The Irish Legend of the Fairy Race
According to the Irish Legend of the Fairy Race, fairies are supposed to have once been angels in heaven cast out by divine command as punishment for their excessive pride. In Irish mythology, the Feadh-Ree, or Fairy race, is also known as the Sidhe, pronounced Shee, or Spirit race.
Long before man arrived, some of the fairies fell to earth and lived there as the first gods of the earth. Others fell into the sea and built beautiful fairy palaces of crystal and pearl beneath the waves. It is told, that on moonlit nights, they come up on the land, riding their white horses, and hold merry celebrations with their fairy kindred of the earth. The earthbound fairies, who live in the clefts of the hills, join in the merry making by dancing together on the greens below the ancient trees, and by drinking the nectar from the cups of the flowers.
However, other fairies were cast out of heaven and fell into hell. These fairies are devilish, evil and malicious to the core. The devil holds them under his rule and sends them at his will upon missions of evil, tempting the souls of men by dazzling them into deeds of sin and pleasure. These spirits dwell below the earth and pass along their knowledge only to evil people chosen by the devil. This gives them the power to brew love potions, make incantations, cast wicked spells and appear in different forms with their knowledge and use of magical herbs.
The witches who have been taught by them have become tools of the Evil One and are the terror of the neighborhood. They have all the power of the fairies and all the malice of the devil. He tells them secrets of times and days, secrets of herbs, secrets of evil spells and, whether for good or evil, gives them magical powers to use for their purposes.
The children of these marriages have a mystic nature and often become famous in music and song, however, they are passionate, vengeful and hard to live with. Everyone knows they are of the spirit race by their beautiful eyes and bold, reckless personalities.
The fairy king and princes are garbed in green, with red caps on their heads tied with a golden band. The fairy queen and the great court ladies are robed in glittery silver gauze, spangled with diamonds, and their long golden hair flows on the ground as they dance on the greens.
The favorite resting place for the fairies is beneath a hawthorn tree and a human would rather die than to cut down one of the sacred hawthorns, which usually stands in the center of a fairy ring. However, humans never worship these fairy beings because, in their opinion, the fairy race is quite inferior to man. At the same time, they immensely fear the mystical fairy power and would never interfere nor offend them purposely.
The Sidhe often try to abduct the handsome human children, who are then raised in beautiful fairy palaces, and married off to fairy mates when they grow up. Humans dread the idea of a fairy changeling being left in a cradle in place of their own child. If a wise little fairy is found there, it is taken out at night and laid in an open grave until morning, when they hope to find their own child returned. Sometimes, it is told, that the Sidhe abduct a mortal child or a beautiful young maiden for sacrifice to the devil in exchange for the power he gives them. Other times, young girls are carried off to be wed to the fairy king.
Fairies are generally pure and clean in their habits and they like, above all things, a vessel of water to be left for them at night, if they may wish to bathe. Fairies are truly honest beings, who would repay a donor for the gift of a delightful wine. The great lords of Ireland, in ancient times, would often leave a barrel of the finest Spanish wine out on the window sill at night and, in the morning, it would be gone.
Fire will protect humans against fairy magic, for it is the most sacred of all created things, and humans alone have power over it. No animal or other creature has ever obtained the knowledge of how to capture the spirit of fire from where it has found a dwelling place. If a ring of fire is made around cattle, a child's cradle or from under a churn, the fairies have no power to harm the subject. The spirit of fire is certain to destroy all fairy magic, if it indeed exists.
More Stories about the Irish Fairy The Fairies Revenge The Irish Phouka
Children's Books with an Irish theme
by Tomie DePaola
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