Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Faery Lineage and Irish Mythology — The Unseelie Court

The Unseelie Court is a deeply routed part of both Irish and Scottish mythology . They are a part of the Daoine Sidhe, and the polar opposite of the Seelie Court. Where the Seelie Court was considered to be holy and blessed, the Unseelie court was better described as unholy. Sometimes, the Unseelie were even referred to as damned.

Characteristics of the Unseelie Court

Often called the ‘Unblessed Ones,’ the Unseelie were depicted as a dark cloud riding upon the wind. Though not necessarily evil, they were far from kind. These unsavory characters tended towards evil and were often malignant. Some legends claim that the Unseelie were fallen Seelie, those who could not live up to the strict standards of chivalry of the shining court.

Unlike the Seelie Court, the Unseelie did not need a reason to assault and harm humans. They would do so purely for entertainment, often just to be malicious. It is impossible to classify the Unseelie as truly evil, however, as they did sometimes offer aid to humans. But when offered a choice between doing good or doing evil, the Unseelie would almost always s choose evil.

The Code of the Unseelie Court

Like many human courts, the Unseelie Court had its own code of conduct, a code which all of the Unseelie had to abide by. The details of this code were:
  • Change is Good: The Unseelie firmly believed that security was an illusion. They considered chaos to be the ruling force in the universe, and accepted that they had to adapt and change to survive.
  • Glamour is Free: Glamour was the magick of the Daoine Sidhe. Both the Seelie and Unseelie possessed its power. However, the two Courts had differing opinions over its use. The Unseelie believed that to have power and not to use it was near to sin. They used their power for whatever they saw fit.
  • Honor is a Lie: The Unseelie placed no stock in the ideals of honor. Instead, they pursued their own self-interests vigorously. The Unseelie felt as if truth could be only be reach through a devotion to self, not a devotion to others.
  • Passion Before Duty: Passion was considered to be the truest state of being. The Unseelie acted without thought on pure instinct and passion. They valued fun over all other things.
The Unseelie Court was said to be a dark and frightening place. The people of Ireland and Scotland fled in fear before them. However, as time passed, the power of the Unseelie diminished, the Faery Lineage continued to evolve, and the Daoine Sidhe and their Courts became the Heroic Faery.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Faery Lineage and Irish Mythology — The Jacobean Fairy

The end of the Elizabethan era saw many changes in European society, resulting in corresponding changes in the Faery Lineage. The Elizabethan Fairy shrank further in size, and became more dangerous. This darker fairy, making its first appearance in the 17th century, became known as the Jacobean Fairy.

The Nature of the Jacobean Fairy

The Puritans classified all fairies as devils, claiming that they were creatures of the purest evil. However, most people in the 17th century regarded them as more maliciously mischievous than truly evil. The general populace felt that they were to avoided, not because they were evil, but because they might cause difficulties for the humans who encountered them.

The Jacobean Fairy was so minute as to be almost invisible. Some of them were said to be no bigger than microbes. Their small size was one of the reasons they were said to be malicious. They were thought to be jealous of humans and their naturally large stature.

This envy sometimes turned into something more sinister. Though unlikely to attack humans directly, they had no qualms about causing indirect harm or even death. Tales of will-o-wisps and fairies leading travelers to their deaths in the swamps and bogs of Ireland abound during the 16th and 17th centuries. Similar stories can be found throughout Europe.

The Powers of the Jacobean Fairy

The Jacobean Fairy were said to have many powers. They could affect the seasons, controlling when the seasons changed. The fairies could turn a good harvest into dust. They could withhold the spring rains, causing drought. And in some cases, they were credited with prolonging the winter, causing starvation when the food ran out.

The Jacobean Fairy had power over unborn children. They could influence children still in the womb, encouraging them towards the ideals of the fairy. Sometimes, they would even steal human children, replacing them with changelings.

As the 18th century arrived, the nature of the fairy changed once again. The Jacobean Fairy lost its tendency towards evil, and reconnected with the powers of nature. As this happened, the Faery Lineage split into the Flower Fairy and the Folk Tale Fairy.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Faery Lineage and Irish Mythology — The Elizabethan Fairy

The birth of the Elizabethan era saw the death of the romantic warriors of the Daoine Sidhe. Even the gentle kindness of the Diminutive Fairy had begun to disappear. The fair became mischievous, pesky, and even bothersome, at least among the general populace. Appearing in the 16th century, this new fairy eventually came to be known as the Elizabethan Fairy.

The Nature of the Elizabethan Fairy

The physical appearance of the standard modern fairy has its roots in Elizabethan times. Elizabethan Fairies were tiny little things, often no bigger than a thumbnail, though sometimes as large as a clutched first. They occasionally had gossamer wings, and were usually described as being female. Often lovelier than any human woman, these fairies tended to wear little in the way of clothing.

The Elizabethan Fairy were not seen as evil. However, they were considered pests and most regular citizens went to great lengths to avoid contact with these beings of myth and legend. It was said that these fairies would torment humans for simple entertainment, though they did not typically seek to harm. Harm would instead happen by accident.

