Everybody knows what fairies are, but in Irish folklore, an entire world exists that’s full of diverse and unique magical creatures, also known as faery folk or fae. These include the beautiful pixies we traditionally think of as fairies, along with gnomes, goblins, trolls, cobalts, faery lords, wood nymphs, sprites, elves, wee folk (leprechauns), and other preternatural beings.
A great deal of lore surrounding the fae is taken from older Gaelic and Middle English traditions, sometimes citing various species of faery folk as actual pre-Celtic tribes who were forced into hiding by advancing human societies. The belief that these creatures were pushed into the deep reaches of the forest is reinforced by the concept of a separate realm developing around them, this space often called simply “faerie.”
One of the more interesting things about the creatures of Irish folklore in particular however, lies in their popular depictions both old and new. Many times the beautiful fairies or pixies, along with natural spirits like nymphs, are seen as having elaborate Celtic style tattoos or body markings. Commonly these will include vines, trees, and knots. The idea of decorative jewelry including intricate headdresses and large, stately earrings is prevalent as well, as are certain small changes in body shaping, the best known of these being the pointed ear, and curled or extended toes.
With the resurgence of Celtic and Northern European culture, so too the variety of faery costume accessories has risen, with many enthusiastic new artisans now beginning to offer ornate handcrafted items. Faery necklaces, headpieces, and stunning ear jewelry are just a few of the offerings now enhancing fairytale cos-play. Though there may not be much truth behind the faery folk legends, their popularization has given us a fashionable reason to play some adult dress-up, even if it is only for Saint Patrick’s Day.