Podcast

210 – The Fairy World

The Mythcreant Podcast

Keep an iron nail in your pocket and don’t eat the sparkling delicacies left out for you, because we’re going to the fairy world. What are fairies? Folk like you but with a twist, the you that lives on the other side of a loon’s call. How do you reach their world? Just cut through the deepest forest glades, where no path leads, and offer up a dream to the Hedge’s thorns. We talk about all of that and more, plus Wes reads a poem!

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Faye Valentine

Peter Pan

Lord Dunsany

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Oberon

Titania

Puck

King James

Daemonologie

Sir Orfeo

Origin of Cinderella

Changeling the Dreaming

Changeling the Lost

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

The Goblin Market

Morgan le Fey

The Death of Arthur

Mists of Avalon

W.B. Yeats

The Song of Wandering Aengus

Hilda

Tolkien Elves

Artemis Fowl

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Transcript

Generously transcribed by Darian. Volunteer to transcribe a podcast.

[Intro + Music]

Wes: Hello, you’re listening to the Mythcreants podcast. I’m your host Wes, and with me today is…

Chris: Chris…

Wes: And…

Oren: Oren.

Wes: And so today we’re going to be talking about all things fey. The fairy world, the inhabitants, and what the heck it even IS. Because it turns out, no. It’s something I thought would be easy to say “This is what fairies are, and how they operate, and this is what they do in stories” and, no. [laughs] Turns out that it’s a pretty broad thing to have a look at. So…

Oren: I think it’s a character on Cowboy Bebop, actually.

Wes: Oh, yeah?

Oren: Pretty sure one of those characters is Faye. That’s the end of that.

[laughter]

Chris: No, it’s a really fuzzy thing. And I think much of the stuff that we think about as being like, well, doesn’t everybody know that this… is this? Then we find out, oh, that was never true until some recent popular stories in the last century. That just happens a lot with different kinds of folklore, mythology—things that you think have been there forever, haven’t been.

Wes: No, you’re absolutely right. And it turns out that one of the things that really cemented our twentieth-century notion of “what is a fairy?” was Peter Pan. Because that was just immense…

Oren: Really?

Wes: Yeah, it was IMMENSELY  popular.

Chris: Huh. I didn’t realize that there were… oh, there’s like the little f… you mean Tinkerbell?

Wes: Yeah. Right? Tinkerbell as fairy, right? Because it was so wildly popular. And plus, it’s not just that there WAS Tinkerbell, it was that you kind of got a little folklore around it, right? Like, you know, every time someone laughs, or doesn’t say they don’t believe in them… there’s that little… lore around how fairies live, die, operate; they can make people fly; they’re magical… that kind of stuff, right? Which is interesting, because that story came out… J. M. Barrie published that maybe somewhere around 1900, I can’t quite remember. But another twentieth-century writer was Lord Dunsany, and he wrote books like The King of Elfland’s Daughter and The Fairy Child, and those were very influential, but his fairies were different.

Oren: Oh, really?

Wes: Which… yeah. They’re more like… I think a lot of people are familiar with A Midsummer Night’s Dream…

[general agreement]

Wes: …where you have Oberon, you have Titania, you have Puck… And Oberon and Titania in that story, in my mind, have much more of an elf thing going on, but they are the respective King and Queen of Fairies? The Fairy King, the Fairy Queen… but they look like Tolkien elves. And so now I’m just, like… what is a fairy? Is it some… is it a sprite? Or do you count brownies? Which are just tiny little fairies but without wings. And then, are all things magical considered fairy? Like the witches in Macbeth, are they part of some kind of fairy world, because they cast magic? Because it turns out that if you’re of the opinion that anything magical is demonic, like King James—yes, of that version—

[laughter]

Wes: Yes, this is so funny. So that guy, it turns out he wrote a book called Demonology, and he…

Oren: Oh, good.

Wes: Yeah. Hurray. And probably we shouldn’t read it, but he basically said that all demons… or, all fairies should be considered demonic entities, because they can give people power, which turns those people into witches or sorcerers. Which I think is kind of cool, because that’s the whole idea behind, like, a warlock… you know, who has a patron. And that was like 5th edition D&D, you can have an arch-fey as your patron.

