Can You Think Like A Witch?

Can You Think Like A Witch?

Author:   T.L.   

There has always been a strong connection between Witches and Fairies known to all students who study Fairy lore. Several Pagan traditions have come to choose the term Fairy (or Faerie or Faery or Feri) as a result of Fairy mythology and scholarly research regarding Fairies in the past. In the late 1990’s, the year before her death, my 90-year-old paternal aunt, Nina Sutter, told me that our ancestors who lived in Mecosta County, Michigan, were Fairies. She also told me that “those people all stuck together” and that they were “like the Indians.” Because of what she told me and other family memorabilia I have, I believe it is possible that Wicca is a survival religion associated with Fairies. At the time my aunt spoke to me, I do not think she knew what a Fairy might be—just that this was something she was told and something that she sensed was important. I knew nothing about Wicca at that time, and I did not know what a Fairy was either. Several years went by before I figured it out what she was talking about.

My paternal great-grandmother, Alta Isadore Gould (born in 1851) published a book of story-length Civil War poems in 1894. The Veteran’s Bride And Other Poems was very popular for its day, going through five editions (and six printings) in four years. Gould integrates Wiccan symbolism in various ways within her published stories that are best understood within the context of their underlying themes, that include the myths of the Wheel of the Year, the myth of the Dying God, the Missing Cauldron of Cerridwen, and Hestia of the Hearth. When I realized that my great-grandmother’s book was about Wicca, I finally was able to figure out what it meant to have ancestors who were Fairies.

Gould’s metaphors are enhanced by hidden Wiccan symbols within each of her nine engravings. My aunt showed me one of those symbols—an “athame” hidden as a spire at the top of an arch in one of the engravings—except that she called it a “knife.” I do not think she knew the purpose of the “knife, ” just as she did not know the significance of “Fairy.” The knife was just something she had been shown and something she sensed was important. My aunt showed me the knife, just like her mother showed her the knife, just like her mother showed her the knife. This transfer of knowledge from my great-grandmother, to my grandmother, to my aunt, to me, shows that the knife was consciously positioned as a spire in Gould’s engravings and its presence is not just a matter of interpretation.

It is the culmination of Gould’s writing, her engravings, and other memorabilia I have regarding her life that makes me believe all of what my aunt said was true. My aunt was an honest woman, a Methodist, who would have had no motive for aligning the family with Paganism. The fact that she embraced these sparse memories in her old age, and wanted to share what little she knew with me before she died, shows she harbored warm feelings regarding this facet of our family’s history, and speaks positively of Wicca.

Obviously, I do not know what it means to have ancestors who say they were Fairies. More importantly, I do not know what being Fairies meant to them. It is possible that Alta Gould’s own ancestors, just like founders of Pagan traditions today, chose the term Fairy to describe themselves and created their own Witch-religion as a sort of secret society that encompassed all aspects of their lives. Theoretically, if there were multiple pockets of people similar to Gould’s group scattered throughout America, Canada, and Europe, perhaps something like this is the Witch-religion that Gerald Gardner ultimately was exposed to.

One good thing about social media is that participants do not have to yield to some higher authority in order to have their stories told. Currently, experts in Wicca claim there is no hard evidence that Wicca existed before Gerald Gardner–but it is hard to visualize what the hard evidence they seek might be. Although I do not have a stone tablet of Wiccan runes spelling out its history, or an ancient, crumbling Wiccan charter retrieved from a locked vault, the limited evidence that I do have is very real. It involves interpretation of texts, symbols, photos, and memorabilia, and is the closest and best thing to hard evidence of a Witch-religion prior to Gardner that, I believe, exists to date. One might critically say that my interpretation of these texts, symbols, objects, and memorabilia are just one of many. But the truth is, not all interpretations are equal. Some interpretations are better than others—and my interpretations are good, solid, and apparent. Interpreting texts, objects, and family histories has long been a tried, true, and accepted way of learning about the past and of doing research.

Even the work Ronald Hutton engages in involves interpretation. There is not (and never will be) a long buried stone tablet affirming that Wiccan imagery comes from the Romantic poets. Even though he will never find “hard” evidence to support his thesis, his research nevertheless is interesting. I know that I am not Ronald Hutton—far from it. But, on the other hand, Ronald Hutton’s aunt did not tell him that his ancestors were Fairies, and his great-grandmother did not write a book with an interwoven Wiccan subtext.

