You probably haven’t thought of pixies since you saw pictures of cute little creatures in pointed hats and shoes dancing around a ring of toadstools in your childhood story book. That's how we've been illustrated on cereal boxes, cookie boxes and all kinds of tacky souvenirs and posters for years. It’s very annoying to see the way we’re depicted in popular culture. Humans are not the only one who get tired of being stereotyped. Allow me to explain. We are but one of many types of supernatural beings from the family of the little people. Humans imagine us but cannot see us. We are distant cousins to leprechauns. Do not get them started about being depicted as wee men in green suits. They’re sick of it, especially on St. Patrick’s Day in the United States when many people use the day as an excuse for getting drunk on green beer and making fun of them. Fairies, by the way, are not cute little Tinkerbells. That’s the Disney version. They’re liable to enchant people and steal babies, substituting one of their own if people forget to put a piece of iron in the crib.
We are also known as pixys, pigsies or piskies, depending on where you are. We originated in Cornwall, Devon, Dartmoor, Scotland and Ireland, mostly boggy, misty, mysterious places with lakes and mountains. We do not belong on nice bright Mediterranean beaches. We are often helpful but sometimes mischievous. In the old days, we liked to help with the harvest, milk the cows or clean the house at night. In return, the milkmaid might feel one of us steal a kiss. One of our favorite pastimes was to ride the horses at night for fun. The farmers used to wonder why the horses were tired and sweaty, with tangled manes in the morning, though we never harmed an animal. We’re not as sensitive as our cousins, the brownies. Never give them gifts or try to name them. You may have heard the story of the housewife who left a suit of clothes out as a present for the brownie as thanks for the chores he’d done. No? Well, that brownie was so insulted that he took off in an instant and was never seen again. She had to do her own housework from then on. We’re not dangerous, like the will-o-the-wisps who haunt the marshes and like to lure travelers into the bogs to drown. The worst we would do is to lead travelers astray in the forest. We’re also distantly related to boggarts and bogles, but we don’t like to talk about that branch of the family. Boggarts and bogles are nasty for the sake of it. I’d recommend hanging a horseshoe on the door and sprinkling salt on the doorstep to keep them away. They’ve been known to cause mayhem, even going as far as to eat people in extreme circumstances.
But times are changing, and it is becoming harder for the family of little people, pixies and their ilk, to exist. Sadly, there are not so many fields and forests for us to inhabit now. Cows are milked by machines and there are no more milkmaids to tease. A few hikers still get lost in the forest but almost everyone travels in their planes, trains and cars. Horses are harder to find. And yet we pixies and our relations, immortal and ageless, endure.
Humans like to think they are in control of everything. They burn and build, raze and pave, without a care for the natural world they are destroying, heedless of the consequences. We like to remind them now and then that they are not as superior as they think, with all their technologies and conveniences. We have been amongst you since humans lived in caves and huts. Human stupidity and arrogance has not changed since then. It’s fun to take a human down a peg every now and then. The gadgets they use nowadays make it easy. Do you own a smart speaker? We pixies have been around since the beginning of time, but we keep up with developments in technology. It’s fun to make Alexa suddenly start speaking in the middle of the night. We enjoy your reactions. It’s even more fun to watch when she cannot understand you. Humans are usually red faced and yelling by the time Alexa has asked them to repeat themselves four times. When we got travelers lost in the forest, we’d turn a sign or two around. Now Siri helps us to confuse you. Has she ever led you round in circles? Probably a pixie behind it. We have fun with planes and trains too. We never cause accidents. But we’ve been known to mix up luggage and change the departure gate at the last minute. I’d suspect pixies if you’re trapped on a train that stops for forty minutes for an unexplained delay. Has your internet suddenly gone out and a document disappeared before you could save it on your laptop? Pocket dialed someone? Pixies have become quite tech-savvy. We’re good at hitting “reply all” on those work emails and laughing as we watch the fallout. Probably our favorite is the “hot mike”. It’s fun to watch the high and mighty try to explain the inane statements they inadvertently broadcast.
We have some other modern tricks too. Do you wonder why you always have an odd sock or two left over after you’ve done the laundry? Have you ever locked your keys in the car or locked yourself out of the house? Put your hot tea in the fridge and your ice cream in the oven? You might be distracted, or the pixies might be nearby. People talk about someone being pixie-led as if it were an insult when someone is absent-minded. But we pixies know how to enjoy a sunrise and a sunset. Getting lost, whether in the forest or on the highway, may lead you down unexpected paths to options you would never have thought of otherwise. We will live anywhere but we do prefer nature. Do your best to save it before it is all paved over, for you and for us.