The Fae Meaning and Mythology Secrets You Need To Know
While some Fae can be treacherous, Pagans and witches have always had an obvious connection with the Fae. Particularly Faery witches who understand the diversity and complexities of the fae.
Fae are fascinating creatures, and whether you believe they’re real or just enjoy Fae mythology, this post will break down everything you need to know!
Remember working with the Fae is a HUGE topic, and this post is meant to be an overview for beginners.
Please note that I make every effort to ensure this information is correct and accurate through my own experiences and by reading the sources listed at the bottom of this article.
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What is a Fae?
Fae meaning and legends were told about mysterious creatures that lived out of sight long before the internet. Fae was often said to be spirits of nature or a trickster who would play tricks on humans. Fae can be violent, and they do not tend to see ‘good’ or ‘evil.’
Fae mythology and folktales have been for centuries around crackling fires on cold winter nights. In these stories, the Fae were portrayed as scary shadows in the night and human-like beings with magical powers.
Also known as Faeries, they are supernatural creatures who appear to be as ancient as any Pagan deity. The Fae manifest during pivotal points in one’s life and live in liminal places (an area where two worlds connect, like a forest).
The Fae are unearthly spiritual beings or creatures in folklore or mythology who live in the Otherworld or Fairyland. In Irish mythology, the Sídh Fae live beneath a hill or mound.
Fae doesn’t understand mortality as we do; they live on forever until killed or unless the Fae chooses to become mortal (rare).
There are many different types of Fae; they are complex beings that can change physical forms at will, sometimes into a completely different species of creature entirely!
Each Fae has features that make them unique. Some remain spirits, while other Fae may assume human-like forms.
The rise of Christianity among the Celtic people altered the original perception of the Otherworld. It changed from a realm of beauty, prosperity, and eternal youth into a hell-like place of torment, where the Fae, the devil, and demons were almost identical.
Fun fact – You can often find Fae dancing around a Hawthorn Bush.
Further Suggested Reading: The Celtic Ogham Alphabet Meanings, History, and Divination For Beginners
What’s The Difference Between Fairy and Faerie?
What is the difference between fairy and faerie? The terms fairy, faerie, Fae, fey, and fair folk are often used interchangeably.
Interestingly, many scholars have established different theories on the origins of the names Fairy or Faerie throughout the years.
So depending on who you speak to or the cultures they may be referencing, you might get a few different answers. However, only the English language seems to use the spelling fairy.
While the term fairy goes back only to the Middle Ages in Europe, analogues to these beings in varying forms appear in both written and oral literature, from the Sanskrit gandharva (semidivine celestial musicians) to the nymphs of Greek mythology and Homer, the jinni of Arabic mythology, and similar folk characters of the Samoans, of the Arctic peoples, and of other indigenous Americans.Britannica – Fairy folklore
Faerie is believed to be rooted in the French word faèe or fèe, meaning enchantment. Folklore scholar, Thomas Keightley, proposed the term be used to describe both the beings who cast magic and the world they inhabited.
Many scholars also reference the Latin word fata, which means fate.
The term Fates brings to mind The Norse Well of Fate and the Norns (female spirits who protect the roots of Yggdrasill by watering it with the divine waters of the Well of Fate), or the Greek mythology goddesses who twisted threads that shaped the destiny for every individual.
However, how is this connected to the Fae?
Since the Fae are associated with positive and negative characteristics, many scholars believe fate connections were attached to the Fae throughout the years.
Overall, nowadays, it’s generally considered acceptable to use either of these names and spellings.
Seelie and Unseelie Courts
When learning about the Fae, you’ll often come across the phrases Seelie and Unseelie. Seelie originates from the word sellig, which means blessed.
Seelie refers to a group of faeries who are lovely, cheerful, friendly, and helpful. They are typically willing to help and most likely honorable.
Alternatively, the term “Unseelie” refers to a group of faeries hostile to humankind and wicked in temperament. The Unseelie are thought to enjoy torturing and harming mortals, are easily offended, and should be avoided.
However, it is worth mentioning that neither court is necessarily “good” or “evil,” and this is an oversimplification. Remember, all courts, as well as all fairies, need equal respect.
You must understand much more than which court the Fae belongs to. When interacting or communicating with the Fae, names can have a significant impact on how situations go.
You can find the importance of names in many spiritual faiths throughout history.
The Jewish faith believes the true name of God is so powerful that its use became taboo to stop any potential abuse of power.
Jacob struggled in Genesis with an angel who would not reveal his name, and in some myths, the Egyptian god Ptah created all things by speaking their names.
Classical Greek religion and ancient Chinese philosophy all believed in the importance of names, as did many African cultures. In parts of Africa to this day, it is still believed that a person’s name can affect how they learn, grow, and behave and even where they stand in society.Tara Sanchez – Urban Faery Magick
The Fae are very passionate about words and names, and they have a lot of power. Please be cautious with your comments because the Fae are tricksters. Rumpelstiltskin was obsessed with names for a reason.