The biggest problem with my research is that first someone has to actually read it. I have written a book (Remembering A Faery Tradition: A Case Of Wicca In Nineteenth-Century America) . I am not a professional academic, but I did the best that I could to write about my discoveries and place them within an interesting context. I am sure my book has many faults, but my main message is very tangible. Also, I have made a web site that discusses much of my research and includes a chapter from my book. It is not a professional web site, but it serves a function. I have items and photos and letters that someone else, beside myself, would have to look at. Finally, and most importantly, someone else besides myself would have to read my great-grandmother’s book, front to back, perhaps several times, with a critical eye. If you understand how poetry is written and how metaphor is used, and if you are Wiccan, and if you are able to think like a Witch (surviving within a Christian culture) , you should be able to understand her poetry.

Social media allows me to put all of this “out there” whether anyone ever looks at it or not in current time. Perhaps someday new information will come out that will cause some other researcher to want to look at my research, and then my research might either provide a lead or confirm another finding. Perhaps there are other people, like myself, whose ancestors described themselves as Fairies, who will recognize some of the things that I talk about in my research, and then go public with their information also. Even though it seems that there is not even a small audience interested in the history of Wicca in America—for myself it has been exhilarating, thought-provoking, and a whole lot of fun.

Air Witch Lore – Sylphs and Fairy Folk

Air Witch Lore – Sylphs and Fairy Folk

Sylphs are the nature spirits that inhabit air. They weave together the fabric of thoughts, dreams, communication, breathing, destruction and secrets. Thought to be offspring of the Sidhe, sylphs are small in stature, transparent, and winged and they move very quickly. Sylphs sometimes take on the form of birds and other times clouds. At one time they were believed to favor virgins with their kinship. It is thought that sylphs control the winds and weather.

The Banshee is a member of the fairy realm that particularly relates to ai. Described as a wailing shrouded figure with red eyes, the Banshee is thought to warn of impending death. Considered by some to be an aspect of the Morrigan, the Banshee is seen as a withered old crone with unkempt gray hair.

Italian folklore presents fairies that like to ride the noonday winds and steal kisses. Similar fairies appear as grasshoppers or as short gentlemen and women who are well dressed. Wind spirits are known to be playful and mischievous.

Modern society views almost all fairies as being of an airborne nature. Tinkerbell, the Disney character, is  manifestation of that view. Magick transports itself primarily through the vehicle of air, although in an etheric form, so the correspondence between the two is reasonable, if a bit misguided.

Inviting Magickal Fey Into Your Garden

Inviting Magickal Fey Into Your Garden

by Jimbo

 

Fairies, Gnomes, Nymphs, Sprites… Creatures of the Earth, Air, Fire and Water… those who live in the veil between this plane and the next… mischievous, lucky, magickal, beautiful and grotesque, large and small… All fey friends welcome! Welcome! We invite you to inspire us! We invite you to invigorate us! Infuse us with mirth and laughter! Excite us with your magick and mischief – in a good way. Come! Play with us! We welcome you.

Many a tale has been spun throughout the ages involving some sort of mysterious creature. Fairy Tales, Fables, Folk Tales – often with a trickster, prankster, or magical creature that grants wishes!

I believe that these creatures exist all around us – often unseen in the nooks and crannies of our lives. Where many often banish the fey, I invite them into my rituals – to aid me in my magick.

What do the fey represent?

Every person has their own relationship with the archetypes represented by different fey creatures. I like to think of the fey as a “personification of nature”.

The apple tree in the back yard has a true personality – it’s an old, chatty wise woman, with her sweet apples and knobby branches. She is great for climbing, and if you sit in a particular spot, she tells you stories about the orchard that used to live there, and all sorts of things that have happened. She loves to cradle you as she sings you the song of the sunset, and whispers as the breeze flows through her leaves. She is a tree nymph _ and she is wonderful. Also in the yard are lots of little fey – a family of gnomes under the shed, and a whole clan of fairies in the back fence overgrown with prickly blackberries. (They like to steal a tool or two and bury them somewhere in the lawn)

You, too, can bring the fun and frolic of the fey alive in your personal space as well. You can create a special garden or shrine devoted to the fey.

