Types of Fairies: an Overview

Written by Mimosa
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Fairy, Faery, Fay, Fae, Feri, The Good Folk

compiled and written by Mari Powers

Who are fairies? So many names, so many definitions:

  •         Humans with Fairy DNA or “Touched by the Fae”
  •         Several Pagan Spiritual Paths
  •         Radical Faeries
  •         Spirits of Nature
  •         Our “cousins”, another more evolved humanoid species
  •         A “star seeded” race of beings here on earth

Fae may mean those who are Fairies or Faeries, or sometimes the ones who practice the spiritual path Feri, the Radical Faerie or another Faery faith. Fay can also be those humans who are part Fae, or who have been “Fae touched”; altered in some way by contact or a journey to the a land the Fae inhabit.

In other cultures:

Faerie is old French for the “Land of Enchantment”. This word evolved from a place to several variations in spelling which came to mean a race of beings. An example comes from Ireland is the word “Sidhe” (shee), which used to mean a fairy mound, and came to mean the “royalty” of the Fairy race(s). Victor Anderson, Founder of the Feri spiritual path, said that “Fae” means magic and “ry” means its practice — like the “ry” in carpentry. Faery (Feri) means those who are, and practice magic, i.e. creating magical actions and constructs.

But that’s just the beginning; these magical beings go by many other names: The Little People are all around the world, and some are not so little. Many are said to be shape shifters who can change size and appearance at will. Some are local and said to be tied to the land where they live, and others are travelers. My rudimentary list of some Fae around the world is very limited; intended to show how widespread the belief in them is, and reveal variations of form. Think of this list as a place to begin further research.

Dahomey (Africa) – Aziza are Friendly Fairy Forest Dwellers – The Aziza are a beneficent fairy race. Living in the forest, they provide good magic for hunters although they can be quite shy at time. They can, and have given practical and spiritual knowledge to people, including knowledge of the use of fire. They appear as little hairy people and are said to live in anthills and silk-cotton trees..

East India – Deva – some Hindu Deities, Buddhist super humans and nature beings assisting in growing and attached to trees, plants, flora and fauna; and sometimes to rivers, mountains and other natural geographies.

England – The Faery Queen named Britannia and her relatives. Her Priestesses are said to reside on the Isle of Avalon where ancient ways are taught and maintained. This realm was hidden from most humans after the time of King Arthur and Camelot.

Inuit (Eskimo) – Ijarait – shape shifters who live in two worlds and sometimes take human children as changelings. They are also said to mate with humans upon occasion, leaving part Fae children in this world.

Ireland – Tuatha de Dannan (also called Sidhe) – Individual and long lived beings of great power. Other Fae who are spirits of the local or plant world are often referred to as “hiving fairies”; many beings with shared minds. The Sidhe are traveling royalty, with individual minds, agendas and personalities. They are also said to take human children as changelings and mate with humans.

Germany – Elves who are the protectors of the great forests, and Dwarves who are awesome miners and metal workers. From this country comes the tales of “Elf Shot”, deadly arrows made by the Dwarves for the Elves.

Cherokee – Nynneh (Travelers): A supernatural spirit race which is friendly towards humans, particularly towards the Cherokee tribe. Nunnehi are very strong and sometimes intercede in battle on the Cherokees’ behalf. Like Little People, Nunnehi are usually invisible but sometimes show themselves to humans they like (appearing as regal looking human warriors.) Their name is pronounced similar to nun-nay-hee.

Indonesia – Peri: Beautiful and sensual Fae who feed the life force to other life forms; also found in Persia.

Japan – Kitsune, who are similar to Elves, yet often prefer to take the form of a fox and can be androgynous. They can be clever tricksters. Also, there are the Tanuki, who prefer to take the appearance of raccoon. They are a lusty bunch who love sex and food in equal measure.

Malaysia – Pari-Pari – These Fae are related to the Peri from Persia or Indonesia.

Persia – The Peri have been mentioned already. Persia is also home to the Ifrit, the original Genie who grant carefully worded wishes and are a race of Fae tricksters, as well.

Tibet – Dakini – Female Fae who practice Tantric Yoga and are referred to as “She who transverse the skies”, or “She who moves my space.”  They are said to bestow the gifts of psychic abilities on chosen humans.

Elementals are sometimes classified as Fae, though some will argue that definition.

Gnomes are Earth Dwellers

Undines are Water Merman or Mermaids

Sylphs are Winged Air Spirits

Salamanders are Fire Elementals and Shape Shifters

As I said, this is a brief overview of a set of words that are often used these days. Think of all the places in the world, and the people within those places, that I did not mention. This is just a starting list from which to do further research on the world wide Faery reemergence. Here are some artists and bards that work with the fairy realm:

Graphic Artists: Brian Froud, Stephanie Law, J’te Argent, Paul Rucker, Helga Hedgewalker

Bards: Elaine Silver, Karen Alexander, Gary Standler, Francesca De Grandis, Gwydion Pendderwen, Blackmoor Night, Sharon Knight, Thorn T. Coyle, Jim Alan

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