Household Sprites

Among the Household Sprites include the Scandinavian Tomte, the Finnish Haltija, Slavic Domovoi, the Heinzelmännchen and some Kobolds of Germany, and English Hobs, and Hobgoblins, the Welsh Coblyn, some of the Hawaiian Menehune, the ancient Roman Lares, and many others.  They are the sprites of the household, and they take vital interest in the families they have adopted.

Household Sprites tend to be very small, perhaps as small as the hand of an adult human.  Like pixies and brownies, they dress in human clothes, but their clothes are much less likely to be anachronistic.  They usually are very retiring at any time their families are awake, and are only very rarely seen.

Household Sprites tend to live in parts of the home that are unused.  In a house with an empty room, they will often move in there.  They are very likely to live in attics or seldom used closets.  If they are pressed for space, they will move into the space behind the books on a shelf or under a bed.

They are usually attracted not merely to a household and its families, but also certain activities within the household.  It is very common for Household Sprites to be active in the kitchen.

Illustration from English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, 1902. Public domain.

In the old days, when cooking and heating were done on a hearth, they sometimes took energy from the fire, but it was not the heat of combustion that provided them with energy, rather it was the movement of the rising gasses and smoke.  Today, in kitchens with microwave ovens and electric ranges, such Hearth Sprites are mostly displaced from that job.  They still function within the household, but their activity is reduced.  This is unfortunate, because they contributed greatly to the cohesiveness of their families.  Of course, they will be present before a fire in a fireplace, or at a cookout in the yard, and any such family get together is a likely place to find them.

There are other Household Sprites.  Some like to inhabit sewing rooms.  Some like libraries.  In fact, nearly every room in a house and nearly every household activity has some type of Household Sprite who might like to participate.

Some Household Sprites seem rather unpleasant, until you get to know them.  In earlier times, there were sprites of the woodpiles.  In later times, when people began to burn coal, these same sprites moved to the coal bins, and became rather dirty looking.  Now, in an age when people tend to burn oil or gas, they simply sit in the basement, alone or in small groups.  I am not sure why, but they also seem to be hunched and rather grumpy.  They are not at all unpleasant, once you get to know them.  They have a wonderful sense of humor, and seem quite fond of people who are willing to visit them, provided, of course, that they and their homes are treated with respect

Illustration from English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, 1902. Public domain.

Household sprites have problems with watching television.  This is because their instinctive linguistic system is a form of telepathy.  They can see the television’s picture, and the can hear the sounds a television makes, but it is hard for them to understand what is going on. The languages of Wee Folk themselves are primarily telepathic, and since the words from a television or radio are entirely auditory, they miss nearly everything that is spoken. Instead, they are left wondering about what is going on, and very bored, unless someone watching pays attention and translates the language for them telepathically.  Some people do this unconsciously, but most do not. We could hope the television will induce some to learn human language, but I doubt it will happen often.

They like all sorts of music.  Regrettably for me, this occasionally includes some forms I do not like.  I find it very annoying to have to listen to a Household Sprite’s interpretation of rap.  Since they don’t have the auditory language, all that remains is a somewhat irregular beat, which is combined with mental images that are not very enjoyable.  The fact is, they can get as annoying as any teenager.

The legends of Household Sprites tend to relate to their playing pranks and their doing household chores.  They play pranks because they are angry.  Things that make them angry include disrespect of them, the areas where they live, or just about anything that should have respect.  They can play pranks on naughty children, but they can be downright dangerous for adults who abuse their children.  They can get upset when an animal is needlessly hurt, or even when plants are needlessly uprooted.

On the more positive side, the Household Sprites can help with chores. The legends say they do chores for people, if they are happy, but this is not entirely true. Rather than doing the chores themselves, which would be very difficult for them, they make the chores easy and enjoyable.  They can be so good at this that a person they assist can finish a day’s work feeling more refreshed than at the start of it.

The worst problems faced by Household Sprites arise from the reduction of cohesiveness of the family in modern life, the displacement they feel when manual work is replaced by automated machines, and the fact that modern families move as much as they do.

For thousands of years, in all sorts of cultures, Household Sprites have been attached to families.  Today’s families, however, are not what they are used to, and feel very unnatural to them.  What they are used to is extended families or strong nuclear families, depending on the culture.  Today, families tend to be disunited in ways that make many Household Sprites return to nature, where they live with animals.  It is a shame, because people benefit from their presence, and they enjoy the relationships they have with humans.

Automated life is not something they find attractive.  The energy of doing things by hand includes much more than muscle power, and they get energy from the spiritual flow and intellectual processes that go on while manual work is being done.  By contrast, the equipment we use today is very sterile to them, and without sustenance.

Illustration from English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, 1902, artist J. D. Batten, 1895. Public domain.

There are a few Household Sprites who like to move often.  These are members of tribes that historically have lived nomadic lifestyles.  They are, however, in a minority.  Most Household Sprites find home moving distressingly unsettling, to the point that they often leave families who move too often.  They could stay in a house, and adopt the next family to move in, but it is usually too late for that by the time they have come to realize their families will move often.  The result is that there are large numbers of displaced, and homeless, Household Sprites.

A homeless Household Sprite is a truly pitiable creature.  We can do something about it, and this should be easy for a lot of people who are likely not to move about, especially if they like to do manual work such as cooking, sewing, gardening, playing acoustical musical instruments and so on.  People who paint and sculpt can especially benefit from households sprites, who very much like participating and can impart spiritual energy to the artwork.  The thing we need to do is open our homes to them.

This might mean providing space they can inhabit.  Very often, this simply means an uncluttered corner in the attic, but we should not assume they would automatically be satisfied with such a place.  A Household Sprite who is artistic might like a place in a studio, or any work of art in the home; they can live in paintings and statues.  They can live in vases and plants, as well.  The only real trick to this is to find a place where the sprite feels at home, and then respect that place as a permanent home for them.  Most people can do this intuitively, if they have a good intent.  One thing that can attract Household Sprites is to be kind to wild animals, especially by putting out food when they are hungry in the winter or water on a hot summer day.

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