I don’t remember when I saw my first fairy, but I know that I spent my childhood chatting to them, instinctively understanding that each tree, stream, or district had its own indwelling spirit. Then, when I became a witch, it was part of my training to learn to communicate with the Wildfolk, as we called them. As we cast our circles in the woods, fairies flocked around their edges. Sometimes they were visible only in glimpses out of the corner of the eye; sometimes they manifested fully as small, earth-colored humanoids.
Witches and Fairies
This relationship between witches and fairies has always existed. Look back into the records of witch trials and you will find that most witches maintained that their powers came not from the devil, as their accusers claimed, but from the fairy folk, who taught them how to make potions and cast spells, and who gave them the healing gifts. However, The Fairy Ring is not only for witches, but for everyone who loves fairies.
There are fifty-two cards, each showing a different fairy, and these are divided into four suits—spring, summer, autumn, and winter—according to when the fairy usually makes its appearance. Their chief holidays are the eight festivals of the ancient year: Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lughnasa, Harvest, and Halloween, and these are depicted in eight additional cards, making sixty in all.
Each fairy has its own advice to give and lessons to teach, and the book that accompanies The Fairy Ring cards explores these. Perhaps you might encounter the card of Wayland the Smith, who some say is king of the elves, and who lives in Wayland’s Smithy, a chambered Neolithic long barrow in Berkshire, England. It is said that if a horse is tethered at the Smithy under a full moon, the owner, returning in the morning, will find it newly shod. Wayland was a popular character in English myth, related to the Saxon smith god, Wieland or Voeland. In days gone by, every witch would have to learn the secrets of Wayland’s magic in order to forge his or her own magical tools. Today, we have to apply Wayland’s magic in a different way. He teaches you that new things may be made from old, that by hard work, one thing may be transformed into another, just as the smith transforms lumps of metal into useful or beautiful items, such as horseshoes, swords, and jewelry. This transformation might apply to situations or relationships, as well as the work of the artist or craftsman.
I have also included pathworkings (creative visualizations) that will guide you into the Otherworld, and enable you to meet its fairy inhabitants. I’ll leave you with this pathworking that leads you into the mysterious world of the magical unicorn, a lovely creature seldom seen by humans, a symbol of purity, of the soul within the dark matter of material form, and the perfect reconciliation of opposites. Its horn, called an alicorn, is said to be an antidote to poison, and can cure many ills.
This pathworking will take you on a journey in your imagination to meet the gentle unicorn. Find a quiet place where you can lie down or sit comfortably and relax, undisturbed. Start by relaxing your body completely. Let each muscle in turn relax, beginning with your toes, and working up to your head. Breathe deeply, and with each breath, you become more and more relaxed.
Imagine that you are in a woodland clearing, standing beside a still, clear pool. It is warm and sunny, you feel relaxed and comfortable. Water trickles into the pool over mossy rocks and you notice a golden cup attached to the rocks by a silver chain. You are thirsty but feel that to drink from this cup without an invitation would be wrong.
Suddenly the air seems to shimmer and the forest hushes. A resplendent, stately white unicorn appears before you. You feel purity and nobility radiating from it. After a while it steps towards the pool, dipping its silver horn into the water. The water glistens and seems filled with a soft light. Stepping back, the unicorn invites you to drink.
You dip the golden cup into the water and drink deep. It is cool and sweet and fills you with energy. It is the water of healing, of renewal. Feel its force enter you.
When you are ready to leave, bow to the unicorn. Gradually bring yourself back to waking consciousness.