Very small sprites who sometimes live in farmhouses or in dark woods, leprechauns y are known to aid humans and perform small labors for them. Sometimes they ask humans for supplies and furniture, and in return they give objects which bring luck and fortune. Leprechauns are called fairy cobblers, for they make shoes for elves (said to be but always one shoe, never a pair). They are seen quite often by humans and are described as merry little fellows gaily dressed in old-fashioned clothes; green, with a red cap, leather apron, and buckled shoes.
When they finish their daily tasks, leprechauns organize wild feasts, during which time they are referred to as cluricauns. They can then be seen riding in moonlight on the back of a dog or a sheep. According to popular belief, a leprechaun possesses a treasure (usually a pot of gold) which a human may obtain if he succeeds in capturing one, which is extremely difficult. Even after capture, a person may not take his eyes off of him for an instant, for then he will vanish. Leprechauns are mainly found in Irish folklore. The word is derived from the Gaelic luacharma’n, “pygmy”; or leith brogan “maker of one shoe”.
In Irish mythology and folklore, the Tuatha Dé Danann and other peoples said to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Leprechauns and other creatures of Irish mythology are often associated with “faerie forts” or “faerie rings” — often the sites of ancient (Celtic or pre-Celtic) earthworks or drumlins. According to legend, if anyone keeps an eye fixed upon one, he cannot escape, but the moment one looks away, he vanishes
Mab is the Queen of the Faeries who is often portrayed as a trickster. Mab first appeared in post-sixteenth century English literature, in the poems Nimphidia, and Entertainment at Althorpe by Ben Jonson. The origin of Queen Mab is most likely Celtic, either from Mabb of Welsh Mythology or Maeve (Maebhe) of the Cuchullain tales.
Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, is a character from Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. With his flute, made from a willow twig, he accompanies fairies on their moonlight dances. He is closely related to the Irish Phooka (also spelled Pooka) and the Bwca from Wales.
A sprite is a kind of fairy or elf. The word sprite comes from the Latin word spiritus or spirit. Sprites are creatures of the element water. They are found in places where it is serene and cool. They like to play with nymphs Sprites are said to change the colors of a tree’s leaves in Autumn.
Normally female, they are usually portrayed with a golden comb, that attract humans .They are muses, artists, and poets — some of the most creative fairies. Variations on the term include “spright” (the origin of the adjective “sprightly”, meaning “spirited” or “lively”) and the Celtic “spriggan”.
The belief in diminutive beings such as sprites, elves, fairies, pixies, gnomes, Japanese yōkai and various Slavic fairies has been common in many parts of the world, In some elemental magics, the sprite is oft believed to be the Elemental of air (Sylph). Another variation is the water sprite. In Basque mythology Lamiak (one would be called a lamia) are creatures with bird-like feet that dwell in rivers and springs.
In folklore, pixies (or piskies) are little people who believed to live on the downs and moors of Cornwall, England. Of course, they have now traveled to every corner of the world. According to one myth, pixies were originally Druids who resisted the influx of Christians and the more they resisted the smaller they grew. Yet another myth tells of a race of people who were not good enough for heaven, nor bad enough for worse places and were doomed to wander the earth forever.
The Court of the kind and lovely fairy host, usually seen around twilight in long solemn processions. These fairies help the humans with gifts of corn and bread. Seelie Court means Blessed Court.
Sidhe (pronounced ‘shee’) literally means “people of the (fairy) hills”. It is the Gaelic name for the fairies in both Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland.
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Illustrations by Arthur Rackham