- A small imaginary being of human form that has magical powers.
That is according to the online Free Dictionary.
Wikipedia describes them as
A fairy (also faery, faerie, fay, fae; wee folk, good folk, people of peace, fair folk, etc.) is a type of mythical being or legendary creature, a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural or preternatural.
Sometimes the term describes any magical creature, including goblins or gnomes: at other times, the term only describes a specific type of more ethereal creature.
The Fae are a race of beings in a variety of forms with a variety of metaphysical abilities.
It's vague I know but there are just so many kinds of fairies that to try and box them into any sort of category is like herding cats or catching three fireflies in one go. They don't want to be examined in that way as they are far too organic and changing. Each land and race of people has a different legend about them and different beliefs on where they came from.
Some people think the fae are the spirits of dead humans while others believe they are demons. Some believe they are elemental beings connected to earth or water or wind and still others think they are angels or even aliens.
My Philosophy is that they are beings completely independent of man-kind, placed on earth just as we have been with, perhaps, the same purpose: stewards to care for the planet with the goal of attaining pure-love and light.
Now, with that said, there are historically types of fae and I feel that I should at least offer these concepts.
Some fae researchers or writers categorize fairies by element; Earth, Air, Fire, Water. My only issue with this is it only works for elemental races of fae and leaves out other forms that move between the elements or above them all-together.
Earth Fae include gnomes, leprechauns, dwarves, some plant or flower fairies, trolls, etc.
According to Ophelia Fey and Mary the Mortal of Fairies-Secrets, "The earth fairy, sometimes known as an earth elemental, is the nature spirit perhaps closest to you -- although we may be deep in the earth or in hidden places where you do not see us. We are everywhere, caring for and creating in nature...we help create can be most spectacular. Magnificent crystals within the earth...Or elegant and exotic flowers." The two go on to describe earth fae as being similar to or mimicking humans because they are the closest to this realm where we exist. Their article on Earth Fae is plentiful and a fantastic read.
Water Fae include undines, nixies, kelpie, mermaids, water sprites and nymphs, etc.
According to Anna Franklin in her book Working with the Fairies, water fairies inhabit all bodies of water where they live below the surface and protect it and its inhabitants. She describes them as being beautiful and come ashore often to seek lovers. She goes on to explain, "There are large numbers of water fairies around the world. These fairies are temperamental in character and can either curse with storms or drowning or bless with treasure or the power of healing or magic. The females are generally lovely and seductive...Male water fairies are usually bad tempered and ugly with green hair, though there are exceptions.
A 'prototype' of water fairies is the Greek sea god Proteus, known as The Old Man of the Sea who is the most masterful shapeshifter of all...Most water fairies are said to be shapeshifters, perhaps because of the fluid and changeable nature of water itself, which is only given shape by the vessel that holds it."
Air Fairies include sylphs, pixies, the small butterfly-like creatures most often depicted in books, storm Devas, etc.
Dora von gelder describes one of the most common air fae, the storm deva, "Probably the most characteristic air fairy is the one that is associated with storms. They are small, some four or five feet high, but shapely and beautiful. They are well proportioned according to the human model, with faces that are weirdly narrow framed by streaming hair. Their principal coloring is like a silver birch, but with faint lights of pale blue and violet." She goes on to describe Sylphs, "...when a great storm is about to break, they are rallied for it. Just as rain storms are high spots in the life of of cloud fairies, and other fairies have their special pleasures and events, so the wind storm is the great joy of these particular fairies. They sweep over the top of a forest in the wind, over the surface of the earth, and are to be seen normally only about great peaks in high mountains. They are superiors of the cloud fairies and direct them."
Fire Fairies include salamanders, pari, djinn, fire drakes/dragons, etc.
Fire fairies come in many different forms from the tiny creatures that resemble candle flames to large salamander who dwell in the deep recesses of volcanoes. Ophealia Fey and Mary the mortal agree, "You may have already seen a fire fairy yet did not recognize it. They can be both well-hidden or take on a more distinct form. Wherever there is a flame, a spark or ember, even smoke, it is almost for certain fire spirits will be present."
Anna Franklin explains fire fae a little differently, "They are said smell like rotten eggs, and their presence is usually only betrayed by the stench, though they are sometimes glimpsed as a flaming ball. They only take on the character of fire when they fly, when they look like streaks of flame or fiery balls with long tails. Otherwise they look like small boys with red caps and coats. They are house fairies...The bond is between the male head of the house and the male drake, and is a serious pact, often written in blood."
That should give you a pretty good idea of the elemental fae.
Other types of fae include the court fey or trooping fairies (belonging to the Seelie or Unseelie courts), changelings (a mix of humans and fae), house fairies, and solitary fairies. There are as many types of fae as there are types of people, if not more.
Trooping Fae resemble humans in that they tend to group. There are two main troops or courts, Seelie and Unseelie. This has been popularized in media with shows like Lost Girl with its factions of light and dark fae. The courts are like human ones with a king, a queen, dukes and earls and princesses.
Seelie Court, aka The Summer Court or Light Fae, are lead by Queen Aine and King Finvara (Or King Oberon and Queen Titania, depending on mythology). Accoridng to Wikipedia, "The Seelie court are known to seek help from humans, to warn those who had accidentally offended them, and to return human kindness with favors of their own. Still, a fairy belonging to this court will avenge insults and could be prone to mischief. The most common time of day to see them is twilight." The Seelie are said to be quite beautiful, however, they are also believed to be haughty and have the highest ideals of pure blood (rejecting all they feel to be impure).
Unseelie Court, Night or Dark Fae, are lead by Queen Maeve or Mab and the Erlking. Their symbol is the seven-pointed star, Wikipedia says "The Unseelie Court consists of the malicious and evilly-inclined fairies. Unlike the Seelie Court, no offense is necessary to bring down their assaults. As a group (or "host"), they appear at night and assault travelers...Like the beings of the Seely Court who are not always benevolent, neither are the fairies of the Unseelie Court always malevolent." They are believed to be less formal than the Seelie Court, but still ruled by court terms.
This is a simple explanation of the type of fae and doesn't eve cover an inch of their vast world. I will go into more depth in other posts but I do hope this one gives you an idea of the creatures I am discussing in this blog