When you hear about fairies, oftentimes, it is blissful stories about their beauty and the hospitality of their royal members to human beings. However, mainstream stories and modern fiction seldom have the strength the folktales have to warn an intuitive person about interacting with the fairies, or the Sidhe. These creatures are centuries old, and there are countless kinds of them . Stories about them are found all over the British Isles, and Germanic people have similar tales of creatures. In this article, we will define and discuss who the Sidhe are and cover these topics:
- Who Are The Sidhe?
- YHow to Initiate Communication
- Psychic Protection
- In Love with a Fairytale?
- The Road to Happiness
Your sixth sense feeling in nature that magical creatures are nearby and watching is probably correct. The splendor and beauty of these beings are renowned, and rumors they are immortal as well as tales they fall in love with mortals often typically overshadow the warnings that knowledgeable people will give to protect yourself from the faeries. Also called the Sidhe, the fae, the good people, little people, and the aos si, these creatures have their own realm, their own lives, and are sometimes seen crossing paths, meaning, running into humans. The results can be disastrous, and wise people’s strong intuition ensures they are careful. Who are the Sidhe and what different types of them are there? How can you communicate with them, and what happens when you are in their presence? How can you protect yourself, and is it possible to become lovers or friends with them? Read on to learn!
Who Are The Sidhe?
The Welsh, Irish, and Scottish are just three different peoples who have stories about the creatures who are not human, but aren’t animals either. They live in a world variously described as separate from the world of men, and also described as being in the same world, but hidden from people. Some would say the Sidhe are angels or spirits of the dead, and others would say they are descended from the Tuatha De Danann or ancient gods, while still others say they are a separate type of being who is not comparable to anything else.
Tuatha De Danann
The stories of these creatures comes to us from ancient Ireland and their name means “of the goddess Danu” and “ tribe of the gods.” They were descended from Nemed, who had brought settlers to Ireland. They battled a tribe of beings called The Fir Bolg, then the Fomorians, winning against both of them but were later defeated by the Milesians. Upon this defeat, the Milesians agreed to bequeath half of Ireland to them but gave them the part of the Island that is below ground. Forced to go live under the earth, the legends say the Tuatha De Danann would begin to shrink in size as people above ground eventually forgot all about them until they were quite tiny.
It wasn’t all doom and darkness once they went there, however. Their world is one of splendor, beauty, and plenty. One name for their home is Tir na nOg, or the “land of eternal youth” and it is believed they sometimes welcome humans to join them, and nobody ages when they are there. In some stories, when the humans return to the world of men, all the years they had not aged while in the realm of fairies immediately hits them, and they can become very old in an instant. Another name for their realm is “The Otherworld” and some believe the souls of all the dead loved ones reside with the living Sidhe.
The Tuatha De Danann brought amazing skills and arts with them to Ireland as well as four great treasures. One was the mighty spear of the powerful Lugh, and it would be impossible to defeat the person in battle who wielded it. The second treasure was the Cauldron of the Dagda, and its magical power was that it provided so much food nobody ever went away from it hungry. The third was Lia Fail, or the Stone of Destiny, which is on the Hill of Tara. Its magical power was it emitted a scream when the man who was rightfully to become King was before it. The fourth was the Sword of Light, which was so powerful, nobody could stand against it once it was drawn.
It has been speculated that these so-called supernatural creatures were actual Kings and heroes who lived and died in glory, because some of their names are written as some of the High Kings of Ireland. Scholars point out ancient Irish people kept track of their history through folk tales and while they may have embellished some stories to add supernatural elements, the people they talked about lived. Some say the existence of places like The Hill of Tara is evidence of this and places that contain the names of them to this day like Ireland is named after the goddess Eire who was of the Tuatha De Danann.
The Sidhe were characterized as living in burial mounds, or places like Oweynagat Cave, which was believed to be the gate to the Otherworld, and some believed them to simply be the spirits of people who had passed away. Others stated they were simply demons. This belief became popular with the rise of Puritanism, which cast pre-Christian pagan gods as demons in disguise, and the Sidhe, too, were accused of being unholy demonic beings. Communicating with the Sidhe was treated as a form of malevolent magic.
