with Kenny Klein, Author of Through
the Faerie Glass
1. How exactly would you
define “faerie?” Do you ascribe any difference to the various spellings
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
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
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
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,
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
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?
the full interview.