Fairies and Fairy Lore

by jptanabe

Fairies are humanoid mythical creatures, probably the most commonly known of those that appear in tales of legend and fantasy, otherwise known as fairy tales!

Fairies (also written faeries) are "little folk" or "wee folk," mystical beings, humanoid in appearance but usually able to fly. In fairy lore, sometimes fairies are portrayed with wings; other times they just fly "magically." Fairies are of various characters, some good, some not so good. They are often tricksters, likely to fool human beings, but they are equally capable of assisting those in need, especially through their ability to use magic.

Fairies have been likened to spirits or angels, especially since they seem to have supernatural abilities transcending the merely physical realm. Fairies appear in the folktales of Europe, Celtic cultures in particular, and of course give their name to the popular stories for children - "fairy tales."

Image of Fairy from Wikimedia Commons.

Fairies are the most Popular Mythical Creatures

Of course, fairies appear in fairy tales!

Fairies are the most popular creatures to appear in mythical tales and legends of creatures from other realms - they're even called fairy tales! Fairies have a variety of characters, some are tricksters, noted for their mischief, such as leading travelers astray, others are playful, often protectors of nature, and helpful to humans.

Fairies have been portrayed with a wide variety of emotions, temperaments, and intentions. But they are always enchanting, and often fly and leap with joy!

"Fairy Falls"

This delightful location where we can find creatures of all kinds, including those of myth and legend, especially fairies, is known as "Fairy Falls."

You can see the fairies are quite happy in nature, and seem to be friends with the birds and butterflies as well as the more elusive unicorn.


Fairies are small

Since fairies are generally thought to be small, they are often pictured with flowers which are similar in size to these enchanting creatures.

Fairies are so fascinating

Fairies are not only female, or even eternally young. However, to indicate their light and delicate form, young female fairies are portrayed the most often.

Fairy Figurines

Delicate and enchanting, fairies make wonderful figurines

Here are just a few of the many delightful figurines available.


I particularly like this "Wild Violet Faery"  by Amy Brown with the delicate colorful wings.

The figurine is made of cold cast polyresin and hand painted and polished. The base is felt lined. 

This fairy figurine measures 5.3 inches in height.

Fairy And Dragon Figurine

Ruby is a cute fairy with an even cuter baby Chinese dragon - who can resist!

This fairy and dragon figurine is inspired by the fantasy art of artist Jasmine Beckett-Griffith.

Fairies are Sometimes Seen by Humans

Fairy Rings

Human beings often long to see fairies, and search them out in locations that seem likely to attract them - like fairy rings.

A fairy ring, usually a ring in the grass with mushrooms, is a place that is said to be the site of fairy activity. Fairy rings are considered a gateway into the fairy realm, and a place where fairies gather to sing and dance.

Midsummer Eve is a time well known for fairy activity. Fairies may be found dancing in the moonlight in a fairy ring

In artistic portrayals of fairies together with human beings the fairies are often shown with a shining light, signifying their magical or supernatural qualities.

There is danger for humans though. It is said that if a human being enters a fairy ring at night they will fall under a spell and fall asleep until dawn. In what seems like the next morning when they wake it turns out that twenty years or more have passed. This is because the fairies took them into fairyland where time is different from our world.

Famous Fairies

Perhaps the most famous fairies ever to be photographed are the Cottingley Fairies.

Two young girls, Elsie Wright and her cousin Frances Griffiths, took several photographs back in 1917. There was great excitement and many people, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, believed the photographs to be the real thing.

However, the girls later confessed that they faked them. Although they claimed that the fifth photograph taken in 1920, which showed the fairies alone in the sunbath, was genuine.

Yet people do believe in fairies, although the most famous fairies appear in fictional tales.


Tinkerbell (or Tink for short), is probably the most famous fairy of all. 

She was created by J.M. Barrie as a character in his early twentieth century play "Peter Pan" and the novel based on it, "Peter and Wendy." Tinkerbell is Peter's loyal companion, although her tendency to jealousy causes her problems.

One of the most famous fairies, Tinkerbell, features in the significant scene in the story "Peter Pan" when she faces death. Unable to warn Peter that his medicine has been poisoned she drinks it herself. Peter is horrified and in despair, but Tinkerbell says that she thinks she could get well again if children believed in fairies. So, in the memorable moment in the play, Peter turns to the children in the audience and shouts "If you believe, clap your hands; don't let Tink die." Fortunately the audience always has believers, and Tinkerbell revives.

Tinker Bell at the Pixie Hollow attraction, Disneyland.
Tinker Bell at the Pixie Hollow attra...

