The Fae in these novels are inspired by old stories I heard and read as a child. Between my Welsh gramma and ready access to a entire library of British books, I learned that faeries were not to be trifled with.
FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT TINKERBELL!
Faery beings come in all sizes and shapes from ethereally beautiful to monstrously frightening. But it’s their unpredictable temperament you have to watch out for – the Fae are easily offended, volatile, amoral, and even violent.
While occasionally some may be helpful to humans, more often they delight in tormenting them. Their motives can range from child-like mischief (souring milk, knocking down fences, pulling hair) to downright evil (kidnapping, cursing, or even killing mortals). And of course, there’s always a few that just like to eat people…
No wonder people have been trying to protect themselves from faeries for the last three thousand years or more!
Historically, garlands were often made of marsh marigolds and hung over the barn doors to protect the horses from being ridden to exhaustion by fairies in the night. Flowers, especially primroses, were spread over windowsills and hung above the door-posts of the house for safety. Your best bet, however, was a plant called St. John’s Wort. Wearing it was said to provide strong protection from fairy magic and mischief.
Fairies could vanish at will and remain invisible to mortal eyes for as long as they pleased. Carrying a four-leafed clover would allow you to see the fairies – but only once. A Celtic tradition was to sew several of the clovers into a tiny bag to be worn around the neck. You could then discern the fairies once for each clover in the bag. In some legends, the clover was said to allow you to see through fairy glamors and magical disguises.
Red berries were believed to keep fairies at bay, especially if they were from rowan trees, mountain ash or holly. So did red verbena (a flower). Daisies were often tucked into children’s pockets or woven into fanciful chains to wear around their necks to prevent them from being taken away by the faeries. And if you were walking through the woods, it was best to carry a walking stick or staff made of ash or rowan wood.
Traditionally, bread and salt provided protection from the Fae. Carrying yeast-risen bread with you had a two-fold effect. It would repel some faeries. Other faeries would accept it as an offering and leave you alone. My gramma taught me a Welsh tradition of leaving a saucer of milk and a slice of bread or some bread crusts on the back porch as an offering to the faeries, so they wouldn’t play pranks on the family or trouble the livestock. Sometimes, if you were seeking the faeries’ aid, you might add berries, honey, or cheese.
Salt’s association with purity made it an excellent tool against otherworldly beings. Spreading salt across the threshold and along the windowsills has long been the primary method of keeping faeries, demons, and spirits out of houses. If you had to carry food to the farmhands in the fields, sprinkling it with salt was said to keep the faeries from taking it – or from extracting the nourishment from it unseen!
Even humble oatmeal was believed to be a fairy repellent. You could carry a handful of dry oatmeal in your pocket or sprinkle it on your clothes. As long as you didn’t mind looking flaky, you’d be safe.
Iron in any form or shape has always been considered the very best protection against fairies – in almost all legends, the metal is like kryptonite to Superman. If you kept an iron nail in your pocket, you couldn’t be carried away by them. Sometimes iron nails were sewn into the hems of children’s clothing for that reason. A pair of iron shears hung on the wall near a baby’s bed was said to prevent the child from being swapped for an ugly fairy baby.
Horseshoes could be nailed over doorposts, a precaution that had to be taken to the extreme in my first two Grim books, Storm Warrior and Storm Bound.
(By the way, some legends specify that the horseshoe should be placed on its side like the letter “C”, resembling the crescent moon, or it won’t repel the Fae!)
Steel is also effective against the faeries because it is created from processed iron. If a faery is cut by a steel or iron blade, the wound will not heal or will take a very long time. In some stories, the Fae is slowly poisoned by such a wound. Steel or iron weapons are among the few things that can actually kill a Fae being.
However, unless it was plainly self-defense (and sometimes even that wouldn’t help your case), you could expect the rest of the faeries to exact a terrible retribution!
Check out The Grim Series by Dani Harper
STORM WARRIOR, STORM BOUND, and STORM WARNED
And watch for my upcoming release, STORM CROSSED!
Available in Kindle eBook, Trade Paperback, and AudioBook
Note: Every book in this series is designed to stand alone. It’s more fun to read them in order, but not necessary.