Living in Ireland I heard many stories about the fae.About they’re kind nature, the peaceful woodland spirits, playful tricksters, or even malicious beings.
Here I will give some ways to appease them, and ward them. I will also tell about dangerous fae and how to ward them.
In Ireland children were told to keep away from fairy mounds, fairy circles, certain places in the woods, certain trees, and some strange places. Fairy mounds can be identified as strange lone hills, often found in odd place. Fairy circles are mushroom circles. They are a naturally occurring pattern, however they are believed to be portals the their realm. And stepping in one may be dangerous. Steer clear of certain trees. It is believed that fae live in them, and if disturbed they would not be happy. Notable trees to stay away from include hazel, thorn, alder, and oak. An example of a strange place would be strange rock formations in a field, and that if disturbed or moved would upset the fae who made them.
Farmers didn’t go to their mill or barns at night. It was believed that the fae used the cover of darkness to grind their grain. Disturbing them while they worked could result in you having a failed crop or other curses.
Certain bodies of water were said to be the homes of kelpies, Corrigans, and other water fae. If you came to these waters alone, you could be pulled in, or lured to your deaths (corrigans are said to beautiful creatures that lure you to your death, were they drown you.) They would drown their victims, forcing their spirits to live in the fae realm forever.
Certain flowers such as primroses, were layed on the windowsills and hung over doors. This ensured that he house was kept safe from the fae.
Garlands were made from marsh marigolds. These were placed over the barn doors. This protected the horses from being ridden to death by the fae.
However, the most notable flower to protect yourself against the fae is St. John’s Wort. Wearing this flower provided the wearer protection from fairy magic and tricks. Sometimes my grandmother would scatter petals around the outside of the house, to try to provide protection.
Some said holly berries would repel them. (Unknown why. Unlike the others I was never told this. Maybe someone could clarify.)
A four-leafed clover would allow you to see the fae, even through their glamours, or invisibility. However, this would only work once. An old tradition was to sew them into clothing, or even a little bag (this is to be worn round the neck, though some say it just has to be held) this allowed the user to see them for every clover they had sewn.
Though these are quite nice forms of protection, iron is always the best form of protection. Many believe that iron burns the fairy. Some legends say that the crafted their weapons out of silver and gold because they couldn’t use the iron. If you kept an iron nail in your pocket the fae would be unable to take you to their realm. Often iron knives, sheers, and other sharp object were hung over or near the crib of a baby. This was to prevent the baby from being stolen and swapped with a changling child. ( I don’t recommend doing this as it could be dangerous to the baby.) Sometimes horseshoes, nails, or arrowheads would be placed over doors to stop fae from entering the house or room. An iron ring was worn to protect people, it was told that the fae could not go near the person who wears it.
To be protected from them, and to even form a relationship with the fae; one must respect them, trust them, and leave offerings for them.
Leaving bread and milk out for them was said to protect the household that did it. It was also believed that one may gain their favour by doing this. This is also a notable way of appeasing the cat síth. Not only do they like bread and milk, they also like butter, cream, sugar, ale, honey, whiskey, and I find that they like dark chocolate.
If you’re crossing a body of water, or passing by a well you may drop a piece of silver in, or a coin in for the fae that lives in it.
Ever here the saying that if you spill salt you should throw some over your right shoulder? Well that applies to the fae. If salt is spilled one may throw some over their right shoulder so that the fae can have their share.
Many of the nicer variety were insulted when they saw human mortals lacking in hospitality to one another and treating each other badly. It’s was said that they would punish people like this very harshly. However, if you were kind and honest to people they were said to treat you nicely, or leave you be.
corrigans- A form of water sprite. They appear as beautiful beings who sing melodies like sirens. They mostly appear at night on a full moon. In sunlight they’re glamour goes away and their true ugly form is revealed. stay clear of bodies of water and the woods
Dullahan- The headless horseman. He is seen often in the country riding a dead horse with eyes like fire. He often has a whip made out of a spine. He roams the countryside looking for the dead. If you see him he is said to slash your eyes with his whip. Gold is said to ward them for a while.
