Elves, pixies and sprites, an unsentimental view


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Definitions:

Elf-arrows Arrow-heads of the neolithic period. The shafts of these arrows were reeds, and the heads were pieces of flint, carefully sharpened, and so adjusted as to detach themselves from the shaft and remain in the wounded body. At one time they were supposed to be shot by elves at people and cattle out of malice or revenge.

Elf-locks Tangled hair. It is said that one of the favourite amusements of Queen Mab is to tie people's hair in knots. When Edgar impersonates a madman, "he elfs all his hair in knots." (Lear, ii. 3.)

"This is that very Mab That plats the manes of horses in the night, And bakes [? cakes] the elf- locks in foul sluttish hairs."
Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, i. 4.

Elf-marked Those born with a natural defect, according to the ancient Scottish superstition, are marked by the elves for mischief. Queen Margaret called Richard III. -

"Thou elfish-marked, abortive, rooting hog!" -
Shakespeare: Richard III., i. 3.

Elf-shot Afflicted with some unknown disease, and supposed to have been wounded by an elfin arrow. The rinderpest would, in the Middle Ages, have been ascribed to elf-shots. (See Elf-Arrows.)

"There every herd by sad experience knows How, winged with fate, their elf-shot arrows fly, When the sick ewe her summer food forgoes, Or stretched on earth the heart-smit heifers lie.
"Collins: Popular Superstitions.

Taken from Brewer's Dictionary of phrase and fable

It may be coincidence, but many dreadlocked environmental protestors in Britain refer to themselves as "pixies". To pixie is also now (unnoficially) a verb, meaning "to blow up road building macinery"

An aboriginal race?

Elves fear iron, use flint tipped arrows and wear dreadlocks. It has often been suggested that they are a memory of an extinct asiatic aboriginal race, small in stature, living in the British isles before the Celts or some other race invaded. In the past, babies born with defects, such as dwarfism or Down's syndrome (formerly known as mongolism) were believed to be changelings, the real baby was believed to have been kidnapped by the fairies and a fairy child put in its place. Down's syndrome causes epicanthic folds in the eyelids which are not normally found in Europeans.

The problem with this rather racist theory is that genetic evidence now shows that the stone age hunter gatherers of Britain, were not wiped out by later invaders armed with metal weapons. The stone age people were not wiped out, they ARE the ancestors of the vast majority of the British people. There are clear genetic differences between people in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, but these date back to waves of settlers arriving during the ice ages. More people walked across the north sea than ever sailed across in warships. The invaders of the last 10,000 years (Celts, Romans, Vikings, Normans, beaker people etc.) constitute less than 3% of the population. These invading people brought languages, religion, art and culture, but left few descendants (except maybe amongst the aristocracy?).

...Or maybe not. For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert (to Quote Charles Fort). According to another genetic study, there are clear genetic differences between people on opposite sides of Offa's Dyke (the old boundary fortification between England and Wales. People on the English side have similar genes to people in modern day Holland and Belgium. This suggests that the invading Anglo Saxons really did wipe out or drive out the indigenous people from the lands that they conquered. If they could manage to do this then in all probability, earlier invaders also committed acts of genocide (boy, it feels great to be British!). It is still technically legal in Hereford and Chester (the English side of Offa's Dyke) to shoot Welshmen with a longbow under certain circumstances (see
http://www.dumblaws.com if you don't believe me!) *

Clickhere for information about Puck, who appears to have ass ears .

* For the benefit of non-Brits: In 1996 new parliaments have been set up in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, giving these areas semi-independance from the British government in Westminster. Cornwall (formerly called west Wales, one of the last areas of England to be conquered by the Anglo-Saxons, which used to have its own Celtic language, also has an independance party. Anyway, Welsh Independance from Westminster is a distinct possibility, but why not Welsh rule in Westminster ? :-)

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