by Brooke Warra
Dryads, banshees, and sirens, oh my!
Welcome to the first instalment of Toadstools and Magick: A Horror Writer’s Field Guide to Tir Na nOg. Here, we are going to explore the vast and rich world of the fae folk. Fairy tales have long been a part of human culture, worldwide. We tell these stories to teach lessons, give warnings, and to entertain. Fairy tales are a horror writer’s best friend! They explore the darker side of our world, mortality, and human intention. Plenty of modern stories and films find their roots in these classic tales.
But what of the lesser known fae?
While most of us are familiar with stories of wicked witches in candy houses and sea nymphs wishing for legs, there are so many lesser known fables rife with inspiration. We hope this column helps you find some.
Mara (or Mera) is found all over the world in many cultures and her intentions run the gamut from nurturing mother to demonic spirit. She appears in Buddhism as the demon who was sent to tempt the Buddha from his spiritual path. Her name in Old English means “nightmare,” and she’s closely related to the more commonly known Succubus.
But what’s really interesting about Mara are her daughters. In some accounts, their names are Tanha, Arati, and Raga. Their names mean Craving, Boredom, and Passion respectively. It’s not hard to imagine a gaggle of demonic fairies with those characteristics stalking you day and night, and driving you mad!
How would you feel if you’re rocking your newborn child, tickling their feet, listening to them coo and giggle, only to realize that you’re cradling a bundle of sticks bewitched to look and behave like your beloved?
Stock are a bundle of sticks fashioned almost like a voo-doo doll that the faeries leave in the place of the children or maidens they’ve stolen. The bundles are usually under a spell that gives them a life-like presence. Stock are also known as “changelings” or “fetch”, but this particular version is a favorite. Once the fairies have your loved one, it’s nearly impossible to get them back and many people would settle for living with the changeling instead of trying.
Also known as “the weeper,” she’s rarely seen. Hearing her doleful keening portends death. The weeper manifests three times as a disembodied voice, each time growing closer. Anyone who hears her should take heed, as tragedy is on the horizon.
So ends our first visit to fairyland! We’ll be back monthly, so be sure to check back for more!
And remember: sleep tight, don’t let the fae bite.