We’ve done it. 100 episodes. And to celebrate, we are tackling our most requested topic: The Fae! We touch on several different fae stories from across Europe, have some revelations about Santa Claus and business schools, and find out why the Grimm Brothers weren’t just fucked-up grandpas.
- Skillshare is an online learning community where you can learn—and teach—just about anything. Visit skillshare.com/spirits to get two months of Skillshare Premium for $0.99! This week Julia recommends Knitting I: Learn the Basics with a Simple Scarf!
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Amanda: Welcome to Spirit's Podcast Boozy Dive into mythology, legends and folklore. Every week, we pour a drink and learn a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.
Julia: I'm Julia.
Amanda: This, we really made it. It's episode 100, The Fae.
Julia: I can't believe that we've done a hundred episodes of this thing. It's insane.
Amanda: Why don't we tell the people how Spirits started, Julia?
Julia: I was in a terrible dead end job. You were working in finance, a terrible high stress job. We were meeting like once or twice a week to get drinks and just talk about our shitty days and then we decided, "Hey, you know what we talk about a lot? Death also mythology."
Amanda: Me too. Yup.
Julia: "Why don't we make a podcast about this?" Then we came up with the name and the rest was history.
Amanda: We literally drew the logo on a bar napkin. I wish we had that napkin but I do not.
Julia: I have a picture of it somewhere on one of my-
Amanda: That's true.
Julia: -old phones.
Amanda: Actually, probably in the emails to our beautiful, wonderful designer, [Anselm Lakeman 00:01:01].
Julia: For sure.
Amanda: Then Erick Schneider was like, "Hey, podcasts? I love them. I'll edit it." I virtually my hands on his virtual shoulders, because he lives in Ohio, and said, "Erick, are you serious? Are you going to do this?" He's like, "Yes." And the Spirits team was born.
Julia: It's amazing. It's so … I'm going to cry. It's fine.
Amanda: A hundred episodes and nearly three years later, Julia and I get to do this as a living. Erick is working full time in digital media which he was trying to do before. I can't overstate the ways in which this podcast had changed my life. It helps encourage me to come out. It helps encourage me to pursue a career I actually liked instead of one that I thought I should be doing and just meeting the most incredible people.
Amanda: Our friends, our listeners, our listeners who has become our friends, I'm lost for words.
Julia: I get to spend every week with you.
Amanda: You what, Julia? You preempted me. I was going to as my recommendation this week creating a project, just starting it ideally with your friends.
Amanda: Because just making it, just putting it out there, taking in idea and putting it online somewhere or in the world somewhere is such a powerful act and it changes the world a little bit every time someone makes something that they really believe in and I want more people to do it.
Julia: Chances are, the thing that you make, it's going to make the world better. You're going to make someone's life better by doing a thing.
Amanda: I know it's scary. It's vulnerable. It might make you really excited, they make you really sad, it might do all those things but I think it's worth it.
Julia: Do you know what else I think is worth it, Amanda?
Amanda: Supporting us on Patreon so we can get to do [inaudible 00:02:40] our sense of living?
Julia: You read my mind.
Amanda: Thank you to those who have joined our Patreon family just in time for Episode 100, Jordan, Sammy, Darion, Spenya and Vilma.
Julia: They joined the community of our amazing Patreons including our supporting producer level Patreons; Philip, Julie, Kristina, Igor, Josie, Amarah, Niel, Jessica, Ryan, Phil Fresh and Debra.
Amanda: And our legend level Patreons; Jess, Allysa, Zoey, Sandra, Odra, Mercedes, Jack Marie and Leanne.
Julia: There just wouldn't be a hundred episodes of Spirits without you.1
Julia: That is literally true.
Amanda: Or it would have taken us four, five years to do because originally we posted episodes every two weeks but now this is a weekly show. We have 100 episodes literally and only because of the people who support us on Patreon.
Julia: Do you know what else our Patreons help us do?
Amanda: No. I can't guess this one.
Julia: They help me buy ingredients to make drinks for our episodes.
Amanda: That is true. What did you make us for episode 100, Jules?
Julia: I made us one of Yeats favorite drinks. I looked it up. It's a thing. It's called a Clover Club. You'll see why this is relevant later on in the episode but it does involve gin.
Amanda: Yeats is a bit of a character but he did have good taste in liquor.
Julia: Do know who else has good taste?
Amanda: Is that our two sponsors for this episode, Calm and Skillshare?
Julia: You got it. You did it.
Amanda: I mean, learning and being mindful are two of my favorite activities and I'm so glad that we have a Skillshare where skillshare.com/spirits will get you two months of premium subscription to their service for just 99 cents.
Amanda: Calm where calm.com/spirits gets you 25% off a Calm premium subscription.
Julia: We'll take a little bit more about those in the refill but, Amanda, I just want to say thank you to you, to Erick, to all of our listeners, all of our Patreons, we had a 100 episodes.
Amanda: We're not stopping here. We have a hundred more in us. We have at least 30 more on our schedule already. No, we're not stopping.
Julia: That's true.
Amanda: We are going to Ohio. We are going to L.A. for a creator conference. We are going other places in the world next year. Don't get excited Australia, I'm really sorry but not Australia yet but we have a few things in store. We have brand new merc. We have flasks so basically we can do everything.
Julia: We can. If we have a flask at our side, we can do anything.
Amanda: Well, I think I'm going to need one for our journey into Faedom, so why don't we get to it? Thank you. Welcome. We love you and enjoy.
Amanda: Spirits Podcast Episode 100, The Fae.
Amanda: I love we're drinking gin and tonics for this episode. Isn't it … I don't know if it was Yeats or somebody else but isn't gin linked to the … Like a … Imagine, am I like I'm in [inaudible 00:05:32].
Amanda: No? They're like psychoanal … Hallucinations.
Julia: That's the one.
Amanda: That's the one.
Julia: You got it. I'm so proud of you.
Amanda: I haven't, for the record, had a sip yet but no. I think it's true. They're like absent or something that gin was linked to … I think gin has a similar … Like the Juniper. Either there's scientific proof that it has minor psychoactive properties or Yates was like, "Yo, gin's going to fuck you up, man."
Julia: Probably the second part.
Amanda: Probably the second part.
Julia: Yates thinks a lot of things will fuck you up as we're going to get into this episode because we're talking about the Fae.
Amanda: The Fae.
Julia: I know. You're excited.
Amanda: No, shh. The Fae, they can hear you.
Julia: You're excited. All of our listeners are excited I imagine. I have two paragraphs of disclaimer I now need to read though.
Julia: Okay. Y'all ask for it, here it is. You get your episode on the Fae. I want to establish something off the bat. The reason I haven't done an episode on the Fae up until this point is that there's just so much information, so much information.
Amanda: [inaudible 00:06:28] episodes on Saints. There's so many.
Julia: I am most definitely not going to touch on everything because there's no single origin of the Fae. Each European folklore features the Fae and has a different story and variations of different types of Fae. Let me just stress it again, there are so many stories and so many variations of the Fae. If I do not touch on one that you love, I apologize. I know this topic is something that people can get super pedantic about or it's just something that people are really passionate about. I get it. I understand. I apologize.
Julia: But there are literally billions of different types of Fae and origin stories of them and stuff like that. Usually when we do an episode of Spirits we touched on a specific type of spirit.
Julia: We touch on a specific story. We touch upon them loosely as part of a roundup. We don't do water spirits, we do many episodes of many different of water spirits from many different times and many different places.
Amanda: Right. Or we touched upon a little bit of water spirits in a round up episode. Like just for the record, not going to touch on everything here, I promise.
Julia: Listen, whenever people Tweet us about how we missed their favorite part of the Lord of The Rings lore or Arthurian lore or whatever, I am like, "Yes, people. You can make one of your own. Multitude.productions/resources." We have lots of ways that you can make your own podcast. You can write a blogpost, you can make a little Instagram story, talk about your nerdiness. I'm sorry we can't get to it all. We're doing our best and that's all we can do.
