AS ALWAYS: IF ANYONE KNOWS WHO THE CREATORS OF THE ART MAY BE, PLEASE TELL ME SO THAT THEY CAN BE MENTIONED.
So today’s myth will be the fairy, and fairies actually exist in many European cultures. But I am going to focus on the English/British Isles variation that is the source of our modern concept of fairies: small, magical, humanoid creatures. Our concept of fairies as we know them today was molded during the romantic era, before that they were described as many malicious and mischievous creatures.
Fairies have been known to kidnap humans, particularly babies. In that case, they usually leave in the crib a changeling (fairy baby) to be raised by the human family. They were taken for many reasons: most commonly it was to marry the child to a noble fairy. Fairies also tend to send travelers in the wrong direction, enjoying the person’s confusion. Though a fairy cannot lie, they are very skilled at twisting their words so as to create confusion. Fairies also tend to bite.
There are many trips and tricks to stopping fairies. To keep a baby from being stolen, it was suggested that the parents leave bread in its clothing. To protect oneself from a fairy, cold iron can be used since it is poison to them (they will avoid it completely). Charms can also be made with herbs that repel the fairies. Never say thank you to a fairy, it is considered insulting since it means that the person will forget the fairy’s good deed. The fairy needs pledge or promise (something tangible with that) to guarantee that it will not be forgotten. Lastly, to know the fairy’s name is very powerful. With a name, one can summon a fairy and make it follow orders (granting wishes, kind of, with their magic).
Fairies are magical creatures. Fairy magic is typically called glamour. They were not depicted with wings till the Victorian Era, but they were still known to fly. They were said to fly on plain magic, ragwort stems, or on the backs of flying creatures (like birds, butterflies, and insects). In many cases, fairies were said to be able to make themselves invisible. Most were also known to be immortal (or live really long lives) usually dyeing because of a human. Sadly though, fairies are creatures with no souls and so they do not have an after life available to them once their lives end.
But fairies were not always shown as bad. They were also seen as helpful creatures (mostly to those who were poor and needed it). They helped in the house making bread, cleaning rooms, fixing what was broken, and finishing what people left unfinished at night. They bring luck, and some leave money in the boots of hard working farmers in times of need. Fairies are touchy creatures, though, and require that people follow many polite rules or they get mad and leave. One most always leave a bowl of cream and a piece of honey cake out at night for them. I have seen it said that you should never give them material goods (like money) for their services, but some are pleased when given clothing. But in some variations giving them clothing is very bad, mostly if you forget to give them food. Both the clothing and food always have to be of the finest ingredients/material. If they want to be helpful, they are not above stealing from others to give to another (even if that other person is not rich and greedy). In that case, not accepting their help would anger them greatly even though what they are doing is wrong. Fairies have a very stubborn idea on how to act. They have very strong sense of what is right or wrong, even though this does not correlate with the human ideals.
If you wish to know more I recommend the essay by Mika Loponen entitled Faerie Folklore in Medieval Tales, here is a link: http://www.academia.edu/300335/Faerie_Folklore_in_Medieval_Tales_-_an_Introduction