A fairy, also spelled faerie, is a mythical creature from European folklore. Often they are seen as spirits of the forest, depicted as small human-like figures with the wings of a butterfly or other insect.
Fairies are thought to be magical folk, usually with a strong connection to nature. They are typically shown as small, though there is quite a range in size over various legends. Sometimes they are the size of a small mammal or bird, other times they may be as large as a human child. Historically, fairies are shown to be fly using many various methods, from magical ragwort stems (used as a witch would use a broom) to riding on the backs of birds. In modern times, fairies are most often depicted with insect wings, most frequently those of the butterfly. The origin of today’s fairies is a combination of folklore and legends from many different backgrounds and cultures, including Celtic, Germanic, and Greek and Roman elements, as well as other pre-Christian belief systems. They are variously described as mischievous, or occasionally malicious, but in more modern times fairies are more likely to be portrayed as playful, spritely, and curious. Many folkloric characters are associated with fairies, including pixies, which are typically more childlike, and the Tuatha de Danann and Aos Si of Irish and Scottish mythology. Fairies’ association with nature has led many natural phenomenon to be attributed to them, such as the “fairy ring”, which is a term used to describe a circle of mushrooms that grows in forests or grassy areas. According to legend, these rings spring up in areas where fairies have been dancing, and are associated both with good and bad fortune.