Chris: Oh, cool.

Wes: Yeah. Which I’m all about. I think it’s way more interesting than a demon. But I was like, ok, so the church is clearly against anything that might be mythological or pagan, and… There was a French narrative poem from somewhere in the medieval times, like thirteenth, fourteenth century? It’s called “Sir Orfeo.”  And I’m curious… I know we did a Greek myth podcast, did we talk about the Orpheus myth at all?

Oren: Not specifically. But that’s the one where he goes down to hell, and needs to not look back, right?

Wes: Yeah.

Chris: Eurydice?

Wes: Yes. That’s exactly it. To rescue his beloved. “Sir Orfeo” is a French narrative poem that basically tells the exact same story, but Orfeo doesn’t go into the realm of the dead to get his beloved back. He goes into the fairy world, because the Fairy King abducted her.

Chris: So what that reminds me a lot of is the story “Cinderella.” Which has been around in various forms for like 2000 years. And one of the astounding things if you look at the history of the story of “Cinderella” is that there’s a magic element to it, in that there is some magical help that Cinderella gets. But depending on the period, the explanation and nature of that magical element changes, right? Depending on the time. Once it was just her mother’s ghost….

[laughter]

Chris: And other times it was… you know, that’s when we become all misogynist, it’s like “no, that’s bad, it’s God,” or just, there’s fairies… it’s anything. It could be the god Horus…

[laughter]

Chris: Just depending on the time period, that whatever that supernatural thing is, and its explanation for it, has just been swapped out to fit the culture at the time.

Oren: Thanks, Horus!

[laughter]

Wes: Yeah. So, it’s interesting. Because I think to have gone back in time a few hundred years and look at that, to just have this strong association, like… the church is saying “Fairies are evil. They trick you, and they hurt you, and they’ll kill you.” And I like how the tricky part—the tricksters—that definitely has kept, because that’s great, I love that. But it seems that maybe more of today’s notion of a “fairy” is… benevolent? Or at least leans towards doing less harm, right? More playful, maybe they’ll mess with you.

Chris: It almost feels like there’s more than one fairy in the popular imagination. There’s the Tinkerbell fairy, and there’s, like, the fey. Or the Fair Folk.

Oren: Well, I mean, it sort of depends on if you’re writing children’s stories or if you’re writing urban fantasy.

Wes and Chris: Right.

Oren: Because if you’re writing urban fantasy, you’re drawing heavily from sources like Shakespeare. Because you want the fairies to be a force to be reckoned with. They have their own weird politics and stuff like that. Whereas, if you’re doing children’s stuff, it’s like, yay cute fairies! And that’s, you know, that’s fine.

[laughter]

Oren: As long as you don’t try to combine them, like… oh, god, Changeling: The Dreaming is the worst. I hate it SO much. It takes the whole, like, urban fantasy, the fairies are divided into Courts, and they have politics and powers, but it keeps the whole “clap if you believe in fairies!” idea, so…

Wes: Nope.

Chris: Can you explain that a little bit? The “clap if you believe in…”

Oren: Okay. So “clap if you believe in fairies” is from Peter Pan, and the idea is that if you don’t believe in fairies, they die. And it’s the belief in Tinkerbell that brings her back to life. And it’s, like, a weird fourth-wall-breaking moment in the film, or it’s not… sorry, it predates the film, the film is just the one that I remember. But in Changeling: The Dreaming, they do the same thing, but they scale it up. So in Changeling: The Dreaming, if you use your powers in front of a human, it hurts you. Because humans don’t believe in you. And if you walk past a human who’s too skeptical of things, you will just, like, lose fairy-ness. And eventually die.

Wes: Hahaha. What.

Oren: And it’s the most dismal, depressing thing I’ve ever played, and I was, like, actively upset trying to play it. Because on the one hand, I didn’t feel good, because I felt like the system was punishing me for trying to do fun, cool things with these magic powers it gave me, and then I also just hate settings where skeptics are bad people. I mean, it’s like, “oh, man, why do you not believe everything you hear without evidence? You’re killing fairies, you monster!”

