Walk deep into the forest on these late days in December and look closely. On the tops of evergreen sit these little wonders.
We are almost upon the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, a turning of the earth force tides.
If you pay attention, you'll see this fairy, whose reindeer moss skirt and red-berried lichen applique, are a tribute to the season of Yule. The colors of red, white and green, symbolize the merry Meet of the Fairy Gods and Goddesses.
Sewn up the back with green thread, this fairy makes a lovely ornament for your Solstice or Christmas tree.
Another of the Queen's Handmaidens comes up from the rath to sun herself on an evergreen. It's nearing the time of Solstice, when they cling to the branches of pines and sing for the Goddess of Cold Darkness.
This one is made from grass and birch bodice and an underskirt from the palest pink/tawny petals of dried Hydrangea.
"Green is for the newborn Lord of the Forests, the Divine Sun Child who comes once more for the World."
Summer is long gone. The fields are covered in a light dusting of snow. But the Beach Rose Fairy still holds endless summer days within her.
Made from birch bark and dried beach rose buds collected in Camden, Maine by the harbor, the little fairy dress is adorned with other dried tiny flowers.
A tiny unopened bud serves as the adornment. This dress is so fragrant, that even in winter, you can close your eyes and picture the beach.
The dress measures 4 inches, is stitched up the back with pink thread and comes with its own whimsical fairy hanger.
This is the Reindeer Muse, the Queen's own poet. Every day, she alights to a sunny spot to collect the sun and her thoughts for a new verse she'll take back to the Queen and court for the evening.
This one-of-a-kind miniature fairy dress is made from birch bark and reindeer moss the color of toasted marshmallow.
She is adorned with a sash of pale green curly leaf and an applique of pale lichen and a bit of fluff.
And the bodice is stitched up the back with moss colored thread.
Another fall fairy made from red and brown leaves.
Cut along the midrib, the veins of the leaf patterns fit together like a pattern with the blade as the neckline.
I love the way the red and brown intersect and how the "wings" came out.
Each piece is one of a kind and comes with a custom fairy hanger.
The fall fairies are here, adorned in dried leaf with "wings."
She is known as the "fuin" fairy, a symbol of the end.
It is the end of summer, the end of natural light, the beginning of winter's time. The commencement of the dark half of the world.
Her bodice has been made from grasses that were once part of the Green World, but now have dried and withered.
Her adornment is from the petal of a hydrangea bush that has turned purple with the fall cold and a curled dried leaf.
Her skirt is made from the dried bulb of Queen Anne's Lace, brambles and the white fluff of plants gone to seed.
She is a symbol to honor the change of the cold and dying season. It is also the season of renewal for all of the plants that have died and decayed nourish the Earth for May's growing season.
After the Hunter's Moon this past week, I knew something was up. Oh that's right....me. I was up....with insomnia all week.
But I should have known....the Wee Folk were up to something as well. Look very closely at the middle of the dead tree. See it?
I should have known something was up because we are now three days before Samhain, one of the most powerful times of the Others. I'd already found evidence that a feis (a feast) was being assembled when I'd found a throne built for the Fairy Queen. Then I discovered this one in the hollow.
My breath caught. I flipped back to the pages of my field notebook. At one point in time, the ritual of Samhain consisted of the symbolic sacrifice of the King. My fairy troop I've been following in the coastal woods of Maine for the past two years are all female, matriarch-led. So, what was this?
This was a masculine throne with a tufted mossy cushion and a Pentagram. And then, it made sense. In Ireland and western Scotland, the practice of Samhain and Hallowe'en allows people to dress in completely nonsensical, upside down ways. It's also when dead members of the clan are invited back to their old raths, to be entertained, fed, and given gifts.
Could this mean, that the new throne built was secretly for the Queen? Was she planning to reverse her robes and play a trick on Samhain in jest as her Hunters and Gathers lay apples and Hazelnuts for their celebratory fais? Was it a tribute to the Kings and Overlords, Gods and Goddesses? Or was this truly a plot to invite a provincial King to this particular rath three days before Samhain and perform a sacrifice?
This wee door was found in the cleft of a mossy tree.
People think, "Oh cute, a fairy door," but have no concept of its true power. A door to the Otherworld is a very serious thing and not something a human should blithely choose to open.
Before one's hand grasps that little grapevine knob and pushes it open to the deep cleft below, know this: when the Sidhe or the "Wee Folk" construct a door such as this, it is meant only for their kind. It is a portal from The Green World, (the one in which the physical living walk around in) to the Underworld (where the Wee Folk were forced many centuries ago to retreat) but it is also a passage to the Otherworld, an ancient place were the Irish Celts proclaim the dead walk among the living in perfect harmony.
Unless you want to make your choice right here and now about what world you choose to live in, I don't suggest you do anything but admire this door from afar. For if you walk through, the door may close permanently behind you.
Photos and creation by Kay Stephens
Brambles in Belfast is the perfect place for our fairy dresses, which have all been staged hanging off willow branches and anchored by their beautiful stone vases. We've already sold quite a few and they going fast.
Next time you are in Belfast, check them out at 2 Cross Street.
Here is a lovely shot of their exterior by Arline Smart Lamarche
Tonic of the Woods
the inspiration behind the creations
Look up the story behind a fairy dress by clicking on the name below