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Anna Franklin  Author & Illustrator Blog Fairy Lore

Fairy Lore

By Anna Franklin, illustrated by Paul Mason


Religions change and evolve, modifying old concepts and embracing new ideas as contacts with other cultures are made. It is difficult to draw a line and say where the old animistic nature spirits end and gods and goddesses begin. Many Pagan deities are anthropomorphic representations of nature - sky, corn, earth, weather, seasons etc. Later deities also embody such abstract principles as love, war, poetry and art. When Christianity spread across Europe, the Old Gods were either designated Christian saints (the Goddess Brighid, for example, became St Brigit) or entirely demonised. However, recollections of the Old Gods probably persisted among the ordinary people as spirits that were occasionally seen and still had to be honoured less they should be angered. It may be that some of the Old Gods eventually passed into folk memory as lesser spirits or fairies. The Tuatha de Danaan (‘People of the Goddess Danu’), for example, were said to be a race of gods who landed in Ireland one Beltane and drove back the Firbolg to take possession of the island. They were tall and fair and had many talents. When they were eventually conquered in turn by the Celts it was said that they dwindled in size and retreated to the hollow hills or beneath the lakes of Ireland becoming the Daoine Sidhe or ‘People of the Hills’. A large number of named fairies are directly traceable to specific old gods. Leicestershire’s Black Annis was once the goddess Anu, the shoneys are descended from the Norse sea goddess Sjofn, the Romanian fairy Ileana was once a goddess of the dawn, and Gwydion, who rules the Welsh fairies, the Tylwyth Teg, was once a Celtic god. Continues…



Fly agaric is only one of a number of psychoactive drugs used by shamans which generate sensations of flying, visions and perceptual enhancement. There are many links between fairies and mushrooms. The magical rings where they dance are circles of mushrooms. Fairies are commonly depicted sitting on top of the red and white spotted mushroom, fly agaric [Amanita muscaria] and they commonly also wear red hats. Fly agaric is psychotropic and has a long history of use among European mystics and shamans. The effects of the mushroom include auditory and visual hallucinations and spatial distortions. Subjects commonly report sensations of flying, or seeing little people or red-hatted mushrooms dancing. Fly agaric grows under birch trees and the Siberian shaman’s seven-stepped pole was made of birch. In other words, the shaman ingested the mushroom and flew up the cosmic axis tree to the spirit realms, seeing the tutelary spirit of the agaric as a red-capped fairy.

Fairy food, which is generally described as being red in colour, is prohibited for humans. Should they eat it, they can never return to the realm of men. This is comparable with the taboos placed on shamanic substances forbidding them to ordinary men and women. Among the Selkup fly agaric was believed to be fatal to non-shamans.  Amongst the Celts, red foods and mushrooms were taboo, designated as the food of the otherworld or the dead.

Descriptions of visits to fairyland might easily describe a drug induced visionary experience- enhanced colours, unearthly music, spatial distortions, the loss of any sense of the passage of time, and food and drink tasting wonderful. However, when the traveller returns [or the vision ends] fairy gold turns to withered leaves or common rubbish.


There are legends of fairies all over the world, mysterious creatures who live apart from the race of mankind, but who are sometimes seen in wild and lonely places.

In Part One the authors explore the world of the fairies - what they look like; the fairy realms such as Hy-Breasail, Lochlann, Ynis Gwyddrin and Emani Ablch; fairy food, protection against fairies and their ills; fairy plants and animals, fairy days and festivals, visits to fairyland, fairy loves and their links with magic. Part Two investigates what fairies are - fallen angels, a separate race, ancestor cult, nature spirits, old gods, UFOs, hallucinations, shamanic experience etc.

A beautiful book to own and a real must for anyone with even a passing interest in fairies. Beautifully and extensively illustrated with a blend of traditional pictures and original artwork by Paul Mason.

ISBN 186163 1073  


Published by Capall Bann

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