Wes: Although, I do just love the notion of a difficulty-tiered, aggressive NPC that ranges from, like, Apprentice to Arch-Skeptic. I think that’s hilarious.

[laughter]

Chris: So, I had an interesting experience recently with one of my stories. One of my short stories. I wrote this story that is contemporary and has little overt magic of any kind. It has some, but mostly it’s a fairly realistic story. And I have this antagonist in there, that I just wrote to be kind of a rude dude. And then I gave it to my beta readers, and many of them interpreted him as a fairy. [laughs] And this was not my intent. And so then I was like, okay, why is this guy in this modern, contemporary setting a fairy to my readers? And I had to look at that, and I found… okay, so first of all, it was at the point where they were interpreting the genre as, like, fantasy, or a gothic fairy tale. Just because they thought he was a fairy.

So first of all, he makes promises which he fulfills to the letter, but he still has it in for the protagonist. He has some kind of supernatural ability, although you can’t really tell what, but he seems to have influence over people, right, though it’s kind of unclear. But here’s the funny thing, that I think was one of the biggest things of all: he’s hosting a masquerade ball. [laughs] And that was just so… strange.

It’s like, oh yeah, the whole… I just like masquerade balls, I just like dancing, and… you know. But it’s funny to think of how much that is associated with fairies, especially since, honestly, we don’t have that many stories that include dancing. Which I think is a big pity. And dancing is one of the things that fairies are known for, especially the Fair Folk version of the fairy. The idea where we have these, like, fairy rings of mushrooms, and the fairies go in there and dance in there… Or that if you dance with the fairies, then, like, “oops, that’s a trap!” You know, you’ll be taken away. Or all of these other stories with dancing in them. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, a more recent story, had a… is about a fairy that was abducting a woman in her sleep to take to a ball, where she was forced to dance.

Oren: There’s another reason, actually, Chris, that people interpreted that story as being about a fairy, is that the way the protagonist gets to his party is to go deep into the woods, past the point where the modern… you know, where their GPS can guide them…  into increasingly, like, surreal areas. And that whole concept is basically that you’ve walked into Faerie. Like, if the person is at all familiar with fantasy conventions and you tell them that, a lot of them will just be like, “ok, well, I guess I’m in Faerie now.” Because that’s often how you get there, is you just keep going into the Deep Forest. It’s like, what’s the Deep Forest? I don’t know. You get there if you walk into the forest enough.

Chris: Right. I mean, that’s one of the things I love about fairy lore, is the fact that it kind of mystifies the woods that are right outside your door. I just… I like that. I like that feeling of the magical nature around you, personally.

Wes: And that seems to be something that you… That, I mean, if there’s any truth we can say to how we’re approaching a fairy world, is like… you can’t divorce them from nature. You cannot. I’m sure there are stories that do, but I think for the ones that are successful, there are strong natural elements at play. And they’re in it. It’s kind of an interesting thing with the Deep Dark Wood, because, you know, cautionary tales—Brothers Grimm include certain types of fairies and stuff, that take children, and stuff like that—or people would obsess… Oren brought up Changeling, but that’s kind of the premise of Oberon and Titania’s argument in the Midsummer Night’s Dream, is that they basically, like, abducted a kid.

[laughter]

Chris: Wes, in a game I ran, where your character had this magical flower that would not leave, that would follow him around everywhere. I mean, I ended up thinking of it as kind of a dryad, ‘cause it ended up being so plant-based, but the idea was originally, like, a fairy abduction.

Wes: Oh, interesting.

Chris: Where in the game, in the session, I actually narrated… I set up how his character was really supposed to be watching this, like, game. This soccer game, and covering it, and then there was music played… I think I even played music…

Wes: You played it. It was excellently done. Yes.

Chris: I even played music during the session, and I had set up a thing, which, you know, you’d have to be careful with this, with your players… but I set up a thing where they understood that part of the game was making kind of… temptation rolls, where their characters would be compelled to do things. Although, I don’t think your character resisted at all. I think he was just like, “Oh, I hear fairy music! I’m just, like, walking off into the woods now.”

