Faerie Folklore: The Gnomes

Faerie folklore is filled to the brims with legends of the gnomes...
Faerie folklore is filled to the brims with legends of the gnomes... | Source
Petey with Mrs. Gnome
Petey with Mrs. Gnome | Source
Mrs. Gnome
Mrs. Gnome | Source

Do you believe in the gnomes?

Before gnomes were produced from plastic in manufacturing plants all over the world and carelessly sprinkled about cooky old ladies' gardens, gnomes were a part of ancient and developing faerie folklore. Gnomes were not the garden variety type and were actually a type of faerie that many people from central, northern, and western Europe believed in wholeheartedly.

Gnomes were smaller faerie beings that were believed to have lived in rocks, deep in the earth, and also deep in the root systems of ancient trees. Many legends said that gnomes had to avoid sunlight, else they'd be turned to stone (this could possibly be where the idea of decorative garden gnomes originated). With large heads, small bodies, and pointed red hats, gnomes were a funny sight to behold...on the rare occasion that people actually saw the gnomes.

The belief in gnomes spanned many countries throughout Europe including but not limited to: Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Bulgaria, Albania, Hungary, Denmark and Germany. Each country and culture had a different name for the gnomes, but almost all of these people believed that the gnomes were earth spirits or earth faeries. Many people tend to get gnomes confused with dwarves, but that isn't totally incorrect as gnomes are also thought to be dwarf faeries. Many say that the gnomes are mostly male and can live to be thousands of years old.

The principle purpose of the gnomes is to protect nature and wildlife, and so many people believe that gnomes aid animals in their times of need. Gnomes are thought to be benevolent and cheerful faeries and will sometimes help a human out in a time of great need, as well. Gnomes in faerie folklore have been passed to American folklore most likely by way of the Scottish immigrants. It is thought that a gnome can bless one's garden if indeed the gnome moves into a nearby oak tree.

In modern day Paganism, many Pagans believe that gnomes are a type of elemental being and are called upon in Wiccan ritual to aid in earthly magickal workings. Gnomes are also portrayed in many fictional fantasy books and movies and also make a number of appearances in fantasy computer games. But why the intrigue with gnomes?

Just like with many other faerie beings in ancient faerie folklore, the interest and popularity of the gnomes has grown and evolved (some might say mutated) over time. As more people contribute their views on what gnomes are or could be, the image of the gnomes has changed and will probably continue to change. Let's just not forget the original purpose of the gnomes...to protect the world around us, including wildlife.

Personal Encounters with Gnomes

Gnomes are everywhere there are trees and nature. You can even find them in the big cities in parks and such. If there is an oak tree in particular, there will surely be a gnome nearby.

Our backyard has a large grapefruit tree and large oak trees. I believe there are gnomes living in each of these large trees, helping them grow. One day I was sitting in my yard spending some quality time with my daughter, when I heard the grass behind me rustling. I turned around to yell at our neighbor's cat, who likes to chase off the wildlife in my yard quite often. But when I turned around, there was nothing there.

But I saw the grass mooshed down, as if something small was standing on it. Then I heard and saw something run away...something invisible, that is! The grass was being pressed down against the ground into footsteps while something ran away that could not be seen by human eyes. I knew it was the gnomes checking out what we were doing. They are harmless, but do get curious from time to time...

Written and copyright © by KittytheDreamer (May Canfield), 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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A Real Gnome in Argentina?

© 2012 Nicole Canfield

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Comments 20 comments

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

Wesman - I would definitely believe it, friend! So nice to hear that you are taking care of wildlife as our gnome friends did. :)

Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

I love these Faerie Folklore hubs of yours! Gosh if I'd been a gnome in a past life, that wouldn't surprise me, as fond of protecting animals from capitalist as I am!

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

carolinemd21 - Awww, you're too sweet! Thanks!

carolinemd21 profile image

carolinemd21 5 years ago from Close to Heaven

Wow great hub Kitty. You always write the most interesting hubs.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

The Writers Dog - I'm sure they do live there! Thanks for reading. :)

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The Writers Dog 5 years ago

Great Hub! As a child I lived opposite a private wood. My younger brothers thought that I was crazy, because I was convinced that gnomes and other faeries lived there. I am still convinced several decades later!

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

Paradise7 - I thought so too! Thanks!

Little Light - Glad you enjoyed it. :)

Little Light profile image

Little Light 5 years ago from Australia

This is really informative and interesting. Love the pics too. Thanks for sharing.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

That's really charming, that gnomes protect gardens and also help out animals in trouble. Thanks, Kitty.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

molometer - Please do read the leprechaun/clurichaun hub and let me know what you think! :)

itsmonkeyboy - Awesome! Hopefully this will really help in illustrating the gnomes to your kids.

pongogirl2 - I feel the exact same way.

pongogirl2 profile image

pongogirl2 5 years ago from California, USA

love learning about fantasy creatures, its soo interesting:)

itsmonkeyboy profile image

itsmonkeyboy 5 years ago from London, UK

Great information on the little gnomes. Before this the only gnomes I knew were the common modern garden variety, and of course Terry Pratchett's Truckers (and more) which I'm currently reading to our young boy, and it really brings them to life! Thank you for sharing.

molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago

Really nice hub on these little creatures.

I will have to come back for the leprechaun's hub too.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

HattieMattieMae - I agree. :)

HattieMattieMae profile image

HattieMattieMae 5 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

Thanks for sharing! Amazing how through history we try to change the image of gnomes, fairies, elves etc. :)

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

Thanks, inf.

rai2722 - Similar but quite different, too. Thanks for reading!

rai2722 profile image

rai2722 5 years ago

Very interesting story on the origin of the gnomes. So they are not really similar with dwarf.

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inf 5 years ago

nice hub.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

Hey, Nell! Always nice to see your smiling face on here. Too cute of a story, thanks for sharing! I would've taken it too, though. Gnomes are fascinating...super cute and intriguing. And also lovely to animals! Thanks for reading, as always. ;)

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, gnomes are fascinating, I used to have loads in my garden, I remember once coming back from a night out, only to find in the morning that I had a gnome in my bag! lol! that was some night out, I did take it back to the pub, and the landlord thought it was hilarious! seriously though, a lot of legends do stem from original sightings, maybe there were these little people around back in the old days, they did find the homo floresiensis in flores, they were only three feet tall! loved the pictures too! cheers nell

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