[This month, we sit down for a quick chat with Morgan Daimler, author and practitioner of Fairy Witchcraft. Here, they discuss their new book on the fae in the twenty-first century and their upcoming projects.]
ev0ke: You recently released 21st Century Fairy: The Good Folk in the New Millennium. First, congratulations! Second, how did this book come about? Why a book about fairies in the present world?
Morgan Daimler: This book was written because I kept running across the idea that fairies were relics of the past or limited to archaic settings and I wanted to show people that we have so much evidence to the contrary. In the first couple decades of the 21st century we have a wide range of anecdotal material and modern folklore relating to fairies. And I also wanted to write something that could help people start to sort out the newer material from the older because so often new folklore is muddled into the older to give it credibility, or people just don’t realize its new. Like the idea of elves having pointed ears – its almost ubiquitous across fiction, games, art, and even some belief but its a very new idea. So I thought it would be a good thing to put out a resource for people that digs into that and also places fairies in modern terms and settings.
ev0ke: How did this book come about? Did you approach Moon Books with the idea, or did they come to you?
MD: I wrote up a proposal and submitted it to Moon Books. I’ve worked with them for several years and felt like they would be a great fit for this book and I like working with them.
ev0ke: There is a vigorous debate in the Fairy Witchcraft and related communities about the appearance of the Good People. Do you think that we can/do see them as they are? Or are they altering their appearance?
MD: great question and yes a very contentious topic! I tend to think both are likely true in different contexts. I think we often see what they choose for us to see and so we need to be careful in assuming too much from our own experiences or perceptions of Them, but I also think we do sometimes see or experience them as they actually are. We definitely have a lot of evidence that they can influence our perceptions, not just visually but other senses as well. We have stories of people who thought they were at a grand feast or in a beautifully decorated hall only to have something break the enchantment and show them that the ‘feast’ was a table full of leaf litter and moss or the ‘hall’ was actually a damp cavern. These are illusions which seem tangible, can be smelled, touched, tasted, but are false. On the other hand we also have stories of what people see when that enchantment is broken, including looking at fairies, and stories of people who observed fairies when the fairies didn’t seem to know the human was there, in which cases the human seems to be seeing the truth.
ev0ke: When most people think of the Good Folk, they think of them in the wild. But fairies can also be found in urban spaces. What are some good places to look for them — or to avoid them — in cities?
MD: its a huge range of course but generally the rule about times still applies – so liminal times like dusk, dawn, midnight a person is more likely to have an experience. Crossroads seem to pop up in stories, as do pubs/bars and any kind of market or shopping area – even malls and hotels. But I’ve also heard of people encountering these beings in their own apartment buildings and in small parks. Places I’d advise avoiding are the sorts of places that give you an uneasy feeling and places with deeper stagnant water. Generally fairies connected to water tend to be more dangerous and areas with deep standing water tend to attract the kind of spirits that will do a person harm.
ev0ke: While iron is often mentioned as a traditional deterrent to the Good Folk, the idea of using plastic has also entered Fairy Witchcraft beliefs from fiction and roleplaying games. Are there other examples of unhelpful or even harmful beliefs and practices bleeding out of fiction and into the real world?
MD: The plastic thing is so frustrating to be honest, if only because it’s non-sensical. Plastic is literally everywhere in the modern world. Things bleeding out of fiction tend to be less practical and more conceptual – so like the idea that the unseelie or dark court are actually the good ones who are more honest, while the seelie or bright court are the really dangerous beings (obviously the inverse of folklore, but a common trope in fiction).
I think though the thing that tends to stand out the most to me is seeping in from new age spirituality, a kind of blend of positive manifestation, toxic positivity, & victim blaming. And that’s where we find this idea that if you expect good things you get good, but if you expect bad you get bad, and any bad experience is the person’s own fault for not being positive enough. And that idea really irks me because that just isn’t how this works. Obviously a degree of that can come into play – if you are expecting something bad you can cause it, but the vast majority of the time if something bad happens with fairies its has nothing to do with you lacking positivity. In fact I have personally seen people who were strongly convinced that fairies were only ever good run into problems and have bad experiences with fairies, sometimes extremely bad. I think its much better to view these beings the way we would other humans, and not see them as inherently good or bad. So that’s something big that I think is harmful and we need to move away from.
ev0ke: What are some of your favorite fictional depictions of the Good Folk?
MD: As much as I sometimes complain about fairies in fiction there’s a good amount of books I do like. Peadar O’Guilin’s Grey Land series, Kevan Manwaring’s The Knowing, Ruth Francis Long’s Dubh Linn series, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Ron C Neito’s Faery Sworn series – I’ve found these are all pretty good for fiction depictions of the Good Folk. Obviously nothing is perfectly in line with the folklore because plot needs to plot, but as close as I’ve seen. And they’re just good stories which is also important.
ev0ke: Which book fairs, conventions, or other events — online or in person — do you hope to attend in the foreseeable future?
MD: I’m speaking at the Earth Spirit People’s Beltane event in late April and I’ll be at the Morrigan’s Call Retreat in June. There’s a few other things in the works but those are the biggest confirmed ones.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
MD: Currently I have two manuscripts I’m working on, one is about Celtic fairies in north america and the other is a sequel to my fantasy novel which is out this May. I’m excited for both projects in different ways: I think the fairy book is really needed because there is so much confusion around the topic, and the fantasy book is a passion project. I just completed a book on Fairy in Ireland and the UK, how the Otherworld is perceived across that folklore and into popular culture, and that one is in copyediting and should hopefully be out in 2024.