The Realm of Water


Water faeries heal and purify the earth. Their presence is typically communicated to humans through dreams.




Water Faeries



Undines

Undine by De La Motte Fouque

These are the elemental spirits of water. Their magic centers upon this element, whose course and function they can control. Undines exist within the water itself and cannot be seen with normal human vision. Their homes are typically within the coral caves in lakes or upon the banks of rivers, though smaller undines may choose to live under lily pads. Their appearance is similar to human beings in most cases, with the exception of those living in smaller streams or ponds. Undine clothing is shimmery, reflecting all the colors of water though green is typically the predominant color.

Every body of water is home to undines, from ocean waves, to rocky pools, to marshlands, to rivers, to lakes and ponds. Even waterfalls and fountains have an undine living in their midst.




Mermaids

Bane of seamen, these half-fish half-women lured countless sailors to their deaths. Breathtakingly beautiful humans from their torso-upwards, their lower bodies where those of fish, complete with scales. Men find their songs irresistible and follow them willingly into the sea. Mermaids can be caught and held in exchange for the wishes they grant. The males of the species, Mermen, are regarded as vicious creatures who raised storms for the purpose of sinking men's ships.

Occasionally they are successfully courted by human men. The offspring of such pairings are often granted great powers in healing by their mothers.



Selkies

The shapeshifting selkies, who are also known as silkies or roane (Gaelic for seal), occupy the seas surrounding the Orkney and Shetland isles. The exact nature of their undersea world is uncertain, though some believe it to be encased in giant air bubbles. Their true forms are those of faeries or humans, although they take the form of large seals when traveling through the oceans. In particular: great seals and grey seals are said to take human forms. Older tales tell that selkies are only able to take on human forms on certain nights of the year, such as Midsummer's Eve or All Hallows.

Occasionally they encounter humankind, sometimes becoming their mates. A human male may take a selkie female as his wife if he finds her seal skin on the beach and hides it from her. In the end she always recovers the skin and returns to the sea, though she may return occasionally to watch over her human family from the safety of the waves.

A human woman may bear the child of a selkie male if she weeps seven tears or seven drops of blood in the nighttime sea. Such relationships are rarely lasting. Seven years hence, the selkie would return for his child, offering the mother a fee for nursing her own babe.



Fir Darrig

Fir Darrig by Brian Froud

The Fir Darrig, pronounced "fear dearg", is an Irish fairy, though its original home may have been Scotland. Translated, the name means "red man." They are also known by the name Rat Boys, largely due to their appearance; they have dark, hairy skin, long snouts, skinny tails and are rather fat. Even their clothing looks as though it might have been scrounged from a sewer, being extremely torn and shabby.

Some legends hold that the Fir Darrig is an unlucky former human who wandered into fairy land by mistake and now attempts to warn others from making the same mistake. Despite this apparently good natured move, they revel in cruel and gruesome pratical jokes, which they play upon those who have made the mistake of irritating them. Possessing a similar lack of taste in their choice of foodstuffs, Fir Darrigs consume carrion as their main staple.

Most active in winter, and found along polluted coastlines, in swamps, marshes and coastal ruins, it is best to avoid these creatures at almost any cost. Occasionally they venture into the land of humans, where they delight in startling people by knocking upon their doors in the dead of night and asking to warm themselves at the fire. Never refuse such a request, as it is exceedingly bad luck and you may wake to find a changeling in your child's crib or that your cows have come down with the pox. Should you happen to encounter a Fir Darrig, take great pains to be polite to it lest you become the victim for one of its practical jokes.



Beansidhe

Beansidhe by Brian Froud

One of the most dreaded and best known of the Irish faeries is the Banshee, properly named the Beansidhe literally, "woman fairy." The Irish have many names for her (perhaps they feared invocation of her true name may invoke her presence?). They included: Washer of the Shrouds, Washer at the Banks, Washer at the Ford and the Little Washer of Sorrow. The Scottish called her Cointeach, literally "one who keens." To the cornish she was Cyhiraeth and to the Welsh either Cyoerraeth or Gwrach y Rhibyn, which translates as "Hag of the Dribble" (to the Welsh she sometimes appear as a male). In Brittany her name is Eur-Cunnere Noe.

