Everything You Need To Know About The Fae Folk


Have you ever taken a walk through the woods but can’t stop checking behind you? Did you feel like you were being watched, or that the woods were speaking to you?

If you’ve ever had an experience like this, then you have probably been around the Fae Folk without even knowing it.

The Fae Folk, also known as the Fair Folk or Good Folk, are present in many areas. You probably picture a gorgeous, magical, woodsy area when you think of fairies, but in reality, they can live in a simple backyard or city park.

Who Are The Fae Folk?

The Fae Folk, also known as the Good Folk or fairies/faeries, come from the Otherworld. Within the Otherworld, there are many different factions, political “parties,” and types of fairies and creatures.

Even though you probably picture a fairy as a small, angelic being with wings, in reality, the Fae Folk are comprised of many different creatures. There is no one specific type of fairy.

Accounts from well-known witches mention pixies, elves, kelpies, fairy horses, fairy dogs, and much much more. Some beings in the Otherworld are so different that we have no human name for them. We certainly don’t have a record of every being in the Otherworld.

The fairies that you hear about the most in the witchcraft or in spiritual communities are pixies, elves, and house fairies, also known as Brownies. There are many types of fairies, but these are the types of Fae Folk that most commonly come in contact with humans.

These Fae Folk seem to move with the human population they’re attached to. For example, in North America, there are some Fae Folk indigenous to the area (such as those associated with the Cherokee Nation) but there are also Scottish Fae Folk, Irish Fae Folk, Germanic Fae Folk, and more who migrated over to America with their people.

Almost every area of the world has groups of Fae Folk who are indigenous to the region. The Fae Folk come in all different sizes, shapes, and forms; they may look very different from each other. There is no set way that a fairy looks.

The word “fairy” is actually a catchall term. It was first used over 700 years ago in the English language, but the words elf, goblin, and imp were often substituted for fairy. There was no true definition of what constituted a fairy besides someone from the Otherworld.

In our world, house and garden Fae Folk most commonly interact with humans. House fairies are usually known as Brownies, although not always. Pixies are the most common type of garden Fae Folk, while elves are well-known in Iceland and colder climates.

Of course, this is just a general rule. There are many different kinds of Fae Folk that you may discover in your area; the type of Fae you interact with depends totally on where you live.

Keep in mind that if you end up working with a specific group of fairies who abide by certain cultural rules, there are still many other types out there who act totally differently. I don’t personally have experience with all types of fairies because this would be virtually impossible! The Fae Folk or are a vast subset.

When it comes to the nomenclature, the Fae Folk or Fair Folk seems to symbolize all creatures of the Otherworld, as does the Fae or the Good People/Good Neighbors.

Fairy, in pop culture, seems to refer to our idealized vision of a Tinkerbell pixie. In fact, when we heard the word fairy, we often picture a pixie without realizing it.

For the purposes of learning, the word fairy or faery (both spellings are now used interchangeably) refers to one individual creature, although I don’t recommend calling these creatures by the word fairy to their face.

Do Humans Worship Faeries?

Unlike our practices with gods or goddesses, witches don’t worship fairies. The Fae Folk are beings of the Otherworld that you can choose to develop a relationship with, but this relationship should be a give and take rather than the sort of bond we develop with deities.

Humans don’t rule over the Fair Folk. Hundreds of years ago, peasants believed that humans were above the Fae but yet they were simultaneously afraid of them. I (as well as other witches) find that it’s better to treat faeries as equal but different from us.

The human kingdom in no way rules over the Fae Folk because they can exist independently of us. In fact, they don’t need us for many things, although some faeries enjoy forming relationships with humans.

Respect is super important when it comes to working with faeries because of this equal relationship. In contrast with spirits or ghosts, who we sometimes help to release trauma or ask for favors or guidance, fairies are neither there to support us or to ask for help from us. They’re simply part of their own world.

Where Do Fairies Live?

Most Fae Folk and faeries live in the Otherworld. Not much is known about the Otherworld besides that fact that it exists separate from our dimension or plane.

Legend says that the Otherworld is rather close to our world. It’s almost as though we live side by side with fairies but we’re in a slightly different dimension. We are still close enough to interact. In old Ireland, legend said that fairies lived on the plane just above us.

