Types of Fae – Discover Their Folklore and Magic
There is often a lot of confusion about different types of Fae because they are so diverse in Nature. How do you tell them apart, and are they good or bad?
I’ve created this easy-to-follow article to help you understand the differences between the various types of Fae, including a detailed description of what makes each type unique.
If you’d like to know more about the Fae mythology and its meaning, check out this post here for all the secrets you want to know!
Please note that I make every effort to ensure this information is correct and accurate through my own experiences and by referencing the sources listed at the bottom of this article.
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According to most Fae legends, there are two types of Fae: Trooping faeries and Solitary faeries.
Before you begin, it’s smart to familiarize yourself with the many types of Fae and research the ones you prefer to work with. Always cross-reference books, videos, or your research materials!
Trooping faeries usually travel in large groups and are recognized for dancing, partying, and throwing exciting festivities and fairs.
Most of the legends about Trooping faeries describe them as fun-loving and always looking for lighthearted entertainment.
Trooping faeries are typically a part of the Seelie Court and are mostly occupied with their community and peaceful society, including royalty and high society. For more on Seelie and Unseelie Courts, click here.
Some faeries exist entirely on their own and are referred to as Solitary faeries. Many stories of lone faeries portray them as quickly vanishing around boulders or appearing to evaporate into thin air. Solitary Fae are often less interested in human affairs.
Solitary Fae are often seen less frequently and are believed to be keepers of wisdom and knowledge. They live in caverns, pits, marshes, and ditches and are mostly hidden. Solitary Fae are only noticed by humans if they are intentionally enticed into peril or when the Fae were unknowingly observed by a passerby.
Types of Fae
There are many types of Fae, and this classification system separates them into distinctive groups based on their similarities, differences, distinct features, and habits.
The names for different types of Fae have been derived from various sources and traditions, and each one has a distinct meaning that reveals the character or personality type typically possessed by that particular Fae.
Types of Fae can come in many shapes, forms, and sizes, depending on their classification. There are even sub-types within the main categories for a better understanding of Fae’s characteristics. It’s hard to make generalizations about all types of Fae, given how diverse they are.
However, there seem to be a few traits that almost every type possesses regardless of their name or nature. Some Fae connect with aspects of the four elements, including Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.
A Banshee is a solitary Fae known as Bean Sìdhe or Ban Sith in Irish and Celtic folklore and represents an omen of death.
These types of fae are often referred to as a “woman of the fairies” of would wail, scream, and cry outside the home of someone who was about to die.
It was thought that only households of pure Irish ancestry could be warned by banshees.
Later legends transformed the Banshee into a kind of wraith or ghost, frequently connected to a specific household or family, whose petrifying scream foretold the approaching death of loved ones.
A Boggart is a shapeshifting spirit or creature from English folklore that inhabits both moors and marshes and is sometimes called a Boggard or Bag. Some legends say that boggarts haunt the swamps of northern England, Scotland, and Wales.
In many Scottish and northern English folklore, there are numerous household boggarts who act similar to a Brownie by doing household chores. However, Boggarts tend to be more malevolent by destroying household items if not rewarded or mistreated, whereas Brownies tend to be more friendly.
These types of fae can appear in a variety of forms and act like a demon or poltergeist.
Boggarts are notorious for their deception and seldom have a description because they rarely appear, and when they do they take on other forms. Boggarts who manifest as people are typically more violent than those who manifest as animals.
Boggarts were featured in the Harry Potter series written by J.K Rowling. I also believe the character Pennywise from the story IT by Stephen King is also a Boggart.
Another [story] tells of the Boggart of the Brook, at Garstang in Yorkshire, which appears as a woman in a hooded cloak at the roadside requesting a lift from travelers, usually those on horseback. When the “hitchhiker” has become a passenger, she reveals herself to be a skeleton, and her demonic cackle and clawing grip spur the traveler into a frenzied ride, causing injury or death.Carol Rose – Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes, and Goblins
In English and Scottish mythology, these types of fae are often known as household Fae. A Brownie is often portrayed as being short and small with big eyes and pointy ears.
