Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Motifs Shared by Scottish Faeries and Witches

Common themes, motifs, are shared by faeries (sithichean in Scottish Gaelic) and witches throughout Scottish folklore.

Witches use the power to shape-shift to fly away as a crow. Selkie females shed their seal form to walk as humans. Other faeries use glamour or enchantment to hide their true essence. In my Scottish time travel series, a faerie uses glamour to appear a gardener. At other times, she uses the glamour of invisibility. Witches also possess the power to render themselves invisible, by ingesting a potion or by repeating the chant, "light passes through me, around me, no one will see me," or some such spell.

Witches and faeries travel through the air. Witches on broomsticks. Faeries on a faerie wind, a whirling wind known as sith-gaoth.

Second sight is often contributed to faeries and witches alike.

Some say both faeries and witches steal food, foul butter and destroy crops. That they injure horses and cattle by shooting them with faerie-darts or witch-shot.

Many fae creatures, such as the ghillie dhu and the urisk, are associated with wilderness and those places beyond human cultivation, as are witches. The witch, hag or cailleach often dwell in a cave or hut deep in the forest well away from human villages. There are other specific locations associated with both faeries and witches; burial grounds, hillocks, wells and hawthorn trees being among their favorite haunts. Faerie rings, circular impressions found in the grass rimmed with mushrooms, are also associated with marks created by dancing witches.

Folk stories tell tales of healthy children being stolen by either a fairy or a witch and replaced by changlings, children who were sickly, misshapened or deformed.

Another commonality of faeries and witches is their increased activity at midnight, especially during full moons. They also congregate on Beltain, Lughnasadh and Samhain.

Much of the beliefs and superstitions attributed to faeries and witches have evolved due to prejudice against those who are different from oneself.

Even so, I must admit…I believe in the magic of faeries and witches. Do you?

~Dawn Marie Hamilton


  1. Heck yes--what else would make the smoke detectors go off at night for no particular reason? And I don't mean once. Faery mischief. :)

  2. Hi, Melanie. Those faeries are extremely mischievous. :) Thanks for visiting.

  3. Naturally, I believe in witches and faeries. Magic happens. It exists for a reason.

  4. Hey, Darcy. I so agree. Magic happens for a reason. So glad you stopped by.