Fairies use glamours to affect what we can see. Typically, they have to hide themselves from us, because our worlds are so close.

Some Fae Folk live in nature (as we generally assume) but others live in mines, in the sea, or even in cities. There are so many different kinds of Fae; their living arrangements are just as vast and varied

Fae can also be seasonal creatures. Some Fae are active year round while others are specific to a season and rest in-between. For example, the Seelie Court tends to be most active in spring and summer while the Unseelie Court is more active in fall and winter.

I have found that the Otherworld tends to have a wild quality that we don’t possess as humans. We are more cautious and afraid. We have distinctly human emotions, but these types of feelings aren’t always present in the Otherworld.

The Fair Folk don’t always understand things like empathy, sadness, or love in the same way that we do. However, this also depends on the individual fairy. Many of the Fae Folk are quite hedonistic.

There are many beings in the Otherworld. Witches report seeing fairy dogs and horses. They are much like our animals yet quite distinct. There are some beings that we simply have no names for because they are so far outside the realm of our imagination.

It is thought that the Otherworld is more accessible to those on earth than other places, such as the Underworld. There are said to be portals to the Otherworld all over the earth. A mushroom ring is thought to be one type of portal, but many more exist.

The movie Alice In Wonderland is actually said to be a great representation of the Otherworld. In the Otherworld, the colors are brighter, the characters more strange, and time isn’t consistent.

Are Fairies Evil Or Dangerous?

When I start to talk about the Fae Folk to newer witches, I’m immediately hit with the question: “Wait, but are fairies evil? Aren’t they really dangerous to work with?”

It’s a common misconception that fairies are just totally bad. However, in my experience, the Fae Folk aren’t good or bad. They’re just individuals. Every fairy that you meet will act a bit different, just like humans.

One difference is that fairies have their own rules, ethics, morals, and etiquette. It can be difficult to understand them because they live by a culture that we aren’t used to.

I think it’s human nature to be afraid of anything or anyone who has equal power as us. It makes sense that we’re afraid of power and of the unknown because in centuries past, this meant we could be overpowered or even killed. 

Even though it’s biologically normal for us to be afraid, a bit of research will usually help to dispel that fear. I find that most of the terror surrounding the Fae Folk is because of the unknown elements rather than fairies themselves.

So then, can fairies actually hurt you?

Simple answer: yes. Fairies can be unpredictable. They don’t act like humans in many ways. If you do something that upsets them, they’re more than capable of hurting you. 

Once you invite fairies in your house, you can’t just lock your doors against them. They aren’t bound by physical laws like we are, which makes it a bit harder to protect yourself. 

The Fae Folk exist in a realm or dimension that is very close to ours, unlike ghosts or spirits. They have more physical power here than spirits do and can cause objects to move quite easily. They are able to touch humans, something that would be incredibly difficult for a spirit to accomplish.

Many powerful witches and spiritual teachers who work with the Fae Folk have described negative interactions. There are reports of faeries stealing items, causing bad luck for a long time, killing crops, hurting animals, making people sick, temporarily blinding humans, or causing madness or loss of speech.

At the very worst, faeries have been known to cause strokes, bruising or muscle cramps (when they pinch or hit you), steal children, or even try to kill humans.

Keep in mind that these stories are the worst case scenarios. In all of these instances, faeries were enacting revenge that they felt was well-deserved based on something the human had done, whether the individual realized the indiscretion or not.

Typically, fairies only want to harm a human if the person has touched or ruined a fairy place, although this always depends on the fairy in question. There are very forgiving fairies, such as house fairies, and there are parts of the Fae Folk who will hurt humans for no reason at all, such as the Unseelie Court. 

However, fairies can also heal you. They can befriend you, make your gardens grow, play with your animals, and introduce you to a really magical world. There are some lovely fairies out there who enjoy playing with children, working with nature, and interacting with the more beautiful parts of the world.

Fairies have been known to warn humans of danger. One witch reports being woken up in the middle of the night by a fairy when her house was on fire. My sister had a fairy woman warn her when a negative entity was lying to her and she was able to protect herself.

Some fairies assist witches with their practice, teach their favorite humans new recipes or spells, or even heal chronic illnesses.

Just like humans, fairies have a whole range of temperaments. I personally feel that there is no reason to be more scared of fairies than you are of humans walking down the street, but there is a good reason to be respectful and optimistically cautious.

