A fairy, sometimes also called a faerie, faery, fae, fey, fay, and fair folk, is a mythical being that exists in international folklore.
The creature usually has magic powers and lives on Earth, and has a vaguely human-like appearance.
In some folklore, the fae have close relationships with humans, but there are many different types of fairies and fae, and their relationships with humans and other important relations differ between each type of fairy.
The stories of fairies have developed over time, and come from a collection of folk stories and beliefs from all over the world.
As such, the mythological creature is well-known, perhaps the best-known mythological being out there.
Fair folk and the tales around them are particularly prevalent in Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, and Wales, where they make up a significant part of the local folklore.
History and Origin of Fairies
The etymological history of the word ‘fairy’ is an interesting one.
The word itself derives from the Early Modern English word ‘fairie’ which means the ‘realm of the fays’, a reference to the land and home of fairies or fays in Scottish and English folklore.
The word ‘fairie’ comes from the Old French ‘faierie’, which itself comes from ‘faie’. ‘Faie’ in Old French referred to a woman skilled in magic, who knew the power and virtue of words and stones.
Before that, the word can be traced to the Latin ‘fata’, and even before that the Proto-Indo-European ‘bha’ which means ‘to speak, tell or say’.
Originally, the word ‘fairy’ referred to an illusion or enchantment, the land of the Faes and those who lived there, or an individual.
In modern English, ‘fairy’ can be used to describe individuals, and ‘fairies’ tends to be used for the plural.
Throughout history, there have also been euphemistic names for fairies, such as wee folk, people of peace, fair folk, and good folk.
The Development of Fairies Over Time
There is not really one specific origin point for fairies.
Instead, tales of similar creatures began to emerge in different cultures across the globe, particularly in Celtic, Germanic, and Ancient Greek mythology.
Fairies can be found in Arabic literature, too, and Sanskrit. Despite these separate origins, the common image of a fairy for most people is largely European.
One thing that all of the folklore has in common, is the effect that the
After the expansion of Christianity across Europe (and elsewhere) the connotations and perspectives on fairies changed dramatically.
It is thought that before Christianity, fairies were seen as almost deities, whereas Christianity led to negative connotations, with people instead thinking of them as demons or beings with mischievous intent.
Fairies in Folklore
As mentioned, fairies are a big part of Celtic folklore. Even today, the Irish government will not pave over fairy circles for fear of upsetting the Fair Folk!
Celtic – particularly Irish – folklore describes fairies as an entire race of people who were driven into hiding by a foreign invader.
One of the examples is the Tuatha De Danann (‘the people of goddess Danu’), who were an ancient race of supernatural beings.
The stories say that the races were forced to live underground in the hills and mounds of the Otherworld.
In Scottish folklore, fairies were split into the Seelie Court – generally kind-hearted fairies who played tricks on the mortals – and the Unseelie Court – malicious fairies who tried to harm mortals.
This idea of fairies being mischievous to some degree is a common theme in Celtic mythology.
Fairies were prone to kidnapping humans and replacing them with changelings and they would leave ‘fairy gold’ to trick people.
Some Scottish Folklore also suggests that fairies are linked to angels in some way or another.
Celtic and Gaelic folklore agree that a mortal unlucky enough to find themselves in the fae world (the Otherworld) would need to avoid eating anything for fear of being stuck there forever, and would need to find escape quickly, as time was said to pass faster than normal in the Land of the Fae.
In most Celtic folklore, the fairies lived in woodland and nature, and as such many mounds, hills, and other key natural features belong to them.
In the past, this meant no person would risk moving or endangering the area.
In Islamic culture, the ‘peri’ were beautiful female spirits created by God.
They would appear to humans, as punishing hunters in the mountains who were disrespectful or wasteful.
The creatures feature in both Western and Islamic stories and are said to be winged creatures that sometimes appear to humans, and were fair, beautiful, and extravagant.
Encounters with the Peri can be in person or psychological. Mention of the peris began as early as the Achaemenid Empire.
Due to the nature of the fairy’s history as something so multi-faceted, the creature’s exact origins are hard to pin down.
