Since it’s National Fairy Day, Morgan Daimler has shared a free post on their Patreon with nine things everyone should know about fairies. Here’s a small excerpt - feel free to read the full thing at the link below! It’s all great information!
The subject of fairies is a complex one and with the amount of good, bad, and ridiculous material floating around online there’s a lot of confusion. Here are some basic things about the subject that everyone should know:
The Word Fairy Is A Catchall Term - Although we use fairy as if it were specific the word is and has always been a generic term applied to a range of beings. Its history goes back 700 years in English and it was used interchangeably with elf, goblin, imp, and incubus for most of its history; the oldest meaning of fairy related to the place and later as an adjective for beings from or with the nature of that place. There are seem groups who use fairy now to indicate a specific type of being, what Paracelsus would have called Sylphs, but across the breadth of folklore and academia the word is still used as a catch all. This is important to know because when you see an older account talking about a fairy encounter, or a journal article talking about fairies, or the word fairy used to translate a term like the Korean yojeong it is inevitably being used in the wider generic sense, not for a small sprite.
The Unseelie and Seelie Courts Are Uniquely Scottish - Appearing in urban fantasy of the late 20th century as a ubiquitous division of all fairies into a sort of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ grouping, the idea of the Seelie and Unseelie courts comes from Scottish folklore specifically. As much as its popular today - and sometimes convenient - to divide all fairy beings by these arbitrary lines in folklore we do not find the concepts outside of the areas they originated in, that is the southern areas of Scotland specifically. The words themselves come from Scots and have a long and interesting history as applied to fairies, which goes far beyond a simple good/bad dichotomy. This is important to know for two reasons: firstly because the terms apply, really, only to Scottish folklore and not elsewhere, and secondly following that because when you see them being applied elsewhere - for example a book or article talking about Irish fairy beings or monarchs being in one court or another, or claiming English fairy monarchs rule either court - its a red flag that what you are reading is fiction not folklore.
→ Read the full post: 9 Things Everyone Should Know About Fairies - Morgan Daimler