Halloween Fairies

Halloween is supposedly a time when the veil between our world and the shadow world is extremely thin. A time when you are more likely to hear stories of encounters between humans and fairies. Fairies are said to reside in a shadowy spirit world and on the eve of Hallowe’en, on the old Celtic festival of Samhain, the dead and the fairies were thought of as mingling in their revels.

Alan Lee, The Faery Ring, ‘ in Faeries‘ by Brian Froud & Alan Lee, 1978

This eerie revelry of the spirits of the dead manifesting as fairies is referred to by many early fairyologists:

In the minds of our pagan ancestors, there was very little distinction between the dead and the fairies, who were perhaps only the spirits of an earlier race. All the demons at the fairy raths are dead human folk who are out for their Hallowe’en revels, after which they must go back to their graves for another year (Lewis Spence, British Fairy Origins, 1946).

If this Halloween you go seeking winged friends, they might not be as sweet as you think. I for one regret the lack of fairies on Halloween cards; there are some vintage ones that suggest that fairies once featured as frequently as today’s witches and vampires.

Thanks to all those who have attended our calendar of OGOM Halloween events; we hope you have enjoyed the spooky season as much as we have. I was delighted to bring my events programme to a close with a fairy themed talk: Winged Fiends: The Dark Origins of the Fairy at the London Month of the Dead Festival. Keep an eye out for future events including the launch of the next OGOM book: The Legacy of John Polidori: The Romantic Vampire and its Progeny. And remember, if you have saved your revels for tonight, we believe ‘there’s a little witch in all of us’! (Practical Magic).

About Sam George

Associate Professor of Research, School of Humanities, University of Hertfordshire Co-convenor OGOM Project
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