The Fae are back in town!

It’s here, once more it’s time for Fae Awareness Month! The other awareness months have admittedly faded a little over the last couple of years but not the fae, the tricksy little (or not so little) mites…

I’m half inclined to put it down to them, the others, those in the limbo lands, the inbetween but I guess it comes down to the person at the helm, none other than author of the extremely dark fae novel, ‘Scripped‘, KV Taylor, who has made sure that this year is as fun-packed, nay, even more fun-packed than last, with the regular: movies, reviews, articles and giveaways, written by a whole host of talented writers, bloggers, fans, etc.

We start today with The Wizard of Oz, and what better way to open than with one of the best films of its or any other genre in fact, a true masterpiece of cinema, pretty much the only musical I will watch, based on the idea that apart from the seminal ‘Over the Rainbow’, sung by Dorothy at the farm, all the musical numbers are in a dream/fairytale world and not actually real…(rather than other musicals where my suspension of disbelief is tested to the full when car mechanics suddenly burst into a song and dance routine in the middle of a working day!)

The films and first episodes of our chosen TV series are available on Dropbox. If you’ve got it, let us know and we’ll add you to the folder, if not then create yourself an account and find yourself the proud owner of 2GB of free storage!

What more is there to say for now, except to get ready for an excellent month of film, literature and blogging goodness that will give you new insights into the world of the fae and might even lead you to realize that they are actually amongst us…

Enjoy!

Fae Awareness: The End and Index

Thanks to everyone who blogged, read, watched, enjoyed, and otherwise contributed to this inaugural Fae Awareness Month! Nice start to the summer, huh? Let’s be sure and do it again next year. Don’t forget to leave your suggestions in the Toby Daye Contest Post, and you could win some cool fae books for being so kind as to help your fellow humans. (Also, us here at FAM. But that’s a given.)

June flew by, and I don’t know about you all, but there are a few posts I’d like to revisit and delve into a little more deeply. So much goodness in so few months — yes, we definitely need a recap by category, don’t we? So here’s your trusty Fae Awareness Post Index, and I hope it proves useful. At the very least, it might inspire something for your contest suggestion, right?

Fae Awareness Blog Posts: 2011

Literature.

Sam Kelly’s ongoing re-read of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. When I think fae, I think of this book. How about you?

Sam also brought us an in-depth examination of Shakespeare’s fae in our inaugural post: ‘Tis Almost Fairy Time!

Louise Bohmer discussed writing about (and respecting) the fae with her cracking post on Peering into the Fickle Eye of Fae.

Cate Gardner was kind enough to let us reprint her beautiful modern fairy tale, “The Forest of Discarded Hearts”, from her Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits collection.

KV Taylor’s reviews of DC/Vertigo’s Books of Magic (Gaiman, Bolton, Hampton, Vess, Johnson) and spinoff Books of Faerie (Carlton and Gross parts, anyhow) TPB collections bring the fae to the comic world. [Ed note: yeah, that's me, I know.]

Sue Penkivech gave us a rundown of The Fae in American YA — quite a task, but she rose to it and went beyond! (We’re pulling for more of the same next year.)

Alexandra Seidel brought us an indepth look at Goethe’s “Der Erlkönig” and where it fits into Another Beginning: Fae, Death, and the Romantics. A corker!

Orrin Grey delved into Holly Black’s Spiderwick Chronicles, mostly as brought to the bigscreen, but also in general. We need to cover this one next year, yes?

D.S. Stephen compared Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’s Stardust to the movie of the same name, with hilarious results.

Film.

KV Taylor reviewed the weird and wonderful Russo-Finnish epic, Jack Frost.

Mark Deniz gave nostalgia a talking to in his insightful look at The Dark Crystal.

Michelle Davidson Argyle proved that 80s cinema is a powerful modern force with her review of Legend and its influence.

Anita Howard brought us a deeper look at Labyrinth — and at what attracts us humans to the fae, no matter how aware we are of the danger.

Lisa Kessler tackled the reinvention of Tinkerbell, and defended fairy magic in general, in Disney’s wild adventure, Hook.

