What is a "fey"?

Rusty Neon

Hi folks ... I'm curious what a 'fey' is. I don't have the Fey Tarot deck and my google.com searches have proved fruitless.

Is a 'fey' the same thing as a fairy? (In this regard, I note that the French word for 'fairy' is 'fée' (pronounced 'fay').


P.S. Interestingly, in Eastern Quebec, just outside Ottawa, there is a lake called Lac des Fées.


you are correct. There are many variations on the spelling of fey, as well as meanings. But these are the little winged peoples from another world. I like the spelling that was choosen. Since it is not the common spelling it reflects the fact that these are not the common faries.


The first time I came across the word "fey," spelled like this, it referred to a character in a book who was odd in a wild, "fairy-touched" sort of way, as if she had been enchanted. Originally, I think the word did mean a person was actually enchanted by the fairies -- or was him- or herself a fairy.

The title being spelled in this way was one of the things that initially drew me to this deck -- before I even saw the artwork. I consider myself rather a fey person, ever since I first read that book.

-- Kyrielle


I always loved the origin story for the Fey where Eve is washing her children but then hears Jehovah approaching and the unwashed children from his sight so that he wouldn't be offended by the sight of them. He asks her if all of her children are present, she says yes, he asks again, she says yes, and he says that the children she hid from him will be forever hidden from the sight of men and became the Fey.

This also coincides with the whole "third road" idea of the fey that they are separate from the war between heaven and hell. Supposedly at armageddon they will melt into dew.

The third road idea also coincides with the theory of a third sex and might have something to do with with why gay folks get called fey.

I think that the fey being separate from the polarized angel/demon pantheon makes perfect sense. Even when the fey are divided between the Seelie and Unseelie courts they aren't easily defined as good or evil and both sides are known for their benevolent and malevolent acts.

For this reason I really liked the characterization of the Devil in the deck being a devourer rather than the Arch-Villain of the Major Arcana.


shade- from where does that story come from?


Peter Pan act 1

When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of faeries.

shade loved your stories.


From bartleby.com :

ADJECTIVE: 1a. Having or displaying an otherworldly, magical, or fairylike aspect or quality: “She's got that fey look as though she's had breakfast with a leprechaun” (Dorothy Burnham). b. Having visionary power; clairvoyant. c. Appearing touched or crazy, as if under a spell. 2. Scots a. Fated to die soon. b. Full of the sense of approaching death.

ETYMOLOGY: Middle English feie, fated to die, from Old English fge.

feyness —NOUN

WORD HISTORY: The history of the words fey and fay illustrates a rather fey coincidence. Our word fay, “fairy, elf,” the descendant of Middle English faie, “a person or place possessed of magical properties,” and first recorded around 1390, goes back to Old French fae, “fairy,” the same word that has given us fairy. Fae in turn comes from Vulgar Latin Fta, “the goddess of fate,” from Latin ftum, “fate.” If fay goes back to fate, so does fey in a manner of speaking, for its Old English ancestor fge meant “fated to die.” The sense we are more familiar with, “magical or fairylike in quality,” seems to have arisen partly because of the resemblance in sound between fay and fey.


Ah, such information....... I can feel the new crinkles forming in my brain......

Fey..... teeny weeny angels...... don't need magnifying glasses to see them, just BELIEF!

The little being in this picture that firemaiden shared with us is really a FEY! :laugh: The Little One


Hiya Luna, that origin is the Icelandic version as told in Faeries by Briand Froud (Faeries Oracle, Good Faeries Bad Faeries) and Alan Lee (art concept for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and artist for the illustrated Mabinogian). I'm not sure about Lee's beliefs but I know Froud is a believer in the fey. He is one of the featured folks in the documentary The Faerie Faith. In the book they also talk about the fey being the spirits of unbaptised children.

Also from Faeries is the Norse origin that maggots crawling out of the dead giant Ymir became the Light Elves (happy air creatures) and Dark Elves (dark underground creatures).

I think this was one fo the best sources for the fey. I have found that folklore books (Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, Faeries, Great Encyclopedia of Fairies) are better sources of info than metaphysical texts. I did find a great series printed in Britain (Spirits of the Earth, Spirits of the Fire, Spirits of the Air, Spirits of the Water) that was good stuff but 'd still recommend studying folklore first.

Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries is pretty dense material so I wouldn't attemp tit as a book to read on luch breaks (my main reading time) but it is good reference. I haven't read it cover to cover yet but when I wanted to know more about fairies in Cornwall I turned to the specific section.


I love the folklore stories of the fey and Brian Froud's artwork is exquisite.

I have yet to get this deck, but I will be soon :) I collect all things fairy and this is on my list!