Amadan Dubh- VERY DANGEROUS. The trickster fae. He’s a madman. Often seen dancing on lone hills to ghostly music. Cannot be reasoned with. He can place powerful, harmful curses on people. I do not know of any ways to ward him. (Maybe someone can clarify?)
Alp-luarcha- If you think it has crawled in your throats after falling asleep at a stream or other body of water, eat salted food. This will make it thirsty, and make it leave.
Bean sídhe or banshee- The only thing I know of is an iron ring, though when a person is dying nothing can keep her away as she wails.
Cat síth- it loiters around graveyards and open graves to steal the souls of those who have recently died. To try to distract it one may try dancing, singing, or telling riddles. This gives time for the souls of the deceased to pass on so that it cannot get them. I was also told that on Halloween (Samhain) a saucer of milk should be left out, this will provide good luck and protection, while those that didn’t would be cursed. If you are ever filled with a sense of dread and see a black cat with a tuff of white fur walk away slowly and then place a saucer of milk outside, then pray that this will be enough to appease it.
Boggart- It’s a malicious form of fae that takes over houses. Somewhat like a poltergeist. They cannot be reasoned with, and any attempts to appease them will annoy them. They don’t like holy water, crosses, iron, or agrimony. However, sometimes an exorcism is necessary. A family friend had to get this once.
Changling- To stop a child from being swapped keep a close eye on them, put them in a warm well lit room, stitching red thread in baby clothes and blankets was said to prevent them from being swapped, as well as hanging iron sheers or knives over the crib, or having them close by.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions or any clarifications feel free to message me.
The professor who teaches metalworking and shop classes gets called the Old Professor, but he isn’t old. At least, he doesn’t look it. He gets called the Old Professor, but he calls himself Sequoia.
Sequoia is eight feet tall, with metal in his eyes and kindness in his hands and silence in his mouth. You’re a psych major without a drop of poetry in your soul but when you first heard his voice, something in your lizard-brain said “this is what a forest’s voice would sound like.”
There are indeed forests, inked into his dark brown arms - woods going up into misty mountains, ancient trees in forests primordial growing amongst ferns the size of houses, twiggy saplings rearing their heads above the fertile ash of pyroclasric flow.
There’s probably iron in the ink, an art major tells you. “Lots,” says another, subdued. “Red caps chased me to the shop building. He caught the leader by the arm and…I saw it burn.”
You don’t believe that, but it makes you shiver anyway. Even if his touch did burn Them, wouldn’t it be from the iron in his skin thanks to his line of work?
Among his red-black locs are iron rings made from old nails, silver rings so pure one of Them grumbled to you that they sing, and beads of green sea-glass and jade and one glittery chartreuse pony bead that Jimothy gave him in exchange for a whole sack of red ones. He’s free with the rings (usually to students) and the glass (usually to Them) but he treasures that damn ugly little plastic bead and you’ve seen him press it lightly to his mouth when he’s thinking.
Sequoia must have been a false name when he chose it. You don’t think anyone on campus would claim it is now. Really, you find that the most telling thing of all - though what it tells, you’re never sure.
But there is kindness in his hands, and welcome in his silence, and when you’ve all but fallen through his doorway with the tang of blood in the back of your throat from running and the sound of hooves behind you (not running; it would have been less frightening if whatever was back there had bothered to RUN) there is tea in his hands too, and you feel the hollow in your chest begin to heal as you pour out your story and your terror to a watchful face full of quiet interest and altogether free of judgement.
Pepper: Why do you fear the past? You are Howard’s heir, not Howard himself. You are not bound to his fate. Tony: The same blood flows in my veins. The same weakness. Pepper: Your time will come. You will face the same evil, and you will defeat it.
The Grianan of Aileach is an Iron Age stone fortress in Inishowen in County Donegal. It was
occupied from about 800 BC until about 1200 AD. According to legend, it
was built by the renowned Kind Daghda of the Tuatha de Danann.