Brownies are hardworking and are believed to live in homes or barns. They’re seldom seen but are frequently heard scrubbing, cooking, and doing household chores late at night. They also enjoy rearranging rooms much to the homeowner’s annoyance. Brownies don’t clean homes for free, they expect to be rewarded with food and drink, like cream or freshly baked bread or cake.
If a Brownie’s hard work was left unrewarded, you may find broken items or milk that has soured in your home. Brownies have even been known to release livestock and mischievously let them roam free.
Do not present a Brownie with an offering of clothes, because this would be seen as a great insult to them and they’d most likely leave your home forever.
If a Brownie seems a bit familiar to you, it’s probably because J.K. Rowling featured them in the Harry Potter series. The house-elves Dobby, Kreacher, and Winky are based on Brownie Fae!
On the Hebridean island of Colonsay, legends of a particular brownie abound. Although no description of him exists, he is believed to be a small old man who lives in a secluded part of the island or on one of the neighboring tidal islands, Oronsay or Cara.
It was thought that island witches sometimes consulted this fairy to find out future events or locate lost property within the community.
Other tales make him the moral overseer of island life: those who have wronged their neighbors are sure to be punished by the brownie; those who are neglectful of their work may receive a sharp reprimand (in the form, perhaps, of a small accident or mishap) to remind them of their duties.Bob Curran – Leprechauns The Myths, Legends, and Lore
Stories of Changelings have been passed down for centuries and involve the Fae leaving deformed or sickly faerie infants in place of a human baby shortly after it’s born. One belief surrounding Changelings is that the Fae take human children, leaving a faery in its place.
A Changeling could be identified by a few characteristics, including being old, ugly, having minimal growth, or advanced and intelligent for its age.
Parents and family members were frequently blamed for Fae kidnappings. A newborn that received too much adoration or praise might garner unwanted awareness from the Fae, who desired attractive or charming babies.
Fear of Changeling Fae abductions was prevalent throughout European folklore, but similar beliefs have been found in multiple cultures.
Changeling, in European folklore, a deformed or imbecilic offspring of fairies or elves substituted by them surreptitiously for a human infant. According to legend, the abducted human children are given to the devil or used to strengthen fairy stock.Britannica – Changeling folklore
**Trigger Warning – Child Abuse**
Changeling stories are thought to exist due to the rise of Christianity, and the belief that infants are vulnerable to demonic possession. Stories were told claiming Fae prey on unbaptized babies.
There was a continuous dread of Fae kidnappings, and all sorts of drastic precautions were sought to avoid replacements. If a child was suspected of being a Changeling, they may be exposed to all kinds of strange mistreatment, including abuse and torture.
Placing a child on a shovel held over the fire was a common technique for discovering a Changeling. It was believed the Fae would come to rescue the Changeling if they were blasted with iron nails or forced to spend the day on a hillside or manure mound.
Long into the Victorian era, complaints of parents abusing alleged Changeling children persisted.
On a happier message, a mother was occasionally told that being kind towards a Changeling will lead to her own child’s recovery, which happened in each instance.
Dryads are wood nymphs and tree spirits who live in trees. Their names come from the Greek word Drys, meaning oak.
Dryads are known for fiercely guarding trees and you’ll often find them chatting to the trees they protect. These types of fae believe it’s their duty to punish anyone who commits crimes against Nature and their wrath is not something you want to encounter.
It’s often said if the tree a Dryad is protecting dies, so would the Dryad.
[refer to nymphs]
The Irish Dullahan (sometimes spelled Dulachan or Dullachan and pronounced doo-luh-han) is a terrifying and wild male or female headless rider galloping through the dark, spreading dread, suffering, and catastrophe to the homes, countrysides, towns, or anyone wandering roads late at night.
Dullahan is sometimes associated with demons, ghosts, or Fae. It often carries its severed head which is empowered with magical abilities allowing it to see for miles. Sometimes its horse is headless too.