N.K. Kingston wove her knowledge of selkie myths into a thoughtful review of The Secret of Roan Inish and Ondine.

Sam Kelly kicked off our solstice party with Peter Hall’s delightful  adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a great companion to his Shakespearean fae post earlier in the month.

Carrie Cuinn speaks of love and music and boys in her look at Were the World Mine. Who can resist?

Carole Lanham went after something beautiful and freaky when she broke down Snow White: A Tale of Terror for us.

Sue Penkivech pronounced The Brothers Grimm a story worthy of the Grimms themselves. Check it out and see why.

Meghan Brunner reminded us what it looks like when our world and the fae connect in her review of the haunting Pan’s Labyrinth.

D.S. Stephen’s review of the Stardust movie should go here, too, for the sake of completion! (Plus, it’s just that funny.)

And for bonus films, Orrin Grey’s review of  The Spiderwick Chronicles deserves another mention here, and we also got Alexandra Seidel to give us a preview of Karasu. Definite ringers for Fae Awareness 2012, wouldn’t you say?

Culture.

Alexandra Seidel’s rundown of several Japanese fae creatures and/or demons — complete with pretty pictures — in Fae From Afar and… Cucumbers?

Mark Deniz brought us, that’s right, gamer culture! He explored the nuances of the fabulous Beware the Fae (or at least the Quickling).

Jen St. Louis carried us over the Atlantic for a first-hand account of Iceland: land of fire, ice, and hidden people. Also, and I can’t say this enough: Elf Sex.

Meghan Brunner finished the month out with her very important PSA: A Final Word of Caution (aka Play Nice and Don’t Piss Them Off).

Which, as you will have noted, was quite the point of our little awareness drive! We’ll see you next year — with bells on. Or, if Alexa Seidel has her way, buttons. (Hint: she will probably have her way. And you could have yours, too! Enter! Win! Yay!)

And you know what July is, right? Here’s a hint: it bites even harder than a pissed off fairy.

A Feast For Anime Lovers…And Everyone Else: KARAS

As you might’ve seen in our last post detailing the Toby Daye giveaway, we’re already collecting ideas for Fae Awareness Month, 2012. Today, Alexandra Seidel gives us a little taste of what we can look forward to. She’s got her new ideas in already — what are yours? (Did we mention you can win free books? Awesome books? It’s true!)

A Feast For Anime Lovers…And Everyone Else: KARAS

by Alexandra Seidel

Allow me, Dear Reader, to prepare your eyes for a feast in six courses: I want to tell you about Karas (“karasu”, which is Japanese for raven; the “u” is silent), a six part anime produced by Tatsunoko Production in 2005 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the company.

Karas Boxed Set Cover

Karas starts off with one of the most impressive fight scenes I have ever seen in an anime. But the show’s visual brilliance does not end there. Traditional 2D and new 3D techniques have been fused to create an exciting symbiosis and watching this is pure joy, a constant tightrope walk between fathoming richly detailed dark frames and blindingly bright ones. Obvious at first glance is the effort and love the production team put into this.

Fight Scene from KarasThe story it serves up is unusual, at least as far as traditional anime storylines go. Karas is about heroes but it is not just another ‘good vs. evil’ story. The hero, while he is not precisely an anti-hero is at least a darker version of hero. Lives are sacrificed without much gained, the damage and destruction seen here rivals the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Two side characters remind us of Agents Mulder and Scully from The X-Files and everywhere, there are youkai.

While I enjoyed the storyline a lot, I will admit that when I saw Karas for the first time, I had trouble following and seeing all the details, so be advised, this is something better watched twice. The reference to Japanese folklore might also pose problems for Westerners, but the well paced action should make up for that, and we all know what people say about broadening one’s horizon.

Shinjuku Night from KarasIn Karas, love for detail can also be heard. The music was composed specifically for the show and works like a charm to build atmosphere, to contrast the traditional Japanese with modern influences. This dichotomy of old–new is perhaps the most important theme in Karas, and I was delighted to find that mirrored so perfectly in the soundtrack.

