Spriggan Sighting

Flossie Benton Rogers is featuring spriggans, those irascible Cornish faeries, in today’s “Mythic Monday” feature.

If spriggans are your thing, you might want to read my last year’s post about the beasties.


Korreds: The Underground Folk of Brittany

Korreds (also called Korrs) are guardians of treasures and standing stones in the folklore of Brittany (northwestern France). They prefer to live underground, in caves under the dolmens. They might also live under heaths, in sea-cliff caves, or in natural caverns. The related teuz and poulpikan types live in bogs or swamps.

Korreds have the strength of giants despite their small stature. They are said to live beneath the dolmen stones of Brittany. They have bright red eyes, dark skin, and often a hunched back. They are prophets as well as magicians, and are said to know the secrets of all treasures hidden in their neighborhood. They congregate around stone circles and love dancing but are more malevolent than other Gallic faeries. They are sometimes called bogul noz, “Children of the Night.”

The main delight of korreds is in dancing, which they do so vigorously that the grass burns in circles under their feet. They only dance at night, and usually on Wednesday, their traditional day off. They react with violence to mortals who disturb their dance-rituals, although mortals may be swept up in the ecstasy of the dance. Korreds are not always unkind to mortals, but they are never overly friendly.

In ancient times, Phoenician dwarves or sprites arrived in Brittany and intermarried with certain families of korreds. These dwarves were both kouretes (courètes) and karkinoi, another word for kabeiroi (carikines). Modern korreds are divided into the “old korreds,” the original pure lineage, and the “new korreds” who have a bit of this foreign heritage. Old Korred lineages include: Jetins (somewhat shorter), Vihans (also shorter), Hommes Cornus (from Gascony), Corics, Kerions, Kouricans, Gwazig-Gan, Kourils (or Courils), and Korandon. New Korred lineages include: Corriquets, Guerrionets, Korriks, Boudiguets, C’Horriquets, Corrandonnets, and Kornikaned (carry small horns on their belts).

In other parts of France, these beings are known as crions. They are also found in the Pyrenees and in Cornwall, where they are known as spriggans. Unlike spriggans, korreds are apparently unable able to grow to giant size.

Spriggans: Unpleasant Cornish Sprites

tornadoSpriggans are a type of faery being from Cornish mythology. They are associated both with storms and stone ruins. By most accounts, they are closely related to pisgies (aka pixies). In fact, some suggest they are the same sort of being, with pisgies more mischievous and spriggans more outright malevolent. Others say spriggans came originally from Brittany, where they were called korreds. If this is so, their affinity for winds suggest they may be descended from the Crion family of korreds, those most firmly associated with whirlwinds. Spriggans send storms to blight crops.

These fae are also closely associated with the cromlechs or standing stones that dot the Cornish countryside. Like all fae, they love to cause mischief to those who offend them. They sometimes steal away mortal children, leaving their ugly changelings in their place.

They are often found at old ruins, cromlechs, and barrows guarding buried treasure and generally acting as faery bodyguards. As guards to both standing stones and hidden treasures, they correspond very closely to the Breton korred. They are also busy thieves and expert kidnappers of children.

Spriggans serve as slaves or warriors of more powerful fae. Some believe they are the ghosts of former giants, as they have the ability to swell to enormous size. They are also said to have a giant’s strength. They are often charged with guarding buried treasure.

In addition to their sour disposition, these fae are described as being grotesquely ugly. Like their korred cousins, spriggans love music and dance. Though their appearance and temperament are often distasteful, it is said that their music is quite beautiful.