When it comes to fairies, one of the most profound figures is the Fairy Queen. Numerous stories and myths have featured powerful queens ruling over their fairy courts from ancient times through the modern day.
Today we will explore the roles these mystical figures have played throughout history, myth, and fiction, and discuss what it takes to grow your own personal practice with the queens of the Otherworld.
Let’s start at the beginning: who is the fairy queen? And over whom exactly does she reign? The answer may not be so simple! The history of fairies and their mythology is as varied and magickal as the fairy queens themselves.
The fairy folk have been embedded in folklore and literature alike for many years. They come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, from the little pixies that inhabit gardens to the mischievous brownies that are said to lurk in households. Some believe they live among us, just out of sight of humanity, while others hold that they’re much more powerful than we can imagine.
Fairies In Folklore
Seelie & Unseelie
In Scottish folklore, it is known that the land is inhabited by the fair folk. According to Morgan Daimler, historically, these beings were called Seelie. As a word that means blessed or lucky, the fair folk were called Blessed Beings or Lucky Beings to stay in their favor, just in case one of the invisible beings was nearby. It wasn’t until more modern times — around the 18th century — that the term Unseelie was used to describe more malevolent beings.
All fair folk, whether classed as Seelie or Unseelie, have the same ability to do do both harm and good. It is a good rule of thumb to always be respectful in your language and actions toward the Scottish Seelie.
In Irish legend, the Sidhe are believed to dwell in the hills and forests and are deeply associated with the mysterious ancient mounds. Unlike the Seelie, the Sidhe are not divided into two courts but have many classifications, some of which may have ruling kings or queens among them. The Irish Fair Folk are just as complex as us humans, with some being more malevolent than others. Just as respect should be given to the Scottish Seelie, respect and care should also be taken when interacting with the Irish Sidhe.
Fairy Queens In Fiction
In Shakespearean writings, Queen Mab is described as a midwife to the fairies. She visits humans in their sleep, delivering dreams in her tiny chariot. The common issue with how fairies such as Queen Mab are portrayed in literature is that it differs greatly from the way practitioners should be interacting with the fae. The portrayal of the Queen of the Fairies as a winged, light-hearted wish-granter is misleading, to say the least.
Titania is the queen of the fairies in Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She is a beautiful and powerful fairy who is married to Oberon, the king of the fairies. Titania is often portrayed as a kind and nurturing figure, but she can also be vain and capricious. The Fairy Queen is a powerful entity who often meddles in the affairs of mortals.
Morgan le Fay
A powerful sorceress of Arthurian legend, Morgan le Fey was the half-sister of King Arthur, often using her powers to heal, conjure, or seduce, depending on the writer of her tale. While her name translates to “Morgan the Fairy”, some view this powerful figure as a goddess.
Fairy Queens In Mythology
The goddess Diana, who has always been a figure revered for her beauty and strength, also holds another incredible role: Queen of the Fairies. In King James VI of Scotland’s Daemonologie, it is said that Diana belonged to a fourth kind of spirit – a Fairy. Diana wields tremendous power and can conjure vast enchantments, resulting in a court of fairy followers who follow wherever she chooses to wander.
In many original stories, Áine is an Irish Goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann. In later stories, she became known as a Fairy Queen. Because no two stories are the same, her origins and family tree depend on who you ask. Many believe that Áine is the daughter of the Fairy King Eogabul and that one Samhain night, she and her father emerged from their home only to be ambushed by King Ailill. Áine cursed him and said she would take his kingship and all he held dear from him. This eventually come to pass.
Áine is said to have beautiful, long blond hair that she could be seen brushing near her home. With a name that means “bright”, it is no wonder that she is associated with radiance, beauty, and powerful women.
Queen of Elphame
The Queen of Elphame is a mythical figure most commonly associated with fairies and otherworldly beings. Although her origins are questionable and many sources claim her to be Scottish in origin, others attribute her to being an ancient goddess featured in Irish and Welsh folklore.
Elphame translates to “Fairyland,” naming her literally “The Queen of Fairyland.” The goddess has been associated with Nicnevin of Celtic lore and is thought to be syncretized with Hecate for her ability to commune with spirits and her association with witchcraft.
Also known as Gyre-Carling in Scotland, Habetrot is a figure from British Folklore. It is said that she was originally a goddess of spinning – such as spinning yarn and thread – but was diminished to a fairy queen during the Christianization of Europe. She is said to promote healing, but she is also seen as a spirit who will steal any flax left unspun at the end of the year.
One story of Habetrot, taken from The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore by Patricia Monaghan, says that Habetrot gave a young girl seven lovely hanks of yarn that were spun by ghostly women with twisted mouths. A handsome Lord became interested in this young woman and married her for her spinning skills, though when she showed the Lord who actually spun the yarn, he forbade her from ever spinning yarn again lest she become like the ghostly women.
Working With Fairy Queens & The Fae
Research is Important
The first step to working with the fae is to do your research. There are a variety of books and websites that can provide you with information on the different types of fae, their history, and their culture. It is important to remember that the fae are a diverse group of beings from many different cultures and countries. It is important to learn as much as you can about them before trying to work with them.
Give them a Space
One of the best ways to attract the attention of the fae is to build an altar in their honor. Your altar can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, but it should include items that are associated with fae, such as flowers, stones, and shells. You may also want to include offerings on your altar, such as food or drink, as this will show the fae that you are willing to give them something in return for their help.
The fair folk are powerful and mysterious beings, so it is important to be respectful when working with them. Do not say “thank you”, as this can be seen as an insult. Instead, state what you appreciate about a specific gift or gesture they’ve presented you.
The fae can be helpful, but they can also be mischievous. It is important to be careful when making requests. Always offer something in return and be careful and specific when asking for aid in any situation.
See also: Working with The Fae
It seems that the fairy queen is a role that is here to stay in our collective mythology. She represents so much of what we yearn for: wisdom, power, beauty, and magick. What are your experiences in working with the fae? Let us know in the comments below!