Monster Monday: Pixie

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Pixie.

Illustration of a pixie by John Bauer
Illustration of a pixie by John Bauer

Pixies are fairy-like creatures in the folklore of Cornwall and Devon. While many in the modern day consider them a type of fairy, the legends of the pixies differ in a number of ways from the stories of fairies in other parts of the British Isles.

Pixies are generally considered friendly to humans, while fairies are usually depicted as somewhat indifferent. Sometimes they play tricks such as stealing away children to play with by disguising themselves as piles of rags or misleading travelers, but they rarely harm anyone intentionally. The can be quite affectionate to those who treat them well and can grant good luck. One tradition is to leave out each night a saucer of milk or a piece of bread dipped in honey for the pixies. However, if they are mistreated, they can bring about misfortune. In some stories, a person can ward off the pixies by turning his coat inside-out.

Pixies love to sing and dance, and many places in Cornwall and Devon where they are said to gather are still treated with respect. Pixies are depicted as very small, usually with wings, wearing no clothes or rags, though they often are attracted to bits of finery, like ribbons.

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