Fairies and other mythical beings are often misunderstood. The term “airy-fairy” is used as a synonym for “woo woo,” meaning something that is not worth our time because it is foolish or quite literally not real. My experience with fairies is exactly the opposite. I find these beings, real or not, to be informative and very practical teachers.
Did you know fairy and folk tales were originally published for adults and children? These tales were much darker and were told to teach the listener a lesson. Fairy and folk tales come from oral traditions thousands of years old, spreading across cultures and down family lines. Through time and different storytellers, they have changed and become watered down and rewritten. The Little Mermaid, I remember, did not result in happily ever after.
Fairy tales are still a great way to explore people, behaviors, and situations in our lives. They contain characters as old as time, retold in a way we can understand. They allow us to distance ourselves from the situation by using archetypes or characters we recognize in our own lives, such as those who are important to us (grandma or our stepmother) and the world we don’t know yet (the big bad wolf). While reading Rumplestiltskin to your child at bedtime, you're imagining your young, controlling, and entitled boss or a bully your child might meet on the playground. “Can you believe Rumplestiltskin stamped his feet like that?” If the story is too personal or literal we might be too close to see it clearly and may be resistant to the lesson. In this way, fairy tales and fairy tale characters help us know how to take care of ourselves and respond to the world around us.
Fairy and folk tales’ themes and mythical beings are similar across borders. Though the characters may vary a bit, they explore situations with people and nature that are common across humanity. While some tales are cautionary - you must be wary when embarking on an adventure through dark woods - they also bring us together, opening the door to imagination, creativity, and curiosity, and connect us to the magic in the world around us. Many characters within, like fairies, are elementals - beings of the earth, wind, fire, or water, reminding us of the connection between ourselves and the earth. They remind us to enjoy sparkling things, pick wildflowers, play with the wind, and collect rocks and sticks. They can encourage us to dance, enjoy music, pick up trash and plant flowers. Fairies and other elementals are my favorite “imaginary friends” from childhood and I believe they have a lot more to show all of us.
Fairies help us to remember there are helpful creatures and beautiful experiences along the way in this journey of life. Join us in this spirit of magic and curiosity for a nature walk or a fairy playshop.