A to Z Challenge Folklore

Quandary: Season Fae #folklore #AtoZChallenge

Q is for Quandary

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When I was about seven or eight years old, a teacher told a story where fairies painted flowers. The point of the story was that one fairy didn’t work, but rather played and left her painting until the very last moment when it started raining and all the paint washed off, leaving her with nothing to show for her hard work. Of course, the moral wasn’t lost on me, but what intrigued me was the idea of fairies painting the colours of the flowers.

The Seasons. Image credit.

Folklore

Fairies by Gertrude M. Faulding [1913]

It is of no use our asking how the belief sprang up, or when; nor need we inquire too precisely into its nature, for while fairy lore belongs to every country it has been able hitherto to defy those of the learned who would trace its origin or reduce it to a system. Science cannot examine nor reason grasp it, for what they touch is not the entrancing secret of the fairies, that indescribable, elusive thing, but some trace of it rather, some shining in the fields and forests, in poetry and in childhood; some glamour of the morning world, left there perhaps by the passing of the Little People.

Here, in the glimmering half-light ‘of the wood everything is a-quiver with marvel and romance, and if we listen many a roundel and a fairy song will come floating towards us, new notes echoing and blending with the old, because in the Forest of Wild Thyme, which is only a new and beautiful name for Fairy Land, all the songs are exactly the same age, and that is no age at all. Here we shall meet among others the fays of long ago:

Peaseblossom in his crimson cap
And delicate suit of rose-leaf green,
His crimson sash and his jewelled dagger;

But the fairy riders, as the air thickens, shout with triumph and urge their coursers onward and downward, till they reach the earth at last in one glorious rush, and behold they are changed into stars of burning flame. We have all, on summer nights, watched their swift passage across the sky, in showers but seldom, sometimes in twos and threes, often alone. 

Image credit.

A Feast of Lanterns, by L. Cranmer-Byng, [1916]

THE SECRET LAND

The flower fairies bring
Their playmate Spring,
But the Spring goes
And takes no rose.
She breaks all hearts
To incense and departs.

The river fain would keep
One cloud upon its breast
Of the twilight flocks that sweep
Like red flamingoes fading west,
Away, away,
To build beyond the day.

Give me the green gloom of a lofty tree,
Leaf and bough to shutter and bar
My dream of the world that ought to be
From the drifting ghosts of the things that are.

Mine is a secret land where Spring
And sunset clouds cease wandering.

Image credit.

The Element Encyclopedia of Fairies by Lucy Cooper

Flower Fairies

Edward Gardner, secretary of the Theosophical Society, put forward the idea that fairies were part of the evolutionary line of the butterfly genus. Like Robert Kirk, he believed they were made of hazy substance lighter than gas that made them generally invisible to humans, except for clairvoyants, or those with “second sight”. According to Gardner, the function of these nature spirits was to make flowers and plants grow by providing a link between them and the sun’s life-giving energy. He wrote that the “growth of a plant which we regard as the customary and inevitable result of associating three factors of sun, seed and soil would never take place if the fairy builder were absent”. Groups of fairies were responsible for tending different parts of the flowers – some working at cellular levels, some at the roots, and others on shape and colour.

*More can be read in the book.

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Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology by Theresa Bane

Snow Fairies

Variations: Father Frost, Frost Fairies, Frost King, Jack Frost, Old Man Winter, Snow Queen, Winter Fairies

Seasonal Fairies, the snow fairies appear in various apparent ages, forms, and genders, depending on the region. Collectively, their goal is to assist in bringing the winter season into being.

Pillywiggins

Variations: Flower Faeries, Spring Faeries

Diminutive winged, seasonal faeries associated with spring, the playful pillywiggins live in the wildflowers growing at the base of oak trees. These trooping fairies have no particular interest in humans but have been seen acting out events of human life, such as parties and weddings. Unlike other fay, they do not play pranks of any kind. Pillywiggins are led by their beautiful and seductive fairy queen, Ariel; while her people ride upon the backs of bees she rides upon a bat.

Seasonal Fairies

Seasonal fairies are present in many cultures but are especially popular in African and Russian fairy lore. These fairies are generally said to be able to shape-shift in various forms and assist in the changing of the seasons, a task well suited to their playful nature. Examples of well-known seasonal fairies are Jack Frost, Jimaninos, Mither O’ the Sea, Old Man Winter, Pillywiggins, and Santa Claus to name a few.

The Flower Fairy

During the eighteenth century fairies were associated with flowers and were seen as beautiful, capricious, gentle, wilful fertility nature spirits. Flower fairies love beauty and luxury and hold in absolute contempt the very idea of economy and thrift. These fairies deeply enjoy bathing in fresh water, flattery, and offerings of food and wine left out for them; no matter how much they drink they cannot become drunk.

*More can be read in the book.

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Herbal Magick: A Witch’s Guide to Herbal Folklore and Enchantments by Gerina Dunwich

Ragwort: fairies’ horses

*More can be read in the book.

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Further Reading:

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Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel

Since the Victorian age, faeries have been closely associated with nature – especially flowers. They have also been relegated to diminutive size. And though some do hide their true nature with Glamour – looking like bees or ants – for the most part only season fae are truly concerned with the growth of flowers.

