time folklore, many faeries are often present at the blessings, namings, or christenings of a newborn child. Such blessings vary from highly beneficial, such as the ability to speak with animals, to the artificial, such as outer beauty. Faeries are often very vain when it comes to this aspect of blessings, and they tend to go to extremes when giving said blessings. Many individuals would rather avoid the extremes and thus use the various spells of protection as mentioned in the wikipedia definition.
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Nature of Faeries


Fairies are generally portrayed as human in appearance and as having supernatural abilities such as the ability to fly, cast spells and to influence or foresee the future. Although in modern culture they are often depicted as young, sometimes winged, females of small stature, they originally were depicted much differently: tall, radiant, angelic beings or short, wizened trolls being some of the commonly mentioned. 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. Wings, while common in Victorian 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.

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Various animals have also been described as fairies. Sometimes this is the result of shapeshifting on part of the fairy, as in the case of the Selkie (seal people); others, like the kelpie and various blackdogs, appear to stay more constant in form. However, these faeries are under debate whether they are considered real faeries, or just merely another type of magical creature altogether.

Etymology

The word fay came to English (as fai, fay) from Old French faie or fee (Modern French fée), earlier from the Vulgar Latin feminine fata, referring to one of the fates, personifications of destiny (the Greek Moirae); cf. the Italian Fata Morgana used as a translation of Morgan le Fay. The concept of a fate, an overseeing divine force who determines the length and eventualities of one's life, had changed over the years to refer to a spirit guiding or directing a given person (cf. a guardian angel), and thence broadened to refer to local protective spirits, or nature spirits in general.

English fairy (Middle English faierie) was borrowed ca. 1300 from Old French faerie "land of the faie, enchantment", an noun denoting the general class, activity or habitation of the faie (faierie being related to fai as e.g. yeomanry to yeoman, foolery to fool, or nunnery to nun). From adjectival use ("fairy gold", "fairy queen" etc.) from the 15th century applied to the class of supernatural beings inhabiting faerie, re-interpreted as derived from fair, singular fairy with a new plural fairies. The term fairy tale is a translation of the Conte de feés of Madame d'Aulnoy (1698). The spelling faerie first appears 1590 in Spenser's Faerie Queene. From Spenser's use, the spelling with -ae- came to be used in a dignified or poetic sense as opposed to "vulgar" tales. J.R.R. Tolkien makes use of the distinction, in On-Fairy Stories defining Faërie as "the realm or state in which fairies have their being", depicted (under the name of Faery) as a mystical or visionary state in his Smith of Wootton Major.


Origin of fairies
How Faeries are Born
According to the knowledgeable J.M. Barrie, Faeries are born with the first laugh a human child. "when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be one fairy for every boy or girl." This creation links faeries to humans. However, with this link of creation also links humans to their demise.
How Faeries Die
Also according the Mr. Barrie, Faeries die from disbelief. Every time someone says, "I don't believe in faeries" a faerie somewhere drops down dead. Because of this unfortunate link with humans and an increase in the disbelief of fantastical creatures, fewer and fewer faeries are living to their full potential.
Possible Connection Between Faeries and a darker kind. . .
There is a rumor that if some faeries are held indoors overnight, they undergo a serious and hideous transformation. (read fablehaven) Whether this rumor is reliable or not is yet to be proven.
How to Get into FaerieLand
Although the complete ritual is unknown, it costs a silver penny to get into the faerieland.
--this random fact of faerie nature was submitted by Mandi :)--

Folk beliefs

People who believed in the existence of fairies often did not always ascribe to them a definite origin, and explanations varied culturally, regionally and temporally.

One popular belief was that they were the dead, or some subclass of the dead. The banshee, with an Irish or Gaelic name that means simply, "fairy woman", is sometimes described as a ghost or as a harbinger of death. The Cauld Lad of Hylton, though described as a murdered boy, is also described as a household sprite, like a brownie. (Do not be confused with brownie, sprite, or faerie. These are each a separate species that will be categorized sometime in the future. For this reference however, it applies because it is folklore rather than definition.) 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 views expressed by those who believed in fairies, although many of the informants would express the view with some doubts. This reference to seeing the face of the dead is a misconception that most people have. Faeries are often described as having "a familiar face but one that I couldn't quite place" (see "Pirates and Pixies" by Jenni Conder for a better description) . When thinking of the familiar dead, especially ones long past, the faces are often difficult for many people without the help of a photograph for remembrance. When encountering a faerie, many individuals become confused as to who they are really seeing due to the strong magicks at work.

