Nymphs, Fairies and Elves.

Nymphs (pl. nymphai) are mythological nature spirits that appear as beautiful young women. Etymologically, the word nymph is related to the Greek word for bride. They are often shown as lovers of gods and heroes or as their mothers. They can be nurturing, as the Nymphs of Nysa were to Dionysus when he was young, or Hephaestus, when he was tossed off Olympus and landed in Lemnos, where the Nereids Eurynome and Thetis tended him. Thetis also helped Zeus and Dionysus when they were in trouble.

eurynome thetis thetis helped zeus dionysus trouble httpancienthistory comodgodsandgoddessesanymphs htm

A fairy (sometimes seen as faery, faerie, or even fae; collectively wee folk) is a spirit or supernatural being that is found in the legends, folklore, and mythology of many different cultures. There are many definitions of what constitutes a fairy, sometimes describing any magical creature, like a goblin or gnome, and at other times to describe a specific type of creature, with short wings.

The fairy, as in the specific creature, was said to have originated in Italy, where they were known as 'Fatae', stemming from the Latin 'Fata' (roughly 'Fate'). They then traveled to France where their name was corrupted to 'fees' and then to Britain where they were known as 'fays', which the countryfolk eventually changed into 'faeries'. Other ways to reference the faerie include the Little People, the Green Men, the Good Folk and the Lordly Ones.

They are generally portrayed as humanoid in their appearance and have supernatural abilities such as the ability to fly, cast spells and to influence or foresee the future. Although in modern culture they are often depicted as young, sometimes winged, females of small stature, they originally were of a much different image: tall, angelic beings and short, wizened trolls being some of the commonly mentioned fay. The small, gauzy-winged fairies that are commonly depicted today did not appear until the 1800s.

mentioned fay gauzy-winged fairies commonly depicted 1800s httpwww mythicalcreaturesguide compagefairy


An elf is a creature of Germanic mythology. The elves were originally thought of as a race of minor nature and fertility gods, who are often pictured as youthful-seeming men and women of great beauty living in forests and underground places and caves, or in wells and springs. They have been portrayed to be long-lived or immortal and as beings of magical powers, used both for the benefit and the injury of mankind.

The name elf is from Old English ælf (plural ylfe), ultimately from a Common Germanic *alboz (also *albiz), corresponding to Old Norse álfr, Old High German alp. It survives as an element in given names such as English and German Alfred, Alfwin, Elfreda, or Scandinavian Alfhild, Alvar. There are no obvious cognates outside of Germanic, but some have compared the ṛbhu, a type of genii in Hindu mythology.

germanic compared bhu type genii hindu mythology httpen wikipedia orgwikielf
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  • Puck ~PHAET 2009/10/24 04:15:08
    Puck ~PHAET
    I'm so glad you posted this. You have no idea how tiresome it is that people seem to think that Tinkerbell is what all faeries look like and that the first thing they think of when they hear the word 'elf' is this:
    glad posted tiresome people tinkerbell faeries hear elf

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