Template talk:Fairies

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"Fairies": Rewrite Needed[edit]

Currently this template just includes whatever passing editors have decided are "fairies", itself a notoriously dubious and all but meaningless term. As but one example, this even includes the Norse goddess Freyja, who is nowhere referred to as a "fairy". This is not acceptable; if there's no primary source that refers to these beings as "fairies" then they have no place being listed here. As it stands, this template needs to be rewritten. :bloodofox: (talk) 21:34, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

I could possibly agree with the removal of some beings which are more deities than fairies, but there are many crossovers, and many of the faeries are thought to be Folk memory of specific gods. I find a more inclusive list useful, and I have been using the links in this template for two years now (as a reader, not an editor). Certain creatures are clearly gods or ghosts, and possibly should not be on the list, but in other cases that line blurs. For instance, the Tuatha Dé Danann were both gods and fairies. So specifically named Tuatha Dé Danann should be on this list, even though they are also thought of as deity. Folklorist Evans-Wentz (Wentz, W. Y. (1998). The Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019072518.) found that some Celtic people described the fae as the souls of the dead, or ghosts, and they were still fae. At any rate, I do not find the term "Fairy" dubious OR meaningless, and I use the template as a resource for research all the time. I also find the non-European, non-Celtic categories useful, as it describes other cultures' ideas of unembodied, non-ghost entities/lore similar enough to the fae that I want to know about them. Without this template as a reference, most of it would be difficult or impossible to find.
Lately I've been adding to the template because after years of use, I had to click "see also" on each article, or do manual searches on verified fairy names (for instance from Katharine Briggs, An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures, ISBN 0-394-73467-X.) to find all the articles on fairies. They were not all linked on the template. I think anyone interested in fairy lore (which is a very important topic of interest to many) will find this template useful as it is.lunaverse (talk) 20:26, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
The words fairy and fay have nothing to do with the Celts; stemming from Latin fata ("fates") and introduced by way of Old French, it's a blurred, foreign concept applied to a jumbled, post-Christianization mass of anything "supernatural". This is why it's such a useless term. Indeed, only more specific terms are appropriate. That said, if you do not have a primary source referring to the being you've added as a "fairy" (and I know they do not exist for the majority of your additions), all of your edits here will soon be reverted. I will give you time to dig up references and delete links that you know are a problem before I start the culling. :bloodofox: (talk) 06:04, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
My primary text sources are Katharine Briggs, An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures, ISBN 0-394-73467-X and Wentz, W. Y. (1998). The Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019072518., though I have copies of several other accepted works on the subject. (If you'd like I could list them all.) I also base my inclusions on other Wikipedia editors who have made similar decisions over the years this template has been in existence. (Examples: Barghest, Knocker, and Buggane that I added are considered in Briggs and Evan-Wentz as "fairies" as much as Banshee, Leperchaun, and Sluagh, which have been on the list for a long time.) Very few ethnic groups, be they Celt or Slavic or Germanic called them "fairies" even though the creatures carried nearly identical characteristics as the fae. Almost every village and berg called them something different. Please see Fairy for the Wikipedia summary of this. I will also quote Briggs, who is not only referenced often on Wikipedia, but in the bibliography of almost every post-1970's book on fairies. Briggs, p. 131 "The word "fairies" is late in origin; the earlier noun is FAYS, which now has an archaic and rather affected sound...The term "fairy" now covers a large area, the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian ELVES, the DAOINE SIDHE of the Highlands, the TUATHA DE DANANN of Ireland, the TYLYTH TEG of Wales, the SEELIE COURT and the UNSEELIE COURT, the WEE FOLK and GOOD NEIGHBORS and many others." And she goes on to describe the wide range of supernatural creatures she considers to fall under this category, "fairies of human or more than human size, the three-foot fairies and the tiny fairies; the domestic fairies and those that are wild and alien to man; the subterranean fairies and the water fairies that haunt lochs, streams or the sea. The super-natural HAGS, MONSTERS and BOGIES might be considered to belong to a different category, and there are, of course, FAIRY ANIMALS to be considered." Evans-Wentz takes a similar view on what should be counted under this umbrella. If you'd like, I can find a tidy quote from him. I agree with you on this point -- that all we have are the post-Christianization understandings of the folk beliefs of those people, but as such, we have chosen to call them "Fairies" as a generic term. Our culture refers to them as such, our folklorists group them as such, and therefore, Wikipedia should do the same so that people can find what they're looking for. I think the Fairies article does a good job of describing the background of fairy lore, its history, its roots in paganism, and how the described creatures vary between regions. If one wishes to study all of these creatures, which again folklorists themselves all group together, then this template is useful. It is not within everyone's power to remember the exact name of each kind of creature in order to look it up, which is what makes a template like this useful. Sometimes it is hard to make decisions on specific creatures, whether it is a "Fairy" or instead should be a ghost or dragon or deity. That's the nature of this type of folklore. (Wentz points out regions or villages where the people thought the fae were the hosts of the dead, others thought they were unborn souls, others thought they were demons, others thought they were as real as animals.) In those cases, I'm trying to make good distinctions, and in those cases, I am willing to be wrong. But I am strongly against reverting *all* my changes. If you revert Fuath and Gnome and Bluecap and Water Horse, you may as well revert most of the rest of them. Each article I have linked to has its own references (more or less) which point to fairy lore books, including Briggs, Robert Kirk, and Evans-Wentz. And in most cases, the articles I link to actually use the word "fairy".lunaverse (talk) 21:07, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
P.S. I didn't add *any* of the deities. Those have been there since I started using the template. I'm not invested in keeping those one way or the other... other than that it might be useful to have a general link to another list of deities from the regions in question, i.e. instead of to Freyr under the Royalty section, it's fair to link to Norse_mythology under "Related Articles". I would lean towards keeping any entries where there is a strong deity to fairy link, i.e. those thought to be fairies in later folk memories.lunaverse (talk) 21:57, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
(This conversation continues at Talk:Fairy#Are_we_not_conflating_too_many_mythologies.3F) :bloodofox: (talk) 07:29, 20 July 2012 (UTC)