CORNISH PISKIES 'PIXIE'
There are a number of creatures
particular to Cornish folklore, although their cousins can be
found elsewhere in Britain under a different name and guise.
One of these strains is the piskie also known as a Pixie in
other West Country counties.
The piskie is a general name for
a fairy race or tribe in Cornwall. In appearance they look
like old men with wrinkled faces, and are small in stature
with red hair. They dress in the colors of the earth
especially green, using natural materials such as moss, grass
Generally the piskies are seen
as cheerful creatures with a prankish nature. They are said to
be helpful but also mischievous, helping the elderly and
infirmed, but at the same time, mischievously leading the more able bodied traveler
astray on the lonely Cornish moors.
Many stories have been told
led into the wild moorland to become hopelessly lost
because of the Piskies. In many ways the Piskies are similar
to the Brownies being helpful but also mischievous in nature.
Often places of ancient worship such
as stone circles and barrows were avoided because they were "known" piskie haunts.
There are many legends
surrounding the origin of the piskies. Some people saw them as the
souls of pagans who could not transcend to heaven, and they
were also seen as the remnants of pagan gods, banished with
the coming of Christianity.
Others felt they were the souls of
babies who had not been baptized. In tradition they are doomed to
shrink in size until they disappear.
They are of small dimensions,
generally handsome in their form. Their attire is always green.
Dancing is their chief amusement, which they perform (always at
night) to the music of
the cricket, the grasshopper, and the frog which make up their
The Pixy-house is usually in a rock.
By moon-light, on the moor, or under the dark shade of rocks.
Pixy-monarch, holds his court, where he gives his subjects their charges.
Once again, the piskies are hard to predict. Some are sent to the
mines, where they will kindly lead the miner to the richest lode,
however, others will maliciously, by noises imitating the stroke of the hammer, and by
false fires, lead him on to where the worst ore in the mine lies,
and then laugh at his disappointment.
The main hobby of some is to steal children; while others love to lead
travelers astray, in the form of Will-o’-the-wisps, or to "Pixy-lead" them, as it
Some will make confusion in a house by blowing out the
candle, or kissing the maids "with a smack. Others will make noises in walls, to frighten people. In short,
everything that is done elsewhere by fairies, boggarts, or other
like beings, is done by the Pixies.
Variants: pixie, pixy.
Pixy fine, Pixy
Pixy now will run away.
Old English Poem