The Life of a Fairy: Their Diet, Habitat, Reproduction, and More
Ever since we were children, the idea of fairies captivated our imaginations and flew us away in our dreams. We waited patiently for the tooth fairy to come and leave us penance for our baby teeth. We watched the television screen in awe as Tinkerbell fluttered around with pixie dust trailing after her. We wondered if fairies really could be real.
What would it be like to actually live a day in the life of a fairy? Let's explore how fairies survive—what they eat, what they do for fun, how they reproduce, where they live, and so much more! Keep in mind that there are different types of fairies and each fairy is different as an individual.
Diet: What Do Fairies Eat?
If fairies exist, then what do they eat in order to survive? Well, the truth is that no one knows if fairies even need to eat at all, BUT if we look back at folklore from places in Europe we can see that the fairies did partake in human food from time to time. Depending upon the region and the fairies involved, often people would leave offerings to the "good folk" in order to keep them happy. For instance, in Ireland on All Souls Night (Halloween), people would leave a little bread and water on their tables so that when the fairies might pass by they would be pleased and leave the home in peace.
Another beverage that is steeped in fairy lore is milk. For centuries people in Ireland and Scotland would leave a bit of milk in a pail on the doorstep to prevent the fairies from stealing it straight from the cows! Fairies were known to love milk and would wreak havoc on a farmer's milk supply if not appeased. They might be inclined to dry the cow's milk up so that the cow produces none, or they might be inclined to turn the supply of milk and butter sour. Even though the Irish called them the "good folk", they weren't always so nice if offerings weren't left out for them.
Traditionally, other beverages that the fay liked to partake in included (but wasn't limited to): water, ale, beer, cream, wine, and mead. The cousin of the leprechaun, called the clurichaun, was said to invade a person's wine cellar and lay it to "ruin" according to folklorist Nicholas O'Kearney. He would be seen around at night, drunk as a skunk, off of wine or whatever other type of alcohol he could get his tiny hands on.
As far as what a fairy will eat, I believe that depends on the area where the fairy lives as well as the type of fairy. Again, tradition says that the smaller fairies prefer to eat foods that are sweet such as cakes and other sugary treats. But some folklore says that they would eat bread right off of a person's table given the opportunity. But what do they eat when they aren't eating from the humans' tables? Most likely the fairies eat whatever they can from nature—berries and fruit of any kind, herbs and vegetables, nuts, etc. There are those fairies that are considered dangerous and violent, and these are said to capture and eat humans as often as they can.
Where Do Fairies Live?
Fairies are found on every continent around the world and even on the tiniest inhabited islands in the largest oceans. Many of us would like to know what is a fairy's habitat like? Where do they live? Do they reside in tiny houses or within the earth? Are they living on another plane of existence or our mundane plane here on Earth? The answer to these questions is simply "yes." How can that be, you might be wondering.
To say that fairies only live on one plane of existence and in one type of habitat would be a fallacy. Fairies are so prevalent throughout the world's mythology and folklore, that they are said to have lived in almost every type of home and habitat one could think of. We will begin by discussing those otherworldly habitats that the ancient Celts spoke of long ago.
There are stories upon stories of people in Ireland, Scotland, and England (particularly) that tell of humans who are seduced by the wee folk into going off to "fairyland", and when and if these humans return to the land of the humans they return after years of being gone...and they are quite bewildered to find out they've been gone for years when they thought they had only been gone for mere minutes! This shows us that if the fairies live in a place all their own, this place might very well be on another spiritual plane of existence. Or another realm or dimension perhaps. This might be what some people call the "astral plane". There are different names for "fairyland" including Tir na nOg, elfhame, and elfland. This again depends on the region and the people who occupy that region and what they called it.
Under or Within the Earth
Often fairies are believed to live under the earth, in hills and caves and the like. Eyewitnesses dating back centuries would say that they saw a group of the good folk disappearing into the hills. In The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien, the dwarves were considered to be miners that created entire towns within the hills and mountains of Middle Earth. Tolkien was inspired by folklore and old world stories when he wrote his classic trilogy. Tommy-knockers are thought to be malevolent fairies that live under the earth that have often confused miners by incessantly knocking on the walls of the caves...while others say that the tommy-knockers are good-hearted and are knocking to warn the miners of an oncoming danger. These are just a few stories of fairies that live within the earth.
