Though the history of Fairies goes way back, even before the middle ages, there are many confusing descriptions of these legendary folk.
Some people claim that fairies can be born with tails or even horns, but the truth is that No, these fairies appear much more like humans.
The Anatomy of a Fairy
When people think of a fairy with a tail, they are probably confusing these little sprites with any manner of impish creature.
There are many creative renditions of unique species that may be fairy-like, but are not related to the original definition of a fairy, faery, fey, or faerie.
Variations of Species
Long before we called them fairies, there were other species of sprites in many different cultural myths. In Arabic cultures, there were the Jinni, similar to today’s genies, who could in fact have tails. These creature are just as devilish as fairies and they like to play the same tricks on humans as fairies do.
In ancient Greece, there were the nymphs, who were not altogether malevolent, but who had to shape-shift to keep themselves safe from humans. Nymphs could transform into animals with tails, but in their human form, they were lovely and flawless women.
Similar to these nymphs, the Sanskrit equivalent to fairies would be the gandharva. These male creatures also were lovely and musical and set apart from humans, though they often interacted with ancient peoples of India.
Like fairies, the gandharva were messengers between this world and the world of magic.
So there are common myths of fairy-like creatures that date back to the beginning of time. It could be that every culture has a story of tricksters that like to live among humans and play games both to delight us and to entertain themselves.
Appearance Through The Ages
Fairies of ancient myth and legend have always had a trickster’s talent for magic and shape-shifting. These mischievous creatures live in a world apart from our own, yet they cross over to cause both trouble and sometimes kindness.
Because they often need to blend in to our world, they have the ability to change their appearance and the appearance of their young. That is why the legends of changelings were so prevalent, fairies could kidnap human infants and replace them with their own.
In Europe, during the middle ages, when the name fairy first appeared, these people were said to be a cunning race of magical creatures. They were also a source of fear. Only in the Victorian era did the definition of fairy change from a malevolent being to a benevolent one.
Today, apart from their wings and their magic, fairies are often considered a beautiful and fair species that looks very human. This was not always the case. They could be as devilish in appearance as trolls or imps or demons. Many people avoided fairies because they appeared so ugly.
With blue or green skin, bulging eyes, and pointed teeth, the fey were seen as something to fear, something to run from. They were not the tiny angels often depicted in storybooks today. That being said, there are no accounts of fairies appearing with tails.
What is most likely is that fairies were confused with devils or imps who could very well have had tails. Since so many different names were given to the fairy folk, it would have been easy to confuse them with more sinister-looking creatures.
While no two fairies look alike, what is certain is that they walk on two legs, they are usually shorter than humans, about the size of a child or a teenager, and they can appear to humans with or without their wings.
Fairies can have any variation of skin color, eye color and hair color, and their personalities are as diverse as those of humans. No matter how they have been depicted, they do not have tails or horns, but they may be able to transform into animals like the nymphs of ancient Greece. This is not known for certain.
Fairies live in magical forests and they like to live in peace, so when a human disturbs them, they may try to scare that person by appearing to them as a fierce and frightening demon.
Fairies are sometimes said to live in an underworld, the place where humans are transported when they die. Because this place would be similar to Hades or Hell, that could be where the myth about their tails and horns first originated.
It’s important to remember that fairies are a secretive culture. While they appear to us as Human-like, no one can say for certain whether or not Fairyland is full of people with horns and tails. It may be that they have never shown their true form to any living human.