“These Siths or Fairies they call Sleagh Maith or the Good People…are said to be of middle nature between Man and Angel, as were Daemons thought to be of old; of intelligent fluidous Spirits, and light changeable bodies somewhat of the nature of a condensed cloud, and best seen in twilight.” – Reverend Robert Kirk, Scotland,1691
When I was a child, my aunt from New Orleans told me that fairies were demons, like the vampire and succubus. Amazing what people will tell children.
This belief in daemon fairies became much more popular during the “age of faith”; the period after the fall of the Roman Empire and before the dawn of the Renaissance.
During this time all things pagan were assimilated, destroyed or demonized (pun intended). The hobgoblin for example, once a friendly household spirit, became a wicked goblin.
By the age of reason, the die was cast… for a while at least. Fairies were bad! But you can’t keep a Good/Bad fairy down for long, my aunt notwithstanding.
Madame d’Aulnoy invented the term contes de fée (“fairy tale”). Little did she know, how well the term would endure.
Fairies do appear as significant characters in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, which is set simultaneously in the woodland, and in the realm of Fairyland (Avalon), under the light of the moon. Shakespeare’s contemporary, Michael Drayton features fairies in his Nimphidia; from these stem Alexander Pope’s sylphs of “The Rape of the Lock”.
Many folktales are told of fairies, and they appear as characters in stories from medieval tales of chivalry, to Victorian fairy tales. Then as the 20th century came to pass the fairy became our friend again; in the modern Disney-fied visage of Tinker bell. (Tink, to her 21st century fans.)
Bad Fairy, good Fairy, vampire, devil…Like everything else the fairy is complex and I suspect is imbued with a little good and evil.
– by Julian Greigh-