A Kind of Being
The Sidhe have been considered to be their own form of creature, not an animal, or a spirit, and not a human either, but a species of their own. Some have said the Sidhe belong to a superhuman species, and their legendary wearing of green clothing is used as camouflage because they don’t want people to see them or know they exist. Historic arrowheads that were found were believed by some to be weapons kept by the Sidhe to protect themselves from human beings. It has also been said they were not necessarily driven underground by the Milesians, but they willingly live there to avoid contact with humans.
Some believe the Sidhe are supernatural creatures who have powerful magic, and they live in a parallel universe alongside humans on earth. Some believe fairies are not one type of being, but there are multitudes of different ones, all of whom have their own forms of magic and characteristic behaviors. As each of them are seen as different, some consider the Tuatha De Danann to be one form of them, and that there are two distinct branches of them, some terrifying and belonging to The Unseelie Court, and others more benevolent, being part of the Seelie Court.
The Seelie Court
The Scottish divided the fairies into two divisions, the Seelie and Unseelie. The beings who belong to the Seelie Court are known as “happy” creatures who are pretty much safe to be around. The fae of this Court have capricious ways, loving to play pranks on unsuspecting humans, although they are not usually dangerous. These beings can be seen at twilight in their splendid royal processions and with the correct offerings of food and drink, they may help human beings out. Some of the fairies who belong to the Seelie Court include selkies, brownies, and pixies.
Selkies are creatures who look human, but cover themselves in skins and turn into seals. They are said to be so beautiful, human men often desire them for their brides and if they steal their skins, the selkies have no choice but to go home with them. Take care, however, if the selkie ever finds its skin, it will slip away, never to be seen again. Brownies are small fairies who inhabit houses and barns and will help housewives with chores if given food and cream but can also be mischievous for fun. If angered, they might refuse to work, or leave. Pixies love to dance and cause mischief by leading travelers the wrong way but will sometimes help out needy housewives. They love to ride horses and sometimes disguise themselves as bundles of rags so children will play with them.
The Unseelie Court
The word Unseelie means “unholy”. Those in the Unseelie Court are dangerous and should be avoided. Some say their true names are the Sluagh, or the unforgiven dead, and these beings fly through the air, kidnapping people or stealing their spirits to take back to The Otherworld with them. It is believed that humans rarely see these fairies, or if they do, they are killed or kidnapped and never return to tell what they saw. The Unseelie Court fairies are said to be ugly at best and hideous at worst, and they are merciless creatures who cannot be appeased but are quick to anger. Some of the fairies who belong to the Unseelie Court include redcaps, boggarts, and kelpies.
The redcap is called such because it is a terrifying creature who dyes his cap red with the blood of humans and should be avoided at all costs. Boggarts are creatures who cause things to come up missing, they make milk spoil, and they make dogs lame. They can make horses run away and they kidnap children. The kelpie is a shapeshifting creature who can appear in the form of a horse and is very good at luring people and children especially to take rides on its back. Once you are astride the kelpie, though, it rides so quickly and pulls you into the water of its lair and it eats you!
How to Initiate Communication
While some like the redcap should not be approached at all, others can be communicated with respectfully, and even in the event a redcap is in your presence, there are ways to communicate. Creideamh Si is a set of practices used to respectfully communicate and coexist with the Sidhe. While a lot of modern people want to just call to them and expect a response, the tried and true way they respond to is both the most respectful and the safest way. Since there are different kinds of fairies, how to communicate with them best depends on which you are dealing with.
When you find yourself crossing paths with the Sidhe, it is important to know exactly what is the respectful form of communication to ensure nothing bad happens. It is also important to know their characteristics, so you know what to do. Mermaids, Leprechauns, and Changelings all require different types of communication, and they all behave differently.
Desired for their beauty, mermaids can actually be more fatal than fatally beautiful. Both male and female mermaids exist, and men who work in jobs that entail they be in or near waterways are especially in danger of being prey to a mermaid. In the Odyssey, all of Ulysses' men were drowned by the song of the sirens, a type of mermaid. Ulysses plugged his ears and tied himself to the boat, and that is the only way he escaped a watery grave.
Mermaids have also been known to lure men in their boats to jagged rocks which sink their ships and drown them, and they lure them off waterfalls where they fall to their deaths. If you see and feel the powerful magic of a mermaid beckoning you to them, remember they are not the beautiful people they appear to be, and are fish from the waist down. If that does not dampen your attraction to them, run if you can, covering your ears, and don’t look at them. Mermaids are known to mesmerize people, and take them down beneath the waters with promises of being their lovers, but no human could ever survive underwater.