Amanda: We are. We are doing our best just don't steal our podcast idea because people have done it and asked us how to make it, this specific podcast.
Julia: The good news is now we're doing this for a living, both of us.
Julia: People can reach out to us for paid advice on how to do this.
Amanda: That is true. We do have a consulting business now.
Amanda: Okay. I will also note that when we're talking about the Fae, we're referring to fairies, right?
Amanda: Which are spirits found in different folklore across Europe. Most likely, they were pre-Christian pagan deities that were simply delegated to lesser spirits because as we said before, "LOL it's not pagan, it's fine."
Julia: These version of the Fae were usually tricksters, had some sort of magical ability though were not omnipotent and were usually somewhat human in appearance.
Amanda: Okay. Okay. They're tiny. Sometimes.
Julia: Modern depictions of that mostly due to the French. We'll talk about that a little bit later. What I'm going to focus on first is the Irish, English, Scottish version of the Fae since that is probably one of the more well-known versions of the story.
Julia: The classification of the Irish Fae which are known as the Sheehogue is laid out by W.B. Yeats.
Julia: Yeats was like …
Amanda: "I'm Irish. Don't know … There's not a lot of nation building happening here. I'm just going to make up some stories."
Julia: I knew you're going to have some Yeats opinions. I'm really glad.
Amanda: Yeah. Listen, the founding father of modern Irish literature in a lot of ways but he's also like, "I'm going to write some stuff," and then people are like, "Well, Yeats said it." He made things up a lot which is fine and there's an argument to be made for the fact that the histories that we decide to retell become our histories but anyway, Yeats is not like … I guess that's how actual Greek scholars feel about Homer where we're like, "Well, Homer said it." and they're like, "Homer was a guy."
Julia: Yeah. We're going to talk a little bit about the Grimm Brothers later too. That is very similar implications.
Amanda: I love it.
Julia: In a treasury of Irish fairy and folktales by Yeats, because why not?
Amanda: Yeah, I own that book.
Julia: I do too. I actually own two copies of it. Actually, one of them might be yours.
Amanda: One might be mine.
Julia: I had to return yours. Yeats specifies that there are two types of fairy, the Trooping Fairies and the Solitary Fairies. The fairies, the [dinishi 00:10:24] or the Fairy People have different origins depending on who you ask.
Julia: The Irish peasantry in Christian Ireland say that the dinishi were fallen angels that were not good enough to be saved but not bad enough to be lost.
Amanda: Making earth purgatory which … Yeah.
Julia: Yeah. In the book of Armagh, they are known as gods of the earth. Irish folklores prefer to believe that they were the gods of pagan Ireland, the Tuatha Dé Danann who are no longer worshiped because Christianity came to Ireland and dwindled away the popular imagination.
Amanda: That makes a lot of sense especially because we talk about the Fae in such like, everyone-knows-but-no-one-talks-about-it type of way. That makes sense for a nation under siege or under-
Amanda: -colonial rule persecution where you act as if everyone knows what you're talking about but you aren't allowed and in some cases would be criminalized for talking about something publically.
Julia: There are stories in the Old Testament that are clearly, if you know the history of the Jewish people in that area, in that time, none of the kings has existed but everyone knows that it's like, "Wink, wink. We're actually talking about this guy."
Julia: Yeah. Actually, I really love this description from Yeats. He says, "You cannot lift your hand without influencing and being influenced by hordes. The visible world is merely their skin. In dreams, we go amongst them and play with them and combat with them. They are perhaps human souls in the crucible, these creatures of whim."
Julia: I love that. He's such a good writer.
Amanda: He is a good writer. [crosstalk 00:12:05]. He's a very good writer.
Julia: Yeah, for sure.
Julia: The Trooping faeries were known to wear green and were known for their splendid processions and hordes. The Irish Fae has three great festivals every year. May Eve, every 7th year. They fight all around for the harvest. The best ears of grain to belong to them.
Amanda: Okay. Okay.
Julia: On midsummer eve when bon fires are lit to honor St. John, the fairy celebrate and steal away beautiful mortals in order to marry them. You know, like you do.
Amanda: Like you do.
Julia: On November eve which we know as Sawin which is considered the Gaelic first night of winter. They danced with ghosts, set their tables of food in the name of the Devil. Also, in case you're wondering why we don't have black berries after Sawin, Amanda, because obviously that's something you're wondering.
Amanda: I was wondering.
Julia: Is because a type of Fae called the Púca have spoiled them all.
Amanda: No. That also makes me laugh. I know people who after Halloween is like immediately Christmas for people.
Amanda: That makes sense because it's the first day of winter in Irish tradition which makes me laugh.
Julia: To be fair, I'm one of those people that, "September 1st, it is Halloween now." I'm all for the extension of the Halloween season. I don't think we need Christmas in October though.
Amanda: No. Please. Don't. Don't do that.
Julia: After Thanksgiving.
Amanda: Yes, after Thanksgiving. Let Thanksgiving happen-
Julia: A month is fine, yeah.
Amanda: I love Thanksgiving.
Julia: I know me too.
Amanda: It's one of my favorite holidays.
Julia: It's my favorite actually.
Amanda: That's fair. Halloween I think is mine.
Julia: I like it a lot but yeah, we need that fall dwelling time.
Julia: Post Halloween it's like, "No. Don't make me let go of my fall yet. I need a little bit more."
Amanda: I like my fall. I got to wear my leather jacket for the first time this season today and it was slightly too warm for it but also I just reveled in the opportunity to wear it.
Julia: Yes. StitchPicks sent me an olive mock neck sweater with suede brown elbow patches and I'm never going to wear anything else.
Amanda: I want to steal that from you.
Julia: Can I ask Detrix specifically to send it-
Amanda: Four sizes are too big for you but yes-
Amanda: I want Detrix to send that to me. Anyway.
Julia: The Solitary faeries were different. If we compare the Tuatha Dé Danann who became the Trooping faeries to the pantheon of Greek gods, those that became the Solitary faeries were more like the Titans.
Julia: There's a distinct separation between the two groups that are spawned from the same spring, I guess.
Julia: But they're distinctly different. The Solitary faeries tend to appear on their own causing mischief. Example of Solitary faery include the Leprechaun, the Púca, the Banshee and the Dullahan.
Amanda: Okay. Okay.
Julia: I'm assuming-
Amanda: That's funny. I didn't think of these as fairies. I guess they fall into the umbrella. I thought of them as their own distinct classes.
Julia: Yeah. No. When I say at the beginning of the episode that the Fae encapsulate so many different spirits and so many different traditions, this is what I'm talking about.
Amanda: Got you.
Julia: I am going to assume that most people know what a Leprechaun and a Banshee are?
Amanda: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julia: Just Leprechaun from just pop culture.
Amanda: Pop culture.
Julia: Banshee we've talked about before?
Julia: Let me clarify with the Púca and the Dullahan. Kind of fun.
Julia: The Púca is a shape shifting animal spirit which can be malevolent or benevolent depending on the story. Here's a quote from an Irish tale.
Julia: "Out of a certain hill in Leinster, there used to emerge as far as his middle a plump, slick, terrible steed, and speak in a human voice to each person about November day. He was accustomed to give intelligent and proper answers to such as consulted him concerning what would befall then until the November of next year. The people who used to leave gifts and presents at the hill until the coming of Patrick and the Holy Clergy."
Amanda: That is terrifying.
Julia: Yeah, like half horse that speaks English.
Amanda: "November is coming."
Julia: "November is coming. Let me tell you what's going to happen this year."
Amanda: I don't know why that happens that way.
