Faery folk and nature spirits

In the past when a new plot of land was cleared careful steps were taken to ensure that it would be a safe and happy place to build upon and that the spirits of the land, and the trees, and the spirits remaining in the building materials were appeased so that the home would be a safe and blessed place. The wild spirits were coaxed into become the household spirits, benevolent guardians who helped with the chores and kept watch over family members. The household spirits were venerated. "The old spirits of the Roman Lares type have always existed in the Indo-European region, and that belief has survived through adapting to the evolution of society. Like his fellow creatures, the Brownie chose the house in which he would live either out of sympathy for its inhabitants, or because he was a nature spirit who entered the house with the wood used to build it, or because he was already living at the spot where the house was built." Claude Lecouteux, Les Nains et les Elfes au Moyen Âge.

If you wake to find a project completed or a messy room tidied, it could be the work of one of these industrious house spirits. According to English and Scottish folklore the Brownie is a small, brown, shaggy, nocturnal creature that helps with domestic work. To have one in residence was considered lucky as they watched over the family and brought good fortune. Gifts of the first cream, the first baked loaves of bread, or the first slice of cake were left as payment for its attentions.

The English Dobbie is another sprite. Instead of helping with chores, the domestic Dobbie lives in the barn or stable and keeps watch over the animals. It can also be invoked during times of trouble to guard the family's treasures. An unattached Dobbie, or wild Dobbie, lives in ruins or near rivers and is a spirit to be feared as they are known to lie in wait and attack lone travelers.

Another such spirit is the Hob, also known as Hobany, Hobredy, and Lob. The Hob is a helpful inhabitant of the home, shop, and farm who comes out at night to help with chores, preferring not to be seen while it works. Those who have caught a glimpse of the spirit describe it as small, brown, naked, and hairy. The Hob spirit is attached to a family or a location. So if you find yourself unnerved by the attentions of such a creature merely moving residence will not end its attentions. There is the popular tale of the Farndale Hob who was upset by the farmer's new wife and who wreaked so much havoc that the farmer decided to move. But as the cart containing his belongings was trundling down the dale he passed a friend and said "We're flitting" whereupon a voice from among the furniture in the cart said, "Aye, we're flitting".

In Russia resides the Domovoi, a shape-shifting protector spirit who often appears as a hairy little man with a long gray beard. The Domovoi is a guardian spirit attached to a specific family. If the family moves, he will follow taking up residence in the oven or under the stove. The Domovoi keeps watch over the family. It warns of trouble and defends the home against malevolent spirits.

Most societies have stories of these house spirits. In Finland there lives a small trickster called the Haltija who acts as a protector to the inhabitants of its home. In northern Spain resides the Trasgu, a small, spindly goblin who if given attention will help with chores, but if neglected, will play tricks and make messes. Japanese folklore tells of an invisible house spirit called a Zashiki-warashi. Its presence is held as a sign of good fortune even though, like a ghost, they like to make noise and play pranks, but will disappear if harm is about to befall the household. These spirits, though sometimes annoying, brought good luck and protection as they were known to wake the family before a catastrophe.

"These Siths or Fairies they call Sleagh Maith or the Good People...are said to be of middle nature between Man and Angel, as were Daemons thought to be of old of intelligent fluidous Spirits, and light changeable bodies (lyke those called Astral) somewhat of the nature of a condensed cloud, and best seen in twilight. These bodies be so pliable through the sublety of Spirits that agitate them, that they can make them appear or disappear at pleasure." - The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies. 1691 Reverend Robert Kirk of Scotland

As forests were conquered and cities built mankind lost its fear of nature and while enormous efforts were taken to avoid the faery folk in the past, today the fey are viewed with fond romantic notions. Their role has shifted, no longer are they the tricksters of the past but today's protector of the wild places, the flower spirits, muses, and inspirational companions. Many flirt with the idea of a faery encounter seeking out ways to meet one. If you are among their number you might try going to a wild place and seeking out the oldest tree. Sit with your back to its truck and open your mind. You can also seek out a natural mound or a ring of mushrooms. Both are places known for faery activity indicating a gathering, or a place they frequent and may soon return to. Faery encounters are more apt at liminal times, at the equinoxes and the solstices, at sunrise or sunset. There is an old saying, "Where oak and ash and thorn grow together one is likely to see Fairies." If you find a grove where these faery trees grow, sit quietly and meditate. Or if you find a stone with a natural hole through it, hold it up and peer through it and you might just see one of the folk, especially if you are on a beach, river bank, or it is dusk or dawn.

Certain flowers are favored among to fey and some even give you the power of sight according to a recipe from 1600, found in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, “To Enable One to See Faeries [Take] a pint of sallet oyle and put it into a vial glasse and first wash it with rose-water and marygold [Calendula officinalis] water, the flowers to be gathered towards the east. Wash it till the oyle becomes white, then put into the glasse, and then put thereto the budds of hollyhocke, the flowers of marygolde, the flowers or toppes of wild thyme, the buds of young hazle, and the thyme must be gathered near the side of a hill where faeries used to be and take the grasse of a faery throne then all these put into the oyle in the glasse and sette it to dissolve three dayes in the sunne and keep it for thy use.” Garden Fey If you have a garden where bees, butterflies, dragonflies, and hummingbirds frequent chances are you have a faery or two. Open your mind and heart to their presence. Smile, sing, and dance. Your positive vibe might draw them from hidding. Plant flowers that attract nature spirits. Faeries are known to favor certain flowers. You can plant a mix of toadflax, daisy, foxglove, larkspur, lupine, pineapple sage, and poppies to create a garden that will draw faeries to stay in.

One of the best ways to invite nature spirits into your space is to leave an area of your yard to grow wild. Just choose a corner away from any structures and let it return to its natural state. The small inhabitants of your yard will love it. Plant flowers to attract devas and faeries.

Faeries can be enticed with offerings. They love a dish of cream, milk and honey, or a tiny glass of elderberry wine. Offerings should always be of the best quality and the first of the cream out of the carton or one of the first and nicest loaves of bread made that day. Gift of a buckeye or a handful of acorns will gain faery favor, especially if the acorns were gathered under a full moon's light.