Posts Tagged ‘brownies’

Written by:
Wendi Friend

When we think of Faeries, most of us conjure images of thumb-sized, glittery beings with flitting wings and secret enchantments. We envision them as sitting on mushrooms, hitching rides on dragonflies, petting unicorns, or kissing sleeping babes. But the truth of the matter is that not all Faeries fit our description of “beautiful”, and we may cast them out of our consciousness simply due to fear. This is a sad truth since some outwardly so-called ugly Fey Folk can be some of the most benevolent and kind creatures. Furthermore, not everything that goes bump in the night is ghost or goblin. On the contrary, some nocturnal beings of Faeryland can do much to protect us against such unwanted paranormal invasions. Welcome to the not so beautiful world of Brownies.

Brownies are said to have originated in Scotland, but are also known in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere – likely stowing away with Scottish immigrants. Aside from being known as Brownies, these enchanted beings have also been known as Little Man, and many English people call them Hobs. Russians know them as Domovi; in Denmark they are Nis. North Africans have named them Yumboes, and in China they’re known as Chao Phum Phi.

Some think Brownies may be associated with the Roman household spirit, the Lar Familiaris, who is said to be an ancestral spirit. Another theory exists that Brownies are the souls of deceased servants, or otherwise connected with the spirit realm. Then again, since the term “Brownie” was first introduced where the Teutons settled, some believe Brownies to be Teutonic in origin.

Unlike our typical depiction of tiny Faeries, Brownies average about three feet in height, give or take an inch or two. Having often been described as ugly, Brownies are said to have eyes as black as coal, pin-sized nostril holes instead of noses (or huge noses and no mouths!), slightly pointed ears, flat faces, wrinkled skin, shaggy hair, hairy bodies, and have unusually long, lanky fingers. As for clothing, Brownies either wear rags, disheveled suits of brown, blue, or green – and sometimes wear cloaks or hats. However, not all Brownies sport the traditional wardrobe; some of these critters are more “natural” and prefer no clothing at all!

Female Brownies are almost never seen by humans, so the only description obtained for these Dwarf Faeries is of the males. Based on this description, it’s no wonder most humans would have a fearful reaction to seeing a Brownie in their home. Perhaps it’s for this reason that Brownies most often choose to hide from humans, sometimes by magickal means of invisibility. In most cases, though, this scenario proves the cliché, “you cannot judge a book by its cover”, as most Brownies are kind-hearted, helpful, protective beings who truly love the people they choose to serve. These Faeries crave human company, and they’re willing to earn their place in a human household.

Brownies are Earth Faeries who “adopt” human families to care for. They will scout an area, remaining in hiding, until they’ve found a family they feel is worthy, most likely one that doesn’t own a cat! Once a family has been chosen, the Brownie will either move directly into the family home, or establish residence in a nearby tree or abandoned building. On the occasions that Brownies choose to live in the home of their chosen family, they’re most likely to set up camp in the attic, cellar, basement, or in a nearby barn or shed. Brownies will then assist their chosen family with domestic tasks and chores around the house or farm, including protecting the family against unwanted guests of a paranormal nature. Some Brownies become so attached to their chosen family that they’ll remain with that family for generations – and while most adults either can’t or won’t see a Brownie, children can! Brownies love to spend time with children, telling them stories or teaching them games to play. They’ve also been reported to alert the family members to potential dangers or forewarn of death.

One thing to keep in mind when dealing with the Faerie Folk, however, is that while many attributes can be associated with most, they cannot be applied to all. As with any species, there is diversity. The Faerie Realm is divided into various sects, cultures, customs, and mannerisms – much the way the human realm is. We can identify our species, in general, as being human, but we can then be divided by geographic location, race, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and a multitude of other sub-categories. And, even though we can describe a large portion of the human species as “intelligent” or “compassionate”, there are always those who stray from the mainstream and do things we find difficult to understand, such as committing crimes. The Faerie Realm operates under similar principles – and while we can describe most Brownies as helpful, kind, benevolent beings, there will always be the rogue character or two who stray from the mainstream. It is always wise to use caution when dealing with otherworldly creatures.