Julia: Well, can I give you a very small anecdote that's very specific?
Julia: At NYU between roughly … Way before my time but up until about 2011, 2012, there was a guy called The Time Keeper and he-
Amanda: I'm already terrified. Go on.
Julia: Yeah. He was a guy who lived around Greenwich Village where the school's located and he would stand on the eastern edge of Washington Square Park which is in the middle of our campus. I used to run across the park to get to different buildings mostly and he would in between classes, yell how much time we had left.
Amanda: Oh my God.
Julia: He would be like, "15minutes, 15 minutes. 12:30 class is starting. 15 minutes." As I got closer and closer, he was like, "90 seconds. You don't have time for the elevator at the Silver Building. You have to go up the stairs. 90 seconds. No more Starbucks for you. No more Starbucks. Not enough time for Starbucks. Go to class."
Amanda: That's amazing.
Julia: He was a neighborhood fixture. He was there … I started going to the neighborhood about 2006 and he was there then and he was there for so long. He passed away when I was at school. I wasn't on campus for 9/11 but it was genuinely a real loss and time for mourning for the community and for a school that doesn't have a lot of community, that's really obvious. It was a really lovely, bittersweet but heartening display of community.
Amanda: I'm shocked that no one took up that man 'til after he left.
Julia: I know.
Amanda: That's so sad.
Julia: I guess the shoes were too big to fill, the Time Keeper. Anyway so Púca, half horse shape shifter, can tell the future.
Julia: No? Not a fan?
Julia: It's like half horse half something, it's just half a horse.
Amanda: Well, it comes out the ground, out of the-
Julia: It comes out like-
Julia: -a hole in the hill.
Amanda: Oh no.
Julia: I knew you'd like that one.
Amanda: Oh no.
Amanda: It's like a whack-a-mole but with time.
Julia: I don't mean whack-a-mole reminders of my mortality, thanks St. Peter or Paul, whichever it was.
Amanda: That's the one that showed up and it was like, "No more Púca."
Julia: Then there is the Dullahan which is a headless woman. The upper part of her body, naked; that drives a black coach drawn by a headless horse and if you hear it passing and open your door to see what's going on, you will have a basin of blood thrown in your face marking you for death.
Amanda: No heads?
Julia: No heads.
Amanda: Two tits.
Julia: Two tits.
Amanda: Four legs.
Julia: The Dullahan.
Amanda: Thank you. Thank you for that. Great tag along.
Amanda: Wait, what does that remind you?
Julia: It marked you for death.
Amanda: Marked for death.
Julia: I got that with the helpful reminder of the Púca?
Amanda: No. Yeah. Very different.
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: No, a basin of blood thrown on you, marked for death.
Julia: The Púca is like, "Your death is coming." The Dullahan is like, ugh. Okay. Death.
Julia: Then the Banshee cries.
Amanda: Also death.
Amanda: Actually, the Dullahan and the Banshee are usually linked somehow.
Amanda: Usually the Banshee-
Julia: It'll be awkward if they were enemies. They'll be like [inaudible 00:18:51].
Amanda: You're stepping on my territory, bitch.
Julia: I know. They're like wait outside the birth to mark the kid for death. Oh, no.
Julia: Then we get to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts.
Julia: That is from Scottish folklore.
Amanda: I know about this from YA Literature.
Julia: I'm so proud of you.
Julia: You're going to tell me all about the YA Literature stuff, don't worry.
Amanda: Yeah, I will.
Julia: The categorization is based on whether or not the Fae is "light or dark." Also, rather mostly it's benevolent or malevolent.
Amanda: Got you.
Julia: This is not to say that one is good and the other one is evil because with the Fae like humans, they can't just be all good or all bad.
Julia: The term seelie comes from the Scottish which means happy, lucky or blessed while unseelie means unhappy, misfortunate, unholy.
Amanda: Is it like they bring those to people they interact with or are they are characterized by that as a subsection?
Julia: The term originally was an adjective to describe … When we talk about the Fae, sometimes the words that it comes from, the etymology of it, means like enchanted. When we're talking about a blessed enchanted one, that would be an Seelie Fae.
Amanda: Got you.
Julia: The Seelie Court is the ore benevolent of the two. They will seek out help from humans at times, they'll warn those who have accidentally offended them and overturn favors and kindness to humans.
Amanda: I feel like you don't hear any stories of fairies warning someone that they have them and instead it's like, "Oh, no. I must have offended the fairies that's why I am destitute now."
Julia: I think we do but it's one of those things where it's hubris and the person keeps doing the thing that they do-
Amanda: That is true.
Julia: -and then eventually they get fucked.
Amanda: It ends in tragedy.
Julia: Yes. But this doesn't mean that they're all nice. There are plenty of stories of members of the Seelie Court causing mischief and acting against humans who have insulted the court. The Seelie Court is also known as the Shining Throne, The Golden Ones and more commonly, The Summer Court.
Amanda: Okay. Okay.
Julia: They tend to appear in border regions such as twilight between day and night, or on dates between the seasons like April 30th and May 1st or October 31st and November 1st which are the different seasons changing over.
Julia: Before people, they could be found anytime or any place but when people began to populate the world more, the realm of the Fae begun to dwindle more and more in the mortal world and became less visible to humans.
Amanda: God. Humans ruining everything. First the Fae then the rare birds [inaudible 00:21:20] going.
Julia: Now I'm sad about birds.
Amanda: Ospreys, man. They're back in Long Island.
Julia: Yeah, there are.
Amanda: They're doing okay.
Julia: Yeah, yeah. Our ospreys are pretty good and our egrets are doing much better. King Fisher population, not great though. I know a lot about birds. My grandpa, this is a side tangent. My grandpa was a big bird watcher when he was still alive and had this beautiful, beautiful print of the Audubon Bird Collection book that I used to just read all the time as a kid. Just like all the time. I would go through those pictures and they would be these … If you don't know what the Audubon Bird Collection books are, they're these beautiful scientific drawings of birds that I absolutely love.
Julia: Actually, when I was in L.A. I got to see one of the originals. Do you know how big the original books are?
Julia: They are the size of my torso. Like from my head to my waist.
Julia: Like an eliminated manuscript bible style.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Julia: They're huge.
Amanda: That's beautiful. Where was it?
Julia: It was at … I will look it up later.
Amanda: It's fine. I will link it on the show notes.
Julia: The Unseelie Court is far more malevolent. Whereas the Seelie Court might seek revenge on humans, the Unseelie Court does not need an offense in order to attack humans. They tend to appear at night assaulting travelers. They will band together into a group or a host carrying humans through the air and beating them or else forcing them to commit violent crimes such as shooting cattle. This is done mainly for the entertainment of the Fae rather for an actual purpose or for revenge.
Amanda: I see. I'm seeing now more the distinction between they're logical and do-what-they-will in a way that doesn't specifically target humans unless you mess up which is the Seelie. Then the other one's may just mess with humans to amuse themselves because they're …
Julia: While the Unseelie may be particularly malevolent, they can also sometime be fond of particular humans. In these cases, the people are usually stolen away to the Court and become a pet to the Unseelie Fae. We often see this in stories about Changelings which we've touched upon before.
Julia: The Unseelie Court also has more specified members of their Court. Boggarts, buttery spirits and Abbey Lubbers are always aligned with the Unseelie Court.
Amanda: Obviously I know what a boggart is because I'm not an idiot.
Amanda: What of the other ones?
Julia: I didn't write down what buttery spirits are but I do have the-
Julia: But I do have what Abbey Lubbers are.
Julia: Abbey Lubbers are fascinating. They're somewhat similar to brownies which we're going to talk about a whole section of brownies later but they do housework in exchange of a saucer of milk or a warm place to sleep by the fire. They're said to hunt wine cellars and kitchen of abbeys in attempt to sway monks into drunkenness and gluttony.
