Before fairies went around granting wishes
and bestowing Pimped Out Dresses
to cinder maids
, they spent a lot of time doing some serious mischief. One favorite game of The Fair Folk
was to snatch children, and replace them with a doppelganger, or changeling
. According to most European fairy tales, boy babies and children with Hair of Gold
were in particular danger of being stolen.
To deter fey folk, infant boys were often dressed as girls, and cold iron would be hung over cribs and doorways. Common items included horseshoes, bells, nails, and steel files. Scissors hung over the crib(!
) were particularly common.
Not to be confused with the much Lighter and Softer Changeling Fantasy
- Hamilton being a stickler for mythological accuracy, this is mentioned in passing in the Merry Gentry series, but is not practiced by any of the Fey living in the United States, since it might interfere with the driving plot.
- The Replacement is the story of a stolen baby boy, told from the point of view of the Changeling.
- In the Hellboy short story "The Corpse", Hellboy exposes a fairy changeling, then he has to perform a task for the fairies to get the original child back.