You may recognize a Dullahan as the inspiration and concept for the Headless Horseman in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irvine.
However, a Dullahan is different from the Headless Horseman in a few ways. To start, a Dullahan may whip your eyes out but it never kills anyone.
However, encountering a Dullahan is a terrible warning, and crossing paths with one isn’t a positive omen. Most likely, you or someone you care about will suffer a tragic death. Some legends state the Dullahan’s whip is made from a human spine.
The Dullahan legend originally emerged in 19th-century Irish folklore collections like Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland by Thomas Crofton and Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry by W.B. Yeats.
Tales of the Dullahan are believed to stem from the history of the ancient Celts, who would often sever the heads of their enemies as a sign of disrespect and shame. It was believed the soul was located in the head.
Elves are nature spirits who appear in various folklore and mythology around the world. The term Elf encompasses various beings that vary across cultures, but it is most commonly associated with early Germanic tribes, Britain, and Iceland, as well as in Teutonic and Norse mythology.
Initially, the term Elf included all varieties of Fae in Anglo-Saxon, but it eventually came to represent a specific type of Fae. Over time, many cultures accepted this shift in meaning as well. Elves are human-like Fae who can change their appearance freely.
Depending on the culture, folklore, or location, Elves can go by different names, including –
- Schrat (German)
- Grove folk or Elvor (Sweden)
- Ellen or Elle Folk (Danish)
- Spae-wives (Iceland)
Gean-Cánach is a type of Fae in Irish mythology known for smoking a dudeen (clay pipe). Gean-Cánach (pronounced Ghan-Caw-nah) literally translates to ‘Love Talker’ and refers to faeries known for their ability to be alluring or enchanting with their voices.
Gean-Cánach has a passion for seducing shepherdesses and milkmaids and making love to them.
You’ll recognize a Gean-Cánach faery by his lack of shadow, a mist that swirls around him, and the birds will stop singing.
Legend states that any woman who is unlucky enough to kiss a Gean-Cánach faery was doomed because he would vanish as fast as he had appeared, leaving them to die of desire.
In European folklore, Gnomes are earth spirits who live beneath the ground. These types of Fae resemble dwarfs and are often seen wearing clothes similar to a Monk’s habit. They fiercely protect all types of treasure, quarries, and mines.
The term [Gnome] was popularized through works of the 16th-century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus in which gnomes were described as capable of moving through solid earth as fish move through water.Britannica – Gnome Folklore
Kobolds (sometimes called Cobolts or Koboldts) originate from Germanic folklore and act similarly to the English Brownie.
Kobolds are small household spirits who are known to be quite mischievous if forgotten or mistreated. Some stories even claim they will wickedly kick someone from behind who’d bent down to pick something up.
They can get quite moody and foul if they’re left to go hungry, much like myself.
Some kobolds have been called the spirits of caves and mines. Still others have specific names, such as Hödeken, who frightens unfaithful wives, and Goldemar, who sees the secret sins of the clergy.Britannica – Kobold – German folklore
Lady of the Lake
A Lady of the Lake is a magical water faery and enchantress who lives in lakes and ponds to keep watch over them and maintain their purity. Their legends and mythology have spread across many cultures, and no one knows their exact origins.
In Arthurian legend, she is a mystifying faery queen who (along with three other faery queens) brings Arthur’s injured body to Avalon.
Some people believe a Lady of the Lake is a representation of the Morrìgan. Others believe she’s the Celtic goddess Àine or Coventina. It’s also been speculated that they descended from a mermaid.
Traunsee in Austria is said to be home to a stunning, but evil, Lady of the Lake. On moonlit nights she can be found near the waterfall. Any mortal who sees her will suffer great tragedy and sorrow. Fishermen are reported to vanish from the lakeshore and never return.
The Leanan Sidhe (pronounced La-non shee) means Fairy Mistress and is a beautiful Irish Solitary Fae from the Otherworld. Leanan Sidhe is often portrayed as female, but a few folklores characterizes them as male.
