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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Sources for Working with Fairies

Since I am asked pretty regularly for opinions on specific books relating to Fairies or more generally recommendations on the wider subject I thought I'd do a full blog on it.

My main resources are folklore, mythology, folk practice, and academic articles and books. I encourage everyone to start there. There's a large number of books I could recommend here but for a half dozen suggestions:
  1. Elf Queens and Holy Friars by Richard Firth Green. focusing more on British fairies but extremely indepth look at the earlier beliefs around fairies and how those beliefs were influenced and shaped by Christianity
  2. Emma Wilby's Cunningfolk and Familiar Spirits and her The Visions of Isobel Gowdie. Both explore beliefs intertwining fairies and witchcraft in the early modern period
  3. Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies by Claude Lecouteux. Including an array of cultural evidence across Europe that explores the connection between witches and supernatural beings
  4. The Good People edited by Narvaez. A late 20th century work that includes a variety of articles form different authors focusing on fairy belief across the Celtic language speaking countries and diaspora.
  5. Airy Nothings edited by Olsen and Veenstra. Another anthology of collected articles this book discusses aspects of fairylore across Europe within very specific contexts.
  6. Fairies, Demons, and Nature Spirits edited by Ostling. Again collected articles from various academics, but offers some very good insight into fairylore and belief and crossover with related subjects. 
When it comes to folklore my own focus is Irish and my sources are based there. There are a handful of books that are valuable here from Lysaght's 'The Banshee' to Sneddon's 'witchcraft and Magic in Ireland', but the best resources in my opinion are from people in the various communities actively recording the living folk beliefs. This would include Michael Fortune on Youtube, Lora O'Brien, Circle Stories on Facebook, Anthony Murphy of Mythical Ireland, and the website. For people who have a different focus I recommend seeking out solid resources within that culture. 

I would also add to the above:
  1. Katherine Briggs is a good resource to begin with. Although  a bit dated now Brigg's writing will give anyone seeking to engage in this work a solid foundation to work from.
  2. John Kruse's book Faery is a really solid intro to who and what (British) fairies are and can be foundational for engaging with them
I fully admit I am very, very picky when it comes to modern practical material. I also fully admit I am no fan of post Victorian new age fairies. This inherently affects which modern pagan-aimed books I will prefer. I always encourage people to begin by studying the folklore so that actual practice is rooted firmly in something solid.
That all said what do I recommend for actively working witchcraft with fairies?

  1.  Seo Helrune's forthcoming book or any of their online writing about elves
  2. Lora O'Brien's online fairy material. Also, not fairy specific per se but intersectional with the concepts, I'd add in Lora O'Brien's 'Practical Guide to Irish Spirituality', 
  3. Lee Morgan's Deed Without A Name is a good primer for witchcraft that intersects with Themselves, as is Morgan's 'Sounds of Infinity'
  4. Nigel Pearson's 'Treading the Mill', 
  5. Gemma Gary's 'Traditional Witchcraft', 
  6. Peter Paddon's 'A Grimoire for Modern Cunningfolk'
  7. Nigel Kackson's 'Call of the Horned Piper'

The last four are traditional witchcraft specific rather than fairy specific but offer a good workable framework to integrate fairy beliefs into if a person is seeking such a structure. 

Obviously I have also written about fairies and fairy witchcraft myself.

If older grimoire material interests you then the Book of Oberon is a good resource. Not my jam but its solid.

That's it.