There are four main theories about the origins of the fairy, and they are:
- The secret or hidden people (like the Celtic myth) that were pushed into caves or mountains
- Degenerated Gods or heroes whose importance has dwindled
- Personifications of nature spirits
- Ancestral spirits of the dead
The association between demons and fairies can be seen with the Peris of Persia, who used an enchanting appearance to get away with untoward behaviors.
The suggestion of nature spirits ties in closely with stories of sprites, who often share features with nature in some way or another.
Variety of Fairies: An Overview
Fairies are not all the same. The reason there are so many different stories about their origins and their behavior is that the fae world is so diverse.
Some fae are trooping faeries, who travel in large groups and throw celebrations and festivities.
They are usually a part of the Scottish Seelie Court and occupied with themselves more than with humans, or the Unseelie Court, who will be more malevolent toward humans.
Alternatively, there are solitary faeries who are on their own rather than a part of the court.
These faes are less bothered about humans than their brethren and tend to stick to themselves.
Generally speaking, the solitary fae is seen much less often. They are believed to be keepers of knowledge and wisdom and are usually only noticed by accident or when enticed by humans.
Within those two categories, fae can be split down even further into precise categories (listed below).
Each category will have a different personality, alignment, and even appearance. Some fae are much larger than others, and some are more human-like than others. It will often depend on where they originate and what they do.
30 Types of Fairies
1. Pixies: Mischievous childlike fairies from English folklore
A pixie, sometimes called a pixy, is a type of fairy that originated in the southwest of England.
It is a tiny mischievous fairy that looks vaguely elflike and is known for dancing to the music of frogs and crickets. The name ‘pixie’ is thought to have come from the Cornish piskie.
Pixies have often been described as being naked or wearing very little clothing. When they are clothed, the fae wears fine clothing.
In fact, pixies are often excited about finery such as ribbons and gems.
The Pixie and the stories that surround it pre-date Christianity, in Britain at least, although exactly when the creature appeared is uncertain.
What we do know is how the Pixie has been perceived throughout time; for example, during the Christian era, pixies were thought to be the souls of children who had died un-baptized.
They often spend time in big groups and are known for parties and festivities. Consistently through their history, pixies famously lead travelers astray at any opportunity and love to frighten young ladies.
They were known for knocking on walls to scare people, blowing out candles, and playing in the water. Anything to spook people!
Pixies are said to be particularly common in the high moorlands around Devon and Cornwall.
They are believed to live in stone circles, barrows, dolmens, menhirs, and ringforts. They are so common in Cornish legend and folklore that Pixie Day is celebrated annually in Ottery St. Mary in June to mark the expulsion of pixies to local caves!
2. Leprechauns: Solitary tricksters from Irish folklore known for their hidden pots of gold
Leprechauns appear as tiny old men, often seen with cocked hats and leather aprons.
The Irish creature is largely solitary by nature, and lives in remote places away from many people – Leprechauns prefer isolation.
They are known to be mischievous, and in more recent stories are known as shoe-makers whose hammering alerts people to their presence.
The Leprechaun first appeared in a medieval tale, wherein the King of Ulster falls asleep on the beach and wakes up to find himself being dragged into the sea by leprechauns.
He then captures the leprechauns, and they then grant him three wishes in exchange for their release.
This mischievous nature is consistent throughout the lore surrounding leprechauns, they are known to be lovers of practical jokes!
There are suggestions that leprechauns’ outfits depend on the regions of Ireland that they were found in.
Northern Leprechauns are found in a military red coat with white britches and a pointed hat, the Leprechauns of Tipperary wore an antique slashed jacket of red with a jockey cap, Kerry Leprechauns are said to wear a red cut-a-way jacket, and those of Monaghan a red swallow-tailed evening coat and green vest.
The Leprechaun is found chiefly in Ireland, where it is said to have originated.
3. Brownies: Helpful household fairies from Scottish and English folklore
A brownie (or broonie in Scots) is sometimes also called urisk. It is a household spirit and fairy that is popular in folklore around Scotland and England. The tales of brownies are more common in the North.
Said to live in houses, in the unused corners of the house, brownies are easily the most desirable fairy.
Where another fae may play practical jokes, brownies actually aid in tasks around the home. It was such well-known lore, that brownies were there to help, that many manor houses left a seat next to the fire unoccupied for the brownie to enjoy.
