Fairies and Witches: My personal thoughts on their relationships and connections

O’ Mester King o’ a’ that’s ill,

Come fill me wi’ the Warlock’s [Witches’] Skill,

An’ I shall serve wi’ all me will.

Trow take me gin I sinno!

Trow take me gin I winno!

Trow take me win I cinno!

Come take me noo, an take me a’,

Take lights an’ liver, pluck and ga,

Take me, take me, noo I say,

Fae de how o’ da heed, tae da tip o’ da tae.

Take a’ dats oot an’ in o’ me.

Take hare an hide an a’ tae thee.

Take hert, an harns, flesh, bleud and banes,

Take a’ atween the seeven stanes,

I’ de name of da muckle black Wallowa!

-The Witch’s’ Charm: Gaelic incantations, charms, and blessings of the Hebrides

The relationship between fairies and witches is deeply rooted in mythos, folklore, tradition, and history. It never surprises me to see fellow witches dive into the practices of fairy faith along their craft. It is all too natural.

The fairy faith of the British Isles grew alongside witchcraft, and with the coming of Christianity the two entities became more merged into one. Though as Emma Wilby says in Cunning Folk and Familiar spirits on the topic of Demon familiars and Fairy familiars, “…it is not feasible that a downward filtration process of this kind occurring over a couple of hundred years could fully account for the diversity and subtlety of fairy familiar beliefs throughout Britain from the very beginning of this period. It is even more unlikely that beliefs about demon familiars and beliefs about fairy familiars existed simultaneously and completely independently of each other. The only interpretation left before us, therefore, is that a significant proportion of fairy familiar beliefs were indigenous to popular culture.”

Though she speaks specifically about familiar spirits, she also addresses the nature of magical practices, specifically witchcraft and cunning folk, in relationship with the fairy faith. These practices heavily influenced one another. In the lore of Scotland, Ireland, and even Wales, witches were often compared to fairies. Witches could transform into Cat Sith, fairy cats said to be black with a white marking on their chest.

It is why Fairy doctors treated both fairy and witch ailment, for both were seen as the same. Witches and fairies could both send the evil eye and attack with the elf dart.  “Witches and fairy doctors receive their power from opposite dynasties; the witch from evil spirits and her own malignant will; the fairy doctor from the fairies, and a something–a temperament–that is born with him or her. The first is always feared and hated. The second is gone to for advice, and is never worse than mischievous,” (Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry: Edited and Selected by W. B. Yeats).

From this, it can be determined that fairy doctors and witches receive their power from the same source, but rather use it in different ways. In particular, it is interesting that dynasty is used to define the two’s power. Witches getting their power from the Devil, and fairy doctors getting their power from fairies (the Fairy Queen).

Dynasty: a line of hereditary rulers of a country; a succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in business, politics, or another field.

It’s interesting that is used. For me, it acts that they’re opposites sides of the same coin. The coin being witchcraft.

In a few bits of mythology, folklore, and even modern traditional witchcraft practices, the witch was taught and even given the power of witchcraft from the fairies themselves.

Diana had by, her brother a daughter, to whom they gave the name of Aradia [i.e. Herodias]….Diana said one day to her daughter Aradia:

‘Tis true indeed that thou a spirit art,

But thou wert born but to become again

A mortal; thou must go to earth below

To be a teacher unto women and men

Who fain would study witchcraft in thy school….

And thou shalt be the first of witches known;

-Aradia, Gospel of the Witches

The Witch blood, whether of flesh or of spirit, contains the power of Faery, of fairies. For some, the first witches were the children of fairies and mortal beings. And this is why for me, the practice of both witchcraft and the fairy faith are inherent. They’re tied to one another. Both contain each other’s history and folklore. One is the land of the fairies, while the other is the land of the Devil; however, it wouldn’t be that surprising to find little differences between the two.

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