Because of the widespread account of fairies, and the differing versions of their nature, the exact origin of belief in fairies is unclear.
There are numerous suggestions for both the cause of the tradition and the cultural stories of fairy origins.
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When a belief in the afterlife and the realm of spirit are accepted, the existence of beings that have such "supernatural" abilities becomes possible.
Thus, it may be that the origin of such creatures lies not so much in the desire of human beings to experience all that the physical world has to offer (as with many chimeras), but rather in fleeting experiences of creatures from the spiritual realm.
Wings, while common in Victorian artwork of fairies, are very rare in the folklore; even very small fairies flew with magic, sometimes flying on ragwort stems or the backs of birds.
The English word "fairy" is derived from the Old French faerie, which was derivative of the root fae (The English root form is fay).
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While many of these depictions are considered purely fictional, creatures such as fairies, somewhat like human beings but with abilities that transcend the physical realm, find correlates in the angels or other spiritual beings of many religions.