Amanda: Okay. I know we've said before that we wanted to be ghosts in movie theaters if we had to choose-
Julia: But Abbey Lubbers.
Amanda: I think I would be a ghost in a monastery or abbey instead.
Julia: Okay. Sweat.
Amanda: There's usually beer or honey or any kind of interesting industry, a bunch of knowledge, a bunch of dope nuns; I love it.
Julia: Abbey Lubber life.
Amanda: I need to know what a Buttery Spirit is.
Julia: I'll look it up later.
Amanda: I get that it probably is in your butter as you're churning it but come on.
Julia: Shit, yeah. That makes sense.
Julia: Okay. I will note that the division of fairies is not universal but also does not exist solely in Ireland and Scotland. In Fresh fairy tales for instance, fairies are divided into good and evil but only because in this literary telling of the story, fairies exist solely in stories where they are encountering and interacting with humans.
Amanda: Right. Of course.
Julia: The morality is pressed upon them.
Julia: In Welsh, they're not classified as good and evil but rather neutral parties that can cause mischief for a number of reasons. The Welsh fairies are often known for stealing golden haired children away and leaving Changelings behind, like what we've talked about before.
Julia: A side note, they are also known to eat toad stools and fairy butter. Fairy butter is a type of fungus that is bright orange and yellow and kind of has a brain pattern to it-
Amanda: Oh damn.
Julia: -and it looks awesome and has a great name and I love it.
Amanda: Reminds me of bog butter, the best butter of all. Butter is like the through line of spirits.
Julia: Is it?
Amanda: Like, we have our cultured butter early on. We talked about big butter, we got fairy butter. There's obviously a lot of through lines.
Amanda: Probably why we talked about musicals a lot more than we talk about different butters but I love butter. It's my favorite.
Julia: I know we normally save some of the conversation for the end but I think we head into the break, this is a great moment to have a conversation about the ambiguous nature of good and evil in these stories and how it reflects on human nature because we understand in the world that there is "good people and bad people." I might have that in quotes like good people and bad people but we don't divide them into different notable groups.
Amanda: That's true. It's more simplistic where we think like, "These are people who are adhering to the Moral Code of people who don't." It's often very black and white where people who act in a way that we may view as evil are ascribed to be evil people and vice versa. If someone acts in a virtuous way, they must be a good person.
Julia: Right. That's a thing that moralists have a discussion about all the time.
Julia: If a person who has done bad all of their life suddenly saves a bunch of children from an orphanage that's burning down, does that mean they're a good person?
Amanda: That's why I really like to show the Good Place.
Amanda: Because it engages with this in such an interesting way. There's a character who had a pretty awful life and then in the days before their death, did such an astounding act that it was like a hard choice for them to decide where the person went. I think it's great because that show really asks us like, can people change? Does it matter? What matters in calculating the value of a human life?
Julia: Right. It's interesting that through this understanding of this human morality we kind of apply it to these nonhuman creatures.
Julia: Specifically, the Fae are not good or evil but when they're doing these good things … If we're looking at the Seelie Court for instance. When they're doing good things like warning a person or helping out with chores or whatever, are they good? But they can still be vengeful. They can still ruin people's lives because they've had some sort of offense. Does that morality mean like, "Oh, they're good until they do a bad thing and they're bad." There's no moral standard when it comes to these creatures and it's really interesting that way.
Amanda: Yeah. It's also hard because we're applying a human moral standard to nonhuman creatures. That's really interesting, I think, in discussions like … That's why I love sci-fi and it's why I love different books that involve aliens or ghosts or the supernatural or that imagined future where humans and various kinds of nonhumans have to interact together because … I think one of my favorite books, A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, is so great at this because it deals with a main cast of characters that often for the most part all from different species and it's all about, do you like just kind of default to the most modest or the most conservative or the most picky system or person in the room?
Amanda: Or how do you find a way to live together that's respectful of everybody's difference without needing to conform to some homogenous uni-culture?
Julia: Actually, I'm so glad you brought up the Long Way to a Small Angry Planet because one of the things that stuck with me that most is characters from two different species are talking about grief. They're talking about one species, the human species in the story, is talking about how it's such a tragedy when a child dies because all of that potential is lost. The other species is arguing, it's so much worse when someone who has lived a long life and made so many connections has died because so many people have built connections and have memories of this person that they can no longer … They don't have that connection anymore. The grief is more widespread and diffused.
Julia: It's really interesting to see those two ways of looking at the world just explored and kind of clashing heads but not really. Just seeing how different the cultures can be. I think it's really interesting when we're looking at the Fae in this situation because if we're looking at it from a human perspective, of course we're going to put like, "This is good. This is bad." But the Fae imperative if we're looking at it from the YA perspective, because obviously, there aren't a lot of stories where they really explore the politics of the Fae and the Courts and stuff like that.
Amanda: You're saying they're like "Canonical-
Julia: Yes, the canonical folklore of it.
Julia: There's plenty of stories in the YA. Do you want to talk a little bit about the YA interpretations of the Fae Courts?
Amanda: I will and I think the final thing here is that we expect the Fae to act in an orderly way and one of the scariest things to human beings is disorder. We've talked about how in the past like obviously if you're surprised you don't know how to react to it and you can't prepare for it, and that is dangerously from an evolutionary perspective. If you identify patterns and your brain evolves well to tell narratives and abstract this future from this evidence, that helps you survive.
Amanda: In my recollection, just growing up with Fae lore in my just like pop culture, them being really mercurial and unpredictable is the defining trait in my mind and trickery, as you brought up at the outset.
Amanda: I love reading Fae books and that was one of my obsessions as a kid. I had a bunch of little, I don't know, like flowers fairies, like little tiny fairies. I had a bunch of books like that when I was a child and then in my adolescence, I'm reading a lot of YA.
Amanda: The ones that come to mind are like Herbie Brennan has a series Faerie Wars. Holly Black wrote an outstanding trilogy on the Fae, the Tithe Series. There is this one called The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint. Scott Westerfeld had some urban fantasy book that involved various kinds of Fae.
Julia: Actually if you like prose poetry, Francesca Lia Block has some really, really beautiful Fae and mythology in modern day stories that I highly to recommend. Psyche in a Dress is one of my favorite things I ever read by her.
Amanda: Of course, Artemis Fowl was a hit just the right time for us in terms of age and that had to do quite a lot with Fae and rules and politics and technicalities in how this human is so creative and brave that they can trick the Fae. I don't know. I really loved the stories because it seems like examples of people surviving and learning from what it seemed a completely unpredictable and unwinnable system and finding a way to twist those rules to their advantage like the classic riddle that really made the rest of the world seem a little bit more-
Julia: More durable.
Amanda: -possible. Yeah.
Julia: All right, we are going to talk more about some English folklore and then the greater European fairy stories just as soon as we get a refill.
Amanda: Let's do it. Julia, I'm learning so much about what I thought were just cute little things with wings.
Julia: They're not. They're more than that.
Amanda: No and it does make me a little worried to think about the fact that the Fae could just be anywhere at any time ready to fuck with me. I am glad that I am actually getting a little bit better at a thing I never thought I would learn which is meditation and that is all thanks to Calm.
Amanda: Calm is a really beautiful app that helps you learn to be mindful, learn to meditate, helps you relax and to sleep. It is so pretty it has all kinds of nature sounds and photographs. They have these wonderful sleep stories where lovely accented people tell you all about the Siberian express or walking through lavender fields in France. It is so calming.
Amanda: I have been doing their meditation and beginner course and learning slowly, over little drips each day, how to meditate. I never thought it was something that I would find helpful which is having something to guide me and not just me sitting down on the floor and being like, "Let us try not to think of nothing." It is very useful and it is a little adventure of my own.
