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Monday, November 20, 2023

Review: Celtic Goddesses, Witches, and Queens Oracle


I have always had a weakness for tarot and oracle decks because I love to see the different artistic interpretations applied to each card. But, as anyone who is interested in them knows, the market has become really glutted with decks over the last few years, to a degree that its hard to maintain any excitement for them (at least for me). There are a few exceptions to that though and this deck was one of them. When I first heard that Danu Forest and Dan Goodfellow were putting out a Celtic themed deck I was intrigued, in part because I have long been a fan of Goodfellow's art, and love his style. Because of how overstuffed the market is I wanted to do a short review of this deck today to give other people a better feel for what the deck is and why its worth getting. 

The deck came out at the end of October and is available from the usual sources, including amazon

First let me just say that I was very impressed by the box the cards come in. That may seem like a strange place to start, but many companies have reduced the quality of the packaging for their decks, probably to save money, so its nice to get a deck that's in a really solid box. Usually when I get a deck I transfer it to a pouch if I intend to use it because I know the boxes will disintegrate in a bag or purse, but with this one I'm comfortable leaving it in the box.  Honestly I took this as a good sign before I'd even looked at the deck. 

The deck itself is comprised of 40 cards, each featuring a figure from myth from one of the Celtic language speaking cultures. The card stock is nice and heavy, the cards a good size for shuffling, and each image is distinct. The art is beautiful, and in my opinion captures the overall feeling of each being depicted in the cards, which includes a range from figures like Boudica and Melusine, to the Morrigan and Artio. If you aren't familiar with Dan Goodfellow's art you can check it out here. 

The deck comes with a paperback book, the same size as the cards, written by Danu Forest. Much more involved than the usual small booklet this runs 196 pages offering an in depth description of each card as well as a small section suggesting various spreads for divination.  Each entry has a full color depiction of the card,  the being's name, culture of origin, name pronunciation, a exploration of the figure it features in myth or folklore, suggested meaning in divination, and a short prayer.  Its a much more thorough and informational book than I usually find with these kinds of decks and I really appreciated that. The author obviously put a lot of effort into research and tried to give readers a real feel for who these beings were and are. 

Celtic Goddesses, Witches, and Queens Oracle is a wonderful combination of exceptional art and a thorough guidebook, making it an ideal divination option. The imagery is vibrant and evocative, allowing the cards to speak on their own, and the guidebook is a perfect compliment, expanding on the imagery and offering more depth to each figure. This deck could be used for various forms of divination but could also be an ideal devotional tool, helping people connect through story and prayer. The best option I've seen for this subject.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Book review: Bogowie

 Doing things a little different today, a book review of a subject I actually don't know much about. I thought it would be fun to dig into a subject that's new to me so today we're going to be talking about T. D. Kokoszka's book 'Bogowie: A Study of Eastern Europe's Ancient Gods'. This one is out through my publisher Moon Books.

Bogowie is a fascinating dive into Slavic paganism from an academic angle, covering a range of related topics from deities to folk magic. It may seem a little intimidating at first - at 430 pages its certainly not a light read and each chapter is thoroughly backed up with relevant sources, cited meticulously - but the writing style is straightforward and it includes retellings of various folktales which nicely break up the informational sections. I found the balance in the book was good and the material, while dense, was understandable and well written. 

Bogowie starts, quite sensibly I think, but discussing exactly who the Slavic people were and are  to establish the scope of the book. The author is also honest throughout that this area of study is particularly difficult in part because of the complex history of Slavic cultures and in part because of the scarcity of older sources. The author was honest that the subject gets little attention and is often dismissed outright because of the lack of written material focused around it. I appreciated having all of this covered because I felt that it gave me a good understanding of both the wider subject as well as the intentions of the author in writing the book, which appears to be a much needed addition to the existing material on the topic. 

With an Introduction and 14 chapters the book is well organized and through, but not as dry as one might expect. To start it explores various historic cultural connections between Slavic people and others, as well as laying out the development of the Slavs across history and various influences on that development. From that point the text goes on to look at specific mythic figures including Baba Yaga, Mokosh, Perun, Volos, the Zoryas, Svarozhichi, and Chernobog, while analysing deeper mythic concepts and exploring related cultural material. This includes Christian syncretism within the folk belief which I found especially interesting. The author also digs into beliefs around death and the soul, as well as exploring magical practices in the cultures and holy days. Its thorough but not, in my opinion, overwhelming, and manages to convey a lot of information in ways that hold a reader's interest. 

