In numerous cultures, Fairies are small, human-like beings who inhabit Earth's forest. Many individuals are depicted as being benevolent (although sometimes mischievous) and posess magical abilities which they use to often times help their allies and hinder their enemies. In addition to folklore, fairies are also present in religions across the world. Although often times depicted as being female, male fairies also exist.
It is unknown which culture first established the belief about fairies roaming the Earth, although it is possible that they may have influence from Paganism. Most modern depictions of fairies originate from various forms of European Folklore (particularly those of Celtic, English, Germanic, and Greco-Roman cultures).
In Christianitiy, fairies are often mentioned as being either fallen angels or demons casted out from hell.
Other mythologies suggest that fairies are tiny deities, an early species of humanoid, elementals of Earth, or in darker cases, spirits of the dead.
Although differiated among cultures, most depictions of fairies are described as being tiny humanoid creatures that posess butterfly or dragonfly-like wings. Most fairies are depicted as being female, although more modern depictions suggest that there are male fairies as well. They often wear clothing consisting of objects found in nature, such as leaves or flowers.
Fairies are capable of using a number of magical powers, ranging from naturakinesis (nature manipulation) to aquakinesis (water manipulation). They often times use these powers to preserve their homes, or to subtly assist those in need. Similar to wild animals, Fairies are often described as hiding themselves from humans, and only making their presence known when it is absolutely necessary.
Fairies are often described as living in forests, often times ones that are known to have magical or supernatural properties. In some modern adaptions, they are depicted as living in realms located in different dimensions from reality.
Over numerous centuries, many heroic fairies have appeared in various forms of media.
In Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream, fairies are a group of supernatural beings who are known to meddle with human's affairs (although often times in helpful ways). They are led by the fairy king Oberon and his queen Titania, who are initially depicted as having arguments with each other but later recouncile. They send Puck to help two help to pairs of human couples truly fall in love by releasing a magical potion while they are all asleep, this backfires when he pours the potion onto the wrong pairs, and is force to fix the problem before time runs out (which he later suceeds in).
Another fairy in Shakespeare's works is Ariel from the comedy The Tempest. Ariel is the loyal servant to the play's protagonist Prospero, who freed Ariel from the evil witch Sarocax. Ariel acts a supporter throughout the play, often times lending her magic to help Prospero fool his brother and archenemy Caliban to surrender to him after he wrongfully ousting Prospero from power, expelling him to the island he resides on. At the end of the play, Prospero thanks Ariel for their help, and promises that once they return to Italy, he will free Ariel from servitude, to which Ariel is euphoric over.
Tinker Bell is an iconic fairy who appears in Peter Pan (in particular, Disney's adaption). A tinker fairy from Pixie Hollow, Tinker Bell is the loyal, but also somewhat mischievous and jealous companion of the tale's protagonist. Tinker Bell helps Peter, alongside his love interest (and Tinker Bell's former love rival) Wendy Darling and her younger brothers to defeat the villainous Captain Hook. Tinker Bell has since become one of the Walt Disney Company's mascots (alongside Mickey Mouse), and has her own movie series that tells about Tinker Bell's life before she met Peter Pan.
In the Nickelodeon cartoon series The Fairly OddParents, Cosmo and Wanda are two Fairy Godparents asignned to the show's protagonist Timmy Turner after he is being abused by his evil babysitter Vicky. They reside in a world located above the Earth called Fairyworld, and are required to grant the Godchild's wishies whenever he needs them most.
- In some cultures, Fairies are described as being mischievous at times.
- Similar to Angels, Fairies are often depicted in modern art and literature as being female, although it has been widely accepted by both folklore and media outlets that male fairies also exist.
- Two similar legendary creatures known as Pixies and Sprites are often synonmously described as being the same as fairies, however many cultures describe all three as being separate species.
- The word "fairy" has also been used as a catch-all term for magical creatures in general.