Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Truth About Pixies

Phote removed by author

A British Postage Stamp.  You can see the Queen in left corner. 
Must be an old stamp.  Liz looks less like an old bat.

I was reading a YA novel about a half-fae/half-human girl in the late summer.  I almost threw the damned thing across the room.  The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I had switched over from reading physical books (with everything but reference materials) to digital.  I love my Nook more than I love most people.  I wasn’t about to damage it no matter how irritated I was with an author.

This particular writer presented a mishmash of Faerie creatures (and mythological) all residing primarily in “Faerie.”  I find this prevalent in most books about Faeries.  My “world” has a mishmash of Faeries as well, but I’ve given a reason for it.  Whether it’s a good reason remains to be seen.  I’ve never understood that if a Faerie creature is supposed to be dinning on small children in England or haunting the Scottish Highlands, then what are they doing just chilling in “Faerie?”  It makes no sense to me.  Can anyone please explain it to me?

Anyway, what set me off in regards to this particular novel was the description of a pixie flying around with its pretty wings. I think that was the moment that I decided to heed to my friend Nina’s advice and start a blog on Faeries.  I wanted everyone to know that PIXIES DON’T HAVE WINGS.  I don’t know what this bothers me so much, but it does.  I know it’s supposed to be fiction and you can pretty much do with it what you will, but it pissed me off.  If you want to have a pretty little flying creature in your book, why don’t you call them Glitter Bats or Sparkle Flies?  Or maybe something that they might actually be, i.e. Pillywiggins or Flower Faeries.  Dear authors, why must you insist on calling them pixies?

As a matter of fact, most faeries don’t have wings.  Most faeries aren’t very pretty either.  Sure there are some creatures that are quite attractive, but pretty is usually coupled with some weird abnormality like a cow tail, a hollow back or duck feet.  And in some extreme cases, pretty also comes with a propensity for blood lust and/or hatred directed towards all members of the human race.

I know.  I am getting off topic here.  This is supposed to be Faerie Friday.

So for today’s Faerie Friday post I am going to discuss pixies.  Next week I’ll discuss Pilliwiggins, and the week after that Flower Faeries.  This way we will all know the difference between the three.

In case you still don’t realize, Pixies (English West Country) or Piskies (Cornish Variation) don’t have wings.  They are tiny English nature spirits who live along the banks of streams and rivers and by standing stones. 

They are short, somewhere between six inches and a foot tall, though stories vary.  They wear lots of green and brown and some even have bells on their feet.  They often have red hair and petite upturned noses.  Some people believe they are the souls of prehistoric peoples that have been shrinking with time and someday they will disappear all together. I don’t know about you folks, but I think that’s kinda sad.

If you are lucky, you can get a pixie to complete domestic chores for you, but usually they are known for their mischief and leading travelers astray with their faerie lights.  The term “pixie-led” means being led on a wild goose chase.  Sometimes hundreds of them come together and if they happen upon a lonely traveler, they force the traveler to dance with them until the traveler passes out (or kicks it) from sheer exhaustion.  Oh, and they also like tie knots in the tail of your horse.  Oh, the horror.

There is a Cornish saying: “Laugh like a pixie.”  Their laughter often gives them away.  They are wonderfully silly creatures (if you cut out the dancing-until-you-die thing and possibly leading people to their death thing.)  Every folklore tradition needs one!

P.S.  That book I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I did finish it.  I went on to read the next two books in the series and I’ve purchased the fourth.  So the joke is on me I guess!


  1. Too funny and everytime I read about Pixies I will remember this post.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Suzie. Glad you liked the post!

  3. although I am a big fan of your writing, I must contradict on this particular topic....Pixies have wings, not all of them, just the evolved ones :). Congrats on a lovely post. Kisses.

  4. I guess we are going to disagree on this topic, but thanks for the comment.

  5. Happy Holidays, you are some special human being...I am so happy I ran into your blog. Kisses and thank you so much for your kind words.

  6. Having had a mini-panic attack at the beginning of the post, I came to the relieved conclusion that it can't have been my book SWIFT you were reading, since my piskeys don't reside in "Faerie", I don't combine a lot of different mythologies willy-nilly, and my heroine is half-faery and half-piskey rather than half-human. But like the author you're lamenting, I did give the *female* piskeys in my book wings.

    I did this knowing full well what you've pointed out here, that piskeys aren't described as having wings in Cornish legend -- but in the books of Cornish piskey tales I read, very little was said about female piskeys, and some writers even described the piskeys as "little brown men" with no mention of women at all. I found the imbalance intriguing, which led to my speculating about what might explain the rarity of humans sighting piskey women... and thus a significant part of my plot was born.

    So while I'd certainly agree with you that authors ought to be aware of the traditions they're writing about and not just throw things into their stories willy-nilly, I think there's a bit of wiggle room for new and different interpretations and takes on those old stories, too. I'm in the process of reinterpreting some spriggan lore at the moment, which is what led me to your post about spriggans, so thank you for that, and this!

  7. Thank you!! I have been drawing and creating characters who were Pixies and people constantly badger me because I never give them wings. They also annoy me about how mischievous they look... Again thank you!

  8. I am a psychic medium. I had a dialogue with the "Divine Creator" I asked him. "What is the difference between faeries and Pixies and I was told. Pixies can't fly. So I googled that statement and found your blog. Fun read.

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  10. Female Cornish Piskies have wings, males do not. Females are rarely seen and very little has been written about them. If you visit Cornwall speak to anybody who has lived near a woodland stream or standing stones. They may have been lucky enough to have seen one. The museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall has a library of old books and in these you will find a mention of the rarely seen female Cornish Piskie with wings.