Little People, Fairies, Giants, Mermaids, Werewolves and Wild Men. Do we simply regard them all as products of the universal unconscious mind — a mind that stretches between cultures, times and geographic location? On the other hand, do we assign a possibility that they may be based on reality, or at least a reality that co-exists within our own sense of reality?
This question is not a new one by any means. Douglas Hyde, President of the Gaelic League at the turn of the 20th century wrote, "the problem we have to deal with is a startling one...Are these beings of the spirit world real beings, having a veritable existence of their own, or are they only the creation of the imagination of...informants, and the tradition of bygone centuries?...Is not the Mermaid to be found in Greece, and is not the Lorelei as Germanic as the Kelpy is Caledonian. If we grant that all these are creatures of primitive folk-belief, then how they come to be so ceases to be a Celtic problem, it becomes a world problem."1
What we do know is that accounts of "Little People," Fairies, Wild Men and giants are common among Native American people as they are among the people of Europe, Africa and Asia. Many of their stories and descriptions are for the most part, identical. Why is this? I am afraid that I do not have an answer to this question (only guesses) and can only provide more related folklore, theories and suppositions for consideration. I hope that by the end of this study you will be able to decide for yourself.
1. Hyde, Douglas. "Taking of Evidence in Ireland" in The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. Mineola: Dover Publications Inc. 2002, pgs 25, 28. A reprint of the 1911 edition published by Henry Frowde, London.
The scope of this work is the folklore and mythology of Native American and the other indigenous people of the world. Part One is concerned primarily with the mystical creatures that are spoken of and written about for thousands of years in most every corner of the world. Part Two is about the spirit beings appearing in animal and insect form that have accompanied spiritual belief and traditions around the world. These spirit beings are universally recognized for many similar reasons. We will compare their accounts with similar tales from other times and places, and explore the commonality of these legends.
This book is admittedly one of a broad study. I have brought together many tales of a mythic and folkloric nature to illustrate how universal our beliefs truly are — not how different one culture is from the next, but how similar they are. Even though Victorian writers are no longer in favor these days, the Victorians were the best at collecting and relating folktales from many different cultures, so they cannot be left out. These references are based upon first hand knowledge of many indigenous people that no longer exist either physically or culturally. A book which deals with worldwide phenomena and oral histories must be approached in a way that allows a global comparison. Those who discount everything said by Victorian scholars such as Sir James Frazer because he made some assumptions that were later found to be incorrect do the rest of us a major disservice. A huge amount of knowledge would be lost without these works.
The subjects for this book were chosen because they are recognized the world over. Fairies and Wild Men, mermaids and giants have been important in many cultures throughout time. The twelve animal/insect spirits in Part Two were chosen for the same reason. By showing the similarities as well as the differences of these stories, we show the common mythic root that we all have. We also see that the importance of these subjects remains with all of us even today.
This book has been written with a broad readership in mind. It is written for individuals who are curious about history and ancient traditions and how these traditions are linked to the rest of humankind, regardless of geography or time. It is also written so that many of these ancient customs and traditions, superstitions and beliefs may be remembered, at least in book form. Anytime we lose facts, folklore, or other details of our history, we also lose much more that links all people together in our common experiences.
Finally, this book has been written to create questions and to challenge readers to conduct further exploratory research on their own so that other possibilities and realities may be experienced.
Little People and Giants, Wild Men, Mermaids and Other Mythic Creatures
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