For all those who find their interest piqued, one last suggestion: watch Karas in its original Japanese version and turn the subtitles on. Even better, find a version that adds explanatory subtitles that give some insight in the folklore used throughout the plot–or check out my article here; if nothing else, Karas will illustrate the need for cucumbers.


Alexandra Seidel likes anime and reads manga, both preferably with a dark twist. She owns more manga than comics, but taken together, those dead trees marked with speech bubbles and fine ink fill shelves and shelves.

Alexandra is a writer and a poet, a poetry editor and a reviewer. Her work can be found at The Red Penny Papers, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium and others. Her blog has claws and stripes and writerly thoughts: http://tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com

Next Time (The Toby Daye Contest)

Fae Awareness Month is winding down, with only  a few days left. We hope everyone’s had a good time, and that we’ve done our job of raising awareness. We’ll have a rundown of the many and varied gorgeous articles and reviews we’ve featured at the end of the month, and Sam Kelly’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell reading club will go on after. (Because let’s be real: that book requires more than a month, particularly with so much else going on, to be appreciated in all its glory.)

But we will be back next June, and we need your help. If there’s a movie we’ve missed, a topic we haven’t covered, a poem you love, a book we really ought to have mentioned, an artist you adore, an academic paper people need — whatever you feel needs awareness raised, tell us!

Why should you? Well, for one thing, it means you get the early update as we’re prepping next May, and that means dibs on the movie and/or topic of your choice. It also means you’re helping your fellow hapless humans to become more aware of the dangers (and occasionally the pleasures) presented by the fae. Reward enough itself, right?

No?

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuireWell, that’s all right. As part of our effort to raise awareness, we want to give out a prize that we think provides cautioning aplenty. (Yeah, I just said “aplenty”.) So if you put a Fae Awareness topic suggestion in the comments to this post between now and July 10th, you will be entered in a drawing to win the first three books in Seanan McGuire’s fabulous October Daye series So that’s Rosemary and Rue (#1), A Local Habitation (#2), and An Artificial Night (#3)– yes, all three, just for you.

What, you have the first one? Okay, how about #s 2, 3, and 4 (Late Eclipses)? Sorry, you gotta wait til September for One Salt Sea, or we might offer you 4, 5, and 6.

Wait, you have them all? Smart choice! Well, you have to admit, the early warning of next year’s event and the warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping hapless humanity is pretty good in itself, right?

… right.

So hit us up with ideas, y’all, and be sure and leave a valid email address in either the email field or the comment itself so we can find you if you win. We won’t be able to do all movies or all ideas, but we’ll try and strike a good balance, so don’t be shy. The drawing will be random after midnight on July 10, once the contest closes.

And an extra thank you to Seanan McGuire, who was cool with the idea of a Fae Awareness Toby giveaway. She rocks — and here’s your chance to find out why, if you don’t already know!

Another Beginning: Fae, Death, and the Romantics

Although Fae Awareness Month began with us wanting to defend humanity against the dangerous attitudes of the Romantics, we have to admit, they were awfully pretty — and sometimes scary. So here’s Alexandra Seidel to discuss one of my favorites, Goethe’s ‘Der Erlkönig’. (And if you dig this, check out a recording of Schubert’s lieder ‘Der Erlkönig’.)

Another Beginning: Fae, Death, and the Romantics

By Alexandra Seidel

The Fae world and the human world are alike yet not the same, Fae are known to abduct, harm and play tricks on humans. As mythical creatures, they warn us of the darkness out there, because darkness is real even if the Fae are not; we must be wary.

Romantics such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe were only too aware of the darker sides of our existence, and this awareness translates into their work. A classic element of romantic poetry is an environment that mirrors the feeling of the protagonist from bright sunshine in spring to the abysmal dark torrents of an overflowing river.

Goethe by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm TischbeinBut where do the Fae fit in with the oversensitive world view of the romantic mind? One possible answer is escapism. The Fae are invoked to overcome the darkness of reality, the bleaker sides of life, with their fictional brightness.