Be creative! There are so many ways to invite these wonderful creatures into your life! From simply hanging a sparkly wind chime outside, to placing a sweet cookie on a pretty plate on your altar, gestures to the fey really make a difference.

Here are some ideas on how to create a garden for your yard or a smaller one for indoors. But this is by no means a limit to the different ways you can connect with that special inspiration we can only attribute to our beloved fey friends.

Indoors

Bring some of that ethereal inspirational spirit into your apartment with an indoor fey shrine.

Start with a miniature arboretum. It can be planted in any size or shape of container – many of which are available at home and garden stores.

Fill the planter with soil and plant herbs, moss and even mushrooms. Smaller leaved herbs work well, like thyme and oregano. If well clipped, rosemary and dill are great too. Think about the type of fey that may live with you in your space, and allow them to inspire the selection of plants. Add some rocks, crystals, and a pretty ceramic bowl to use as a reflecting pool.

You can also create a hidden garden in a large houseplant you already have. Beneath the broad leaves of a Peace Lilly or the branches of a Fichus tree, arrange some small sparkly stones, and tie some colorful ribbon to the stalks. With two different colors of fish-tank pebbles, create a pattern on the soil.

The fey (and cats) that live in your house will enjoy discovering these elusive hideaways!

Outdoors

Outdoors, the possibilities are endless. Use rocks or bricks to build some sort of altar to the fey. Landscape a small area of your yard with pebbles, crystals and a variety of plants. Transplant that bothersome moss in your lawn to your fey garden – it will really grow! In the spring, plant Lobelia, Forget-me-nots, Baby’s Breath, and even Cosmos. I enjoy planting purple flowers in the spring that bloom all summer. In the winter there are all sorts of perennials that can be planted: herbs, grasses, ferns and succulents are good ideas.

Using found materials that are attractive to the fey is a good approach, especially in residential areas. Tiles, which can often be obtained inexpensively, are a nice touch to a garden. You can also place special crystals here and there. I like to work small, and create little wee places for my fey friends to play.

If you see mushrooms in your yard, dig up a small patch around them, and transplant to your garden. They will spore there and more will grow next season.

You can add a fairy mound – a small hill covered in moss, with a small door (from a doll house, or hand crafted) on the side. A variation is a small round mirror or reflecting pool on the top.

Even branches tied together with an old window, arranged rocks, a shiny pinwheel, and ribbon streaming from the fixture is sure to keep the fey as well as your human guests enchanted.

There are so many little things to do in the mundane world that attract the fey. Perhaps the best idea of all is to allow these magickal creatures to speak to you in meditation – they will let you know what they want (believe me!).

Earth Charms

Earth Charms

Some naturally occurring objects are said to be empowered with extra luck or magickal powers. Those that fall in the realm of earth include four-leaf clovers, petrified wood and fairy stones.

Four-leaf clovers

It is rare to actually find a four-leaf clover. It is universally accepted as an harbinger of good luck to come your way. This belief stems back to the ancient Druids and is Celtic in origin.

Petrified Wood

If you are lucky enough to find a piece of petrified wood, then you are lucky indeed. It holds the magickal properties of secrets, wisdom, strength and transformation. Pay special attention to your dream after finding a piece of petrified wood, as the spirit of the tree may be trying to speak to you.

Fairy Stones

Fairy stones form a natural solar-cross shape. They are known as staurolite. These little stones charms contain vas t reservoirs of power and are wonderful when it comes to helping you maintain balance within your chosen elemental specialty.

Where Faeries Tread

Where Faeries Tread

Author: Priest Christopher Aldridge

I think it’s a shame that we live in a society that makes fun of adults who believe in Faeries or who tell of an encounter they have had with them. I am a Wizard, A Hellenist and a practitioner of Witchcraft, and most who know me know that I believe in Faeries and other magickal creatures very strongly.

Now I won’t try to force my beliefs on others, but I do wish people would stop trying to label believers like me as “delusional.” If I don’t try to force my beliefs on you, don’t try to force yours on me, or anyone else for that matter. To assume that someone is “stupid, ” “crazy, ” or “delusional, ” because they don’t believe the same as you, is arrogant. It’s all right to have debates, but don’t be disrespectful.

I think that people who do not believe in Faeries have this fallacy that because they have not experienced proof, that no one else could possibly have, and therefore Faeries cannot exist. They compare their experiences to that of all people. But the fact of the matter is that there are countless sightings by adults from all over the world who have had encounters with Faeries and little folk.

