Books Before Befriending
Before initiating contact with faeries, there are certain things you should be aware of. Despite the depiction of faeries in television and movies, real Fae could not be more different than Tinkerbell. "Faerie" is a term that describes a wide variety of nature spirits, but there are more races than we could possibly be aware of. Keeping in mind that no two faeries are the same (just as no two humans are the same) is something that could keep you from getting hurt.
Faery Witchcraft is a term used to describe a witchcraft tradition where the Fae play a major part in the witches' practice. It is not a religion, and a person of any religion may join the Faery Faith. Before doing so, however, research is strongly recommended. One expert in the field of the Fae is Morgan Daimler. She has spent much of her magical career studying and working with faeries, and she is the most reliable source I know of. Her book is a great introductory resource for faeries. It is one resource I referred to when preparing this article actually. Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk
After learning what you can about faeries in general, search out local folklore. Folklore provides an insight to the land in which you live, as folklore originates from a time period that predates the disenchantment of the world that came with the emergence of science as we know it today. Talk to the elderly, seek out old and ancient books, and search through data bases of myth and folklore. I live in New England (USA), so I refer to Native American folklore. Americans have dismissed Native American stories as foolish superstition, believing that the Natives were savages and barbarians. This could not be further from the truth. Native Americans have a way of seeing things that we do not, and therefore they know the secrets of the land. If you live in America, local American Indian lore could be priceless information. I am of American Indian descent, but unfortunately so far removed I know no living relatives that could tell me the stories of their tribes. It wouldn't hurt to look up your family tree, and if you have living relatives of Native American descent, shoot them an email or give them a call and ask them about stories about land spirits, little people, water spirits, and so forth.
Native American "Little People" From Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers, 1917
Guidelines for Good Neighbors
Morgan Daimler lays out several guidelines for working with the Fae in her book Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk.
- Start with your house faery. Starting small allows you to learn about working with Fae, because they are unlike deities and human spirits. This will give you experience and wisdom, and most importantly, an ally. As you learn, you can gradually expand your network of spirit friends and allies. House spirits have been with the land long before your home was built, so be welcoming and respectful. Ancient writings and lore all concur that house spirits tend to dwell in or around the hearth, which in modern homes is most often the kitchen. Dedicate a small space for the House spirit, and occasionally leave offerings like a bowl of milk or cream. I will provide more on offerings below in the Relationship Building section.
- Fair Folk are "tit for tat" as Daimler says on page 194 (Fairies...). This means you must be prepared to pay them for boons and blessings. If you accept a blessing, know that unless you specify what you will give them in return they will set the price. You do not want them to do this, because you will incur their wrath if you cannot pay them their demanded price. This leads us to number three...
- Just like working with deities, negotiation is perfectly acceptable, and advisable. If you have the notion or have received omens that they want you to give them your wedding ring in exchange for something you want, then tell them "I appreciate your willingness for helping me with my problem. I am willing to offer you ____". Trust your instinct—if you get a good feeling then most likely they are accepting your offer. If you feel uneasy, then keep suggesting counteroffers.
- Use your best manners, saying "please", "May I'. The only thing you should not say is 'thank you" or "thanks". There are a few theories behind this, the most common is that saying thank you is equivalent to saying "I owe you". Even if you have agreed upon and paid your due for the boon, saying Thank you will give them the notion that you are in their debt. Say "I appreciate this", or "this is exactly what I needed".
- Faeries hate filth, so if you want to start working with them you must take out the trash, clean your dishes, pick up the kids toys and straighten out your bookshelf. It would be offensive to invite your house spirit to an altar on your kitchen counter while the garbage is reeking of dirty diapers or there's food rotting the sink. So, keep your house tidy.
- Never overestimate yourself. It doesn't matter if you have been a witch for 50 years and you come from a long line of witches. You will never be more powerful than a faery, so don't ever get cocky. Even Fair folks that befriend you would not hesitate to literally drive you insane and find it hilarious while you are screaming, crying, and pulling your hair out. Fae can bless your life, but they are vicious when offended.
- Know how to protect yourself! What protects against one faery might attract another .This is why you should start small and gradually build your network of friends. If you accidentally piss of a powerful nature spirit, your allies could teach you how to protect yourself, and might even offer some protection of their own.
The "F" Word
When speaking aloud about or to Fae, avoid using the word faery, because it is believed that using 'the F word" angers them. Use euphemisms instead:
The Good Neighbors
- Good People
- People of Peace
- Fair Family
- Fair Folk
- Mother's Blessings
- Noble People
What Are Faeries, Exactly?
Simply put, faeries are spirits who inhabit the Faerie Realm, a part of the Otherworld that exists parallel to ours. The vibrations are different, which allows for the Otherworld to exist simultaneously over Earth. These vibrations may change from time to time, allowing entrances through which people have stumbled through occasionally. Faeries are often described as Elementals or Nature Spirits, but that is not exactly correct. Elementals are composed of energies of a single element, and work only with that elemental realm. Nature spirits are spirits of certain places in nature, such as trees, plants, rocks, grass, etc. Faeries, on the other hand, can work with any element, and, like humans, have unique customs, social laws, personalities and taboos. This is why researching local folklore is so important; through local myths and legends you learn about the customs, taboos, and the overall nature of faeries inhabiting certain areas.
During the Victorian Era the image of the faerie became what we are familiar with today: small, winged, angelic beings. While faeries possess magic and powers like that of deities, they were often described as being human sized in ancient Celtic societies. There are a number of stories about faeries marrying and mating with humans. How could this be so if they were smaller than hummingbirds?
