Two nights ago, my husband and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. Of course, we spent the evening consulting with other faeries in their quaint little store, housing books, trinkets and various articles of clothing designed specifically for the purpose of dazzling the fey with an eye for something glittery, which excludes none of us.
The drive home was long, as we live in a fairly rural area, and the good shopping is an hour away. Even on the freeway, we oozed along at 30 miles per hour due to the raging blizzard that so calmly flitted around us, slicking the road to sleek slides of ice. The world was a silent sanctuary, the mountains, a temple. The bare trees crystallized with their arms open wide for the arrival of their most blessed queen, their rest, their refuge. Mab, in her gentle, quiet, and blatant way, ushered in her court, her lords, her ladies. Winter was finally in full bloom.
It is always hard to discuss the Winter Court without comparing it to Summer Court, and vice verse. While the two are always in contrast, they are also inseparable, because without one, the other would simply cease to exist. In such a paradox, the two are indeed sisters, if you will, and that makes things, on a general basis, much more civil.
Queen Mab, to me, is the essence of everything refined. She is tall in stature, long of neck, and straight of shoulder, breast, hip and leg. Her hair is long, coarse, and just as straight as the rest of her, though it looks to be downy white with a glimmer of silver, not from age. She has a pointed little nose, and a pointed little chin with a smile that continually plays at the right corner of her mouth. But it is a secret that she will never let loose. She prefers white, but can often be seen in rich red, with poinsettias or holly braided into her long locks.
In the winter, the world turns to glass, and bone. Everything stops, sleeps, dreams. She is the hostess of a grand ball, where the children, though invited, mustn't' touch all the splendid, glowing, effervescent things that adorn a rich home. Queen Mab is a welcoming, but strict woman, who speaks very little, so as not to disturb the peace of the ever falling snow, while Queen Titania is boisterous in her laughter, and soft feminine curves, with caramel hair that tends to be as out of control and wild as she is. The winter court is more subtle in their indulgences, their seductions. The Summer faeries are largely attracted to sex and drunkenness, but the most obvious of the Winter Court's debauchery is gluttony. Faeries rarely watch what they eat, and usually don't have to for health's sake. But for all of Summer's lovely fruits and nectars, nothing compares to the sweets of Winter's festivities.
There have always been harsh representations attached to Winter and it's Court. In literature, Winter represents the end of things. A life, a time period. It represents death, Hell, evil, darkness, and so on. But Winter isn't about death and Hell. Some destruction goes on, and of course, the dark things of the night still lurk in the shadows with fangs ready for a coat of blood, but Summer possesses her own fair share of those too. Destruction is just what happens.
Winter is about peace. It's about what's real. When everything else that is beautiful on the outside, is plentiful and abundant reveals itself to be an illusion, and it's down to the skeleton, what is left is what matters. Sometimes, what is left is rage and depression. But more often, what is left is real warmth. Real creativity. And real love.
In the spring, new life appears. Mother Earth conceives and spews forth a bounty of fruit and harvests. She adorns herself with the silky colors of flowers and trees, and the blue cloak of the sky. The rivers over flow with Winter's last gift, hopefully to remain wet throughout the heat of the next six months. Fish make their pilgrimage back to the spawning pools. Infant creatures of every ilk begin to make noise as beautiful as it is deafening. Summer Court is always wanting to create. It creates life for all the human, animal and supernatural worlds. The faeries here are lovely and inviting. They want children, they want love. But mostly they want lust. They are easier to fluster and anger than a Winter Court faerie, and more likely to exact revenge. And they are jealous.
From cotton, to dandelion fluff balls, to the white blossoms on apple trees, Summer exudes their jealousy over winter. In all their abundant, beautiful, brilliant creativity, they are never satisfied. Many of their arts are more detailed and complicated than Winter's limited expression. Their clime is livelier, more colorful, and sturdier than Winter's. Snowflakes are one of a kind, and so detailed in their tiny forms that sometimes, it is overwhelming to try to follow the delicate pattern. But Summer feels they must have it. They can never be satisfied in being what they are, and though they know the point of it is useless, they must ever try to mimic Winter. And not just because Winter possesses the precious, priceless snowflake, but because it owns a peace that the Summer court will never know. Even in the most lush and secluded meadows, during Summer reign, the place is busy with life and sound. Grass does not wave in the wind without sound. Birds tend their young with happy chirps and beetles and crickets bustle about, and sing lullabies as dusk settles. A lullaby is a sort of calm, yes. But nothing is as silent as a deep, fresh snowfall.Summer court is always becoming more complicated. It is intricate in it's life. Whenever a new life emerges from the sticky dew of the egg or womb, things become more hectic. Any mother knows this, be she human or faerie or animal. The more life there is, the more there is to do.
Winter, on the other hand, does not create. They survive. They have what is left over and are left to make it thrive. When Summer inevitably begins to sleep, though they hold on as though they are drowning, and her creativity ebbs, Winter is ready for things to be hard. And they get that way all the time. Summer is complicated. Winter is hard. And the blessed creatures of Winter court make it bearable with their merry festivals and feasts. They are not without seduction or romance, as one who finds love in Winter is likely to keep it. There are no bedazzlements, no charms, no spells to make it anything but what it is. It's just raw, blatant. They are happy and just do what they do without trying to beat Summer out of it's glory.
In the mean time, we have a family of mice who have come into our basement for refuge from Queen Mab. They have found our food storage, and felt that they were entitled. All around us, the busy, colorful, loud little creatures of Summer (and humans, if they were faeries, would largely attend to Queen Titania.) will dig themselves into the ground, or take shelter in a human home for awhile, while Winter's Queen and her beautiful, content subjects spread out a blanket of rest for them.
To some, my dear friends, the winter faeries seem cold, callous and hard. But they just can't see the whole story.