The people I have talked to who have encountered Faeries are, like myself, perfectly sane. One such website where you will find many Faerie sightings is: http://www.fairygardens.com/sightings/adult4.html

However, I cannot really blame the average individual for thinking that belief in Faeries is silly or insane for someone who is an adult. After all, our society has conditioned people to certain beliefs. As humans, we tend to establish our own laws in regards to what is possible and impossible. We do this while not realizing that we did not create this universe, nor do we control it, we are but a part of it. We should not be so quick to assume that we know what is possible and impossible when we are but a link in this chain of life.

I am 25 years old, and unfortunately, some people have made fun of me for believing in Faeries, and I’m sure they even believe that I am insane or delusional. I do know other Pagans and Witches who don’t think I’m crazy for believing though, and some people have even commended me for having the courage to basically broadcast my beliefs in the Fae. The bottom line is that I am not ashamed of my beliefs. Of course, Faeries are but one part of my belief system, but I hold that belief strongly.

Many people don’t believe in Faeries because they have never seen or encountered them, which I can understand, because some people are just the type who only believes what they see. So why would people who believe in the Fae be labeled as insane or delusional for believing in something they have seen? I think that we have certainly discovered that just because you can’t see something, does not mean it’s not there. But many people have seen Faeries. There are several books published on Faeries, including how to communicate and work with them.

Throughout history, many cultures have believed in and even feared Faeries. They took the belief in the Fae and the honor and appeasement of the little folk very seriously.
You will find that there are different beliefs held by different individuals as to who or what Faeries actually are. If you’re like me, you believe that Faeries are literal beings, real magickal creatures that are either individuals on their own, or are reincarnations of the dead. I believe that they can travel to our realm and interact with humans if they choose. And I believe they have great magickal powers and abilities.

While some believe that they live on the Astral Plane, I do not believe that that is the only realm they inhabit. To me, Faeries can be guardians of certain places and things in nature and friends to humans who respect them.

Every spring and summer, I keep a Faerie garden outside my home to welcome good Faeries and their good energies into my life. Even when the garden dies in the winter, I do not remove it. Now of course I do not and would never place the Faeries on the same level or above the Gods and Goddesses, but I do believe in respecting the Fae. But I do not worship them. You can show respect without worshipping.

I also hold the belief that the Fae are but not limited to reincarnations of the dead. I think that humans can reincarnate to the Faery Realm. I believe that Faeries can also be the creations of the Gods and Goddesses as well. I also happen to hold the belief that Faeries can also be nature spirits, as in spirits of nature herself. Such as woodland Faeries, water Faeries, air Faeries, etc.

I am very careful to not offend the Faeries. I have read about times when people have paid dearly for greatly offending or angering a Faery. Now there are many types of Faeries, and probably depending on who you talk you, some would advise you to not contact certain Faeries due to their nature towards humans, that’s why when I call on them I make sure to call on the good Faeries who have only good intentions.

And then I think some people, unlike me, believe that Faeries are archetypal, symbolizations and personifications of natural things and magickal and unknown things or places in nature. Some may even believe that the names of some Faeries are the keys to unlocking universal energies, such as Faery energy. And that may very well be so.

Keep in mind that there are different kinds of Faeries. Faeries are not only little people with wings that we commonly conjure up when we think of the Fae. But there are, in fact, many types of Faeries. Some are friendly to humans; some are absolutely not. I would say that I think one of my favorite types of Faeries are the Gnomes.

Gnomes are dwarfs and Faeries. They tend to live deep within forests. Legend has it that they live under old oak trees, and are known to be helpful to humans and animals. They are also guardians of the gardens. They can also protect you and are intelligent beings. The common depiction of the Gnome that is short little people with pointy hats, many believe that that depiction is actually correct.

To me, the Gnomes are very charming and lovable. I know people who have seen Faeries and some tell spectacular tales as to their encounters, and sightings continue to come in from all over the world. I would say that one of the most spectacular stories of a Faerie encounter has come from Herbie Brennan, who is a very successful author from Ireland. His video where he tells about his experiences can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EclmR01xSds

I also constructed a Faery Garden Blog a long time ago to post Faery encounters from people I know or anyone who is willing to send one in to me. There are not many there, but the ones that are will be charming and interesting to you, I think. http://www.chrisfaerygarden.blogspot.com

Will we as the human race not even consider the possibility that Faeries exist? Is it so insane to believe in something that so many people have seen? At the least, we should stop ridiculing people who do believe in the Fae. We should always keep an open mind. And if you believe, don’t be afraid to express it.

