Sparkle Schoolhouse
All About Fairies

All About Fairies

“Fairies are characters that are only partially of this world. They carry form and speak like you and I – but they clearly have a direct tie to the divine. They sometimes feature as classic fairies with little shimmering wings – most it is more common for a them to appear as the little gray man, the wise old woman, the talking goose or fox, the animated gas lamp or a brave little ant. They are the helpers – the ones who deliver the advice or secret that helps our prince or princess find their way out of a bind and into a life of riches, property and happy marriage.”

If you have been listening to Sparkle Stories for a while, you have likely noticed a lot of talk about fairies and magical creatures. Fairies have been showing up in stories since the middle ages. Originating as nymphs in Greek Mythology, magical creatures have shown up throughout European literature ever since. In many stories, fairies are central characters who struggle with something in the natural world. They wrestle with their feelings, or work out conflicts with other fairies. In other stories, fairies show up as magical beings that explain the unexplained. But whenever something magical is in a story, there is always the chance that a child will ask…

🧚‍♂️What is a fairy – REALLY?🧚‍♂️

The answer is pretty simple – and still very wondrous!

When we experience the magical side of nature — the shimmering, incredible mystery of nature … we personify the dynamics as fairies.

Like so many “imaginary” parts of childhood, there exists a tension between the world of the creative child and the realistic adult. At some point these things must be reconciled. But that doesn't mean we stop believing! Belief in fairies isn’t only for children. Sometimes we just need to remember how to imagine. My children know that I believe in fairies — because I do.

How to Talk to Fairies

When I walk alone through the forest, it is not uncommon for me to “sense” the presence of something that I cannot see or hear. When this happens, I lean into it. I will close my eyes, engage my imagination, and happily “converse” with what I am feeling. I give it form in my imagination – often as a little magical person. Sometimes winged, sometimes with colorful clothes, sometimes with a stately beard, sometimes with crazy long locks of golden or coal-black hair. I give the feeling form and I allow the form to have a voice. And then I talk to it.

If I just lost you – hang in there. It is actually not as esoteric as you think.

The truth is, I “feel” things all the time – and I bet you do too. I never feel truly alone. I always feel surrounded in life. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t experience dozens of great ideas for stories, projects, businesses, witty things to say. I feel whispered qualities of energy whenever I take a moment to feel them. They are always and everywhere.

A Little Fairy Magic for Humans

As human beings, we naturally see the world through a very specific lens: the human lens. And since human beings understand everything through our senses, we then “make sense” of what we see, hear, taste, and smell … and this results in our understanding being naturally very human-focused. We say a mountain “sits” because human beings sit. We say that trees “stand” because human beings stand.

Therefore, when we experience the magical side of nature — the shimmering, incredible mystery of nature … we personify the dynamics as fairies.

Here are some of the classic varieties of fairies and the natural elements (and mysteries!) they represent.

Air Fairies

airfairy blog

Air fairies – or pixies or sylphs – explain the wonder of ideas. When I know the answer to a problem, when I suddenly end a story perfectly, when I know what someone else is thinking – it is usually an air fairy that is telling me its secrets.

Air Fairies are like the wind — they change. They embody and personify the quicksilver variability of nature. When a cloudy sky suddenly clears or a wind comes out of nowhere or you hear the inspiring sound of leaves rattling overhead, air fairies are at work.

In the growth cycle of a plant, air fairies inspire the plant to push out leaves and flower. Imagine what that must feel like as a plant — that opening and breathing out. That is a key part of what air fairies bring — the opening and breathing out. The feeling of wonder and delight.

Seeing “air fairies” in your children:

  • The quick moving, ever-changing, butterfly nature of children can be equated with the influence of air fairies. Again, think of the weather — one moment bright, the next moment cloudy. You never really know. This quality is a gift of air fairies.

  • So when experiencing your children and others through the lens of the fairy world, pay close attention to the “opening” quality in plants — when plants blossom. Look for that wonder, the bubbling imagination, and the puppy-like delight in everything. That is where you will find air fairies.

Stream our playlist of stories all about air fairies here.

Water Fairies

waterfairy blog

Water fairies – or nymphs or undines – explain the wonder of feelings. When I suddenly am washed with love for a complete stranger, when I get a shiver of regret when I reach for a second piece of pie, when I remember to relax before speaking – I can thank a water fairy for their influence.

Water fairies are much less changeable but far more curious. I say curious because they tend to behave in a very consistent, steady manner … until provoked.

Water Fairies are like water — they tend to seek their own level. Imagine a lake: placid, deep, full of abundance, contained. This is the most common gesture attributed to water fairies — they are satisfied and calm.

This is apparent in the growth cycle of a plant where the water fairies influence the rhythmic up and down nature of the stem, bringing water and nutrients up from the roots and into the leaves and flowers and fruits. Steady and dependable. Simple. No nonsense.