In fact, there was a house on the banks of the River Tay that was believed to be inhabited by a brownie for many years, and there was even a room in the house called ‘Seormar Bhrunaidh (the brownie’s room).
Despite the thanks that were attempted to be given to them, brownies are solitary and will only work at night and unseen. They will often work in exchange for food and snacks, and will not speak to the humans that they work for.
You can spot a brownie by looking for an ugly or unsettling character with brown skin and curly brown hair. Usually wrinkled, and said to be wearing rags, the brownie resembles that of a house elf from Harry Potter.
4. Banshees: Mourning spirits from Irish folklore who wail to signal an upcoming death
A banshee is a female spirit and fairy woman in Irish folklore. Sometimes called the ‘woman of the fairy mound’ or ‘fairy woman’, the banshee is a female spirit that warns of the death of a family member by screaming, wailing, or shrieking.
The Banshee is said to live in important mounds around the Irish countryside, which is how she got her name (bean si in Irish is a fairy mound).
The Banshee is said to have long streaming hair and is supposed to wear a long grey cloak over a green dress.
Her eyes are supposed to be red from continual weeping. Sometimes, though, people have seen a banshee with a white dress and red hair.
5. Selkies: Shape-shifting fairies from Scottish and Irish folklore, who transform from seals to humans
Selkies are a type of fae from Scottish and Norse mythology. They are mythological gae that can shapeshift between the seal and human form by removing or putting on seal skin.
Their name comes from the Scots word for ‘seal’ and is sometimes spelled silkies, sylkies, or selchies.
In some stories, the selkies are friendly and helpful to humans, eager to help and befriend. In other stories, they are antagonistic in nature and can be dangerous and vengeful to mankind.
Often, the tales of selkie describe them as attractive and seductive.
In fact, many stories see humans involving themselves with selkies in a sexual way – these adventures even produce children sometimes!
Selkies also exist in Icelandic, Irish, and Faroese cultures, but they are sometimes confused for other similar creatures instead of fairies – such as mermaids.
6. Sprites: Small, swift fairies associated with water and air elements
Seen in European mythology and folklore, a sprite is a fairy that can be traced all over the world.
The creatures are described as tiny humanoid fairies with insect-like wings. The word sprite is often used interchangeably with the word fairy.
Sprites are usually connected to elemental magic such as water, air, earth, and wood. Most commonly, sprites are tied to water and air elements.
Their magic is powerful and impressive, but not always used for good, as sprites can – just like most fairies – be swift and tricky.
Sprites are one of the closest types of fairy to modern presentations of fairies. They are small and dainty – think like Tinkerbell!
But they are more powerful, and, dependent on the element that they are linked with, can sometimes live in water and on earth.
7. Will-o’-the-Wisps: Elusive, glowing fairies known for leading travelers astray
The will-o’-the-wisp is sometimes called ignis fatuus, which is Latin for giddy flame. It is an atmospheric ghost light seen by travelers at night, especially those traveling through bogs, swamps, or marshes.
It is a popular element of English folklore and European folklore, and for a long time was considered to be a ghost light rather than anything fairy related.
However, much folklore associates the lights with a series of fiery-looking fairy beings.
Said fairies have a tendency to lead travelers astray and have been found to do so in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Appalachia, and Newfoundland.
Similar tales have taken place world-over, with different names like the Boi-tata, La Candileja, and even the fifollet, all of which are glowing lights that lead people away. Whether they are also fairies, we cannot be certain.
8. Dryads: Tree-dwelling fairies from Greek mythology
Dryads are fairies whose origins can be traced back to Greek mythology.
They are sometimes called tree nymphs, and are humanoid female fairies who live in trees; originally, the dryads only lived in oak trees, but this soon expanded.
Dryads often share an element of their appearance with the tree that they live in, and the dryad’s life force is thought to be connected to the three that they live in, which were often thought to be found in the sacred groves of the Greek gods.
Dryads are thought to be shy, timid, and quiet fairies, and they acted as guardians, bound to protect the trees and the forests. In Greek times, dryads were thought to be loyal to the Goddess Artemis.
9. Nymphs: Beautiful female fairies from Greek mythology associated with nature
Another Greek fairy, nymphs are female lesser nature spirits.
