Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A to Z: Fairy

One of the things I've wanted to talk about from the start of this blog is why I've chosen to represent my female side with a fairy. I'm going to try and cover this without getting embarrassed and thus missing bits out. In that frame of mind I want to talk about something a little out of scope in order to clarity how I don't feel.  

Otherkin
For some of you this might not be a new concept, but for those who don't understand here's a brief description from wiki;

Otherkin are a community of people who see themselves as partially or entirely non-human. They contend that they are, in spirit if not in body, not human.

In essence it encompasses anyone who believes that they are in some way, something not completely human; this includes not only those who feel they are animals, both real and mythical, along with more extensive fantasy tropes such as angels, demons, elves, and yes, fairies. It normally takes the form of the soul of said animal or creature being trapped inside the body of a human. 

Firstly, I am not going to be making any judgements on the topic; simply put I don't want to insult anyone or provoke an argument. Secondly, while the concept of otherkin has roots in native american totem iconography, zodiac signs and western fairy tails the subculture has only really come into it's own in the past 20 years, stimulated by the internet and the ability for these groups to communicate and support each other. And as anything online there is a lot of drama around it; especially covering rights to expression, and how ridiculous many people perceive it. There might also be something to the fact that many of the the current advocates and opposition are in the 16-25 age group and, it could be argued, that they are somewhat prone to melodramatic outbursts.
NB: A 7 point, or fairy star; a common otherkin symbol. Also happens to be quiet pretty.

Suffice to say, I do not count myself as otherkin, I do not believe that I am really a fairy, in any capacity and I don't believe fairies are real (as interesting as that might be). I wanted to clarify that early on to avoid anything I say being misconstrued.

Fairy vs fae
There are many kinds of fairy, each with their own history and array of varying aspects that have developed over time. They share many common themes and history but each version is slightly different. The two groups that I want to look at are Fairies, and Fae. There doesn't seem to be a distinct descriptive difference between these two groups, they share a common source; mostly related to either the land and/or unexplained things happening (sometimes inducing illness and death). However to me there is quite a clear conceptual difference.

The concept of fairies as tricksy, cunning and generally untrustworthy beings likely comes from the original  source version, which are very different to the fairies that often come to mind today. Personally I've never really liked this interpretation (as much as I do see it as the actually entomology), I tend to think of these traits being related more to the word fae rather than fairy.
In the early 20th century a new vision of fairy lore was forming, based on things like The Coming of the Fairies by Arthur Conan Doyle (and accompanying "Cottingley Fairies" images) and the famous Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker. It hinted at a gentler, passive nature, as well as introducing wings as a key element. Over the years these themes have developed into what I think of as a new subset of the fairy mythos.

This said, I don't think of these new fairies to be devoid of all negative connotations, just those which results in illness and death; leaving overall kind beings who possess a sense of humour who will sometimes play tricks on people. And while I do think this creates a deeper, more interesting concept than being devoid of this "playful" side it isn't the elements of fairies that I personally like.

Keeping in mind what I said about otherkin, and how I'm not one of them, there are certain fairy like traits (and via extension, things that fairies represent) that speak to me, and that I would like to be more in tune with.

Kindness
As I alluded to in the previous section I prefer to think of fairies as generally kind and compassionate beings; they will likely chose to help you, but might do so in a rather odd, and not directly helpful way. Now obviously being kind has nothing to do with gender; I try my best to be nice to people and help people out whenever I can, so I'm doing what I can on that front.

Grace & Beauty
One of the most interesting (and enticing) traits common in (modern) fairies is their graceful nature and otherworldly beauty; this was really formed in the Victorian era, and has been pushed further by more modern interpretations.

