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Fairy Witches: The Age-old Connection Between the Fay and Witchcraft

Today fairies are not just for little girls’ imagination, they’re for witches and magical practitioners too. There’s a magical trend – working with the unseen world, namely working with the fae. There are many historical and folkloric connections between fairies and witches dating back centuries. Let’s learn about this connection, as well as where and how the first witch made friends with fairies.

Morgan Le Fay: The “First” Fairy Witch

Ever heard of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table? Within the legends of Camelot are stories of a powerful and feared fairy witch. Her name is Morgan Le Fay, and in some versions of the Arthurian legend, she is King Arthur’s sister. The last two words of her name Le Fay literally means the fairy. Morgan Le Fay lived in Avalon and had abilities, and so was accused of being a fairy and witch.

Morgan Le Fay and the Isle of Avalon

Different versions of the Arthurian legend paint her in different lights. She was either the ruin or the savior of Arthur’s life. Legend says she took Arthur to the Isle of Avalon, to be his last resting place. Moreover, the Isle of Avalon was a magical place beyond the mist and inhabited by fairies. Nine magical sisters lived there, including Morgan Le Fay.

The first fairy witch might have been Morgan Le Fay.

The Fairy Witch Trials

We have all heard of the unspeakable horrors that took place with the Witch Trials in Europe and America. Superstition and greed drove the massacres to occur. But what most people don’t know is fairies played a part in the Witch Trials too.

The Fairy Witch Trial of the Fisherwife of Palermo

Most of the Fairy Witch Trials took place in Italy. Out of the known sixty-five cases, the Fisherwife of Palermo’s fairy witch trial in Sicily was most well-known. The wife of a fisherman claimed she could leave her body behind and party with the elves whenever she wanted. She explained the King and Queen of Elves promised her riches and other pleasures if she denounced all other gods. She signed a contract and, on many occasions, spiritually joined the elves in feasting and revelry. The fairy faith was strong, and most believed the Fisherwife to be associating with fairies and not the Devil. So inevitably, they released her. Her accusers agreed she was merely “having dreams” of fairies and not physically copulating with “devils”.

Isobel Gowdie & the Queen of Elfame

In a witch trial in Scotland, an accused witch claimed she’d met with the Queen of Fairies (the Queen of Elfame) under the hills. Isobel Gowdie said the fairies taught her and other women how to fly on beanstalks to meet with other witches. Isobel’s confession is the most detailed account from this time period. And can be researched in its entirety online. I also recommend reading Emma Wilby’s book “The Visions of Isobel Gowdie.”

The Nature of the Fairies

Fairies were such an integral part of folklore in Europe that most people didn’t associate fairies with the Christian devil for many years. Often, as in the case of the Fisherwife of Palermo, the Church allowed the accused to go free. The Church explained these women’s experiences with fairies as simply dreams or mental illness. However, if fairies were mentioned in alignment with the Devil or familiars, or if the accused was thought to have harmed another using witchcraft, they were tried/tortured/executed.

The Irish and House Elves

As an elderly woman in Ireland you couldn’t keep your house too clean. Otherwise people would be suspicious of a bean-tighe in your home. A bean-tighe (pronounced ban-tee) was a female fairy similar to the Scottish brownie who tended house and watched over the children. They accused old women of witchcraft, particularly with fairies involved.

Fairy witches are witches who work with fairies in their craft.

Cunningfolk and Fairy Friends

In opposition to witches who practiced maleficium, there were others who practiced “white” magic. The local cunningman or cunningwoman healed, counteracted curses, helped find lost objects and performed other helpful magical tasks. Many of the cunningfolk received their otherworldly knowledge from the fairies.

Biddy Early

An Irish woman by the name of Biddy Early was a cunningwoman who lived in the late 1700’s through the 1800’s. Biddy was called upon to not only heal people but to find lost items, to cure sick animals, and to aid in crop abundance. Biddy was well known for her herbal knowledge and for clairvoyance. Some said Biddy Early was given powers by the fairies, and that she carried a “fairy bottle” that told whispered the fairies’ secrets to her.

