Mythology: Pixies

Like most of the creatures in this series, Pixies can be wonderful friends if you please them, but if you are lazy, a cheat, or do harm to others, beware!

Look out! We're the jolly Pixies,  Helping people when in fixes.
Look out! We’re the jolly Pixies,
Helping people when in fixes.

Pixies are usually no larger than a human hand, with red hair, pointed ears and up-turned noses.  They wear green clothes, and they love to mislead travellers.  However, they can only get you if you stand in a gallitrap, or pixy ring – mushrooms growing in a perfect circle.  Even then you can be saved if you turn your coat inside out!  A story is told of a farmer in Somerset who didn’t know this fact.

There was a farmer who sold his sheep and bought a bag of meal.  He left it late to come home, so he took a short cut, and in the dark he put his foot in a gallitrap.  And then the pixies had him!

They made a hole in the bag and the meal trickled away, and they snagged his feet with brambles until at last he fell down exhausted beneath a briar that grew in three parishes; and there he stayed, half dead with fear.

When morning came the meal sack was nearly empty, so he turned back to gather up some of what he had dropped, and had to go around the long way.  His poor wife was in a state when he got home.  “Great fool,” she cried, “why didn’t you turn your coat and save the meal?”

Pixies, however, are not all bad.  They delight in playing tricks on bad and lazy people, but if you are kind to them they will reward you.

Once there was a farm worker who walked near a pixy home on the way to work every day.  One day he heard crying as he walked by, and stopped to find out what was wrong.  He couldn’t see the child, but he found a toy lying on the ground, broken in two.

Now this farm worker was a father himself, and he knew that a favourite toy breaking is a horrid thing to have happen, so he picked up the toy and fixed it.  Putting it back where he found it, he said “there you are, don’t cry any more!”, and went on his way.

On his way home that evening, the toy was gone, and in it’s place was a fine new-baked cake.  He ate the cake, loudly saying that it was delicious, and called goodnight to the pixies.  From that point on, the farm worker had good luck in everything he did.

How to make friends with a pixy:

If you want to be friends with a pixy, it is very important not to be lazy or nasty.  You should leave a bucket of clean water out at night for the mother pixies to wash their babies in, and if you have a hearth you must make sure that it is always clean so that the pixies have somewhere to dance.


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