An interesting note about Brownies is that due to their kind-hearted nature, they do not like people who lie, cheat, steal, or who are otherwise dishonest. They also have displayed a strong dislike for the clergy, most likely due to the fact that clergymen often tend to group anything paranormal under the heading of “evil” or as being “of the devil”, and harshly judge the Brownies with little or no understanding of what they actually are or where they come from.

Brownies are cousins to the Leprechauns and share the Leprechauns’ interest in shoe-making. One of the differences between them, though, is that Leprechauns will only make one shoe at a time whereas Brownies will make a pair.

Brownies, as with all Faerie Folk, are extremely sensitive beings. We must remember, too, that these entities do not operate according to the same code of ethics, morals, manners, and beliefs that many of us have been taught. Where we’re taught that it’s polite to acknowledge a good deed, if not openly thank the do-gooder, Brownies consider that to be an outright insult! Not to worry, though – there is a way we can still mind our own manners without offending paranormal house guests! To offer thanks to a Brownie for their assistance around the home and land, simply leave out a small portion of cream or milk, a bit of honey cake, and make sure the area is kept warm and tidy (Brownies love fireplaces!). But remember, they don’t like direct acknowledgement, so such offerings must be cleverly made by “accident”.

One way to rid the home of Brownies, should one so desire, is to intentionally offer the Brownie an item of clothing. They interpret this as the greatest form of insult and will leave. Fans of the popular Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling may recognize this as a familiar characteristic of Dobie, the House Elf introduced in book two, The Chamber of Secrets. In fact, the word “Dobie” is used to describe a specific type of Brownie, one less intelligent and more clumsy than the rest. The Dobie always means well and has a pure heart, but more often than not, ends up making more of a mess than anything else! However, attempting to rid your home of a Brownie should be done with great caution; they are extremely sensitive creatures and may take offense, and an offended Brownie can be capable of many un-pleasantries! Some accounts even suggest that Brownies, if truly offended, can become malevolent and turn into Boggarts, an entirely different and much less pleasant creature of the Faerie Realm.

Many magickal beings have special connections with certain animals, often referred to as “familiars”. In the case of Brownies, roosters are the familiars. Humans often assume that a rooster crowing signifies time to wake up, but in Faerie logic, or at least in terms of Brownies, the rooster’s crow indicates time for sleep. Because Brownies are nocturnal beings, it has been said that they cannot survive in daylight, much like modern tales of vampires. While this may be true with certain varieties of Brownies, it does not apply to the whole; they simply prefer being active at night and sleeping during the day. This could be, in part, due to the fact that there’s less chance of being in close contact with humans at night. Other legends suggest that Brownies have the ability to shape-shift into roosters during the day, much like vampires are thought to turn into bats.

Brownies, when welcomed and treated respectfully, can be blessings to the human home – blessings that can last for generations. They are wonderful caretakers, loving beings, and they take great pride in their work, their homes, and their adopted families. For those humans who can open their minds to the possibilities, close out fear of the unknown, and who are willing to enter into a paranormal partnership, befriending Brownies could prove to be a magickal experience.

Do you believe?


Title: A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk
Author: Edain McCoy
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
Pub. Date: March 1994
ISBN-13: 9780875427331

Title: Enchantment of the Faerie Realm
Author: Ted Andrews
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
Pub. Date: April 1993
ISBN-13: 9780875420028

Title: Good Faeries, Bad Faeries
Author: Brian Froud
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Pub. Date: October 1998
ISBN-13: 9780684847818

Title: The Ancient Art of Faery Magick
Author: D.J. Conway
Publisher: Crossing Press, Inc., The
Pub. Date: September 2005
ISBN-13: 9781580911573

Title: The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries
Author: Pierre Dubois
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Pub. Date: April 2000
ISBN-13: 9780684869575

Title: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Faeries
Author: Anna Franklin
Publisher: Paper Tiger
Pub. Date: June 2005
ISBN-13: 9781843402404

Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Pub. Date: January 1999
ISBN-13: 9780439064866

Read Full Post »