I LOVE fairy tales. I always have, I always will. As a child, and now in adulthood, I will devour any book involving any mention of fairies. My teenager and I bond over our collection of fairy tale themed book (Holly Black is a favorite) so needless to say when I was notified of fae in our yard, she was very shocked to find my reaction more annoyed than excited. I dare say on the verge of angry.
Okay, fiiiiine, I was mad. Like someone just parked in my assigned parking spot mad.
Let me back track. I come from a Romani upbringing, and I knew from day one, we did not bring the fae home. “Keep the fairies in your books” my father would tell me. You did not humor them, you did not honor them, you looked the other way when you came across them. “Roma do not like the fae” I was told, “Roma and fae do not mix”
Now, I do not speak for all the Romani in the world when I say we do not like or work with the fae. But this was an old family law that was so strictly enforced, I never, except in the full rebellion of my teenage years, did I ever second guess.
And the times teenage me was bold enough to mess with the fae, I woke up to my hair knotted with mud (This is a story for another day) Needless to say, I learned.
Our current story all started with my daughter requesting to speak to the ancestors, not something she had ever requested before. After a discussion through the pendulum, they confirmed what she expect, the fae had moved in. Not just moved in, but were quite happy and flourishing in their new tree (this specific tree had not grown the previous years we lived here. But after the fae moved in, the branches have grown so much, they almost touch the ground)
Feeling really confident in what my -Romani- ancestors were going to say, I was already mentally figuring out the type of wards I would need to get rid of these pesky neighbors. Only to be thrown off course when the ancestors were adamant about letting them stay, and even more so about being good neighbors.
I grumbled and had some fiery words with the pendulum board, but in the end I didn’t chase them out. I explained guidelines to my teenager, and I made it very clear that they must stay out of the house. I swore “If they screw with my house, And if I have to reset the wards, I swear I’m going to ward that damn tree as well.”
The following weeks found me a very reluctant team player. I would make empty threats while starring angrily at the tree through my kitchen window as I washed the baby’s bottles. I huffed every morning my daughter opened our back door to MORE gifts. I even moved our household guardian (we call her the Night Witch) and her altar to the kitchen so someone could keep an eye on our new neighbors. Eventually, after a discussion with my friend, I finally fully accepted that they were here to stay. Not before I walked out to the tree and had a discussion about boundaries.
Now that I’ve gotten over my initial anger at my uninvited guests (and since have had MORE fae moved in) I’ve had quite a few opportunities to think about that old family law: The Romani and the fae do not mix.
And I have to wonder, is that really our fault rather than the fae? The Roma were constantly forced to move from one place to the next, or the penalty was death. It’s not like they were ever welcome into the heart of each new village or town they came across, and more often than not (at least in my family) they settled out on the countryside wherever they could find a safe space. I can only imagine how disrupting my ancestors presence could have had on the local fae. It makes me wonder if our negative attitude toward them was more from resentment for the treatment we received for being bad neighbors? Even more interesting is our tradition of thanking or leaving gifts for the local nature spirits, a huge contrast to our no fae rule (It never occurred to me till recently how similar “nature spirits” and the fae were) Or, even crossing over to our family’s Heathen beliefs, we honor the spirits of the land as well. Needless to say there were a number of contradictions in our traditions that I never noticed till now.
And thanks to the intervention on my ancestors part (as well as some insightful points made by a good friend about my also part Scottish children) that aggravated attitude towards fae will end with me. I so strongly identify as Romani, despite being Heathen, I often need to be reminded that my family’s traditions are a collections of more than just one ancestry. I often default to the Romani beliefs and rules I was taught before thinking of the other part of our family’s traditions and connections with nature. As a mother of a few heathens, and a growing witch, I can’t help but worry about holding my children back from exploring the other side of their non Roma family. As parents, the best we can do is evolve and progress, right?
Ironically, now with the world the way it is, and the trouble times without an expiration date, I found myself grateful for neighbors just as invested in keeping our space safe.
While I don’t plan on moving the Night Witch from the kitchen any time soon, I have grumbled less and congratulated my daughter on her latest gift (seriously, who gets gifted tumbled quartz??) Though it’s small steps towards progression, at least I can show my kid that even I can admit when outdated family views need rewriting.
I LOVE fairy tales. I always have, I always will. As a child, and now in adulthood, I will devour any book involving any mention of fairies. My teenager and I bond over our collection of fairy tale themed book (Holly Black is a favorite) so needless to say when I was notified of fae […]