Quick Facts about Pixies
- Pixies are small, wingless fairy-like creatures.
- They have pointed ears, pointed hats that are sometimes tall, and many times reddish hair.
- Pixies are mostly joyful, but sometimes get into mischief.
- One of their favorite hobbies is riding horses. They are known to ‘borrow’ horses and return them with tangled manes.
- Another of their favorite hobbies is dancing, typically in a ring or a circle. While they dance they listen to the music of grasshoppers and crickets.
- Some stories about pixies state that they are able to change shapes.
- In other narratives, pixies do not have tremendous magical abilities but are nimble and difficult to find.
- Over time, some descriptions gave them almost cupid-like abilities to bless marriages and win hearts over.
What do pixies look like?
Pixies, also known as piskies, are ‘little people’ and almost fairy-like, but generally do not have wings. They have pointed hats and pointed ears. Many are pictured with red hair and or green rags. Modern narratives often depict pixies as wearing leaves and rags.
Pixies are said to be friendly for the most part, and have a joyful or happy spirit, but are also known for their mischief. They enjoy playing and riding horses, and will sometimes engage in mischievous theft of horses to ride around. They have been known to return them with tangled manes.
In some descriptions, dancing is their primary form of enjoyment and entertainment. When they dance, they may dance in circles or rings. In Anna Eliza Bray’s tale “A Peep at the Pixies”, she describes them as enjoying the music of grasshoppers and crickets while they dance.
Each pixie may have a different personality even within a single group. Some may lean towards being cruel, and playing mean pranks on humans such as leading them astray at night or even the theft of babies. Others may help people with their chores or work, or simply play a harmless trick or two on them.
Where did pixies originate from?
Their origins are from southwest Britain but their exact origins are difficult to pinpoint. According to a number of sources, they have very strong ties to Dartmoor, an area of land on the Southwest Peninsula of England with large, rounded, rocky hills called tors. Dartmoor is a moor, an almost barren area of land with few trees, low brush and vegetation, a few streams and spotted with tors.
It is very likely that they originate from Celtic culture, although Wikipedia notes that there is a small possibility that their name originates from a Norse Swedish word pyske, which translates to “wee little fairy”. Another possibility for where the word pixie could have originated from was from the Old English words piskie or pisky, which would give evidence for Celtic origins.
It wasn’t until the 1800s where extensive literature began appearing about the little people. Mentioned above, Anna Eliza Bray’s “A Peep at the Pixies” was published in 1854. In this series of stories, Ms. Bray gives an excellent historical viewpoint of what the beliefs or perspectives of pixies were at the time.
There was strong belief in the existence of pixies for many centuries, and some in Britain still believe in their existence to this day.
What are some stories about pixies?
A Peep at the Pixies
One of the earliest known pieces of literature including pixies was published in 1854 and titled “A Peep at the Pixies”. It was written by a woman named Anna Eliza Bray.
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
In 1902, L. Frank Baum, the man who wrote “The Wizard of Oz”, published another story called “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus”. In it, Santa Claus acquires the assistance of several little creatures, including a ryl, a knook, a fairy and a pixie named Kilter.
In this story, the four creatures do not appear for very long, but turn out to be very adept at helping him deliver gifts to children. In 1904, he published a sequel to the book titled “A Kidnapped Santa Claus”. In this book, the four creatures have a far more prominent role, and end up having to take over for Santa Claus when Santa is kidnapped by 5 Daemons. After they accomplish Santa’s work, with some mishaps, they hatch a plan to rescue him and then defeat the Daemons.