This can be nicely seen in Goethe’s poem ‘Der Erlkönig’. In the poem, we witness the conversation between a father and his son, the son is sick (you can interpret this sickness in different ways, but here it will be taken more literally as a physical ailment), very possibly feverish (which is why the father has to keep him warm), and the father is carrying him on his horse to get him to safety:

Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind;
Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,
Er faßt ihn sicher, er hält ihn warm.

Who is riding through the windy night at this hour?
It is the father with his child;
He is holding the boy safely in his arm,
He is holding him tightly, he is keeping him warm.*

In his delirious state, the son starts speaking about the Erlkönig, a stunning creature that tries to seduce the boy to come with him. However, while the Erlkönig appears impressive, the son’s initial reaction is fear:

“Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht?”–
“Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht?
Den Erlenkönig mit Kron und Schweif?”–
“Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif.”

“My son, why are you hiding your face?”–
“Don’t you see him, Father, the Alder King?
The Alder King with crown and cape?”–
“My son, it is just wafting fog.”

[Schweif might also imply long hair worn in a  pony tail]

“Du liebes Kind, komm, geh mit mir!
Gar schöne Spiele spiel’ ich mit dir;
Manch’ bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand,
Meine Mutter hat manch gülden Gewand.”–

“You sweet boy, come away with me!
I would play some nice games with you;
Several colorful flowers are on that shore,
my mother keeps several golden gowns.”

[The second line in this stanza is as ambivalent in its original German as it is in this translation. The last two lines seem to be just descriptive of what the boy may expect. The 'bunte Blumen' ("colorful flowers") could indicate beautiful women, the golden gowns riches.]

Bernhard Neher: Erlkönig

The father never sees or hears anything unusual, let alone supernatural. He tries to calm his boy, thereby he also tries to make him see reality instead of delirious visions.

“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und hörest du nicht,
Was Erlenkönig mir leise verspricht?”–
“Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind;
In dürren Blättern säuselt der Wind.”–

“My Father, my Father, and don’t you hear,
what the Alder King silently promises me?”–
“Be quiet, stay quiet, my child;
the wind whispers in those scrawny leaves.”

But the son is already too far gone (or the Erlkönig is too powerful) and he does not hear wind, he hears the Erlkönig’s voice:

“Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir gehen?
Meine Töchter sollen dich warten schön;
Meine Töchter führen den nächtlichen Reihn,
Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein.” —

“Do you want, sweet boy, to come with me?
My daughters will graciously wait on you;
my daughters lead the nightly roundelay,
and they will rock and dance and sing you to sleep.”–

The father never gives up on his son and tries to get him to hold on just a little longer:

“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort
Erlkönigs Töchter am düstern Ort?”–
“Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh es genau:
Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau.–”

“My Father, my Father, and don’t you see over there
Alder King’s daughters in the dark place?”–
“My son, my son, I see it quite clearly:
The old willows are shining oh so gray.–”

This is the last thing the father speaks to his son, the Erlkönig, however, is not quite done yet:

“Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine schöne Gestalt;
Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch ich Gewalt.”–
“Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an!
Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan!”–

“I love you, your beautiful form attracts me;
And if you are not willing, I will use force.”–
“My Father, my Father, now he is touching me!
Alder King has hurt me!”–

The whole thing ends dramatically with the child’s death:

Dem Vater grauset’s, er reitet geschwind,
Er hält in Armen das ächzende Kind,
Erreicht den Hof mit Müh’ und Not;
In seinen Armen das Kind war tot.

The father feels fear welling up in him, he is riding hard,
He is holding in his arms the moaning child,
He reaches the courtyard just barely;
And in his arms the child lies dead.

The most obvious interpretation of ‘Der Erlkönig’ is that the König is a personification of death and that the dying boy sees death approaching him in the night. The alder tree even was associated with death (it was also associated with Fae, and Goethe may have taken the name from the translation of a Danish legend that influenced him; wherever he got it from, Goethe was well educated and he certainly chose this name for a reason. A mistranslation, as some scholars claim, seems unlikely to me).

