This posting offers a small selection of practical fae-related magic for readers. I have discussed before fairy magic and the composition of the ointment applied to fairy babes. The major drawback to the recipe I suggested was that it is composed of four leaf clover; finding enough of these to produce a quantity sufficient to anoint even an infant is likely to be difficult. Here are some other, perhaps more practical, spells and potions.
Elias Ashmole’s manuscript (MS1406) which is dated around 1600 has a recipe for an unguent for eyes for use when you wish to summon fairies or when your vision of them is not perfect.
“Take one pint of salad oil and put it into a glass vial, but first wash [mix?] it with rose water and marigold water (the flowers to be gathered towards the east). Wash it till the oil comes white, then put it into the glass vial and then put into it the buds of hollyhock and young hazel, the flowers of marigold and the tops or flowers of wild thyme. The thyme must be gathered near the side of a hill which fairies frequent. Add, too, some grass picked from a fairy throne found there. All these put into the oil in the glass and set it to dissolve three days in the sun, and then keep it to thy use.” (Halliwell-Phillips Fairy mythology p.62.)
Most of these ingredients are readily and cheaply available, but there are two catches:
- You need to be sure that the knoll where you pick your thyme is a favourite haunt of the fairy folk. Sites that are traditionally such spots are a safe bet, naturally, otherwise your own experience and investigation may be required.
- I confess that I don’t know what a fairy throne is (yet). I assume it is a place on the hill which appears to be a seat where the fairy queen may sit during revels. Poetry describes such occasions- for example William Browne in Britannia’s pastorals Book I song 2 mentions “A hillock rise, where oft the fairy queen/ At twilight sat, and did command her elves…” If your confirmed fairy knoll has such a feature too, you’re definitely in business.
Halliwell-Phillips in Fairy mythology of a Midsummer night’s dream also gives a selection of spells from a manuscript in his possession (p.63). Here is a charm for invisibility which appears very simple:
“Take water and power it on an anthill and immediately look after it and you shall find a stone of divers colours sent from the fairy. This bear in your right hand and you shall go invisible.”
Another charm is to a summon a fairy, a Latin and English invocation much like that for Oberon described below. There is a similar spell for expelling fairies from a place where buried treasure is found. These depend upon magical words combined, most likely with the proper personal preparations (bodily and spiritual purification) and the creation of a chalk circle. Ashmole’s manuscript has similar very lengthy summoning charms (see Halliwell-Phillips p.62-3).
A ‘magical miscellany’ contained manuscript in the Bodleian library in Oxford dated to the early seventeenth century [Bod.MS e Mus 173 f.72 V-R] has a similar spell to conjure Oberon into a crystal seeing stone, using Catholic prayers in Latin. It also has a spell to conjure other fairies employing the ‘rime’ found on a bowl of water which has been left out overnight for the fairies to bathe in (once a common practice, especially in Wales). I have not provided this, in part because I have not seen the manuscript myself and because it presupposes a key ingredient which- rather like four leaf clover- is in the first place very hard to acquire. First get your fairies to come and bathe themselves and their children; then hope that it’s a frosty night and the bowl freezes over.
There are other posts examining spell books and other charms such as their magic hand gestures that might be employed with our Good Neighbours. Sometimes, though, nothing more is needed than to be in contact with a fairy.
An expanded version of this text will appear in my next book, Faeries, which will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide next year.