I've tried googling it, but I couldn't really get a clear picture about it. So what is faelatry? The only description I got of it was a down to earth path that believed in faeries. But that can't be all..can it? I'd just like to know what it is.
Faelatry means "fairy-honoring" so, yes, it does focus on the rather "low" folksy belief or lore in contrast maybe to the "high" mythology of established religions.
Faelatry is more of a descriptor than an established religion, really. Kind of like "monotheist" or "pagan". Actual Faelatry religions that I know of are Authiyenfae and Otherfaith, both relatively new faiths heavily based on communal personal gnosis.
My personal practice was heavily influenced by Norse and Irish mythologies, because I kept waffling between the two and finally went, "All right! I've had enough! What have these two got in common??" And, it was the wights and the fairies. I also include a bit of Shinto influence it because I live in Asia, and I deal with yokai and I honor the kami, but I think in fairy lore, so...
Basically, it's reading up on fairy lore, figuring out the implications, and living the faith accordingly. Not so much (for me) fairy tales like Perrault and the Grimm Brothers compilations with the moral at the end, but fairy lore.
So, there's some therianthropy in there or not, there's some ancestral honoring in there or not, there's leaving offerings of a bowl of milk out for the fae (or not--I mean, I don't, but that can be part of it)...
Some books I would recommend, most of which have copyright expired and so you can read the text for free online on someplace like Gutenberg or Sacred-Texts:
The Fairy Mythology by Thomas Keightley (My absolute favorite resource of all time, ever) The Celtic Twilight by W.B. Yeats (Don't let the flowery title put you off) The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries by W.Y. Evans-Wentz (a little dated, so King Arthur having solar deity origins isn't the common opinion of modern academics...but it's got some interesting stuff about Welsh pagan reincarnation!) The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child (It's not all about fairies but there is some fairy lore in there that I think is important to consider, Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin...oh, and sooo many parents just cursing their children for like the smallest things like what) Elementargeister by Heinrich Heine (a short and sweet essay about occidental folklore) Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland by Lady Wilde
And for the high mythology that was hugely influential to me:
The Religion of the Ancient Celts by J.A. MacCulloch (Just what the title says) Teutonic Mythology by Jacob Grimm (Just what the title says; but also check out Snorri Sturluson's Eddas and the Icelandic sagas) Lebor Gabala Erenn: The Book of Conquests of Ireland by R.A. Stewart Macalister (This details the mythology of the Tuatha de Danann among other Irish tribespeople that... I think...it was Keightley? who mentioned that the Tuatha might have retreated into the hills and become the Sidhe)
I'd personally also include...but, you know, probably a lot of Faelatrists don't because of the land they reside in... The Kojiki (translated) by Basil Hall Chamberlain (Shinto mythology, although I think it was the Yamato clan that essentially created the mythology out of the folklore, as in so many little clans had their own nature and ancestral deities, their own versions of the kami, and it was that one clan that rose in dominion over the others and went "Amaterasu is THE sun goddess kthnxbai") Shinto: The Kami Way by Sokyo Ono (this one is still copyrighted) Gazu Hyakki Yagyo by Toriyama Sekien (This one's an 18th century picture book.)
And I would highly recommend reading In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Studies by Regina Bendix BEFORE looking back to the Grimm brothers' and Perrault's compilations of fairy stories. My favorite resource for evaluating each myth was actually Joseph Campbell, which I think a lot of modern pagans don't like because we've got a contemporary concern about cultural appropriation which is a whooole other topic.
Okay, so... apart from "Faelatrists read fairy stories and believe them" I haven't given an overview about, like, what virtues or principles do faelatrists live by, or when the faelatrist holidays are, or how to observe them. A clear picture, right?
Sorry, I have no clarity to offer because... I think the beauty of faelatry is that it isn't so clear-cut.
There can be, as I mentioned, communities of faelatry religions which do set such standards, but as a non-denominational faelatrist? It's just reading a lot and figuring out if that's true (for the given value of truth) and what that means, and acting accordingly.
If a Faelatrist becomes what has historically been known as a "fairy doctor", then they're going to be largely taught by fairies, often under the condition that You Do Not Talk About Fae Club. (Or at least keep it in the family line, as I can believe was the case with The Lady of Lyn y Fan Fach, the last human descendant of hers was said to be Rhys Williams, M.D. in 1842) (So he still went to a human school to learn healing, but a legacy of fairy doctoring could only have helped). So, sorry, there's no big book of canon scripture that every faelatrist is going to agree on. It's going to be mostly personal gnosis.
The folklore gives me a vocabulary by which to more deeply appreciate and make sense of these spiritual experiences, that's all. So, I call them fairies (ironically, a huge no-no in some regions?they're supposed to be referred to as "the gentry" or some other title, and never ever say "thank you" to the fae...but I do, anyway, or I used to until I figured out why I shouldn't and weirdly I'm not allowed to say) but I think that somebody else, say, a practitioner of Ascension Magic might call them The Galactic Federation Of Light (although that's probably where some crossover or similarities end, because there's not much in my present belief system that supports shapeshifting extraterrestrial alien reptile politicians engaging in false flag terrorism, sending subliminal messages through entertainment media, and preparing FEMA concentration camps.)
I think it was in either MacCulloch's or Wentz's books where I read about the regional differences in afterlife therianthropy. So, depending on the region, there was the belief that the soul of a human being took the form of an animal after death. Where people believed that rabbits were the souls of deceased loved ones, they wouldn't hunt or eat rabbits. Where people believed that butterflies were the souls of deceased loved ones, they probably wouldn't swat a butterfly.
Okay, so I'm a modern day sort of person who was taught materialism, evolution, and basic taxonomy in school. I believe rabbits are rabbits and butterflies are butterflies, I can't help it. So, when I read a folk belief like that, I wonder, "What should that mean, to me?"
And I conclude that it had something to do with how living in harmony with nature was the way of life for the people who held those folk beliefs within a pagan belief system, and the transformation of a human soul into an animal body?the agreement of that?was one way to express this idea and validate this worldview within the community. The regional differences between communities remained, but the faith was real.
So, when I read something like James Freel and the Young Lady , which is a fairy tale from Donegal that found its way into one of Yeats' collections, and The Ballad of Tam Lin which is a Scottish ballad that found its way into Child's collection, I consider an event described in both of them whereby a rescue from the fairy otherworld causes the rescued person to shapeshift into like 5 different kinds of animals and 2 inanimate objects.
This wouldn't, I think, literally happen...not to my materialistic standards, anyway... except by maybe a spirit quest of sorts where there would be some liminal weirdness at some stage. Because they're both found in accounts of humans interacting with fairies, I then incorporate that into my belief system as an artistic expression of our therianthropic nature.
I honor the fairy lore and the fairies in them, ergo? I'm a faelatrist.
So, that's roughly how the concept of therianthropy becomes part of my faelatrist beliefs. Reading about orlog and wyrd and geis has its own similar process for how the concept of fatalism becomes part of my faelatrist beliefs. Otherworlds have their own process, and ancestral veneration have their own process, and glamour has its own process.
My processes in sustaining a belief system would, I think, be wildly different than another Faelatrist's processes in sustaining their own belief system. What it all comes down to, like with every belief system I think, is the stories that we've been told (or that we've read) and that we would pass on.