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Monday, 6 May 2013

Faery Craft by Emily Carding

I'd like to share a few thoughts about  Faery Craft: Weaving Connections with the Enchanted Realm by Emily Carding, even though it's not a tarot book. It is actually related to my recent posts because 1) it is by the creator of the Tarot of the Sidhe (though the deck is not even mentioned in the book), and 2) it concerns faeries in general, in line with the two decks I've committed to working with over recent weeks: Tarot of the Sidhe and Faeries' Oracle.

This is the only book I've ever bought (or read) about faery. I bought it because it's by Emily Carding, whose work on Tarot of the Sidhe I so greatly admire. I don't know what to think about faery. Despite my interest in things esoteric, I am actually quite a hard-headed realist and skeptic. Some of you who also consider yourselves both a mystic and a skeptic might understand what a difficult position that sometimes can be! My spiritual path is quite earth-based, and I do not mess with otherworld realms much. I sense that something is 'flying around' out there (it's the best way I can think of to put it), but I feel no need to have any of those things turn their attention upon little old me. My workings are done with shields firmly up. In fact, I'm pretty sure my shields are up all the time, even when not needed. This is one reason I feel consideration of faery is good for my development. Another reason is that feeling I get when I venture out into the natural world, the feeling of a spiritual presence in the elements, and by that I don't mean the usual earth, water, fire, air, but also rivers, trees, rocks, and hills. Even a clearing or a fall of water into a tiny pool takes on the feeling of an entity to me. I want to greet them, honour them, admire them; there's something there, something more than just grass or moss or flowing water. And it's that feeling of spirit in the natural world that, to me, is the enchanted realm of faery. Forget little girls with wings (like the fairies at the bottom of the garden), or frog women wearing wreaths on their heads (like Brian Froud's illustrations), or slant-eyed wraiths with a dangerous edginess (Tarot of the Sidhe). Those are just individual artists' attempts to capture the feeling. That's not what the fae look like. Who knows what they look like. If they even look like anything. Artists famed for their depictions of faery agree on this point:

by Brian Froud
'I discovered faeries really by making it up, by trying to imagine what it was...but it was always about feelings. So I brought all my skills as an artist to bear on trying to get the form and shape of what I was painting to feel like something that was elusive and invisible'.  ~ Brian Froud, qtd in Faery Craft
'[From an early age, believing in faery] was just the most natural thing, and it wasn't a cute little game we played, it was just that they were there, and we could leave them things, and we could feel them. We couldn't see them particularly, but we could always feel them, so I just grew up thinking it was the most natural thing in the world.' ~ Wendy Froud, qtd in Faery Craft 
by Wendy Froud

'People want to believe what I'm showing them is real, and they go, 'Oh, that's how they look, isn't it?' and I say, 'Well, actually, no. It's how they feel.' You've got to bring people to some place where they can understand and feel it, and also that is a genuine opening, a genuine gateway to the reality...the problem is, when you try to express this stuff, everything fails. Words fail, pictures fail, everything is failing in one of the most astonishing and beautiful events. So to do what I do is trying to do the impossible, but I believe in it passionately.' ~ Brian Froud, qtd in Faery Craft
And so you see, the faery realm has nothing to do with a blur out of the corner of your eye being a leprechaun that has just sprinted past you. It has everything to do with feeling 'something', and not knowing what it is, but knowing nonetheless that something is there, and it's got a kind of awareness, it's got a depth, it's got an antiquity, and it is somehow connected to the land and to you, and that you want to be with it, acknowledge it, respect it. The desire to communicate, or at least commune, with these perceived forces is the desire to 'weave connections with the enchanted realm,' at least for me. It has very little to do with decorating a faery altar, or flapping around a field in Cornwall wearing a velvet basque and gauze wings with glitter painted on your face, though to your surprise you may find yourself doing these very things. That's something else that's so amazing about faery. The aspect of freeing up your spirit.

Oh yeah, I was supposed to be reviewing the book. Faery Craft is a really good introduction. It's divided into eight chapters:

Ch 1 Knowledge - A bit of background on faery lore and various ideas about what faery are. (Ancient gods? Aliens? Fallen angels?)

Ch 2 Connection - Explains the four elements and some symbols associated with otherworld, with really excellent meditations/exercises for you to try.

Ch 3 Trust - Ideas about seeking a spirit guide and also about manifestations (if that's the right word) of spirit in the natural landscape, with lots more activities suggested for you to try.

Ch 4 Honour - Altar and offerings, basically ways to acknowledge the fae

Ch 5 Magick - Circle casting and various consecration rituals

Ch 6 Joy - Joining the faery community - That would be other people who love faery and like to get together for some of that costumed frolicking. Some good introductory information here about various paths and organizations. LOTS of photographs and suggestions for dressing up and doing rituals.

Ch 7 Inspiration - Interviews with faery community luminaries: RJ Stewart, John and Caitlin Matthews, Zardoa and Silver Flame of the Silver Elves, T Thorn Coyle, and many more (including the Frouds).

Ch 8 Balance - A final exercise involving the septagram, or faery star.

I really enjoyed reading this book and have been enlightened by it to whole communities whose existence I knew nothing of, as well as inspired to explore otherworld for myself in my own way. Definitely recommended, even if you're a skeptic.


  1. Hmm, maybe I need to sit down with this book sometime soon (have had it for ages). Like you, I'm not sure I'd be up for joining in with crowds dressing up, but the chapters with exercises sound really useful and fun. And something one or two people could do on their own, somewhere out in the countryside... ;)

    1. I've had it for ages, too, and started it several times, but obviously the time was never right. This time I devoured it, and suddenly I begin to have an understanding of why all these people want to dress up. For the longest time I just thought they were kooky, marginalized people who had found a peer group (which in many ways I guess they actually are), or just attention-seeking...but now I see that to put on a costume is to allow oneself to step that much further beyond oneself, in order to experience these feelings more fully. If I can be moved by a beech glade wearing my usual walking gear and carrying a clanking backpack, how much more could I immerse myself in that emotion if I dressed up as a dryad and wore a mask to take myself even further out of myself, and sat amongst those trees - or even danced with them? I begin to see it now.

      Though of course the big faery conventions are probably mostly a bit of fun, where you can dress up and buy sparkly stuff and eat loads of yummy food. And that has its place, too!

    2. Yes, playing dress-up can be a powerful tool for changing our state of being. Okay, it's a date - you, me, a beautiful glade and some silly costumes. Hmm, I think I have a mask somewhere, too :)