Modern Fairy Witches

The cunningfolk and witches of the past are gone but not forgotten. They live on in a new wave of witches and magical practitioners reviving the old ways. Some fairy witches practice fairy witchcraft by basing their magic and beliefs on fairy lore. Others follow a more religious form of fairy witchcraft.

The Feri Tradition

The Feri Tradition was created by Victor Anderson. This form of witchcraft is based on sensuality and can be very intense in nature. From my research it’s not focused on the actual belief or working with fairies, but more on an ecstatic experience within oneself. There are also various fairy Wiccan traditions that tie Celtic fairy beliefs into ritual and practice.

The REAL Connection Between Fairies and Witches

The real reason there’s a connection between fairies and witches is simple – nature. An undying, passionate love for nature and the preservation thereof. Witches walk the path of witchcraft because they seek to commune with the Universe starting with Mother Earth. Fairies are the spirits of nature, so naturally when witches work with nature, they are working with fairies. When nature spirits, fairies, realize a witch is a witch who cares and is in sync with Mother Earth, they will begin teaching that witch their secrets. Is it no wonder witches were closely linked with fairies during the Witch Trials? It makes sense to me.

Learn More About Fairies:

11 Comments

  1. Rebecca

    July 6, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    I saw today something magical I keep sit around and was wrong and I knew it I was bad as a rich I should know better I went back I think it’s cos I don’t like the neighbours I don’t like the people that I don’t like the flat and I didn’t want them been able to access it and use it and I don’t trust them and I realised I doing wrong so I went back and made offerings and since then have been in the days should I be worried there was a circle of mushrooms and the big circle I feel in a bit of a days should I be worried I know it’s very fairest and I know they can be evil what should I do do just in case

  2. Des

    May 20, 2021 at 11:13 am

    Finding my own crowd..I’m glad to have found this article..

  3. Ezzi Rae Brooks

    April 11, 2021 at 12:52 am

    hey lola! i think that it being a fairy witch is definitely on your path 🙂 the universe seems to send us messages in so many different ways. for me at first i was afraid and confused but now i realize that this is where i’m headed. i hope that you continue to look into the fiary world! they’re waiting for you!
    -luna

  4. Lola

    January 25, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    I always felt so close to fairies and couldn’t figure it out. I can see them and they laugh with me. Maybe I am?? Some of my actions in the past make sense. I had a boyfriend from Scotland years ago who I had a hard time committing too because all I could do is read him & past in Scotland and it scared me. 2nd I visited Italy twice in 5 yr time space, ALONE, like I was trying to find something about myself but never figured it out. 3rd, just did the ancestry test and lineage is majority from Ireland. Is it ironic that all 3 of these places have fairy significance?

    1. Anonymous

      April 11, 2021 at 12:50 am

      hey lola! i think that it being a fairy witch is definitely on your path 🙂 the universe seems to send us messages in so many different ways. for me at first i was afraid and confused but now i realize that this is where i’m headed. i hope that you continue to look into the fiary world! they’re waiting for you!
      -luna

  5. House Fairies & Elves: The Brownie, Monaciello, & More

    December 21, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    […] of being accused of having a Bean-tighe. During the Witch Trial era, if you were thought to be a friend of the fairies‘, you were often accused of witchcraft. If you are of Milesian descent, the Bean-tighe will […]

  6. Anonymous

    August 5, 2019 at 12:51 am

    I’m starting out my journey as a fairy witch! I was originally eclectic but I feel a calling to the fae!

  7. Victoria

    March 19, 2019 at 5:15 am

    I have seen past lives—both my own and other’s—I n the fairy realm. The fairies are very much real! I can’t wait for my Earth incarnation to be over to go back there! It’s so nice and everything is infused with this beautiful golden light.

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  10. Anni

    January 5, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Yes fairies are real they exist in another demension earthlings are to cruel for them

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