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About Pixies


A pixie is a mythical creature of British folklore. Pixies are speculated to be particularly concentrated in the high moorland areas around Devon and Cornwall, suggesting some Celtic origin for the belief and name. However, the word 'pixie' also appears in Dorset, Somerset and to a lesser extent in Sussex, Wiltshire and Hampshire.


Similar to the Irish and Scottish Aos Sí , pixies are believed to inhabit ancient underground sites such as stone circles, barrows, dolmens, ringforts, or menhirs. In traditional regional lore, pixies are generally benign, mischievous, short of stature, and childlike; they are fond of dancing and wrestling outdoors, of which they perform through the night.


In the modern era, they are usually depicted with pointed ears, often wearing a green outfit and pointed hat. Traditional stories describe them as wearing dirty, ragged bundles of rags, which they discard for gifts containing new clothes. In other depictions, their eyes are described as being pointed upwards at the outer end. These, however, are Victorian era conventions and not part of the older mythology.


The origin of the word pixie is uncertain. It could have come from the Swedish dialectal pyske, meaning 'small fairy'. Others have disputed this, given there is no plausible case for Nordic dialectal records in southwest Britain, claiming instead—in view of the Cornish origin of the piskie—that the term is more Celtic in origin, though no clear ancestor of the word is known. The term Pobel Vean is often used to refer to them collectively. Because of its location of origin, it is possible it comes from the Proto-Brythonic *bɨx, which has become bych, little, in Middle Welsh and bihan, in Breton. The change from b to p can be easily explained by a sandhi that occurs after the use of the old article or a pronoun.


Very similar analogues exist in closely related Irish , Manx , Welsh Tylwyth Teg , and Breton culture. Although their common names are unrelated, there is a high degree of local variation of names. In west Penwith, the area of late survival of the Cornish language, spriggans are distinguished from pixies by their malevolent nature, while knockers are distinct for their association with tin mining in Cornwall.


Pixie mythology is believed to pre-date Christian presence in Britain. Romano-British Hooded Spirits genii cucullati are a possible ancient Celtic forebear—such dwarfish sprites wore traditional hooded cloaks associated with the British and concealed phallic daggers. In the Christian era, they were sometimes said to be the souls of children who had died unbaptised . These children would change their appearance to pixies once their clothing was placed in clay funeral pots used in their earthly lives as toys. A common idea in the Victorian era was that pixies were a folk memory of the Pictish people, but that has largely been disproven and is viewed in academia as Norse propaganda against the Picts This suggestion is still referenced in contemporary writing, but there is no proven connection, and the etymological basis is considered ambiguous. Some 19th-century researchers made more general claims about pixie origins, or have connected them with the Puck , a mythological creature sometimes described as a fairy; the name Puck is also of uncertain origin.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pixies", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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