On the Fairy Road

An exploration of historic and modern Fairy beliefs, and more generally Irish-American and Celtic folk beliefs, from both an academic and experiential perspective.

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Morgan Daimler

Morgan Daimler

Morgan has been a practicing witch since the early 90's with a focus on the Fairy Faith and fairylore. She has written over two dozen non-fiction and fiction books on topics related to Irish mythology, witchcraft, fairy folklore, and related subjects. Morgan has also taught workshops on these same topics across the United States and internationally. In her spare time she likes to study the Irish language in both its modern and historic forms.
Recommended Reading: the Academic Version

Annotated Reading List

I’ve been asked recently to provide a more indepth recommended reading list for people interested in researching fairies from a more academic angle. I have previously in various places offered short lists but never a longer one, so it did seem like a good suggestion. Today I’m going to write about many of the books I have found valuable in my own personal studies, and I hope that will in turn be helpful to others. These are specifically academically focused works, rather than more general sources, which means they were written by people working within the field they were writing about (or a closely related one) or published by university presses, as far as I am aware.

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Prayer to Brighid for Healing

I wrote this in 2016 but it seems like something that needs to be shared now, so I wanted to offer it here. 

Brighid is the modern name of the pagan goddess Brig and also the name of a Christian saint, bot of which are associated with healing. Brighid is a complex figure whose stories are woven through Irish mythology and folklore but who can often be hard to pin down. She appears as a member of the Tuatha De Danann in the Lebor Gabala Erenn and the Cath Maige Tuired, and is referenced as a goddess in the Sanas Cormaic. There are several pseduohistorical figures in the Ulster cycle which are thought to possibly be Brighid by scholars like Kim McCone. And Saint Brighid is found across an array of material and in the modern catholic faith. These figure and stories intertwine among each other and blur together in both history and myth. So this prayer calls on Brighid in all her many forms. 

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Actions, Consequences, and Fairies

  I tend to write quite a bit about the more dangerous Otherworldly beings and dangers more generally of interacting with the Otherworld. Some people find that off putting and I understand why but I feel its' important to offer a counterbalance to the more widespread view out there, which is decidedly in favour of a kinder, gentler, more helpful view. In a perfect world we would see balance and an understanding that the Other, like anything here in the human world, is about the potential to help or harm based on a huge array of factors; unfortunately that isn't the world we live in. For too many people it is easy to justify ignoring the potential risks in favour of focusing only on the potential advantages. So today I want to talk about some of the factors that are involved in how these interactions go.

Firstly to be clear, yes the Good Folk can be helpful and can take a liking to humans without any clear reason. There are many examples in folklore and modern accounts of encounters with the fey folk that end well or are inexplicably beneficial. I want to start with that up front so there's no confusion that I'm only saying they are dangerous. 

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Rejecting Dualism With Fairies

I have never personally understood dualism very well, although it seems to run rampant in many corners of the pagan community. In my particular focus on fairies and fairylore I also see this dualism expressed in the idea that some people have that fairies are either good or bad, or in some views must be wholly good, or in others wholly bad. I tend to reject these concepts but I think its important to discuss why.

To begin let's start with what dualism is, so we're all on the same page, because there are several definitions. For our purposes here the meaning we are using is that of a worldview that divides things into the opposing groups of good and evil. In cosmology this is often expressed through the idea of powerful benevolent deity/deities in opposition to malevolent cthonic or entropic forces. The benevolent forces seek to preserve or improve the human world while the opposite forces seek to destroy it; that which seeks to preserve is labeled by humans as 'good' while that which seeks to destroy is called 'evil'. 

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Someone on social media asked me what my favorite translations of [old/middle] Irish material where and I thought it would be good to answer the question here. 

 

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Thoughts and Samhain and the Otherworld

As Samhain approaches we see many references to the idea of a veil between worlds thinning; an idea that I have previously rejected. I know that many people embrace the concept either figuratively or literally but for myself I’ve always seen the intersection of this world and the Otherworld not as a veil but like a shoreline where earth and water meet. However after re-reading a post by Ireland’s Folklore and Traditions  https://irishfolklore.wordpress.com/2018/10/31/from-ancient-samhain-to-modern-halloween/ recently I’m reconsidering my own views to a degree.

My understanding of references to the veil, with the up front admission that it something I am looking at from the outside, is that people tend to approach it two ways. Either it’s seen as an actual barrier of some sort that separates the human world from the Otherworld, or it is a barrier in the minds of humans which obscures perception of the Otherworld and its denizens. While I can respect that other people find value in this concept it has never worked for me. I don’t see there being a barrier, per se, of any type separating the two realities rather I believe that they are something like oil and water where their very nature acts as a separator even though they are in many ways conjoined. In the same way the idea of the veil being personal to each human while closer to something I can understand doesn’t sit quite right with me, perhaps because it seems to involve too many diverse factors to creating a unified experience that would lend itself to everyone agreeing this veil is thinner at certain times. And again, I’ll repeat I do understand that this concept works well for many people and I am not trying to argue against it merely to explain my own thoughts around it.

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Seeing The Shape of Folklore: From Popculture to Source Culture

One of my favourite things to contemplate is the connection between folklore as its found in the living cultures, particularly the Celtic language speaking cultures, and folklore as its manifested in popculture. I have written articles about aspects of this and even presented a paper at the University of Ohio for a conference they had in February of 2019. There are so many diverse factors that influence and shape the way that folklore is preserved within a source culture and the ways that that same material is taken, reshaped, and spread throughout popular culture. 

As I was thinking about this all today, and particularly the ways that popculture reimagines older and existing folklore it reminded me of something. There was a time in Europe when very few of the educated elite there had been to Africa, especially the interior, and so descriptions of animals found there - and more to the point artwork depicting them - were quite fantastical. For example the image with this blog was created by Albrecht Durer in 1515, based on  a written description and rough sketch he had seen although he personally never saw a living (or dead) rhinoceros. 

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