Ever been for a walk in a thick wooded area and thought you saw something flit past? Or perhaps you have heard a soft childish giggle echo through the trees when no children are about? If the answer is yes, then you have most likely been in the company of a Sprite without even knowing it.
Sprites are minor nature deities or nature Fae tasked with maintaining the natural balance of magic and nature and preserving “green areas”. Guardians of some of the most sacred magical places, Sprites are happy to let humans reside peacefully side-by-side unless a threat is raised.
It is believed the Alchemists of old, left offerings for the Sprites and in return were allowed to harvest herbs and flowers without hassle. Those that took without thanks, had the unfortunate horror of being “pixed” or hexed, with skin afflictions the most common and no doubt shaming result. An alarming and perhaps dangerous misconception, is the lumping of Sprites into the same category as the common garden Faery (who are believed, on the whole, to be quite harmless and powerless). Although only minor on the scale of power that some of the Fae can punch, Sprites have the ability to harness the elements with such force, it is believed that they can in fact invoke floods, cyclones and bush fires.
As to the physical appearance of Sprites … we again find ourselves in deep confusion. In some accounts they appear as breathtaking young maidens (especially those charged with protecting water). Other eyewitness accounts describe miniature versions of human children, with mischievous attitudes to match. Some theories also hold to the belief that Sprites can also change shape into plants, flowers and water when under threat (e.g. The Spiderwick Chronicles)
All in all, the same warning is repeated in all fables and myths – Sprites are a force to be reckoned with and deserve our utmost respect. So next time you think you see that glint in the corner of your eye, it may be prudent to leave a little offering, lest you find yourself pixed.
Some Sprite-ly Tales:
The Spiderwick Chronicles-Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
Artemis Fowl- Eoin Colfer