On the blog we cover a lot of strange things from strange animal evolution to haunting entities that have allegedly scared people to death. Something we don’t cover enough? The sweeter side of folklore. So, today we dive into one of my favorite house buddies - the Brownies
Much of the Brownie folklore is centered in Scotland, specifically the Highlands and several Islands. Much of this is because there is quite a bit of farmland in these places. You know what kind of residences need a lot of help? You guessed it, farmers! The Brownies main job is helping out these fine folk who have tough days and could use an extra helping hand around the house and barn.
Brownies are usually classed as a kind of Fairy. More specifically, they’re a “Hob”, also known as a house spirit. According to Witchcraft Today: An Encyclopedia of Wiccan and Neopagan Traditions Brownies were said, “to be short (about three feet tall) and ragged, with pointed ears, brown complexions, and brown clothes.” Furthermore, “Brownies are traditionally portrayed as intelligent beings who seek out deserving people to serve.”
They tend towards the most “deserving” families, hard-workers who could use a helping hand. To the households they worked for, they didn’t just help with household chores...they also brought luck to the farm. The happier they were (usually aided by cakes and saucers of milk) the luckier the family would be. However, if they go on the bad side of Brownies...it could get a little hairy. And, Brownies are particular. While they do love sweet treats, honey, and milk they do not like to see this as payment for their actions. In fact, if you try to pay them they might get so upset they leave! It is best to do it naturally and as a thoughtful action instead of a cold transaction.
Brownies are nocturnal and do much of their helpful chores and tasks at night. In fact, some folklore claims “that the cock crows not in order to awaken humans but to tell Brownies that it is time to retire.”
If you are interested in attracting a Brownie, there are a few things you can do:
Live in a rural area (especially on a farm or near a mill)
Live in a place with lots of hiding places for the creatures to sleep durng the day and remain unseen.
Make sure your house is cozy
But, before you want to attract a Brownie be wary that they are fickle creatures and that upsetting or offending them can end badly for you. Brownies are loyal creatures and stay at a residence for quite some time. There is one specific Brownie that lived in Leithenhall in southern Scotland. It was rumored that the Brownie had lived at the residence for nearly 300 years and each time someone new took over, the Brownie would present himself and make himself known.
However, once when the residence was changing hands it stood empty for several years. The Brownie, not ready to leave, grew hungry and cold. He was quite sad over the death of the previous owner and longed for busy work and a new family to take care of.
When the new owner finally arrived, the Brownie excitedly presented himself to him. The new owner was quite shocked at the appearance of the unusually lonely and haggard Brownie. He ordered his fleet of servants to get the Brownie new clothes, food, and comfort. Although this was done in kindness, the Brownie immediately took offense and deserted the hall. Shortly after, Leithenhall fell into ruin.
So while Brownies may seem the like the perfect extra roommate you might have to walk on eggshells (and always have a little extra milk) to keep them happy and your luck and life in good standing.
This is an image from title, "Queen's Treasure Series, The Brownie" -- which you can read here! No known copyright restrictions.