Oh gentle pagan-folk. I must admit that I love *que sarcasm* how we need to define everything down to the most minute detail. Boxes on boxes on boxes on boxes. I also love *more sarcasm* how in our definitions we become so certain that our way is correct and anything else is hogwash. There is a bit of hullabaloo around the description of “Nature Spirits” and the “Fair Folk” or “Fae”.
There are some compelling arguments about definitions and titles. I do love hearing other people’s perspectives and practices. However, I don’t by any stretch of the imagination think there is only ONE clear definition. My human hubris is not so bold as to think that there is even one way to understand these concepts and how it might work in any of the Otherworlds.
Much of our modern lens of the Fae is tainted with Victorian fairy obsession, which often had very little to do with fairies. I think virtually anyone working with the Fae knows that the little winged creatures are not the only form the Fae may take. I’m not really sure what folks mean when they use the term “nature spirit”. However, I do use the term Spirit of the Land or Spirit of Place and I DO consider these spirits Fae.
Here’s what I know to be true (making plenty of space for your mileage to vary), the Fae are not one thing. There are a vast number of different beings that fall under the category of Fae. The are a complex tree of organisms, much like what we might think of as mammals. The only thing I remember from 8th grade science is the taxonomic hierarchy – Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. This is a concept that fits well to the complexities of what I am talking about.
There are lots of Fae in the Kingdom of Fae, but when you boil it down to the Species level, they are vastly different. Our human need to categorize things might call them spirits, or fae, or nature spirits, or whatever. In reality we are talking about a complex system of beings that don’t really fit into the boxes that we want them to.
I’m hearing a lot of chatter about the Fair Folk lately (which I love, cause I love me some Fae), but the Fair Folk are a specific type of Fae. Not all Fae, Spirits of the Land, or other classification are the Fair Folk. And I believe that this is where a lot of the confusion comes in.
As I said before, I am loving this being a topic of conversation. Here’s my bottom line: if you are new to working with the Otherworlds or the Fae don’t make any assumptions. We are not talking about creatures with the same understanding of morals or ethics as a human might have. Proceed with caution, be polite, and take nothing for granted.