From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beltane: Faeries of the Otherworld

Beltane, the Gaelic beginning of summer which corresponds to the month of May, is traditionally thought of as a time of year when the veil between worlds is quite thin.  Therefore, it would also be a time of year when the Otherworldly spirits can easily appear.

This Celtic Otherworld is sometimes described as a parallel universe.  Denizens of this Otherworld are said to invisibly live alongside of humans, on Fortunate Isles in the Western Ocean, and/or within earthen (sidhe) mounds.  They have been called by various names:  aos si (people of the mounds), daoine sidhe, or Tuatha; wee folk, good folk, fair folk, or people of peace; and fairies, fae, fay, or faeries.

Back in 1691, Scottish Reverend Robert Kirk described them in this manner:  Fairies  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 (lyke those called Astral) somewhat of the nature of a condensed cloud, and best seen in twilight…  They have often been depicted as tiny winged humanoids - but have also been portrayed as tall radiant beings, shape-shifting animals, and shriveled trolls.

Wikipedia presents a number of folk beliefs about the origin of faeries.  They are sometimes thought of as spirits of the dead, i.e. the Irish banshee that has been described as a female ghost.  Students of alchemy have described them as elemental “spirits of the air.”  Some think of them as rebellious angels that were
banished from heaven, but were not quite evil enough for hell.  However, many during the Puritan era thought of them as outright demons.  The Tuatha De Danann are said to be ancient gods and goddesses who, after being repeatedly defeated, retreated to the mounds to live as faeries do.  Celtic lore also describes faeries as living humans – “a race of diminutive people” that has been driven into hiding by invaders.


Copyright May 4, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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