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A History of Irish Fairies

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Fairies prefer, above all else, to be left alone. They are at home in their world of intense emotion and delicate sensibilities. Their emotions are unmixed, so that they love and hate with a good heart, their love never palling, their vengeance never anything but deadly and sure. They are beautiful; they own all the treasures of the earth and hence can afford the luxury of generosity. Although they delight in fine wines and feasting, they are never intemperate and hence never suffer from drunkenness or obesity. However, they do not by any means uphold the Aristotelian principle of moderation; rather they have a strong sense of good form and despise vulgarization. They therefore loathe uncleanliness and any niggardly or petty behavior. They are aristocrats who take their refinements as the world's norm.

Fairies are passionate creatures who give themselves totally to whatever they do and cannot understand those who do not maintain the same intensity. The present alone exists for the sídhe - past and future being no more than pleasurable blurs; therefore their intense moments are never dulled by hopes or regrets or memories of former attachments. What they love or hate intensely today, they may forget tomorrow. They will not wear an old sentiment for nostalgia's sake.

Enchantment

If all the world were fairy, the world would be an intense and lively place. But since fairyland and the mortal realms overlap, there will always be a conflict of interests. Fairies, no matter how much they desire it, can never be alone, because mortals have the habit of frequently wandering into their world as they do into ours. Fairies, therefore, have learned to take us for granted. They are not subtle reasoners and therefore can not comprehend that our manners of living might be alien to theirs. They pick us up and use us as instruments of their own pleasure, because they are careless to consult our wants and needs in such matters. For them the world is a mirror of their desire. Whatever they want, they appropriate; and if the desired object is a mortal and hence protests, they look at him as some curio, which may be turned into an amusement or cast as easily away. Fairies are not evil; they are merely careless. Some may call them self-centered but this is not all the case. In truth, they do not think of themselves at all, and divide the world into mine and yours. What the moment brings they embrace; and being immortal they are fearless of consequences.

Midnight Table

Since mortals are about and fairies have gotten used to us, the good people do ask certain small courtesies, such as never draining the wine glass at a feast or a poteen flask or a milk pail. If you keep the fire going throughout the night and never throw a pail of dirty water away until you make sure that it will not land on a fairy going invisible about his or her errands, the fairies will show their gratitude. When well-treated they are generous folk; but they are deadly to those who wrong them.

If one is a mortal it is hard to have anything to do with the good people without getting some kind of mark from them. Their ways are not ours; and they have never been ones for learning foreign customs. Therefore it is wisest for mortals, whose minds are more malleable and bodies more vulnerable, to learn the ways and the doings of the sídhe.

Source: Carolyn White "A History of Irish Fairies"

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