Supposedly, the king’s son Aeah was buried in the center of the
The fort was the seat of the Kingdom of Aileach, who
ruled much of Ulster at the time. It was razed once by Vikings, and
Murtaigh O’Brien, Kind of Munster finished the job in 1191. It was
restored to its current state in the 19th century.
purpose of the place is somewhat of a mystery. Ring forts and hill forts
were often used to contain cattle, and served as a defense when under
attack. But the size and grandeur of the place leads most to believe it
also had a special governmental purpose. In addition, there are theories
that the word Gianana means sunny place, and that it also served as a sun temple.
He came from the UK originally, his distinctive accent pinning him to Wales, to be specific. This made him attractive to the Fair Folk. They said he sounded of the motherland, of home.
Having studied veterinary science at university in the UK he came over to the States to study his Master’s course in herpetology - snakes and lizards were his forte, which is helpful as the Gentry don’t often use them as envoys or forms to take.
Even he isn’t quite sure how he got the Elsewhere University, he doesn’t remember applying or accepting. Whenever asked where he DID apply to, his eyes glaze over and he mumbles an incoherent response. Nonetheless, he follows all the rituals - iron, salt, rowan. Leaving out bailey’s when the occasion calls for it. He is attractive to the Gentry, but tries to ignore them as best he can. This changed, however, when one of the Crows was injured in a storm.
Instinct taking over, the Master’s Student approached the fallen Crow as the storm raged about. Leaving the path (a dangerous and ill-advised task at the best of times) to go to their side. As he approached, his hands reaching towards the fallen bird to put its limb back into place, the bird panicked. Realising, as the bitter storm whipped around the student and the crow, he threw off the iron rings he wore as protection, and the Lords and Ladies descended.
Amongst the rain and wind, combining with the whispering of the Fair Folk; whispers of home and familiarity mixing with the cries of the crow and the student, who is now screaming. Screaming incoherently, in English, then Welsh, then some esoteric tongue known only to the Gentry. Reaching towards the crow, desperate, allowing his lessons from years ago to come back to him, he touched the wing.
There was a snapping sound, and a second of silence.
The next sound was a flurry of feathers, as a murder began. The crow on the ground croaked once, and the others descended. Wing and beak struck out against the fair flesh of the Gentry, driving them backwards, and driving a wedge in the relationship between the Crows and the Lords and Ladies. The Fair Folk retreated from the student, muttering curses after the birds, some of which were potent enough to kill the birds dead. The student stopped screaming and crying, and shakily put one of his rings back on.
Just like that the Gentry vanished, retreating back into the rain and wind, with a warning and a promise (or was it a threat?). The Crow with the injured wing squawked its thanks, and gave a solemn vow. This student is protected, they said. Try anything with this one and we will fight anew.
The student is now rarely seen without a crow within five feet. Oftentimes he sits on the walls and talks to them, collecting rumours and gossip, discussing advancements in his field. His experience didn’t leave him untouched, however - english was wiped from his mind, so all conversation is now in welsh, but otherwise he got lucky. Very lucky indeed.
There is a place, (Start at a chem class, go three hallways down to the left, turn right, stop in from of the third door and spin three times on your heel clockwise. pray like crazy the hunt isn’t starting soon) there is a place full of half empty notebooks and textbooks missing half their pages and old projectors with claw marks messing up the casing. Mood rings and iron necklaces and empty salt packages litter the ground. It’s called the graduation room. You know where it is by the time you’re done with school, you always knew, somehow, from the moment you stepped foot on campus. It’s filled with things you won’t need anymore, things you trade in for a cap and gown and jobs that don’t pay you in coins that are too old, or never got printed, or turn to dead leaves. (They only really pay you in experience, those jobs, but still, it would be unwise to turn those coins down. Besides, they make good references.) You strip yourself of the things you’ve carried with you, save for maybe the photographs your friend in the darkroom took of you recently, maybe even a small iron earring that you can’t remember where it came from. You tidy up as best you can, and leave. By the time you cross the boundaries your memories will start to waver. By the first interview, you’ll only vaguely remember the job you took. After a while, the only thing left will be a photograph in your pocket and an earring in your ear that you never take out, and a habit of grabbing salt packets whenever you’re at a diner. It, somehow, makes you feel safer.
So… you won’t see this until morning probably but I really wanted to send u this. Hope you enjoy!