I personally believe that some of the scary legends about the Fae Folk are true. I think that others came into existence to explain terrible things like infant death or kidnappings. Before we had DNA tests, organized police, or medicine like antibiotics, death was much more common and often more brutal, so people blamed these things on fairies as a coping mechanism.

Much of your interactions with fairies will depend on the way you treat them as well as the individual fairy’s personality and temperament. In any culture, there is dark, light, and a whole array of colors in between.

Keep in mind that fairies are often mischievous. This doesn’t mean that they’re bad, but they typically enjoy playing tricks or using word play. They might steal things from your home or trick you into giving them something.

Most faeries can’t lie. While they will technically tell the truth, they’re experts at using word play to trick you or avoid answering your question.

Remember that once you strike a deal with a fairy, there is no getting out of it. Fairies are known to force you to consent verbally (the verbal deal is extremely important to them) in any way possible, so negotiate extremely carefully.

Even agreeing to further negotiation is a deal of sorts, because you simply can’t back out of chatting once you have agreed! The word “maybe” is your friend when you’re talking to faeries.

If you do choose to work with the Fae Folk, by contacting them, you’re kind of agreeing to whatever they say before they’ve even said it. This is because you are the one initiating contact. 

However, most fairies in my experience (at least the ones near me) are very generous and forgiving, as long as you remain humble and acknowledge when you messed up.

They tend to know that I’m trying and seem to appreciate effort. This isn’t everyone’s experience, so go into any situation with the Fair Folk prepared. I’ll talk more about how to prep down below.

Before you contact the Fair Folk or attempt anything with them, you should know:

  • Basic Fae Folk terminology 
  • Fairy etiquette
  • How to set up boundaries and wards without causing offense
  • How to protect yourself if needed

I’ll go over how to do each of these things below. Read on if you’re interested in working with the Fair Folk at some point.

Can I Eat Fairy Food?

Ok, so what about eating fairy food? Is it dangerous? This is a pretty basic question and a valid concern because we are so often warned against eating fairy food.

Legend says that eating the food of the Fae Folk will cause you to become stuck in the fairy world or go crazy because you will lose taste for all regular food.

First off, how would you actually get stuck in the fairy world? Obviously, this has never happened to me, but legend (as well as many modern day witches) says that you will typically be “taken” into the Otherworld when you’re alone. This will probably be when you’re out on a walk.

It may take months for this to happen, but you will suddenly go missing. Everyone will assume that you have been kidnapped; it’ll be like you vanished without a trace.

Some who are taken in the world of the Fae Folk never return while others come back a good time later. Time doesn’t work the same in the Otherworld, so it’s hard to say how much time you will miss while you’re gone or what experiences you will have there.

Alternatively, if you lose the taste for regular food, you can go crazy or die because you simply refuse to eat. Fairy food is also said to make humans sick.

You might be wondering how you would even eat fairy food. If you can’t usually see fairies, then how could you possibly be offered food?

The most obvious way would be if you were to eat something you find in the woods in a spot that clearly belongs to the Fae Folk. If you sense fairy energy, hear music, feel as though you’re being watched, see a ring of mushrooms, etc., don’t eat anything from the area. The most commonly consumed foods in these areas are berries, herbs/leaves, or mushrooms.

However, fairies will sometimes appear as humans, too. Imagine you come along a lemonade stand in the middle of an abandoned road tended by children. They offer you free lemonade along your trip. This might just be a regular lemonade stand, or it might be fairies in disguise.

The way to protect yourself is to pay for the lemonade. Fairies are all about free trade, so it’s rare for their spells to work if you’re actually paying for the goods you receive. The same thing goes for free donuts outside a coffee shop or even samples in the mall. In general, don’t take free food unless it’s from someone you know.

It is safe to eat the food of the Fae Folk if it’s a gift given in reciprocity. Let’s say you gave your faery friends a shiny mineral stone and they reciprocate with some berries (that you know for a fact are safe to eat). These berries are a gift in reciprocity,, meaning you won’t owe a debt if you consume them.

It’s also fine to eat fairy food if you specifically ask for it and are granted the food, as long as you reciprocate with a gift in kind. Fairies are all about an equal exchange, but it has to be something you want to do. They won’t actually ask for a gift back yet fairy etiquette often demands it and you may be punished if you don’t reciprocate.

