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Working with the Fae

I hope everyone enjoyed the Solstice, I hope everyone is still enjoying their Yule celebrations. I’ve been receiving the most beautiful pictures and messages from witches sharing their Yule traditions and their rituals and they are all so lovely and just literally magickal and I just stand in awe of how much magick you are all pouring out into the universe.

I also want to take a moment to thank Amy and Laura for becoming supporters of this podcast and helping me to continue to do this. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth mentioning again, I think, that one of the really great blessings for me in doing this podcast has been that, as I go through and make my notes, you know, jotting down the bullet points that I want to talk about during the episodes, is that I spend a lot of time going back through my notes, my old grimoires and through a lot of my books to just refresh my own knowledge and make sure that I’m not talking out of my ass. And it keeps me fresh and it prevents my craft from getting rusty.

 

We can kind of get into our comfortable ruts with witchcraft, and it’s just the same with everything else, you know, we start to develop habits and routines and before you know it, we only find ourselves using the same 8 or 10 herbs for our spellwork, or we start doing the same old full moon rituals, or the same kind of candle spells, or whatever the case may be. And while there is nothing WRONG with that, there can also be a lot of value in going back to the beginning and looking at things again like we did back when we were first starting out. 

 

So that’s my sappy message of gratitude this week, I feel like you all help to hold me to account and in that way, I find that I have been able to feel the kind of witchcraft honeymoon phase again. 

 

This episode is another that was suggested weeks and weeks ago. And I have been chomping at the bit to get to it. But it’s actually a good thing that it’s been delayed because I’ve had a very recent encounter with the Fae that I wouldn’t have been able to include if I’d done this episode sooner. And the truth is that happens kind of a lot. I’ll put a topic on the calendar, and one thing or another will come up and I’ll bump it back and bump it back, and then something relevant will happen right as I’m finally polishing up my talking points and it’s like. Well, that was convenient.

 

I love synchronicities like that. I love getting affirmations from the universe that everything is not accidental. Hold up. I think I’m going to do an episode on synchronicities lemme just make a note for myself. Anyway, this topic was suggested by listener and majestic witch Carmen. She has had some of the most beautiful experiences with fae folk and spirit guides and ghosts, let me just say. She could probably write a book. But this is a fun topic and I’m glad she thought to suggest it, because as much as I do love the Fae, it may not have ever occurred to me to do an episode about them.

 

So let’s get into it a bit. Now, for a lot of people, even for a lot of witches, the idea of fairies, or elves, goblins, brownies, pixies and the like, is just a bridge too far. Like, that’s where they draw the line of disbelief. Which is really bizarre to me. But as for my personal beliefs, as a witch who believes one thousand percent in alternate realities, portals, parallel universes, and such, the concept of fairies fits right in. I think the disconnect for some people may come from the Disneyfied version of fairies. Beautiful little blue-haired barbies with pointy ears and delicate features who wear rose petal bras and grant wishes isn’t really what we’re dealing with. 

 

Jareth the goblin king from The Labyrinth is a lot more in line with faery reality. Which is a sentence I never thought I would hear myself say. But it is apt, because although the fae have powerful magic, they also have their own motivations, their own set of ethics, and their own understanding of contractual obligations. They have no interest in granting wishes just for the hell of it. 

 

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk for just a bit about some experiences we’ve all had at one time or another and think about them within the framework of the Fae being literal and real and existing, unseen, right alongside us. I think probably my favorite affirmation of the Fae is The Lost Earring. Now, I don’t claim to speak for everyone, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who takes both of my earrings off at the same time and puts them in the same place, together.

 

I do not take one earring off in the kitchen and leave it on the counter, then go into my bathroom and take the other off and leave it on like the back of the toilet. So someone please explain to me how I have lost so many single, individual earrings? How? It doesn’t make any damn sense. How do I lose one earring? Where the hell do they go? It’s the fairies, man! Now, some of the other things we commonly lose, like glasses or keys, probably tend to have a much more mundane explanation. HOWEVER. We all have had a time when we know goddamned good and well that we put those keys down somewhere specific and they just disappeared. These experiences, in my opinion, are sometimes attributable to the Fae. 

 

But there are other experiences that we may chalk up to the Fae. I distinctly recall one time a few years ago that my oldest daughter and I were walking the dogs after dark. Now, we always take them to a huge nearby field because it’s safe to let them off-leash and they can get their zoomies out, chase squirrels, and generally cause harmless mischief. This field is several dozen acres in size, and it is bordered on the western end by an aqueduct, so, running water, and just across this aqueduct is an almond orchard. The eastern side is also bordered by orchards, to the north is a large housing development, where we live, and to the south is a really busy highway. So there are a lot of energies running into and out of and across and around this field. 