Leprechauns are less dangerous and are far more helpful if you know what to do. A Leprechaun is a solitary supernatural being who has no interest in human beings and just wants to go about the business of cobbling shoes and protecting treasure they have saved. Some say Leprechauns are not professional cobblers, but they stay so busy “running around” they have to repair their own shoes quite often. They focus on this so much, it’s easy for humans to trap them.
Trapping a Leprechaun puts you in the position you can request wishes from them, but be aware, they like to play pranks. They will honor your three wishes because they want to be released, but they may grant your wishes in ways you had not hoped for, so watch them carefully, and be very specific about what you wish for. Better yet, if you don’t want to deal with the mischief of the Leprechaun, let it go about its business, and behave as if you never saw it.
If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation you think you have a Changeling, make sure you are correct, because the way of dealing with one can be fatal if it is an accident. It is believed that the Sidhe will sometimes kidnap a human child they like, and replace it with one of their own, called a Changeling. The fairy child is either ugly, or has odd behaviors, like jumping out of the crib and dancing when it thinks nobody is looking, and an immediate difference is seen. The method of getting your human child back is to simply place the fairy child in the fire where its body will burn, and rise through the smoke of the chimney, returning to the Sidhe, who will automatically return your child to you. Fairies have also been known to take adults and replace them with fairies, and the method of getting your adult loved one back is exactly the same as with a fairy child.
Unfortunately, changes in real human beings have been mistaken for Changelings, as the case of Bridget Cleary in the late 1800’s. She suddenly fell ill with what was possibly bronchitis, and her husband decided she was a Changeling. He had been given medication by a doctor but withheld it from her saying he did not believe in it. He called in a priest, who gave her communion and left. Friends came over and observed her husband trying to force things down her throat- not the medicine of course, and finally allowing her to be burned to death, insisting she was a Changeling and the Sidhe would return his wife. No such thing happened, and multiple friends who had been present and the husband were sentenced for her death. Perhaps the story of Changelings is folk superstitions founded due to misunderstanding of illness, and compassion is called for instead of incineration of the patient.
Do spells work in protection against malevolent fairies? Generations of people practicing folk magic swear by it. Iron, foods, and sacred plants are all used for protection from fairies.
A good stone for luck and protection is simply iron, which is said to be the most powerful material known to ward off the fae. Some will craft it into a shape known as a troll iron, and this is said to ward off all malevolent magic in general. Iron horseshoes in doorways are believed to keep the Sidhe from entering your home, and some will bury pieces of iron at the four corners of their property to ward off the fae. Iron nails are sewn into the hems of children’s clothes to keep away the Sidhe, and carrying a piece of iron in your pocket will keep them from carrying you away.
Like iron, salt repels the Sidhe, and holy water is said to as well. Oatmeal wards them off, and some of them avoid going anyplace where yeast risen bread is present. Sometimes, though protection does not mean repelling them, but giving them respectful offerings. Bread, cream, and offerings from your garden like berries and even good cheeses will be much appreciated by them and they will spare you from any mischief or malevolence. At holidays, you can leave a plate of the food from your celebratory meal for them, and some fairies love offerings of honey.
Some plants are said to naturally protect you from any harm the Sidhe might cause. Marsh marigold is hung on or near horses to keep the fairies from riding them and daisies are protective, thus daisy chains are woven and worn by children. Red berries from and the wood of the rowan tree protects against fairies. Planting a rowan tree outside the door will keep the fae away, and wearing charms made of their wood will protect you. St. John’s wort protects against the power of the fae, and a four leafed clover will allow you to see through their spells, but it will only work once.
In Love with a Fairytale?
Who doesn’t love a good fairytale? Countless stories of human interactions with the Sidhe exist. Not all of them end tragically, but not all of them end well!
The Bagpiper and the Fairy Mound
An old story goes that a Great Highland Bagpipe player did not believe in fairies. There was a tunnel that went under a spot in town that was said to be a fairy mound, and nobody who went in it ever came out again. The piper scoffed and insisted it was all untrue. He said he would prove that it was safe to go through the tunnel by going himself and that he would play his bagpipes the entire time so they could hear him. Some men followed him to the tunnel, and he entered it, playing. As the tunnel wasn’t terribly deep, for a time they could walk on the earth on top of it, following along because they could hear him the entire time. Then, the sound of the music suddenly stopped. The men waited quite a while for him, even calling his name at the entrance and exit, but he never answered, and he never came out.