Faeries are known to be shape-shifters. They often may appear as an animal. They are just as curious about humans as we are them, and so they may change into the shape of a deer or a badger, or a bird, to get a closer look at us without freaking us out. Another well known talent of the Fae is Glamor, their ability to make humans see what they want us to see. This could be done so we can't see them at all, or they could make us think they are giving us gold when really they are giving us stones. If you follow the guidelines laid out above, and gradually establish a trust between yourself and the local Fae, they are less likely to use Glamor in a way that could be harmful. Fae are tricksters, so they may steal little things from you. In fact, they took my car keys right off my key chain the night after I was talking with a friend of mine about how I want to work with them but still held a lot of fear. That was their way of telling me I have no need to fear them, they just want to play! I'm yet to get my keychain back, but I know that I will in good time. I have a spare set of keys, so no harm done! (And I have to admit it was pretty funny, which I tell them when I sense they are near).
Signs That Fae Are Near
When things start going bump in the night, do you have ghosts or could it be Faeries? There are certain signs that are unique to the Fae:
- Unexplained laughter, voices, or music unlike anything you have ever heard on earth. Talking could be ghosts, but with ghosts you usually can understand the conversation. Also, ghosts typically can only muster the energy to say one or two words for you to hear audibly. With Fae, the conversation is often in a language you've never heard before.
- Missing objects. As I said before, Fae love to play tricks on humans and fellow faeries. They will snatch things either because they like them, or to get your attention. Taking my keys was their way of saying "I may be tricky, but I'm not dangerous"
- Movement in your peripheral vision. It's usually a flash of light or movement. Your kids or cats may notice this as well—or will outright see it and point it out. Just the other day my three-year-old son kept telling me there was an elf on the window sill. I know what he was seeing was a Faerie, but he doesn't know the difference. Shortly after my son pointed out the being, my seedlings sprouted and started growing wildly! (I am most appreciative!)
- Elf Locks—an old term used to describe tangles in your hair when there is no logical reason for being there. I have very long hair, and there have been a couple times when I was slacking in my housework, and even though I put my hair in a French braid for bed (to keep it from getting tangled), I woke up and the back of my hair was so matted and tangled I had to leave deep conditioner in it for 10 minutes until I could get a comb through.
Could It Be a Faerie?
~Movement in peripheral~
~Mysterious, mystical music~
Initiating an Alliance
When you decide to start working with Fae, start small. The best option is to reach out to your house spirit. Make a place for it in your kitchen. Historically, house spirits dwelled in or around the hearth. Today, that is the kitchen. Leave an offering, and make sure the house is clean.
Another way to let the Fae know you are open to communication is to make a faery star. The faerie star is a seven pointed star. It could be as simple as drawing one on a piece of paper, or you could make one out of clay, wood, or even mush bread into the shape of a star.
For my Faery altar, I made a more permanent Faerie star. If you just want to open communication, you could make a faerie start to put on your working altar, or in your garden. Faeries love when you garden, and are willing to help you with your plants if you ask politely and leave offerings. I have never had what you'd call a "green thumb". But my grandmother and my father did. They say it's the Abenaki in our blood—that we should instinctively know what the plants need to sprout, grow and thrive. Well, I killed a cactus—a hen and chicks at that, one of the hardest to kill plants! So when I moved into my current apartment and saw that I had a big yard, I knew I'd need help to keep a garden alive. I enlisted help from a friend who is an avid gardener, and from the unseen beings in my back yard. I would leave honey, milk, cookies, and painted a seven pointed star on a rock. I also put out some of those miniature faerie statues. Those are great ways to get the Good Neighbors attention! So, fast forward to mid-summer. My flowers were huge! My friend stopped by and said she couldn't believe how big and healthy my plants were! I never had to weed, never used fertilizer, and used the cheapest garden soil I could find. I threw dried chamomile down once in a while, and when I remembered I'd water them. Otherwise, I think the Good neighbors helped me out.
With your faerie stars in places that feel right, and your house nice and clean, you can start working on something that will ensure an amicable relationship with the fae: yourself. The Fae are very particular, and they have their own customs and personalities. According to Morgan Daimler, the Fae have seven virtues that they look for in a friend.
- Hospitality: When you start your relationship with your house spirit, you want to make it clear that they are more than welcome in your home. After all, they have been there since the building was built.
- Generosity: Instead of scraping your plate into the garbage disposal, save the last few bites for the Fae. A flat rock or a tree stump makes for a great place to leave offerings outside.
- Kindness: Use your manners.
- Compassion: Pick up trash, cut those plastic can holders, feed birds and ducks—all of these actions show you have compassion for nature and her creatures.
- Courage: A little fear is natural because there are faeries that want to eat your face, but courage to call upon faeries of good will shows courage.
- Politeness: As long as you don't say thank you!
- Adventuresomeness: The Fae love a good spontaneous adventure! Let your wild side free, and the Fae will surely join you!
Three S's of Offerings
Sweet, Shiny, and Sentimental!
You can never go wrong with honey, a cookie or piece of chocolate. Shiny silver jewelry or gems are often favored as well. Sharing your supper, or creating something from the heart are the most appreciated by the Good Neighbors.
Befriending Fae is not something you just do overnight. It takes a deal of study and preparation, and then it takes time and patience once you decide to go forth with the venture. While you must approach Fae with a healthy dose of fear, and deep reverence, a friendship with the Good Neighbors can be a blessed one. If you would like to learn more about what it's like once you start your faery craft, I have a blog entry, Faerie Musings, where I talk about my experiences with the Fae, what you need for basic Faerycraft, and an example ritual involving faeries.
Contacting the Faerie Realm—Great Video by a Witch Who Knows Her Stuff!
"Prince Arthur and the Fairy Queen" by Johann Heinrich Füssli
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Amanda Wilson