 The book nicely blends history, folk belief, and practice in a way that I think people will find interesting and digestible. The author does a good job of explaining the core principles and concepts he covers in ways that even people new to folklore studies will understand, while keeping the text interesting and engaging. I would recommend this for anyone who is particularly interested in Slavic paganism but also for anyone who enjoys folktales and is curious to learn something new. This one really covers all the bases.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Fairy Folklore in Coraline

In 2021 I had started a series of posts examining fairy folklore found in popular movies and shows. I've been on a bit of a hiatus from that but wanted to return to it with a look at Neil Gaiman's Coraline (the movie, not the book). Obviously I am not trying to argue here that the author's intention was to frame the story this way, although it may well have been, but what I want to do here is to highlight aspects of the movie which play into or seem to echo older fairylore. 

In truth this topic deserves a full paper and a full indepth analysis, but for our purposes here I am only going to be touching on the wider ideas in more general ways to give readers an idea of the subject. 

Spoilers ahead. 

Coraline is a stop motion film which came out in 2009, based on the book by Neil Gaiman. 
A brief synopsis: The movie opens with a short segment focused on the making of a doll, which then floats, to all appearances, into the sky at which point we segue to a girl who looks exactly like the doll. This is the eponymous main character Coraline, who we learn has just moved and is terribly bored as her parents work from home on a catalog they are writing. Coraline uses a dowsing stick to try to find an old well. She wanders to a circle of mushrooms, covering the old well, and meets her landlady's grandson, Wybie, who she says talks too much and doesn't listen. Wybie gives her the doll version of herself, saying that he had found it in his grandmother's trunk and its very old. Returning home she explores her new house, an old Victorian which has been turned into three apartments. In her home she finds a small hidden door which has been sealed off and locked, but open opening it with a very distinctive key sees only a bricked up wall. Later that night Coraline wakes from her sleep to see a jumping mouse (belonging to one of her neighbors) which leads her down to the secret door, now opening to a strange glowing tunnel. Crawling through this Coraline emerges into another world that mirrors her own, complete with alternate versions of the people she knows including her parents; they identical to the real world versions except they have buttons for eyes. The feral cat that Wybie had befriended is there as well, without button eyes but with the ability to speak. Waking up in the real world the next day she wonders if she was dreaming, so the following night she lures the mouse back and follows it a second time. The alternate world is a place that offers endless entertainment and her 'other mother' is attentive and generous in contrast to Coraline's own, busy mother. On the third day Coraline enters the secret passage while she's awake because she wants to return to the seemingly perfect world, only to find that it isn't as perfect as she'd thought. The Other Mother tells her she can stay forever if she accepts her own set of button eyes and Coraline finds herself in a battle for her own freedom and the freedom of three ghost children who had previously accepted the Other Mother's deal. Escaping home she finds that her parents have mysteriously disappeared and realizes the Other Mother has taken them prisoner to force her return. She does so and finds herself playing a game to win her freedom, the ghost children, and her parents.

Folklore in Coraline:

- doll as changeling. The main folkloric theme that might be found in Coraline is the changeling motif, or variations of it. The doll is reminiscent of the inanimate objects found in some changeling stories which are swapped for a human when they are stolen into Fairyland. The wider plot of Coraline also works with this, showing the attempts by the Other Mother to seduce her into the Other world, and ultimately to force her into it. One of the three ghost children was the sister of Coraline's landlady who disappeared many years ago; the landlady refers to her as 'stolen' which again echoes changeling folklore. The entire concept of something Other Worldly trying to lure a child away to steal them from the human world is, of course, the basic premise of changeling folklore.

-Other Mother as fairy. Another strong theme throughout the movie is that of the Other Mother as a fairy. While in the story she is more explicitly tied to spiders one can read her depiction as reflective of wider fairylore. She is initially identical to Coraline's mother, but with button eyes, but when Coraline begins to defy her she loses that form, transforming into something monstrous and only loosely resembling a human. Both the cat and the ghost children warn Coraline the the Other Mother is powerful but inhuman, having created everything that Coraline sees in the Other World to trap her (and the other children) but who is incapable of love. Her attempts at mothering are monstrous, marked at first by excess and then by cruelty as she alternately seeks to endear Coraline to her then to force her affection. The ghost children also tell Coraline that once they had given in to her the Other Mother consumed their lives, reminiscent of stories of the more predatory fairies. It is also clear as the movie progresses that the Other Mother is un control of her world and her punishments for those in that world who disobey her are harsh. 

