Another in the excellent series “Pagan Portals” of short well-written and researched introductory Pagan books. Pagan Portals books are short but include valuable information and insight and bibliographies to follow up in greater depth.
Simina explores the parallels between the stories of the Fair Folk in two widely separated European cultures – Romania and Ireland. She is careful to address the cultural differences and to stress that although she believes that both sets of folklore and beliefs are talking about the same general underlying phenomena, each culture which has lore about the fae will see them somewhat differently and will deal with them in somewhat different ways, in tune with the needs of that culture. I was intrigued to see work dealing with eastern Europe – far too much neo-Pagan writing assumes that the British Isles, the USA, and maybe ancient Greece and Italy are the whole world.
The cautions about cultural difference being said, however, she sees a great number of parallels in the ways that these two peoples see, experience, and approach the fairies and she explored them in short chapters each of which provides a fascinating taste of the lore. These are not the sparkly New Age fae but powerful and sometimes dangerous creatures whose dealings with human beings are governed by their rules and not only the humans’.
I was particularly interested in her discussion in chapters 4 and 5; “Fairies’ Connection to Natural Features and Phenomena” “The majority among the Romanian fairies have strong nature associations. The lore abounds in examples of fairies specifically known for their roles involving seasons, natural elements, landscape features, and places.” (31) and “From Gods to Fairies” and chapter 8 on “The Slua Sí, the Wild Hunt, and the Sântoaderi” but there is quite a range of other material that she introduces. As with all of the Pagan Portals books I’ve seen, my frustration is not with the quality of the work, which is very good, but that I want much more in-depth treatment of it, which is sort of the point, really!
She gives numerous specific examples from both sets of folklore. The 54 references in the bibliography plus her discussion in each chapter of her primary sources did point me to places to follow up and continue to learn, should I wish. An interesting book, a thoughtful introduction. Anyone interested in cross-cultural and comparative Paganisms would enjoy this book.
~review by Samuel Wagar
Author: Daniela Simina
Moon Books, 2023
96 pg. Paperback £9.99 / $17 Can / $12.95 US