Julia: That's amazing and the best for about Calm, just like five minutes out of your day. I always think of meditation it's like something that I have to spend a lot of time on. About five minutes of your day, Calm can change your life. If you head to calm.com/spirits, you'll get 25% off of calm premium subscription which includes hundreds of hours of premium programmings like Guided Meditations like Amanda said or sleep stories which help you get to sleep and so much more.
Amanda: That is all at calm C-A-L-M.com/spirits and again that premium subscription has unlimited access to all of Calm's amazing content. You can get started today at calm.com/spirits.
Julia: Amanda, you know what I love about fall?
Amanda: Is it sweaters with elbow patches?
Julia: Yes, 100%. Also, the weather starts getting colder and it means I get to spend more time on my couch in a blanket learning new things.
Amanda: Hey, you don't have to leave to learn.
Julia: You know what I've always wanted to learn, Amanda. I've always want to learn how to knit. I know how to sew. I dabbled at embroidery but knitting has always eluded me. This week, I recommend knitting one, learn the basics with the simple scarf because it's starting to get cold out and there's nothing better than wearing something that you made yourself with your own two hands and I learned this Amanda through Skillshare.
Amanda: We love Skillshare. They are an online learning community with over 20,000 classes and you can access all those classes unlimited for two whole months at just 99 cents when you go to skillshare.com/spirits.
Julia: Do you know what cost more than two months of Skillshare, Amanda?
Amanda: You mean buying a scarf instead of making one yourself?
Julia: One hundred percent. Don't buy that scarf, just take Skillshare class and make one yourself. Get to pick the color and everything.
Amanda: Skillshare is great. They have a video courses, they have comments where you can interact with other people that are taking those courses. They have really wonderful instructors and high quality classes. You don't want to mess around with shaky camera, YouTube video from 2007 type business.
Amanda: Thank you again to Skillshare for supporting the program and if you want to vote with your dollar, your single 99 cents of a dollar and tell Skillshare that you appreciate them supporting the show and that you want to check out what they have to offer, please, go to Skillshare.com/spirits and start your premium membership.
Julia: Let's go back to the show. Amanda, getting back into it we're going to finish up with the English.
Amanda: Oh, yeah.
Julia: English folklore laid out by Katharine Mary Briggs, introduces a third distinction to the fairy courts and this is the domesticated fairy or the ones that leave any human household and influence it.
Amanda: Like the Down of Light which we talked about in our Koschei the Deathless episode.
Julia: Yes and we're going to talk … Yes. I love when we make connections-
Amanda: Oh, babe. I remember something.
Julia: You're so good. I love it.
Julia: Now, we talked a little bit about how spirits before but we're going to get a little bit more into it now. A lot of folklorists tie household spirits together across different cultures. For example, Thomas Keithley, an English historian and folklorist claims quote, "The cobolt is exactly the same as the Danishness, the Scottish brownie and the English hobgoblin. He performs the very same services for the family to whom he attached himself. The nis, the cobalt or the goblin appear in Scotland under the name of The Brownie.
Julia: Traditionally, household spirits such as the brownie perform chores for the household and exchange for an offering of a bowl of milk or cream left by hearth. Other offerings include porridge, small cakes. Wait, okay. I just had a revelation for a second.
Julia: Do we modernize the household spirit gift giving with Santa Claus and the cookies and the milk?
Amanda: I think probably.
Amanda: Yeah. To placate the outside force that comes into your home and leave something behind.
Julia: That is such a weird distinction.
Julia: Holy shit.
Amanda: Man, syncretism is some shit, man.
Julia: Yeah. Some person it was like, "Yeah, my grandma used to do this. I guess it's for Santa now."
Amanda: Wow! I never put those together, that really makes sense.
Julia: Yeah. Yeah. That's wet and wild.
Amanda: Yeah. On man.
Amanda: It make sense too because Christmas came from Yule tide, winter solstice traditions and you mentioned earlier that transitioning between seasons is a time of great Fae involvement.
Julia: Yeah, there we go.
Amanda: Man, Santa Claus, the jolliest Fae.
Julia: The jolliest fae. Also, it ties to Krampus which I'll talk about later. There's a lot of tie backs episodes we've done before in this episode. The offering is made because household spirits are easily offended and will leave a home forever if they feel like they've been insulted or taken advantage off.
Amanda: It's really fucking relatable, I love it.
Julia: Quick Harry Potter tangent.
Julia: Brownies are clearly associated with the house elves.
Julia: Especially because they typically are either naked or dressed in rags and depictions and it said that if you present a brownie with clothing or try to baptize him apparently, that's a thing people try to do, he will leave forever.
Amanda: Eric Scheiner and I try to take up your mantle on way station by-
Julia: I'm so sorry.
Amanda: -doing some mythological research and there was a recent episode with a brownie that led us to be like, "What the fuck! is this where a house those came from?"
Julia: Yup, I remember that episode. He's very nice but he wants sugary cereal, that's his thing, right?
Amanda: On the episode that's what he wants, yeah. He wants super sugary cereal and Kenzie is like, "Fuck you man, do you own errands." Come on, Kenzie-
Julia: Goddammit Kenzie.
Amanda: -you're rushing. You got to know, [Domovoid 00:39:25].
Julia: You should know. You should know by now. You do a whole thing on the Baba Yaga.
Amanda: You do.
Julia: You should a little bit more about your culture, anyway.
Julia: The Brownie is a general term used for household spirits that are at Great Britain but there are some regional variations for the household spirit including Hobs, Silkies, Bwbachs and Fenodyree.
Amanda: Sounds Welsh.
Julia: The Bwbachs? What is …
Julia: It's probably not how you pronounce it but I'm sorry, Welsh. Then the other one was … I don't know. Some other British thing that I've never heard of before.
Amanda: Lots of stuffs in Britain, Julia.
Julia: That is true.
Amanda: We don't have to concern ourselves with all of it.
Julia: That is fair.
Amanda: May I, just once more a shout out. one of my favorite plays of all time by Jez Butterworth called Jerusalem where I saw Mark Rylance and maybe the best role of his entire life playing a guy who lives in a trailer, in a forest by himself, insular and ends up being super connected to the oldes with an English power traditions forces Fae and it is extraordinary. You got to read it.
Julia: Yeah. Hell, yeah. Back to the Brownies.
Julia: They are typically solitary creatures. You normally wouldn't find more than one Brownie in a household and they avoid being seen when they can. Technically, the Brownie doesn't live in the house. He's usually said to live on a certain place on the property either a specific tree, a stream, a rock, a pond. That kind of thing.
Julia: Occasionally, they can be convinced to do more than just house work. They have to be "motivated by personal friendships and fancies."
Amanda: Okay, okay.
Julia: For example, there's a story about a Brownie that is sent to fetch a midwife when the lady of the house went into labor because he considered himself friends with the woman.
Amanda: That's so interesting. Of course, you need to be friendly with people for them to be helpful to you but where did this come from? I don't know. Maybe just like the Fae lore getting deeper and deeper and more involved until the good and evil or servitude is no longer a sufficient answer.
Amanda: Their character gets developed such that we used to think of them as having your own whims and fancies and motivations.
Julia: Well, also, it's the human nature to kind of more personify and more humanize things. They like, "Oh, that tree over there it's a spirit. It likes peanut butter and that's why we leave peanut butter there." I don't know.
Julia: It's like the story about the woman who spoke to the river.
Amanda: Yeah, true.
Julia: We always bring up that story. It's just very impactful.
Amanda: Yeah. It was a hometown urban legend. Often when we read those we're like, "Why would you do this?" or like, "Wait, but why you didn't ask this question?" or like when you see horror movies you're like, "No, no. Don't go to that room." But this is an example of the story where the person did more and better than we would have imagined. We were like, "Fuck yes! We taught you well, my child."