Hail the Olympians!
And may everyone be blessed!

The Enchanted Nights of Midsummer

The Enchanted Nights of Midsummer

by Asherah

When I was a young girl, I had a book of tales and poems about fairies. I don’t know where it is now, probably on one of my parents’ dusty bookshelves, missorted after a move. It was a big book, mostly pictures, and it fascinated me: I wanted to get into that world, in with the fairies.

I only remember one verse: “The fairies will be dancing, when there’s a ring around the moon.” But I remember that the big fairy holiday was Midsummer Night.

On Midsummer Night, the witches, the fairies, the spirits of the dead, the wraiths of the living: all will be abroad and visible.

I couldn’t have been more than five, but it enchanted me, the idea of slipping out at midnight, stars veiled in the humid dark of summer, maybe with a flashlight (a candlewould have been more romantic but harder to get), to a ring trodden bare in grass that flickered around my ankles. The circle would break, a small, bony hand held out to mine…

But I knew if I tried slipping out I’d get in trouble. Moreover, I was confused. It seemed Midsummer Night was June 21, or thereabouts, but wasn’t that the beginning of summer? If so, why was it called midsummer? I consulted my mother, but the contradiction didn’t bother her; she said that was just the way it was. It was only much later that I stumbled on the answer, that if Beltaine is summer’s start the solstice falls at Midsummer.

In medieval times, Midsummer was the feast of St. John the Baptist. The herbs of St. John are St. Johnswort, hawkweed, orpine, vervain, mullein, wormwood and mistletoe. Plucked (depending on your tradition) either at midnight St. John’s Eve or at noon St. John’s Day and hung in the house, they will protect it from fire and lightning. Worn about the body, they will protect you from disease, witchcraft and disaster.

Previously, Midsummer was one of the great fire festivals of Europe. At Stonehenge, it is said, Midsummer was a time of human sacrifice. The children’s counting-out rhyme “Eeny, meeny, miney, mo” may be a relic of the means by which the Druids chose their sacrifices.

It was around Midsummer when my friend Holly and I decided to enchant David, who was the cutest boy in our class. We were 11, and what might happen if he really fell in love with both of us didn’t cross our minds. (I think each of us in her heart of hearts felt he’d choose her.) Holly got a copy of the Dell pocketbook Everyday Witchcraft from the stand at the grocery store checkout line, and I talked my mother into buying me one too. One of the love spellsinstructed us to collect grass from his lawn and make a charm from it.

So we slipped out and met at dawn . I remember the feel of dawn asphalt cool beneath my feet. In Kansas City the lawns are pretty big; sitting on the sidewalk at the far corner of David’s lawn, at the bottom of a steep incline, we ran little risk of being seen. So we collected a few strands and sat a while, basking in his nearness.

If an unmarried girl, fasting, on Midsummer Eve at midnight sets the table with a clean cloth, bread, cheese and ale, leaves the yard door open and waits, the boy she will marry, or his spirit, will come in and eat with her.

Plant two slips of orpine (Sedum telephium) together on Midsummer Eve, one to represent yourself, one to represent your lover. If one slip withers, the one it represents will die. But if both take hold, flourish and grow leaning together, you and your lover will marry.

It was around Midsummer also, and I, 13, but not much the wiser, when my friend Vanessa and I did candle-magic on a mutual friend, Troy. Vanessa made a good, thick candle-poppet of him, with the wick for his head. She was angry at him, and her spell was to banish him; she buried the candle-poppet in the gutter outside her house. I had a crush on him, and my spell was quite the opposite, though I didn’t confess this to Vanessa. Our spells must have crossed, because while Vanessa and Troy made up, ever afterward Troy had an aversion to me.

To become invisible, wear or swallow fern seed (that is, fern spores) that you collected on Midsummer Eve.