 

It is really common to feel watched when we are in this field, especially at night, and especially on the western side of it when we’re near the aqueduct and the orchard. And sometimes it’s just the animals; there are mourning doves, hawks, owls, squirrels, gophers, we’ve seen a few coyotes, snakes, lizards. This field is teeming with life because it’s completely undeveloped and just on the edge of town. But sometimes, whatever is watching feels particularly intelligent. But not negative. Just aware.

 

So anyway, one night at around maybe 9 or so, Eva and I had finished the circuit around the field with the dogs and were heading back home. And I do not and I cannot for the life of me remember what we were talking about, but we were having some sort of conversation. We left the field, we’re taking the road that heads toward home, just talking, and then we just found ourselves about a quarter mile past the street where we should have turned into our neighborhood. It was the most disorienting sensation I’ve ever felt. We both just stopped at the same time, looked around, and realized we had completely overshot our street by several hundred yards. 

 

We couldn’t remember any part of the walk, couldn’t remember what we were talking about, couldn’t remember seeing any cars or other people on foot during this time. We only know we left the field, and then arrived three city blocks beyond where we should have been. There was just nothing else we could recall about that time. I don’t believe we were abducted by aliens, we didn’t lose an especially long amount of time, but it did take us maybe 20 minutes longer than it should have just to walk that extra distance. For what it’s worth, the dogs seemed just as confused as Eva and I felt. 

 

We have talked about this event many times in the intervening years, and we still have no explanation for what happened. If I had been alone, I would be a lot more willing to accept that maybe I was just lost in thought or something, but we were both active, alert, and engaged in conversation, and we just lost about 20 minutes of time and walked a quarter mile out of our way, and then became aware of what had happened at the exact same time. 

 

I have since come to believe that we experienced some sort of glamour. I think that the Fae folk befuddled us in some way, for some reason. Perhaps we saw something or were going to see something we weren’t intended to see, or we passed too closely to a nearby portal of some kind, who knows. But I think we experienced Fae magic that night. 

 

Now, up front, I am going to admit that I do not do a ton of work with the Fae. And basically my reasoning comes down to this: there are only a very few ways to develop a working relationship with Fae, but there are about a grillion ways to get on their bad side. Mostly, when it comes to Fae who do not dwell on my personal property, I mostly leave these people alone. But you can do what you want. 

 

Some people love to work with the Fae, and they seem to have generally positive experiences, and I am happy for them. But I approach Fairies with the same sort of deference and flat out caution that I would give to total strangers. I know this is my own personal hang-up, but the thing about the Fae is that they aren’t like spirit guides. They aren’t necessarily interested in us, at ALL, and they most definitely are not interested in doing us favors. 

 

Trying to summon a fairy to enlist them in doing any sort of work on our behalf is a very foolhardy way to approach them. This is why there is such a stigma about thanking fairies. It’s terrible manners to thank a fairy because it implies that you have received a favor, and a fairy does not do favors. Everything is a transaction. They do not do service without expectation. If a fairy ever DOES do something for you that you didn’t ask for, it was not a favor. You are in this fairy’s debt and they will expect to be compensated at some point in some way. 

 

This is not a judgment about the way fairies conduct themselves or their business; humans are the same way, we just aren’t as up-front about it. We don’t mind doing favors for one another, but after a while, if we begin to feel like the relationship is all give and no take, we start to resent the other person and eventually cut them off entirely. Fairies just don’t put themselves in the position to ever be taken advantage of to begin with. 

 

But it does mean that you, as the human in the relationship, are going to have to be real damn careful of the terms and conditions any time you interact with a faery in any way.

 

But what if you don’t give a shit about my warnings and you really want to find some faeries anyway? Ok, on your own head be it. So, you’re determined to meet a faery and I can’t stop you. That’s fine, I respect your autonomy. Well first, you’ve got to find one. Let’s start close to home and branch out from there, because most of the faeries you will ever meet are necessarily going to be in close proximity to where you live.

 

Every home has a house fairy, and if you never deliberately interact with any fairies in your entire life (and I would respect that decision, because faery relations can be fraught with trouble if you’re not extremely careful), you should at least try to make and maintain some sort of pact or truce with the fairy or fairies that live in your own home. This is a mutually beneficial thing to do, and as I cannot stress enough, relationships with the Fae are ALWAYS transactional.

