The Perils of Fairy Food

Many have been the tales throughout the centuries regarding food and drink found in otherwordly domains. Various myths have offered narrations about the dangers of consuming sweets, fruits and other edible stuff either in the Underworld or some other supernatural realm. This post explores in detail the consequences humans have faced for both having eaten and having refused fairy food.

British Fairies

iro- f banquet Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

Fairy foodstuffs are mysterious.  Eating or drinking within fairyland is widely accepted to be a way of ensuring that you cannot escape back to your home: you take fairy nature within yourself- and therefore you must abstain from meals whilst visiting.  Sometimes, a wise friend might warn a person of the risks before they go- as was the case with a Ross-shire midwife called to a delivery in the knoll at Big Strath; sometimes the help comes from someone already there in Faerie.  In the Hertfordshire fairy-tale of the Green Lady, a girl working as a servant for the green (fairy) woman is warned by fish in a well where she draws water not to eat the household’s food.

What is odd, though, is that the converse of this rule is that, if you encounter fairy food and drink in the human world, refusing to eat it…

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Faery song

Fairies in mythology have always been associated with both magic and ambivalent behaviour towards humans. A significant part of their culture centres on music and the power of rhymes and songs. This blog post explores how fairies have used the magical property of their songs to both enthrall and save humans by cursing them or bestowing their blessings upon them.

British Fairies

waterhouse siren 

A siren, J W Waterhouse

I have written before of the fairies’ love of music (known as fonn-sith in Scotland) and of song.  Songs are more, though, than just entertainment: they are magical.

The special status of song in fairy culture is demonstrated extremely well in a story from Highland Scotland.  Angus Mór of Tomnahurich was a shepherd.  He heard music coming from a fairy knoll, accompanied by the voice of his wife-to-be singing.  Approaching the knoll, he peeped in but couldn’t see her.  A fairy woman happened to be passing by so he seized her with his iron-tipped crook and demanded to know what was happening.  She told him that he would only be able to save his intended if, at the end of that week, he could tell the fairy queen’s secret on the Bridge of Easan Dubh (the Black Falls).  Seven days later Angus…

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