They’re usually associated with a very particular location or area, usually mountains, groves, springs, rivers valleys, and grottoes.
They can live very long lives, and, like dryads, their death is usually linked to a natural item that they were attached to.
Their appearance is that of young, beautiful girls, and in the folklore surrounding them, they were often the target of satyrs looking to mate.
Nymphs do not tend to spend time around humans. They tend to live in areas out of town, but they can be spotted by lone travelers who may hear their music or see their dancing and bathing.
Those who do see them may become infatuated, mad, or even suffer a stroke – the nymphs do not want to be seen.
10. Naiads: Water nymphs from Greek mythology residing in fresh water bodies
Naiads are water nymphs. They watch over and live in springs, fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks, and other large bodies of fresh water. They are distinctly separate from river gods and are much closer indeed to dryads.
Previously, naiads have been worshipped as essential to humans. Ritual drownings of animals and coming-of-age ceremonies were held in honor of Naiads, and some even considered Naiads to be the daughters of the River Asopos.
The naiads, just like the dryads, appear as beautiful young women. They can usually be found standing or reclining near a spring, or holding some kind of water.
11. Sylphs: Air elementals often considered as fairies in folklore
Sylphs – sometimes called sylphids – are elemental fairies that are most often shown to be large women who live in the skies. They are generally considered to be made of air and have bird or insect wings.
With the elemental powers of the air, sylphs are thought to be able to manipulate air, smoke, cloud, wind, and sky, and are even able to practice atmospheric manipulation.
12. Gnomes: Earth-dwelling fairies, often portrayed as small, elderly men
Gnomes appear in folklore all over the world. They are generally considered to be from Scandinavia and thought to have eventually migrated elsewhere.
In different countries, Dwarves have different names; the Germans call them Erdmanleins, in Denmark and Norway they are Nisse, and in Finland they are Tontti.
There are a few different types of gnomes, but the most commonly discussed are the forest gnome and the garden gnome.
The former very rarely come into contact with man, whereas the garden gnome does so more frequently, as it lives in old gardens and tells tales to anyone who will listen.
There are also dune gnomes, which are larger than woodland gnomes, and house gnomes who are the most familiar to humans and vice versa. There are also farm gnomes and Siberian gnomes.
Generally speaking, gnomes tend to live in hilly meadows and woodlands. They usually live in trees.
Measuring around 15cm tall (with variations depending on the species) without the cap, gnomes weigh between 275 and 300 grams.
They are stronger than men, and can run at around 35 miles per hour! You wouldn’t think the little guys in your garden were so speedy!
Dwarves are guardians of animals and free wildlife from traps, and protect animals where needed. Some dwarves will even operate on neglected animals.
The enemies of dwarves are trolls, who they will destroy given the chance. Other than that, they will avoid violence.
13. Kelpies: Shape-shifting water spirits from Scottish folklore
Perhaps one of the more scary fairies, Kelpies are fairies that take the form of a black horse.
Their usual hobbies include luring travelers to their death – not a fairy you want to get on the wrong side of or be caught by unawares!
Kelpies reside near water and will show themselves to travelers as a lone, docile horses in the hopes that said travelers will choose to ride the quiet horse in order to cross the lake or body of water at hand.
But, as soon as the traveler mounts the horse, it will ride into the deepest end of the water and it will drag the victim into the depths.
The Kelpies are not fairies you want to find; and should you ever see a lone black horse, walk the other way!
14. Asrai: Shy water fairies from English folklore
The asrai are aquatic fairies in English folklore. They’re usually female and live in lakes just like mermaids.
They’re usually depicted and described as pale, gentle, old creatures who fear sunlight. In fact, if the asrai are in the sun for too long, they melt away.
Generally, the asrai are timid and shy. When face to face with a man, they will try to lure him with promises of gold and jewels in order to trick or drown him.
They’re around 2 to 4 feet tall and in some descriptions, they have green hair and a fishtail, and in others, they have webbed feet.
15. Mermaids: Half-human, half-fish fairies known worldwide
Everyone’s heard of mermaids! They’re the well-known half-fish half-human aquatic creatures that exist in multiple cultures’ mythology.