On Midsummer Eve at midnight, the fern blooms with a golden flower. If you pluck this flower, it will lead you to golden treasure. In Russia, the flower must be thrown in the air, and it will land on buried treasure. The Bohemians believe that if you pluck the flower and on the same Midsummer Night climb a mountain with the blossom in hand, you will find gold or have it revealed to you in a vision. Bohemians also sprinkle fern seed in their savings to keep them from decreasing.

It was the fairies, and charms like those of Midsummer, that led me to the Craft. I won’t swear all the high points of the summers of my youth happened on Midsummer Night, but Midsummer is a kind of distillation of all summer. On that night, perhaps you can brush back a feathery, green- smelling branch to see, dancing in a ring, fairies. Or sometimes you might find such a ring indoors.

[Enter Puck, carrying a broom]

“Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide.
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate’s team
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic. Not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallowed house.
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.”

(from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare)

Merry Midsummer to all.

Summoning Faeries

Summoning Faeries

 

by C. Cheek

Call them spirits, call them genii loci, call them lare or fey, the faeries that our ancestors knew and loved and feared are still with us today. Faeries have been courted since time immeasurable to guard the hearth, prevent stillbirths and keep the wolves from the flock. Making offerings to these faeries is an ancient tradition, one at the core of many forms of witchcraft. By learning where these fey gather, we can tap into their power. They are accessible. They are not mortal, but they take an interest in mortal affairs. Not only are they able to help us in our lives — they want to help. The fey can aid us in raising energy for spell work, they have the power to heal, and they make excellent guardians — sometimes attaching themselves to a home or bloodline for centuries. If we gain their favor, they can bring us fortune and prosperity, and, perhaps even more important, they can bring us wisdom and a connection with the divine.

The practice of courting faeries has waned, but the spirits themselves live on, hiding unseen in apartment complexes as they once hid in barns. Tradition says they can be summoned with simple gifts of food. Why not rekindle the friendship that humans and fey once shared? They still have the ability to bless and protect humans, all for the price of a crust of bread, or a dish of milk left out overnight. Make an offering, inviting the fey into your home so you can reap this benefit. It’s just like feeding birds: put out the food, and they will come. Simple, right?

A friend of mine used to live just west of Phoenix, and she liked to put out blocks of seed for quail in her back yard. The quail came, and it delighted her to watch them nibble at the block early in the morning. The doves fluttered around, cooing, and later the sparrows would gather to eat what remained. Then she moved to the piñon forests of central Arizona. Her new home, on the outskirts of Prescott, has even more wildlife than her old home in the suburbs did. Once again, she put out blocks of seed for the birds; only this time, it wasn’t quail that came. Javalinas — huge wild pigs — came down to the house, grunting and snorting and devouring all the seeds. Not only that, but once they associated her with food, they dug through her garbage and chased her when she tried to shoo them away. Quail are cute and harmless, but Javalinas can cause serious damage to both people and property. Her gift was accepted, but not by the recipient she wanted. Why should it be different with the fey?

Many of us, in our attempts to protect our homes, would like a little divine assistance. We’ve heard the tales of the tailor aided by the wee folk, or the milkmaid who got a new gown by sharing her bread with a forest gnome. Perhaps with an invitation, some respect and a few simple offerings, these gentle faeries will take a liking to us and shower us with their blessings. Why not invite them all into our homes, into our lives? If your intentions are good, then only good will come to you, right? Wrong. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Anything that has the power to heal also has the power to harm. The fey are not all benevolent. Remember the tales of children snatched by phookas, or milk soured in the pail. Be careful whom you invite into your home.

But how? First of all, tailor your ritual to specific fey. You wouldn’t print out fliers and distribute them at bikers’ shops if you wanted to have a genteel tea party. Why should it be different for faeries? Even the best families have a few black sheep, and even the nicest neighborhoods have a worn -down house. No matter how thorough your purification spells, a few malevolent spirits may still linger.

Be aware of your surroundings. Has anyone died in or near your home? How about your neighbor’s home, if you live in an apartment building? Imagine the following scenario: You’ve just moved into your new apartment. After purifying it, you wish to welcome the local spirits. Now imagine that, unbeknownst to you, the previous occupant of the apartment above you was murdered by his or her spouse. You could be asking an angry ghost to haunt you. Casting a general summoning near restless spirits is a bad idea.

