In general, earth faeries either work with or are a part of the element of earth. They can be helpful or harmful, tricksters or benign spirits. There are a lot of different kinds of earth fae; I will cover this topic in several different posts. You might not think some of them are earthy; and indeed they don’t always fall under this characterization. They are faeries after all. This kind of classification helps humans to make sense out of beings who don’t always make sense. This first part will focus on gnomes, dryads and elves, those beings who live in and around green plants.
You have probably seen a cutesy little gnome figurine sitting in someone’s garden. This isn’t exactly what they look like, and gnomes in general are disappointed that their image has become synonymous with Snow White’s Seven Dwarves. Some gnomes do tend to live in gardens and offer their support to plant life, particularly those plants that have deep roots. They enjoy vegetable gardens more than flower beds, as they are very practical (for faeries). Gnomes love to see humans growing their own fruits and vegetables, and often bless them with a bountiful harvest. People who have a good relationship with gnomes have good intuition when it comes to growing plants, either indoors or outdoors.
Most gnomes live under the earth rather than on the surface. They dwell under the roots of the tallest trees, encouraging them to grow deeper. Many times, they work in concert with dryads. Both kinds of fae help the trees to grow and are devastated when trees are cut down.
You might have heard about dryads if you studied Greek mythology. These are beings whose spirits inhabit trees. The older the tree or the forest, the more likely there are many dryads living there. Sometimes they can be referred to as nymphs, but this is a more general term for nature spirits.
A dryad is tied to a tree for life. As long as that tree lives, the dryad will live. They don’t tend to travel very far away from their tree. If you are so lucky to have one living in your yard, you must take excellent care of your tree. You can tell there is a dryad or gnome helping your tree to grow because that tree will look like it has a face or an eye on it. It can also just feel special or different. It could also turn exquisite colors in the fall even if all the other trees in your neighborhood are just turning brown.
Should said tree become sick, do everything in your power to save that tree instead of cutting it down. If you cut it down, the dryad will die, and the gnome will move on. You won’t be able to grow any tree in that spot again until more faeries are invited to come live there again. Sometimes the dryad could move into another nearby tree, but that is quite a rare event.
Oh, there is so much to talk about with elves; they could take an entire blog post of their own. While many now see elves as beautiful creatures akin to Arwen or Galadriel, this is only one type of elf, and there are many kinds. Some forms of these beings can belong to the Sidhe (the “Shining Ones”), to the Seelie Court, or even to the Unseelie Court. They can be huge and terrible, or small and helpful. They can look close to human or completely unhuman. Generally speaking, elves are the protectors and care-givers of the forest. If you’ve ever felt eyes on you when you’re walking in the woods, or felt unwelcome, you probably have encountered some anxious elves.
While they, like most fae, are long-lived, they are also tied to the specific forest they protect. They can die or become damaged if their forest or even parts of it are cut down. Some could move on, limping from forest to forest, but that is rather rare. These beings tend to live in the oldest and most wild parts of the country, though some have been domesticated and live in metro parks. They usually live in groups rather than as solitary beings.
Elves don’t typically like humans or human company. Some can, though many are wary of us and are very impatient with our irresponsibility toward the state of the planet. They do not like people who leave trash after camping, or those who walk through forests without picking up litter.