I have always liked the way ballet flows, how the moves and positions can seamlessly blend together to create smooth, fluid motion which does create a strange otherworldly beauty. Given the chance I would have liked to have studied ballet, just not the male version therefore of (I have been told there isn't much  distinction until you get quite far, and then it's more about building upper body strength for lifts and flexibility rather than pointe work, which frankly is what I'd really love to do (yes I am crazy), also the men don't get to wear tutus which is just unfair).
Merging the two concepts, I do picture fairies moving in the same kind of ways ballet flows, not so much the particulars of the steps and positions, but more the smooth flow; how differing motions seem to glide into a singular motion, often followed by a pause before the next motion begins, this creates a smooth, soft, almost passive nature. I expect having (real) wings would give one more control over movement and make these kinds of things easier.

As for beauty, I think most people wish they were more attractive than they are, there is an argument that humans tend to perceive themselves as more attractive than others perceive them, which does suggest there is truth in in initial argument; therefore I believe the desire to possess beauty (however one defines it) is ubiquitous and unrelated to transgender issues, however it may compound negative emotions related to beauty. Obviously if I had complete control over my appearance I would most likely chose to appear as a rather attractive woman, but since everyone has their own perception of beauty it is hard to really convey. If I had to, I guess I'd have to say it's a natural, simple beauty which (annoying) can't really be faked by make-up.

Mystery & Curiosity
Fairies have always been mysterious in nature, going back to their original routes as the cause of unexplainable events, however they are also often represented as curious, yet shy beings. Intrigued by the new and unknown (traditionally humans). Shyness, and mystery are two concepts that are often again linked with beauty, I won't go into that again (see above) however when including curiosity there is a crossover with almost cat like traits, I've always been a cat person and in fact have been told that I possess come cat like traits on occasion. I'm not sure what else to put here since (on reflection) I think these concepts are tied so much into the perception of beauty that I'm not convinced I can convey more here.

Freedom
By far the most interesting thing I find in fairies are wings, and with wings comes freedom which is, trying not to be overly melodramatic, something I long for. You might have picked it up from other posts, but I don't feel like I can really be myself. I feel like the person I wear on the outside is a fa├žade (meaning face, rather than fake which has somewhat entered the vocabulary via the stage and film). It's not that the person you see isn't me, it is, it's just not all of me. Everyone keeps something behind, something hidden that only some people ever get to see; some people however keep more hidden away than others.
Unsurprisingly then I picture the avatar of this of this person / being I want to become has having wings. This is probably the biggest reason I chose this metaphor; it could have been a bird of some kind (a peacock for instance) but it didn't speak to me as much as a fairy did, probably because they are humanoids ... and easier to draw.

A note about other people
There have been several people in my life that have helped me along the way, two in particular have helped me shape this feeling. They might know it, they might not. I'm not going to name names directly because it's kind of unfair to call people out. I suspect one of them hasn't even read this, anyone who knows me relatively well probably guess who that is however.

A school friend of mine, someone who had always been interesting, kind, and somewhat crazy. She embodied some of the things I wanted to be, being both a ballet dancer and a fairy lover. She has a freeness of spirit and openness unseen in others her age. We sort of dated for a while, however I left for university and we decided a long distance relationship wasn't going to work and parted ways. Since then we've fallen out of touch, I do miss her friendship. She showed me that someone in our generation, in my social circle could not only accept, but embrace this part of me.

On reflection that paragraph sounds kinda wrong, I didn't like her because she was the person I wanted to be, she possessed some of the traits I define as beautiful, and considering the fact that I want to have these traits myself there in the correlation lies.

The other person I know reads this blog (or at least she had done in the past) I think she helped me more than she knows, being there to help me buy things off ebay that I couldn't really get delivered to my parents house, being supportive about my larp plans (to play a fairy, as I will go into in another post), and also giving me the excuse (and facility) to crossdress in public for the first time. You might not remember it much but I do, it really helped me get to where I am now, (that sounds like a sideways compliment I know but I have come quite far!).

I hope you do pick up on the fact that I am talking about you (yes, you!) because I've always wanted to say thank you, but have lacked the social skills (and somewhat the opportunity ) to do so. So thank you, she who must not be named (because I'm too embarrassed. (also yes for the keen eyed of you that is a harry potter reference from me, I feel somewhat ill now. I blame Izzy)).

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