You mentioned that you wanted to know more about majors like engineering to get a feel for how the Fair Folk would interact with them. I have no idea if this is useful on that front, but, there’s a thing in Canada called The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer. There’s a ceremony when you graduate with your degree, with the ritual words all written out by a poet, and you swear to have humility and take responsibility in your work, and are given an iron ring to wear on the pinky finger of your dominant hand. The ring has flat facets, so it will scrape across a page as you write or draw, to remind you you are wearing it. Optionally, a ring can be passed down from a mentor to a student.
The practice was started after a catastrophic collapse of a railway bridge due to a failure of oversight - something the engineers should have noticed, but overlooked. At the heart of it is a promise and an understanding that the work an engineer does - as dry and technical and by-the-book as it sometimes seems - holds human lives in balance. It is the work of taking scientific discovery and carving it into something useful, building out of all these separate pieces the accomplishments that change the world. There is a rush to having that kind of power, to holding the scope of human accomplishment in your hands. But you have to be careful. To not promise more than you can safely deliver, or pay a price.
I think there is something there that would be very appealing to the fae, though also terrifying to them, as these are the people who build fire and iron into every part of the world and make it inhospitable to them. The parallel of temptation and fear is so strong that the text of the ceremony could be a pledge to avoid deals with the fae literally without changing a word: the first line of the pledge is “I, [name], in the presence of these my betters and my equals in my Calling, bind myself upon my Honour and Cold Iron, that … I will not henceforward suffer or pass… Bad Workmanship or Faulty Material in aught that concerns my works before mankind as an Engineer, or in my dealings with my own Soul before my Maker.”
A deal with the fae is nothing if not shoddy workmanship.
[a note - this is really mostly about structural and mechanical engineering. Skyscrapers and airplanes and bridges so long they have to bend to follow the curve of the Earth. Other kinds of engineering - electrical and chemical and bio and nanotech and so on - have different things going on.
And there is also the lightheartedness, the endless bureaucracy and contradictory regulations, the desperate light-night coffee-fueled fighting with a 3D printer that only squiggles out incomprehensible plastic monstrosities. There are the weird moments of the unreal hanging around daily life, like the way a layer of ordinary blue masking tape on the tray helps the 3D print go smoothly. Or the odd regulations in the safety codes that make you wonder if this system was even designed by humans. The person in the computer lab who untangles your desperate mess of a spreadsheet without even saying a full sentence to you. Or even the way so many experiments have to be run at night and underground - even if you know it’s because of background vibrations, it still feels a little bit magic.]
Thank you so much! This is exactly the kind of thing I meant - I had absolutely no idea and it would have been such a terrible missed opportunity to write anything about engineering without knowing things like this! (Also wow this is as much a love letter to engineering as canadianwheatpirates’s piece about statistics, and just as beautiful)
So - engineers are concerned above all else with the real, with the concrete and logical. There’s room in it for the fantastic, absolutely, for the beautiful, even; things that seem to defy what should be. But at the heart of it it’s iron and fire, like you said above - break it down, piece by piece, and you’ve got something constructed painstakingly from the bottom up by people aware of the weight this holds in every sense of the word. There’s no room in that for magic, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that magic has less than no value here.
(But of course, being drawn to the incomprehensible is not solely a human trait.)
I hope you never need to find this note. I just need to know someone will understand when I’m gone, if I’m gone. It all started freshman year.
A silver-haired girl was sitting alone in the middle of the quad, absently chewing a blade of grass. She looked high as a kite, and I was concerned. I had not yet learned what curiosity could lead to, so I walked closer, forgetting every whispered warning I had heard. I wasn’t even carrying anything iron.
“Freshie! Get over here!” It was Flower, the TA from my literature class, and she looked absolutely panicked.
“What’s wrong with–”
“Shut up,” she muttered. Her hand moved briefly in front of her face. Within seconds, her mood ring was back on her finger, but whatever she saw had horrified her, and she pulled me back into the building without saying another word. I caught sight of a form approximating a man in my peripheral vision, standing too close to the girl.
“What the hell was that?” I asked Flower as soon as we got inside.