Tinkerbell reached iconic status in the Walt Disney animated version of "Peter Pan." Flying and sprinkling her magical "pixie dust" from her wand she became the symbol of "the magic of Disney."

Titania - Queen of the Fairies in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Titania appears in William Shakespeare's famous play "A Midsummer Night's Dream." She is the queen of the fairies, very proud and constantly quarreling with her husband, Oberon, the fairy king.

Shakespeare's play revolves around the relationship between Titania and Oberon and how it impacts a group of human beings, also having relationship difficulties. Of course there are many complications in the plot, most of them funny, hilarious even, until all is happily resolved.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare's comedies were intended to be seen on stage, not read in a book!

This oldie but brilliant version by The Royal Shakespeare Academy is one of the wittiest versions. With its cast of great performers, including Judi Dench as Titania and Ian Richardson as Oberon, this film version is a hilarious production of one of the Bard's greatest works.

Fairy Godmothers - "Cinderella" had one

Fairy godmothers make their appearance in numerous tales, usually bringing guidance and hope to a struggling young heroine.

The most famous example is Cinderella. When her stepmother takes her ugly stepsisters to the ball leaving Cinderella behind, her fairy godmother appears and transforms a pumpkin into a coach, mice into horses, and creates a gorgeous gown for Cinderella, all with the wave of her magic wand!

Fairy godmothers, perhaps because they are older (and wiser!) than the young rather impudent little fairies of other tales, usually do not do so much flying around. But they do solve problems with their magical fairy dust and wise advice.

Cinderella from "Childhood's Favorites and Fairy Stories"
Cinderella from "Childhood's Favorite...
The Tooth Fairy - Every Child's Dream!

The Tooth Fairy is another famous mythical fairy character. When children start to lose their baby teeth parents often tell them that if they place them under their pillow at night the tooth fairy will come, take away the tooth, and leave money or a gift in exchange.

A nice custom, it certainly encourages young children to face the loss of their teeth with hopeful anticipation rather than anxiety.

This is not your traditional image of the tooth fairy, but I love it!

Fairies in Art

Wonderful subjects for fantasy!
Cat Observes Fairy
Cat Observes Fairy

More about Fairies

  • Fairy
    Article at New World Encyclopedia
  • Fairies World
    A directory of fairy information, fantasy art, and folklore.
Updated: 03/18/2016, jptanabe
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

Do fairies fascinate you?

Veronica on 09/04/2015

Yes indeed the hawthorn has faery associations in the British Isles. It is often known as The Fairy thorn tree.

On the Isle of Man, between England and Ireland there is a faery bridge where even to this day people greet the faeries as the cross. I have greeted them myself when prompted to by our taxi driver.

jptanabe on 09/04/2015

I've seen fields with a single tree - now I can guess it was a hawthorn, left for the fairies, how interesting!

frankbeswick on 09/04/2015

Sometimes when travelling in the British Isles you see fields with a single hawthorn standing. This is because folk lore calls the hawthorn the fairy tree, for the fairies dwell underneath it. Consequently felling it crosses the fair folk and brings bad luck, so farmers sometimes farm around a hawthorn rather than cut it down. It seems that some people either believe in the tradition or are not taking any chances.

Veronica considers that there is no reason why humans are the only humanoid life form. I agree in principle, but belief in fairies implies another kind of reality in this world alongside the familiar one, so this is what makes belief in them problematic.

jptanabe on 09/04/2015

I wasn't such a great fan of Tinkerbell, but I did like the moment when we had to clap our hands to show we believed so she didn't die!

jptanabe on 09/04/2015

Faking the photos didn't add credibility to the existence of fairies, rather the opposite. But I agree, it doesn't mean fairies don't exist!

candy47 on 09/04/2015

Tinkerbell and Cinderella's fairy godmother were my favorites when I was a little girl. Thanks for the memories!

Veronica on 09/03/2015

In later life the Cottingley girls claimed they had faked the photos to show that the faeries were real as they were difficult to photograph.

I don't see why faeries can't exist. Why should be the only humanoid life form around?

jptanabe on 09/03/2015

Yes, indeed. It seems there must have been an element of wishful thinking in those who believed in the Cottingley fairies. Still, just because they were a hoax doesn't disprove the existence of fairies!

frankbeswick on 09/03/2015

It is amazing that so many people were taken in by the photographs, as what gave them away was that they were so similar to fairy pictures in story books, which is far too much of a coincidence. However, belief in fairies is not dead, as there are still some people who believe that they exist.

blackspanielgallery on 09/02/2015

I suppose the tooth fairy is the most well known except maybe for Tinkerbell.

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