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Another view held that they were an intelligent species, distinct from humans and angels. In alchemy, in particular, they were regarded as elementals, such gnomes and sylphs, as described by Paracelsus. This is uncommon in folklore, but accounts describing the fairies as creatures of the air have been found popularly. Faeries do often choose an element such as fire or water, thus the reference to elementals. However, elementals are yet a completely different species as well. This reference is more accurate than many of the beliefs mentioned before.


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A third belief held that they were a class of "demoted" angels. One popular story held that when the angels revolted, God ordered the gates shut; those still in heaven remained angels, those in hell became devils, and those caught in between became fairies. Others held that they had been thrown out of heaven, not being good enough, but 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 are subject to the Devil. This belief is entirely untrue. Those who were trapped were winged beings, but not necessarily faeries. A reference on winged beings will be created in the future. As to being subject to the devil, this is also untrue. Pixies, a distant cousin to faeries, are often mischevious and enjoy misleading humans, being "devilish in nature" but not the devil's subjects.

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A fourth belief was the fairies were devils, 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. Yet another untrue belief. Devils and Hobgoblins do not fall under the category of faerie, though they are magical creatures in their own right. Puritanism had many misconceptions of the supernatural world which lead to a self-righteous hatred and removal of anything in that category. The Salem Witch Trials, though none of the burned were indeed witches, is an example of the ridiculous notions they had at the time.
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The belief in their angelic nature was less common than that they were the dead, but still found popularity, especially in Theosophist circles. Informants who described their nature sometimes held aspects of both the third and the fourth view, or observed that the matter was disputed. This beliefs are both vague and undefining. Religion has very little to do with magical creatures.

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A less-common belief was that the fairies were actually humans; one folktale recounts how a woman had hidden some of her children from God, and then looked for them in vain, because they had become the hidden people, the fairies. This is parallel to a more developed tale, of the origin of the Scandinavian Huldra. However, faeries are not human, though they resemble humans in their appearance. Though, they depend on humans for their existance, they never were human to begin with.

Sources of beliefs

One theory for the source of fairy beliefs was that a race of diminutive people had once lived in the Celtic Nations and British Isles, but been driven into hiding by invading humans. They came to be seen as another race, or possibly spirits, and were believed to live in an Otherworld that was variously described as existing underground, in hidden hills (many of which were ancient burial mounds), or across the Western Sea. Although faeries have been driven into hiding by humans and they are a diminuitive people, they are neither human nor ever were human at one time or another as I stated before!
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Some archaeologists attributed Elfland to small dwellings or underground chambers where diminutive people might have once lived.

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In popular folklore, flint arrowheads from the Stone Age were attributed to the fairies as "elf-shot" even though Elves are different from faeries. The fairies fear of iron was attributed to the invaders having iron weapons, whereas the inhabitants had only flint and were therefore easily defeated in physical battle. 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.

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African pygmies were put forth as an example of a race that had previously existed over larger stretches of territory, but come to be scarce and semi-mythical with the passage of time and prominence of other tribes and races.

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Another theory is that the fairies were originally worshiped as gods, but with the coming of Christianity, they lived on, in a dwindled state of power, in folk belief. Many beings who are described as deities in older tales are described as "fairies" in more recent writings. Victorian explanations 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.

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A third theory was that the fairies were a folkloric belief concerning the dead. This noted many common points of belief, such as the same legends being told of ghosts and fairies, the Sidhe mounds in actuality being burial mounds, it being dangerous to eat food in both Fairyland and Hades, and both the dead and fairies living underground.


Practical beliefs and protection

When considered as beings that a person might actually encounter, fairies were noted for their mischief and malice. Which is a sad misconception. Pixies and Faeries are often confused. It is the pixies that are the mischevious ones, while the faeries only enjoy the occasional prank every couple of years or so. 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 behaviours 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 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. Fairies riding domestic animals, such as cows, could cause paralysis or mysterious illnesses.