The Selkie Wife
A fisherman espied some lovely selkies who had slipped off their seal skins and were playing in the waves at the shore. He snuck over when they were not watching and stole the skin of the one who he found most attractive. The selkies soon donned their skins and swam away after transforming back into seals, all except the one he desired. He told her he had her skin and she had to come and be his bride. She had no choice and she returned with him and was a dutiful wife, bearing him children. He passed many happy years with her, keeping her skin locked away and wearing the key every day so she could not retrieve it.
One day, he forgot the key, leaving it out at the house. When he returned, he discovered she had unlocked her skin from where he had hidden it all those years, and it was gone. So was she. There are many variations of this story, some of which say the children found their mother’s skin and gave it to her, and other accounts say that both she and the children left the forced marriage. All the stories agree that the moment a selkie regains its skin, it will return to its home in the waters, and you will never see it again.
Niamh and Oisin
Many years ago there lived a great poet in Ireland. He was the son of Finn McCool, a mighty warrior, and Sadhbh, daughter of Bodb Dearg, a king of the Tuatha De Danann. One day Oisin was visited by Niamh, who was a fairy and daughter of Manannan Mac Lir, the god of teh sea. She asked Oisin to come to her home with her at Tir na nOg and marry her. He agreed, and he became king, ruling for three hundred years. Time at Tir na nOg does not pass in quite the ways it does in the realm of men, so Oisin had not aged.
One day, he decided to return to his homeland and see his warriors. Niamh gave him her horse to ride and warned him not to dismount, because if he did, in that very moment he touched the ground, he would age three hundred years. There are different accounts of how it happened, but the story says, he fell off his horse, and immediately, he aged three hundred years, and was withered and helpless. Some stories say St, Patrick came to visit him before he died, and stories can’t agree whether he allowed Patrick to convert him, or if he hated the teachings of Patrick and held fast to the old ways.
The Road to Happiness
Some may wish to find a psychic center in a mound reputed to be populated by the Sidhe or ask them love questions, in hope they will tell you your destiny. It is a far better, and safer idea to stay rooted, and stay rooted, meaning, stay strong in your mental capacities. The Sidhe are well known for their spells of glamor, creating illusions to lure humans to doom, but don’t take the bait. They are powerful, beautiful, and enchanting, but remember, not all fairies are Seelie, and even those who won’t mind luring a human into The Otherworld and keeping them there.
If you are observant that helps, but even if you are intuitive vs observant, an intuitive feeling can warn you of danger of being a lost soul, meaning lost in the Sidhe’s realm. One of the symbols of love to forge relationships is food, but it has been said for centuries that you should never accept food or drink from the fae under any circumstances because once you eat or drink of it, you are in their realm forever. The truth and strength of the past lives on through folklore and seeing energy in the form of ulterior motives can save you.
When in doubt, leave a situation. Never step into a circle of toadstools or mushrooms. According to the lore, that is called a fairy circle and you can find yourself trapped in their world, and no tools of your own or the ability to send telepathic messages can get you help to get out of it. If someone wise, meaning somebody who understands the Sidhe, would happen to see you trapped in a fairy ring, they can reach in, grab you, and pull you out.
Seeing meaning in being safely grounded in our own world rather than investing your heart energy in adventuring into the Otherworld will remind you that the fae have their own world that operates very differently than ours, and few human beings have returned to the world of men once they have been taken into the world of the Sidhe. A life that seems boring beats a life in a realm where we don’t belong and leaving offerings for the Sidhe and respectfully staying out of their domain is key to a happy life as a human being.
They say there is some truth in every fairytale. Perhaps the ancient Sidhe are the descendants of ancient gods or kings, and some say they are these ancient gods themselves. Maybe they are spirits, or maybe they are supernatural creatures who are not human but not animals either. They are beautiful, magical, and charming, but they can be dangerous as well. They have been respected and feared for centuries by the people who know them best, and don’t make a very good divine life partner for a human, but they are still creatures who have always communicated with people, and always will. Knowing who the Sidhe are and how to respectfully communicate with them will keep you protected, but still keep you open to sharing their magic.
About the Author: Lady Saoirse has studied magic and lore for most of her life, but started walking her own Magical Path after being spiritually reborn in the desert. Today she shares her gifts as a Psychic and Content Writer for Mysticsense and she writes for Pagan Pages emag.
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