“Try not to worry about it, Ada,” she said. “I think he saw you taking an interest, but you might still be okay. They leave the scientists alone. You might not have attracted too much attention.”
“What are you talking about? What’s going on? I’ll ask her if you don’t tell me,” I said, like an idiot. I wasn’t nearly as scared as I should have been.
Flower closed her eyes. “I guess it’s better than letting you make it even worse… Bambi and I used to be best friends. A bunch of us, back in the day, used to be happy to be swept up in the revels. We were so naive back then.”
“Wait, so it’s all real?”
“Of course it’s all real,” Flower said, rolling her eyes. “We didn’t believe any of the darker stories at the time, of course. We thought they were just meant to spook us into staying in our dorms and doing our homework.”
“What were the revels even like?”
“Even if I had the words, I don’t quite have the memories, except for faded hints of what we did. We should have realized what a problem that was after the first time, but what we could remember was so intoxicating… We all danced, we all sang, but it was always Bambi they wanted to hear from the most. She had a knack for playing with poetry, turning Renaissance sonnets into mesmerizing songs. It sometimes seemed like the Gentry were only letting her leave so she could come back knowing more poetry, carrying more beauty to share with them. She was never quite careful enough- she loved knowing that her songs had the power to entrance these beings beyond her understanding. After a while, the rest started wondering if we should stop going, if it was really worth it, but Bambi wouldn’t be convinced. She thought we were just jealous, and maybe we were.”
She stopped for a minute. “One night, things got blurrier than usual. Her idiot of a boyfriend was there, I remember that. The kind of hometown moron who wasn’t going to pay attention to the rules. She brought him anyway. Bambi was careful not to say anything about it, but one of the Gentry had been hovering too close to her, and she might have wanted to make some kind of statement by waving a boyfriend in front of him, to say she was unavailable or just to provoke his jealousy or something. I don’t know for sure, but they sure as hell don’t work like humans, I don’t know why she tried it.” Flower sighed.
“She disappeared that night. Her boyfriend somehow emerged unscathed, and the rest of us wondered if he had traded her name away for his own safety.”
“But she’s here–”
“I’m not finished. People started seeing a doe running around campus. They gave her a wide berth, since she wore an amethyst necklace inscribed with a Latin phrase from one of the poems she adapted. We knew for sure when her boyfriend died in a hunting accident, but no one said anything.”
“It could be a coincidence–”
“Shut up. It wasn’t. A few months later, Bambi appeared. She wasn’t a changeling, but she was different, emptier. She gets like this sometimes. We all try not to notice when she starts zoning out and eating leaves, or when she disappears. It’s better that way. She’s been doing alright, but we still keep our distance. She has never taken the necklace off, and it says not to touch her. That’s why I had to stop you from getting too close. I don’t know what would have happened if you had.”
I wore an iron ring after that, and made sure to wear gloves when we handled anything containing silver in the lab. I didn’t want to see…
People kept whispering about Bambi, kept giving her a wide berth. I’m sure you’ve heard about her. She graduated that year, and instantly became a professor of songwriting at EU. Whenever I went home, I would find articles about the mysterious winner of so many music awards, speculating about why she never left town. In the one picture the world has of her, her necklace is turned around to hide the writing on the gems, her eyes are downcast, and her silver hair looks otherworldly. It always stuns me that the general population hasn’t guessed that there is magic surrounding her.
I’m supposed to be out of here by the end of the month, but I need an art credit to graduate. The only class available was Bambi’s. I should have waited another semester, but I got paranoid that the school was trying to trap me here. I made the wrong move.
I have been writing the most beautiful songs, dreaming dreams that I can’t remember, dreams that leave me feeling wild and exhilarated and fearful when I wake up. Yesterday, in class, Bambi looked at us, her once soft eyes unfeeling and vacant, and announced that attending and singing at an upcoming performance in an undetermined location was the only way to pass the class. Hopefully, it works out fine. After all, Flower and the rest of her friends made it out okay… but I’m not sure. I think I was seen.
If I don’t come back, please just tell my mom I ran away to be a singer. It’s close enough to the truth.