The mythological pixie has many of the same base attributes as the others in the fae kingdom. Traditionally, pixies are seen as benign, mischievous, and childlike, which their small stature helps perpetuate. They’re also often described as having pointed ears and wearing green outfits with a pointed hat and shoes, although some stories dress them in rags that they merrily discard for new clothes. Legends also describe pixies as disguising themselves in rags to lure children to play.
Another depiction of the pixie describes them as a Trooping Fairy with red hair, pale faces, and turned-up noses. They also may tend to take on many guises to hide themselves. Other, less traditional portrayals of the pixie shows them as blue or green creatures with brightly stripped stockings. They can also have beautiful wings like a butterfly or dragonfly. And some can shape shift, commonly into the form of a hedgehog. Most agree that they are near ageless and uncommonly beautiful.
Pixies love to dance and often gather in large numbers outdoors to dance or wrestle. In general, they’re said to be helpful to humans, sometimes helping needy widows and others with their housework. But if they consider a member of the household lazy, the wee fae will nip, chase, and moving objects to scare them. At times, they are known to give misleading directions to travelers. This is often referred to as being “pixy-led,” which can be fixed by turning your coat inside out.
With a preference for bits of finery, pieces of ribbon seem to be highly appreciated by the pixies. A bowl of cream is also an excellent reward for them. They are also drawn to horses, riding them for pleasure and making ringlets in their manes as they explore hidden caves and streams and recesses of land. Although they love to travel, they are particularly connected to their homes, and threatening their homes is one sure way to invoke a pixie’s wrath. They have been known to defend their homes from monks and other fae on numerous occasions.
Although pixies are tiny little creatures, they are rich in magick, often using their powers to bring a smile to the face of a friend. They have an extraordinary ability for casting charms that affect human behavior. In fact, the queen of the Cornish pixies is considered to bring good luck with her pixie dust. Nature is also affected by the pixies’ close proximity: “plants grow more quickly, flowers bloom more brightly, and wild animals are tame when nurtured by pixies.”
The history of the pixie predates Christianity in Britain, but during the Christian expansion, these fae were believed to be the souls of unbaptized children, who would transform after their belongings were placed in clay funeral pots.
Before the mid-1800s, pixies and the other fae were taken seriously in Cornwall and Devon. They were believed to populate the hills of Britain. A group of rocks was named after the pixies because they were said to reside there. Six hundred pixies were once seen dancing and laughing at Trevose Head in Cornwall until one lost his laugh. But as we progressed further into the nineteenth century, the pixies’ contact with humans diminished severely.
Do you have a favorite pixie legend or story? Let me know about them in the comments below!