About Pixies


A pixie is a mythical creature of folklore. Pixies are considered to be particularly concentrated in the high moorland areas around Devon and Cornwall, suggesting some Celtic origin for the belief and name.


Akin to the Irish and Scottish Aos Sí, pixies are believed to inhabit ancient underground ancestor sites such as stone circles, barrows, dolmens, ringforts or menhirs.


In traditional regional lore, pixies are generally benign, mischievous, short of stature and attractively childlike; they are fond of dancing and gather outdoors in huge numbers to dance or sometimes wrestle, through the night, demonstrating parallels with the Cornish plen-an-gwary and Breton Fest Noz folk celebrations originating in the medieval period. In modern times they are usually depicted with pointed ears, and often wearing a green outfit and pointed hat although traditional stories describe them wearing dirty ragged bundles of rags which they happily discard for gifts of new clothes. Sometimes their eyes are described as being pointed upwards at the temple ends. These, however, are Victorian era conventions and not part of the older mythology.



The origin of the name pixie is uncertain. Some have speculated that it comes from the Swedish dialectal pyske meaning small fairy. Others have disputed this, given there is no plausible case for Nordic dialectal survivals in southwest Britain, claiming instead, in view of the Cornish origin of the piskie, that the term is more probably Celtic in origin, though no clear ancestor of the word is known. The term Pobel Vian is often used to refer to them collectively. Very similar analogues exist in closely related Irish , Manx and Breton culture, although their common names are unrelated, even within areas of language survival there is a very 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. Closely associated with tin mining in Cornwall are the subterranean ancestral knockers.


Pixie mythology is believed to pre-date Christian presence in Britain. In the Christian era they were sometimes said to be the souls of children who had died un-baptised. These children would change their appearance to pixies once their clothing was placed in clay funeral pots used in their earthly lives as toys. By 1869 some were suggesting that the name pixie was a racial remnant of Pictic tribes who used to paint and tattoo their skin blue, an attribute often given to pixies. Indeed, the Picts gave their name to a type of Irish Pixie called a Pecht. This suggestion is still met in contemporary writing, but there is no proven connection and the etymological connection is doubtful. 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, Irish Púca, Welsh Pwca.


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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