Written By Priestess Hypatia
For Coven Life
Priestess of Bacchus, John Collier (taken from Wikimedia commons), 1886
In Thebes the birth place of Dionysus, the God of wine, the Maenads were born. They were known as the Priestesses who were part of the Dionysus cult and performed ecstatic dance. Roaming the mountains of Thebes, trancing and dancing in fawn skin dresses and panther throws, snake crowns and barefoot. Snakes in ancient times were used as healers.
The list of Maenads is long in history, these women that maintained the Dionysian cult with ecstatic ceremonies were distinct to the Hellenic world. A religious cult unlike no other, the women maintained a frenzied state of ecstasy. Extended periods of dancing (usually to the point of absolute and utter exhaustion) and drinking wine, the Maenads participated in orgiastic celebrations dancing naked through the forests of Thrace.
Dedicated to the God of debauch and fertility the Dionysian followers such as the Maenads experienced states of sexual drunken pleasure that allowed them to become closer to their God.
As members of a respected cult in Hellenic society the Maenads were actually celebrated for their sexual promiscuity, a welcoming change from the ever virtuous virgin Goddesses. Their sexuality gave them power and position more so than many other women in the Hellenic world.
“Here is no protective circle, no prayers, no names of power; we have left the strained company of the magicians and are back in the countryside where the fairies are natural company.” – K. Briggs, in The Anatomy of Puck chapter 8, discussing a folk ritual to obtain a fairy companion.
There is a long history of witches working with fairies in various ways, both learning from them and being in service to them. In modern paganism we more often see this relationship played out very differently, with the Good Folk being approached from a more ceremonial magic perspective or treated as a kind of spirit guide or ally. When we look to folklore and early modern witchcraft we see a different picture and it is this one that I base my own personal practice on.
A-Z Dictionary of Fairies and the Wee Folk
Dictionary of Fairies Pictures
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A-Z Dictionary of Fairies
This is your one-stop shop for all terms and definitions related to fairies and the world of the fay. From letters A to Z, you will find fairies’ terms and definitions right here in this article.
Alven: water fairies found in ponds in the Netherlands, though they don’t have wings. They can, however, fly by being encased in bubbles and traveling on the winds. Main home is the River Elbe, as it is sacred to them. Small fairies, extremely light and sometimes shift into otters.
Ashrays: water fairies from Scotland that are mistaken for sea ghosts; have white bodies and look like a twenty-year-old human, both male and female. Nocturnal fairies, if sunlight hits them they will melt into a rainbow-colored pond of water.
Avalon: a mythological island in the Arthurian legends. The place where excalibur was forged and given to King Arthur, and also the place where King Arthur was taken after being wounded in a battle. Morgan Le Fay and Vivianne are said to have dwelled on the isle of Avalon.
To find out about other Fea please click on this link: Fea and Wee Folk
Is she a species of supernatural creature placed somewhere between humankind and the Divine? Is she an elemental creature? Is she and angel, a devil or a fallen Goddess? Is she willing to help humans or is she indifferent or even unkind to mortals? Where did she come from?
Lewis Spence in British Fairy Origins equates Faeries with the dead and brings plenty of evidence to support his theory. The fairy knolls near churchyards were supposed to be the places where the soul of the dead lodged waiting to rejoin their bodies on the Day of Judgment. Their small size is accounted for by the primitive idea that the soul is a miniature replica of the person it’s attached to.Ban Sidhs’ are sometimes described as ghosts.
A less common belief was that the faeries were actually humans, founded on the memory of a more primitive race driven into hiding by the invaders, lurking in caves or fens.
Another view held that the fairies were an intelligent species, distinct from humans and angels. In alchemy in particular they were regarded as elementals, such as gnomes and sylphs, as described by Paracelsus. This is uncommon in folklore, but accounts describing the fairies as “spirits of the air” have been found popularly.
Could the Faeries be a class of “demoted” angels? One popular story held that when the angels revolted, God ordered the gates shut; those still in heaven remained angels, …
To read the rest of this article please click on this link: Fairies
Aradia was a Moon Goddess from Tuscany, honored by the witches of that region but not well known outside of Italy until in 1899, when the American folklorist Charles Leland published Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches Leyland claimed the book was the religious text belonging to a group of Tuscan witches who venerated Diana as the Queen of the Witches. Leyland was both a hero and a learned scholar educated in Germany and America. He had a knack of being accepted by secret societies and was embraced by the Tuscan witches. Leyland was given material for his books from a hereditary witch named Maddalena including the Vangelo or Gospel of the Witches.
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There may be no other text more debated or controversial than Aradia, or Gospel of the Witches by Charles Leland, purported to be given to him by an Italian Witch named Maddalena. However, there may be no other text that has been as influential on modern witchcraft and particularly Wicca than Aradia, or Gospel of the Witches.
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Aradia is familiar to most contemporary Pagans and Witches as the principal figure in Charles G. Leland’s Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, first published in 1899. Leland presents her as the daughter of Diana, the goddess of the moon, by her brother Lucifer, “the god of the Sun and of the Moon, the god of Light” (Leland, 1899, 1998:1), who is sent to earth to teach the poor to resist the oppression of the wealthy classes through magic and witchcraft. Through Leland’s work, Aradia’s name and legend became central to the Witchcraft revival. Between 1950 and 1960, “Aradia” was probably the secret name of the Goddess in Gardnerian Craft (it has since been changed), and she has also given her name to numerous contemporary Witchcraft traditions (Clifton, 1998:73).
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In Part 1 of Diana’s Moon Rays I explore the goddess Diana’s importance in Italian witchcraft, and her place in Charles G. Leland’s 1899 The Aradia. Read Part 1 first <
This article was first published in 2013 in the anthology The Faerie Queens. I am currently revisiting some of my research on Diana, the influences on her cult and the influences her cult had on subsequent Western occultism.
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If you have entered this enchanted world, I may assume that you are somehow called to the secret realms of Fairy Magic. Something of their mystical song has touched your ears, or your heart, or a hidden place of sub-conscious imaginings. And perhaps you have been led to believe (by parents, or teachers in school) that the world of Fairy is nothing more than imaginings – the whimsical flight of folly that children’s minds may fall prey to. But you are older now, and surely wiser. And here you sit, looking out into the veil of ether for that which your heart still longs for: the realm in which all your imaginings may at last be brought to light! This sacred place of Self is where we shall begin…the part of you that still believes! To enter the world of Fairy magic, you must believe that there is more to this universe than what can be seen by human eyes. You must believe in the hidden, the shadowed, and the obscure. You must begin to search with your inner eyes for that which lies beyond the mists, for it is there that you will find the first thresholds of Fey! These thresholds will open up into vast worlds, as diverse and complex as our own. The Realm of Fairy magic is not a place of fluttering tiny beings that delight only in tickling our upturned human noses. It is an entire dimension – richly inhabited by many races, species and beings.