loreology: pixies

If you’ve got a memory like an elephant, the old saying goes, then your noggin’s in good shape. Mine, when challenged under the gun, tends to shoot blanks. I’m a research kind of guy, not a living, breathing almanac…. Each week “Loreology” will unravel the mysteries behind something in gaming that I may have known once and completely forgot, or something that I should probably know and cram up into my nearly full brain cavity.

This Week: Take Your Pixie

Faeries? Sprites? Pixies? I never knew the differences between the little folk of legend. Were they ready to stitch up a torn pair of socks when we weren’t looking, sneak into a crib to trade places with a newborn, or happy to remain hidden in the deepest part of the woods? At that small size, it’s difficult to tell them apart, you know?

There are too many tales to definitively identify one myth from another. In general, faeries are the most common term for the little guys and gals with wings. They are linked to magic, nature (and the supernatural), and sometimes the dead. Some folklore has them see benevolent visions of the future, while others pit their malice against humanity, with only cold iron standing between us and their vicious schemes. They seem rather harmless, if a bit moronic, in The Fairly Oddparents, so I’m not worried I’m going to end up pantsless, upside down in a tree anytime soon.

Unlike faeries, sprites tend to lean toward the “spiritual” side. The word most likely descends from the Latin spiritus, and the elves and other creatures of the wood that got slapped with the label were generally described as having an ethereal quality, such as wisps or mystical sightings involved around terrible storms and lightning strikes.

Pixies, on the other hand, were most closely associated with humans. They tended to hang around certain rural homes, sometimes disguising themselves as a pile of rags, a goat or a poorly clothed short person to fool children into playing their games. Where faeries and sprites generally abhorred human contact, pixies relished in it, so long as you treated them with proper respect.

In the gaming world, faeries, sprites and pixies are all over. You can find their magic touch in anything from Zelda‘s life-giving bottled fairies to Tinkerbell tossing her pixie dust around in digital Disney fun. Do me a favor, though: Don’t even ask me where brownies fit in. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the best chocolate junk food you can savor at two in the morning.


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