The Beansidhe is an extremely beautiful faery, possessing long, flowing hair, red eyes (due to continuous weeping) and light complexions. They typically donn green dresses with gray cloaks. Their wailing fortells of a death nearby, though it never causes such a death (which is why they are wrongly feared). Some of Ireland's oldest aristocrachy could boast of banshees dwelling nearby their ancestral homes.

If one heard the wailing of the beansidhe and discovered candles burned in a winding pattern (like a shroud) later that evening, they knew the death was to occur in their household. In Scotland she squats near the door of the one doomed and in Cornwall her figure flaps her wings against the glass of the window belonging to s/he who would die.

As her other names might suggest, she frequently appears as a washerwoman at the banks of streams. In these cases, she is called the Bean Nighe (pronounced "ben-neeyah"). The clothing she washed takes different forms depending upon the legend. Sometimes it is burial shrouds, others it is the bloodstained clothing of those who will soon die. This particular version of the Bean Sidhe is Scottish in origin and unlike the Irish version, she is extremely ugly, sometimes described as having a single nostril, one large buck tooth, webbed feet and extremely long breasts, which she must throw over her shoulders to prevent them getting in the way of her washing . Her long stringy hair is partially covered with a hood and a white gown or shroud is her main wardrobe. The skin of the Beansidhe is often wet and slimy as if she had just been pulled from a moss covered lake. They are rumored to be the ghosts of women who died in childbirth and will continue to wash until the day they should have died. The keening music of Irish wakes, called caoine, is said to have been derived from the wails of the Beansidhe.



Leanan Sidhe

Leanan Sidhe by Brian Froud

The Fairy Mistress or Fairy Sweetheart, Leanan Sidhe (lan-awn shee), is a Celtic muse possessing a dark unearthly beauty. Her names translates directly as My Inspiration (Leanan) Faery (Sidhe). She is sometimes called Lhiannan-Shee (lannan-shee). Legend says she resides under the Irish Sea off the eastern coast of Ireland and roams sometimes roams the Isle of Man at night as she searches for a new lover.

Her lovers are frequently artists, and all who fall under her spell suffer a keen longing in her absence. In return for the depth of emotion she receives, she inspires genius in her loves. They have been likened to candles burning at both ends: incredibly bright, but lacking the endurance of that which burns normally they expire quickly. Such is often the price of her gift, though it usual results from a great heartbreak or sorrow when she leaves, rather than a malicious intent on the part of the Leanan Sidhe.

While the artist in question typically considers her attentions a gift, the self destructive nature of the artists once she has left seems to have inspired a belief that the Leanan Sidhe is evil and dangerous. Some have even likened her to a vampire, attached to one man as she ruins his body and soul.

Radiantly beautiful to her lover, she is invisible to all other mortals. So beautiful, in fact, that all other mortals become lifeless and dull when compared to the Leanan Sidhe.



Kelpies

Kelpies have their origin in Scotland, though they are also part of northern Irish faery lore where they are called Eisges (Ech-ooshk-ya) or Fuath (Foo-ah). The Cornish call them Shoney which is derived from the Norse name Sjofn, meaning a Goddess of the Sea. Those in Iceland know them by the name Nickers, being related to the Nix (who are German water sprites). In Shetland and the Orkney Islands they are called Nuggies.

These foul-tempered denizens of the fae are rarely seen today, a fact which is a blessing as humans are among the favorite meals of these cannibalistic faeries. When other faeries or humans were unavailable for dinner, Kelpies chose deer who had wandered too close to the lochs.

Irish lore describes them as web-footed water spirts, who possess the manes and tails of horses and the bodies of women. In Scotland they appear as friendly seahorses who allow passing humans to mount them, drowning their hapless victims once they're away from the shore.

They are able to shape change, occasionally appearing as humans though they can be distinguished by their seaweed hair which they are unable to change.

Kelpies may be captured by placing a bridle over their heads, though it was a difficult and dangerous task due to the beasts strong and willful nature. However, if a person managed to accomplish this task the kelpie was forced to serve the one who bridled it.







Midi: "Morag of Dunvegan", sequencer
Barry Taylor , used with permission.


Original artwork, "Fir Darrig," "Bean Sidhe," and "Leanan Sidhe," ©Brian Froud. Used with permission.


Original Artwork, "Undines", "Friedrich de la Motte Fouque," 1811,



Special thanks to Angie for the lovely graphics!

Graphics © Selkywolf's Den