Wes: Oh, no. I was like, yep! Let’s do this!

[laughter]

Oren: Yeah, none of us… We knew what was up! We were like, no, we’re not gonna resist the call! The call sounds fun. We’re into that.

[laughter]

Chris: Yeah, so, being lured off by fairy music. And this is an actual song that’s out there, that is definitely fairies luring off a kid. That’s what the folk song is, for sure.

Wes: Definitely. That’s… yeah. That’s interesting, ‘cause thinking about another fairy story, that is more like, fairy equals magical—as a synonym—and that’s a very popular poem by Christina Rossetti called “The Goblin Market.” And for those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s basically about two sisters, and there’s goblins who have a market. And they attract people to it with song, and then you eat the goods that they barter—food, and things like that—but, you know, it’s basically poison.

Oren: Rude.

Wes: It’s an… interesting poem, to say the least. But I think that that element of, and it’s kind of interesting with your story too, Chris, it seems like in a fairy story there has to be that fairies offer something attractive. And there’s gonna be a tradeoff of some kind, right? Whether it’s good or bad, who knows? And whether it happens in this world or behind a veil is like another opportunity for exploration. I think of Morgan le Fay, who comes from I think Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur—The Death of King Arthur—was one of the first stories that really made her a character. And then jump forward a hundred or so years, in Mists of Avalon she’s like a main character where she draws on… she kind of is considered fey because she looks a lot different than others. But there’s actually a fairy world in that too, where… does she get, like, trapped in it? There’s always this element of being trapped in kind of like a timeless… party, that saps the life out of you. Or makes you forget your memories, right?

Chris: Yeah. Definitely I think part of the fairy realm, a big part of it, is the idea that you are lured down there, or kidnapped down there, and that you are trapped by the fairies, you are in the fairies’ power and you might not be able to escape. I think that’s a huge theme that happens every time that the fairy realm…

Oren: Interesting how the ways that you avoid the fairy world are also the ways that you avoid getting lost in the woods. Just a thing I noticed.

[laughter]

Wes: Don’t follow strange sounds, keep a trail, carry fire…

Oren: Don’t eat weird stuff that you find in the woods. You don’t know what that is. Just, don’t do it.

[laughter]

Wes: That’s interesting. Because I actually have a short poem here that I wanted to share.

Chris: Ooh! Yeah.

Oren: Oh, yeah?

Wes: In doing a little research… bringing up the Sir Orfeo/Orpheus thing was kind of trying to look at myth. Turns out that a lot of myths have fairy… elements. You might have to be a little flexible with how they’re being described. And something that I wish I was more familiar with is Irish and Celtic folklore, and those stories, because it turns out that that poet, W. B. Yeats, did a ton of stuff with Celtic and Irish folklore and myth, and Lord Dunsany, whom I brought up earlier, was Irish as well. So it seemed around the turn of the twentieth century there were several Irish writers trying to, like… make Irish folklore more of a thing. And I like… I’ll read this poem here in a minute, but what I like about this is it’s kind of like the fairy world suddenly intruding on your space, and still suffering those consequences.

So, this is called “The Song of Wandering Aengus.”

I went out to the hazel wood,

Because a fire was in my head,

And cut and peeled a hazel wand,

And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,

And moth-like stars were flickering out,

I dropped the berry in a stream

And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor

I went to blow the fire a-flame,

But something rustled on the floor,

And someone called me by my name:

It had become a glimmering girl

With apple blossom in her hair

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,

I will find out where she has gone,

And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,

And pluck till time and times are done,

The silver apples of the moon,

The golden apples of the sun.

Oren: Okay, Aengus, I have some recommendations for you: Don’t.

[laughter]

Wes: But isn’t… But I think the interesting thing here, with Chris’s story and the other things we’re talking about is, he kind of… fell into it. And then he got…  charmed. You know? That’s kind of like… And charm, being charmed, is like… all things fairy. Right?

Chris: Yeah. I think the imagery in that poem, where you have so much nature imagery? So much magical nature imagery, it’s fey to a T.

Wes: Yeah. Right?

