fairy

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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 Some Christians have said that fairies were the ancestors of the ancient pagan gods, who, having been replaced by newer deities, were therefore hostile.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 nymphsnymph
, in Greek mythology, female divinity associated with various natural objects. It is uncertain whether they were immortal or merely long-lived. There was an infinite variety of nymphs. Some represented various localities, e.g.
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. Still others identified fairies with the souls of the dead, particularly the unbaptized, or with fallen angelsangel
, [Gr.,=messenger], bodiless, immortal spirit, limited in knowledge and power, accepted in the traditional belief of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and other religions. Angels appear frequently in the Bible, often in critical roles, e.g., visiting Abraham and Lot (Gen.
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. Among their many guises, fairies have been described as tiny, wizen-faced old men, like the Irish leprechaunleprechaun
, Irish fairy represented as a tiny old man. Leprechauns are mischievous and elusive creatures, said to possess buried crocks of gold, the location of which they will reveal if forced.
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; as beautiful enchantresses who wooed men to their deaths, like Morgan le Fay and the LoreleiLorelei
, cliff, 433 ft (132 m) high, on the right bank of the Rhine River, near St. Goarshausen, W Germany, about midway between Koblenz and Bingen. There the Rhine forms a dangerous narrows, and in German legend a fairy similar to the Greek Sirens lived on the rock and by her
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; 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., gnomesgnome
, in folklore, tiny subterranean creature associated with mines and quarries. Usually represented as misshapen, frequently as hunchbacked, gnomes are said to be guardians of hidden treasures.
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; in the sea, e.g., mermaidsmermaid,
in folklore, sea-dwelling creature commonly represented as having the head and body of a woman and a fishtail instead of legs. Belief in mermaids, and in their counterpart, mermen, has existed since earliest times.
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; 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 CinderellaCinderella,
heroine of one of the most famous folktales in the world. She is rescued from a life of drudgery by her fairy godmother and eventually marries a handsome prince.
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. 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 jinnijinni
, feminine jinniyah
, plural jinn
, in Arabic and Islamic folklore, spirit or demon endowed with supernatural power. In ancient belief the jinn were associated with the destructive forces of nature.
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, Scandinavian trolltroll
, in Scandinavian folklore, dwarfish or gigantic creature of caves and hills. Variously friendly or malicious, trolls toiled as smiths. The mountain king in Ibsen's Peer Gynt is a troll.
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, Germanic elfelf,
in Germanic mythology, a type of fairy. Usually represented as tiny people, elves are said to dwell in forests, in the sea, and in the air. Although they can be friendly to man, they are more frequently vengeful and mischievous.
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, and English pixiepixie,
in English folklore, spirit or fairy. The pixie is commonly represented as a mischievous imp who delights in flustering young maidens and leading travelers astray.
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. Among the great adapters of fairy lore into popular fairy tales were Charles PerraultPerrault, Charles
, 1628–1703, French poet. His collections of eight fairy tales, Histoires ou contes du temps passé [stories or tales of olden times] (1697) gave classic form to the traditional stories of Bluebeard, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Puss in
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, the brothers GrimmGrimm, Jakob
, 1785–1863, German philologist and folklorist, a founder of comparative philology. His interest in the relationship among Germanic languages led to his formulation of Grimm's law. His German grammar (1819–37) and his German Mythology (1835, tr.
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, and Hans Christian AndersenAndersen, Hans Christian,
1805–75, Danish poet, novelist, and writer of fairy tales. Born to an illiterate washerwoman and reared in poverty, he left Odense at 14 for Copenhagen, where he lived with a wealthy family.
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. Other notable contributors were Andrew LangLang, Andrew,
1844–1912, English scholar and man of letters, b. Scotland. His poetry, much of it written in the forms of ballades, triolets, and rondeaux, appeared in such volumes as his Ballads in Blue China (2 vol., 1880–81).
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 and James StephensStephens, James,
1882–1950, Irish poet and fiction writer, b. Dublin. One of the leading figures of the Irish literary renaissance, Stephens is best known for his fanciful and highly colored prose writings—The Crock of Gold (1912), The Demi-Gods
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.

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).

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.

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]

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?
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