fairy

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fairy

fairy, in folklore, one of a variety of supernatural beings endowed with the powers of magic and enchantment. Belief in fairies has existed from earliest times, and literatures all over the world have tales of fairies and their relations with humans. Some Christians have said that fairies were the ancestors of the ancient pagan gods, who, having been replaced by newer deities, were therefore hostile. Others thought that fairies were nature deities, similar to the Greek nymphs. Still others identified fairies with the souls of the dead, particularly the unbaptized, or with fallen angels. Among their many guises, fairies have been described as tiny, wizen-faced old men, like the Irish leprechaun; as beautiful enchantresses who wooed men to their deaths, like Morgan le Fay and the Lorelei; and as hideous, man-eating giants, like the ogre.

Fairies were frequently supposed to reside in a kingdom of their own—which might be underground, e.g., gnomes; in the sea, e.g., mermaids; in an enchanted part of the forest; or in some far land. Sometimes they were ruled by a king or queen, as were the trolls in Ibsen's Peer Gynt and the fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Although fairies were usually represented as mischievous, capricious, and even demonic, they could also be loving and bountiful, as the fairy godmother in Cinderella. Sometimes fairies entered into love affairs with mortals, but usually such liaisons involved some restriction or compact and frequently ended in calamity, as did those of Melusine and Undine. Various peoples have emphasized particular kinds of fairies in their folklore, such as the Arabic jinni, Scandinavian troll, Germanic elf, and English pixie. Among the great adapters of fairy lore into popular fairy tales were Charles Perrault, the brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen. Other notable contributors were Andrew Lang and James Stephens.

Bibliography

See K. M. Briggs, The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature (1967); J. D. Zipes, Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales (1979), Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale (1994), and When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition (1999); M. M. Tatar, Off with Their Heads!: Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood (1992); M. Warner, From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers (1995).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a fairy?

Fairies are associated with childhood fantasies of nymphs and gnomes and magical helpers who come to fix human problems. In dreams fairies can also show unrealistic fantasies or a sense of magic with respect to life.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

Fairy

Abonde, Dame
good fairy who brings children presents on New Year’s Eve. [Fr. Folklore: Brewer Dictionary, 3]
Ariel
sprite who confuses the castaways on Prospero’s island. [Br. Drama: Shakespeare The Tempest]
fairy godmother
fulfills Cinderella’s wishes and helps her win the prince. [Fr. Fairy Tale: Cinderella]
Grandmarina
fairy who provides everything for Princess Alicia’s happiness. [Br. Lit.: Dickens “The Magic Fishbone” ]
leprechaun
small supernatural creature associated with shoemaking and hidden treasure. [Irish Folklore: Benét, 579]
Mab, Queen
fairies’ midwife delivers man’s brain of dreams. [Br. Legend: Benét, 610]
Oberon
and Titania King and Queen of the Fairies. [Br. Drama: Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s Dream]
Pigwiggin
his love for Queen Mab ruptures her harmony with Oberon. [Br. Poetry: Nymphidia in Barnhart, 824]
Puck
the “shrewd and knavish sprite” who causes minor catastrophes and embarrassing situations. [Br. Drama: Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s Dream]
Tinker Bell
fairy friend of Peter Pan. [Br. Lit.: J. M. Barrie Peter Pan]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Fairies

(dreams)
These mystical, magical creatures are a part of European, Roman and Greek folklore. They are known for their fickle nature, for their ability to grant wishes and for their whims of trickery. Fairies have a capacity for malice, their tools are wands and rings and they can generally be found in groups of three. The idea of three fairies is at times interpreted as representing childhood, adulthood, and old age, or birth, life, and death. Fairies may be called the “mistresses of magic” and they may symbolize the extraordinary powers of the human spirit and our fundamental capacity of imagination. Alternatively, we may want to hold on to beliefs in magical powers that will save us from ourselves. In order to be well-adjusted human beings, we need to adapt to our environment and accept our limitations. The fairy in your dream may be interpreted according to the details of the dream and according to your current issues or developmental dilemmas. Is the fairy in your dream providing hope by encouraging you to be creative and resourceful, or is she playing tricks on you and perpetuating your desire to be saved by magic?
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.