Chris: It very much embodies the kind of atmosphere that we think of having this kind of like… magical, beautiful, glamorous, natural, possibly dangerous… mysterious, you know…

Wes: Yeah. It’s a little… as beautiful as it is, it’s a little sad. And that, when I was… like, fairies seem to inhibit… almost like… I think in the stories I’ve read they seem to be more extreme in their emotions, compared to your bog-standard human, you know? They’re very happy, and then they’re very sad and melancholic, and then they’re in a fit of rage! And then they want to help you. You know? Or they’ll carry a grudge forever. It’s… kind of interesting.

Chris: Yeah. I mean, I will say with that… definitely fairies are one of the folklore or fantasy races that have a kind of a gender associated with them?

Oren: Mhm.

Wes: Yeah, true.

Chris: You know, fairies are very feminine, feminized? And inherently there’s nothing wrong with that; it only becomes a problem when, a) we don’t want to make any men who are fairies or ever have them depicted as men, or we make jokes about men who are fairies being, like, gay, because, ohmygosh that guy is feminine! How funny! You know? Or… I will say that, like, the being emotional… honestly it’s hard for me to imagine there’s really a problem with fairies having that. I think that’s a neat characteristic. At the same time, if all of our fairies are women, and that’s a stereotype associated with women… like, what we don’t want to do is venture so far that we feel that “fairy” just becomes a code word for “women,” and then it’s all those emotional women.

Oren and Wes: Yeah.

Wes: That’s an excellent thing for people writing stories, to definitely keep that in mind. And it’s not that… I’m certain the literature that we have would, you know, exhibit those issues. Maybe a better thing to think about is I think that fairies tend to maybe be… chaotic, in that respect? I think of—if we’re going with men—Puck, also known as Robin Goodfellow, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has orders from his fairy king, Oberon, to mess with those humans, but he’s kind of prone to his own flights of fancy as well. Like, “You know what, I FEEL like doing this. I’m going to do that.” But all of your points are definitely valid.

Chris: I think it’s fine for them to have those characteristics. But I think that also the gender implications are something to be aware of while you’re doing it, and not to be like… if you’re subconsciously making all of your fairies women, to think about… balancing that out a little bit. And putting some men in there, and making it not just like… yeah. Again. Not making “fairy” code for “woman” altogether. Like having a King Oberon who’s doing that. I love fairy trickery, I have to say. That’s also something that just makes for great stories.

Wes: Yes.

Oren: Another thing that I find kind of interesting is the inherent contradictory concepts that fairies are all about trickery and chaos, with the idea that fairies are all about promises and oaths.

Wes: Mmm.

Chris: Mhm, yeah.

Oren: Sometimes those come from different sources, but I actually find that they coexist fairly well. Right? Is that there’s this concept of… And this can be hard to do in a roleplaying game, which is where I run into it the most because I really like Changeling: The Lost—which is different than Changeling: The Dreaming—but Changeling: The Lost is a fairy story, basically, and I’ve just found that it can be very difficult to word promises in such a way that they, like, backfire, in real time. That’s really something you want to do ahead of time, you know, in a novel. In a roleplaying game, your players will pretty much figure out ways to, like, pin you down, and be like “no, you can’t get out of that thing you promised us with clever wordcraft. We’re at least as smart as you are on that score.”

[laughter]

Oren: But you know, it’s kind of a neat concept, is that fairies are inherently chaotic but then they have these oaths that they can’t break the letter of, so they have to try to find ways around them, and if you’re clever with that I think there’s a lot of potential there.

Wes: Well, and that’s exactly why I think that the elves in Hilda are great. Because they’re all about contracts.

[laughter]

Wes: You know? They’re just rigidly adhering to, like, paperwork. And there’s nothing really chaotic about them, but… so it kind of works in that setting, it’s just subversive enough about what we THINK an elf… and in this case, the elves are not like Tolkien elves, they’re more like Christmas elves, I guess, I’m not sure…

Oren: I mean, they’re like a species of bureaucrats, is what they are.

Wes: Yeah. Exactly.

