Fairies have been spoken of in whispers in Ireland for centuries. The fabled creatures are sometimes malevolent but are often portrayed as friendly if properly appeased. Fairies are mythological creatures said to have magical powers. They like to live in stone piles or cairns, in holes in trees, and underground. Legend tells us that if you make friends with the fairies near you, they will us their powers to protect you, bless you, and might even bring you gifts of food, or tend your garden. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, "while the term fairy goes back only to the Middle Ages in Europe, analogues to these beings in varying forms appear in both written and oral literature, from the Sanskrit gandharva (semidivine celestial musicians) to the nymphs of Greek mythology and Homer, the jinni of Arabic mythology, and similar folk characters of the Samoans, of the Arctic peoples, and of other indigenous Americans. The common modern depiction of fairies in children’s stories represents a bowdlerization of what was once a serious and even sinister folkloric tradition. The fairies of the past were feared as dangerous and powerful beings who were sometimes friendly to humans but could also be cruel or mischievous.The Irish Fairy Door available at The Celtic Ranch Kneeling Fairy With Bird, Fairy Charm[/caption] Fairy Gardens became popular during the Victorian era and today, miniature, fairy-sized gardens and fairy doors can be found in homes and gardens across the globe. Many people also like to accessorize their gardens with fairy charms to lure fairies who, being the obsessive creatures that they are, might be inclined to pull weeds, water, and chase off unsavory characters. Seesaw Fairies from A.E. Williams, the finest pewter manufacturer in the world
While Americans are busy filling up plastic orange pumpkins with candy and hanging spooky, sparkly spiders around the porch, the spirits of Samhain are roaming the foggy dells of Ireland as they have for thousands of years. The Celts have always believed that the season marking the line between the sunny warmth of summer and the dark cold of winter is the time when the veil between life and death is the thinnest. This makes Samhain (SAH-win, meaning summer's end) the best time of the year for spirits to pass through and mingle among the living. Fire and food factor heavily into the celebration of Samhain. In ancient days bonfires were lit to both warm the living and keep the evil spirits at bay. Fire was also believed to aid the waning sun in its journey through winter and the underworld. John Gilroy writes in Tlachtga: Celtic Fire Festival, "Now the sun has descended into the realm of the underworld, the forces of the underworld were in the ascendency. The lord of the underworld...now walked the earth and with him travelled all those other creatures from the abode of the dead. Ghosts, fairies and a host of other non-descript creatures went with him.Animals and crops were usually thrown into the burning fire as a sacrifice to the dead and the powers from the underworld. Home hearths were snuffed out and relit from the year's bonfires to symbolize a new beginning and to bring protection from the coming winter. Bountiful food was cooked and offered to the dead both to appease the evil spirits and to honor deceased ancestors. Foods that we still associate with autumn, like apples and pumpkin recipes, were common Samhain offerings. Costumes also played a part in traditional Samhain celebrations. Thinking a disguise would trick evil spirits into passing by, people created masks and gowns to hide from the ghosts and spooks roaming the world looking for someone to destroy. People often celebrated their ancestors as well by adding adornments to the costumes that honored someone beloved who had crossed to the other world. This Halloween - whether you dress up in costume, bob for apples, or enjoy a pumpkin-spiced drink by the bonfire - you should raise a toast to those Celtic spirits wandering the landscape of Ireland and the traditions they bring with them every year. Halloween night in Weston the local Main Street Merchants have trick or treat, come downtown and get some treats and meet your neighbors!
Would you like to find a dainty fairy and her friends in your own backyard garden? It’s not easy to spot them but if they feel specially invited to their very own fairy garden then they may just settle in for a visit. Fairy gardens first debuted in the United States in 1893 as a twist on the Japanese bonsai dish gardens at the Chicago World’s Fair. The New York Times ran a feature on the fascinating miniature creations and it began a fad in gardening that is still going strong. Tiny gardens are popular because they are easy to maintain and rather adorable. But the best reason to love them is because of their wee residents – the fairies themselves. Create a garden inviting enough and you may get lucky to play host. Just remember that you have to watch closely for any hope of a fairy sighting. No one in Ireland has likely ever had to create a special fairy garden as the “little people” are known to populate the island woods in great numbers. But this Easter brings a special grand opening of the Kilmokea Gardens – a unique attraction for both children and fairies that will be worth a look the next time you visit Ireland. Just remember back on your own little patch of earth...decorate sweetly, tend carefully, share bountifully (fairies especially love tiny cups of alcohol and sugary sweets), and watch diligently. If you still haven’t had a sighting, perhaps it would help to sing the fairy song: Come one, come all Good Fairies hear my call I believe in you and your kind too Dance on my garden's flowers Stay and play for hours Good fairies, you are welcome here We hold your magic and lives dear Good fairies, you are welcome here