Another interpretation is that it is not just death that takes the boy that night, but another creature altogether, a king of the realm of the dead, not unlike Hades, who loves the boy so much that he takes his soul and leaves the body behind. True, the Erlkönig is shown as dark and sinister, and Goethe uses the natural world in his poem to stress that, but there is an element of magic to him.

It is just that little bit of magic, the idea of more than just death (more than just facts) that allows for escapism. The notion that the dead boy was ‘just’ taken, after all, would be something that the father might easier deal with, because it implies that his son might come back, that the Alder King might let him go home one day. The idea of something out there in the dark that you can name makes the dark that much less scary.

Portrait of young William Butler Yeats by his father, John Butler YeatsIn his poem ‘The Stolen Child’ William Butler Yeats has uses similar words:

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Those who go–who die–have gone away with the Fae and the Fae take them away from the harshness of that which is real (note also how in ‘Der Erlkönig’ the son is either unable or unwilling to see reality as his father keeps pointing it out to him). As logic will have it, Fae must therefore be benevolent.

In his ‘The Land of Heart’s Desire’, Yeats describes what those travelers might expect:

… the Land of Faery, where nobody gets old and godly and grave, where nobody gets old and crafty and wise, where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue.

For the romantics, this may have been a way to confront and idealize death, because while the typical over-emphasis of all feelings may have made suicide appealing to a romantic author (see Goethe’s ‘Die Leiden des jungen Werther’, “The Sorrows of Young Werther”), the finality of death certainly held no appeal. Instead Fae could appear, like a deus ex machina, to remove the one who suffers from this world and take them elsewhere, where things are brighter and sweeter and where love and lust are as natural as sunlight or mist.

Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.

–Yeats, ‘The Land of Heart’s Desire’ 1894

As such Fae make death a different thing that is less final and holds the promise of a new beginning, a possibility that is testimony to what we all long for: hope.

Älvalek by August Malmström

*Translation by Alexandra Seidel; note that this is a literal translation. The original rhyme and meter were not maintained. I would strongly encourage every reader to find a translation that keeps rhyme and meter intact, such as this one: http://poemsintranslation.blogspot.com/2010/04/goethe-elvenking-from-german.html This even gives you a passable audio version of the original German.


Alexandra Seidel has often been out in the windy night at the strangest hours. The things you see at night…! She is still not dancing with the Fae, although she is a poet and writer. Read her work at Strange Horizons, The Red Penny Papers, Cabinet des Fées, Mythic Delirium and others. Her regular reviews of the strange and beautiful want to be read at http://www.fantastique-unfettered.com. Alexandra is a poetry editor for Fantastique Unfettered and Niteblade, and in between all that, she manages to keep a blog with fairy wings: http://www.tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com

All images link to their source at Wikipedia or Goethezeitportal–lots of other awe-inspiring illustrations at the latter, too.

Fae From Afar And…Cucumbers?

Today, Alexandra Seidel on Japanese Fae–or something very like them, anyhow.

Fae From Afar And…Cucumbers?

By Alexandra Seidel

Hyakki Yako-- Night Parade With One Hundred Demons scroll. Yokai, youkai.

Suppose your average Fae creature were to emigrate, where would they go? This is, of course, a rhetorical question. I will be assuming here that they packed their bags and went for Japan, more or less straight. (With China being so big and perfectly in the way, some decided to take a shortcut. Possibly those same Fae wouldn’t ask for directions and settled somewhere in Wudang or what have you, thus forming Fae outposts in China; this will not be a topic here.)

But Japan, why would there be anything Fae-like in Japan?

Japan is traditionally the home to many deities, gods that were worshipped locally or by certain clans. This is commonly labeled Shinto and considered Japan’s indigenous religion. However, when Buddhism came to the islands in the first millennium A.D., it soon molded together with the old, becoming inseparable and thus practiced almost everywhere alongside Shinto.