Leanan Sidhe often seduce and help people with creative abilities like poets, artists, or musicians. They are gorgeous and fascinating to their lovers, but entirely invisible to their lover’s friends and family.
Leanan Sidhe inspires their lovers so they can achieve prestige and success, while simultaneously draining their life and vitality until they eventually waste away. Once their lover dies, Leanan Sidhe roam about until they find another.
The Leanan Sidhe is not always seen as evil. In fact, the Leanan Sidhe is sometimes misunderstood and it’s believed many truly care for their human lovers. They try to provide them with as much inspiration as they can offer, without draining too much of their life energy away.
Some claim Leanan Sidhe is an invention of W. B. Yeats, while they could also be a variation of older Fae mythology.
Leprechauns are solitary Fae and short, bearded men who wear a suit and tie and often make their homes in old churches or castles. These types of Fae love music and are talented musicians often playing a fiddle, pipe, or harp.
A leprechaun is often described as dressed entirely in green, although sometimes he wears a red coat, brown pants, and a tall hat.
He typically wears a leather apron and seems to be fixing a shoe with his small hammer and pounding away. It is this tapping that indicates his proximity, but people should avoid approaching.
It’s said that Leprechauns are always mending the shoes of Trooping Faeries because they’re often worn out from so much dancing and traveling.
Sometimes called a Fairy Banker, Leprechauns have rights to massive amounts of wealth and gold that he does not part with easily. He guards his wealth zealously, does not keep it near his home, and it’s thought he uses a rainbow to indicate its location. Hence the belief you can follow a rainbow to the pot of gold.
Although in modern culture, Leprechauns are often depicted as humorous, cheerful, and friendly, this idea couldn’t be further from the legends.
Leprechauns are often cunning, self-centered, vengeful, and love isolation. They are just as likely to play a nasty trick on an unsuspecting human as they are to provide help or kindness.
Leprechauns were commonly appeased by local households due to their antagonistic behavior and animosity toward people. Dairy, bread, tobacco, and alcohol were frequently left outside doorsteps, and refusing to do so would invite havoc on the families, homes, and land.
Adaptations by the Irish
It is quite possible that many of the tales concerning leprechauns were adapted by the Irish from other sources, perhaps from outside their own shores. Since there is no reference to the luchorpàn in Ireland before the seventh or eight century, there seems little doubt that he was imported from elsewhere and was integrated into native mythologies.Bob Curran – Leprechauns The Myths, Legends, and Lore
Mermaids are water spirits, and in Irish folklore, they’re known as Merrows. Mermaids are depicted as half-human, half-fish creatures and have been around for centuries in folklore and legends. Mermaids love music, and you’ll often hear them singing.
These water spirits have been linked to sorrow and destruction in modern and ancient folklore, while they can also be compassionate. They have provided the wisdom of natural remedies for deadly illnesses, lavish gifts, and storm advisories when rescued or saved. They may also lure sailors to doom and death by guiding them to rocks and causing their ships to wreck.
Mermen are sometimes associated with eating their own children or drowning people underwater out of spite and revenge for fishing in their territory.
Aquatic mammals, such as the dugong and manatee, that suckle their young in human fashion above water are considered by some to be the origin of myths about mermaids.Britannica – Mermaid – Legendary being
Nymphs are nature spirits who materialize as gorgeous women and are part of Greek and Roman mythology. These types of Fae are often called goddesses, and it’s believed the word nymph is derived from the Greek word for bride.
The nymphs were frequently linked with fertility and the elements air, fire, water, and earth. They were not immortal, but they lived exceptionally long lives and were typically friendly to men.
Overall, nymphs are classified according to the natural element they are connected with and what they protect.
A Nymph can be thought of as a forest spirit due to its connection with flora and fauna, flowing waters, cool grottos, and caves. While nymphs can be found in all corners of the world, most live in forest settings such as woodlands or grasslands.
