So You Want to Work with Fairies

Before reading this, I recommend checking out my most recent post, where I cover some common misconceptions about these beings. As in that post, here I will be using euphemisms like the Good People or the Other Crowd, since the word “fairy” is considered rude or offensive by many of the Good People.

Now that we’ve talked about what the Good People aren’t, let’s talk a little bit about what they are.

Most of the lore surrounding the Good People comes from Western Europe. I would say that our current understanding of them in American culture is most informed by British, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh beliefs, but different European immigrant groups brought stories of other, similar beings. (For example, I include elements of Scandinavian beliefs about alfar, dverger, and the huldufólk in my Heathen practice.) At least some of these beings seem to have followed the people who believe in them across the Atlantic.

It’s worth noting that legends of “hidden people” who live alongside us appear in some form in almost every culture, including indigenous North American folklore. However, I think it’s an oversimplification and culturally insensitive to say that these beings are the same as the Good People. While I encourage my fellow American and Canadian witches to learn about indigenous cultures and their beliefs, we should also be respectful of closed spiritual practices. For that reason, this post is going to focus on Western European Hidden Folk lore, especially Irish and British lore.

“Fairy” is an umbrella term for the beings who live in the Otherworld, which is sometimes called Fairy with a capital “F.” While they can cross over into our world and may have ties to certain places here, they do not live here.

As I’ve mentioned, “the f-word” is offensive to many of the Good People, so euphemisms are typically used instead to avoid angering them. English euphemisms include the Good People, the Other Crowd, the Good Neighbors, and the Shining Ones. In Irish they are called the Aos Sí (“people of the mounds”) or Daoine Maithe (“good people”). In Scotland they are the Daoine Sìth, and in Welsh they are called the Tylwyth Teg (“fair family”).

These beings are mostly understood to be ambivalent or indifferent to humans, and when they interact with us it’s usually in the form of pranks and mischief. Some of them are more friendly to humans, while some of them are predatory. In Where the Hawthorn Grows, Morgan Daimler says that: “They can be cruel and vicious, or generous and kind. Some of them are helpful. Some are indifferent. And some of them think we make a very tasty meal indeed.”

The Good People are “betwixt and between” beings, and they seem to exist in a permanent liminal state. They’re most active at twilight, dawn, and other in-between times, and the information we have about them is incomplete and sometimes contradictory. I see these contradictions are an inherent part of the Good People and their “in-between” nature.

Despite their reputation as tricksters, the Good People are very big on rules. Fairy operates on very consistent internal logic, even if it sometimes seems like dream logic. If you understand these rules and are willing to follow them, it is possible to safely interact with Fairy. I’ve also included a list of some of the common signs of their activity.

Rules for Engaging with the Good People

  1. The word “fairy” is not said aloud, as this may attract negative attention. Instead, use euphemisms like The Good People, The Good Neighbors, The Other Crowd, or any of the Celtic language equivalents. (The word “elf” is sometimes said to be similarly offensive.)
  2. Entering a fairy ring is dangerous and is likely to warp your perception of time.
  3. Be respectful of their places, should you choose to visit. Be careful not to break or damage anything, leave behind no trash, and do not verbally provoke them.
  4. Visits to Fairy in dreams or trance are just as real as physical travels, and must be treated just as seriously.
  5. When in Fairy, do not eat or drink anything that is offered to you.
  6. When in Fairy, keep at least one thing from our world on your person at all times and do not let it be taken from you.
  7. Do not speak too openly about your experiences with the Good Neighbors.
  8. Never steal from one of the Good People.
  9. Never lie to them or break your word to them.
  10. Do not make oaths or promises to the Good People lightly, and always uphold any promise you do make.
  11. Never say “thank you” to one of the Good People. Instead, acknowledge them by saying something like, “I appreciate this.”
  12. Do not tell the Good People your real name. Instead, use a nickname. If they ask for your name, avoid lying outright by saying, “You may call me…”
  13. It’s a good idea to have protections in place in case you get in over your head. Iron repels most, but not all of the Good People, so I recommend pairing it with other protections like mugwort, sulfur, and/or salt.

Signs That the Good People Are Around:

  • Unexplained laughter, music, etc., especially music that does not sound like Earthly music
  • Disappearing items, especially keys and jewelry
  • Movement in your peripheral vision, “out of the corner of your eye”
  • Elf-locks (hair that becomes matted and tangled overnight with no other apparent cause)
  • Fairy rings (rings of mushrooms or darker grass in a circle shape)
  • Chores getting completed mysteriously
  • Cats acting strange or freaked out

Further Reading/Viewing:

  • Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk by Morgan Daimler
  • Fairy Witchcraft by Morgan Daimler
  • Faery: A Guide to the Lore, Magic, & World of the Good Folk by John T. Kruse
  • “The Magick of Faerie: My First Fairy Encounter and a Fair Warning.” by Mintaery on YouTube
  • “Fairy Morality” by Morgan Daimler on YouTube
  • “Irish Fairy and Folk Tales – Penalties for Messing with the Fairies” by Lora O’Brien on YouTube
  • “Faery Offerings A Quick Guide on Leaving Offering for Nature Spirits” by Mintfaery on YouTube
  • “Fairies and Offerings” by Morgan Daimler on YouTube
  • “How to Protect Yourself And Set Boundaries With The Fae” by Mintfaery on YouTube
  • “Protections Against Fairies” by Morgan Daimler on YouTube
  • “Telling A Good Fairy Book From a Bad One” by Morgan Daimler on YouTube
  • (I’ve made a playlist of videos on the Good People I find helpful, which you can watch here!)

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