To be continued
Faerie Lore - The Fae at Beltane
Another way to access the world of the Fae was to find a secret entrance. These were typically guarded, but every once in a while an enterprising adventurer would find his way in. Often, he found upon leaving that more time had passed than he expected. In several tales, mortals who spend a day in the fairy realm find that seven years have passed in their own world.
In parts of England and Britain, it was believed that if a baby was ill, chances were good that it was not a human infant at all, but a changeling left by the Fae. If left exposed on a hillside, the Fae could come reclaim it. William Butler Yeats relates a Welsh version of this story in his tale The Stolen Child. Parents of a new baby could keep their child safe from abduction by the Fae by using one of several simple charms: a wreath of oak and ivy kept faeries out of the house, as did iron or salt placed across the door step. Also, the father's shirt draped over the cradle keeps the Fae from stealing a child.
Are the Fae Just a Fairy Tale?
There are a few books that cite early cave paintings and even Etruscan carvings as evidence that people have believed in the Fae for thousands of years. However, faeries as we know them today didn’t really appear in literature until about the late 1300s. In the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer relates that people used to believe in faeries a long time ago, but don't by the time the Wife of Bath tells her tale. Interestingly, Chaucer and many of his peers discuss this phenomenon, but there is no clear evidence that describes faeries in any writings prior to this time. It appears instead that earlier cultures had encounters with a variety of spiritual beings, who fit into what 14th century writers considered the archetype of the Fae.
Medieval fairies as depicted here by artist
The legend of Beltane continued next