Oren: That’s what the elves in Hilda are, right. They’re like, the whole thing of Hilda walking around being like, “okay, can we, like, make peace?” and all the elves are telling her, like, “no, it’s impossible, it’s not my decision, someone else has to make it” and it’s like, “who else has to make it” and they’re like, “uhhh, we don’t know, you can’t just actually talk to the person who has the authority,” and it’s like, “oh great, I’m on the elf equivalent of a phone tree, excellent.”

[laughter]

Oren: So, you know, Hilda is of course a great show and its elves are, if not original, at least an unusual take on the way fairies work.

Wes: So, since we brought up elves, I’m just curious, like… fairy world. Your thoughts? Like, should… does there need to be a veil, and what types of beings populate it? Because, you know, there’s elves in Tolkien, but they kind of just… exist? I mean, certainly they’re in forests, but it’s not like they’re unknown things. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything stopping Legolas from going shopping in Gondor, right?

[laughter]

Oren: I mean, he wouldn’t be seen in that neighborhood. [laughter] Ok, so in my mind I draw a pretty firm distinction between “Tolkien elves” and “fairies,” because Tolkien elves are like… humans+1? They’re just, like, better humans in every way. Which is why I don’t really particularly like them. Except when they’re evil. I love making evil Tolkien elves. That’s my favorite.

Wes: [evilly] Yes. Yes.

Oren: To me, more fairy things… I would say that in order to get the full effect, you generally want a separate world. I just get disappointed when I read a story and the fairies are, just… too human? The Artemis Fowl stories are like that. Where fairies are just, like, humans, down to… they even have the same stock characters of, like, “this is the gruff police boss, and he’s two weeks from retirement!”

[laughter]

Oren: I’m like, okay, sure. And it’s just a little disappointing. And you know, Artemis Fowl’s a children’s book, so I get that they don’t want to make things too weird for the kids, but at least for me, the thing that makes fairies interesting is having them be human enough that we can recognize things about them, but then having them be fundamentally different in some way that makes it harder for us to relate to them. And you can adjust that slider to different levels. I mean, back to Changeling: The Lost, they actually do this very well, where the further you go into Arcadia, as it’s called, the weirder things get. And near the border you have your more human-type fairies, many of which are actually humans that were kidnapped and changed by Arcadia. But you also have your goblins and what have you, that are not human but are more human-ish. And then if you get further into Arcadia, you end up with the true fey, who are almost more like Great Old Ones in how, like, weird and destructive they are. And that’s certainly not the only way to do fairies, but I found that concept very… it really got me. I was really hooked. To the point that I have tried to run Changeling: The Lost a number of times, even though I don’t actually think its system is very good. I still really enjoy the concept.

Chris: Yeah. I would say there’s just… there has to be some sort of mystery around the fairy realm, and I think also around entering it. If there’s just, like… if you can just put down a path on the ground, and have a little sign saying “Fairy Realm, this way” and people can just reliably walk down that path in the same direction at any time or date, and always reliably get into the fairy realm, it just doesn’t feel very… fairy-realmish.

Wes: Yeah. Agreed.

Chris: And I think the veil is neat, because you can, you know, cross the area but somehow you didn’t end up in the fairy realm. And you have to… if there’s, you have to dance around in a circle on the full moon, and pick some berries and eat them, you know, then suddenly you can walk into the fairy realm… that feels a lot more fairy-ish.

Wes: Yeah. Some kind of rite of passage.

Chris: Some rite of passage, or some trick. Some hidden doorway, like, you know… a door in a tree that if you find the right place, or say the right word, will open and let you climb down, or… I think that kind of… the idea that there’s some sort of boundary… It’s like a masquerade, honestly. In urban fantasy. The idea that there’s a magical realm that most people don’t see or know about. I feel like the fairy realm is kind of that realm. But, like, a lot more… not friendly to humans.

Oren: Right. And also, a typical masquerade is like… that magic is all around us, that like your neighbor could be an elf, or whatever, but you just don’t know. Whereas the fairy world is usually, like, separate, and there are ways to get there, but it’s at least usually supposed to be difficult. My favorite way of getting into the fairy world is, there’s a trick to it, but more importantly, going into the fairy world requires some kind of change or sacrifice of yourself. Like, if you want to walk through the hedge, some of its thorns will snag dreams out of your head, and you will never have those dreams again.