Their alignment and behavior vary, depending on the story. Some stories portray mermaids as helpful and good, kind creatures who are playful and maybe even naive, whereas others portray them as destructive and territorial. It is this uncertainty that has led to the general consensus that sailors should always avoid mermaids.
Mermaids’ most commonly known behavior is simply singing and brushing their hair.
This singing is what is said to lure sailors to the rocks and encourage men to jump from their ships.
They are also rumored to tell sailors that their ship is doomed and to enchant sailors, causing shipwrecks.
Sometimes, they’re known to provide humans with cures or grant them wishes, but these positive stories are much less common.
Even if the most popular depiction of a mermaid is a Disney film, it would seem that they are far from friendly!
16. Furies: Vengeful fairies from Roman mythology
The Furies, or the Erinyes or Eumenindes, were thought to be the daughters of Gaea, sprung from the blood of her mutilated spouse.
They have been depicted as ghosts of the murdered, personified curses, and even daughters of other Gods and Goddesses.
Their names are Allecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera, and they’re known to inhabit the underworld, ascending to Earth occasionally to hunt the wicked.
As deities of the underworld in Roman and Greek mythology, they were feared by many for a long time, and often referred to euphemistically as Eumenides, which translates to ‘kindly’.
The Furies were known to appear above someone when a crime was enacted against a family member, and eventually, this expanded to any crime.
They were hard to escape from and would follow those who had done wrong.
17. Kobolds: Mischievous house fairies from German folklore
These little sprites first appeared in Germanic mythology, where they are sometimes known as cobolds.
They are small household fairies that are roughly the size of a child. They wear tattered, peasant-like clothing and are generally considered to be ugly and hunched.
Kobolds aren’t particularly bad; they are generally pretty ambivalent and disinterested.
However, while they sometimes participate in household chores, they are just as likely to play malicious tricks when they feel insulted or neglected by those in the house. There are also Kobolds that live in mines, who are much the same.
18. Elves: Popular fairies known for their beauty and magical powers
Elves are very common in folklore and mythology and are usually depicted as either small nature fae, like those found in Celtic mythology, or a different race of large humanoid creatures (usually in Germanic folklore).
Both types of elves are known for their beauty and their powers; although the humanoid elves are also known for their wisdom that is beyond that of humans.
The depiction of elves as small fae with associations to nature is a much older depiction and one which has been diluted by a focus on Tolkien-type elves following the popularity of fantasy fiction.
Both depictions of elves are thought to be long-lived, if not immortal, and have natural-related powers.
19. Changelings: Fairy children left in place of human children they have stolen
Changelings are mentioned in a number of mythologies and folklore across the world. They are fairy children who were usually left in place of human children when fairies chose to kidnap the latter.
Changelings would be noticeable in large part due to a few odd characteristics that human children would not usually have.
These were things like extra toes, intense appetites, unnatural levels of intelligence or knowledge, or ‘imp’-like traits that made people uncomfortable.
In some cases, changelings do not know that they are not human, and if their parents do not notice, they may grow up to live a human life.
In other cases, the changelings will eventually return to their fairy family. The human child that was taken in their place usually stays with the fairy family forever.
To prevent the loss of a child and the addition of a changeling, parents baptized their children and leave small trinkets alongside their child in their cot to prevent the fae.
20. Dwarfs: Small, earth-dwelling fairies known for their craftsmanship
Dwarfs, or Dwarves, crop up in various cultures’ mythology, as well as in a number of fairy tales and fantasy fiction as a result. They are particularly prominent in Norse mythology, wherein they are known as dverger.
Dwarfs are magical creatures who possess a particularly impressive skill in metalwork.
They’re famed for this, and are, in many stories, given credit for many powerful legendary artifacts. They are often associated with the earth and are known to inhibit the mountains and mines.
In terms of appearance, dwarfs are humanoid but smaller, and depending on which culture you ask, their exact appearance changes.
They are generally considered to be stout and not particularly attractive-looking fae.
21. Tuatha De Danann: Tribe of fairies from Irish mythology
As mentioned above, the Tuatha De Danann are an entire race of supernatural beings in Irish folklore and mythology.
They are thought to be the deities of pre-Christian Ireland, who were forced into the Otherworld long ago.
