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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Finding Fairies in Grimoires - Part 2

Last time we looked at the female fairies which appear in the grimoire material; this time I thought we'd look at one of the main Fairy Kings that appears in the grimoires, Oberon. 

Oberon first appears in a French romance called Huon de Bordeaux in the 15th century and a hundred years later in Shakespeare's a Midsummer Night's Dream (Harm, Clark, & Peterson, 2015; Briggs, 1976). His description between the two accounts is very different however: in the 15th century account he is a king of the fairies but his form is that of a 3 year old child although he is still a very powerful being, in Shakespeare he is an adult in appearance and his form is taller. In Huon of Bordeaux Oberon is described as beautiful even though he is small and deformed, and he appears wearing a glowing, jeweled gown. His physical description is not given in Shakespeare but his power and temperament are intense and he is described as a lover of mortal women.  

The author's of The Book of Oberon suggest that the fairy King Oberon is probably derived from the 12th century Germanic figure of Alberich who was a dwarf but whose name means 'elf ruler'. Alberich appears in the Nibelunglied and a poem called Ortnit, able to magically aid people in various ways. There are also several familiar spirits called on for power and luck during the Renaissance with names that seem very similar to Oberon's including Auberon and Oberycom (Purkiss, 2000; Briggs, 1976). As Oberon he initially appears as a tiny but powerful elfin king who was unable to bear sunlight (Purkiss, 2000). 

In the grimoire material Oberon appears in several sources, invoked under different guises. In one particular text where he is invoked into a crystal he is called on as an angel, reflecting the perhaps changing way that Oberon was understood (Harm, Clark, & Peterson, 2015). In other grimoire material he may be called on to appear as a soldier or child, and invoked to find treasure but he also is able to give knowledge of nature, healing, and invisibility (Harm, Clark, and Peterson, 2015). After this Oberon can be found in various grimoire texts through the 19th century, called on as the king of fairies and also in conjunction with other spirits.

The textual material relating to Oberon can be contradictory and difficult to sort out, with his physical appearance and backstory varying widely between sources. Even the name of his queen is uncertain and changes between texts. However what remains consistent is his power and influence in whatever form he's being invoked as. For those seeking to connect to Oberon his shifting nature and many different faces should be kept in mind, as well as the consistency of his power and influence. 



Harms, D., Clark, J., and Peterson, J., (2015) The Book of Oberon

Purkiss, D., (2000) At the Bottom of the Garden

Briggs, K., (1976) A Dictionary of Fairies

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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.
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