Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Surviving an Encounter with Fairies


Imagine living in Medieval Europe. It’s late evening, the sky is starting to turn dark, and You’ve just settled in to eat a meager supper that will do little to quell your hunger, when there’s a knock on your door.

On answering the door you see an inhuman looking person.

It’s the middle ages, so you’ve grown up with stories about fairies drinking people’s blood, kidnapping people to enslave them, and spreading diseases like the much feared plague, for reasons hardly anyone can understand.

Which is why your first instinct is to slam the door. But you pause.

You’re are starving and you’ve also heard the stories about fairies helping the poor become rich, insuring bountiful harvests, and healing the sick.

The fairy asks if he can come in.

You have only a few seconds to decide what to do, make the wrong choice and the fairy will surly kill you.

So what do you do?


How to deal with a fairy used to be a serious question. People feared and hoped that they might have such an encounter. Many fairy tales, are essentially stories about how to survive in a world people believed was filled with magical beings.

A maid working at Mammouthshire, in Wales befriended a house fairy known as a Boo ka. The maid was part fairy herself, or as they called it part Bend eth ew mamau. Which perhaps explains her own tricky, troublesome nature.

Still, at first the two of them got along quite well. The boo ka, as with most of his kind was helpful around the house, and friendly. Then one day she played a prank on him. At this point he became a bit of a monster and attacked her. Finally he calmed down, but had already moved to another village . There he made friends with a servant girl, who was a little too curious and one day discovered his name. Again he went mad and left. Finally he made friends with a farm hand, however, the farm hand went to war and died. At this point the bwca turned into a monster called a bogle. He began to cause no end of trouble for farms and homes. Even his form seems to have been different.

Just like the bwca in this story, many fairies would turn into monsters when they became upset, much like the hulk or a werewolf might.

This tells us the most important pieces to surviving encounters with fairies. That is avoid upsetting them, by being kind, respecting them, and being moral.

Being respectful means first and foremost, remembering that the fairies are our neighbors. When a person would throw their waste water out, they would call out to warn invisible fairies what they were about to do, so that the fairies could get out of the way if necessary. People in Ireland made certain not to damage the fairies bushes or raths. You can see places in Europe where the belief in magical beings remained, where there are spots of wilderness in the middle of fields, that no one dared to damage, for these belonged to the fairies. Beyond this, each place had a number of rules for being respectful, based on their own cultural ideas.

In addition to being respectful a person needed to be moral and kind. Take for example, the story of two children whose wicked step mother was sending them to be eaten by Baba Yaga. Before going to her house, they sought advice from their grandmother, who told them

Now listen to me, my darlings, I will give you a hint: Be kind and good to everyone; do not speak ill words to anyone; do not despise helping the weakest, and always hope for you, too, there will be the needed help.

Fairies respect kindness, cleverness, good manners, and hard work. Those who exhibit these things are far more likely to survive an encounter with them.

As with most seemingly wicked magical creatures who get a hold of humans, Baba Yaga sets the children to work, threatening to eat them if they don’t work hard enough. The story of the magical being, that will kill someone who doesn’t work hard is common throughout Euraisa, and were used as the inspiration for Miazaki’s spirited away.
Like Chiro, the protagonists of this story cannot succeed on their own. They are essentially given challenges that are impossible in hopes that they will fail. A spirit that they helped, however, uses its powers to help them complete their work.

Fairies were obsessed with morality, such as hard work. This is a theme that will crop up again and again in fairy tales. So one of the most important things you should do to survive an encounter with the supernatural is act in a way that is moral, according to your cultures more old fashioned ideas.

Of course, sometimes, no matter what you did you would encounter a fairy that was controlled by hate or a desire to be cruel. One women in Britain, for example, was in love with an Elf Knight, and he seemed to be in love with her. However, one knight when they were meeting, he told her he had murdered many other women, and now it was her turn. She managed to seduce and murder him instead. Thus the reason we have this story.

When encountering a fairy, its important to keep in mind that in many ways humans are more powerful than they are. We can use iron which hurts them and breaks their magic, rowan which breaks their magic, and symbols such as the cross, star, or heart, which they cannot approach. In ancient Rome, people could use a broom to keep harmful spirits out of their home.

What all this boils down to is that you have to understand the culture the fairy came from to survive an encounter with it. For while there are many similarities among most of the fairies of Europe, each culture has its own quirks, its own belief about how fairies would behave. In many places, such as Britian, for example, it was believed that fairies wanted slaves to work for them. Hense they would attempt to lure people

Dancing with fairies could both be good or dangerous. As a general rule if the fairies bring you a long ways to a dance, odds are decent you are safe, if you encounter fairies dancing, joining them is more likely to put you in danger. For example, a girl in Denmark saw some trold dancing and joined them, she was later found dead by her friends. While some men in Scotland danced with some women who turned out to be blood thirsty fairies, that sliced them open with their claws and drank their blood. All except for the one man who stayed near the horses. He was kept safe by the iron horse shoes which the fairies could not approach.

Even the idea I stated that being invited to a fairy dance makes you safe, while joining one is dangerous isn’t absolute.

Few things about the fairies actually are. For fairies, like the forces of nature are kind and cruel, sometimes without any perceivable reason. So sometimes despite everything you might know or try the fairies will kill or help you for reasons mortals can’t understand.