The Fairy Folklore in Jim Henson’s ‘Labyrinth’

 I’m going to do a small series of reviews over the next few months looking at the fairy folklore in different films and tv shows, prompted by some discussion on social media. I think this will be fun and also help people see the various threads of older beliefs that are woven into some popular shows and movies. I’m thinking of covering a variety of things including Pan’s Labyrinth, Jonathan…

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Resources for Learning Old/Middle Irish

  I recently published a new book of translations from old/middle Irish into English and as sometimes happens when the subject comes up people are asking me how I learned the language and for suggestions on where to start themselves. For those who aren’t aware old and middle Irish are the predecessors of modern Irish, in much the same way that old and middle English are the predecessors of modern…

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A Modern House Blessing

 In the past I’ve been asked to help people cleanse or bless their new houses. It occurs to me that this sort of simple thing would be good to post here for anyone to do themselves. This method is entirely my own, as far as I know, and thoroughly modern, but is based on older methods and concepts, particularly drawn from the Carmina Gadelica material.  First I walked through the house, room by…

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The Morrigan, The Dagda, and Samhain

 As we’re getting into October and people are turning their  attention to Samhain I’m starting to see discussion and references to the meeting between the Morrigan and the Dagda at the river Unshin showing up here and there. This is one of those stories from myth that often suffers from ‘telephone game syndrome’, that is people who haven’t actually read or heard the story themselves taking a…

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Quick Guide to Common Folklore Related Terms

Today I wanted to offer a quick and very rough guide to terms used around material connected to folklore. I find that this subject can be very confusing for people and hope this may help a bit with that. Disclaimer that these definitions are based in my own understanding of these concepts as an amateur folklorist.Folklore – according to Oxford dictionary folklore is "the traditional beliefs,…

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Cana Cludhmor – Inventing an Irish Goddess

I saw a post on Twitter, under the folklore Thursday hashtag, claiming that the Irish goddess of music and the harp is Cana Cludhmor, which was a new one on me, so I decided to research the idea and that figure. I wasn’t familiar with her as a name of any of the Tuatha De Danann, Fomoirians, or Fir Bolg, or from the Ulster or Fenian myth cycles but I am certainly not infallible nor do I know…

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A Charm Against the Evil Eye

      The Carmina Gadelica has a series of charms which all deal with the evil eye, that is the curse laid upon a person by another who wishes them ill or looks upon them with envy.  This one is my personal favorite and I have modified it slightly to be more pagan; the original can be found here. I love the imagery it presents and find it reminiscent of the Song of Amergin. Anyone who has read…

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7 Dangerous Fairies

 Despite the common modern perception of fairies as lovely and helpful folklore offers a wide range of dangerous Fairy beings who represented a real threat to any humans they happened to encounter. I’d like to offer a list of 7 such dangerous beings here, although there are of course many more than that found across the folklore. These are definitely not the sorts of fairies one would want to…

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Feri, Faery Wicca, Fairy Witchcraft…Which is Which?

 There are several very similarly named traditions of witchcraft connected to fairies out there and this has long caused confusion. Which, given the subject relates to fairies, is perhaps inevitable or at least predictable. Nonetheless I thought that today it would be helpful to offer as much clarity on this as possible by briefly discussing the different traditions to illustrate how they are…

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Why Do We Envision Fairies As Tiny?

 fairy from the movie LabyrinthFor many people today the word fairy immediately invokes images like the picture above, of a tiny winged being. In today’s post I want to discuss specifically the idea of fairies as tiny, because its so pervasive and yet largely a popculture concept, albeit an early modern one. So, why do we envision fairies as tiny?The fairies of folklore – historic and modern -…

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