The thing that reeks of Fae in all this are the creatures that are neither gods nor ghosts but something other, strange, something in this world but not of it, something quite apart from it. The Japanese term that is mostly used here is youkai (妖怪). It is translated sometimes as monster or demon or devil, but all of the above contain certain Western preconceptions of morals and values that are not quite applicable, so throughout this texts, when speaking of the Others, I will be using youkai instead.

Japan is traditionally the home to many gods. It is not surprising that the varieties of youkai one might run into when out on a stroll should be multifarious as well. I will be looking at a few examples of creatures that share similarities with ‘our’ Fae.

1) The kappa (河童)

Kappa - Toriyama SekienThe kappa is a popular creature that is documented since medieval times. The name literally means river child. This creature lives in bodies of water all over Japan. A kappa is about the size of a ten-year-old child, but nowhere near as nice. Granted, some ten-year-olds are not exactly nice either, but they wouldn’t drag anyone into their lake to drown them, would they? Kappas are known to drown people, cattle and horses to drain their blood, to steal vegetables from fields, and obviously they enjoy a game of sumou with passersby every now and then. Kappa don’t look nice either. Descriptions vary, but most agree that they are hairy, have webbed fingers and toes and a darkish green complexion. On its head, the kappa carries water from its home in a sort of  bowl. This water is the source of its considerable strength, and if you want to win a sumou match against the kappa, you bow to it. According to Japanese custom the bow has to be returned, making the water spill and the kappa weak, sometimes even to the point of immobility. Aren’t you glad that there are manners such as these?

Cucumbers are another issue with the kappa. They love them. In Japan, you really should not eat cucumbers before you go swimming in a kappa infested lake; you know, the kappa might just mistake you for a cucumber. Or it might consider you a nice wrapping for the cucumber, thinking along the lines of exotic sushi. However, feeding the kappa cucumbers with your name carved in it seems to appease it, at least for a time, and you are free to cross rivers without the fear of being drowned by some tiny, monkey like creature that smells like dead fish.

While the kappa is not a pretty horse, the creature does share some traits with the kelpie, of course. The similarity might just tell us how people have always venerated bodies of water to the point of thinking them holy that they could be feared, but thinking in terms of Fae migration just sounds more interesting.

2) The tengu (天狗)

A tengu and a Buddhist monk, by w:Kyosai.Tengu are mountain dwelling creatures, arrogant and vicious, wild and powerful. They are frequently depicted as bird or crow-like creatures with claws, elongated noses or beaks and red faces, red being the color commonly symbolizing youkai. Probably associated with their ominous bird nature is their command of winds and storms as well as their ability to appear anywhere at will. If a tengu happens to be killed or gravely wounded, they will turn into a bird, often a kestrel or a crow. In some pictures they are also depicted as monk-like creatures, possibly because they have been said to have taught monks and prominent fighters in the ways of martial arts or asceticism.

Like many other youkai, tengu are shape shifters and creators of illusions so powerful that they will cloud the senses of all but the most devout. To play out their pranks, tengu don’t mind getting all close and personal; they will often take on the form of humans to do any sort of mischief. As such, they seem almost harmless, annoying tricksters perhaps, but not that dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Among the youkai, tengu have a reputation for abducting people to their mountain abodes, often children, and holding them for weeks at a time. If the victims are released, they have been found wandering in the mountains, their minds blown to smithereens.

Later in history, tengu would actually help parents find lost children. Along with the idea of them as teachers to warriors and ascetics, tengu were thus not just evil and arrogant, but could show a merciful side, a tendency often found in other Japanese divinities and something that may have come with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan.

The tengu is also known in China, and it may have come to Japan from there.

3) Yuki-onna (雪女)

Painting of a Yuki-onna Yuki-onna is a snow maiden (or literally, snow woman). She is a real beauty, impossibly tall, white haired with skin pale as snow almost to the point of being transparent. She is known to wear a white kimono while she is out wandering in the cold.