Julia: Yes, they did great. We're proud of them. We're going to move on to Germany now. There's a lot to touch upon with Germanic fairy.
Amanda: Is it kind of fucked up?
Julia: This one is totally fucked up.
Julia: There's a lot of dramatic stuff, I'm only touching on one aspect but I really like it.
Amanda: Cool. We hear you Germany. There is more, we believe you.
Julia: That is the Wild Hunt.
Julia: There are very different versions of the Wild Hunt but typically the story focuses on a mortal viewing a group of supernatural, usually Fae, elves, immortals, hunters-
Amanda: Did it come after the … Sorry, I thought you meant to be a glimpsed a fairy thing and a fairy tuned one them and run after the person. I was like, "That's a short, huh?"
Julia: No, there are hunters that are in pursuit of some sort of beast.
Amanda: Got it.
Julia: This is, as you might guess, not a great omen. Traditionally, you said to be a prelude to a great war or plague.
Amanda: Man, that was also in Lost Girl this season.
Julia: Yeah. On a smaller scale, the death to a person who witnesses it or worse than death, the person encountering it might be abducted by the hunt and taken to the fairy kingdom.
Amanda: Eternal servitude.
Julia: Yeah. Similarly, to what we talked about with Krampus episode, a version the Wild Hunt is led by Krampus once a year.
Amanda: Huh? Fucked up. Fucked up.
Julia: Here is a quote about the Wild Hunt from folklorist, Jacob Grimm. Yeah, of Grimm's fairytales.
Amanda: No shit.
Julia: He was a folklorist. Did you know that?
Amanda: The guy wrote it?
Amanda: I thought you're going to say, "His grandson, he's a folklorist." I'll be like, "Yes."
Julia: No, Jacob and Wilhelm were the ones who wrote it and then Jacob was a folklorist.
Amanda: Well, good. That makes sense.
Julia: Okay. Here's the quote, "Another class of …" Go ahead.
Amanda: I'm sorry. I guess I just thought that they're really fucked up grandpas.
Julia: I mean, they are eventually.
Julia: "Another class inspectors will prove more fruitful to our investigation. They, like the ignis fatuus, include unchristened babes but instead of struggling singly on the earth as fires, they sweep through the forest in the air in the whole companies with a horrible din. This is a widely spread legend of a furious host, a furious hunt which is of high antiquity and interweaves itself now with gods and now with heroes. Look where you will, it betrays its connections to hedonism."
Julia: Yeah. He had some opinions.
Amanda: Yeah, he does.
Julia: Grimm interpreted the Wild Hunt to be pre-Christian saying that the figure that appears at the head of the hunt usually has connections to Odin, but due to Christianity it's lost its characteristics. His near familiar features and assumed the aspect of a dark and dreadful power, a specter and a devil.
Amanda: I appreciate the scholarship. Otherwise, I would have suggested that but instead he did it for me.
Julia: Yeah. No, there we go. He also spends time saying that before Christianity's arrival, the Wild Hunt would portend a bounty. They either, "Visited the land at some holy tied bringing welfare and blessing, accepting gifts and offerings of the people or floating unseen through the air perceptible in cloudy shapes in the roar and howl of the winds carrying on war hunting or the game of nine pins, the chief employment of the ancient heroes. An array which less tied down to a definite time explains more the natural phenomenon."
Julia: Because of Christianity the story is, "LOL it's not pagan. It's fine." It turns the Hunt into, "A pack of hoard inspectors dashed with dark and devilish ingredients."
Amanda: Beautiful prose.
Amanda: That just made me think of what is Santa doing when he's not delivering presents? I mean, playing angry bowling in the sky I guess.
Julia: We'll get thunder.
Julia: God's bowling. Santa, he's bowling.
Amanda: No, but I really enjoy this idea that the hunch was a godly thing before Christianity came and then it was this whole malevolent idea of the supernatural creatures causing a fuss that humans just had to cower and fear from.
Amanda: Jacob Grimm did it did it good.
Julia: We're going to move on to France real quick. Stories of the French fairies are distinctly more literary, as I said before, than folkloric because they weren't orally passed down. The remaining stories that we know from France were not orally passed out.
Amanda: Right. It's more like literary-based.
Julia: Yes. A French folklore started with Occitan poetry and literature from the South of France in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Julia: The first well-known stories were the Songs of the Troubadours which usually dealt with themes of chivalry in courtly love rather than supernatural folklore. The French also loved some epic poetry which was more focused on the Chanson De Geste or The Songs of Heroic Deeds which were stories of important "history" of France. I say history in quotes because most the stories were partly legend.
Julia: Charlemagne, Bayard, the Legendary Horse, Durendal, the magical sword, early depictions of Morgan le Fay were all featured in those.
Julia: We saw these stories of trickster spirits such as Reynard the Fox which terrifies me because the magician series, so fuck you Lev Grossman but you see some of those kind of come out of the stories later on as more of the folkloric stuff comes into play.
Amanda: Got you.
Julia: The other surviving stories of the French fairies were mostly collected from the folk tales then cleaned up and printed for the upper class audience by a man named Charles Perrault.
Amanda: Make sense, make sense.
Julia: But some of the French fairy creatures that really persisted in our modern understanding of them survived this period. Oberon, King of the Fairies, the Werewolf, Cheval Mallet which is a wonderful evil horse. I just-
Amanda: Maybe we're going to have a second episode of horses-
Amanda: -because from this half hill horse timekeeper and then this guy. It's just too much.
Julia: There's also the Goblin Hole which is said to be an underground tunnel or hole in Morteau, France that's surrounded by mystery, and several different types of dragons.
Amanda: Many dragons.
Julia: Lots of dragons. Those are all types of stories that survived France's depictions from the 11th century on.
Amanda: Yeah, that really feels quite medieval. When I think about medieval lore, I think like dragons like horses, knights, saving people and that high medieval, high fantasy seems to draw a lot from this literary tradition in France.
Julia: Yeah. The literary tradition of France is also much later on is what gives us the like cultural tiny depiction of fairies now and that spread from the continent over to England which we get in like the Peter Pan stories and stuff like that.
Julia: Small tiny lighted, winged creatures.
Amanda: Yeah, that's the books that I had as a kid and flower fairies is what I call them. I don't know if that's actually what they were, but they wear like flower petals of stresses and live in trees. As a kid that was my biggest thing I would think about if I couldn't fall asleep, what my little fairy house would look like.
Julia: I like that.
Julia: Okay, but say you don't want to fuck around with the fairy creatures which-
Julia: -by all accounts, totally fair thing. From the most part, we've seen that they're extremely capricious and you don't want to get on their bad side.
Amanda: It seems like you can't just not mess with them because living in the world's that Yeats, "You opened up with …"
Amanda: It makes you vulnerable to fairy influence.
Julia: Yeah. The easiest way to protect yourself from the Fae is by wearing your clothes inside out. We've seen many stories where that's the case or it's like, "I'm wandering through a forest and this spirit is messing with me and I can't find my way out. I'm just going to turn my clothes inside out. Now, I found my way."
Amanda: Well, I mean, we've talked about it before like how praying to Saint Anthony is like, in my experience, is a moment of like collecting yourself coming down, you've lost the things so you're panicking. But you're like clam down and think about it blah, blah, blah. Then lo and behold, several minutes later, the calmer and more collected and more able to think, you find the thing you were looking for. Maybe it's Anthony, it depends.
Amanda: But I like this too as a moment where you are so, again, wrapped up in getting lost whatever that you stop, you symbolically do something that makes you feel as if you have the confidence to find yourself out. You calm down and then out you get.
Julia: Yeah. Like it empowers you to do the thing that you're struggling with.
Amanda: Yeah, it's all reset. I like that.
