My purpose in teaching it was to address some of the misinformation that goes around about the Dark Court, painting them as more sympathetic and more kind than they generally are, but also to discuss ways that we can work with the more dangerous members of the Othercrowd safely. That may sound like a contradiction, but it isn't - like most things in life it isn't that all of the dangerous beings should be avoided completely but that they should be understood for what they are and respected. Part of dealing with dangerous Otherworldly beings safely, probably the most essential part, is knowing your own limits, because we have to know where and what our boundaries are in order to know how we can safely push those limits.
In the course of the class I mentioned that in the area I live in I am aware of the presence of an Each Uisge [water horse] in a local reservoir* that has drowned many people over the years. These types of fairies are definitely considered Unseelie Court and have a penchant for tricking people into riding them and then eating them. Someone asked what I had done about the Each Uisge being there and I told them I tried to spread the word that it was a dangerous place. But people wanted to know why I didn't try to go in there and actually get rid of the Water Horse or fight it, so I said, rather bluntly, that a Water Horse was beyond my ability to safely deal with. People were quite surprised to hear this and wanted to know how I could know it was there and dangerous and not try to do something about it. I had to try to explain that even in folklore that sort of being is notoriously hard to deal with and extremely dangerous. It's a thousand-plus pound animal with human intelligence. Its fierce. It's fast. And if you touch it you can't let go again.
Let's be realistic here, I may be fairly experienced with these sort of things but I'm not Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And I'm not stupid. I know my limits and taking on a homicidal fairy horse on its own turf is not going to end well.
|A local water-horse free lake|
This is true with any kind of magic or working with spirits (angels scare me spitless, quite frankly with their Old Testament activities) but it should be common sense if you know you're intentionally going to be dealing with something dangerous to treat it as something dangerous. In the mundane world you wouldn't walk up to a wild bear or wolf and try to pet it, and in the same way in the non-mundane you should approach Other Folk with caution. But just like you can handle a wild animal safely if you know how and you know exactly what you personally can and can't do, what your physical limitations are, just so you can often handle spirits and Otherworldly beings as long as you know your capabilities. And even in unexpected situations you can bluff or manage your way out provided you know your own limitations - and a good grounding in folklore doesn't hurt.
There's a certain amount of risk that's required of anyone who seeks to connect to the Good People. But be wise in what you risk, and know exactly how far you can push.
*I call it an each uisge because that's the name that seems to describe it best. Its a large dark horse that lives in the water and drowns people. It doesn't physically consume them as far as I know, but it does feed on their emotions and spirit - if it isn't an actual Celtic water horse then I don't know of any local folklore that explains what it could be.