However, some nymph species prefer bodies of water like lakes, rivers, and oceans. An example of this would be the famous Calypso, who was a sea nymph, which is also known as an Oceanid.
There are a few more types of Fae nymphs who have their own names –
- Acheloids (rivers)
- Alseids (glens and groves)
- Auloniad (mountain pastures and vales)
- Crenae or Crinaeae (fountains or wells)
- Dryads (originally oak trees, but later all trees and forests)
- Hesperides (evening and golden light of sunsets)
- Hydriads (rivers, streams, and lakes)
- Leimoniades (meadows and pastures often protected sheep and fruit trees)
- Meliae (the ash tree)
- Melissa (honey and bees)
- Muses (water and springs)
- Naiads (springs and rivers)
- Napaea (wooded valleys, glens or grottos)
- Oceanids (sea)
- Oreads (mountains)
- Undines (water nymph who becomes human when she falls in love with a mortal man)
Nymphs love bright colors, and they’re often more visible during the summer months when the flowers are in full bloom.
They are not immortal but are believed to live for thousands of years. They were often companions of gods and goddesses and entertained them with music, dancing, or divination.
Pixies are a type of trooping faery fond of the areas near Devon and Cornwall in England.
They have a youthful appearance and often dress in green with a pointed nightcap. However, they can be seen in a variety of outfits.
Pixies have a mischievous personality that often deals with pranks and trickery. They can be easily identified by their short stature, small pointed ears, pale skin, and their colorful wings that flare like flower petals.
Provide shaded spots with lots of trees and flowers for pixies if you’d like to attract them to your garden. Pixies value both protection and Nature and love homemade fairy houses!
They live in the Otherworld underground beneath the ancient Sidhe mounds, stone circles, ancient runes, or caverns. They love to emerge in the twilight to dance in the forests and woodlands.
Any wanderer who comes across them could be forced to dance, lose track of time, and might be pulled into the fairy Otherworld and never seen again.
[Pixies] are sometimes described as ancient druids who refused to convert to Christianity and were doomed to roam the earth, rejected by both heaven and hell.The Book of Celtic Myths
Pùca, sometimes spelled Pooka, is a Celtic spirit and shape-shifter that can take various forms, including horses, rabbits, goats, and humans.
It’s also known as Puck in English Folklore, is sometimes believed to use the light of Will o’ the Wisp to lure people into swamps or ditches and then flee with delight. [refer to Will o’ the Wisp}
Depending on circumstances, Pooka may be helpful to humanity, but more often than not, its pranks are damaging and hurtful. It has been said that seeing a Pooka in some form is an omen of imminent death.
It was believed during medieval times Pooka would whisk away little children if they were to go near them.
Púca are said to inhabit wild places like remote thickets and glens. A household would leave a plate of food at night for the púca outside their house or yard; in return, it would do chores during the night and protect the property from fire and trespassers.
During the Celtic Feast of Samhain, it was believed the Pooka, shaped like a horse, would stomp the last seasonal blackberries and offer prophecy and divination to anyone who wished to receive it.
In Old and Middle English the word meant simply “demon.” In Elizabethan lore he was a mischievous, brownielike fairy also called Robin Goodfellow, or Hobgoblin.
As one of the leading characters in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck boasts of his pranks of changing shapes, misleading travelers at night, spoiling milk, frightening young girls, and tripping venerable old dames.Britannica – Puck fairy
Salamanders are a type of elemental spirit commonly associated with fire. Salamanders were first described by German-Swiss physician Paracelsus (1493 -1541) and have remained popular in esoteric occultism, literature, and art since then.
Paracelsus believed that since Nature is made up of elements we can see, they must also have spiritual counterparts of peculiar creatures we can’t see. He called these the Elementals, which are now referred to as Nature spirits, and divided them into four groups gnomes (earth), undines (water), sylphs (air), and salamanders (fire).
In the folklore of Salamanders, there are two forms. The first is their association with fire: Salamanders purify the soul through fire and illuminate the mind with wisdom. Second, they represent an aspect of spirit that must be re-awakened and a force that assists in spiritual transformation.