Julia: Church bells in particular are said to be effective against protecting from the Fae but also the fairies that ride on horseback can be identified by the fact that they wear bells on their harnesses. Some specify that only the Seelie wear bells and that's because it's said to ward off the Unseelie noting that the impactful rivalry between the two.
Amanda: What exactly were they fighting over, just like ways of life?
Julia: Yeah. It's just that's the politics of it.
Julia: It's just like, "You shouldn't do that."
Julia: "Yeah, but we're going to do it."
Julia: That's basically what the Seelie versus Unseelie Court is like.
Amanda: Fair enough.
Julia: In Newfoundland, bread is said to be a protector against the Fae either stale bread, hardtack or a slice of a fresh homemade bread kept in the pocket. This is because bread is … Yeah.
Amanda: What's that Julia? It's my break pocket.
Julia: It's just my bread pocket. This is said to be the case because bread is associated with the home and hearth as well as home steading being the taming of nature in order for humans to survive which goes against the nature the Fae.
Amanda: Blam! You got to where I could say it.
Julia: Yeah, I always do. No, that's not true. You came up with the basic things and I'm so proud of you inside.
Amanda: Thanks babe.
Julia: Meanwhile in Celtic folklore tradition, they offer baked goods to the Fae. One could consider that protection as a form of appeasement I suppose.
Amanda: Meaning like, "Hey, wouldn't it be a shame for you not to have these delicious pastries anymore if you fuck with my house."
Julia: Well, no. I think it would be more like, "Here's some fresh bread, please don't fuck with my house."
Amanda: Got it.
Julia: Appeasement rather than blackmail which is what you just described.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah. Okay. Okay.
Julia: A cock's crow is said to keep away the Fae. This is also true in Basilisks by the way.
Julia: Yeah. There's a whole subplot in the second Harry Potter actually where it's Hagrid's like, "Someone murdered all my chickens." It's because Ginny went to murder all the chickens because Tom was like, "Yo, my Basilisk can't deal with chicken crowing."
Amanda: I did not put that together.
Amanda: Also civilization. Like a hen or a rooster is the first thing you buy when you're home setting somewhere or bring with you.
Julia: That's true.
Amanda: It makes sense that like the light of day and the routine starting up would be deterrent to the Fae.
Julia: That's fair. Also the whole thing with the Basilisk is you make a Basilisk by having a chicken egg laid on by a frog, I think. Then it has to hatch while the frog is on top of it and that's how you get a Basilisk.
Amanda: I didn't know that.
Julia: Something like that. Anyway, alternatively though some traditions say that the Fae keep poultry. It's one of those things where it's like, "Some people say this will help you. Other say that the Fae are already doing that." So who the fuck knows?
Amanda: Worst case scenario is you're doing things that aren't actually going to help you. You're not going to hurt your chances probably.
Julia: Yeah, pretty much.
Julia: That leads us into our final discussion. I think I want to talk about how Fae folklore can really show how universal a story can be and how it spreads and how it can change and adapt but still have its core values overtime. Because if you really look at the evolution and the way that the Fae story changes overtime and how Christianity dramatically changes the story but it still has the same beats to it.
Julia: This whole topic is the extremely distilled version of what we love about folklore and I want to touch on that a little bit.
Amanda: Yeah, it really is. It's like human being trying to make sense of and reckon with the fundamentally uncontrollable nature of the world.
Amanda: Like we are but worms in this big scary world and things happen without our knowing. We try our best and bad things happen anyway. People we know can betray us, things we though we knew can surprise us and having a genre, let's say, of folklore and folklore characters whose primary trait is capriciousness or changeability or whatever like needing appeasement, I think it makes complete sense.
Amanda: It's a sort of evolution to of the feudal model of like, "I am your king. I can make good things happen to you or bad things happen to you. The resources that you use every day are actually mine. I will take this tithe from you in order not to fuck with your life." But sometimes they fuck with your life anyway.
Julia: That's a really interesting point because the Fae story really changes when you look and see how humans have grown and adapted. The themes of the Fae stories really changed when you look at it from when we were in a monarchal feudal society versus now, it's modern ideas.
Julia: Kings could get away with whatever the fuck they wanted to back in the day and I think that capriciousness really comes through in this idea that kings were divine especially when we were talking about Brigit and Áine, they have this divine right and so they could do whatever the fuck they wanted and that's like something the that Fae definitely still ooze, I supposed.
Amanda: We talked about Courts and kings and queens when we talk about Fae. We're talking about divinely inspired dominion.
Julia: Like the Wild Hunt, there are so many depictions of royalty going on hunts and being surrounded by the rest of their Court. Does the Fae story, do you think, lose value because we no longer exist in that society?
Amanda: That's really interesting. I mean, it was almost like … These origins that we're describing is really hierarchical. There is the lord with the most power and then there's all of us peasants united together in our complete disenfranchisement.
Amanda: Then we move to a more individualistic model in the post-industrial revolution society where your fate is supposed to be in your own hands. Your neighbors are not your neighbors but they're competition. There seems to be more of an emphasis on … I'm thinking about sort of communist era Domovoy legend where it's like give part of your parcel to this spirit and they will help you in continuing to make your life okay.
Amanda: It's more like if all of us do our part and if all of us distribute resources to those who they're owed to, everything will be fine. But now, it's almost …I don't know. We're almost individualistic to a point that we're all equal again.
Amanda: You know, like well stratification is again so intense but now at least, there's no one to point to him to be like, "That person has it all because they're said to be divinely inspired." It's more just a cruel twist of fate. The people at the top don't know that they're at the top. They don't want to admit it.
Amanda: It's this illusion of egalitarianism and the ability to make your own fate for yourself but a lot of us are less powerful than our grandparents were in terms of economic viability and resources. That's all to say, I think that these elements of the Fae story will continue to be just like human fears and human elements.
Julia: I just realized that we've gone from divine right as leadership to, "They've worked hard so they deserve it," even when that isn't the case. That's the legend that people tell themselves about.
Amanda: Yeah. Instead of birthright, it's just like self-made divine right.
Julia: Right, or if we look at stories like with the fairy oral traditions and the epic poetry, it's like, "Well, Charlemagne came and he conquered and that's why he deserved to be king." God, we've just basically just straight up circled …
Julia: Just circling the drain here at the same concepts with people Jeff Bezos and [inaudible 00:58:23] like that, you know?
Amanda: I know but it's-
Julia: He worked hard and created empires so he deserves all the money and no taxes.
Amanda: But it's something that we talked about a lot and some of our peers in this sort of discourse around social justice and privilege is that they're … It isn't like everyone is just starting from the same starting line in a vacuum like going after what they want and their success is not solely determined by their effort or worth or intellect.
Julia: But it's the legend that the hierarchy is telling us, "Oh, you can be up top like me if you-"
Amanda: At least the feudal society, your best option was like, "Maybe my son will become a knight." There wasn't this illusion of egalitarianism.
Julia: Though I could potentially find a sword in a stone or a woman could hand it to me from a lake. There are options there too.
Amanda: As Monty Python said, "Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government."
Julia: I'm so glad you know that off the top of your head.
Amanda: It's divine from the masses not from some watery bint lobbing a sword at you.
Julia: I feel like I'm interested in the idea that, does the Fae Courts seem more supernatural to us now, now that we've moved away from an age where the Courts made sense to now where we're all individualized and it seems like … It's almost more otherworldly because it's displaced out of time.
Amanda: Yeah, but think about conspiracy theories.
Amanda: People believe in the Illuminati or whatever bullshit conservative internet-
Julia: The Fae Courts and the Illuminati?
Amanda: Yeah, but I mean there's this desire to read into the fundamental, unfair and un-understandable nature of the world and say, "There must be order at work." That's all what we want to believe, right? There must be order here.
Julia: It's that human nature thing that we talked about-
Julia: -early in the episode.