Of course, Shakespeare had something to do with linking faeries to plants. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is perhaps the most famous example of this.

Each flower supposedly has its own faery: Bluebell Faery, Buttercup Faery, Cowslip Faery and so forth. Just as each flower has its own use and powers, so do the faeries that inhabit them.

All these fae have one job in common: getting their plants ready for the coming season.

Image credit.

Season Fae in Modern Culture

Season and Flower Fae in Books

In Tessonja Odette’s “The Fair Isle Trilogy” the Faery Courts are divided into seasonal courts among others and flower fairies can be in any of these courts.

In Aprilynne Pike’s “Wings” series, the fae are divided into four types: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Their powers, and the number of fae, depend on their season. (Fall being numerous and gifted with minor magical talent; Summer plenty with flashy magic; Fall scarce with potion and bookish magic; Winter the scarcest and most powerful of all — only three currently in existence, but with the power to alter reality.)

In Melissa Marr’s “Wicked Lovely” series, the Summer Court and the Winter Court are responsible for the changes in seasons. Their regents have the power over all elements of their season (e.g. the Winter Queen can create ice from her hands).

In Disney’s Tinker Bell movie series, there are different kinds of Season Fae.

Garden-talent fairies can control and make bloom any vegetation in question of seconds. They spend most of their time outdoors. Their colorful gardens can be seen in all corners of Pixie Hollow. Garden-talent fairies can sense what a plant needs and have an intuitive understanding of how to care for plants.
Garden fairies can grow seaweed, affirming that their magic works underwater. Garden-talent fairies paint flowers, help them to grow and talk with them.
They are responsible for harvesting food for the fairies of Pixie Hollow. They gather berries, seeds, shoots, flower nectar, and mushrooms. Garden fairies occasionally work with animals, too: they sometimes train earthworms and ladybugs to help them, and they are highly respectful of bumblebees.

From Disney Fairies Wikia.
disney garden fairy
Garden Fairy. Image credit.

Animal-talent fairies have the unique ability to speak with any animal in its native tongue, whether it be raccoon, bird, tree frog, or squirrel.
Although in the books Mother Dove is dear to all who live in Pixie Hollow, the ones who know and understand her best are the animal-talents. They are extremely sensitive and can “read” an animal’s thoughts or emotions. They know when an animal is frightened or sick and can tend to its needs to help it feel better. Like the animals they work with, animal-talent fairies have a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing. They are skilled trackers and are frequently called upon to help find fairies who have lost their way in the woods. All animal talent fairies are deeply integrated into Never Land‘s fauna and strive to keep it harmonious. When Tinker Bell arrived in Pixie Hollow and destroyed the preparations for spring in Tinker Bell, she created a gadget called the Flower Sprayer, which can paint ladybugs, flowers and other things much faster. Since then, many of the Animal-talent fairies use this to change the seasons faster.

From Disney Fairies Wikia.
animal fairy disney
Animal Fairy. Image credit.

Frost-talent fairies freeze every plant life and vegetation, be it trees, flowers or grass. They conjure frost from their hands into all kinds of different shapes.

From Disney Fairies Wikia.

Snowflake-talent fairies create beautiful snowflakes of all types, sizes and designs. Their snowflakes are taken to the Mainland during winter.

From Disney Fairies Wikia.

Glacier-talent fairies are those responsible for making ice blocks and freeze every body of water, be it rivers, lakes or ponds. They are known to be good at ice-skating.

From Disney Fairies Wikia.
disney frost fairy
Frost Fairy. Image credit.

In the Winx TV series, different Fairies have different skill sets.

Flora is the Fairy of Nature who hails from Linphea where she currently acts as its Guardian Fairy.

From Winx Club Wiki.

Flora has various offensive and defensive spells that all involve nature in some way. Her outfits also always look like plants/flowers.

flora winx club
Flora reading the plant’s feelings. Image credit.

The Original Flower Fairies

Since their first publication in 1923, Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies have enchanted both adults and children alike around the world. The botanically accurate drawings in the 170 original illustrations, coupled with the enchanting fairy images based on real children from Cicely’s sister’s nursery school, appeal to our innate sense of magic and wonder.
Originally accompanied by a poem or verse dedicated to the individual Flower Fairy the charming characters and detailed artwork have also been translated into fiction for young readers as well as the New York Times bestselling Fairyopolis series.

From the Flower Fairies homepage.
foxglove fairy
The Foxglove Fairy. See and read more on the site. Image credit.

Season Fae in My Writing

Origin of the Fae: Season Fae
Tiny fae in charge of changing the seasons in the mortal realm. They dress in flowers and other plants.
They paint flowers, plant bushes, teach birds to sing, etc. for all seasons. The Cailleach determines overall Winter temperatures.
They return to Avenir Hollow when done with their job in the human realm and elsewhere.
They are ruled by Oonagh. She is absolutely beautiful with long golden hair sweeping the ground, gowns of made glittery silver gossamer, and wings that match her beauty.

season fae translation english afrikaans
Learn more here.

Where did you encounter Season Fae for the first time? What do you think of this classification of fae? Any folklore about Season Fae you’d like to share? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

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