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Pagan Portals – Folktales, Faeries, and Spirits

Pagan Portals – Folktales, Faeries, and Spirits: Faery Magic from Story to Practice, by Halo Quin
Moon Books, 178535941X, 104 pages, August 2022

Halo Quin takes us on a journey into the world of Folktales, Faeries and Spirits. She has a deep connection to the magic that resides in Wales and adores the wilderness there and the stories and tales that come from that landscape. Her love of faeries has been apparent since childhood, when she would greet them everywhere she went. She is keen to educate us on the practices of the faeries, how we can find and respect their ways and bring them into our lives. 

There can be mixed greetings towards the faery folk. Some people regard them as beings or spirits who can bring us good luck, wisdom, and beauty; others may view them as mischievous, malicious or even dangerous. Quin tells us that we should view them just as we would people. Each with their own personalities, feelings, values, and nuances. They can be found the world over, in woodlands, forests, rivers, lakes, and streams.

“Another debate among humans who talk about faeries is whether they are nature spirits and spirits of the land, or simply an otherworldly race of humanoids.”1

Personally, I like to believe they are the latter, an ‘otherworldly form of humanoid’. Because how wonderful would that be? Faery folk coming to visit us from another dimension. I can certainly get on board with that idea.

In Pagan Portals – Folktales, Faeries, and Spirits, Quin asks for you to keep a journal alongside as you drink in the wonders of these tales and the connections you can find. She also encourages you to make notes within the pages of this delightful little companion. 

My knowledge of faeries is, I’m ashamed to say, almost non-existent, unless we can count Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell in Hook (1991), and I don’t think we can. And so, honestly, I was entering into this world not really knowing what to expect.

Yet I was pleasantly surprised. I was welcomed with open arms immediately.  I felt looked after from the first page, nothing was pushed or forced upon me. I felt like I belonged, I wasn’t intruding on an unknown world, more like visiting an old friend. 

The book is to be used as a practical guide for you to approach and interact with the fae, using the New Age model by Doreen Virtue, which relies on the traditional lineage stories of faeries and their elementals, more commonly known as: earth, air, fire, and water.

Quin advises that when looking to work with the faeries you choose those that are close to you regionally or locally. She has researched and worked with the folklore of Wales, Edinburgh, and Spain. Although her work tends to focus on the Nordic Fae, the Alfar, as they are found worldwide.

Faery cultures vary from region to region, so it’s wise to do your research. Much like you would do if you were visiting a foreign country for the first time.

We are given an enigmatic insight into the world of faeries. I live close to where the Cottingley Fairy pictures were taken, and although these photos were proven to have been faked by the children, who’s to say we don’t still have them living there?

It’s a beautiful fairy-like landscape, something we’re not short of in Yorkshire. And now that I know how to approach and how to show my respect to these spirits, it’s something I will be more mindful of.

The book lays out steps for you to begin your connection with the fae. How to build your altar, where you’ll be able to communicate with them, and where you need to look in nature. There is also a handy guide which will give you trees and plants to look out for to bond and meditate with.

Quin also takes us deeper into the Fae folk, sharing who to call upon, who to thank, and who we can be inviting into our homes. 

Each chapter takes you on an easy-to-follow path, starting with an introduction to Faery history, how to begin, who you can find, and where to find them. You are then carefully taken, step by step into a new world. A world that is waiting not far from you now and may be closer than you think.

Learning to open the pathways, cross the rivers and enter Faery land. Invite these beings into your world, integrate your roots, call upon the already familiar elementals and encourage yourself to delve further into what they have to offer. 

Whether you have just discovered a spark of interest, you’ve been dabbling for a while, or you’re still on the fence about the whole idea, I think Pagan Portals – Folktales, Faeries and Spirits can offer a new insight into what you might have already learned. And isn’t it always good practice to keep an open mind?

Forest Fae Messages, by Nadia Turner

Forest Fae Messages: Curious Messages of Enchantment, by Nadia Turner
Rockpool Publishing, 1925946193, 40 cards, April 2021

According to the artist’s online biography, Nadia Turner creates wayward wonders out of a little studio up in the magical Dandenong Ranges just outside of Melbourne, Australia. She is heavily influenced by ancient myth, fairy tales, witchcraft, and the worlds of the Fae and uses a variety of mediums to convey her inner worlds. 

I had a lovely synchronicity involving Forest Fae Messages in that I spied one of the cards in an Instagram post, fell in love with the illustration, added the deck to my “deck wish list” and then found out it was available for review the following week!

I would describe the illustrations as enchanting and the deck’s little messages as encouraging and fun to read. The images on the cards are of various Fae and Fae-like creatures often sporting horns, antlers, or wings, carrying walking sticks or wearing crowns and beads, and often accompanied by birds, bunnies, or other “pet-like” friends.

One of my favorite cards in this deck came up for me when I asked about a meeting I was to attend later that afternoon. The card is titled Strange Journeys, and its message says, “Take control of your quest; choose your companions wisely.”

This card shows a delightful illustration of a small group of characters including a very large furry creature with a human-like face who is wearing beaded necklaces and has horns decorated with hanging beads, a feminine looking person with long hair and branches with leaves that seem to be growing out of her head while she holds a bird, an owl who sits atop the large furry creature and a blue cat wearing a bell at its neck. 

Another favorite, titled Away We Fly, shows an elf-like character with pointy ears and branches coming from their head while riding a bird shaped chariot amongst white fluffy clouds and a crescent moon. The card’s message instructs one to “Take the cloud roads; delight in your imagination.”

The card titled The Gatekeeper encourages us to “Let go. All things are possible on the borderlands,” while it features a furry creature with tall, pointed wolf-like ears, wearing a feathered cape and holding a walking stick adorned with a crescent moon and three hanging feathers.

The deck is composed of 40 small (4” x 2”) rectangular cards tucked into a beautiful little hinged box. The small size makes the deck easy to shuffle. The cards are good quality card-stock with a glossy finish, and card backs decorated with an image of a crescent moon surrounded by mushrooms in earthy tones of greens and browns.

There is no book with meanings or spreads accompanying the cards, just a short message of instruction printed inside the hinged box lid saying:

“Sit quietly and breathe deeply. Shuffle the deck while thinking of a question, or just ask the Fae for guidance. Choose a card at random and discover what messages the forest fae have for you. Perhaps the answers will be clear or maybe they will ask more questions before they answer. Such is the way of the fae.”1

As I finished up this review, I asked the Fae for a message that would exemplify the deck and what it has to offer the readers of this review. I shuffled and drew a card called The North Wood Fae. The card shows an image of a fae wearing a warm coat and a hat with tasseled earflaps, standing alongside a furry dog-like pet and holding a walking stick with four leafy branches. Her message: “Take time for hibernation and healing.” 

Unlike many decks that have thick books full of deep and esoteric meanings to ponder, this deck has short simple messages and would be the perfect deck for cheerful entertainment and inspiration. Its small size and sturdy case make it the perfect little deck to throw into a purse or tote bag and its cheerful characters would make wonderful traveling companions. I also think it would be a great deck to use alongside other decks for additional perspectives.

I would recommend the Forest Fae Messages to anyone who enjoys whimsical creatures, encouraging messages, and enchanting illustrations.