Be mindful about what you say, how you say it, and your tone of voice. It is common not to apologize to Fae. Make every effort not to offend them. Always keep in mind that they aren’t all that lovely.
Fae Mythology and Origins
There are various theories and ideas behind Fae mythology and its origins throughout history.
Some historians believe older stories evolved into tales of Fae mythology. Like the Norns legend mentioned above or any stories about mischievous spirits.
However, other scholars believe the Fae represent earlier people of England and Ireland since they are little and live in hills and caves on the outskirts of the human realm. It’s believed English, and Irish residents invaded the islands, where they discovered a primitive population of humans.
These indigenous peoples were forced to the island’s outskirts to allow space for the colonists. Myths and lore were told about their adventures, and as time passed, their significance receded. In legends and stories, they continued to shrink until they were the height of pixies and fairies.
Modern interpretations of fairy etiology, though, tend toward a straightforward mythological explanation rather than a historical explanation.
For example, in At the Bottom of the Garden, Diane Purkiss argues that the previously popular fairy explanations – old gods, primitive cave-dwellers – are probably wrong, and that fairies are best understood as newer versions of Mediterranean demons and Arabian djinnis: spirits who are not good or bad, just dangerous.Greg Clinton – Creatures of Fantasy Fairies
As I said, there are various theories behind the Fae origins! You’ll have to decide for yourself which ones you believe to be accurate.
What’s a Fairy Ring?
Seeing a ring of mushrooms around a tree or in an open space is often considered a sign of faeries. Fae like sitting on top of mushrooms so they appear to be growing out of them and blend in if anyone walks by.
There are many legends and Fae mythology surrounding fairy rings, and not all of them are good.
Some lore indicates that any person who enters a fairy ring takes on the burden of dancing with the Fae until they go insane or die of exertion.
However, finding a fairy ring is sometimes seen as good luck. It’s usually not recommended to sit inside a fairy ring, but meditating next to one can help build a close connection with the Fae. You could also try placing an offering next to one.
In Germany, Fairy rings were thought to be areas where witches gathered to celebrate Walpurgisnacht.
Not all fairy rings are created equal. Some may be home to fairies and elves, while others might be carefully cultivated by insects!
How To Attract Fae
The Fae often do not trust humans, and they’re right not to! They know what we’ve done in the past, but most Fae will admit that not all humans are bad. Many Fae are pleased with at least a few aspects of human culture.
Fae are tough to find, especially if they do not wish to be seen.
Before working with Fae, make sure you know how to banish and protect yourself. Also, remember, this process can take a while because you’re trying to establish a relationship and connection.
Fae are misunderstood creatures that are not to be aggravated. Fae can become violent if provoked or when they feel humans have been overstepping their bounds.
Fae only really care about themselves, but they will take an interest in humans if they believe there may be something curious about them.
If the Fae are keen on conversing with you, they may leave you gifts. They might move things around, appear in dreams, or even show themselves to you during the day. Stay alert and remember to return the favor with offerings.
Here are a few ways you can attract Fae and start working with them.
- Leave an offering (see suggestions below)
- Fae love dancing around a Hawthorn bush, try planting one in your yard
- Create a Faery Altar (keep it very clean and well organized as to not offend them)
- Braiding your hair is a form of knot magic that most Fae or Sidhe love
- Show that you respect Nature (reduce your waste, recycle, and pick up litter)
Fae Precautions and Etiquette
Relationships, connections, manners, and traditions are fundamental aspects of the Fae. Remember this as you work with them and maintain proper etiquette.
Make no attempt to force a Fae to give you its name. As discussed above, names are incredibly significant to the Fae and contain spiritual energy and power. Some Fae prefer to use a nickname; if this is communicated to you, it’s polite to continue using the nickname.
It’s often believed the Fae disapprove when you say the words “thank you” or “please.” It gives them the perception you still owe them something or are willing to do more for them.
Choose your words carefully! If you’d like to communicate, say “I appreciate you” or “you are most kind.”
Most Fae are very shy and private. It’s considered rude to pop off and boast about your encounters and interactions with them. Fae believe this to be disrespectful and may stop working with you.
Not every interaction will result in a physical manifestation of the Fae, but there are typically other signs that your endeavors to connect were effective. Notice signs, numerology, and animal symbolism like butterflies.
Signs The Fae Are Close
There are many signs Fae can use to communicate they’re close by. The best way to notice is by slowing down and observing Nature and animals all around you each day. That way, when the Fae are close, you’ll pick up on their signs immediately!
Here are a few signs to watch for!
- If you hear the sound of quiet laughter or hauntingly beautiful voices singing in the distance
- Fae are often believed to be close by when the veil is at its thinnest during Beltane and Samhain.
