This is a review of “A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk: How to work with the Elemental World” By Edain McCoy.
Let me start off by saying that I was not fond of this book. It’s the first book I’ve bought that pertains to magical working with faeries, and so I expected a lot from it- it was a disappointment. Not only does it focus on faeries as mainly being astral beings, it tends to lump them all together. Also, almost all of the magical workings that it offers up for consideration of adding faery energy are wiccan based. Since I’m not wiccan, and moved away from that mumbo jumbo a long time ago, I found it to be useless.
I found the introduction useless. Overall it was a run down of the basic history of faeries as a phenomenon and some pretty prose about faeries and witches. The only thing I marked was this sentence: “To see a faery one must learn to “see” with the heart and mind as well as with the eyes.” (page xii)
The book is divided into three parts to make it more useful I guess….
Part one is titled “All About the Little People.” It is meant to be a guide to their personalities, their lore, how to find them, etc.
The first chapter is about their nature and history, and the main thing that I took away was that Faeries are sensitive beings (something that is pretty obvious). I liked that she mentioned the Nithsdale and Galloway Song (written by a scotsman about a Rade he saw), which is one of my favorite tellings of faery interaction. There are also little tips that I found interesting. I have never heard before that Wednesday is their day of rest- I marked it as a reminder to try to look and see if this is based in any form of fact, or if she determined this for herself through working with them.
The next chapter is about faery experience around the globe. There are several interesting little things in this very short chapter (Such as the manx cat supposedly being a faery pet), but I found it to be the same tired old lore rehashed that you can find just about anywhere. She also tied in Red and White as being Faery colors… and mentions that they’re Goddess colors as well (I assume that has something to do with wiccan traditions).
Chapter Three is How and Where to Find Faeries. This was one of the chapters that was the main reason I bought this book to begin with, and is the chapter that I marked up the most. It even has a few starred passages. It describes ways to contact faeries, such as scrying, astral projection, and meditation. It also has a whole section on In-Nature Methods of contact, which I have found to be the most effective ways personally. It speaks of Shifted state contacts being easier in nature. It also describes a way to contact them by their fairy trail or ring. I found this to be an interesting method to try later (taking out the part of announcing that you are a fellow worshiper of the old Gods and Goddesses). I actually crossed out the part about Inviting faeries to your circle, because the whole thing is set up for a wiccan circle. While I find the idea interesting- and certainly possible- I find the way she has it set up a distraction, particularly because I don’t call the four corners when I set up a circle. It also mentions magical teas to help open psychic centers (a valid idea, although I’m obviously not stupid enough to ingest an herb I don’t know anything about. I really enjoyed the section about herbs and plants that you can plant that will encourage/scare away faeries. Although most of the ones that were listed were herbs that are listed elsewhere in common faerie encyclopedias/books, she had a few that I hadn’t seen elsewhere. She also mentions leaving out food for faeries, which I found to be the common methods and items. She closes the chapter by talking about the Pagan Rede, another thing that I have found to really be a wiccan/witchcraft thing.
Chapter Four is about protecting yourself from faeries. While one would think that it is generally the same thing as protecting against any other kind of spirit, she cautions that it isn’t. The section on traditional methods of protection is very well done, and I have it bookmarked for use if I ever need it. At the least it is an interesting account of historical mages/folk lore. The rest of the chapter though is useless. She covers things to watch for, such as hearing bluebells, as well as changelings and faery entrapment- which is covered in the majority of tales about faeries that one can find. Then there’s a section on protection spells, which could be useful I suppose, although I think a basic protection spell will serve the same purpose. This chapter closes with a section on the exorcism of faeries, which is yet another wiccan based spell that includes alter set-up as well.
There is also a section/chapter on Guided Meditation into Faeryland. I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say if it is good or not. It reads like it may be good for a basic journey to discover oneself. It’s based mainly in scottish lore, so if you’re into that kind of thing it may work well. I have it marked as something to try on a rainy day since I really like the reference to the cauldron which reminds me of the book, “The Black Cauldron” and is one of my favorites.
Part two is titled “Working with Faery Beings, A guide to the day-to-day working relationship between a witch and the Little People.” The beginning of this covers Spells and Rituals, and I have underlined that “Faeries are most adept in spellwork for environmental concerns, healing, fertility, and protection” (page 116). There is a section on creating your own faeryland residence, which is basically creating your own astral residence. It covers a few more things relating to that. Then it discusses ways to adapt spells for faery participation as well as healing, protection, prosperity, fertility, and love spells. Again, these could be useful (haven’t used any), but are basically wiccan. This section also covers viewing past lives, petitioning dieties, lists faeries that are useful for specific aid, and a faery esbat ritual. It closes out with a ritual to gain ancient knowledge by working with the faeries who inhabit the big standing stones.
Chapter Six is called creating your own faery beings, and covers basic servitor creation. As I am inexperienced in this realm, I have very little to comment.
Part three is a dictionary of Faery Folk. It’s a decent basic guide, but if you’re looking for one to use all the time, I’d recommend Briggs’ or Rose’s. This one is different in that it lists ways that they can help magically, which you won’t find in basic ones. I found it discouraging that almost all of the faeries are listed as “do not contact! Dangerous” or something similar.
The appendixes are pretty common for magic books from what I’ve read.