The Fair Folk and the Jinn

fairy ring

I recently subscribed to John Beckett‘s ‘Under the Ancient Oaks’ newsletter, and was very interested to see a link to a Spirit Box podcast by Darragh Mason Field. Darragh is an award-winning photographer, who has – amongst other things – taken a lot of photos of sites associated with Jinn.

In his podcast, Darragh discusses “Folklore, Magick and the Spirit World’; two of the episodes discuss the similarities between the Irish Sidhe and the Jinn of the Middle East.

The first is just a basic introduction to the topic, while the second is a much longer discussion with Morgan Daimler, a well-known authority on the Fair Folk. This one is particularly interesting, with both Darragh and Morgan being surprised at the extent of overlap, and it’s hard not to conclude by the end that the Irish Sidhe and the Jinn are in fact the same people.

They don’t discuss the Tylwyth Teg of Wales, except in passing, but I found this conversation to be particularly exciting because it confirms the argument I made here that the Coraniaid of the the Mabinogion, and the Tylwyth Teg of later Welsh myth, represented two successive waves of Jinn migrating to the Island of Britain – the Welsh Triads specifically saying that they came from Asia. This fits in very nicely with the traditional lore that Gwyn ap Nudd is the lord of the Fair Folk. I concluded that while Islam acknowledged the Jinn and granted them a role and legal rights, Christianity excluded them and called them evil.

All of this matches the material that Darragh and Morgan covered.  One thing I found interesting was that all of the traditions – Irish, Welsh, and Islamic – acknowledged that sex between humans and the Fair Folk/Jinn is possible, and can lead to children. I hadn’t looked at the Irish traditions in detail, though, and from what Morgan said it seems that to the Irish, this is always referred to as perilous; there seems to be no Irish equivalent of the Welsh Gwragedd Annwn, the women of the Fair Folk who choose to join human society. often bringing great gifts of magic or medical knowledge to their new family. I wonder why there is this difference?

Image credits: Fairy ring in a foggy forest by Gunnar Kullik on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons licence.

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