A FaerieCon Reflection from 2012

I found this in my files, searching vainly for inspiration. Terri Windling’s name caught my eye. I thought I’d re-post here, for you.


FaerieCon: The Things They Don’t Tell You

(Written in the hotel lobby, 11/10/12, just before a Grove of Green Men came and blessed Terri Windling-Gayton.)

What you rarely see in movies is the adjustment of a corset, the straightening of belt or goggles, the folding of something inside out, outside in again. You rarely read in books of the hat that tumbles off (unless it somehow promotes the narrative), the scarf that begins to strangle as you speak, the stubbed toe, fallen flower barrette, slipshod lock of hair.

Faeries don’t get glitter in their eyes in Hollywood. Their horns don’t wobble (well, except in Legend). They only fart to make mischief, not by accident, not embarrassed. Elves never tangle their morning coffee to-go mugs with their drooping satin sleeves—and the distant, silver sound of elvish jingle bells is so much louder, so awfully loud, when it’s outside your hotel room door.

And we never think, do we, of the way a wing can put out an eye? A well-plied wing is pretty deadly. Perhaps the faeries use them like steel-edged fans. Perhaps there is a whole faerie martial art of wing-fighting. But we, putting on wings like a backpack, aren’t aware of the damage they can do.

Wing Katas.

Wing Kung Fu.

Aerial Combat.

I loved dancing last night to the Hungarians (Moon and the Night Spirit) and to Tweganda, too. To feel sweat slide between my shoulder blade—to be aware of breath. (Are faeries aware of breath? Do faeries sweat?) But I think I shall go barefoot to the ball tonight. I’ll last longer. Even glittery flats get tiresome. How people dance all night in heels, I’ll never know.

I do not even know what day it is. Saturday?

There was a Russian belly dancer, featured. A tiny tattooed ice blond, with white and black feathers sweeping back and out from her head, like those winged helmets you sometimes see in art. She was like a Valkyrie—a strange mixture of warrior and magpie, yet also delicately painted all over in butterflies. She was sinuous and sinewy—she had perfect control.

She was like the heroine of an urban fantasy novel, the kind who could do damage to the creatures of darkness in 5-inch heels by night, and still manage to hold down her day job at a fashion magazine. She would totally date a vampire-hunting werewolf AND a zombie-slaying vampire AND a dragon chieftain mafia lord simultaneously.

Do such very fey, incredibly cool, eye-crossingly gorgeous women ever feel ugly? Or hungry? Do they get cramps when they bleed? Do they bleed?

What is it about beauty that is so impenetrable?


(Written later that night, in conclusion.)

Terri said, after the Grove of Greenmen (having bestowed her with blessings and a quite large nut) rustled off down the escalator, “That’s what we need more of. This theatricality.”

And it was true, too, that somehow the Greenmen, leaf-garbed and hearty, with their wooden staffs and loud singing, brought theatre into the room with them. And yet, there was also a sincerity of ritual about them that was wholly itself—that I’ve seen in certain churches or solstice celebrations—that seemed to spring from the same seed theatre came from. Something more primal than theatre.

It went something like this—but don’t quote me:

“Leaf and thorn, leaf and thorn

All that dies will be reborn

Horn and grain, horn and grain

All that falls shall rise again”

And even when they got tangled up in the impedimenta of this century—the aforesaid escalator, the microphone wires, the amps—they maintained this sincerity. And bawdy jokes were part of it, and so was prayer. And in the midst of all this theatre, a remembrance of those lost to us, and of those who lost everything to the hurricane. And it was beautiful—beautiful!

Just as the faeries of FaerieCon were at once glamorously otherworldly and heartbreakingly human, so too were the Green Men mere mortals in make-up with the hearts of the oldest gods.


1 Comment

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One response to “A FaerieCon Reflection from 2012

  1. Sita

    Such magic to remember! Thank you for sharing once again!

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