Who Are The Gnomes?
Your backyard is more than just a playground. You love to spend hours in it, creating your own private universe. If you are interested in supernatural beings, there are many possibilities and you don't necessarily know where to begin. Let us help you find your way in the mythical world of Faerie.
Getting to know better the various magical creatures is still the best way to know how to plan and optimize their presence in your garden. Don't hesitate to unravel the mysteries of these fairy beings : among myths, tales and legends, you will find trolls, fairies, dwarfs, goblins, elves, sprites (or maybe a leprechaun) and other magical creatures from popular culture.
Here you will find a clear overview of what gnomes are. You will be able to fill your garden with an amazing Nordic mythology, a fairy-tale atmosphere ans other kingdoms. You will be able to make a fairyland around these small supernatural creatures more realistic. You will also understand who these humanoid creatures are and the invisible world where gnomes and their different legendary races live.
- How to spot these enchanted beings;
- The myths and legends surrounding them;
- The different types of gnomes and dwarves.
How to spot a gnome?
Gnomes have developed discreetly, through secret clans and villages, often completely unbeknownst to their larger human neighbors. They are usually invisible to most humans, except for those who have the belief and ability to see them. They are primarily nocturnal and are rarely seen during the day. They have little interest in living in large cities, where their talents could be highly prized, and prefer the green hillsides of the countryside. That said, wherever they find themselves, they still show an amazing zest for life and the pleasures and extravagance it can bring.
They don't like to attract attention, so their shoes are specially designed to leave footprints worthy of a bird's feet. They also wear clothes that help them camouflage themselves in the wild.
Gnomes are sometimes referred to as the forgotten people, a term that seems apt. Few gnomes have ever mingled in the destiny of the vast outside world, and they themselves have only a vague notion of what may have happened to them in the centuries of their own history.
According to various mythologies, the males have long beards, often white. They usually wear a long red-hat and either wooden shoes or leather boots. They have a fair complexion and bright pink cheeks. The females can be recognized by their curly, golden hair, which is said to be as bright as the sun. They also often wear a blouse, a long skirt and an apron.
History & Legends
Gnomes have stayed beside humans throughout history. This is said of them in many Celtic fairy and folk tales, but also in almost all European countries, especially in Germanic, Scandinavian, Irish, Scottish and English folklore and tales.
According to Gnome fables and fairy tales, the deities of the Gnome pantheon were born as gems or veins of ore and treasures in the very heart of the world, before being brought to light by the natural erosion of underground waters. In this sense, the Gnome Gods are as old as the world and have always been a part of it.
These small, fantastic and graceful beings, well hidden, discreet and strange, are only about 12 inches tall and also usually have pointed ears. When confronted with a human, gnomes remain perfectly still, giving them the likeness of a statue.
Gnomes are very hardworking and their presence brings good luck. They are good-natured, peaceful and rather cheerful. They like shiny things like gems and jewelry, and they are excellent craftsmen and fine stone cutters. In the same vein, a gnome can also be an excellent shoemaker.
Gnomes are also known as nature spirits, and are therefore the supernatural guardians of the animal worlds. They care for sick, injured or cursed animals and can often free one caught in a trap.
Vegetarians, they love to eat berries, mushrooms, nuts, roots and vegetables. They make their own fermented beverages: mead (made with honey), raspberry liquor, spiced gin, etc.
This small humanoid, although legendary, is mortal like any living being. He will get old around the venerable age of 400 years. At that point, the gnome wastes away little by little and becomes forgetful. Secretly, and only when he feels the end coming, he will go to die on the Mount of Death, unknown to all men. Sometimes too weak, he will be attacked along the way by a bird of prey that will eat him.
Their magic, magical powers and spells
Gnomes have many supernatural and elemental powers of their own. They can easily, like a forest spirit, speak the language of animals, which allows them to communicate with all the fauna of the forest. They can run very fast, and can easily outrun even the fastest animal. Their eyesight is as sharp as a hawk's and they can spot something from miles away. Even though they are downright tiny, they can be surprisingly strong.
Even more fantastic, the gnome has a supernatural and enchanting sixth sense that allows it to both communicate from a distance in a muted way (in case of fire, earthquake, or flood) and to predict the weather. However, the gnome does not know how to use a compass: if he were to find one or receive one as a gift, he would simply hang it on the wall of his living room as one would hang a picture!
Their habitat and their dwellings
A clan of gnomes can be found in the middle of rocky forests and hilly meadows. They can live in a cozy corner underground, or in a hollow tree. Gnomes have generous reserves of food in their home, and they store everything they need to survive the dark and cold winter months : grains, dried fruits, vegetables, honey, etc.
The different species of gnomes
There are several types of gnomes in the fantastic bestiary, here are the most common...
The Garden Gnome
The garden gnome, already familiar from Germanic folklore, likes to live in old garden, amongst flowers and bushes. He likes to reshape the garden he lives in by moving pots or taking the seeds of a flower and replanting them in another place. If your garden is a little different than you remember, then don't worry: it's just your garden gnome at work, gardening or doing sweet mischievous! Don't be upset, you can be sure that garden gnomes are benevolent.
They are also from the mines worker archetype.
Wood or Forest Gnomes
Forest gnomes are the most secretive, and they are rarely seen by humans. They live in dense forests (such as Broceliande), acting as guardians of the forest and the creatures living there.
Dune gnomes are said to be a bit larger than their cousins, but are just as agile and wiry. They live in the sand dunes of beaches and deserts.
House dwarfs live in the nooks and crannies of human homes (and sometimes in caves too). Of all their cousins, they are the most knowledgeable about human customs, and they can even speak our languages. Gnome kings are often chosen from among this race, because they know the most about their greatest enemies : human beings.
Farm gnomes are rather conservative and quiet. They prefer to live in the barns of old farms, where they tend to the livestock.
New friends in your garden
Gnomes can't hide anything from you anymore. You know a lot about their world, their ways and their customs. You know...
- Their mythologies.
- Their origins.
- Their habitat.
- What they are capable of.
...and we wish they really existed. However, we know that they have been part of the European collective imagination for a very long time. Giving them their rightful place in your garden is also a way to keep this heritage alive.
Besides, although these little magical creatures are rather shy, it is said that a gnome brings immense luck to those who meet him and keeps away all evil influences. So if you continue your quest to discover what this little creature is, good fortune will be following you!
The best way to discover and understand who gnomes are is to look for the traces they leave behind... and recognize that they are all around!