Lastly, you can be offered fairy food by a member of the Fair Folk in dreams or in astral travel. I recommend politely refusing if possible. This is much more dangerous because you can be more easily tricked.

How To Contact The Fae Folk:

Before you even think about contacting the Fae Folk, set up some boundaries and wards. I’ll go more into how to do this in the next section.

You should also be prepared to put in the effort before you contact fairies. Once you start giving gifts on a regular basis and building a relationship, they may get upset or hurt if you suddenly stop and might retaliate. Of course, not every fairy is like this, but there are some unspoken Fae Folk rules that it would be prudent to follow.

Respect the Fair Folk and what belongs to them. Don’t go brazenly into areas that are clearly marked for fairies. Instead, contact them and let them come to you at their own pace. If you do get the feeling that you intruded, don’t go back to the area unless invited.

Learn more about your local folklore and regional legends before beginning. Try to figure out what kinds of Fae Folk live in your area and who you might be contacting.

Keep in mind that if you want to build a relationship with any one of the Fair Folk, it can take a while. The Fae don’t trust anyone right off the bat, especially not humans.

These relationships should look kind of like a relationship with any human person. You can’t just ask for the Fae to be around when you feel like it, as you may do with your guides. This has to be an equal relationship; they don’t like feeling used.

To begin working with the Fae Folk, start leaving them offerings. They enjoy small shiny things like crystals, silver bobbles, mirrored pieces, etc. They also like sweet food, milk, honey, and alcohol.

Give them the best part of your food or trinkets instead of the worst. They want to be noticed and love knowing that you put the effort in to build a relationship.

If you don’t want the Fae in your house right off the bat, leave the offerings outdoors. Try to pick a specific place and be consistent about leaving offerings there. If you live in an apartment, you can use a window box or find a spot at the park if you don’t want to invite the Fae Folk into your house (which I wouldn’t if you’re not super experienced). It’s easier and safer to work outside.

Plant lots of flowers in your yard if you have one! The Fair Folk in general love gardens and nature. When you see butterflies or birds frequenting your yard, that usually means it’s the type of place that faeries would enjoy, too.

When working with the Fae, avoid iron. It’s said to harm them. Just in case, I try to keep it out of my yard.

Fairies love wind chimes or anything that makes music. They also love small fairy houses and are drawn to children who make them little dwellings. If you want to be super clear about your intentions, try placing some wooden fairy homes in your yard.

In general, be kind and generous to wildlife. The fairies will see what type of person you are before you even start contacting them.

You can also simply tell the fairies that they are welcome by talking out loud or writing a note. However, once you say it, you can’t take it back, so be very specific in your wording.

If a member of the Fair Folk is interested in talking to you, they may leave you gifts. move items around, show up in dreams, or even reveal themselves to you during waking hours. Keep your eyes open and always remember to reciprocate gifts!

How To Know Your Contacting The Fae Folk, Not Spirits Or Ghosts:

Sometimes spirit work can be difficult because spirits can lie. You might be talking to a negative entity who has convinced you they’re an orphaned child. It can actually be a bit dangerous, if you’re not careful.

So, how can you know that you’re contacting the Fae Folk and not spirits or ghosts?

First of all, the Fae Folk are actually around quite often. You may have thought you had ghosts or spirits around when it was actually fairies.

There are a few ways to tell the difference. When fairies or the Fair Folk are around, items might disappear. Cats will act strangely. You may hear sourceless, wild music, or have a strange song stuck in your head. You may see motion in your peripheral vision that looks shiny or flashy.

I’ll include more ways to know if the Fae around around below, but for the purpose of this section, there are some clear differences between the presence of fairies and the presence of ghosts.

Spirits, ghosts, or entities will have a dark or shadowy form that you can see if you possess any clairvoyant abilities, but they will be fuzzy or see-through. Fairies won’t appear like that; they’re generally completely visible or totally hidden.

Spirits will make small things move because it takes a lot of energy for them to interact on our plane. Fairies can move things quite easily, but they will usually wait until you’re not looking, while ghosts or spirits will move something small in front of you to indicate that they’re present.

Fairies enjoy the objects themselves. They might steal things; some fairies, such as Brownies, could even help you clean up your home or yard. Spirits, on the other hand, only move things for the purpose of interacting with you. They want you to know that they’re around.