Depictions of Salamanders vary greatly! Some people insist they are little balls of light, but during the Middle Ages, many claimed they are lizard-like in appearance. Alternatively, Salamanders are sometimes described as slender, red, and dry-skinned creatures with a malevolent demeanor.
[see further suggested reading at the bottom of this article]
Originating from Orkney and United Kingdom folklore, a Selkie is a gentle water spirit believed to live in the sea as a seal, but once on land, they fully assume human form.
They must shed their seal skins to become human but should always keep their pelt close by otherwise, they will remain in human form forever.
According to some legends, Selkie are fallen angels who were too pure to be condemned to Hell and instead fell to the shoreline of Earth. They’re often described as beautiful and doe-eyed.
Other folklore stories warn humans from shedding Selkie blood, or wild and violent storms will claim many human lives at sea.
Trows are a type of Troll from the Orkney and Shetland Islands who are sometimes called Drows.
Generally, all Trows kidnap humans, but they value young mothers and newborns most of all. Young mothers can breastfeed their children, and Trows can easily swap a baby with a changeling.
Trows only appear at night because the sunlight turns them to stone.
You may imagine a Troll to be giant-like in appearance, and older folklore would agree with you; however, later legends describe Trows as smaller creatures, similar to dwarves.
There are several different subcategories of Trows.
Guid Folk or Guid Neighbors
Land Trows often wear gray clothing and live in caves, stone circles, or earth mounds. They’re excellent metalworkers and healers who will bestow good fortune on any human household they favor. Their homes are said to be full of gems, precious stones, and a lot of gold!
A subcategory of Land Trows is known as Peerie Trows. They are tiny fae trows who live beneath toadstools and love to sing and dance in the moonlight.
Kunal Trows are a miserable and somber type of fae who often kidnap young human wives. These women often perish in childbirth.
Sea Trows live in deep cavernous chambers beneath the sea. When Sea trows make their way to land, they appear as half-human, half-fish creatures similar to mermaids. However, they’re also similar to selkies because they must remove their aquatic “skin” to fully become human and walk on land.
Whenever a human fiddler or piper rested near a place inhabited by Trows, there was the strongest possibility of being abducted to make music for them. Some musicians have accounted for their musical compositions and good fortune as the result of playing for the Trows.Carol Rose – Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes, and Goblins
Tuatha dè Danann
Prevalent in ancient Celtic mythology is the Tuatha dè Danann (pronounced Too-a Day Dah-nuhn), which means People of the Goddess Danu, and they are believed to be her children.
They are believed to have magically materialized from a cloud of mist from across the northern sea.
They brought with them from across the sea four deeply magical objects:
Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny (also the Stone of Scone, upon which ancient Irish-and later, Scottish – kings were crowned);
the Invicible Spear of Lugh (which always hit its target mere moments after being thrown, and made Lugh unstoppable in battle);
the “Shining Sword” of Nuada (also called the Sword of Light), which could allegedly dispel truth from lies, enforce the law, dispense justice, and punish the enemies of Ireland;
and the Cauldron of Dagda, which not only continuously dispensed unlimited food and drink to the worthy, but was also capable of healing wounds and resurrecting dead warriors.”D.R. McElroy – Superstitions A Handbook of Folklore, Myths, and Legends from Around the World
The Tuatha dè Danann were immortal and known for their magical abilities, as well as their power, charm, elegance, and cleverness. They were believed to have ruled Ireland four thousand years ago.
They’re described as beautiful and graceful, often have pale or golden skin, and some believe they have Greek origins.
They withdrew to the Otherworld underground beneath the Sidhe (pronounced shee) mounds when they were invaded and overpowered by the Milesians. Scholars believe the Milesians were most likely the first Gaels in Ireland and ancestors of the modern Irish.
It is thought they continue to practice their magic in the Otherworld. Their courts, towns, culture, and festivities have all been preserved. Humans might venture too far into this Otherworld if they found the secret entrance.