So, how do you find out who’s around you? Observation. Are there places nearby that seem to always be unlucky? The parking meter that runs out a minute before you get there to put another quarter in. The sunny spot on your balcony that nevertheless kills every single marigold. Does your computer lock up more in this apartment than your old one? Sometimes too many things go wrong at once for coincidence. If you happen to live in a place with trickster faeries then you’ll want to do something about the malevolent beings before trying to summon the good ones.

There are three ways to do this: the passive way, the aggressive way and the middling road. The middling road would be to simply ask the spirit or faerie to leave. This may not work — some houses remain haunted forever, and many towns have bridges that the psychically sensitive refuse to cross late at night. If asking nicely doesn’t work, you can try appeasement. In the old days, they’d offer sacrifices, like paying “insurance” money to the local mafia to avoid getting into “accidents.” This is the passive way, and it is a good choice for the kind of people who let birds eat all the fruit they want rather than putting up nets. The aggressive way would be to cast a banishing — bell, book, candle and all. If you have reason to believe that truly evil spirits haunt the place where you live, this is a good solution, especially if you can’t afford to move.

Now you’ve evicted the troublemakers, and you want the good local spirits to feel welcome. After all, getting in touch with the otherworldly is what being a witch is about, right? How do you issue invitations only to your friends? Chances are, if you’ve lived in a place long enough, meditated often enough, you already know the local fey quite well. Maybe they don’t have names yet, maybe you don’t know what they look like, but you’ve got a nodding acquaintance. Give them names and a shape to wear. That warm protective spirit under the stairs might look like a kindly old man. That especially peaceful bench in the park might be watched over by a tall faerie in a blue gown. How does a stray dog learn its name? You start using it.

But what if it’s too late? What if, in a burst of enthusiasm, you passed out the spiritual fliers, and now you’ve got an out-of-control house party? It’s time for damage control. First, just like you would with a house party, designate some rooms out of bounds. Any room with a baby in it should be securely warded. While the Irish custom of hanging a pair of open scissors above the baby’s crib is a bad idea, there are other charms to protect children from evil. Egyptians use kohl and the sign of the eye. The Irish use rowan or iron, and nearly every culture uses salt. Pregnant women and women who are still recovering from childbirth are also susceptible to faerie attacks. Some books recommend pointing the toes of shoes away from the bed to keep the fey away. Most books about faeries will include some charm for warding, and experience will tell you which ones work.

Second, through meditation and visualization, find out the natures of the spirits living with you. Once you know who they are, you can clothe them in names. If you’re good at drawing, you can make sketches until one feels right. Alternately, you can look through books with pictures of the fey until you find an image that captures the spirits of those in your house. Don’t worry if they’re not exact. Faeries are mutable creatures, often take more than one shape, and if you treat them as benevolent protectors, they are more likely to stay that way. Like a stray dog, they want to know the name by which you call them, even if it’s not their only name.

Third, set aside specific places for them. Some people like to use birdhouses as faerie inns. Whether the faeries actually enter the dwelling or not is inconsequential — it’s sympathetic magic that says, “Here’s a place for you to be.” Leave your offerings in the same location every time — under the footbridge, in the corner of the kitchen, or even on your altar. Chances are, you’ll feel the presence grow stronger there.

Finally, treat your spiritual guests with respect. No one wants to be begged constantly for favors, especially not an immortal being who was once worshipped as a god. You shouldn’t shower them with gratitude, or try too hard to pin them down — both of these things make the fey want to leave. When feeding the birds in my yard, I pour the birdseed, stand back and if the sparrows choose to eat, I simply enjoy their presence. Just like with birds, you have to acknowledge that the fey are wild beings. Strive to live in harmony, neither asking too much nor giving too much, and the fey just might decide to offer blessings of their own free will.

References

Bonwick, James. Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions. Dorset Press, 1986.

Coven of Silver Light. Faerie Magick. http://members.lycos.co.uk/covensilverlight/faeriemagick.htm, Feb. 15, 2005.

de Grandis, Francesca. Ritual: How to Meet a Faerie. www.feri.com/frand/Wicca5.html, Feb. 19, 2005.

Fabrisia. History of Italian Stregheria. www.fabrisa.com/history.htm Feb. 15, 2005.

Franklin, Anna and Paul Mason. Fairy Lore. Capall Bann Publishing, 1999.

Froud, Brian and Alan Lee. Faeries. New York: Harry N. Abrams. Inc., 1978.