Ghosts or spirits will give off a distinct vibe when they’re present. You will feel like a person or entity is present. The feeling could even be heavy. Fairies will give off a light, mischievous feeling.

If you’re speaking with a being, note that fairies can’t lie but ghosts can. However, legend states that if you ask a spirit the same question three times, they will either answer it truthfully all three times or will have to change one of the answers and you will know that they are lying.

Just to be safe, ask any being the same question three times (in a super polite way!) and see how they answer.

If you are sure that you’re in contact with a fairy and don’t actually want to work with them, I recommend leaving the area if you’re in the fairy’s domain. If you’re in your home, see if you can just ignore each other or pretend they don’t exist or figure out a way to politely banish it. When in doubt, use friendly caution. 

However, if you’re sure it’s a ghost or entity and are getting bad vibes, you don’t need to be as polite. Throw up your wards and banish it right away.

Fae Folk Rules & Etiquette

Faeries have different etiquette than humans. Although many Fae Folk rules will depend on the specific types of faeries that you’re working with, it doesn’t hurt to start with a few basics.

Most faeries I have contacted have been very forgiving if I messed up. I have heard that this isn’t always the case. As always, do your research before going in.

First of all, it isn’t generally polite to call them fairies or faeries. Instead, call these beings the Fair Folk or Good People. You can also ask them what they would like to be called.

Don’t try to force a fairy to give you its name. To faeries, names are very important and hold a lot of power. You can ask what the faerie would like to be called by you.

It’s also best to avoid giving faeries your name, but to be polite and truthful. I recommend using a nickname that is somehow related to your full name so they won’t feel tricked if they find out.

Another legend says that faeries don’t like to be thanked. Depending on the type of faery you’re talking to, thanks can either be offensive because it implies that they’re subservient to you, or it may mean that you owe them a debt and are now bound to them.

Instead of thanking the Fair Folk, express gratitude for gifts given. Some lines that work well are:

“I’m so happy that this object is here. It’s beautiful.”

“I really appreciate this _______.”

Reciprocal gifts or offerings are always good, too.

If the Fair Folk give you a gift, you should probably accept it. In fact, faeries may be offended if you reject the gift, or at the very least a bit hurt.

However, faery gifts are sometimes traps. Legend says that gifts that seem like something are nothing, and gifts that seem like nothing are actually something quite important, for good or bad. Use your intuition when it comes to accepting gifts.

If you do receive a gift from the Fair Folk, give a return gift that’s thoughtful as quickly as possible. Faeries work on a debt system and typically feel owed if they give you something.

For example, if you gift them something back, they might avoid causing you mischief because they appreciate your reciprocation.  If you don’t return a gift, then expect some things to go missing from your home. These are the unspoken Fae Folk rules.

Try to never spy on the Fair Folk. If faeries are seen when they don’t wish to be, they may get angry or withdraw all-together. Faeries like to be invisible in our world because it can be dangerous to them.

If you do see them and aren’t positive they want you to, simply pretend not to notice. Most of the Fae Folk have strong glamours that they put up, but you can sometimes see through them if your psychic sense is activated. It’s best to go on your way and avoid staring.

When you’re in contact with faeries, do not brag about it to anyone. It’s safest to tell no one at all, but if you do want to share your experiences, tell only your closest friends in private. 

If a fairy asks you not to tell other people something, don’t speak of it. They have ways of knowing. However, most fairies just don’t want you to brag about your contact with them.

Make sure to speak well of the Fae Folk, even when they aren’t around, because they could be listening. Silence is always better.

Don’t lie to the fairies. You can certainly stretch the truth or be clever about what you say as they always are, but don’t straight up lie.

For example, give them a nickname instead of your real name, but don’t give a fake name. Faeries can get upset if they find out they have been lied to.

Don’t break your word. In the kingdom of the Fair Folk, there are no “three strikes.” You only need break your word once to anger them. A promise is a promise, even if it didn’t feel serious to you at the time. If you agree to something, faeries consider your word a binding oath.

When you’re giving offerings to the Fae Folk, try to notice what things they like. Most faeries prefer sweet food like honey, cream, bread, crackers, champagne, or even whiskey. They will also like things that are native to or traditional of your area or ancestry, whichever they’re more connected to.

