My first thought on this topic is that they probably aren’t insect-sized, winged humanoids with magical powers. I mean, anything's possible, but since no one has them held captive in a lab being studied, I assume they are some sort of non-physical beI think there are many such beings.
There's a simple rule for puzzling out how things work and what things are. "As above, so below. As within, so without." If we look at what we know, or believe, about one part of existence, it must also apply to all parts of nature.
Here's what we know, or at least what I think I know, about the nature of physical things. Everything physical is a manifestation of something non-physical. Nothing exists that wasn’t first a thought, idea, desire, or energy. So every physical thing has a non-physical component that existed before it, and will exist after it.
I’ve written often about our Higher Self, the spiritual part of us that is vast and eternal. It pours part of itself into our bodies with our first breath. Other parts of it formed our body as it gestated in our mother's womb.
As above so below. So, just as every person has a non-physical part to them, so does everything else that exists in the physical realm. Every fluffy dandelion has a spiritual twin. Every seed on every fluffy dandelion has its own spiritual twin. Every meadow filled with fluffy dandelions has its own spiritual twin. So does every insect, every blade of grass, every rock, tree and flower. Every drop of water, every body of water, every ocean and every cloud. Ditto every toy and machine and work of art.
Everything physical has a non-physical counterpart. It is law.
And just as our Higher Selves have a broader view of all that is, and can help us navigate our lives, all those other beings’ Higher Selves do likewise. The non-physical being receives the desires generated by its physical self, and sends forth a beam of itself to become the fulfillment of that desire, which then manifests in the physical world.
Given all of the above...
Fairies must be the spiritual counterparts of parts of nature. Of plants, of flowers, and maybe of insects too and animals. Makes sense, right?
Now because the energy of my Higher Self is what made my bodies as its physical expression, it would stand to reason that if it could be seen, it would look something like me. And there have always been individuals sensitive enough and innocent enough to glimpse energy.
So a wispy, translucent, thinner, less “real” flower hovering near a wild iris, might look like a being. That’s because it is a being. Not an intelligent being in the way most think of intelligence. But a higher vibration of the flower itself. The flower's non-physical counterpart, with its own kind of consciousness and intelligence that serve it perfectly.
Expanding on that notion...
If everything has a spiritual counterpart, that explains why there are so many varieties of the wee folk.
Leprechauns, all dressed in green, as mischievous and powerful as the rolling hills and forests of the lands where they dwell. Ireland is so green it’s called the Emerald Isle. Someone sensitive enough to see energy might see the spirit of the green, the higher vibration of the greenery all around.
Gnomes are described as stout and brown. They are the spiritual counterparts of specific components of the Earth, dirt, holes, tunnels, caves, rocks and the like. As a whole, the spiritual counterpart of the Earth is image of Gaia, beautifully depicted as Te Fiti in Disney's Moana.
There are as many tales about nature beings as there are cultures to interpret and share them. I believe they're real energies, non-physical beings capable of experiencing the joy and pleasure of life.
So it can't hurt to be nice
I leave offerings of milk and honey for the fay folk, or sometimes a sweet and a thimble of tea. Of course they are non-physical beings, so they aren't going to physically eat a physical offering. They are going to imbibe the offering's non-physical counterpart. And afterward, toss the leftovers to the earth to feed her critters and nourish her soil.
I've read that they are fond of flower gardens with whimsical statuary, flowing water, chimes and bells, prisms that throw rainbows and colored glass. So my outdoor areas have lots of those. I don't use chemicals. I had a hot tub once, and I remember I could feel the towering, 30-year-old spruce tree out back wrinkling up his nose at the smell of the chlorine. I stopped using chemicals after I got rid of that hot tub. We use natural fertilizer made from plants and compost in our gardens. To fertilize the plants nearest our ponds and waterways, we use scoops of pond muck. For pest control, we have a natural soap that makes the leaves of plants unpleasant to the bugs. For the deer, we kiss the crop goodbye and get out a camera. If we're smart, we fence in the garden before the deer find it.
I think nature, both its physical and non-physical parts, like natural things, fresh air, pretty colors, thriving growth.
More than that, though...
I think nature, both its physical self and its non-physical side, most appreciates being appreciated. I think when we adore the beauty of our natural world, nature feels that and responds to it on every level. How can it not? Don't we respond when someone adores us? Showers us with praise? Basks in just being with us? Of course we do. We light up. We rise to that kind of attention.
To make the natural world around you thrive more, just pay more attention to it. Loving attention.
This time of year...
It's winter here in the Northern hemisphere, and most of life has gone dormant. The nature beings I imagine being most active in winter are evergreen sprites who look like Christmas elves, all dressed in green with pine cone hats, and are ice beings like Jack Frost, all crystalline spikes and attitude, and ice-mist rainbows and sun dogs who dance in the prisms of wintry light.
Let's not forget about nature while winter blankets our world here in the north. In winter, we share our produce with the deer and rabbits and feed the birds as a form of offering. Each gift we give to nature has a non-physical counterpart that is an offering to the non-physical residents of our little piece of the world.
A Chant for the Fairies
I believe that glitter gleam
In my peripheral, just seen
Was trick of neither eye nor light
But rather fairy, sylph, or sprite.
For if a human has a soul
And if above is so below
Then nature spirits must exist
In magic glens and swirling mist
And if below is so above
Then love I give begets more love
And if these beings I true adore,
They love me back forever more
I'm kind to them, they're kind to me
I give a gift, I get back three
And if I ring their favorite bell,
They'll lend their power unto my spell!