“Are you a witch, or are you a fairy?
Or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?” – Irish children’s rhyme
Poor Bridget Cleary, in 1895 she was burned alive by her husband in front of witnesses because they believed she was a ‘changeling’ a fairy substitute for the real Bridget, abducted by the fairies.
Changelings, puca’s, the banshee, the Tuatha de Danann (Irelands mythical race), the fae, I grew up with these, and I write about them now.
My first novel Cailleach~Witch tells the story of a family of women with special abilities or powers, such as healing, second sight, and communication with the other world. In Ireland they would be known traditionally as Bean Feasa meaning Wise Women. It’s a modern gothic story with paranormal elements. Inspired by Irish folklore, mythology, and the landscape I grew up in.
Fairy trees and forts (Whitethorns, and any circle of trees) are protected by law in Ireland and there’s not many people would feel comfortable with damaging as much as a twig in case it would bring them bad luck. We think we don’t believe these things but superstitions run deep. This wonderful quote illustrates this quite well…
‘While walking in Sligo in the early 1900s, WB Yeats asked an elderly man he met on the road if he believed in fairies. “I do not,” replied the man, “What do you take me for? What kind of eejit would believe in the little people or in witches and goblins and leprechauns? Don’t be ridiculous. I do not believe in them. Not at all…” There was a pause. “But they’re there,” the man concluded…’
Our rootedness in superstition and folklore is so woven in our collective experience it is largely unconscious. I needed minimal research before writing the book and was pleasantly surprised to find support for every idea I’d included. Even with artistic license of fantasy it would make you wonder. The latent knowledge that lies inside us and might never be brought forth. Where did it come from?
Among the characters in my novel are otherworld creatures but also humans with close ties to the otherworld. There are people with what you might call ‘the look.‘ Much like some people remind me of birds there are some I would call fairy people, a look, but also a vibe, a ‘way of going on,’ which is a definition of culture in itself is it not? My idea of what they are is almost certainly not mine at all.
Stories, imagination, popular culture and our subconscious all play a part. Check my list below, I’ve adapted it from some of my characters and from the stories of my youth. See if you are or you know a fairy woman or a man. Word to the wise, elf on the shelf it isn’t…
‘The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.’ – W.B. Yeats
13 Signs You’re One of the Fae…
- You’re tall and slight of build with sharp features.
- You have black, red, or fair hair.
- You have small intense eyes.
- You’re ‘different’ in many ways, indefinable, eccentric, aloof.
- More still than quiet, with an intense quality/presence.
- Your favourite mode of transport is mist and your movements are both awkward and graceful.
- You feel more affinity with landscape and elements than people.
- You don’t quite fit and it shows.
- Lover of art, music, dance, and beauty.
- Free spirit.
- Both youthful and ancient.
- Lover of trees.
- Shy, kind, but with a cool/detached streak, possibly playful, and wise…
Does this sound like you or anyone you know?
If this is a subject that speaks to your soul you will enjoy my gothic fantasy novel Cailleach~Witch. It’s available now on Amazon. You can find it HERE And if you’ve read this far, thank you. Perhaps you’d like a FREE story, a re-telling of Rapunzel from the witches point of view. Get it HERE
~ Readers Love Cailleach~Witch (The Cleary Witches Book 1) ~
‘This is genre-bending stuff, that weaves together fantasy, fairy-tale and Gothic to deliver a fast-paced, atmospheric thriller. As with many Irish writers (e.g. John McGahern, who incidentally comes from the same county as Jane) the sense of place and tradition is very strong. The atmosphere is broody and foreboding, while the plot moves quickly, forward and backwards through time, with many unexpected twists and turns. I was reminded more than once of Daphne du Maurier, especially Jamaica Inn: Cailleach too creates a beautiful and desolate setting for love, tragedy and maybe a new beginning.’
‘A tale of magic, forbidden love and a family curse. Reading this book I was swept away to a dark mountain in the west of Ireland where the Cailleach lives. This is a beautifully told story of three sisters who must return to the home of their aunts where they have to break free from the curse of the Cailleach. An enchanting read of forbidden love, family secrets and dark magic. It was hard to put down and come back to the real world. The story had me under it’s spell right until the very end.’
‘Spellbinding, unconventional storyline spread acrossa group of strong women and across generations. Dark, light, complicated. Honestly the most refreshing story I’ve read in ages. If you like something a little different in your pot of fairytales, this is for you.’
‘This book is a spell – a spell cast with a deep understanding of humanity, its relationship to nature and to women who embody the power of difference. It is not a singular story, it is a multiple of lives woven together to compose a larger story and the author has done this weaving with great dexterity.
What people are saying about Cailleach~Witch on Amazon…