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As a consequence, practical considerations of fairies have normally been advice on averting them. In terms of protective charms, cold iron is the most familiar, but other things are regarded as detrimental to the fairies: wearing clothing inside out, running water, bells (especially church bells), St. John's wort, and four-leaf clovers, among others. Some lore is contradictory, such as Rowan trees in some tales been sacred to the fairies, and in other tales being protection against them. Of course, if a faerie were insistant upon seeking revenge, none of these methods would stop its wrath. Faerie curses are the most powerful of the magical creature kingdom.

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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. The belief that bread has some sort of special power is an ancient one. 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.” Mostly, the bread is to keep a hungry faerie from pestering you. Scattering breadcrumbs, however, is not the method of insuring you will find your way home again.

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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. A faerie's language to us sounds a great deal like the tinkling of little bells. Some faeries consider human made bells as a primitive attempt at communication while others see it as mockery; thus the ambiguous role.

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Certain locations, known to be haunts of fairies, are to be avoided; 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 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. It was believed that fairies could be made visible by bending a grass leaf into a circle and "by looking through nature one could see into the world of nature".

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Other actions were believed to offend fairies. People who saw the fairies were advised not to look closely, because they resented infringements on their privacy. Once again, this is due to most faeries' sense of vanity. Some faeries are so vain that they believe no one is worthy to look upon their divine presence. 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. Which, although faeries avoid pixie pranks, is also very possible. A faerie's sense of offense and justice is not to be trifled with.
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Millers were thought by the Scots to be "no canny" due 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 then 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. Although this story is mere myth, it is a good example of a faerie sense of justice. The Miller helped a struggling faerie, and for that act, a magical reward was given. When someone disturbed the faeries, a magical punishment had to be made.

Changelings

A considerable amount of lore about fairies revolves about changelings, the theft of a human baby and the substitution of a fairy one or an enchanted piece of wood, and preventing a baby from being abducted. Older people could also be abducted; a woman who had just given birth and had yet to be chruched was regarded as being in particular danger. A common thread in folklore is that eating the fairy food would trap the captive, as Prosperina or Persephone in Hades; this warning is often given to captives who escape by other people in the fairies' power, who are often described as captives who had eaten and so could not be freed. Folklore differed about the state of the captives: some held that they lived a merry life, others that they always pined for their old friends. Changelings will have a section all their own in an upcoming post. However, because this paragraph involves more of the faeries rather than the actual changeling, I'm keeping it here.

Classifications

In Scottish folklore, fairies are divided into the Seelie Court, the more beneficiently inclined (but still dangerous) fairies, and the Unseelie Court, the malicious fairies
Trooping fairies refer to fairies who appear in groups and might form settlements.

In General, Faeries often choose a particular element in which they turn to for magical strength. Fire, water, earth, and air are the more common elements, but that doesn't stop there. Several faeries have been discovered which range from frost and ice to void and time. Faeries come in so many types of classifications that it would take volumes to describe each kind.


Legends

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 useless things.
These illusions are also implicit in the tales of fairy ointment. Many tales from the British islands 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.

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Fairies appeared in many tales and romances, but this blog is not long enough to list very many. 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 described faerie tales as taking place in the land of Faerie. Additionally, not all folktales that feature fairies are generally categorized as fairy tales.
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Perhaps some of the most well-known fairies were popularized by Disney. Tinkerbell, from the Peter Pan stories by J.M. Barrie, and the Disney adaptation. While in Carlo Collodi's's tale Pinocchio a wooden boy receives the gift of real life from the a fairy described as the "lovely maiden with azure hair", who was dubbed the "Blue Fairy" for Disney's adaptation. Sadly, both these faeries were not given the dignity their species deserves.

As would be expected, fairies appear in other media as well, including novels, video games, and music. A comprehensive list is beyond the scope of this article.

For a more comprehensive list, see List of fairy and sprite characters



This post is still being edited but. . .

A Special Thanks to Wikipedia.Com!

And to Mandi!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Check with Laurence Gardner about the races of people who's history is only preserved in the oral tradition we call fairy tales: hunted and killed, their artifacts destroyed, and driven underground -they preserved their history in "harmless childrens stories." One race was very Fair skinned, light haired, blued eyed: Faeiries.

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