Fairy vs. Faery; Why Two Spellings?

I’m sure if I were to say to you, “My house is full of fairies,” you might think I mean collectible statues and artwork from the likes of Nene Thomas and Selina Fenech.  Or perhaps you might think that I have a young daughter obsessed with the Disney Tinkerbell movies, and trinkets and toys are piled up around my home. The word “fairy” conjures up specific images of magical beings, such as fairy godmothers and the tooth fairy.

So what even are faeries, and why bother spelling it differently?

Fairy vs. Faery

A fairy is typically a beautiful female creature, with wings and long flowing hair.  Sometimes they are nude, sometimes they create their own garments out of wisps of spider silk, leaves and flower petals. Generally benign and sweet in nature, these beings carry magic wands and grant wishes to princesses or those who are true of heart.  Fairies and fairy tales have been relegated to the sanitized, perfect world of children, where those who deserve to are certain to live a long and happy life.

Faeries are all of this; their mythos has been evolving ever since our very first encounters with them. This is only the most recent version of their character, though. They are not the docile, goodly beings that most people would probably see them as today. Think of them in terms of cats. Some cats are sweet and kind, and all they want is to purr on your lap and eat tuna. Others are wary of humans and skitter out of sight whenever they see one. Some cats only like one certain person, others love everyone, and some don’t like humans at all.

Faeries are nature spirits. They encompass the beautiful winged creatures (generally known as sylphs or pixies) and a whole lot more. I use the term “fae” to mean pretty much anything that doesn’t belong strictly to our human realm. Dragons, vampires, unicorns, trolls, goblins, naiads; all those and more are creatures that I would consider to be under the umbrella term of fae. They are wild, passionate beings, most with an innate connection to the natural world.

A different realm.

Like angels, faeries are part of a different plane of existence. This plane is like a filter, where we can only see the world in front of us. Some people are able to get glimpses here and there, but most of us have forgotten how to tune in to this special realm. It’s okay to forget; after all, we’re only human. The good news is that we can learn how to communicate through the realms, all it takes is an open mind and a lot of practice.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to get a pet dragon. Believe me, if it worked that way, most of us who work with faeries would probably have one or two by now. But you might attract a dragon spirit guide, or perhaps you’d be good working with the fire element. It’s really all down to personal preferences . . . what relationships do you want to develop with the fae?

Nature beings will appear to you as natural things.

If the fae are nature beings who live on a different plane, you might assume something about their looks. And indeed, some artists like Brian Froud are able to capture them in all their faery glory. However, most people would either be scared if a brownie or a gnome actually appeared to them, or they would think they were going crazy. This is because we are taught from a very young age to put away our imagination and creativity and to focus on only on our five senses. Many branches of scientific study have evolved from this kind of rationality. Science is amazing, from Newton’s Laws to Quantum Theory, it has really taught us a lot about the rules of the physical world. But faeries live by their own rules.

Most of the time, when I see faeries, they are animals in nature. From dragonflies to frogs, I have seen fae creatures embodied in 3-dimensional forms. But not every frog or duck is a faerie. The best way to tell is the feeling that they give off. If it feels like the little creature is looking right at me, like it is saying hello, then I know that’s a faerie. Or if I’m the only one who notices the animal, again, that’s a faerie. And I always say “Hello!” Sometimes this startles them; they weren’t expecting a human to notice them! But a lot of the time, they say hello right back.

I believe that they are there to teach us about mindfulness and to help reestablish our connection with nature. Let’s face it . . . most Americans don’t get out among the trees often enough. From my own experience, sometimes all the outdoor time I get is walking from my apartment to my car, and from my car to my place of work. This isn’t enough time in nature; remember, humans come from nature. We were once hunters and gatherers who sheltered in caves, but only when the weather was bad. We once lived like the fae, reveling in nature, whereas now we barely crack the windows on a nice day.

Your turn . . .

What kind of relationship are you hoping to gain from the fae?  Write a comment below!


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