Field and Fey/Agrarian Cultures – Part 4

Growing crops and raising livestock means a settled population and permanent communities.  Spirits it seems, at least our perception of them, settled down as well.  Individual types explode in numbers: an example is the wide variety of creatures associated with wild lands.  We have spirits of groves and pools and river fords, faeries, sprites, trolls and the ever present nymphs.  Closer to home are gnomes, brownies and hearth spirits; there are those related to the fields, as well as herds and, of course, home and hearth.  As with all spirits, these can be incredibly friendly, incredibly dangerous, and every thing in between.

This is probably one of the more misunderstood of the spirit categories.  Faerie, in particular, are often considered fun, friendly and, well, cute – at least in many of the modern popular books.  They are capricious, love a good practical joke, and can heap benefits on those they “adopt.”  Faeries, however, like most spirits of nature, are not to be trifled with: they can be viscous; their practical jokes, according to myth, can be deadly; they have occasionally been described as stealing children.  The other side of that is if treated well they will respond by being friendly, protect children in your care, and keep the pranks on the lighter side.  If you have a section of yard or and area nearby left to nature you may encounter the Faerie.  They don’t really like tended gardens – that’s the domain of gnomes – who have similar personality traits, but are less flighty and more down to earth.  (One is associated with the element of Air, the other with Earth.)

This is key to this spirit group: there is one set for the wild and dark places and another set for tamed and tended places.  Both types can bring good or ill fortune, sweat dreams or sour, harmony or strife.  They don’t necessarily stay outside and if you are being hounded by one of the nature spirits in this group, you need to figure out why.  Often is as simple as not tending a yard or garden from gnomes, or doing something that the faerie think disrespected their domain.  Once you figure it out, just do something nice to appease them and you will most likely set things right.

Household spirits are in this group and the most powerful is the Hearth Spirit.  This is the soul of the home.  They protect you and those who visit without malice.  They will protect you from those who bring discord or would do harm to your home, but this protection may not seem all warm and safe.  A Hearth Spirit will fight to protect you using every weapon at its disposal – including pets and family members.  Disruption coming from family member through normal changes in family dynamics, for example, will get a reaction from the Hearth Spirit as well, but when the new dynamic sorts itself out, the spirit will settle down again.  You do not want to banish these – in fact, you can’t.  You can weaken its effects for a time, but a home always has a spirit.

Frankly, there are too many of these to do more than touch the surface in a short piece like this.  In general, other than the Hearth Spirit, be careful dealing with this group.  While not necessarily hostile, they can be.  They are always somewhat unpredictable.  If they have a mind to, they can lure or trick you at every turn, and anything offered should not be agreed to quickly.  Make dang sure you know exactly what the price for help will be – there is always a price.  Never offer more than you can do to appease them; they get really ornery if they feel you tried to deceive them.

Check back soon for Part 5 of this blog.

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