All the flurry that surrounded my last post on the topic has set me musing on what we do and don't know about these legendary creatures. And I guess the final and only conclusion you can come to at this point is that we plain don't know. Which is why I've begun to dislike the angels&demons theory so strongly. It feels to me as though there's a fundamental human tendency to deny that there is anything in this world or universe that can't be explained. It's as though because God did not impart any revelation on faeries, they either cannot exist, or must exist within the context of what He has revealed. Nothing could be farther from the truth (in my opinion). In point of fact, if humans were the only intelligent life form (besides angels) that God created; if earth was the only habitable planet in the universe; if scientists do indeed end up mapping and charting the entire universe; I would be extremely disappointed. If there's no mystery or wonder left it does make everything a bit bleaker...kind of a "this is it?" feeling. So I'm going to discuss all that I know about faeries; material gleaned solely from myths, folktales, and legends. And while we're at it, I have to emphasize once again how important the element of human contact is in these stories. I have found in every myth cycle I've ever read, the gods that cultures came up with rarely had direct contact with humans. The one glaring exception to this is, of course, the Grecian mythology. There we have gods talking with, marrying, destroying, helping, and interfering with humans 24/7. However, the Greeks did not in fact have any traditions of faeries. The closest thing in the Greek tradition would be a nymph, nyad or dryad. Now take Norse, Irish, Native American, or Japanese mythology. Whenever the gods are the subject of a story, it is mainly to explain a natural phenomenon (lighting, seasons, weather, natural disasters, etc.) or develop a story cycle around them. Thus the Norse gods' activity is (as far as I've ever read) confined to themselves and Valhalla (aka home sweet home). The same holds true for the other cultures listed. What makes faeries different? Because in all stories concerning them, they are (for good or evil) interfering in human affairs. Now that we've come to this, it's time to talk about some pretty intriguing conclusions that we can try to draw from the spotty knowledge we have of them. A question I hear often is: do faeries have souls? Obviously no one has any idea, but the question is very interesting regarding what information we do have on them. Take for instance the fact that they are seldom if ever bound by the laws of nature or physics. They don't necessarily fall if thrown into the air (also known as HE CAN FLY!!!), they can fit into small spaces, grow and shrink at will, and do not age. This is all in direct contrast to humans, who live according to a very strict set of rules that involve gravity, aging, and physical matter. The same applies to the effects of time on these guys. To us, time is pretty much a constant; it moves at the same pace, is predictable, and can be charted. Not so with faeries. Read any story of a human spirited away to some faerie kingdom, and you find that one night dancing with the fair folk can translate into several hundred human years when the guest comes back to the human world. Even that isn't consistent; sometimes seven days over there is seven years here, and sometimes a single night there is three hundred years over here. For those of you who have read Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, her footnotes and statements on faeries are very much in the British and Irish tradition ( that being the tradition with the most information on the subject). Most telling ( I think ) in her book is the statement that humans are most rational and unmagical; while faeries are most irrational and magical. This would seem to be confirmed by any conversation recounted betweeen a faerie and a human. From a human point of view, most faeries' answers and/or question are random, schizophrenic, and suggestive of ADD. As far as anyone can tell, faeries just are not linear thinkers...which fits with everything else told about them: their, well, inhuman, view of death (which includes amusement, delight, and plain curiosity at times), the fact that the laws of nature by which we abide has little to no affect on them, the fact that their affections are so capricious and inexplicable, and their (what we call) magical prowess. Perhaps the best concept of "fairy land" is the Irish Tir nan-Og, which holds that the land in which the faeries live is sort of a parallel universe; such that we exist nearly on top of each other, with only brief and infrequent glimpses into this other world. It makes sense to me, at any rate. That somehow outside (in an indefinable way) this material world exists another one which we can't and couldn't explain or understand because in every fundamental way it is so radically different.
From Catherine_Creagan - 6.12.06