The Enigmatic Queen Mab: Benevolent or Malevolent? by Cheryl Durst
In the sneak peek of the first few minutes of Season Four we find ourselves in the faerie realm and it is here that we observe Sookie’s first encounter with Queen Mab. As any of you who are familiar with my articles know, I do research, and lots of it, in order to provide you, the reader, the most information on whatever subject matter I bring to you. I have done more research on Queen Mab than any other subject I’ve written about thus far and additionally have found the most conflicting information concerning Queen Mab than any other subject. I have attempted to sort it all out and put it together piece by piece so you, as well as I, am able to have an understanding of her beginnings and her character attributes. I also found information concerning a family tie between Queen Mab and Sookie that will surprise you as it did me.
First 8 minutes of True Blood Season 4 Episode 1
Etymology of Fairy
The Middle English word faierie (also fayerye, feirie and fairie) is the original word from which the word fairy was born. In addition to the Middle English words, there is an Old French word, faerie (Modern French feerie) that means the land, the realm, the characteristic activity of “enchantment” of the legendary people of folklore and romance called (in Old French) faie or fee. The above words were derived from Latin fata which is one of the personified Fates which means guardian or tutelary spirit, hence a spirit in general. Since we find different spellings of the word fairy throughout literature you now should have a better understanding as to why so many versions of the word exist. I promise, this is the deepest I will pull you into the etymology of the word fairy.
From my recollections of earliest childhood, any faeries that I read about in my beloved children’s books were tiny wee beings that had either butterfly wings or the ethereal gossamer type. The fairies were benevolent and beautiful and were simply fluttering about for the enjoyment of those who could see them. Everything I read about them was magical and as a child I was always looking about in my grandmother’s flower gardens to catch a glimpse of the delightful creatures I had read about in my books. As I grew into adulthood I saw lots garden statuary in the form of faeries and gnomes and all sorts of wee folk. As various movies were produced about magical lands and other ethereal planes I got to see that the fae were sometimes as tall as humans. There are also many pieces of artwork hanging in museums around the world depicting faeries in all sizes and proportions with and without wings.
In researching this article I found that faeries are usually described as human in their appearance and of course, they have magical powers. Some folk tales describe them as being the dead, or a form of demon, or a genus totally unconnected to humans or angels. Some folk experts suggest that the faerie origin lies in a conquered race that live in hiding or in a religious belief system that lost popularity with the onslaught of Christianity. As I stated above, there is a large amount of conflicting information concerning their origins, especially in folklore.
Folklore does suggest that the faeries can be malicious and therefore remedies of protection such as iron (any object made from iron), charms of rowan and herbs as well as slices or chunks of bread will offer insurance of safeguard from their spite. Wearing clothing inside out, running water, bells, St. John’s wart and four leaf clovers are additional means of protection against the faeries according to folklore.
A common practice of the faeries is the use of magic to disguise the appearance of objects. One example that I read was that the substance faerie gold is notoriously unreliable because it looks like real gold when given but soon after will turn into leaves, gorse blossoms (a type of plant with yellow flowers), gingerbread cakes or several other useless objects. Disguising objects through the use of faerie magic reminds me of the S4 sneak-peak video of Sookie in the faerie realm. The light fruit is disguised as a beautiful golden glowing orb that the faeries are offering their guests (to eat). When the orbs are thrown on the ground they turn dark and dank looking. Eating the light fruit appeared to make the visitors become compliant and willing to stay in the faerie realm while Queen Mab prepares to close the portal that would allow escape back to the human plane. We see Barry (the bellboy) in the faerie realm and who knew that he was fae? I surely hope he didn’t fall for the trickery and eat the “glowing orbs”.
Queen Mab or Maeve is the magnificent Faerie Warrior Queen and according to Irish legend, no King was allowed to reign in the mortal world unless married to this Queen Maeve of the Otherworld. The King must have one foot in this world and one in the other.
Queen Mab has had numerous names and manifestations over many, many years. Some of the names she has been associated with are Mab, Medb, (meev) Medhbh, Maeve (maive or mayv) and she is sometimes linked with Morrigan through Celtic mythology and legend. Queen Mab is also associated with a ‘godlike race’ of people called the Tuatha De Danaan who migrated into Erin from the northern islands of Greece around 4000 years ago. Queen Mab was known as Queen Maeve in the Celtic tradition. “Meave” means mead and mead is a honey wine, an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water. It was said that Queen Mab gave blood red mead to all of her consorts. The mead wine was representative of menstral blood which was considered “the wine of women’s wisdom”.
In Irish mythology Mab was very promiscuous and that promiscuity marked her as a goddess symbolic of the fertility of Ireland. Other indications of her divinity include her ability to shape-shift between a young maiden and old hag. In a story of Niall of the Nine Hostages, Mab appears to Niall as an old crone guarding a well. She gives him water and Niall agrees to mate with her and she immediately transforms herself into a beautiful young woman who grants him the kingship of Ireland. Mab is said to have other powers and supra-natural traits; she can run very fast and is able to deprive men of their strength simply by her very presence. She also has animal attributes in the form of a bird and a squirrel that perch on her shoulder.
Sookie’s Fae Connection
I find it most interesting, through researching Queen Mab, that Niall supposedly mated with Queen Mab. Niall Brigant is a faerie and he is Sookie and Jason’s great-grandfather and Claude and Claudine’s grandfather. Niall has a son named Fintan. Fintan and Adele Stackhouse had two children together: Sookie and Jason’s father, Corbett, and their aunt, Linda. Linda is the mother of Hadley.
Niall is a faerie prince who has powerful enemies and wants to keep his great-grand daughter a secret and protected from his enemies. Niall has a nephew whose name is Breandan. Breandan is out to kill all humans having faerie blood. I’ll end my article right here so as not to get to “spoilerish”. I have a feeling that the future seasons of True Blood will reveal much more about the fae world and how our heroine, Sookie Stackhouse, will continue to fight off the evil forces that are ever present in her life using powers that she has yet to discover.
Sources: http://www.mabjohn.supanet.com/index2.html , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Mab