Fairies are supernatural beings that are associated with nature, the weather and fertility. They are often depicted as very small creatures with wings living in the air, forest or water.
Fairies are a fixture in many cultures and have been for centuries. They may be used as symbols of nature, endangered animals, or lost children.
In this article we will be covering:
- What is a fairy?
- Different types of faeries
- Fairies in popular culture and fantasy fiction
What is a fairy?
The term ‘fairy’ has different meanings across cultures. They are mentioned in folk lore, legends and in literature as: “little people or spirits”.
Fairies are a fixture in many cultures and have been for centuries. They are used as symbols of nature, endangered animals and lost children. Fairies can also be involved in battles between good and evil.
Many people now-days associate fairies with the creatures in modern literature, film and cartoons where they’re portrayed as friendly little people that wear bright, colorful clothing. Some portray them as human sized creatures with wings or insectoid body parts.
Fairies are often depicted as small and delicate creatures of the air, forest or water-and can be dangerous if they’re not treated with proper respect. Even some humans have been mistaken for fairies because of their extraordinary beauty and magical powers.
Different types of fairies
Fairies are often seen as nature spirits and connected to different elements. There are different types of faeries, including: water, wind, fire and earth (wood) fairies.
Wood (earth) fairies
Wood fairies live in trees and they help protect them from lumberjacks, farmers, and others who may damage or harm them. According to Irish myth, they are good creatures but can be cruel at times and can be violent if their rights are being abused.
Earth fairies live in crevices and tunnels underground or under the earth. They protect these places from human intruders and prevent them from being disturbed by using sorcery. Sometimes they might scare people away by frightening them into leaving the area, for protection.
Wind (air) fairies
The wind fairies are given strength from the wind they inhabit. They are a blend of nature, spirits, and human shape – most often seen as women. Wind fairies reside at high places like hills and mountains, or in big trees.
Water (sea) fairies
The water faeries live at the bottom of lakes and rivers, but some have taken up residence inside mountain springs. Sometimes they’re seen as a kind of guardian to lakes, rivers and springs.
Fire (sun) fairies
Fire fairies are known to inhabit the fire they are surrounded by or even living inside the fire itself. Fire fairies can be boisterous and playful, but also dangerous if they are threatened.
Fairies in popular culture and fantasy fiction
In fantasy fiction, fairies are often depicted as small winged creatures that wear colorful clothing. They have good (and bad) morals and can be very dangerous if not treated properly. Fairy folklore is also laid down as the foundation to many characters in fantasy fiction. Som of the most famous fairy characters are:
Tinker Bell is a character in books by English author, J. M. Barrie, and is a mischievous fairy that appears in his fairytale tale Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Tinker Bell helps Peter Pan lead his Lost Boys to Neverland.
Tinker Bell is also sometimes considered a woodland sprite with magical powers. She often wears ragged clothes and has pointed ears and wings – both of which are typical fairy attributes.
The Fairy Godmother
The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella by Charles Perrault in one of the most known fairies in folklore. The character was popularized by Walt Disney’s film and television versions of the story.
The Fairy Godmother has magical powers and uses them to help Cinderella get ready for the ball – where she meets Prince Charming, who will later become her husband.
The Fairy Godmother is also seen as a sort of motherly figure in popular culture like numerous fairy godmother characters from various films and TV shows.
Holly Short in the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer is a young and inexperienced fairy within the Lower Elements Police (LEP).
Puck is the name of a mischievous character in William Shakespeare’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Puck is usually described as a elfish creature who wears ragged clothing.
Nuala is a fairy character in the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman.
Morgan le Fay
Morgan le Fay is a is a powerful sorceress in “Le Morte D’Arthur” by Sir Thomas Mallory. Morgan le Fay has also been featured in other fantasy fiction novels and films like: “The Mists of Avalon”, “Excalibur” and the “Merlin” series.
The Fairy End
Fairies are often seen as a sort of symbol of childhood. It is a time in our lives when we don’t fully understand how the world works, and fantasy is often used to imagine what life is like for others. Things like the world of fairies tend to be far away, magical and mysterious.
We hope you learned some new things about fairies and found it interesting! If you want to learn more about fantasy creatures you can also check out our full list of fantasy creatures.