Seelie and Unseelie courts
The Seelie (Blessed or Holy) Court was seen as more beneficent toward humans. They were known to seek help from humans, to warn
those who had accidentally offended them, and to return human kindness with favors of their own. Still, a fairy belonging to this
court would avenge insults and could be prone to mischief. The most common time of day to see them was twilight.
The Unseelie (Unholy) Court consisted of the malicious and evilly-inclined fairies. Unlike the Seelie Court, no offense is necessary
to bring down their assaults. As a group (or "host"), they would appear at night and assault travelers, often carrying them through
the air, beating them, and forcing them to commits such acts as shooting elfshot at cattle. They were seen as closely allied to
In the French fairy tales of précieuses, fairies were likewise divided into good and evil, but the effect is clearly literary.
Many of these literary fairies seem preoccupied with the character of the humans they encounter.
Trooping and Solitary Fairies
Yeats divided fairies into the solitary and trooping fairies, as did James Macdougall in Folk Tales and Fairy Lore. Katharine Mary
Briggs noted that a third distinction might be needed for "domesticated fairies" who live in human household, but such fairies might
join with other fairies for merry-making and fairs.
The trooping fairies contained the aristocracy of the fairy world, including the Irish Daoine Sídhe. They were known as trooping
faeries because they traveled in long processions, such as the one from which Tam Lin was rescued. But the trooping fairies also
included other fairies of lesser importance; a trooping fairy could be large or small, friendly or sinister.
The Welsh fairies, Tylwyth Teg, and the Irish Sídhe were usually not classified as wholly good or wholly evil. Irish euphemisms
for the fairies include "The Fair Folk" "The People of Peace" and "The Good Neighbors". They were seen as dwelling in the Sídhe
mounds, which were usually ancient burial mounds.
Unlike the trooping fairies, solitary fairies live alone and are inclined to be wicked and malicious creatures, except for the
brownie who is said to help with household chores.