The Tuathe De Danann are immortal and have great powers of magic that allow them control over the weather and elements, as well as the ability to shapeshift into other things.
They are often thought to be tied to specific locations on the surface, where ancient burial mounds and fairy hills appear.
22. Puck: Mischievous nature sprite from English folklore
Pucks are incredibly malicious little fairies. Their name comes from the Old Middle English word for ‘demon’, and the fae has been well known since the Elizabethan era.
Pucks are known to be mischievous pranksters, who take great joy in changing shapes, spoiling food, frightening young girls, tripping old women, and misleading travelers at night.
Sometimes called hobgoblins, pucks are often considered household fae. In some stories, they would work with housewives on household chores (which they could undo at the snap of their fingers) in exchange for bread and milk.
23. Redcaps: Malevolent fairies known for dyeing their caps with human blood
Redcaps are murderous goblin-like fae who are sometimes also called Powries. They are thought to live in castles in Scotland and England, especially around the border between the two nations.
Castles that have seen some horror or tyranny are especially appealing to them.
This type of fae gets its name from the delightful habit they have of dipping their caps in the blood of their victims.
Redcaps are short, thickset, and have skinny fingers with talons, large fiery red eyes, and long hair. They are usually armed with a pikestaff, and, of course, the notorious red cap.
Should you find yourself around a redcap, the general consensus is to get out quickly.
Redcaps will fling stones at people, sometimes the size of boulders. They are too strong for humans to hurt them, and can only be dispelled by a crucifix or by the reciting of Scripture.
24. Boggarts: Troublesome fairies from English folklore who cause domestic chaos
A Boggart is a household spirit turned malevolent trickster fae. Their appearance is goblin-like, and they are the result of a hobgoblin being teased or misused.
A Boggart’s sole purpose is to play tricks and cause issues. They’re dangerous and can be quite frightening, and many people who have found a Boggart in their home find them difficult to get rid of.
Boggarts have a strong sense of justice, and will often target humans that they deem have acted unjustly. If a Boggart has it out for you, it’s bad news! A Boggart can cause things to disappear, food to sour, and can even harm children and pets if they decide to.
25. Seelie and Unseelie Court Fairies: The ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fairy courts of Scottish folklore
In Scottish folklore, the fae is divided into two categories: the Seelie Court and Unseelie Court. These categories are often referenced in fantasy fiction and have spread across the globe. It is arguably one of the most famous ways to categorize fairies now.
The Seelie Court is thought to be full of fairies who will happily interact and seek help from humans, warn those who are in danger (especially from other fairies), and will return human kindness.
They are not above enacting revenge when insulted but are generally considered the calmer and safer fairies.
The Unseelie Court, on the other hand, houses the more darkly-inclined fairies. They would not wait to be offended to act out toward humans, they are much more likely to just play tricks whenever the mood strikes them.
26. Sluagh: Malevolent group of the fairy dead in Irish folklore
The Sluagh, sometimes referred to in full as the Sluagh na marbh which translates as host of the dead, were the hosts of the unforgiven dead.
They are thought to be the souls of the dead flying through the air in a crescent form and are said to be able to approach and pick a human up, transporting them somewhere else.
Generally, the Sluagh are considered to be either neutral or dangerous. Having said that, there are many stories of them rescuing humans from the dangerous rock clefts, perhaps because of their nature as dead souls of humans.
27. Menehune: Small fairies from Hawaiian folklore known as skilled builders
Menehune are a race of mischievous little fairies that reside in the forests and valleys of Hawai’i, hidden away out of sight.
They are said to be about two feet tall, although there were some that were smaller, measuring only six inches. The Menehune were thought to have inhabited the islands before the Polynesian settlers arrived.
Stories state that the Menehune are incredibly talented fae; they are known to have loved building and used their incredible strength to build various constructions overnight.
In Hawai’i, they are credited with Kikiaola, an irrigation ditch, and the Alekoko Fishpond, which is estimated to be 1,000 years old!
In addition to building, these mischievous little faes are known to use magic arrows, shooting them into the heart of angry people in order to ignite feelings of love and peace in place of anger – think like Cupid!
28. Domovoi: Protective house fairies from Slavic folklore
Domovoy, sometimes spelled Domovoi, is a Slavic fairy that is thought to be the household spirit. The stories of the Domovoi pre-date Christianity, and describe a being who lives in the hearth and protects those who live there.