 

The best way to make contact with your house fairy, or any Fae, is through meditation. So clean your house, light a candle, and put out something nice as a gift for your fairy, and then go into a meditative state and just allow your mind to open to whatever house sprites may be willing to engage with you. Fae are shy. If and when they appear, it’s going to be on the periphery of your field of vision. If you see them in the corner of your eye, don’t try and focus on them or look them directly in the face; they’re just going to hide and you’ll have to start over. 

 

Once you feel like they’re approaching you, you can begin to speak to them. You can tell them who you are and why you’re trying to make contact. You can explain that you’re presenting them with a gift offered in good faith. You can ask them if they would be willing to be partners with you for the care and protection of the home that you share. You may ask if there are specific foods or other payments they prefer. All of this interaction may take a long time, and you need to be really open to hearing or seeing the responses they give you.

 

So, in return for whatever it is you decide to offer your house fairy, be it regular payments of honey, milk, or something else that your fairy has specified, you can work out an agreement that the house fairy will aid in the magical protection of your home. The terms, conditions, and duration of this contract are going to be up to you and the faery. 

 

As with all interactions with the fae, be mindful of offending them, or even of unintentionally breaking your end of the agreement. Failing to make your payment on time is an obvious one, but less obvious could be something as simple as keeping a messy house. While none of us are perfect housekeepers, it can be problematic, when we’re trying to develop a relationship with house Fae, to have an especially messy house, or to go too long between deep cleanings. This can be considered an affront to the Fae, because they absolutely 1000% consider the home to be theirs too. If they decide that you’re not being a good steward of their living space, you may find yourself on their shitlist.  

 

And incidentally if you suddenly feel like a lot of things are going wrong around your home all at once, like maybe the water heater goes out, and your garbage disposal breaks, and you discover a racoon in the attic all within the same time span, maybe consider doing a deep clean of your home, and then meditating with the house faery for a while to find out if you’ve pissed them off, and find out what you can do to make it right.

 

All of your houseplants will have some kind of a spirit residing as well, just so you know. These are going to be some form of wood fairy or wood sprite, and you can enlist them in the protection of your home too. Back in the Protective Magick episode, which was episode 10, I mentioned a book called By Rust of Nail and Prick of Thorn by Althaea Sebastiani, and in this book the author does suggest doing exactly that. And it is legit magick. You can absolutely make arrangements with your houseplants to aid in the magickal protection of your home, to help keep out unwanted or unwelcome psychic energy.

 

But bear in mind, you are already responsible for the life of this plant when you made the choice to remove it from nature, stick it in a pot, and bring it into your home. So you owe this plant basic care from the outset. You are already in its debt. So whatever you offer to the plant in addition had better be special. A sunny window and some tap water are not offerings, that’s the bare minimum. What you may offer are special organic fertilizer to be given on a set schedule, or compost, or even as the author suggests, small bits of raw meat from time to time. And don’t forget to explain to your plant when you’re repotting it that you’re not trying to upset or harm it; you’re doing it so it can continue to grow and be strong.

 

Beyond your own home, is of course your front and back yards, or your garden, if you’ve got one. You can establish contact in much the same way as you did your house fairy, and you can offer your own payments in return for their protection of the property, your fruit trees, or whatever. Payments for outside fairies (notice that I don’t call them offerings; these are straight up payments) may be the same or similar to what your house fairies like, or they may be different. 

 

Now, you can make offerings to the Fae above and beyond what you’ve arranged with them, certainly. And this is not a bad idea. You definitely want your Fae to think well of you. But when you make these additional offerings, call them that. You don’t want your fairies to become suspicious of your motives, or thinking you’re trying to catch them out by tricking them into accepting a gift that may have strings attached. So, if you’re presenting your Fae with something you intend as a gift, be it candy (which fairies love, by the way) an old pair of earrings or like a couple shiny nickels or whatever, say aloud something like, “please accept this gift, which is freely given.”

 

For fairies outside in the yard, also consider erecting a small stone structure or cairn. This will be a good place to meet and meditate with your fairies, and it’s a great place to leave their payments, gifts and offerings. 

 

To find fairies even further from home, again, I recommend starting with places that are at least familiar to you. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it does help, at least for me, to have a little bit of a baseline feel for a place, just so that it’ll be easier to tell if there’s someone of the Fae persuasion approaching you once you settle into your meditative state. 

