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cassandra eason

RETURN TO FAIRIES AND NATURE SPIRITS INDEXFAIRY WOMEN: THE GODDESS IN FEY TRADITION

Just as Celtic bards preserved the deities of the old religion as the heroes and heroines of their songs, legends and poetry, the Mother Goddess also survived in myth and secret worship as the Good Fairy, the Fairy Godmother or Queen of the Fairies. For example in Slavic folkLore Rodenica or Rozhenica was the Lady and Creating Mother of the universe and her husband Rod was the Lord.

Rod was downsized to the status of  household god/protector spirit and Rodenica became an ethereal white fairy who with her daughter, according to folklore, visited newborn children to determine their future destiny.

The Fairy Godmother

The Fate Goddesses, usually three sisters who are weavers or spinners of the Web of Destiny, appear in the fairy tales of many cultures, separated into the good fairy godmother, protectress and granter of wishes and the wicked fairy/witch.

The bad fairy sometimes doubles as the evil stepmother who possesses magical powers as in the tale of Snow White. Once the magical mirror proclaims the superior beauty/potential sexuality of the virginal Snow White, the Queen needs all the magical aids at her disposal if she is to remain dominant female (the prize being of course the admiration of the dominant/wealthiest/most elevated man on the scene.) This is the female version of the young/old stag battle.

The aristocratic fairy was born in 1697 with the publication of the fairy tales of Charles Perrault in France. For example, in Perrault's Cinderella, the fairy godmother assumes the role of Cinderella’s dead mother, using her magic to fulfil Cinderella’s dream to go to the dance at the palace win the heart of the prince. But Cinderella must be home by midnight or the magical props will disappear. Here the fairy godmother doubles as guardian of virginity.

In these more courtly stories, many of which were based on the older far more savage tales in which the heroine showed a great deal of initiative, the qualities of beauty, innocence and obedience meant that fairy power and protection was directed less into helping the heroine to negotiate through the wild wood of life and more into finding her a prince who would supply the happy ever after and do all the driving!

The Disney versions of the popular fairy stories from the 1950s onwards, intended as much for adults as children, reinforced the message that the right guy was the road to bliss for modern women. This was not entirely in the cause of romance, but an official guideline. For in the post war period women were being forced back into the home after their war service, so there would be enough jobs for the returning servicemen. So if you could whistle a happy tune or wish on a star while hovering up, life washing dishes didn’t seem so bad.

In the folklore of places where Celtic descendants are numerous, the Cailleach crone has survived in a fairy godmother role as the Bean-Tighe. An Irish fairy housekeeper/grandmother who cares for mothers, children and pets, she will finish chores around the home while the family sleeps. Like her more terrifying sister the banshee, she may be attached to a family for generations.

Powerful Fairy Women who were formerly goddesses

The Celtic Aine, fairy queen of Munster continued even during the last century to be regarded (especially in the area surrounding the Hill of Aine) as a powerful fertility icon. On St. John’s Eve (Midsummer), close to the Summer Solstice, local people climbed the hill as they had done for many centuries to pay tribute to the Moon , for Aine was formerly a lunar as well as solar deity. Then carrying blazing torches of straw tied to poles, they walked in procession, led it was said by the fairy goddess herself, down the hillside and through the fields and cattle barns to bring fertility to land, animals and people.

Fairy Queen temptresses

As the goddesses were downgraded into fairies, some acquired the role of temptresses and abductors of innocent males (fairy kings were portrayed in the same way).

In Scotland myths tell of the Bean chaol a chot uaine's na gruaige buidhe, ‘the slender woman with green kirtle and yellow hair’, a fairy queen who had the ability to turn  water  into red wine and spin the threads of the spiders into tartan. By playing her magical reed pipe she would lure young men into her fairy hill. Unless they left a piece of iron over the lintel of the entrance they would be forced to dance and serve the pleasure of the fairy queen until she tired of them and sent them home. But they would find that though it only seemed lke one night had passed in fairyland decades had gone by in the mortal world and the fresh-faced milkmaid sweetheart to whom they had sworn eternal fidelity was now an ageing great grandmother.

