Pagan Portals - 21st Century Fairy
A 21st Century guide to seekers wanting a modern context for these ancient beings.
When people think of fairies they often picture beings who dwell in the wilderness, solidly anchored in the past. Yet the truth is that fairies are as present and active in the world today as ever, found as easily in cities as they are in wild places. 21st Century Fairy explores fairy beliefs and encounters in the modern world, framed by folklore, modern fiction and personal experience, to show readers the possibilities that are out there. Learn whether fairies evolve and what a modern city in the fairy world might be like. Be open to the possibility of tech fairies existing alongside fairies in nature and learn how they interact with human technology. Much like the human world, the fairy world is stunningly diverse and constantly changing. 21st Century Fairy is a guide to seekers who want a modern context for these ancient beings.
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Morgan Daimler is the author of a series of books about fairies and fairydom. She writes in her introduction to this new one from Pagan Portals that “this book is mean to be something of a very loose guide for seekers of Fairy to find this vibrant world.” Since I have only a passing acquaintance with this subject, this may not have been the best book for me to start with. But I was intrigued by the 21st century focus and chose to read this book even before reading her others. In 21st Century Fairy, Daimler posits the question of whether fairies evolve. By that, she doesn’t mean whether they evolve as a species, but whether they “are capable of change and adaptation to the human world they interact with.” She thinks the answer is yes, and she begins to explain her answer by taking the reader back to how the presentation of fairies in popular culture has shifted over the centuries. Then she offers some of her current insights about “the fae” in current times. In traditional folklore, fairies come in a range of sizes and forms and are able to shapeshift. It’s in the past few centuries that they came to be seen, in popular culture, as tiny, winged, and with pointed ears. Miniaturization, beginning around the 16th century, as early as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, made fairies seem less dangerous and, gradually, more the subjects of children’s stories and art. Wings on fairies let a theatrical audience know that an actor or actress was a fairy. Pointed ears came to be a feature because of Christianity’s need to portray elves and fairies as demons, and also as animalistic, which jives with the notion of fairies as nature spirits inhabiting wilderness settings. In an especially interesting chapter, “Modern Fairyland,” Daimler notes that although we’re now in the 21st century, many people still conceive of fairies through a “primitive lens.” Her experience and that of others, though, is one in which otherworldly beings appear to humans in contemporary settings such as cities and train stations. In Daimler’s opinion, many modern stories of aliens and alien abductions are really “fairies and fairy abductions re-framed to fit within 20th and 21st century human expectations.” Because in our times fairies have “largely become relegated to children’s stories and nostalgia,” there’s a “contextual void” for people who have otherworldly experiences. “This void was filled by fiction and film as popular culture embraced the idea of extra-terrestrials and our cultural consciousness became saturated by these new stories.” Daimler also broaches the issue of racism in media representations. “Despite diversity in folkloric accounts and anecdotal accounts, when you ask most people to describe a fairy or elf they don’t usually picture a person of colour but often describe a fair-skinned, usually blond, being.” Fantasy books and role playing games have perpetuated the idea that fairies are light-skinned beings. That’s starting to change. Daimler ends her book with recommendations for recent works of fiction that are changing how fairies are portrayed. She concludes that “human belief around fairies is shaped by fiction, which in turn shapes expectations and encounters… Are fairies themselves shaped by human belief or do they appear to us intentionally, as we expect, through their own magic?” There’s no definitive answer to this question. But this enjoyable short book gives a reader a lot of food for thought. ~ https://www.facingnorth.net/books/fae/daimler-21st, Facing North
A veritable treasure trove of knowledge, research, and scholarship from one the most prolific authors of Celtic and Irish traditions and history (Fairy Witchcraft, A New Dictionary of Fairies, Fairy Queens, Living Fairy, et al), the book was brought together by Daimler as a result of many conversations she had with friends over the years. Daimler also once taught a workshop on the subject, was asked if she had a book out about it, said no, thought about it, and then set to doing just that. Thus, Pagan Portals: 21st Century Fairy is laced with material sewn together from her workshops, blogs she has written, and the aforementioned years of conversations on the subject to hand, and which now she hopes will be a valuable resource for people seeking to understand the culture of fairy and fairies in a modern day context. The book, broken into seven chapters, complete with a Conclusion, is one of those reads where if you already know about fairies, you will still get a fresh take on them here. Still, even if you go in not knowing what to expect, you will finish it in one go, close it, nod, be thankful for the time spent being educated, and, most likely, start to Google other Fairy-imbued things online to either watch or read. ~ Exclusive Magazine, Review
It's easy to assume we already know a lot about a topic, maybe even entertain the idea that we know all that it's worth knowing and whatever is left is just a bonus. I've noticed myself thinking this way about the Fae now and then, so I always stop my mind from going that way. This book has been a full stop in the matter because of how simple yet complete it is. Pagan Portals - 21st Century Fairy is a valuable addition to anyone's library if they're interested in the Otherworld. Easy to follow, with a simple language, clear, and many examples, it explains how our understanding of the Fae has shaped our expectations, where the common ideas come from, and what actually means that these beings have evolved. It must sound tiresome if you've read my reviews on Morgan's other books, but I couldn't expect any less from them. I could complain that some of the anecdotes are found in other books, but that's what you get from being a fan of Fae-related material, even more so coming from the same person. I have to say, though, it's always interesting to read someone else's experiences when given new knowledge. Challenging modern misconceptions and offering a solid historical basis for all the ideas included, Morgan Daimler has written another excellent book about the Fae. Anyone interested in them will love Pagan Portals - 21st Century Fairy for how useful it is. I can promise you it will be worth the wait! ~ Kyler B. Warhol
Once again Morgan Daimler has tackled the ever perplexing and diverse realm of Fairy in a fresh, engaging and thoroughly grounded manner. This book guides the reader to an understanding of how fairy lore might evolve, adapt, and exist within a modern context. Approaching complex and touchy topics such as how fairies became the twee, winged beings of modern children’s tales, or why they are perceived as nature spirits in modern paganism in a well-researched, thoughtful manner. I am truly deeply appreciative of this remarkable offering to the study of fairies and fairy lore. 21st Century Fairy is a must-read for anyone who engages with folklore, fairy faith, or modern Paganism and Witchcraft in their life. ~ - Mhara Starling, author of Welsh Witchcraft: a Guide to the Spirits, Lore, and Magic of Wales
A thought provoking and fascinating study into fairy belief, how it reshapes itself for a modern world and the interaction between fiction and folklore. ~ Ruth Frances Long, author of the Dubh Linn series
This is a wonderful new offering from Morgan Daimler, whose extensive research and knowledge of fairy lore has been a real boon to the Pagan community and beyond. Looking at the evolution of fairy, how they can be perceived and encountered in the modern world, exploring outdated perceptions as well as finding what remains constant are discussed in this book. There are other issues which are unique to this work and which are not represented broadly, such as racism in fairy media and the ongoing representation devolved from Victorian perspectives. For all those interested in fairy literature and lore, this book is a real asset as well as being great reference material. ~ Joanna van der Hoeven, author of The Path of the Hedge Witch and The Hedge Druid's Craft
An interesting, well documented survey of beliefs about the fairies, from long ago up to today. Includes references to folklore and modern storytelling, as well as personal experience. A great foundation for folks to build their own understanding of the Good Folks on. ~ Catherine Kane, author of Adventures in Palmistry and The Practical Empath