Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Smallness of Elvish Spirits and Fairies

The Smallness of Elvish Spirits and Fairies

Ethnological or Pygmy Theory
In any anthropological estimate of the Fairy-Faith, the pygmy stature so commonly attributed to various orders of Celtic and of non-Celtic fairies should be considered.[] Various scholarly champions of the Pygmy Theory have attempted to explain this smallness of fairies by means of the hypothesis that the belief in such fairies is due wholly to a folk-memory of small-statured pre-Celtic races; and[ they add that these races, having dwelt in caverns like the prehistoric Cave Men, and in underground houses like those of Lapps or Eskimos, gave rise to the belief in a fairy world existing in caverns and under hills or mountains. When analyzed, our evidence shows that in the majority of cases witnesses have regarded fairies either as non-human nature-spirits or else as spirits of the dead; that in a comparatively limited number of cases they have regarded them as the souls of prehistoric races; and that occasionally they have regarded the belief in them as due to a folk-memory of such races. It follows, then, from such an analysis of evidence, that the Pygmy Theory probably does explain some ethnological elements which have come to be almost inseparably interwoven with the essentially animistic fabric of the primitive Fairy-Faith. But though the theory may so account for such ethnological elements, it disregards the animism that has made such interweaving possible; and, on the whole, we are inclined to accept Mr. Jenner’s view of the theory (see p. 169). Since the Pygmy Theory thus fails entirely to provide a basis for what is by far the most important part of the Fairy-Faith, a more adequate theory is required.