Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Kindly Host.

What care I for human heart? Soft and spiritless as porridge! A faerie's heart beats fierce and free. - Luna (Legend).

I see a book on the shelf at the local Hastings. It's a little paperback, shiny and inoffensively purple. On the cover is what looks like a small human girl, with butterfly wings sewn to her dress. The book swears to teach one the simple art of summoning (and even creating) fairies.

I'm aghast. Summon? Like they can be controlled? CREATE? How the hell does one plan to create something that exists well outside of our heads? How can a human fathom inhumanity?

The reason they are called the Good Ones, Fair Folk, Little People, Friendly Neighbors, Kindly Folk ...etc. Is because people were absolutely terrified of them. Some of them would lure you into bogs, drown you, and eat you. Some would slit your throat and dye their hats in your blood. Some would capture you, mate with you, suck out your life-force, and send you back to your world decades later.

You didn't talk about them, because it drew their attention. You didn't speak ill of them because it drew their ire. You didn't think about them, look at them, summon, stir, or call them up. You didn't associate with the darksome, terrible, things of Elfhame. You hid, you locked your doors, you set lights to keep them away.

You, when required, politely thanked them for not stealing your children, souring your milk, blighting your crops, or killing you the last time you had to take the cart to the next township and remarked with great trepidation "My, they're such fair and kindly folk!"

Think of The Kind Host as a group of children on Halloween. They run amok when displeased, insulted, or disappointed. The best you can hope for, with the majority, is that they leave you unscathed. Is it wise to invite 'fairies'? No. No more wise than it is to put out a blanket invitation for everyone in the city to come visit your house. These strangers, once attracted, aren't easily shut out so it's good to get to know them before giving them entry.

You probably don't want a banshee around, but you might very much wish to deal with the individual piskie hanging around your flowerbeds. The unseelie in the local lake is probably not a good dinner companion, but the gnome under the oak on the old Jenkins farm might be open to a conversation or three...etc.

A poster on a forum I frequent says "promise to dance with them and you'll have beautiful experiences, but you have to have your guardians make sure you're talking to the right people". Um, pardon me? We're adults, and what's more we're witches. If we, ourselves, cannot suss out who is and is not trustworthy what in the hell are we doing?

We don't need Beloved Dead, or our mommies to hold our hands and make sure we don't talk to the creepy-looking man with the 'free candy' van. We're witches, we are the ones who deftly side-step the dangers in the aethers (either by dumb luck, or careful planning).


  1. Oh, they can be controlled. But that's a trick one has to discover on their own.

    And attempting to discover how may backfire horridly...

  2. Greetings from England; I found your blog and I find myself chuckling and nodding more than once. For me, being a witch isn't about fluffy fairies and benevolent deities - I'm always amazed at various groups who call their Goddess and God into their space and then get terrified when they actually show up. In voudou, this is expected - you NEVER call unless you really want them to show, and are prepared to handle it when they do.

    With that said, fae have glamour for a reason - and witches we may be, but I would bet a fiver that not all of the witches around can suss out one of the Folk if they really didn't want to be sussed, and most witches will take aid where they can get it, from whatever source they trust if need be. From carrying cold iron to putting posies in the pocket to carrying crosses, staying out of certain portions of the forest when the bluebells are in bloom, or calling on a mate or three from Another Place. If it works, do it.

    Of course, you know nature isn't always bedecked with bows and smiles; sometimes, its claws are red, and it can bite. Disney doesn't walk in New Forest, that I am most sure of - and I certainly wouldn't be dancing anywhere uninvited.


  3. I have felt very conflicted about fairies. As a teen I read Arthur Machen's stories about them, and there they are powerful, brutal, and frightening. Yet on my site, on the seed part especially, I have info here and there as I ran across it about particular plants attracting the Fae to one's garden, this clearly coming out of the Victorian apprehension of fairies, which is very different from the folk beliefs about them. Some people nowadays apparently conflate them with plant spirits, which I consider to be an entirely different level of spirit. I wrote a long blog post about fairies a couple years ago, now lost, after reading a book about the murder of Bridget Cleary, which occurred in Ireland during their struggle for independence. Her husband killed her because he believed she was possessed by a fairy. It wasn't insanity on his part; he was acting on local folk information about fairies. I recall that the local priest was involved as well as a fairy doctor, who put together herbal tinctures or teas to get rid of the fairy which she would not drink (which of course was taken as proof she was possessed). Her husband and others ended up burning her alive to get the fairy out. The English held up the incident as proof that the Irish were not capable of being independent. It was a horrific story and I wrote that I was grateful that I did not live in a world that took fairies seriously, basically. Not only are fairies themselves frightening, IMO, but the way people reacted to them, their ideas of fairy sickness, changelings, and so on, is even more frightening. Sometimes people who practice magic long for the old days when magic was more believed in and who knows, more practiced, but I do not. This is an example of why. Still, I have info on my site such as that rue helps one connect with the Fae. Some people want to connect with them or with what they believe to be fairies. I think it is more a desire to connect to the natural world itself. Fairies are just a representation of the secret life all around us. Anyway, interesting post.

  4. Re: ... everyone. It's the sanitization, standardization and modernization of The Craft/s that... well... cheeses me off. It is a wild thing, for the wild heart. An atavism that is required to access the old, and the deep. When we make it friendly, sparkly, and indimately kindly... we take away the tooth, the claw, and the redness thereof. We castrate the magick.

  5. Yeah, I feel ya. Hence why I chuckle and nod a lot when I read your completely Low-Bullshit-Tolerance posts. You've got yer Hep-Mama-Magick going on, y0.

    Keep on with it!