The most famous young male abductee who seems to have actually gained from his visit to fairyland was Thomas the Rhymer whose ballad is still performed in folk clubs. The real or true Thomas as he is sometimes called was Thomas of Earlston (Erceldoune), a thirteenth century poet who met the Queen of Elfland under a magical elder tree.  In return for a kiss he was forced to go to fairyland with her, though other versions suggest Thomas was more than willing to be seduced. In a few accounts the Queen becomes an ugly hag and the ritual mating of youth with the ancient crone goddess occurred to maintain the cycle of the seasons and ensure the fertility of the land. Thomas remained in Fairyland for seven years, though they were only three days in fairy time. He was rewarded with the gifts of poetry, of prophecy and a magical harp.

It has been argued in recent years that Thomas was in fact initiated into a local witch cult and that his visions of fairyland were Shamanic.

Downsizing in Literature

The Celtic Goddess Maeve, Queen of Connaught and warrior Queen became Mab, Queen of the Fairies. Mab is a corruption of the Gaelic form of her name, Medb that means she who intoxicates.

Once a goddess of war, the sight of whom blinded enemies, Maeve could be seen fighting in the centre of any battle on the side of her favoured clan and was able to outrun the fastest horse or the swiftest arrow.

Compare her with the sanitised Mab in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, of whom Mercutio, Romeo’s friend, says:

O then, I see, queen Mab hath been with you,

 She is the fairy's midwife, and she comes

 In shape no bigger than an agate-stone

 On the fore-finger of an alderman,

The fairy midwife was another form of the Fate Goddesses so called because she appeared in the birth chamber.

Mab did retain a little of her power in that she brought nightmares to humans when she visited. But she is pictured as driving her hazelnut-shell wagon across sleeping faces.

The hazel is the magical tree of wisdom and divination.

Mab is also sometimes associated with Titania, most famous in literature as the mortal-sized wife of Oberon, King of the fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In this play she is depicted as petulant, willing to let the seasons go to rack and ruin while she pursues her vendetta against Oberon.

The green corn

Hath rotted ‘ere his youth attained a beard;

The fold stands empty in the drowned field

The Spring, Summer, the chiding Autumn, angry Winter,

Change their wonted liveries and the’ mazed world

By their increase, know not which is which.

However her power over nature is still acknowledged. For originally Titania was Themis the Ancient Greek Titan Goddess of Justice and Order, and the mother of the Fates and the Seasons. She was daughter of Gala, the Earth Goddess. She is also linked with Diana.

Being your own Fairy Godmother - making wishes come true

  1. Surround a crystal or glass bowl with silver candles and for your wish pebbles use small crystals or glass nuggets, green for love, orange for clear identity, yellow for logic and matters of the mind, blue for success and wisdom, purple for psychic development and spirituality, brown for the home, family and security, grey for secrets, pink for babies, children and reconciliation, white for energy and new beginnings, red for change and passion and black for acceptance and nurturing.

  2. Light each of the candles in turn, naming a power or quality you already possess that will help you fulfil your dream. If you allow the words to come without conscious effort, you may be surprised at hidden talents you had never considered developing.

  3. Next in true fairy godmother style you require a wand. You may already have a long pointed clear quartz crystal or another favourite sparkling crystal. However you can make a true magic wand with a long straight twig from a hazel, an ash or a willow tree, that you can rub smooth. Some people split the twig and secure a tiny crystal in the top but this is not essential.

  4. Place a crystal for each of the wishes you are going to make (as many as you like) in a smaller glass bowl.

  5. Draw, in the air, nine ever increasing clockwise circles with your wand over the dish of crystals, saying out loud each of your wishes beginning with the most important.

  6. Alternatively you can recite the age old magical chant, while visualising a brilliant star moving closer and closer as you speak: Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, wish the wish I wish tonight.

  7. Cast your first wish crystal into the bowl of water, this time making the wish silently and continue until you have dropped them all into the magic pool.

  8. Leave the candles to burn through and if the stars are bright, go outside and repeat the star chant, choosing your special star and reciting your wishes once more.

I believe we all have a spiritual guardian, whether we visualise him/her as an angel, a fairy godmother or spirit helper. In carrying out wish rituals we can tap into this source of power and encouragement.

But most important is the inner fairy godmother, the power of those personal strengths you named, that can make almost anything possible with belief and sheer determination.

So take the first steps in the real world, however, small and let the magic follow.