Wes: Oooh.

Oren: Or, like, when you go into the fairy world, you have to pay with your ability to taste one type of food.

Wes: Yes, yes.

Oren: Or things like that, right? Doesn’t always necessarily need to be a sacrifice. Sometimes it can be a change. But, like… I like the idea that getting into the fairy world requires more than a kind of knowledge. You need to be willing to DO something, that if you do it too many times, it starts to question what you actually ARE, at that point.

Wes: That makes sense. And that’s great, because, you know, we talked about fairies being portrayed as evil, or benevolent, but I think more often than not they tend to lean towards… maybe they’re in it for kind of their own reasons, which might just be neutral if we’re talking alignment. And that element of cost is… such a good way to think about that, right? It’s like, you might get something good, but you have to pay. There’s nothing like… you can’t just say, “Welcome! You’ve figured it out!” There’s good AND bad in order to get into this place. Oh, I like that, Oren. That’s great.

Oren: I mean, that’s my preference. The beautiful thing about fairies is that it is a ridiculously wide section of tropes and ideas, and so there’s a lot you can do with it. I just… I like my fairies on the creepy side. That’s how I like my fairies.

[laughter]

Wes: That’s as good of a place to end as anything, isn’t it?

Oren: Yeah. We are definitely out of time. So thank you, everyone, for listening. Before we go, I’m just going to give a quick thanks to two of our patrons: Kathy Ferguson, who teaches political theory in Star Trek, and Ayman Jaber; you can find his stuff at thefantasywarrior.com. If anything we said piqued your interest, you can leave a comment on the website at mythcreants.com. Otherwise, we will talk to you next week!

P.S. Our bills are paid by our wonderful patrons. Could you chip in?

 

Comments

  1. Dvärghundspossen

    In Sweden, way back, people used to believe that fairies could suck the life force out of unbaptized children if you left them unsupervised… The fairies would suck the babies’ fingers, and the children would grow gradually weaker and thinner and eventually die. That’s some creepy shit.

  2. Dvärghundspossen

    Also: There’s this old myth from the village where I grew up, about a little black elf with a gold treasure. He was supposed to be very small, and riding around in a cart pulled by a black chicken. If you saw him, and managed to follow him to his home without closing your eyes even once, you’d get his treasure. But if you closed your eyes even for a millisecond he’d disappear.

    I think there are versions of this myth all over the place.

    • Deana

      I like your version better. The Scotch-Irish one I grew up with has the sidhe capturing your soul if you took your eyes off him/her/it. Gender was always somewhat flexible when it comes to sidhe.

  3. Dvärghundspossen

    In Scandinavia, we also have this old ballad called “Mister Olof and the fairies”.

    The story goes like this: Mister Olof is out horse-riding, basically just minding his own business when he stumbles upon a fairy dance party. The fairy princess asks that he dances with her, but Olof says he can’t possibly do that since he’s getting married the next day (I’m not sure if “dancing” is a euphemism?). The fairy princess gets pissed off, Olof tries to get the hell out of there as fast as he can on his horse, but she hurls a curse after him, and he gets sick. Shortly after he’s returned home to his mum he dies. Then his mum also dies. The next day his fiancée wonders why he doesn’t show up at church for their wedding. She goes to his house to check on him, and then the curse hits her too and she dies as well.
    The end.

    I’ve always suspected poor Olof was in a no-win scenario as soon as the fairy princess laid eyes on him. Things would likely not have gone well if he HAD danced with her either.

    • Cay Reet

      There’s actually a German poem about this story as well. That poor guy had no chance to survive it.

  4. Sam Victors

    The story I’m currently writing is set in Otherworld, which is basically Fairyland.

    This story of mine is similar to Labyrinth, but is a somewhat loose retelling of an Andersen Fairy Tale. In this Fairy Otherworld, there are different species/classes of Fairies/Fays, the Common Fairies are traditionally called the Fair Folk, with more than one Monarch.

  5. Oren Ashkenazi

    Behold, a transcript!

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