Fairies

a-heist-of-words  asked:

Hello! I was hoping you could explain the whole "stone in the middle of the field" thing from that post about Irish fae folk? I'm really curious! Thanks!

Sure. You should note, though, that as a general thing in Ireland – meaning when you’re talking to just normal people you’d run into, not folklorists or those interested in fantastic fiction – the term “fae” is hardly used at all and will almost certainly confuse people who might hear you say it. Some might possibly think what you meant was  “fey” in the older meaning of the word, i.e. a little (emotionally) unhinged or bizarre. Some – fewer, but it still could happen – might think you meant “fey” in the (slightly pejorative) sense of gay or otherwise not-cissexual. What people here call the daoine sidhe in conversation is normally – if they’re not particularly concerned about the propriety or impropriety of naming them in the first place – “the fairies” or “the fairy people”. Those who are concerned about it will say “you know, the Good People” or occasionally “the Little People”, or use one of the other similar euphemisms in English or Irish, of which there are a lot.

…Anyway. It’s something you see a lot here and there in the countryside. Just a field, and in the middle of the field, a big rock… and signs that the farmer has been working around it for a long time. Local people won’t normally make a big deal of it… just say something along the lines of “Sure it’s been there a long while, it’d be a lot of trouble to move it, we just leave it alone.”

These rocks in the great majority of cases haven’t been placed there by any human agency. Ireland experienced the Ice Age exactly like any other part of northern Europe – the west coast of the island is particularly eloquent in this regard: just look at the map – and as a result there will be “accidentals” dropped by retreating glaciers all over the place. The size of the dropped rock normally determines what happens to it over the course of time. Small ones get broken up and moved, sometimes taken away for building things with. Bigger ones may get left where they are because of any number of combinations of circumstance and accident.

And then of course you get the ones that have been sitting in one place for a very long time, in some cases thousands of years… long enough for the other Old People, the earliest Neolithic inhabitants, to have decided for themselves that a given stone was numinous, and to decorate it with the now-classic pre-Celtic spiral or comb-and-groove designs. At our end of time it takes an archaeologist with ground radar to determine with any certainty whether a given stone was brought to a particular site and emplaced there, or whether it just got decorated in situ.

Either way, I’ve noted over thirty years here that many Irish country people have a tendency to quietly treat very old things (like these all-by-themselves rocks, which might have been put there by somebody…) as potentially numinous whether they’re the work of very distant ancestors or not. I wouldn’t go so far as to think of it as superstition, though the tendency may be affiliated to it. There’s just a… sense…  that some things by virtue of their great age have a kind of power about them, one that’s not particularly well understood and is generally better left alone.

But your neighbors are unlikely to admit this to you so straightforwardly. They may say “My granddad said to leave that alone” or tell you stories they’ve heard about bad things happening to people who messed with that stone, but it’s rare that they’ll come straight out and say they believe such. That said: that stone in the middle of the field there will probably just be left right where it is, and people will shrug and have all kinds of other more important things to talk about when the subject comes up.

Hope this helps. :)

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A GUIDE FOR YOUNG LADIES ENTERING THE SERVICE OF THE FAIRIES, by Rosamund Hodge


I.

This is the lie they will use to break you: no one else has ever loved this way before.


II.

Choose wisely which court you serve. Light or Dark, Summer or Winter, Seelie or Unseelie: they have many names, but the pith of the choice is this: a poisoned flower or a knife in the dark?

(The difference is less and more than you might think.)

Of course, this is only if you go to them for the granting of a wish: to save your father, sister, lover, dearest friend. If you go to get someone back from them, or—most foolish of all—because you fell in love with one of them, you will have no choice at all. You must go to the ones that chose you.


III.

Be kind to the creature that guards your door. Do not mock its broken, bleeding face.

It will never help you in return. But I assure you, someday you will be glad to know that you were kind to something once.


IV.

Do not be surprised how many other mortal girls are there within the halls. The world is full of wishing and of wanting, and the fairies love to play with human hearts.

You will meet all kinds: the terrified ones, who used all their courage just getting there. The hopeful ones, who think that love or cleverness is enough to get them home. The angry ones, who see only one way out. The cold ones, who are already half-fairy.

I would tell you, Do not try to make friends with any of them, but you will anyway.


V.

Sooner or later (if you serve well, if you do not open the forbidden door and let the monster eat you), they will tell you about the game.

Summer battles Winter, Light battles Dark. This is the law of the world. And on the chessboard of the fairies, White battles Black.

In the glory of this battle, the pieces that are brave and strong may win their heart’s desire.


VI.

You already have forgotten how the mortal sun felt upon your face. You already know the bargain that brought you here was a lie.

If you came to save your sick mother, you fear she is dead already. If you came to free your captive sister, your fear she will be sent to Hell for the next tithe. If you came for love of an elf-knight, you are broken with wanting him, and yet he does not seem to know you.

Say yes.


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