Interview with Kenny Klein
An Interview with Author Kenny Klein
1. How exactly would you define “faerie?” Do you ascribe any difference to the various spellings of faerie?
In my book Through The Faerie Glass: A Look At The Realm Of Unseen And Enchanted Beings , I explain my belief that our Faerie lore comes from several sources. The names seem to come from a race of enchanted beings that the Celts and Germans encountered when they first arrived in Europe. These people lived close to nature, and were mysterious and elusive. The Celts called these people Picts, from which we get the word Pixie. The Germans called them Peri or Feri, which the British changed to Faerie, and also Feinan, Fair Ones, which became Fairy or Fae.
Faerie lore also contains a good deal of sacred Pagan mythology. When Europe became Christian, people who refused to give up the worship of the Old Ones morphed the myths of their Gods and Goddesses into legends of the Faeries. Underworld Goddesses were especially treated this way. We see Morgan in the Arthurian legends called Morgan Le Fey (Morgan of the Faerie), and Mab called the Queen of Faerie. In some locales, Herne and Odin are also said to be enchanted Underworld beings who ride at night across the wild forests.
And finally there are the true Faeries, enchanted creatures that take human, animal, and other natural forms, and inhabit both our world and a Faerie world. These may be large or small, good or bad, beautiful or hideous, well mannered or rude, funny or serious, and may dress in anything from royal robes to tree bark. There is a myriad of folklore, folk song, legend and myth about these creatures, and my book sorts through a bit of it to get at the bottom of who and what Faeries might be.
I use the term Faerie to signify true Faeries from folkloric and historical sources, rather than Fairy, which can sometimes be more of a fantasy or a cute ideal.
2. Why do we have such a love affair with faeries?
I think people in this modern world need magic in their lives, and while some media depictions of Faeries might be cutesy and fantasy-inspired, we know Faeries wield stark, wild, sometimes perilous magic, and many of us want to know and experience that enchantment.
It wasn't always that way. In the Middle Ages people were taught to fear and avoid faeries. In Through The Faerie Glass, we look at the many ways people protected themselves from Faerie magic and seduction: an iron knife stuck in the carcass of a hunted animal being carried home; a nail in the bed of a pregnant woman or new mother; a tromb or Jew's harp, a musical instrument made of iron. This last one saved a young Scots hunter from being seduced and murdered by a Faerie called a Glastig.
But in later times, Faeries became thought of as very lovable and sweet. Part of that was Shakespeare's depiction of Titania's retinue, with enchanting Mustardseed, Cobweb, Moth, and Peaseblossom sweetly singing over the sleeping queen. Later there were illustrators like Cicely Mary Barker, who painted the charming Flower Fairy books. Then came J. M. Barrie, who introduced Tinkerbell to the world. I imagine now most people think of Tinkerbell rather than the Glastig when someone mentions Faeries. But when you dote over adorable Tink, do keep in mind that Tinkerbell tried to have Wendy murdered. She's not the sweet adorable Faerie she appears to be!
3. Can faeries be separated into groups of good and evil, or are all inherently one or the other?
Oh, just as in the human world, there are Faeries of every type. Many are pretty nasty. The Lorelie is uncannily beautiful, and sings so sweetly from her home in the Rhine river that men cannot help but fall hopelessly in love with her. When any young man would embrace her, she allows it! But as they kiss, she drags her would-be suitor to her home deep beneath the river. What a way to go, huh?
And we mentioned the murdering Glastig. Other water Faeries, like the Finfolk of Norway or the Selkies of the Hebrides steal young women and men away to their home in Hildaland; there their victims drudge away their lives as servile mates. And there are the demon dogs, like Black Shuck, who in 1577 ran wildly through a church in East Anglia killing two people and destroying the church building!
But there are also Faeries who live and work well alongside humans. The Kobold, star of the Grimms tale "The Shoemaker and the Elves," is seen in that tale to be very helpful to the titular shoemaker. In Germany women would often do spells to invite Kobolds into their house to help with chores. The creatures would take the form of children of nine or ten years old, and were hard workers who never ate and were always merry. And in Norway, people wait on long winter nights for the Julipukka, an enchanted goat, to slide down their chimney and leave gifts of food and useful objects.
The Irish welcome the Faeries, but are ever mindful to stay on their good side. For this reason their names for the Fae are The Good People or The Kindly Ones. Every old Irish grandma leaves a plate of milk or a bit of whiskey out on the back porch for the Fae, and will drop a bit of silver in the old well from time to time. This keeps the Faeries from doing harm, and encourages them to help with chores like churning butter.
4. Some people go to great lengths to ensure that their homes and gardens are welcoming to faeries. Are gardens the only places to connect with faeries?
In my book I mention several spells to bring Faeries into your home or yard. I've seen evidence of Faeries in forest trees, especially hollow ones (I once saw a gnarled Faerie in such a tree), and it's common to find one living in your home, especially if you live in a very old house. I'd also suggest old wells, stone tunnels, foot bridges and caves, all excellent places to look for a Faerie presence.
Just remember some are a blessing, and others not so much. When a Faerie lives in your home, you might find shiny things disappearing with some regularity. Coins, keys, and marbles are the biggest bait. There are spells in Through the Faerie Glass to persuade the Fae to return useful items like your keys. Just remember that when a Faerie lives in your house, the Faerie probably thinks you live in its house. It's very likely he or she lived there first, and for a very long time before you moved in!
5. What do you feel is the best way to connect with faeries?
There are many ways, some safer than others. Placing yourself in a ring of toadstools or picking a rose in an enchanted place are both surefire ways to be noticed by Faeries, but if we trust all the folklore, it's pretty certain you won't be too happy with the attention you're getting!
Better ways are to leave milk, whiskey, or chocolate in a special spot in your house or yard, and call out to the Faeries “Kindly Ones, this is for you” when you place it down. You might also play on an instrument or a recording tunes like O'Carolan's "The Fairy Queen," or "Shee Beg Shee More." O'Carolan was an Eighteenth century Irish harper that knew the Faeries well, and the Good People respond to his music. Sheet music and recordings by popular Irish bands are readily available.
6. What magic can faeries bring us?
Faeries are extremely magical beings, and may use magic to bring good or harm. There are many songs about humans who enter the Faerie world, eat the food there, and are trapped there for centuries. When they return home, they cannot say what they've seen there, and they pine away their remaining years wishing for the magic of Faerie one last time.
But Faeries can do excellent magical things for us. The Irish bards, who were extensively trained musicians, would sleep beside a brook or stream; they believed Faeries in the waters would teach them a new song, and often when they awoke they would write some amazing tune. Dryads, tree Faeries, can grant wishes if you know how to ask. And the Faerie that lives in mistletoe can bring love, passion and fertility, which is where we get the custom of kissing under that plant.
Through The Faerie Glass has many ways to contact the Faeries and ask them for favors, as well as ways to protect yourself from some of the nastier ones. Also, keeping your eyes and ears open and leaving shiny coins lying around is a good start to finding a Faerie presence where you may not expect it!