Saturday, October 8, 2011

Are you a good faerie or a bad faerie?

Last night, I fell asleep contemplating Good Faeries and Bad Faeries, the Seelie and the Unseelie.  I was also thinking about my next post on paranormal sex, but mainly about the two main distinctions between faeries.  Brian Froud wrote a wonderful book titled: “Good Faeries, Bad Faeries” or “Bad Faeries, Good Faeries” depending on which side of the book you are looking at.  The illustrations in this book are amazing.  Some of the bad faeries mentioned in the book are ones that we have all experienced – Computer Glitch and A Small Pang of Regret.  My office has its very own Pen Stealer.  My favorite faerie in the entire book is the Faery of Pure Joy.  She should be called the Faerie* of Infinite Happiness because she makes me infinitely happy.  Take a good look at her and try not to smile.  I dare you.

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Seelie and Unseelie are Scottish terms – to be exact they are Saxon words that mean “blessed” and “unblessed.”  These terms are widely used by paranormal romance and urban fantasy writers to differentiate between good faeries or bad faeries, and in most cases, taking no consideration of the faeries’ origin or where they fit into the mythos.  To be fair, writers have taken the supernatural – be it vampire, werewolves, mermaids and even faeries – and made them their own.  The amount of creativity is astounding and humbling, but using these classifications incorrectly sticks in my craw and has made me stop reading books.  That and blasted wings!

The Seelie, the blessed, are the pretty faeries with delicate features and voices like angels.  They are the Trooping Faeries with a Faery Court.  These are the faeries who dance and hunt and feast.  They are benevolent towards humans, helping the poor and repaying kindnesses.  They can be seen in faery processions in all their faerie splendor.  Don’t be fooled. They can be vicious when crossed.

The Unseelie are the ugly, solitary fae.  The most famous of the Unseelie are:

The Host (you can see my earlier post on The Wild Hunt) -- These faeries are most active between Halloween and Easter. They force humans to comment heinous acts likeshooting elf-shot into their nearest and dearest.

Brown Man of Muirs – Dwarf guardian to the wildlife of the moors.  He is a vegetarian and is particularly nasty to those who hunt for sport. 

Shellycoat – Water demon shaped like an animal draped in weeds and shells.  Known to mislead travelers.  Not particularly dangerous, just annoying.

Nuckelavee – One of the most revolting and dangerous of the Unseelie.  Described as half sea-monster, half centaur, this creature kills everything that it comes across – crops, livestock and humans.  Only way to escape the Nuckelavee is to cross over a fresh water stream. 

Red Caps – The real bruisers of the Unseelie.  Red Caps are goblins who inhabit castle ruins.  The dye their caps with human blood.

Baobhan Sith – A female faerie succubus with goat feet that sustain themselves on human blood.  Usually, they travel packs of four like rabid teenage girls. 

As I was preparing for this post, it struck me how typical this all was. The good faeries are pretty and clean and the bad faeries are grotesque.  As if pretty equates goodness!  If high school teaches us anything, the opposite is usually true.

It also struck me that the Seelie, the Trooping Faeries, would have been representative of the landed gentry the common people lived under.  In some regions of the UK, the faerie folks were called “The Gentry.”  Were the peasants assigning qualities to the good faeries that they saw in or at least wanted from their social betters?  Feasting, dancing, hunting, settling disputes and charity for the poor would have been common practices of the nobles.

This next week I am planning a post on paranormal sex and don’t forget to come back to Faerie Friday where I am continuing my exhibition of German faeries

*There are many different ways to refer and spell the faerie folks – fairy, faery, faerie, fae, fey, fay, fary.  I just happen to like faerie.  I don’t like Fey because it means someone who is privy to the faerie world, not necessarily a faerie.  It’s also a Scottish term that means on the verge of death or making a decision that will lead to death.