Have You Ever Been Pixie-Led?

Mythical Monday

Have you ever found yourself lost or wandering around trying to find your way?

Then, Pixie6it’s possible you may have been pixie-led!

Pixies are mythical creature commonly found in folklore particularly in the western parts of England. Up to the end of the 19th century, pixies and fairies were taken quite seriously as part of the ‘little people’, especially in Cornwall and Devon.

Pixies are Notoriously Mischievous

They are not malevolent creatures, but they are very mischievous, and love to torment and play tricks on humans.

Like many Faeries, Pixies dislike rude, greedy and cruel people and often single them out to be the victims of their pranks. They also hate human laziness.

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Artwork by Brian Froud

They have been known to steal people’s belongings or throw things at them. They even steal horses at night, ride them wildly and then bring them back before dawn, their manes a tangled mess.

They rap on windows and walls, blow out candles, throw small stones at walls, kiss young girls in the dark and splash water around. Young girls were particularly prone to teasing by pixies. They would knot their hair or pinch one’s skin until it bruised.

So, if you find you have a lot of small items going missing, such as paper clips and pins, you might have a pixie problem. And if you happen to find your pixie’s lair, you just might find all those things that they’ve “borrowed”.

Getting Lost

Pixies are most notorious for confusing travellers. People have gotten lost even on familiar terrain. They can change aspects of the environment to confuse humans, and most reports mention a strange mist.

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Artwork by Brian Froud

They lure travellers walking alone. The person would be so confused they could be lost for hours, or worse, vanish without a trace. This is what is known as pixie-led.

When I was doing my research on pixies, I found a fantastic website called Legendary Dartmoor According to the author, Tim Sandles, this really does happen! Dartmoor is located in southwest England in the county of Devon.

From their site:

Probably the best I have ever heard came from an old woman who has lived on the moor all her life. Whilst she had not actually experienced being pixie led herself her grandfather often related how he once earned the displeasure of the little folk and became ‘led’. Apparently one minute he was happily traipsing across the moor on a track he knew well. Suddenly a dense mist descended that appeared to have a very feint green tint to it, along with this the man’s head became ‘zwimmy’ (dizzy) and he began stumbling around trying to find his direction. The actual experience seemed to last for hours and he lost all track of time but when the mist lifted he looked at his watch and only a few minutes had passed. Despite thinking he had been wandering around for miles he had in fact only moved a few yards from the spot he had reached when the mist ascended.

 

Probably the most famous story of people being Piskie Led on Dartmoor is that of the unnamed couple who got lost near Okehampton. So relieved were they to have survived such an ordeal that the husband erected a granite cross next to the well where they were spared, known today as Fitz’s Well.

The author goes on to say:

There seem to be two modern conditions that can lead to people becoming ‘Piskie Led’, the first scenario involves an illegal substance or copious amounts of alcohol and the second is a result of the inability to read a map and compass – stoned, drunk or lost, blame it on the piskies.

How to Avoid Being Pixie-Led

One remedy to avoid being pixie-led during the 17th century was to turn your coat inside out, and if you didn’t have a coat, you could even turn your pocket out. Carrying a piece of bread could also prevent bewilderment.

If you leave gifts like honey, milk or cake, the pixies will regard this as a sign of respect and help with tidying up or helping around the farm. Sometimes doing favours for pixies will backfire though, and they may respond with mischief.

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Artwork by Brian Froud

If you find yourself in the mist and suspect you are being pixie-led, find a spring of clear water and drink some to break the spell.

Don’t Invite Trouble!

stellaria-holostea-2Pixies are known to sleep among the Stitchwort plant, also known as Addersmeat, so to pick this plant is inviting trouble from them. Don’t do it!

 

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Artwork by Brian Froud

What about You?

Have you ever found yourself lost in a mist, unable to find your way? I’d love to hear your stories. Leave a note in the comments!

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Mythical Monday: The Problem with Faeries

Brian Froud2
Artwork by Brian Froud

Faeries are unique supernatural beings that have their own hierarchy amongst themselves. Some types of faeries are more powerful than others, and have their own powers, strengths and temperaments.

They are capable of bringing good fortune to humans or bad luck if they become offended. It can be dangerous to anger them, even some of the weakest ones.

They can heal injuries and cure the sick, but they can also cause blight on plants and illness in animals and humans.

Problems Faeries can Cause

fairy-knotsHave you ever woken to find your hair in tiny tangles? These are called Elf-locks or Faery knots.

They may have the power of Glamour, making people see what they wish for them to see. Or, not see what is actually there.

They can cause people to get lost by changing landmarks, or disguise treacherous ground to make it appear safe.

They have been known to steal small items or lead travellers astray, but they are also

Brian Froud1
By artist Brian Froud

capable of more dangerous behaviour.

Consumption, also known as tuberculosis was sometimes blamed on the faeries forcing men and women to dance at their revels every night, and waste away from lack of rest.

Kidnapping and Changelings

Some believe that a sudden death might actually be a faery kidnapping, the corpse being a wooden stand-in or stock, about the same size as the kidnapped person. It would be crudely carved and then glamoured to make it look like the victim. Humans bury it, and the victim is not missed nor is rescue attempted.

Women were kidnapped to be used as midwives, nurse maids or nannies. Stories are told of the woman being asked to rub the eyes of the faery child with Faerie ointment, said to be made from shamrocks. When she inadvertently touches her own eyes, the ointment allows her to see through the Faerie glamour, and see the Faery world as it is. Grease on the fingers from a meal will have the same effect.

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Artwork by Brian Froud

Humans can be taken to be used for their skills at a craft, music or singing.

A man might be kidnapped to participate in a war or ball game, or he may have caught the eye of a Faerie lady. He may be used as a lover, and possibly as a stud.

Women, as well might be used as breeding stock.

Sometimes faery children are left in place of stolen human babies, called changelings. It’s likely that these children may have been afflicted with unexplained diseases, disorders or developmental disabilities, and changelings were used to explain their infirmities.

A more sinister reason for taking captives is to pay a teind or tithe to the Devil. Every seven years, one of their own must be given as tribute, and many legends hint that humans are used so the faeries may be spared.

As long as the human captive does not eat or drink any Faerie food, he or she may be rescued. He or she will be otherwise trapped forever.

Faeries have no scruples about stealing grain, milk or even cattle. They believe they are entitled to take whatever they need. Yet, they become furious if humans take from them.

They delight in playing tricks on people, but when the joke is on them, they usually do not take it in good humour.

Even when faeries are being kind, their goodwill can be embarrassing.  It is not unusual for faeries to reward a human friend by stealing from his neighbours.

Locations known to be faery haunts are to be avoided. Even cutting brush on faery forts was said to be the cause of death to those who did so.

Mythical Monday is part of series of posts on myths and legends. I hope you enjoy learning about Faeries and the legends and folklore surrounding them. Next week, I will continue the series with How to Win the Favour of the Faeries and Faults Condemned by Faeries.

See my other Posts on Mythical Monday:

Oberon: King of the Faeries

The Rise and Fall of Vortigern

Seelie and Unseelie Courts

Trooping and Solitary Faeries