Faeries and Fungi

Today I thought I’d write a little bit about faeries and fungi. I’ve long been fascinated with fungi – often bright little splashes of colour popping up in woodlands, hedgerows and grassy fields. Sometimes they appear alone, sometimes in groups, or of course some as faery rings!

Little Shaggy Ink Cap









Like old gnarled trees, it seems mushrooms too have a watchful presence over their habitat. I think this is why my art often features mushrooms such as my Grumpy Waxcap and Woodland Amanita amongst others. I feel with these that while we may not always see them sitting there with their faces so clearly visible, we can sometimes catch a glimpse and get a clear sense of their personalities if we are observant enough!

In my paintings I aim to reveal their personalities. Often I think mushrooms do look rather grumpy but I think they are often just very serious about the roles they have or think they have such as guarding a particular tree. Many mushrooms do have very close relationships with trees and are essential for their survival, helping them to gain nutrients from the soil.

Flay agaric mushroom in woodland

I think other faeries are drawn to fungi too and find many different uses for them – whether for simple seats and other furnishings or as decorative hats. This is reflected in the names some fungi are given such as parasol, Goblet Waxcap, Dryad’s Saddle, Green Elfcup and Elfin Saddle.

Wax cap mushroom painting

Names of other fungi indicating faery association include Old Man of the Woods, Brownie, Fairy Inkcap and of course Fairy Ring Champignon. Many Types of mushroom form rings, often said to be places where faeries gather to dance or sometimes places where their villages are hidden away. It would be so tempting I’m sure to join in any faery revelries you might catch sight of but there are so many tales of humans stepping into faery rings and only with difficulty escaping lest they become trapped for years, used as slaves by the faeries or being entranced to dance until the point of exhaustion or madness. They are said to be especially dangerous on Beltaine or Halloween. Even if someone is rescued, they may find they have been gone for many mortal years and on their return crumble to dust… Apparently, some protection is offered by wearing a hat backwards. I’m not sure why wearing clothes backwards is often found to be a form of protection from faeries – does it confuse or amuse them into distraction?

So do be wary of crossing into faery rings unless you have your backwards hat and remember these wise words from Shakespeare


If you see a fairy ring

In a field of grass,

Very lightly step around,

Tiptoe as you pass;

Last night fairies frolicked there,

And they’re sleeping somewhere near.

If you see a tiny fay

Lying fast asleep,

Shut your eyes and run away,

Do not stay or peep;

And be sure you never tell,

Or you’ll break a fairy spell.

Springtime Goblin


Springtime goblin

This grinning faery says his name is Hegley in the Hedge. He is a springtime goblin who appeared to me other day after I was feeling very relieved to get something that was causing much anxiety out of the way.  I just had to paint him!

He is a faery of relief and that joyful laughter that bubbles up with it. Dwelling in hedgerows he helps the first little spring green leaves appear in hedges  All who see them feel joy and relief that the cold winter and long nights are fading and spring is on the way!

Winter Weather and Churnmilk Peg

So the sun is finally here! Looking out of my window right now, I can’t see a single cloud.  I just can’t remember the last time that happened! And along with it some much more seasonal frosty air. It hasn’t been cold at all recently but it has rained and rained!
So many spring flowers have made an appearance. Hedges everywhere are filled with new leaves, buds and catkins. I hope there are still plenty of things waiting to spring up when spring really DOES arrive! I’ve just walked round the garden – it’s late afternoon and there is still a lot of frost on the ground – I’ve seen primroses, snow bells, hellebores and lots of honeysuckle still in flower but no faeries. I’m sure they are cosily tucked into burrows snuggled into dried leaves and mosses and I don’t blame them.  It was nice to feel the sun but I soon came in for a wild berry tea.  I think I should take a pot out for the faeries!

Primrose flowers


I wonder if the faeries have been busy with their springtime activities thinking it has arrived already and are now wondering why it is so cold? Hopefully they haven’t put away all their warm things, although I’m not sure if they feel cold in the same way as we do. We see and hear a lot of human behaviour in the faeries – playing music, eating and drinking, rites and rituals such as funerals and the clothes they wear.  But as has first been suggested many years ago are these just imitations of our behaviours.  Or perhaps we have adapted ideas and habits from them?

Churnmilk Peg

I’ve recently sketched a drawing of Churnmilk Peg.  She is a guardian faery like the Lunantisidhe that I drew previously that guard blackthorn bushes. Churnmilk Peg though guards unripe nuts. Another name for her is the Acorn Lady. Oak trees are my very favourite – they always have such a presence to them.  Perhaps some of that comes from Peg watching out for these trees. She comes from Yorkshire and in other parts of the country there are other faeries like Melch Dick who perform a similar role. Whilst not pinching at little fingers gathering nuts, she whiles away her time smoking a pipe. Peg and Melch also watch over orchards where they have been known to terrify apple thieves!

Churnmilk Peg faery sketch

From spring to autumn, when she is active – watch out for a little wisp of smoke from her pipe and avoid gathering nuts from nearby trees!

I hear there is more rain on the way so hope you and all the faeries keep warm and dry until we next see the sun!

Lunantisidhe the Blackthorn Faery


Drawing of a Lunantisidhe blackthorn faery

The other day, I saw a group of Lunantisidhe amongst the blackthorn bushes, but I was careful to stay out of sight as I sketched one as they are not the friendliest of faeries….
They are spindly and prickly and guardians of blackthorn trees. Their teeth are sharp and arms and fingers long so they can creep through the prickly branches.
They are said to be malevolent towards humans so be very wary whilst out gathering sloes…

My other faery art including sketches of faeries with their stories can be found here.

Mumpoker – An Isle of Wight Faery

This week a little goblin known as the mumpoker asked me to illustrate him. The mumpoker is another faery local to the Isle of Wight.  He is known to creep up on noisy, screaming children and steal them away! An old Island saying states “If you don’t gee off squinnyen (fretting and crying), wold mumpoker ‘ill come aater ye”!

Mumpoker an Isle of Wight faery