- 'other' world. The existence of the other world is also strongly reminiscent of fairy folklore, which suggests the existence of both the human world that we are familiar with and another world which is adjacent to but separate from the human world, which is more magical and follows different rules. The other world of Coraline is a place of wonders and impossible things, but it is a world that follows rules. As with the folkloric Otherworld it can only be reached in very specific ways (unless you are a cat) and is best reached with a guide. The other world as its created by the Other Mother caters to Coraline's desires, including a Wybie who can't speak and must listen. 

- fairy ring. The movie begins and ends with Coraline stepping into a fairy ring; initially right before she receives the doll/changeling and then ultimately as she banishes the remnants of the Other Mother and the only key to the secret door. In folklore fairy rings - rings of mushrooms - are seen as a sign of fairy presence and is believed that stepping into one can be dangerous and in some folklore that it can open a person to being stolen by the fairies. 

- mice as guides. The mice are fascinating characters in the story, owned by Coraline's neighbor who has a 'mouse circus' but acting seemingly at the behest of the Other Mother and possibly created by her or influenced by her. They act as Coraline's initial guides into the other world, but later in the story an 'other' mouse nearly betrays her, showing that they are not truly on her side. 

-cat as guide. The cat also acts as a guide, but one who is more clearly aligned with Coraline than the mice. His reasoning for helping her is unclear although he tells her very early on that the Other Mother hates cats and that the two have an antagonistic relationship. The cat offers Coraline advice and directly assists her in her 'game' against the Other Mother; he helps her in both her world and the other world.

- offer of food. The first thing that happens when Coraline meets her Other Mother is that she is offered food. In folklore eating this food would trap a person in the land of Fairy which doesn't happen in Coraline, but it still seemed noteworthy that this was her first significant interaction with the Other Mother and to me hints at the dangers of the place she is in and the subsequent attempts by the Other Mother to steal her or trap her in the other world.

- green. The colour green, strongly associated with fairies in folklore, appears in a few significant places in the movie. Coraline's downstairs neighbors advise her not to wear green, they later give her a green holed stone/planchette, and when Coraline is trying to beat the Other Mother by finding the missing souls the full moon of the other world slowly turns green (and button like). 

- eyes. There is a lot of complicated folklore around eyes even through a fairylore lens. The button eyes in Coraline seem to represent belonging to the Other Mother but may also relate to losing humanity to stay in fairy. It is interesting to note that in the ballad of Tam Lin the fairy queen tells Tam that had she known he would betray her she would have replaced his eyes with knots from trees, implying that he would have stayed loyal had she taken his eyes. In the movie this may also play into the eyes as window of the soul and the idea that taking the eyes and replacing them symbolized taking the soul. Any of these theories would play into various fairylore about stolen humans being turned into fairies or otherwise trapped in the world of Fairy. 

- passage of time. Although not a major aspect of the movie time seems to flow differently for Coraline when she is with the Other Mother. Her visits often involve more time passing in the other world than appears to pass in the real world, except when she goes through on her own and escapes, after which it seems like she has been gone for a longer period of time in the real world than had passed in the other (based on the rotting groceries on the table). When her parents are stolen and won back they are unaware of how much time has passed while they were gone. 

- holey stone. Although it may just as arguably be a planchette (a tool used with ouija boards to help communicate with the dead) the triangular green object given to Coraline by her neighbors has always reminded me of a holed stone. In folklore a holed stone is protective and also can be used to dispel fairy illusion if one pears through the stone. Coraline uses it for both purposes and her neighbors, arguing over its purpose, suggest it is good for finding lost things and also for keeping away bad things. 

- dreams as gateways. A final and subtle nod to some fairy folklore is the way that Coraline passes into the other world in her dreams the first two times she visits. While we have abundant stories of people traveling to Fairyland in physical form (as Coraline does later on) we also have stories of people going via trance or dreams. 

This has been a short list of the most prominent fairy folklore within Coraline. I hope that readers have found this interesting and that this may offer a different perspective next time you watch the movie. While not positioned as such I think there's an interesting argument to be made for Coraline as a modern changeling story. Perhaps I'll write a full paper on it one day. 

