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.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

When we look for sources of information about fairies we often, logically, turn to folklore and anecdotal accounts. And so we should as these are good, solid sources of information. But we do have another sources about the Irish Good Folk, and arguably an equally important source: mythology. In Irish culture these beings aren't limited to later folklore but appear throughout written mythology as well, going back to the 5th* century Echtra Condla.

In the earliest account, the aforementioned Echtra Condla, we find a story of a woman of the Otherworld who appears to Connla, son of the king. No one else can see or hear her but they can see Connla's interaction with her. She tells him that she is of the people of the fairy hills and describes the place as "an immortal land where there is no death or the sin of transgressions. We have our harvest feast without labor; peace cloaks us without strife". She then invites Connla to go with her, his father's druid intervenes, blocking her for a time, but eventually Connla does indeed go with the fairy woman, never to be seen on earth again. 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

We all have biases, its part of human nature, but many people don't acknowledge their biases, and may not even be aware of them. Its important in both spirituality and life to try to root out where our biases are and see how they are effecting, for good or bad, our interaction with things around us. This is something that I have been thinking a lot about today as I see the effects of bias within various fairy-interest communities. 

We relate to the world through a series of mental schema which act as shortcuts for our minds to assess situations and organize information. These schema are essential to the way the human mind works because they provide frameworks for us to relate to the world around us quickly and efficiently. However this mental process lends itself to the formation of biases, or ingrained beliefs and ideas about people and things. Biases are slightly different from schema but are part of the same wider mental process that looks for shortcuts to processing and understanding information. Biases are usually learned or taught and can be positive or negative, for example a person may have a positive bias towards teachers or a negative bias towards people who are unemployed. 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

In honor of the first snow of the year where I am, arriving today, and Samhain tomorrow, I'd like to share my translation of a 9th century Irish poem:

Scél lemm dúib:
Dordaid dam,
Snigid gaim,
Ro-fáith sam;
Gáeth ard úar,
Ísel grían,
Gair a rith,
Ruirthech rían;
Ro-rúad rath
Ro-cleth cruth,
Ro-gab gnáth
Guigrann guth;
Ro-gab úacht
Etti én
Aigre re
É mo scél.
- 9th century Irish
 
 
I have news for you:
The stag bells,
Winter snows,
Summer has gone;
Wind high and cold,
The sun low,
Short its course
The sea running high;
Deep red the bracken
Its shape lost,
The wild goose has
Raised its accustomed cry;
Cold has seized
The birds’ wings
Season of ice
This is my news.
 
 
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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Irish Pagan Resources

One of the questions I am asked fairly regularly is what books I recommend for people interested in studying Irish Paganism, as there is so much confusion out there about what's good and what's not. Obviously different people will have their own suggestions here but I wanted to write a bit about how I judge sources and also offer a selection of good books (and a few websites) that I have found to be useful for people studying Irish Paganism. 

Basic Suggestions for Judging Sources

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Respect, Fear, and Fairies

The Fair Folk are once again seeing a surge in popularity across paganism and with this higher profile has come an array of conversations about them and particularly the risk they may represent. For myself I am thrilled to see many of the younger witches out there advocating caution or even fear around the Gentry, but I have seen some people pushing back against that, particularly in the witchcraft community. Its an interesting thing to watch, as someone who grew up with a healthy caution around these beings and who has worked for years to speak about that caution and respect in every possible forum. 

I suspect that the disconnect here is both generational and cultural. If you are part of a culture that still believes in and understands these beings through the lens of older belief then you likely grew up with an understanding that they were or could be dangerous. If you are in the newest generation of witches and pagans then you may have started to run across more accurate folklore as well, as more urban fantasy1 takes inspiration from older folklore and as more advocates for traditional fairy views are speaking up. However there was a period in the 1990's and 2000's especially where most witchcraft books in the US discussed the Good Neighbours in very different terms, usually through the post-Victorian lens of guides and minor spirits. That era has produced a view among some which still persists that these beings shouldn't be feared but seen as natural friends of a witch. It isn't entirely wrong but it does lend itself to gross oversimplification and confusion, and sadly to a continued emphasis on anthropocentrism and diminishment of the fairies. 

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The most pernicious thing about racism and white supremacy may be the way that they get into absolutely everything in US culture, even things we might assume – or want to assume – are impervious to such influences. This is true of the fairy faith, that set of beliefs and practices connected to the fey folk which were brought to the US with Europeans and can be found in parallels of native American beliefs. Sadly I have seen this expressed over the years in various ways, usually intended to uphold the idea of white as normative and to push out people of colour who may be interested in fairylore or fairy based spirituality. I’ve always been a vocal opponent of such attitudes and today I’d like to tackle this directly.

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So You've Angered the Fairies...Now What?

One question I am often asked is what to do if you’ve angered the fairies. There’s a variety of ways this can happen from trespassing in there places, causing damage to those same places, taking something you shouldn’t from them, destroying a fairy ring, tossing water out when they are passing by, or even speaking badly of them where they happen to hear it. The Fair Folk are not subtle in their anger and if you have annoyed them you will generally know it. On the milder end you may experience sudden terrible luck, on the medium end bruising, muscle cramps, or feeling like you are being pinched, on the more severe end blindness, or serious permanent physical harm (and of course any physical symptoms you should have checked by a medical professional).

So, then, if you think you have done something that you know annoys the fairies or feel like you are on the receiving end of their anger for any reason what do you do? Here is a list of suggestions, although I’ll say up front that you may need to try a couple things until you find one that works to appease them.

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