Faerie Folklore: The Gnomes
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.
More Faerie Folklore:
- Faerie Folklore: The Changeling
The ancient peoples of Europe, specifically the Celtic people, believed in the "wee folk" or the "fae", but they not only believed in them...they feared most of them. The faeries gave the ancient people reasons to fear them, as they were mysterious a
- Faerie Folklore: The Banshee (Bean-sidhe) and the Leanan-Sidhe
Learn about the Irish faerie folklore of the Banshee (bean-sidhe) and the Bean-tidhe. You'll leave shivering or feeling eerily intrigued!
- Faerie Folklore: Elves and Pixies
The elves and the pixies are two common faeries seen in faerie folklore from Europe. What are the elves and the pixies origins and why do these two faeries capture our attention and imagination like no other faeries can?
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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© 2012 Nicole Canfield