The Elizabethan Fairy in Literature

The fairy ladies of eras past were no longer in style by the 16th century. Nymphs, brownies, hobgoblins, and the classic fairy with gossamer wings become popular in tales and stories. Common literature of the time was suddenly flooded with references to these mythological creatures.

The writers of the age supplied the very first look into the social structure of the tiny fairy. Individual writers chose different traits to emphasize, but on the whole, they managed to give a literary version of the fairy and its social life. The Elizabethan Faeries were seen as living in a monarchy, almost a parody of the monarchies present throughout the British Isles and various other areas of Western Europe.

By this point in time, Ireland was not at all isolated from the rest of Europe. English influences had become a part of Irish life. This was true of literature as well. The social structure of the fairies of the 16th century was immortalized by William Shakespeare in his A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This had a major impact on how the populace of Europe as a whole viewed the fairy, including the Irish, who had traditionally worshipped the Tuatha De Danann.

Shakespeare crafted a story where the interactions of various fairies and their leaders, King Oberon and Queen Titania, shows them to be somewhat organized, passionate, and rather bothersome to the humans they encounter. This version of what fairies could and might be persisted for many years, and is still a part of modern folk tales. When these types of tales were immortalized in literature, the very fabric of belief, myth, and legend in Ireland was altered forever.

Following the Elizabethan era, a time of repression hit most of Europe. The fairy evolved with the changing morals and values of the people. England grew more puritan, as did much of Western Europe, and the fairy came to be regarded as a more evil being. The Jacobean Fairy was born as the Faery Lineage continued to develop.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Faery Lineage and Irish Mythology — The Diminutive Fairy

Today, when picturing a fairy, most people see a little being with gossamer wings, flitting about from flower to flower. However, this being did not really exist in Irish mythology until the ancient Faery Lineage of Ireland began to diminish. By the late 14th century, the Heroic Faery and the Medieval Fairy had merged and dwindled, becoming the Diminutive Fairy.

The Nature of the Diminutive Fairy

The people of Ireland, Britain, and Scotland viewed the Diminutive Fairy with some admiration, but they were also wary of them. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the fairies were spoke on kindly, just in case the might be listening. The fairies were called the Gentry, the week folk, the Good Neighbors, and many other flattering names.

This wasn’t done because fairies were feared. However, it was generally known that the fairies would seek justice if a wrong was done to them. Their idea of justice was usually swifter and more severe than what a human might consider acceptable. For this reason, care was taken to avoid offending the fey.

The Diminutive Fairy was generally quite benign, but they were prone to some mischief. They mischief was usually confined to simple pranks and jokes, and it was considered rare indeed for a human to be harmed by a fairy.

The Diminutive Fairy and the Soul

By the 16th century, the vision of the Diminutive Fairy had grown to encompass a relatively new idea. Some began to believe that the soul inside every human was really a tiny being that emerged from a sleeping person to wander aimlessly about. It was said that the adventures of this creature were the sleeper’s dreams. This belief didn’t last long, but it did serve to cement the Diminutive Fairy into the minds of the general populace.

By the end of the 15th century, the Diminutive Fairy had changed again, not necessarily in appearance, but in nature. This new breed of fairy was pesky and bothersome, and rarely helpful of kind to humans. This new fairy eventually came to be known as the Elizabethan Fairy.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Faery Lineage and Irish Mythology — The Medieval Fairy

The Faery Lineage did not stay confined to the shores of Ireland. When the Fenian Heroes found themselves cast adrift from the fiana, they went in search of a new king to serve. Some tales suggest that they made their way to England and found the legendary King Arthur. Seeing him as a man of honor and integrity, they may have chosen to follow him as they once had the High Kings of Ireland. In was here, in Britain, that the Fenian Heroes gave birth to the Medieval Fairy.

The Medieval Fairy and Arthurian Legend

As followers of King Arthur, the Medieval Fairy spawned a great many tales, most of them woven with sorcery and enchantment, wizards and witches, and characters such as Morgan La Fay and Lancelot. Even Arthur himself came to be considered to be one of the fairy people by the 11th and 12th centuries. As history became myth, King Arthur and his followers, once clearly one of the Fenian Heroes, came to be regarded as the chief Medieval Fairy of the era.

Characteristics of the Medieval Fairy

In the time of the Medieval Fairy, the size and appearance of the fairy became quite variable. They could be tiny and beautiful or huge and monstrous. Most commonly, however, the Medieval Fairy was depicted as a fair-skinned maiden with flowing red hair.

The Medieval era was full of stories of strange happenings and supernatural occurrences. Most of these were attributed to the fairies. It is through these tales that we can catch a glimpse of the powers of the Medieval Fairy.

They were masters of enchantment and magick, much like the Tuatha De Danann, and usually very beautiful. Though they would assist humans when asked, they could also exact terrible vengeance on those who wronged them. Despite their sometime mischievous nature, the Medieval Faeries were enamored with humans, and often mated with them. The children who were a natural result of these unions were often gifted with many of the powers of the fay.

Many common fairies of the Medieval era can be recognized as half-remembered gods and goddess. The Medieval Fairy can be considered the last true appearance of the Daoine Sidhe, and so the Tuatha De Danann, before the Medieval Fairy merges with the Heroic Faery. Out of this merging, the Diminutive Fairy was born.