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  • The Rise of the Vegan Fairies December 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern , trackback


    On this site we have frequently examined how fairies have changed through the generations. For example, the way that fairy wings have gone from being a minority convention in art to being practically de rigueur for the fay; or the way that the size of fairies has changed. However, these are superficial baubles in the end: surface impressions. There is another change which is much more important.

    In the Middle Ages (and in some very rural parts of Europe up until the Second World War) fairies were a mirror of human communities: see this post for an in depth look of the mirror fairy. Human and fairy communities were symbiotic. Humans depended on the fey for the fertility of their crops, for good weather, and their cunning men for magical power for healing and cursing. Fairies depended on humans for midwives, babies and they occasionally borrowed men to fight in their battles. Fairy communities operated almost identically to human communities. There were marriages, there were families, there were babies and there were even occasional funerals.

    This changed. Today fairies are anything but this. Where is the fairy village under the hill? The fey are constantly associated not with a mirror community, but with a rose bush or a birch or just possibly a garden. In other words they are spirits of vegetation. One of the results of this is that fairies are rarely now glimpsed as a community in modern fairy sightings. They tend to be individuals or even when glimpsed collectively they have a hive-like quality: all limbs of the same organism. It is not to say that the mirror fairies were not connected to fertility and the land, only that that connection was veiled and indirect: a war in fairyland would lead to a famine in the world etc.

    Modern fairy beings are typically what folklorists refer to ‘solitary fairies‘, but what would perhaps be better called ‘goblins’. If you want a supernatural community today probably your best bet are the aliens that invade abductees bedrooms. Just saying… Other thoughts: drbeachcombing AT gmail DOT com