The Joy of Research: The Fae… The Working Class: Brownies

Even in the most glamorized and powerfully magical societies there are still those who do the work that none of those in high society wishes to do. They are the ones that do the dirty jobs, they take on the backbreaking and even sometimes bloody tasks that no one else wants to sully their hands with. These Fae are also those, even more so than any other, work the closest around human society on a day-to-day basis. Their jobs are often thankless, their loyalty and devotion taken for granted by the Fae nobility, and while they do tend to have higher fertility rates the other Fae, they also have more finite lifespans in the whole. For these reasons they are often treated as expendable by the Fae royalty in times of war or hardships, with little to no voice over the choices made it affect their lives that of their families.

While there are many Fae working-class, one of the more numerous are the brownies. Pay particular attention to the Bwbach, for one of their kin may play an especially important role in the goings-on of Natural Rebirth.

Brownies ~ are solitary fairies generally tied to singular location. They take on tasks in the household, farm, etc. like cleaning, sewing, grinding grain for flour, and other similar tasks to assist those living in its territory. Though most stories note brownies to be male only, that is because in most cases female brownies care for their young ones in a hidden den on their territory while the males do the tasks for the household. This is why it is so important for the humans to leave offerings if they wish brownies to continue to do these tasks for them, since the cream, honey, or sweet pastries are carried back by the male to feed the family. These offerings aren’t direct payment to a brownie, which would be considered a great insult, but a tid bit left behind for them to “find” while doing their tasks. On average, within the mythos of the Guardian Circle, common brownies average between 18 inches and 36 inches in height. Adult males tend to have beards, and brownie facial features are very round and childlike. Never criticize the work of a brownie, for such insults are what can change a helpful brownie into a mischievous boggart. They normally are not seen by humans, so therefore most tend to be very shy when a human tries to communicate with them directly. This is not the case of all brownie species, but tends to be a characteristic of the common brownie.

Bannik ~ Russian house fairy that looks after freshwater ponds and bathhouses. You should leave out your bathwater or a special pail of water for them, or they will be very annoyed. Every third firing of the heated water for a bath should be for them alone and not used by humans. And upset bannik might use their sharp claws to flay a human alive. They creep under the benches in the bath house, giggling or making a hissing sounds. If they caress your back while you bathe this is a good omen, if they scratch you this is bad luck. Banniks are sometimes glimpsed through the steam of saunas and may take on the appearance of a relative or family friend. Often given offerings of fir tree branches, soap and hot water.

Bwbach ~ these Welsh brownies are small and stout generally wearing large red hats, loin cloths, and fur cloaks. Mischievous but not malicious, they protect the house in which they live but can be mischievous pranksters if not regularly fed. They can transport humans using the wind, though are not always kind about it if they decide they don’t like the human. They hate teetotalers and people who stick their nose into other people’s business. They are dedicated to the old pagan ways and are not particularly fond of self-righteous ministers. When especially annoyed, or the need arises they can shape shift into a human form of their choosing for a limited time.

Appletree Brownies/Grigs ~ tend to be helpers of the Queine of Pharie, so serve as caretakers for the apple orchards she protects. They are smaller than a typical brownie, generally no bigger than a large grasshopper, and tend to dress in green clothing and red caps. Grigs are not solitary in nature like the common brownie is, both men and women share the duties of caring for the orchard and of the young. Unlike many Fae nobles, the Queine of Pharie shows great appreciation to the brownies in her orchards which has earned her their love and devotion.

Fenodyree ~ who are a very hairy version of the Scottish brownie, especially around the legs which makes them appear almost saytr like, though smaller. They are agile, fast, and strong and tend to not wear any clothing because they believe clothing is unhealthy and the cause of disease. These manx brownies are helpful and tend to openly trade for work they do even if it’s something as small as leftover food or wine. They are easily offended.

Hob/Hobthrust ~ Midland and Northern England brownie. Hobs and hobthrusts live in a small cave called a Hob Hole, and are well known for their ability in curing children of childhood ailments such as whooping cough. Hobs tend toward being more of a house brownie in the tasks they prefer, and hobthrusts tend to guard roads and lonely places, preferring tasks that allow them to be outdoors more. Both can be either helpful or malicious as they choose, generally dependent on how they have been treated. Like many brownies, a hob must never be offered clothing or he will take offense and stop helping with household tasks. Both hobs and hobthrusts are said to be small, hairy men, though it is rumored that Tolkien got his idea for hobbits based on hobs. For this reason and at the author’s amusement, the hobs and hobthrusts within the Guardian Circle resemble small hobbits.

Killmoulis ~ The Scottish mill house version of a hob is called a killmoulis, and they said to look like a little old man with an enormous nose but no mouth who eats by stuffing things up their nose. They are especially fond of pork. The killmoulis lives in the kiln in front of a fireplace and wails of illness or misfortune was that comes the mill or the miller’s family. Though helpful, the killmoulis is also a practical joker.

Wag at the Wa ~ Lowland and Border Scotland brownie who is ugly but friendly. In appearance they look like an ugly old man with short, crooked legs and a long tail wearing a red coat, blue breaches, and a great cloak with an old nightcap tied around his face as he is much plagued by toothach. Their favorite seat is the empty pod hook hanging over the fire. If a servant swings the hook the brownie will appear. They plague idle servants but when all is going well, and the household is happy, they can be heard laughing. They are teetotalers and get annoyed with the family drink anything stronger than homebrewed ale.

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