Fairies in America: Fairy Folklore in the U.S. and Canada
The belief in fairies is a worldwide phenomenon. Enchanting stories of green elves, pixies, trolls, and sprites abound in countries like Ireland and Germany. We don’t hear many stories of Native American fairies or different types of fairies in America. But remember – fairies are everywhere! Because fairies are nature spirits, they’re typically seen in undisturbed, natural places. The Native Americans tell stories of encounters with the little people – how they helped children or taught shamans. The fairies in America can be territorial depending on the type. Come with me on a journey to find fairies in America.
Fairies in America: Green Elves & Pixies
Elves come from Scandinavian and Celtic mythology. According to the Prose Edda, there are two types of elves – light and dark. In America, the elves are earthly beings who are dressed in green. In A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk, Edain McCoy refers to this kind as green elves. Green elves have green-tinted skin and sometimes wear green caps on their heads. The green elves in America are shorter in height and are encountered on the edges of forests and in graveyards. They’re similar to elves in Irish folklore. These beings live in the trees and so protect their home and surrounding wildlife. In Ireland, they are seen near ancient burial mounds, which could indicate their connection with the dead or confirm that “fairyland” is somewhere underground.
When I lived in Maryland in my teens, we had large trees on our property. One tree in particular always felt incredibly magical to me. One day we had a psychic visit the house and mentioned the “tiny winged fairies” flitting around this oak tree. My mom and I agreed that it was indeed a fairy tree. Because of this experience and other experiences with a grapefruit tree in my Florida backyard, I believe there are small, winged fairies like pixies in America as well as in Europe (and maybe worldwide!)
House Fairies in America
It is possible that certain fairies traveled to America with our ancestors. The Brownie, a Scottish house fairy, is thought to have been brought to Canada and the U.S. with Scottish immigrants beginning in the seventeenth century. Tales are told online from various Americans of signs of brownies living in older Colonial homes. It’s not often they’re discovered living in a modern or newly constructed house – they like to stick to one family and most are attached to the first Scottish immigrant families that settled here. However, some Scottish American people claim to have attracted them into their homes using offerings and other tactics.
The Tomtra: Finnish House Fairy
The Tomtra is a house fairy that’s been brought to America by Finnish immigrants. Similar to the Brownie’s attachment to Scottish immigrant families, the tomtra is attached to the Finnish immigrants. If you are Finnish American or have Finnish blood, the tomtra may take up residence in your home. The difference between the tomtra and brownie is the tomtra is a bit more mischievous. He will protect your home from invaders, spiritual and physical, but he will also play tricks when he is bored or irritated. One American woman claims she’s had small objects like jewelry and pebbles thrown at her while in her bedroom.
Menehune: Native Hawaiian Fairies
The Native Hawaiians have their own legends of little people called the Menehune. The Menehune were a small indigenous people who lived in Hawaii before the Tahitian people came to reside there. Hawaiian legend tells of these little people building some of the islands’ sacred places such as certain ponds and mounds. They were thought to live deep in the forests and valleys. Compare the Menehune to the Native American legends of little people – there are striking similarities. The Menehune were between six inches and two feet tall, according to legend, and despite their small stature were able to build entire structures over night.
Scholars believe the Menehune were the first people of Hawaii, present before the Tahitians, and were driven into the forests during the Tahitian invasion in 1100 AD. Were the Menehune small in stature or were they small in the eyes of the Tahitians? Some claim to see the Menehune, but often the sightings are discredited because they are children. In my opinion, children see fairies in America easier than adults because their minds are still fresh and open.
Shoshone and Cherokee Fairy Legends
Just as the Scottish and English have their fairy folklore, the Native Americans have theirs. The Shoshone tribe believed in a race of tiny people they called the Nimerigar. These tiny people lived in the Rocky Mountains and were aggressive to outsiders. If anyone came near their territory, they’d shoot poisoned-tip arrows at them. The San Pedro Mountain mummy called into question the legitimacy of the Shoshone’s fairy legends. This mummy was a small being discovered in the mountains in 1932. The mummy’s body disappeared in the 1950’s, so we might never know if it was a real fairy body or not.
The Cherokee tribe believed in three kinds of little people: the rock people, the laurel people, and the dogwood people. They each had their own temperaments and each taught the Cherokees different lessons. The rock people hurled rocks at anyone who got close, similar to the nimerigar of Shoshone legend. They were territorial and aggressive. The laurel people were mischievous and played tricks on people for fun comparable to many of the European fairy legends. The dogwood people were good-natured and known to help heal. There have been fairies in America for just as long as they’ve been in Europe.
Real Encounters with Fairies in America
Fairies in America don’t just live in legend and lore, they’ve shown themselves to lucky individuals. In the late 1800’s, an entire group of people saw fairies flying above Chimney Rock in North Carolina. It was documented by the nearest town’s scholars. An American woman claims she’s seen numerous fairies during paranormal investigations including a green elf in a cemetery, a sylph (air fairy) that flies by her house, and even has photographic evidence of the existence of the Green Man in America. Real encounters with fairies in America have been happening for hundreds of years and still happen today. Because of my articles on fairies, I receive emails from people who have pictures of fairies in the forests of America. Whether fairies are real, physical beings or spiritual beings, I cannot decide. But I know they exist in one form or another and they are prevalent in America.