Just like the tengu, this lady abducts children to her realm where she keeps them as her own. As if that were not enough, yuki-onna is known to kill travelers (often men) or lead them astray if she feels scorned or for no reason at all. Home invasion that results in turning the inhabitants into icicles is not unheard of either. She may also appear as a woman holding a child that she asks travelers to hold. If they do, the child rapidly grows in size until it crushes the person, or it turns them into frozen corpses. Parents who are looking for their children out in the cold are especially susceptible to this ruse, possibly a way for yuki-onna to ensure that nobody will ever bother her about the children she took.

4) Hyakkiyagyou (百鬼夜行)

Tsukumogami (付喪神, artifact spirits) from the Hyakki-Yagyō-Emaki (百鬼夜行絵巻, the picture scroll of the demons' night parade)

This is not one youkai, but many. A hyakkiyagyou is a procession of a hundred demons through the night-time city streets. This was said to happen about once a month on certain dates, which scholars would calculate and note on calendars so people could avoid being out and caught unawares. Alone the sight of a hyakkiyagyou could kill. If not, demons might blind (or do something worse to) a human onlooker for disturbing their festivities, their gathering. Stumbling into this other-world, into this world apart from ours was obviously considered a taboo that had severe consequences.

Of course there are many other youkai, and many of them like the kitsune or the tanuki play tricks on humans or even possess them. Sometimes those same youkai fall in love with a human and take on human form to be with them. The examples above, the kappa with all its similarities to kelpies, the tengu and yuki-onna who abduct people to their realm and create illusions, and then the hyakkiyagyou, a demon parade which is reminiscent of the Wild Hunt or Fae gatherings in general, are the ones that show most closely how Fae and youkai connect in how they interact with the unwary human.

Youkai are not Fae, but they are alike, emigrants or not. So if you are in Japan, don’t be a Yeats, and always be home before dark. And if you want to go for a swim, remember, no cucumbers!

Hyakki Yako-- Night Parade With One Hundred Demons scroll. Yokai, youkai.

Bibliography:

Michael Dylan Foster, Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai, University of California Press 2009

Royall Tyler, Japanese Tales, Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library, 1987

The Obakemono Project, http://www.obakemono.com/

[All images link to their source at wikimedia]


Alexandra has never made any acquaintances whatsoever with Fae or youkai or anything the like…unless you count gong fu masters. She writes of the strange though: her poems and stories can be found at
Strange Horizons, The Red Penny Papers, Cabinet des Fées and others and regular reviews of the strange and beautiful want to be read at http://www.fantastique-unfettered.com/. Alexandra is a poetry editor for Fantastique Unfettered and Niteblade, and in between all that, she manages to keep that blog with claws: http://www.tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com

Welcome!

It’s the first night of Fae Awareness Month!

I know what you’re thinking. “Really? The fae? As in fairies? Tinkerbell? Okay, she kind of copped an attitude, but these little guys can hardly present the threat to humanity that zombies, vampires, and other Awareness Month critters do…”

You’ve been reading Yeats, haven’t you?

Yes, my friends, the fae are scary, and it’s our intention to raise awareness of this fact. Oh, they can be benevolent when it suits them, and we’ll have ample evidence of that this month, too. But we couldn’t endorse making any deals with them, and suggest that you refrain from making them angry.

While a single month is too little time to cover the depth and breadth of the fae the world over, it’s at least enough time to make a decent start. Fae Awareness Month blog posts consist of movie reviews–both of the movies we all plan to watch together on given days and of bonus movies not on the list, book reviews, stories, academia, cultural explorations, and all other manner of awareness-raising activities. If you have a favorite fae, a movie, a book, a legend, an experience you’d like to share, leave a comment, send an email, let us know. Drop us links to your favorite resource sites, stories, and magazines. Make yourself at home.

Like Puck says in tonight’s movie, we’re pretty hopeless as a species. But at least with proper awareness, we might stumble through mortality a little more safely.

Ängsälvor by Nils Blommér 1850

Ängsälvor (Fairies of the Medow) by Nils Blommér, 1850 // Source: Wikipedia

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