Sunday, July 23, 2023

7 Things About Irish Mythology

 Today I thought it would be good to cover some points about Irish mythology that are important for people interested in the subject to know. These include common confusions as well as helpful tips and I hope people will find it all interesting. Of course for some readers this won't be new information but for others it may be the first time they're seeing these ideas, so I'm trying to cover a range of things from common to more obscure.

  1. Irish Mythology Doesn't Equal Celtic Mythology - mislabeling of Irish mythology as 'Celtic' is a pretty common problem. Its true that Irish falls under the umbrella of Celtic culture but Irish myths are very specific to Ireland and when we do find pan-Celtic deities in different Celtic cultures their stories will be different. In other words the Irish Lugh may be a cognate of the Welsh Llew but Irish myths about Lugh are very different from Welsh stories of Llew. Calling it all Celtic and lumping it together can give people the idea that it was all much more homogeneous than it actually is. This also contributes in my opinion to the common misconception that Irish and Celtic are synonymous, rather than an understanding that Celtic is descriptive of a group of related but distinct languages and cultures. 
  2. Older Versions of Myths Aren't Identical to Modern Retellings - This isn't to say that one is better or worse or more genuine or whatever, but its important to note that there is a difference between a modern retelling of a myth which often takes liberties with the story and adds or subtracts details and the myths as they are found in manuscript sources. This is important because if someone says something is 'known in Irish mythology' then quotes a retelling from the 1980s that varies wildly from actual recorded mythology it gives readers a false impression of both antiquity and cultural validity. This has also often led to people outside Irish culture rewriting Irish mythology in ways that make it appear they are presenting older material accurately when they are not (looking at Peter Berresford Ellis here). We just need to be honest about sources. 
  3. There Isn't Any Single Source for Irish Myths - the older mythology we have which was recorded*, generally, from the 9th through 18th centuries (I'm being a bit generous with the end date) do not represent a single cohesive body of myth but rather a wide array of variations based on region, time period, and cultural influences. This gives us in many cases a variety of stories which exist in different versions which may have significantly different details - for example in one version of the Táin Bó Cuailigne it is Badb who warns the Donn Cuailigne, contests with Cu Chulainn and so on while in others it is the Morrigan who does these things. For another example the famous encounter between the Morrigan and Cu Chulainn where she appears in disguise as a princess is found in only a single version of the Táin Bó Cuailigne; in all others that episode isn't present. 
  4. Cultural Context is Important - I don't mean a vague 'Irish Culture' here but rather the culture of the time and place the story was written or told. For example its generally understood that the Oidheadh Chlainn Tuireann likely reflected the human political landscape of the time, an influence which shaped the story away from the Cath Maige Tuired (both describe the battle with eth Fomorians) and reflected the 200 years that likely existed between the composing of the Cath Maige Tuired and the Oidheadh Chlainne Tuireann. In the same way to understand several stories it would be helpful, even vital, to understand the importance of cows within the contemporary culture. 
  5. Translations and Translators Matter - this is a hobby horse of mine but it is true. There are versions of stories where the translator added their own material and versions where entire passages were edited out or not translated, and it is vital to realize this. We should not treat a translation of an Irish myth as a written in stone, word of the Gods version because the hand of the translator can profoundly effect the text we read. A great example of this is Whitley Stokes choice to omit the entire encounter between the Dagda and the Fomorian princess in the Cath Maige Tuired because he found it unfit for Victorian sensibilities or his decision to call the Morrigan a lamia in a different passage although the original text never uses that term or describes her with anything similar. Treating Stokes version as literally accurate will give a reader misconceptions about the material that will change how they understand the subject. 
  6. Not Everything Labelled Irish Mythology Actually Is - Misinformation is a problem, especially because of the popularity of Irish myth. Now its possible for something new to be absorbed into folk belief but often we find ideas outside Irish culture that are labeled as both Irish and historic and that causes problems. The Bean tighe fairy for example was created outside Ireland in the early 21st century, and the 'Irish' goddess Cana Cludhmor or Canola was invented by an American author also in the 21st century. Both of these can be found online presented as genuinely older Irish myth or belief. So its important to have some discernment before believing things you may run across. 
  7. Irish Mythology Is Still Evolving - we tend to think of mythology as historic material, and the bulk of what we have is older. But these are still living beliefs and they continue to evolve across the older myths and into modern living folk belief. We see this in the way the Lugh of mythology became the Lugh of folk belief, or the way Áine went from one of the Tuatha De Danann to a fairy queen to a human woman but all while retaining a place in folk belief. Irish culture is alive, Irish story telling is alive, and so the stories themselves are fluid and adaptable. We can (and should in my opinion) be clear about what is or isn't older belief or recorded myth but we also have to be aware of modern concepts and ideas within the living culture that include mythic concepts and beings. 

