In the famous story Sleeping Beauty, a king and queen, celebrating the birth of a long-awaited royal heir, throw a festive banquet for Fairies. Each Fairy brings a blessing as a baby gift. One Fairy fails to receive an invitation. Why the invitation was never received depends upon the version of the story, but the inevitable end result is that she bestows a curse, not a blessing.
This scenario is no mere fairy tale, but a description of rituals once common throughout Europe in French, Slavic, Celtic, and other regions, as well as among the Roma (Gypsies). Birth Fairies foretell (and may bestow) a baby’s fate. They are direct descendents of the Moirae, Parcae, and other Fate goddesses.
Following a baby’s birth, it was traditional to create an offering table for these Fairies. Ritual details depend on specific spirits to whom the ritual is devoted. There will be a set number of spirits and they will arrive on schedule. Most frequently, three are anticipated, but sometimes there is only one and occasionally as many as thirteen, as in the original version of Sleeping Beauty. Usually the spirits are female, but the Roma, for instance, have male and female birth spirits.
The offering table is the crucial element. A table is laid as if for a festive meal. Fairies, the honoured, desired guests, are expected to come and dine: food and drink are offered. The table is set with individual place settings, napkins, glasses, the whole works. (Each tradition will specify how many Fairies are expected, although as in Sleeping Beauty, it’s usually best to be prepared for extra guests.)
Also known as:
- Fates (1)
- Fates (2)
- Our Good Mothers
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.