The Fae: An overview

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The fae are a major subcategory of Earth species. The fae of Earth are native to the Shadow Realm, a place offset from the Earth, as if it were the planet’s shadow. Other names for the Shadow Realm include Faerie and Tír na nÓg; non-European cultures also have their own names for it.

Generally speaking, the fae are divided into two groups: the unseelie fae, often called fairies, and the seelie fae, which are frequently classed as demons. Many fae have shape-shifting powers, though this is not a universal trait.

Fae as a group are magical creatures. A fae species comes into being by a combination of human imagination with the powerful ambient magic of the Earth’s soul. Even now, more types of fae sometimes spawn from the Earth’s collective thoughts; christmas elves and tooth fairies are two examples of more recently-formed fae species. Once a fae species is borne into the world, though, it usually reproduces in the same way as a human or other animal, though there are some that reproduce like plants and a few that reproduce in other ways.

Fae have a physical body, but it’s sustained by magic. A perfect magic dampening field will kill a fae; most dampening fields are not this good, but fae will still become weak and sick while within one. Many types of fae can breed with humans, but the results are not half-breeds; they are fully human, though often with a dash of fae magic in their blood. They do not, however, get all their genes from their human parent; some of the genes do come from the fae parent, though exactly how this works while still making the offspring fully human is unclear.

Seelie Fae

The fae of the Seelie Court are the ones who tend to stay aloof from human affairs. They are not malevolent, though some may enjoy playing the occasional prank. Sometimes they may even seek help from humans. When offended, they will give warning before resorting to revenge, and they will usually return a favour. Of course, this is a tendency; individual fae of the Seelie Court may differ.

The best-known of the Seelie fae are probably the human-sized Danaanites, or more correctly the Tuatha dé Danaan. They have many other names throughout the British Isles though, including Daoine Sídhe/Sith, Aes Sídhe, Aos Sí, Tylwyth Teg, Bendith y Mamau, Gwyllion, Ellyllon. Other Seelie fae of the British Isles include the leprechaun, the selkie, and the pooka.

Outside of the British Isles, some of the most well-known Seelie fae include the naga, the kitsune, and the satyr. Some Seelie fae are common everywhere, such as pixies and dryads. Other known Seelie fae include the tanuki, the xana, the iele, the caipora, the basajaun, the cobold, and the pukwudgie. There may be other little-known fae lurking in unknown corners of the Shadow Realm.

Some of the most recent additions to the Seelie fae are the christmas elf (the name is a misnomer, since it’s not actually an elf at all), and the tooth fairy (a type of pixie). As they only came into being in the last five hundred years or so (approximately; the exact time is not known), there is not a lot known about them.

Unseelie Fae

More is known of the Unseelie fae than the Seelie, perhaps because they more often interact with humans. Fae of the Unseelie Court are often malevolent, though not all are dangerous; some merely play cruel pranks on humans, while others may actually kill and eat them. They are whimsical, and need no provocation to start assailing an unfortunate victim. Of course, this is a tendency; some fae of the Unseelie Court will actually befriend a human, and not all are malevolent.

There are many Unseelie fae, and listing them all would likely be a futile effort. Some of the better-known ones include fomorian, imp, rakshasa, bugbear or boggart, kelpie, tengu, kappa, troll, oni, gremlin, and asura, but there are many others. For example, the huldra, a human-shaped hollow wooden shell with flesh over it, or the erinys, a fire-wielding human with dark feathered wings and a viper as a tail.

Most of the fae mentioned on this page, and some that are not, will be expanded on in future articles. In some cases I may squeeze multiple fae into a single article, as not all will have as much detail as the previous entries.

First up will probably be the leprechaun, and then the fomorians.

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