*we do not necessarily have manuscripts which have survived from the earlier dating periods but we have later copies of those manuscripts which can be dated to those periods based on the language and style used. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Freya's Cats

 The subject of Freya's cats came up recently on social media, so I wanted to share this excerpt from my forthcoming book Pagan Portals Freya. I hope this may clarify some points, as this summarizes the information we have from the older sources and may help people differentiate between new ideas and stories and the older beliefs. 

Cats – Freya is said to travel in a chariot pulled by two cats, probably wild cats. The Grimnismal doesn’t tell us or even hint at what kind of cats they may be, saying only “Whenever Freya travels, she sits in her carriage which is drawn by cats”.  The Skáldskaparmal refers to them as ‘gib-cats’ an antiquated term for male cats, possible neutered. The actual term used in the original language for the animals is vague and they have been depicted in art as everything from small house cats to wild cats, although in modern folklore and belief they are usually envisioned as large cats.

Her ownership of these cats[1] has been the source of much speculation among scholars. O’Donoghue suggest they may represent chaos as a chariot pulled by cats would seem to be a difficult option. Turville-Petre sees the cats as representing lust, saying: “The cat, as the Norse pagans must have known, is the most lascivious of beasts.” (Turville-Petre, 1964). Ellis Davidson takes the most benevolent view and ascribes the cat association to Freya’s connection to seidhr and the cat’s reputation as a supernatural animal.

In the older sources these animals are never named, however Diana Paxson in her 1984 novel ‘Brisingamen’ chose to name the cats Bygull (Beegold) and Tregull (Treegold) as modern poetic kennings of Honey and Amber[2]. These names have gained popularity across modern pagan books and can be found in several such texts given as if they are the original mythic names of the cats.

While it is generally assumed today, and has been across artwork for many years, that the cats are indeed cats there is some question around the original word used. Older translators have no hesitation to give the word as cats or tom-cats, but Grimm in Teutonic Mythology questioned whether bear wasn’t the intended term and an assortment of other animals, including weasels, have also been suggested. Despite this there is reasonable evidence that some form of either wild or domestic cat was meant and would have been understood by the contemporary audience.

page 42, Brisingamen by Diana Paxson, 1984

[1] If one can ever be said to own a cat

[2] I was told that this was a personal choice in an online correspondence with the author, however it is also publicly referenced in Our Troth, vol 1, page 373. 

Friday, May 5, 2023

All of My Fairy Writing

  I've been asked several times about what I've written on fairies by people looking into my writing on the subject. I finally decided it would just be easier to write a quick bit here about it. I'm including articles, presentations, and books. I am not including the range of my blog material on Living Liminally or on Patheos Agora: Irish-American Witchcraft or Witches&Pagans On the Fairy Road

(updated from 2020)


      “The Witch, the Bean Feasa, and the Fairy Doctor in Irish Culture”. Air n-Aithesc, vol. 1 issue 2, Aug. 2014

“Fairy Witchcraft Master class”, Spirit & Destiny, July 2016

“Enchantment in the Modern World”, Mystic Living Today ezine July 2016

“Scottish Fairies and the Teind to Hell”, Pagan Dawn, Spring 2017

“Fairy Witchcraft: Old Ways in New Days” Watson’s Mind Body Spirit Magazine, Spring 2017

“Fairies, Word and Deed” Watson’s Mind Body Spirit Magazine, Autumn 2018

“Fairy Queens and Witches” Pagan Dawn, Lammas 2019 no 212

“Queens of Fairy” The Magical Times, Oct 2019 – March 2020, issue 27

“Conceptualizing Fairyland” Pagan Dawn, Imbolc 2020 no 214

“The Power of Transformation”, Witch Way Magazine, Midsummer special issue 2020

“Fairies and the Stars”, Pagan Dawn, Lammas-Autumn Equinox 2020, no 216

“Sexuality and Gender Among the Good Neighbours: the Intersection and Inversion of Human Norms in Fairylore”, written for Revenant Journal 2020, cut, posted on; FIS newsletter 2021

