One of the best things about reading and writing Fantasy is the ability to create or learn about different beings that exist in a particular world and how they interact with that world, each other and the main storyline. Traditionally there are species that have existed from folklore and myths all over the world and travelled through fairy tales and into popular fiction and film. Although I don’t always write about fantasy species, I am fascinated by different fantasy beings and wanted to bring them into discussion on my blog.
Faeries traditionally tend to be more popular than elves due to their presence in folktales and almost every country has its own version of them. Some are depicted are being small, winged and female while others are human size. They usually have pointed ears like elves but are differentiated by having wings. Although dwarves, goblins and elves have generically been termed as an umbrella category of ‘fairy folk’, they are in fact quite different.
In some cultures faeries are guardians of the earth and can sometimes be considered as being similar to elementals. According to Scandinavian and Malaysian tales, faeries can swarm like bees for positive or negative reasons and they are known for stealing thriving human children and replacing them with changelings.
The first type of faeries that come to mind for me are the butterfly kind, like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, but these kinds of faeries are rarely reported as having any significant powers or defining traits. They just fly, tinkle or glow and maybe perform a few small tricks. However, when you start looking into the different faery tales and legends, there are some interesting versions.
For example, the Huldra is from Norse tales; she is depicted as a beautiful fairy but with a long tail that she tries to keep hidden. Or the Negret, a small dark-skinned faery from the Catalan legends who turns into a pile of coins if touched by a candle held by a human being (although this has connotations to slavery if you ask me). Or the Pisky originating from Devon and Cornwall; they have red hair, pointed ears, turned up noses and wear green. Piskies were said to be the souls of unbaptised children and would mislead travellers, steal horses and battle other races of the fae for territory.
So it seems that some cultures see faeries as being akin to human beings, with feelings and emotional reactions, while others depict them as pests or swarm-like creatures. Most representations of the fae tend to be of beautiful women, though why that is I never discovered. I think it would be interesting read an adult fantasy story centred around unusual faeries, like the ones described here, as a distinct separation from the usual depiction of them in faery takes. Perhaps beautiful Fae men with specific powers?
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