 

There are other ways, certainly to sort of scry for Fae, but this is the way I do it and I’ve had pretty good results. There is a WONDERFUL book called Urban Faery Magic by Tara Sanchez that details other means of making contact, and I’ll put the link in the show notes, but all I can tell you is what has worked for me. Anyway, so you’re further from home, but still on somewhat familiar ground, like a park, or a field or stream that you know relatively well, and you’ve brought a gift, and you’re looking for signs of Fae activity.

 

And it may not just be the Fae that you sense, it can also be portals. Fairy rings, spaces between trees, natural openings between large stones or what have you, all these things can be passing places for fairies. If you’re very still and very open, you can start to feel it. If your third eye is especially open, you may start to have visual impressions. 

 

I have had the sense many times when I’ve been up at my family’s cabin in the Sequoias, of being in a sort of in-between kind of space. There are many times that I and my children, especially my daughters, have gone for a hike and found places that we’ve never been able to find again. We’ve also hiked to places we have been many many times, that suddenly aren’t quite where they should have been, or were just really DIFFERENT to how they had always felt before. 

 

Interestingly, I happen to know that a whole ass coven used to live and practice their magic in that area. Is this because they felt drawn to perform their rituals in a place full of faery magick, or are the faeries attracted to the residual witch magic? I wasn’t even alive back when these folks were practicing, and the last of the witches who I personally knew passed away a few years back, so I can’t really ask. But regardless of who was there first, I believe there to be a combination of Faery and leftover witch energy in these places.

 

I have never tried to directly contact these Sequoia fairies, but I do leave offerings anytime I take anything away from these areas, like fallen acorns, feathers, there’s a lot of natural granite and quartz that we find in these areas. And I don’t want to piss the fairies off and invite their wrath. So I always leave something in trade. 

 

Beyond places such as we’ve already discussed, there are Fae in other places and environments and it is totally possible to become aware of them, if not contact them. I find that places that I’m less familiar with and in more urban or developed areas, there are definitely Fae, but because it does take more time and effort to establish a rapport with them, I don’t usually try and create any kind of relationship with them. But they are there, and it is possible to do it. 

 

In the book Urban Faery Magick, the writer spends a lot of time talking about meeting Fae in old, abandoned, run-down places. In her experience, these fairy types are a little more feral, they often seem to be a little confused about where they are, who they are or used to be, and this can add another layer of difficulty to getting to know them. But she herself has had a lot of success, it just takes a lot of time, patience, and understanding. So that’s something to certainly consider.

 

Now I’d like to talk about how to avoid offending the Fae. We talked about why you never thank a fairy, and that is very important to remember. But there are other ways of pissing them off. Iron is a huge one to avoid. You’d never want to present a fairy with anything made of iron, and you definitely wouldn’t want to leave any iron in a fairy’s space. 

 

Fairies are also really weird about their names, so it might be rude to ask their name directly. But what you can do is ask them what they would like you to call them. You can certainly ask how they would like to be addressed. But never ‘give’ them your name either; instead tell them ‘you may call me Eli’ or whatever. Names are a tricky thing, especially with Fae.

 

A few offerings or tributes to avoid are going to be bread, for one. There is a lot of Fairy lore that cautions against giving bread. There isn’t really a consensus as to why this might be, and there are actually some fairies who do like it, but until you know that about the particular fairy you’re just meeting for the first time, don’t come in with bread right out the gate. Never EVER give clothes, either. It’s terrible fairy etiquette and they’ll think you’re trying to drive them out. It will definitely get their attention in a bad way. You can always give milk, honey, candy and sweets, nearly any kind of alcohol, but especially rum, or a small shiny trinket.

 

But don’t use bells. Fairies don’t care much for bells, chimes and metallic racket. Although if you ever DO want to drive fairies away, or at least get them to leave you alone, jingling a bunch of bells will do it. As will wearing your clothes inside out. It just seems to put them off. 

 

And one final word of caution before you go and meet the fair folk near you, if you are out in nature somewhere, or sitting in a fairy circle you’ve found, maybe you’re meditating in a particularly magickal meadow and you’re having a lot of success making that contact, never ever EVER eat any food that you are offered. If you’re communing in a forest and suddenly notice there are some wild blueberries nearby, leave them be. We could fill a month of episodes with cautionary stories of why you should never accept food from the Fae. 

 

So go forth with caution and care, meet and befriend your house fairies, make that connection and establish a working agreement, and please do let me know how it goes. Find me on Facebook or instagram at @middleagedwitch or email me at Eli@middleagedwitch.com. Until next week, I am Eli Ro, and this is the MIddle-Aged Witch Podcast.

 

Urban Faery Magic by Tara Sanchez

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