Undines, sometimes spelled Ondine, are water nymphs who become human when she falls in love with a mortal man. If he is unfaithful, her death is inevitable.
Derived from the Latin word unda, which means wave or water.
Undines were first discussed by Paracelsus [refer to Salamanders for more information on him]. They are believed to be connected to Greek mythology figures known as Nereids, who were portrayed as young women who lived in any body of water and were kind to humans.
[refer to nymphs]
A story of an Undine tells of how, in a fishing village, a human couple had lost their own child but shortly after found a baby left at their door. They took her in as their own, and she grew to a most beautiful young woman with pearly skin and green eyes, both loving and fickle in her nature.
Hildebrand saw and fell in love with her and took her as his wife. But he betrayed her with another named Bertalda. With this breaking of the vow, Undine was reclaimed by her Merfolk and vanished back to the sea.
However, on the eve of his wedding to Bertalda, Hildebrand went to the well in the courtyard and there he saw Undine. She embraced him and took his soul with her to the waters, leaving his body by the well.Carol Rose – Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes, and Goblins
Will O’ The Wisp
Will o’ the Wisp, sometimes known as Jack-o’-lantern, is a type of Fae pixie believed to inhabit the marshes and bogs of England. Will O’ Wisps are nature spirits that inhabit the elements of the earth.
The name Will o’ the Wisp is derived from the Saxon word wile which means trickery or deceitfulness combined with the Swedish word Wisp, meaning a bundle of tinder.
Travelers at night describe the Will o’ the Wisp as ghost-like blue flames, with an unwavering glow, that float a few feet above the ground.
Will o’ the Wisps have a variety of folklore associated with them and some say they’re flames created by Fae, lights carried by Elves, unbaptized children, or souls who evaded purgatory.
They’re sometimes claimed to give you the power of divination and prophecy, but mostly they’re believed to be mischievous creatures.
It’s often said Will o’ the Wisps love to flit from one place to another, leading travelers astray with their ghost lights and into ditches or bogs.
Will o’ the Wisps have been observed in a variety of locations throughout the world with different names including Germany (Irrlicht), Finland (Liekko), France, (Feu Follets), Sweden (Irrbloss), the Netherlands (dwaallicht), and in Norway where it’s called Hoberdy’s Lantern.
The scientific community has provided their explanation for these mysterious blue lights found above swamps and marshes throughout the world. It’s called ignis fatuus meaning foolish or false fire.
The [Jack-o’-lantern] phenomenon is generally believed to be due to the spontaneous ignition of marsh gas, which consists mostly of methane and which is produced by the decomposition of dead plant matter.Britannica – Jack-o’-lantern phenomenon
I don’t know about you, but that explanation sounds a bit familiar to me, “Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus.” Haha!
Also, they remind me of the blue flames Jonathan Harker described in the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, I wonder if Will o’ the Wisps were used as inspiration!
I hope this article about types of fae was helpful! Lots of love to you and remember as always…
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Mermaid”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 7 May. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/topic/mermaid.
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
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Changeling”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 24 Aug. 2007, https://www.britannica.com/art/changeling-folklore.
Curran, Bob. “Leprechauns The Muths, Legends, and Lore”. Adams Media, 2019.
McElroy, D.R. “Superstitions: A Handbook of Folklore, Myths, and Legends from Around the World” Quarto Publishing Group. 2020
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Gnome”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 28 Apr. 2017, https://www.britannica.com/art/gnome.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Kobold”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 28 Aug. 2019, https://www.britannica.com/topic/kobold.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Puck”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 21 Apr. 2016, https://www.britannica.com/topic/puck-fairy.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Jack-o’-lantern”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 19 Feb. 2018, https://www.britannica.com/science/jack-o-lantern-phenomenon.
Further Suggested Reading and Watching
Secret Teachings of All Ages: The Elements and Their Inhabitants
Will-o’-the-Wisp: Monstrous Flame or Scientific Phenomenon? | Monstrum