In and Below the Ocean
Some water-loving fairies live in and below the ocean waves. Folklorists today claim that merpeople are a type of fairy, and that merpeople live in palaces under the ocean floor. In Ireland, the merrows were merpeople that made their homes on the bottom of the ocean floor. Other fairies are said to live in streams, lakes, ponds, lochs, and even in sacred wells. These types of fairies are either able to breathe underwater or live on another plane of existence in which the water would have no effect on their biological survival.
On Islands Hidden by the Mist
In the British Arthurian legends, Avalon was the Isle of the Blessed or the Isle in the Mist. Legend has it that either followers of the old ways lived there along with the Lady of the Lake. Other legends say that the people who lived in Avalon were either deceased or were in fact the "fairies". Morgan Le Fay from Arthurian legend was said to have been a fairy, or at least half-fairy. In an old Irish story, fairies or the good folk would come from an island in the mists and travel under the ocean's waves in order to receive a certain family's deceased. They would carry the deceased back to their Isle in the mists. Is this island hidden by the mist in fact the same place as the supposed "fairyland" of other stories?
Everywhere in Nature and Beyond
So if the fairies live on our plane of existence, we can find them almost anywhere in nature. There are those who live within hollowed out tree trunks, under and within the trees' roots, in the highest boughs of the trees, in homes made out of toadstools and mushrooms, and even homes made out of rocks by a stream or riverside. They can be found in gardens and living with the woodland animals. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you will even find a fairy living in your very own home!
How Do Fairies Procreate?
You might be wondering, if there's so many fairies and have been throughout history, where do they come from? How do they procreate or reproduce? Again, there are different theories on where fairies come from.
If we go by classic literature, in JM Barrie's Peter Pan, fairies were said to be made by children's laughs. This is a sweet thought and concept, but perhaps not everyone would agree that this is exactly logical. It is more likely that pixies and small flower fairies are made in this way, but what about the larger and more capricious fairies? What about the malevolent-type fairies who not only dislike human beings but are out to wreak havoc upon them? I doubt a baby's laugh would create such monstrosities. So for the next theory of fairy procreation...
Fairies are very similar to human beings in their physical make-up, so many people believe fairies can reproduce just as humans do. With a male and female fairy coming together to reproduce and therefore birthing fairy babies. This theory could tie into the stories of "changelings". Changelings were thought to be fairy babies (usually hideous in appearance and extremely mischievous) that were substituted for a human baby when human babies were kidnapped by the fairies.
Some people in the Dark Ages believed that fairies weren't "born" at all, but that they were spiritual in that they are the souls of pagans or that they were fallen angels. And again, if we believe that fairies are actually spiritual or astral in nature, perhaps they are made just as human souls are made...by the Universe or Creative force.
What Do Fairies Do for Fun?
What do fairies like to do for fun? This question has many answers, just as the other questions do. Fairies are so different by group, region, and even by individual fairy. In many stories, fairies are seen dancing, making music and generally being merry. They sing, frolick through fields, and even enjoy entrancing any human beings that happen by. Don't get caught up in the fairy's dance lest you be "pixie-led" into fairyland or even off of a cliff!
Fairies are also said to enjoy playing tricks and pranks on people. They enjoy getting into the pantry, making little messes, and they especially enjoy "borrowing" shiny objects such as jewelry and stones. Fairies like to eat and drink most offerings that are set out for them...namely sweet treats, milk, and alcoholic beverages of various kinds.
In various places in Europe and the Americas, the nicer fairies are said to enjoy working...whether that be making shoes, clothing, or doing simple household chores to aiding around the farm. They also are said to be particularly nature-lovers and will help plants grow and will help animals in their times of need. Fairies were said to ride on the backs of horses on what was known as the "fairy-raide" (fairy-ride). Many of the fairies have wings and like to fly and flutter from place to place. Some fairies like to interact with certain humans, while others want nothing to do with humans.
This was just a brief look into the life of a fairy. Obviously the fairies differ from one another, just as you and I differ from each other. If you happen to meet a fairy, perhaps you can ask her what it is like to be one.
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© 2014 Nicole Canfield