Pagan Blog Project: E - Elves

Waning Gibbous Sap Moon (Age: 17 days)
Sign: Libra
Weather: Clear, seasonable & light breeze from the west
Ah, elves. Also known as fairies, the good folk, the fair ones, and pixies (to name a few). These nature spirits are known throughout the world by different names and are of as wide of a range of personalities as people. Most of the people that I know who are not pagan tend to view elves as the quaint diminutive servants of Santa Claus. Others who are a bit more bookish will think of Tolkien's elves. If I'm lucky, I run into some folks who are mythology geeks and are familiar with some of the old stories about these interesting spirits. (Alas, I am not as lucky as I wish to be on that front.)

My approach to elves is colored by my spiritual education. I was weaned on the myths of the Nordic people, predominantly those surrounding the Aseir and Jotuns. Usually, the Aseir were presented as the good guys and the Jotuns as the bad guys. Aside from this, we had the stories of the brownies and similar spirits from the British Isles thrown in for good measure. It made for an interesting hodge podge, especially when a dollop of Iriquoi mythology got thrown in.

I approach the elves with caution. The spirits of the land and that which lives upon it can be fickle. They are reluctant to deal with humanity because we have moved our awareness away from being in tune with nature. When you happen to begin interacting with them, strange things start to become common place. Things randomly going missing and then reappearing in odd places becomes normal. Gifts appearing on your doorstep or somewhere else that you regularly frequent, such as the perfect crow's feather or a stone that sits just right in your hand, starts to happen as you pay more attention to the care of the flora and fauna about your home.

As I said at the beginning of that last statement, I approach them with caution. I have no doubt in my mind that these spirits are powerful and have the ability to bless us or curse. I have seen what has come from being on the good side of these ancient beings and what has come from being on the receiving end of their ire. People who are loved by the fair ones seem to have a magic touch with plants and good luck. Those who are scorned watch as their very efforts to coax anything to grow wither on the vine, as though the plant itself has refused that incarnation. Bad luck plagues them and, for the truly despised, it can even manifest as a measure of illness.

The old stories speak of one being 'elf shot' when they are ill for no apparent reason and fail to recover until they have appeased the angry fae. I do not think these are just stories of illnesses that are poorly understood. I believe that buried among those stories of illnesses that were misunderstood there are accurate accounts of people who have been some how cursed by the fair ones. Given that there seem to be more accounts of people who have some how angered the fair folk then of people who have been some how blessed by them, I suspect that the fair ones are not as prone to tolerating human nonsense as certain Victorian authors would have us believe.

Do I have a relationship with the fae? Yes and I work very hard to make sure it is a good one. In part because I value their friendship and have found their company pleasant. The fae are very wise and can teach us a great deal if we are truly willing to learn from them. And, I admit, a fair dose of superstition has me cautious in my dealings with them. That, however, is part of how I was raised to approach them.

Our cultural background colors a great deal of how we interact with the local nature spirits. Some people talk of how hobgoblins and nixies seemed to have emigrated with the Scots, or other spirits with different nationalities. I'm not sure if it is because some truly did emigrate with families or if that was how those people understood the spirits they encountered.

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