Monday, January 6, 2014

The World of Faeries, from author Lionrhod

I would like to share this very interesting folklore information about Faeries gathered by Fantasy/Wiccan writer Lionrhod, who is writing a series titled Witches Gates Saga.  The first book, available now as an ebook on Amazon, is titled Dark Moon Gates.  Please enjoy this provocative explanation of the world of Faeries.

The forest is dark, brooding. You had not meant to be alone on this trail. Your journey home was delayed till a late hour, and now you regret leaving the comfort of the inn's warm hearth.

Empty tree branches rattle and sigh, and the moon provides your only light, limning a path between trunks. Tales are told of this forest, and of the moors that encircle it. Travelers who never made it to their destination. Of those few who did return, years after they set out. And invariably changed and strange.

Then in the distance you see a flicker of light. You quicken your pace, hoping it is from a cottage, or at very least, a camp where a kind traveler might allow you to share the warmth and light of their fire.

Now, above the sound of your own harsh breathing and the crunch of leaves underfoot, you hear the thready notes of a flute and the beat of a drum. Yes, a campfire. The wind brings you a scent of smoke and roasting venison and your belly groans and gurgles with hunger. You hasten closer.

In the clearing ahead, several bodies sway and move to pounding beat and skirling tune. It is like no music, like no dance you have ever heard or seen before. Primal and ethereal all at once.

You halt at the edge of the trees, taking in the sight of the the folk. Tall and lithe and beautiful, but with an otherness to their features. And does that one have...horns? They seem to capture the light of fire and moon, glowing almost from within.

The storytellers' tales come back to you and fear lances your heart. Yet your feet continue forward, as if willed by something other than you. Fighting your own body, you step from the trees.

And the clearing is plunged into darkness.

Faeries are found throughout most (if not all) cultures worldwide. In Germanic folklore they are called kobolds, in Italy they were known as the fatae, in Japan they are the yosei. and in Iceland, the huldu folk or "hidden folk." In North America, the Ojibway tell stories of the Star Maiden, while the Shoshone speak of a tribe of little people they call the Nimerigar.

In the British Isles, they are called the Sidhe (prounounced "shee") which translates to "People of the Hollow Hills," named for the many barrow sites that dot those lands. As it was believed unsafe to invoke them by their true names, people instead spoke of the Good Folk or the Fair folk, from whence we get the term "faeries."

What these folk are is unknown. They may be the ancestors and descendants of the Old Gods, and some may even be the Gods themselves. They could be the indigenous people of the various places they come from. For instance, the Pritani, who gave Britain its name. They may be spirits of the land and nature itself, or perhaps visitors from another dimension beyond our own. This last theory is supported by much of the lore of places such as Avalon, and by tales that suggest Faery is a separate realm, into which humans can sometimes cross. It is possible that more than one of these theories are correct.

In most cases, faeries are seen as at very least uninterested in humans and quite possibly malevolent. Among the many faeries of lore are the Leanhaun Si, a vampiric muse who would inspire their lover, but often send them to an early grave; murderous Redcaps, "drowning faeries" such as Peg Powler and Jenny Greenteeth; and the the Bean Si or "washer at the ford" whose mournful wail presages death. Stories tell of children, stolen from their cradles, and replaced by "changelings" who must then be reared by their human hosts, such as in Yeats' poem, The Stolen Child. One of the more famous tales, is that of Tam Lin, who was taken by the Faery Queen, and rescued years later by his beloved who held onto him until his body was transformed into a glowing coal and then tossed him into a well, thus returning him to humanity.

Yet not all faeries harbor ill will to humans. There are also stories of "shoemaker elves," brownies and similar faeries who aid tradesmen and housekeepers. Many tales tell of meeting someone in the woods or along a road who, and doing them a kindness, then being rewarded with wealth, beauty, talent or some other gift. Faeries are said to have a great appreciation for generosity, honesty, kind heartedness and courage.

Never lie to nor attempt to cheat the Sidhe, as will win their instant disfavor. Do not seek to do good for them only for the sake of what you may receive, as they loathe avarice and are swift to punish it. And should they tell you that you must not look upon them at a certain time, or follow some other rule, take heed that you do as told, however great your curiosity.

Do not eat faery food unless accompanied by a Druid or experienced magickal practitioner (And we DO mean experienced!) who is well studied in Abjuration (the science and art of cleansing and removing unwanted energies) or you may be trapped beneath their Hollow Hills.

They are especially attracted to music, flowers, bells, or water features. They also appreciate gifts of milk, wine, honey, food, crystals, jewelry and cloth.

The Making of Dark Moon Gates

Dark Moon Gates was born out of a dream. In one part, insect-bodied faeries were staring in at me through the window, their eyes glowing like huge jewels. Later in the dream, I found myself running through a park. My younger brother was cuffed to a shopping cart and I was trying to wheel him to safety. Yet another part of the dream introduced me to Willa and the fact that prophecy said she would be blinded attempting to save her brother.

I tend to work on several projects at once, and at the time, was focused on writing the first edition of Spellcraft Secrets. I wrote the first few chapters about Willa and brought them out to polish on occasion, but was stumped by how--and if--she would manage to save Arrie without being blinded.

Another breakthrough came when I was taking a Runes class. We were working on the second Aett (the second third) and my teacher asked us to write a story using that Aett in order. This and a true-life incident where I nearly got myself and my siblings drowned as a kid, led to the river crossing scene.  Now I had the kids out in the wilds of the mountains, hiding from the Dark Sidhe. I had and no idea how I'd get my characters there or what would happen when I did.

When I write, the characters become living, breathing entities. I ask them what they're up to and hopefully they tell me. About two years ago, Willa came to me and said it was time to finish her story. The rest of the book that had sat in my drawer for years, pulled together with her help. I finally discovered the secret of her blindness amongst many other things.

The magick in the book is based on my own magickal practices. As a witch for the past 35 years or more, I wanted a story where the effects of magick were subtle and worked much as they do in the real world. I theorized that coming from the realm of Faery, the Sidhe would be unfamiliar with our technology, (riding bicycles and stags rather than cars) and that while still a great sorceress, Bria, leader of the Dark Faeries would be hampered by the fact that the human world had far less natural mana (magickal energy) than the realm of Faery.

Willa and her mom Hailey's coven itself, is based on several covens that I've been part of, and the characters I encountered there.

My favorite surprise while writing the book was Mrs. Ornstedder. She started out as just a mention as one of Willa's teachers, aka the Bitch of Bio and the Crone of Chemistry. I had no idea that she'd show up, ragged pink nails and all for a manicure and help to turn the tide of the story.

At the moment I'm working on the second book in the Witches' Gates Saga, Unquiet Memories. Willa and her family and coven are recovering from their encounter with the Dark Sidhe, who loom in the background, waiting for another chance to close the Gates to Faery. Meanwhile, Willa has been adopted by the ghost of a long-ago suicide intent on clearing her name. Willa's stepdad is also back on the scene, trying to win back his family, and causing havoc with her heart. 


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