- Finding a Fairy Ring (discussed above)
- If you see spheres or flickers of light near plants, flowers, mushrooms, water, or in your peripheral vision
- A sudden burst of a floral scent with no obvious explanation. Careful with this one, because this can also be an indication of a deceased loved one or ancestor trying to communicate with you.
- A single shiny object goes missing and then reappears in an odd place. (Ever had a pair of earring where one ended up in a strange location in your home later? Might be Fae)
- You start feeling called to work with the Magic Elements of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Spirit
- Animals around you act strange or you see an excessive amount of wild animals you wouldn’t normally see
- You start having more animistic beliefs (the idea that objects, places, insects, and creatures have feelings and a soul)
- New plants, mushrooms, or flowers suddenly grow around your home.
- Fae appear to you in dreams
Common Fae Myths
There are many misconceptions about Fae mythology, but here are some of the most common.
All Fae Are Identical
There are many different types of Fae, but they all tend to fit under unique and specific categories and fall under the term Fae.
For example, there are many different kinds of birds (crows, toucans, ducks, pheasant, hawks, etc.), and they can significantly vary in colors, sizes, and types, but they still fall under the classification of bird. This is similar to Fae!
Every Fae Wants to Work with You
Some Fae will be friendly and helpful, but don’t presume all Fae to want to work with you. Some will be kind, some will be rude, and some will be utterly uninterested in you.
You can’t command a Fae to cooperate with you any more than you can make an animal engage with you. You must understand that not all Fae will like you. Don’t be offended, and keep your expectations in check.
The Fae are spiritual entities who have their own lives and do not exist solely for you to interact with.
Fae Exists Only in Certain Areas
Not all Fae live in the forest or woodland areas. Some live by the sea, in urban areas, the desert, or even in a home. They also exist all over the world but may go by another name other than Fae depending on the location or culture.
How To Work With The Fae
Please remember to do your research before jumping into working with the Fae, so you know exactly who and what you’re dealing with. Always cross-reference books or your research materials!
It’s important to understand you form a relationship when working with the Fae, and with any relationship, there is always a give and take. They can be beneficial to your spirituality as long as you respect them.
Fae may make deals with humans occasionally, but only if the Fae see it beneficial in some way. Fae love to play pranks and are known for being unpredictable.
Don’t offer to help or give anything until you’ve established a connection or relationship. If you don’t know them or haven’t made a connection, don’t ask them to interfere in your affairs. It’s not a game, and the Fae may ruin everything, so proceed with caution. Know who you’re working with!
Offerings to the Fae are how you show them you’re happy to give them things in return and genuinely be helpful. Remember, they are not obligated to do you a favor just because you left them an offering.
Offerings are typically left out in Nature and could be in a garden, near water, in the forest, or simply in your windowsill next to your plants.
Leaving out an offering is a beautiful way to attract Fae and give them thanks for their energy.
Personally, I think it’s best always to choose items that will naturally break down in Nature, but the choice, of course, is up to you my peculiar friend!
It’s essential to get to know the Fae you’re working with to understand the best offerings to give them. They can often be quite picky about what they like. Remember, Fae have a very keen sense of smell!
However, here is a quick list to help get you started.
- Plant seeds, trees, and flowers (those connected to the otherworld like Hawthorn, Foxglove, or Lavender)
- Pick up trash in your local area
- Build a fairy house for them
- Herbal Teas
- Moon water
- Seed bombs
- Natural loose incense
- Baked Treats (cookies or cupcakes)
- Sing to them
- Dark coffee
- Dance along to music
- Alcohol (Dark Rum, Wine, Mead, or Dark Beer)
- Hag stones
- Shiny items (coins, jewelry, mirror pieces, etc)
- Hang windchimes
- Water fountain features
- Add chocolate to your offering. Remember Fae are sensitive to harming Nature or wildlife, and leaving out chocolate can be harmful to certain animals like dogs that may come across your offering
- Fae greatly dislike iron, so avoid any offerings containing iron.
- Glitter is awful for the environment, please don’t give it as an offering. (I have heard of some people trying biodegradable or edible glitter which would be fine)
- Don’t cut flowers and place them in a vase! The Fae often view this as disgraceful.
- Plastic is very harmful to the environment so avoid placing it within your offering.
- Salt because it’s quite difficult for certain plants to grow in areas of high salt concentration. Also, Himalayan salt because it contains iron.
I hope you found this article about Fae, their meaning, and magic helpful! Lots of love to you and remember as always…
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Fairy”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1 Sep. 1999, https://www.britannica.com/art/fairy.
Clinton, Greg. Creatures of Fantasy Fairies. New York, Cavendish Square Publishing, 2016
“The Book of Celtic Myths.” Adams Media, a division of F + W Media, Inc. 2017
Sanchez, Tara. Urban Faery Magick – Connecting to the Fae in the Modern World. Llewellyn Publications. 2021
Further Suggested Reading
Fairies Light to Dark: The Many Forms and Creatures