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Keep the Fae at Bay

Now that we’ve covered a little about what fairies are, let’s get into the shenanigans they love to participate in. 

Fairies are notorious for kidnapping in a variety of ways. Luring a vulnerable person away from their home with lights or music and then grabbing them once they are out of sight of their loved ones; inviting you to a woodland rave while conveniently forgetting to mention the ring of mushrooms you walked past to get to the keg was a passageway into Fairyland from which you will never return; or straight-up snatching a baby out of the crib while the parents are in the other room, leaving a changeling or enchanted log in their place. 

The motivations for these kidnappings are as varied as the methods. Babies are often taken to replace a deceased child, or to adopt when fairy parents have been unable to conceive on their own. Adults are lured away for revenge over petty slights, to be forced into servitude for hundreds of years in the immortal realm, or just because they think it’s funny. 

Fairies are also tricksters and enjoy playing pranks. They will knot your hair while you sleep, steal small items and hide them in random places, and lead you down twisting paths until you’re hopelessly lost. If you’ve offended them grievously enough, the harmless tricks will grow increasingly dangerous and they’re not above a little light murdering by orchestrating fatal “accidents”. 


So how does one protect themselves against fairies or otherwise ensure they are not a target of their ire? The tales vary. The most common method of preventing fairies from stealing and harassing you is good old fashioned bribery in the form of dairy and sweets. Fairies are known for their cravings for honey and cream, pastries, and other candies. Leaving out a little cream and some sweets for them to find will ensure they leave your house alone as long as the goodies keep coming. Almost like paying a protection fee to a miniature mob.

You can also protect yourself by surrounding your person and property with things they find repulsive or frightening. Iron nails in your pockets, in doorways, buried on the front walk, etc, is often listed as an effective deterrent, as are horseshoes hung over the door. Anything made with iron can be used as a barrier given that fairies cannot touch the stuff, much like vampires with silver. Iron weapons cause wounds they cannot heal and iron shavings surreptitiously sprinkled into a drink can work as a deadly poison to them. 

Certain plants are said to keep them at bay, such as four leaf clovers, St. John’s Wart, and sage. Some of the lesser fae (not members of the nobility) have a strong dislike of loud, discordant sounds and can be chased off by bells, clanging, or sirens. Word play and wit are also weapons against them. If you can confuse them, dodge their questions, or talk circles around them, they will become frustrated and leave in search of more easily convinced prey. Under no circumstances should you reveal your name or anything they may covet and wish to gain off you. They will use these as a method of control or negotiation. 

If you do not have any items on hand which might drive off or bribe a Fae and you don’t wish to engage in a battle of words, the best course of action is inaction. Is there beautiful music just off the path? Don’t investigate. Is there a flashlight seemingly beckoning you just off the road? Don’t follow it. Did you hear some suspicious scrambling in your kitchen in the middle of the night? No, you didn’t. Their power lies in getting a reaction out of you, so don’t give them one and they won’t have any power.

Just remember this one important thing when it comes to fairies, as voiced by Sarah when she realized she didn’t have to play Jareth’s game if she didn’t want to in The Labyrinth: you have no power over me. 

In my alternate universe setting Grymveil, fairies feature prominently. Whether it's a goblin concession stand clerk or a High Fae runway model, the Fae are a part of everyday life. Even though they have blended into modern society, they still retain some of their flighty, tricky characteristics. I enjoy being able to swirl the antiquated fairy stories with urban conventions to explore how fairies may have evolved over time and how some of the old beliefs may still be relevant. I hope to create a world where the magical mixing with the mundane not only make sense, but provide entertaining challenges for my characters.

Until next time, Stay Magical!


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