“Queens of Fairy” Watkins Mind Body Spirit Winter 2021

“Imagining Fairyland”, Pagan Dawn, Imbolc issue, 2022 no 222

“The White Elephant in the Room: Racism and Diversity in Fairy Belief”, Witches & Pagans Magazine, issue 39, 2022

“Fairy Queens and Witches”, Pagan Dawn, Beltane Issue, 2022, no 223

“Finding the Aos Sidhe”, ev0ke magazine, June 2022

“Marriage and the Otherworld”, FIS newsletter, 2023

“The Aos Sidhe: The Good Folk of Ireland”, Pagan Dawn. Beltane issue 2023. No 227


On Academia Edu

(Conference Presentations)

"Álfar, Aelfe, and Elben: Elves in an historic and modern Heathen context", HWU conference 2019

"Evolution of the Fairy Courts: from Scottish Ballads to Urban Fantasy", OSU Fairies and the Fantastic Conference 2019

“Unseely to anti-hero: The Evolution of Dangerous Fairies in Folklore, Fiction, and Popular Belief” Hertfordshire University’s ‘Ill Met By Moonlight’ conference, 2021

"Fairies as 'Other': Gender and Sexuality Across Western European Fairy Belief" Folklore Open Voices: folklore for all, folklore of all conference, 2022



A Child’s Eye View of the Fairy Faith, 2012 (out of print)

Pagan Portals: Fairy Witchcraft, 2014

Fairycraft 2016

Fairies: A Guidebook to the Celtic Fair Folk; 2017

Travelling the Fairy Path 2018

Pagan Portals Fairy Queens 2019

A New Fairies Dictionary 2020

Pagan Portals Living Fairy 2020

Pagan Portals Aos Sidhe 2022

Pagan Portals 21st Century Fairy 2023

Monday, May 1, 2023

Bad Meme: Beltane Edition

 Several years ago I had done a few posts seeking to clarify confusion around popular things on social media relating to specific pagan holidays including Yule, Samhain, and 'Ostara'. I've never done one for Bealtaine mostly because I haven't seen a huge amount of misinformation about it being shared around. That is starting to change, at least a bit, so today I thought I'd tackle a couple of things I've seen recently that need some clarification. 

  People are free to believe what they will from the memes and such that go around, of course, but I think its important to be clear on what the sources are, especially when they are being presented in deceptive or inaccurate ways. Or put another way you believe whatever you want to but be honest about the origins. 

fireplace, Gleann Garbh, Ireland 1 May 2018

There's a couple memes going around claiming that folklore or legend says on Beltane the queen of fairies rides around on a white horse and if you sit quietly under a tree you may see her. If you look away she'll pass by, if you look at her she may take you into Fairy for 7 years. This meme usually includes an appropriately mystic looking image.

Alright. So. The quote with the memes is an excerpt from a much longer article, circa 2000, written by Christina Aubin, titled 'Beltane'* which was originally posted on the now defunct witchvox site. This portion seems to be a mashup of some actual folklore, the ballad of Thomas the Rhymer, and pure wish fulfillment. Let's take this a piece at a time then:
Folklore: Yes the fairies are out and about on and around Bealtaine. Yes this time of year you may see a fairy Rade or otherwise encounter Themselves.
The fairy queen (generic) is often but not always said to ride a white horse, when she rides out, which occurs at many different times of year (the most common associated with the white horse is probably Samhain).
The Ballad: in one specific ballad, Thomas the Rhymer, the human protagonist is lying under a tree when the fairy queen comes by and compels him into her service for 7 years. There's no date or time of year specified. Thomas seems to have been specifically chosen, is returned after 7 years and then taken again when he is much older, led by a deer who he believed was sent by the fairy queen (according to folklore).
Wish Fulfillment: there's no Irish or Scottish folklore suggesting that sitting under a tree on Bealtaine will let you see fairies. There's also no support to the idea that looking away will make them ignore you or that looking at them will grant the possibility of being taken by them for 7 years. You cannot influence the fairy queen into this.
Folklore (again): whether or not you see the Good Neighbors coming has zero direct affect on what they might do to you, in fact passing invisibly to human sight is a hallmark of fairies in folklore. It is true that its advised to pretend you don't see them if you stumble on a group engaged in an activity but that's because in many accounts if they know you see them they react violently. Which brings us to point 2, making it clear you are looking at them ends really badly as often as not.
They take humans they choose to take and while yes a percentage return after 7 years or are taught valuable things, many become base servants (think no pay, cleaning stables, drudgery), breeding stock (exactly what it sounds like), or entertainment (fun for them not you). There's a reason that we have massive amounts of material about protecting against fairies and escaping from them or rescuing people from them, because in many stories the human is taken against their will and their fate may not be pleasant.
   Yes you can safely engage with fairies. But. But caution is always advised. Would you hang out in a park and trust any random human who wandered by and started giving you orders? Fairies are not universally benevolent any more than humans are. And very few of us could qualify as a modern day Thomas the Rhymer.

