Steeped in magic and faery as I was, I always found it odd that other people didn't seem to know the first thing about it. And rather sad too, because faery stories and myths are the teaching tales of our culture, the life lessons disguised as entertainment to wile away the cold winter evenings, history and anecdotes and important survival information all rolled into one package. What do they teach in schools these days?! While a uni student studying literature, I wrote an assignment on John Keats' La Belle Dame Sans Merci. I'm not particularly fond of Keats, too flowery for me, but I love the Belle Dame...she seems older, archaic, and somehow more genuine that his other poems. Picture me in my class, discussing with several fellow students and our tutor, the lore of faery/human interaction, particularly the important rules to follow if you ever meet a faery (which the knight in the poem should have known...I thought). Specifically the rules about faery food. Now I thought this was common knowledge, I mean, it's common sense isn't it? Don't accept lollies from friendly but mysterious strangers? But no, faced with much head-shaking and eye-rolling, I think they all believed I'd made it up entirely. So imagine my great relief when a fellow classmate, a friend and fellow faery-aficionado, rushed into the class rather late, flushed and out of breath, books falling out of her hands. Before the poor girl had time to put down her bag, I pounced. "What's the MOST important thing to remember if you ever find yourself in Faeryland?!" She looked at me blankly for a moment, cheeks pink and hair askew...and then caught my drift and answered breathlessly "Don't EVER eat the food or you'll be stuck there forever!" I'm not sure my classmates were convinced but I felt vindicated anyway.
But it seems that faery today means an animated, Disneyfied version of Tinkerbell and her newly invented friends, backed by a massive merchandising machine.