And all of this would indeed remain steady and calm, were it not for a very important quality in water fairies: they are capable of great drama when provoked. Think of all the stories of the water nixies sinking ships and capturing sea captains. Now think of sea surges or tidal waves or intense flooding. Water can be very dangerous — and it is the same water that moments before was sitting peacefully and calmly before you. This dichotomy is key with water fairies.

Seeing “water fairies” in your children:

Think about snack time and your child is savoring every bite of that apple or buttered toast. That kind of presence and calmness and satisfaction is the home of the water fairies. Conversely, the hesitance to move or hurry or get going is also a sign that water fairies are at work. They like to stay in their pond. So keep your eyes open for when your children “seek their own level” and be prepared for moments that those water fairies are provoked … because a tidal wave might be coming.

To hear more about these changeable beings, stream the Water Fairies Storybox Playlist.

earthfairy blog

Earth Fairies

Earth fairies – or gnomes – explain the wonder of the physical world. When lost things are found, when I discover a marble in the garden, when a perfectly orange leaf falls at my feet. These are all, in my view, the influence of earth fairies.

Gnomes, our most famous fairy folk, are indeed the hard workers they are reported to be. Like dwarves in the center of the Lonely Mountain, they spend long hours mining and polishing and storing and then back to mining. They are concrete and realistic, but they are still capable of having a little fun — especially with practical jokes!

Earth Fairies are like the rocks under our feet. They are solid, dependable, serious, and occasionally difficult. They rule all that is underground and for this reason, they govern the roots of the plant. Winter is considered their season because it is during this season that the rest of the plant is dormant or non-existent. The roots, meanwhile, are alive and well.

Seeing “Earth Fairies” in your children:

Whenever you see a rocky disposition, whether it manifests in confident resolve or stubborn resistance, earth fairies are near. Children who are listening to the whispers of gnomes will be aware of their bodies — especially the heaviness of their bodies. It can literally look like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders — like they are lifting a sack full of challenges or tasks or responsibilities. It can be challenging to relate to a child who is heavily influenced by earth fairies, but sympathy can go a long way. “Oh, that must be very difficult,” you say. “You are carrying so much!”

Your child will likely nod gratefully and then continue to carry on — for a gnome’s work is never done!

For more, visit the Earth Fairies Storybox Playlist.

firefairy blog

Fire Fairies

Fire fairies – or salamanders – are all about change. From forest fires to cooking soup - from changing clothes to changing a life path – from moments of growth to moments of transformation – you can count on a fire fairy is aflame nearby.

The fire folk are the flashiest of fairies! Where there is a brightly-colored flower or butterfly, where there is a shock of lightning, where there is a rainbow or fireflies or sparkling light on the surface of a river, there are fire fairies. They are connected to the sun’s light and warmth and wherever they go, they bring the power of transformation.

Consider fire. It is the ultimate transformer. Whether the flame consumes a twig or a piece of paper or a barn, fire will very quickly transform that twig or paper or barn into a pile of ashes. On a much smaller level, fire fairies are present when you have a “spark” of inspiration or a sudden idea (light bulb over your head). You are suddenly transformed with a new way of seeing the world. Thank you fire fairies!

Fire Fairies are like the sun from which they come. They carry warmth and light. They often express that warmth and light in flashes and flickers and sparkles. In the natural world, they are manifest whenever transformation takes place — like when a flower transforms into a fruit, or a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. They rule springtime when the natural world is coming back to life. A lot of fire fairies are needed to wake the earth up and transform dormant roots into growing plants again.

Seeing “Fire Fairies” in your children:

We all know when our children are influenced by fire fairies because they are full of energy and inspiration. Often their eyes are wide, they have big smiles and they are excited about something ahead. When fire fairies are near, so are ideas, enthusiasm, movement, and change. Fire fairies love courage and curiosity — anything that takes your child to a new threshold.

Explore the Fire Fairies Storybox Playlist for more!

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Fairy Recipes and Crafts

We've gathered our best fairy crafts and recipes, along with each fairy story playlist over the past 10 years. If you find yourself inspired and your family makes a fairy craft or food, do share with us what you've made and what fairies you've found in your neck of the world!

Sparkle Kitchen Round Up: Let's Make Fairy Food! Make fairy food with one of the or all of the four elements!


Sparkle Crafts Round Up: Let's Make Fairy Houses so the Fairies Will Come! Try building a fairy house so the fairies will come to your home! You'll be surprised how often they visit.


Fairy Stories

Listen to all of our fairy themed playlists. You find out quickly what fairies call to you and maybe what fairy you are like too!


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About the Author

David Sewell McCann

Story Spinner

David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.

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