   Another portion of Aubin's article is also sometimes included which suggests that in Irish folk tradition leftover food on May Eve would be given to the Good Folk as an offering or buried for them.
  Firstly it is an Irish folk belief that you don't give away any fire, salt, or food on Bealtaine lest the luck of your house be stolen. See Dáithí ÓhÓgáin's 'Irish Superstitions', Seán Ó Súilleabháin's 'Nósanna agus Piseago na nGael', or Danaher's 'The Year in Ireland' for discussion of this folk belief if you are interested. It was a custom in some places to bleed the cattle, or mix human blood and milk to give to the Daoine Maithe on May Day morning, but this was done outside the home, usually at a sidhe, and was seen as a way to divert or avert the Good Folk's potential maliciousness. you are, basically, bribing them.
   Secondly you don't give the Daoine Uaisle leftovers. Its not done, because the belief is that they deserve and want the best you have to give not the dregs. The top of a still of alcohol is theirs, as is the best of the harvested crops and milk (see MacNeill's 'Festival of Lughnasa'). So while food offerings of various kinds are traditional, giving leftovers from your own meal or food wouldn't be.

   Another thing I've seen repeatedly this year is a prayer attributed to the Carmina Gadelica which is a set of collected folk charms and prayers gathered around 1900 by Alexander Carmichael in Scotland. The version making the rounds is a blessing prayer for Beltane which asks for blessing on the speakers life, family, livestock and crops, invoking the Horned God and triple Goddess, as well as referencing 'gods'. The problem here is that although its attributed to the Carmina Gadelica, it isn't exactly from that source- it's a paganized version by Mike Nichols from 1993 which modifies the text to remove Christian material and insert neopagan material. The original text from the Carmina Gadelica refers to the Christian trinity, apostle Paul, and Christ.
   As a good rule of thumb anything credited to the Carmina Gadelica or Carmichael which calls on neopagan deities like the Horned God or Maiden, Mother, Crone, is a modern adaptation of the Christian original. There are some references in the Carmina Gadelica to fairies of various types and which may be read as pagan if you squint at them, but the collected material is clearly Christian in tone as it was recorded.
   It's important to be very clear on the actual source, as otherwise it gives the impression that the original CG was pagan which it decidedly is not. 

Finally not a new meme idea but rather a very old one that's being repeated by various sources today in some memes is that Bealtaine (Old Irish Belltaine) is named for the middle eastern god** Ba'al or a theoretical Indo-Eurpoean god named Bel. 
   The Ba'al connection has been widely disregarded today as coming from 18th and 19th century attempts to tie Celtic culture to the middle east/Mediterranean; this same period created wholecloth the so-called god 'Saman' as deity of Samhain. Or as McKillop says it in his Dictionary of Celtic Mythology: "The 19th-century attempt to link Belenus, under the spelling Bel, with the Phoenician Ba'al is now rejected".
    The connection to the theoretical god Bel is speculation based on both the Sanas Cormaic entry which supposes Bel was from the name of an otherwise unknown deity and the connection to the Gaulish Belenos and Welsh Beli Mawr. There are no definitive agreements among scholars as to this theory and whether or not Bel was an Irish deity, nor whether Bealtaine derives from a celebration to that deity. It is possible, but should be understood as a theory not an established fact.
   The etymology of Bealtaine is uncertain but it's generally thought to come from bel teine (opening fire) or bil teine (lucky fire) with lucky fire supported as a folk etymology in Cormac's Glossary (suggesting this may have been the way it was understood historically). It is usually translated as the first of May or May Day, and the name of the month of May in Irish is based on it. 

*I will note that the article has multiple factual errors or inherent assumptions beyond this particular section.
** there's some debate about whether or not Ba'al was a specific deity of a general term that could be applied to deities or used as a title. The word means 'lord'.