The Fairies and Goblins of Mount Nysa


It did not escape my notice that Liberalia celebrates Dionysos’ connection with bees and their liquid treasure just before we spring into the Gold Season.

There is another hill not far from Philippi which is called the Hill of Dionysos, in which are gold mines called the Asyla. (Appian, Civil Wars 4.13.106 )

This is when we honor him as the King:

It seems suitable to point out the various discoveries of different persons. Father Liber instituted buying and selling, and also invented the emblem of royalty, the crown, and the triumphal procession. (Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.191)

And when he is closest to the Fairies and Goblins in his Retinue.

I believe that the creatures called “Goblins” in those sources are a combination of Dökkálfar and Κόβαλοι (with a few other random forest creatures added to the mix over the years), and I told a story about his first meeting with them here. You’ll note that it is essentially a retelling of Walter Map’s tale of King Herla from De Nugis Curiallium, but with a name-change for the Ruler Below:

The old stories tell us that Herla, the king of the very ancient Britons, was led into a compact by another king, seemingly a pigmy in the lowness of his stature, which did not exceed that of an ape. As the story hath it, this dwarf drew near, sitting on a huge goat—just such a man as Pan is pictured, with glowing face, enormous head, and a red beard so long that it touched his breast (which was brightly adorned with a dappled fawn skin), a hairy belly, and thighs which degenerated into goat-feet. Herla spake to him with no one by. Quoth the pigmy: ‘I, the king of many kings and chiefs and of a people numerous beyond all count, come willingly, sent from them to thee, and though I am to thee unknown, yet I glory in the fame which hath raised thee high above other kings, since thou art the best and the nearest to me in place and blood, and art moreover worthy of having me grace with high honour thy wedding as a guest, when the King of the French giveth his daughter to thee—an arrangement concluded with¬out thy knowledge, and Jo, his messengers come this very day. Let there be an abiding compact between us, that I shall attend thy wedding, and thou mine a year later to the day.’ With these words he turned his back with more than a tiger’s swiftness and vanished from the king’s sight.

In my story he is named Adranos after the Sicilian fire-God who lived beneath Aetna with his sons the Palikoi and thousand hunting hounds before being driven out by Hephaistos. But more on them later. 

I believe the Fairies in Dionysos’ Retinue are actually a tribe of Ljósálfar or Light Elves who swore their loyalty to him (whether or not he’s a son of Óðinn and Prince of Álfheimr) and fought under him during the Æsir-Vanir War. When he afterward went into exile they followed, forming one of the oldest strata of the Retinue along with the Satyrs and Titans:

The struggle having proved sharp and many having fallen on both sides, Kronos finally was wounded and victory lay with Dionysos, who had distinguished himself in the battle. Thereupon the Titans fled to the regions which had once been possessed by Ammon, and Dionysos gathered up a multitude of captives and returned to Nysa. Here, drawing up his force in arms about the prisoners, he brought a formal accusation against the Titans and gave them every reason to suspect that he was going to execute the captives. But when he got them free from the charges and allowed them to make their choice either to join him in his campaign or to go scot free, they all chose to join him, and because their lives had been spared contrary to their expectation they venerated him like a God. Dionysos, then, taking the captives singly and giving them a libation of wine, required of all of them an oath that they would join in the campaign without treachery and fight manfully until death. (Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 3.71.4-6)

Over the centuries other Fairies, Elves, Vily and assorted wood Spirits have joined but this tribe remains the core of the Nysan Fey. 

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