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Thinking About ~ Faerie, Fairy, and the Box of Woo ~ Damh the Bard

August 19th, 2017

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I am re-blogging this wonderful post by Damh the Bard musing on the nature of the Fae…

For the past eighteen months I’ve been immersed in an Otherworldly Journey. It started last April when Cerri and I took a working holiday in Wales. We booked a little self-catering cottage just outside Bala and there, in this tiny little space, I began typing away on my iPad. If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that this was the culmination of many years thinking about how best to tell the tales that have been of such nourishment and joy to me. I’m talking of course of the tales of the Four Branches of the Mabinogion (Y Mabinogi).

I listen to a lot of Pagan podcasts, and read as many of the Pagan blogs as I can, and I’ve noticed that the Faerie have, for some, been placed in the Box of Woo, along with Unicorns, love and light, and other so-called New Age thinking. I get that. The Victorian Tinkbell Fairy, with her gossamer wings, and sparkly wand has, within the popular psyche, replaced the Fae’s folkloric origins. Large numbers of people now attend Faerie Festivals – I play my music at some and they are great events. But these are not the Faerie with whom I have walked for the duration of this Journey. Of course, like many people my relationship to the Fae has been ongoing since my childhood. But the depth and meaning of that relationship has taken on a whole new meaning now.

The Faerie of folklore are a far cry from the gossamer winged tiny beings that live in the films of Disney.

Ok, this is difficult.

I don’t want to come across all well ‘ard Pagan here. One of the things that makes me uncomfortable is when I listen to, or read something, that gives the impression that to be of value in Paganism things must be well ‘ard. Before I go too far I must say that I value the depth of love and light too, as well as the shadows, and what lessons can reside there. The fulcrum of balance should be considered – too much love and light and one can lose the ability to exist in the apparent world. Too much shadow and one can disappear up ones backside thinking love is for wimps – when in fact it can be one of the hardest feelings to express. But as is so often said, the greater the light, the darker the shadow. One cannot exists without the other.

So now I’ve got that out of the way I’ll get back to the Faerie.

These Otherworldly beings exist in mythologies all across the globe. Not all call them Faerie, but there is another realm that, for many centuries, has been placated with offerings in the countryside, outback, and bush. Here in Britain we have a rich tradition of Faerie Lore. From the Highlands of Scotland to the tips of Cornwall and the South East the Fae have made their presence known to those who have the sight to see. In Ireland the Old Gods and heroes are said to have retreated from our apparent world into the Hollow Hills through the Sidhe mounds. Here in Sussex the Pharises (a corruption of ‘Faerieses’, in old Sussex dialect) still haunt the old hill forts. One of them, Puck, has found a home in plays and books, but the Puck is also related to the Bucka, Pooka, and many another mischievous and challenging Spirit. Put the Bucka in the Box of Woo? Yeah. Good luck with that… Try to do the same with the Cornish Spriggan and we might have to address our ideas of what actually lays in the shadows.

The Fae of folklore are to be respected, and given space too. To me the Spirits of Place are also a part of the Lore of Faerie. The Spirits that live within the waters of Llyn Tegid, the heights of Dinas Emrys, or the ramparts of Chanctonbury Ring to me are very real. When I went to some of the sites associated with the Mabinogion last April I felt those Spirits, those denizens of Annwn, turn their heads towards me and look deep into my soul. Testing me. I was about to tell their stories. I asked for their blessings and promised my best to do them honour with my words and music. The Power I felt from Annwn was overwhelming. Again, put that into the Box of Woo? I don’t think so.

Annwn is a place of heroes, and also the place of the Andedion, the Grey Folk. Arawn, with his pack of hunting hounds, with white fur and red ears, Rhiannon of the pale horse rides across our hills still, carved into the land by ancient hands, her story for to share. Lovely Branwen, and her brother the mighty Bendigeidfran are already knocking on my door as I place the finishing touches on the First Branch, and look towards Harlech, and Ireland, for the Second Branch.

In my opinion the Faerie shouldn’t be placed in the Box of Woo. Their tales are the very Bones of Albion itself. Not just Albion, but many other lands too. On a very self-centred level our stories and old songs help us to reconnect to the soil beneath our feet, to the lake, to the mountain. They help us develop relationship. And as that relationship deepens, so the tales of the Bones of the Land reveal more and more to us. Upon the wind that blows across the land, the tales of the Grey Folk can be heard as whispered voices from some Other land – a land utterly alien to ours, but that exists in exactly the same space.

10 Responses to “Thinking About ~ Faerie, Fairy, and the Box of Woo ~ Damh the Bard”

  1. Love this blog post. I don’t easily relate to Celtic mythology but the Fae and the Grey Folk definitely ring a few bells. Thanks.

  2. I very much enjoyed reading this! Everything Damh the Bard has written about is what inspires my artwork and living in the shadow of Chactonbury Ring it’s nice to hear a local reference. This made me feel very alive and inspired! Thank you for reposting, or I’d never have read it. Lou Partridge

  3. This is great to read it resonates truth. .we have a made fae,well it was a maniquin doll head with dark hair, we painted it blue so she sits in prominence in the lounge she has an air of royal aloof. Recently we made a sml fae garden – portable medium round pizza tray – full of herbs stones gum nut tree seeds, fae dragons unicorn blue candle. .. i have no idea why the blue is important neither am i sure why the faerie’s head is blue. All i can say i felt compelled and some relief to have this set up that the head feels real sometimes. The tinker bell thing never took my interest but my daughter’s when younger.

  4. I picked up a delightful little book in st David’s in Pembrokeshire in July ,called myths and legends of wales ! The first couple of pages are written about the faerie people who were deemed as a parallel population of the country .

  5. Thank you Damh for your wonderful piece on Faery, the subject of which also inspires my artwork here in NZ. I have noticed increased activity/feelings of ‘about to meet someone…’/downright blatant natural imagery in the real landscape (faces in the trees- nothing too anthropomorphised either) when my children are playing in gardens and amongst trees. It seems the Elementals and other beings respond to children with more trust or knowing, perhaps grown-ups are too cluttered with our longer stories and need to remember our inner children to be able to make those same connections. But, you’re right- this is not about twee, sugary innocence, there’s an energy to the real thing which holds the full spectrum of human emotion as well as potential for any outcome, in a field that is above our puny concepts of right and wrong and requires respect. Not all light is loving light and in darkness there is much of creativity.

    • Hi Jacky, ‘Woo’ is something that is seen to be spiritual flaky, fluffy or light-weight.

      • Thank you. I had a vision of a carved box belonging to an ancient Chinese gentleman and couldn’t quite reconcile idea and article content.Silly me!

  6. Having seen a knee high “something” years ago walking in close proximity to me, I searched many books to find out what it was. It was indeed one of the types of Fae and definitely not the gossamer wings type, and all brown in colour. Once in a lifetime experience, never to be forgotten.

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