Innocent Darkness: Fairy Mythology

Posted July 12, 2012 by Sara | Novel Novice 2 Comments

One of the key components of Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear is fairy mythology. Fairies, or faeries, spring up in many cultures, under many names. Today, we’re taking a brief look at some of the lore.

What’s in a fairy?

There are many different spellings and names used to refer to fairies in various folklore. Here are some you might have seen:

  • fairy
  • faerie
  • fair folk
  • fae
  • sprite
  • pixie
  • sylph
  • nymph
  • changelings
  • will o’ the wisp

Fairy Folklore

Here are some of the definitions various cultures believed fairies may have been:

  • the dead or spirits of the dead
  • demoted angels
  • demons
  • Pagan deities

Of course, Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie once wrote that fairies came about from babies’ laughter:

When the first baby laughed for the first time, his laugh broke into a million pieces, and they all went skipping about. That was the beginning of fairies.

And still other folklore simply describes fairies as a species unto themselves, perhaps living secreted away from humans due to persecution.

Good or bad?

Depending on the origins of individual stories, fairies are sometimes perceived as good or evil creatures. Many stories have equated fairies with mischief and pranks. (Just see A Midsummer Night’s Dream for an example of mischievous fairies!)

But in other cases, illness and death was sometimes blamed on fairies. “Changelings” were fairy children left behind when fairies would steal human babies. Scholars believe that many stories about Changelings from medieval literature were apparently reflections over diseases and disorders that were unknown at the time.

In Scottish folklore, fairies who were part of the Seelie Court were dangerous, but inclined to be helpful — while fairies in the Unseelie Court were malicious and evil. (Fans of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Insruments series can see how the author adapted this lore to her novels.)

For the comments: What are some of your favorite fairy folklore?

Sara | Novel Novice
Divider

Posted in: Book of the Month Tags:

2 responses to “Innocent Darkness: Fairy Mythology

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.