Avoid meat or heavily processed food. Fairies that love meat typically aren’t the sort you want around.

If you’re doing yard work, taking down trees, etc., give your nature spirits and fairies a few days notice. Bring an offering out to the yard and explain to them why you have to do this work. Generally, it’s best to avoid this as much as possible.

Be kind and generous to nature and animals and keep trash away from fairy areas. Faeries really hate getting dirty!

Lastly, if faeries as to borrow something, it’s usually good to give it to them. They will always pay you back somehow. Faeries don’t like to owe debts.

Related: How To Be A Hedge Witch: Solitary Practice, Hedge Jumping, & More

Signs The Fae Folk Are Around

When you first start talking to the Fae Folk and attempt working with fairies, you’ll want to know if they’re actually around. There are a few things that mean you likely have fairies in your yard or home, depending on where you have invited them to be.

Some of the signs that indicate fairies are around:

  • You see light flickering in the corner of your eye
  • You see “spheres” of light around flowers, greenery, or mushrooms
  • Your shoes move from one place to another
  • Your jewelry, crystals, or other shiny objects disappear
  • Your pets (especially cats) act like they’re playing with an invisible creature
  • You have interesting dreams filled with bright colors, fairy music, or sweet food
  • You are taught things in dreams by fairies
  • You hear bells, tapping, laughter, fairy music, or singing with no source
  • A random gift (that could be virtually anything) shows up in your house or yard
  • You come across a mushroom ring (a clear sign the Fae Folk were there)
  • You smell the overwhelming scent of flowers with no clear source
  • You feel as though someone is watching you

You may also have a strong feeling that fairies are around you. If you feel happy, buoyant, or generally different this can be a sign.

How To Protect Yourself From The Fae Folk

I always recommend that you learn about protection before you begin work with the Fair Folk. While many of the Fae are wonderful creatures and friends, it’s just prudent to protect yourself like you would even around human beings.

First of all, set up some wards. I recommend that you ward your home so that only those invited may enter. Engage with faeries outside only, at first, until you feel comfortable inviting them in.

I also recommend that you ward your body and the bodies of anyone else who lives in your home. I typically draw from the earth to power these wards so that they stay strong over time. I like to make a talisman that will break 24 hours before the wards go down, so I have a chance to re-do them.

It’s very important that you ward against physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual damage, as fairies are able to inflict many different kinds of harm.

I cleanse my space frequently to make sure that nothing untoward has slipped past my wards. I recommend doing this, although your wards will get stronger over time.

You can even ward your yard if you’re feeling nervous. When you’re first meeting with fairies, invite them in the for the afternoon or for a set amount of time. Be very careful with your wording as this now means they’re allowed in which you can’t take back until the time period has past.

If you have children, it’s especially important that you ward them properly before beginning work with the Fair Folk. Children can be attractive to fairies with ulterior motives. Legend says that the Fae sometimes steal children right out of their beds and replace them with Fae children.

Place iron in your children’s rooms as well as crosses, if this feels comfortable to you. Teach them how to act around the Fae Folk and how to stay safe. Keep an eye on your children when you’re in nature, such as on a walk through the woods.

If worst comes to worst, about 80% of faeries are repelled or injured by iron. You can make a charm of iron or place a bit of iron into a spray bottle and create iron spray. Any type of iron as well as steel (which contains iron) will work.

However, this is really a last resort because using iron will damage your relationship with the Fair Folk beyond repair. It’s quite literally throwing them out of your home instead of working with them. I would much rather apologize for what I have done, give a gift, or come to some sort of resolution rather than banish faeries from my life.

At the end of the day, you should always trust your own instincts. There are wonderful faeries full of light and love, and there are also darker faeries who need little provocation. If something feels off, it probably is.

Take steps to protect yourself before you begin working with the Fae and you will have much less to worry about.

Related: Types Of Ghosts, Spirits, and Entities

More Resources On The Fae Folk

Here are some great books if you’re interested in delving deeper into working with the Fae Folk.

A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk: How to Work with the Elemental World

Magic of the Celtic Otherworld: Irish History, Lore & Rituals

The Art of Celtic Seership: How to Divine from Nature and the Otherworld

Related: 25+ Types Of Fairies (Types Of Fae) From A-Z