Amanda: It must not just be that the world is unfair and cruel sometimes and there is no way for me to influence these things that are out of my control. That's why conspiracy theories, I think, one of the reasons why it's really seductive to believe and in a way … Doesn't that make sense if the Fairy Court, that someone else knows how to appease the Fae or appease the fates or appease the secret holders of power blah, blah. blah.
Amanda: Then that is a way that somebody who has not achieved to their wishes can explain why, "But I'm hardworking, but I'm smart, but I'm talented-"
Julia: Why aren't I succeeding?
Amanda: Right. That is really, again, a seductive fantasy to start believing in.
Julia: Yeah. Oh man. That's a great point. Great modernization, Amanda. Good job.
Amanda: Thanks. It's fucked up, you know?
Amanda: Just last month Buzzfeed let go of a bunch of the podcast producers that they have been employing who made shows like Another Round and See Something, Say Something that inspired people like us to start making shows and a lot of creators of color. Shows like that showed advertisers and other media companies that you don't have to be two white guys talking on a microphone to make a commercially viable podcast.
Amanda: From Buzzfeed's point of view they were just making an economic decision but it also stung in a way that was really particular particularly to Creators of Color and particularly to other underrepresented communities. In looking at that news, a lot of people were like, "This is why podcasting is doomed," or like, "Decisions like these are why this medium is really hard to make a living in."
Amanda: That was my first reaction too but then after a few hours of thinking about it, I realized like, "No. That is a distraction." The fact that companies let really talented people go sucks and is life changingly bad for those people, and it's bad for our discourse but you know what will be even better than Buzzfeed doubling their podcast department is like universal basic income or universal health care or wages for household workers or for child care, for affordable rent. All of things that would fix the system and not just give individuals more advantages to gain the system.
Amanda: That's what the Fae Court is, it's like little adjustments you can make to make the fundamental unfairness of life a little bit more manageable for you. It's almost like the Fae were like an elemental force or like the weather or something that's completely uncontrollable. The great lie of capitalism is that anything is controllable and that you can just better yourself and therefore, you can better your family and your life but in fact, the system has to be torn down. It's not-
Julia: Yeah, yeah.
Amanda: Individuals can succeed in this system. Some of them maybe, sometimes but that doesn't mean that it's a fundamentally fair one or the equitable one or the best one available to us.
Julia: I think it's interesting too because if you look at the way that story about the Fae are told especially the Seelie versus Unseelie Court. It's the decisions of a group that we don't quite understand that affects all of the normal humans. When you were describing the Buzzfeed situation, that's what was playing in my head.
Julia: It's like, to the people who are on that ground floor who were let go from their jobs, that doesn't make sense to them. The logic of it doesn't make sense. That's because … We're on separate situations.
Amanda: It's the manager … I mean, that's it. That's hierarchy, that's capitalism. That's like some are managers, some are employees. Decisions are made in rooms and the rest of us have to suffer the consequences but do not have any say in.
Amanda: I don't know. I don't blame people who find this really useful as heuristic for the world. I don't blame people who find stories like this or rituals like this really useful in their life. It's like sanity preserving-
Julia: Taking sense of the world.
Amanda: -to have some kind of feeling, like you can have control over your life and your future. But it's also easy to stop there and not to think about the really fucking devastating and difficult work of unseeding the system and thinking about systemic change not just for me but for everybody else.
Julia: Right. I think a lot of times people are like, "I'm just going to make sure that I am doing the best that I can."
Amanda: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, that's where you have to start.
Amanda: If you are fundamentally unstable, if you are out in the elements and you are hungry, if your family is in need, it is so difficult to think about anything except for that. A lot of ways it's like a privilege to worry about systemic issues because it usually means that you have enough security in yourself to turn your eyes up from ground level.
Julia: Yeah. The Fae are a great metaphor for all these things that we just described here.
Amanda: Yeah, dog.
Julia: Yeah dude.
Amanda: Harking back to this changeability of the Fae and their logic, that's also a way to emotionally deal with the fact that bosses, exactly as you say, make choices that make absolutely no sense to us and that their … We can't even ascribe a ruling logic to the Fae because their decisions are so contradictory and unpredictable.
Julia: Hot take.
Julia: Business schools are in the Fae realm.
Amanda: Yeah, though.
Julia: Yeah. Everyone who goes to business school is secretly touched by the Fae.
Amanda: Yeah dog.
Julia: Fuck that.
Julia: All CEOs are Fae kings.
Amanda: There must have been-
Julia: There's something going on-
Amanda: There must be stories and movies and stuff … No, no. I'm saying about business people that make blood sacrifices and shit-
Julia: For sure.
Amanda: -I mean, Buffy for example. Yeah, Buffy has a plotline of people in power, both political and economic power that have literal demons that work for them.
Julia: The mayor
Amanda: Yeah. But even that buys into the illusion and the lie that is sold to us that you can self-determine your future. Like, "Oh, if well, if you're willing to cross that moral line and go to the demons and that's why you're successful." When instead it's like a fucked up alchemy of when and to whom you are born and the things afforded to you and a little bit of talent and power and will. Yeah.
Julia: Yeah, it's all about who you know.
Amanda: That's why people go to business school is to meet people.
Amanda: They just need to know the meaning of their Fae.
Julia: Yeah, there you go. I was going to say, they met some Boggarts and some Selkies and some Pucas. I hope they didn't meet a Puca.
Amanda: I think they would remember meeting a Púca.
Julia: I feel like I would.
Amanda: What if your lecturer though is always standing behind the podium and you're like, "I don't know why he's standing there."
Julia: He could be attached to the podium.
Amanda: He very well could be.
Julia: He could be just horse down there.
Amanda: Half man half podium.
Julia: Half man half podium. All lecture?
Amanda: Yeah. I don't know. To me, the most revolutionary act … I don't know. It's hard to feel protest and political action and voting and donations are enough. It just feels like such a drop in the bucket. To me, I like small revolutionary act is generosity and hospitality, helping others out when capitalism wants me to view them as my enemy and my competition.
Amanda: The Buzzfeed thing, I just wrote something the next morning saying like this is hard, this is fucked up. One company doing this isn't a death nail because it's always been this hard and it's going to keep things hard. No companies could save an industry that's predicated on free and under compensated labor but what we can do is organize and we can advocate. We can help each other. We can give away what capitalism wants us to sell and hope that, I don't know, we leave something better for those coming up behind us.
Julia: Yeah. Helplessness could really permeate a person in a society very easily. Doing good by your neighbors-
Amanda: Yeah. If neighbors talked about their Fae experiences and which warding signs worked for it and it wasn't just whispered among families, maybe they could overrule them.
Julia: Yeah. I don't quote the bible a lot because that's not my thing but there's a great passage about being of service to your neighbors and I think that that is a … Your neighbors are not just your neighbors. Your neighbors are everyone within your community and you should try to fight against the helplessness by trying to put some good in the world and helping other people reach a level where they can also help doing some good in the world.
Amanda: Yeah, the radical hospitality movement of Catholicism in the early 20th century was similarly inspiring to me when I first learned about it in early college late high school. Yeah, it's like your initial instinct is to say, "But I have to protect what I've got because who knows if I can replace it if you have some level of security or even if you don't, to be able to give freely what has come to you and hope and expect that something else would come or that someone else will be as generous with you is completely bananas and also completely powerful.
Julia: There is a great line from Hadestown where they are doing cheers to Persephone, "To the sunshine and the fruit of the vine she gives us every year asking nothing in return except that we should live and learn to live as brothers in this life, and to trust she will provide. If no one takes too much, there will always be enough. She will always fill our cups and we will always raise them up. Let the world we dream about be the one we live in now."
Julia: God. Anais Mitchell, doing great.
Amanda: Well, I think there's no better advice to a nun expect for …
Julia: Stay creepy.
Amanda: Stay cool.