|Written by magickspells.co.uk|
The dainty image we have of fairies today is largely due to the Victorians; they are actually entities of various shapes and sizes that inhabit a middle kingdom between the human world and the Otherworld of the dead. Fairies are known to have exacted punishment on the humans that annoyed them, taking offending individuals off to fairyland. This is the original version of what is now called ‘Alien Abduction’. Sharing the land with fairies is a complicated and delicate matter.
There exists in the middle kingdom a network of thoroughfares known as ‘fairy paths’, ‘passages’, ‘avenues’ and ‘passes’. The country of Ireland holds the world’s greatest wealth of fairy knowledge, right down to actual maps with fairy paths marked and the fairy forts that these pathways connect. At the Irish Folklore Commission archives at University College Dublin there are transcripts of oral recollections that predate WWII that catalogue various people’s accounts of fairy folklore. Most of the accounts seem to imply that the pathways are straight, Patrick Kennedy wrote in 1870 that fairies ‘go in a straight line, gliding as it were within a short distance of the ground’. This is interesting as it correlates with other European folklore where spirit paths were also thought of as travelling in straight lines. Some believe that they may be the origin of more modern thoughts concerning ley lines.
Because the pathways are invisible, the only way of mapping them is by connecting up locations that are believed to be fairy sites; the most notable in Ireland are those known as ‘fairy forts’ or ‘raths’. There are over 2000 of these sites scattered across Ireland. There are also certain trees and bushes that are designated ‘fairy sites’, often they are bushes that stand oddly alone in the middle of a field that are named fairy thorns, or appear conspicuously in the middle of a hedgerow, or near wells. A thorn is also considered a fairy place if shadowy figures have been seen near it or some ill befalls someone who damages such a bush. There was a resurgence of old beliefs after catastrophe struck John DeLorean, the luxury carmaker, when it was discovered that a fairy bush had been uprooted to build his factory in Belfast.
Another favoured place of fairy folk were ‘airy’ (eerie) mountains or hills, and numerous smaller location are also favoured by fairies such as rock outcrops, springs, lakes and Stone Age monuments. One more way to find fairy paths is to seek out buildings that are said to be, ‘in the way’ or ‘in a contrary place’; these phrases are used for houses and buildings that have had unlucky pasts or tragic circumstances befall them, because they were built on fairy pathways, blocking their course. This can be demonstrated with the case of Michael O’Hagan whose children were dying for no obvious reason. The distraught and confused father sought help from the local wise-woman who, on arrival at his home, immediately noticed that he’d built an extension to his house that intersected a direct line between two fairy forts; the addition to Mr O’Hagan’s house was demolished and the man’s surviving child grew up healthy. There’s also the case of a man who was suffering from an extreme run of bad luck; when he discovered that a corner of his house interrupted a fairy path, he had the corner flattened off and his bad luck went away. There are many houses with their corners flattened off this way in remote parts of western Ireland.
Some builders used to use a technique to see if the planned construction was going to be on a fairy path; they would map out the floor plan in the earth and place a pile of stones at each corner and leave it overnight, if the stones were undisturbed it was safe to build, otherwise the work would not continue. There’s another theme that states if your house is on a fairy path, you must leave your doors and windows open at night, front and back, to allow fairies to pass through. Builders were also advised against using white quartz in their stonework, as it is a fairy stone.