The stories of the Domovoi can be traced as far back as the sixth century.
In the time that they have been spotted and spoken about, the Domovoi has appeared as old men, old women, pigs, birds, calves, and even a cat!
29. Tylwyth Teg: Fairies from Welsh folklore known for their beauty and dancing
Tylwyth Teg translates to ‘the fair folk’ and is used in Wales to describe fairies that inhabit the nation.
They typically live in streams, lakes, and hill hollows, and tend to closely resemble humans. Their skin is fair, like porcelain, and they have glassy blue eyes and white-blonde hair.
Generally, the smaller the fairy, the more kind and good they are. Alternatively, taller Tylwyth Teg are likely to be more mischievous and evil.
The Tylwyth Teg have some relations with humans; there are stories of humans meeting them and even stories of humans entering the fairy realm that Tylwyth Teg come from.
Once there, they are often trapped into slavery or married off. Once there, humans are unlikely to ever return.
This type of fairy is also known for kidnapping human children, especially those with golden hair.
Upon kidnapping them, they leave a changeling in its place. Tylwyth Teg has also been known to bestow riches on people, although these riches are susceptible to disappear.
30. Djinn/Jinn: Powerful fairies from Middle Eastern folklore often associated with wishes
Jinn, sometimes spelled Djinn, are creatures from early Islamic Arabian religion and culture.
They are neither evil nor good, and some choose to follow religion and God’s guidance, but some choose not to.
They are similar in some aspects to genies, and share commonalities with a few Pagan mythical creatures.
The Djinn are thought to vary depending on which religion they follow, with the general consensus (at least in Islamic folklore) being that Christian and Jewish jinn are indifferent, Muslim jinn are benign and Pagan jinn are evil.
Jinn are said to be invisible, but when they do appear to humans, they are thin and subtle and can change at will. It has been reported that they tend to favor the snake form, but that their options are limitless.
The Djinn are a type of fae that does tend to have some form of interaction with humans; in fact, there are tales of the Djinn having sexual relations with humans and even producing offspring with humans.
Djinn are thought to be able to take control over a body, but only when it is weakened in some way.
They are also able to live forever and are well known for influencing human action.
To some, this means inspiring soothsayers and poets, to others, this means using humans for evil. In some stories about Djinn, they are able to provide people with wishes.
Modern Depictions of Fairies
While much of the folklore and mythos around fairies is from many, many centuries ago, it is still believed by many now.
It is also still very prominent in popular culture, meaning that even those who do not believe in fairies are likely familiar with at least a few different types of fairy!
You just have to look at Disney films, with characters like Tinkerbell, a classic fairy, and Ariel the Mermaid.
Disney even made an attraction and video game called Pixie Hollow, where people can play as and meet various pixies and fairies (albeit much kinder ones than depicted in the general folklore!).
Then there are the masses of fantasy novels like those penned by J. R. R. Tolkien that features Elves and Dwarfs, or those which feature various Fae Courts like the books currently taking the internet by siege by Sarah J. Mass.
There are examples of fairies everywhere, from kid’s media to books, to roleplay games and video games like Dungeons and Dragons and Legend of Zelda.
Generally speaking, though, the fairies depicted in modern pop culture are usually quite removed from the myths that they’re connected to.
Their harsh and sometimes malicious or trickster behavior is often diminished or forgotten altogether, replaced instead for a childlike wonder or usefulness.
This is just the surface, really. There is so much more to fairy lore, with a neverending list of types of fae, where they can be found, and how to approach them (if, indeed, you should at all!).
If you’re interested in learning more about fairies, and how they work in the world around us, it may be worth exploring the fae that belongs to the mythology and folklore of where you live.
You can explore your local fairy world, and learn more about the ways in which the fae hide themselves, how their behavior and habits depend on where they live, and you might even get lucky enough to see one!
Just remember, the fae are unpredictable. There are so many types of fairies, and it can be hard to determine whether the fairies you’re learning about or trying to track down are going to be friendly and welcoming, or whether they’re going to be malicious like the Redcaps.
Always approach fae with hesitation – you don’t want to see what happens when you upset a fairy!