Deep in a crevice in the rocky mountains
that now border France and Spain, a swarthy,
ugly race of fairies came into being.
Undetected at first, the diminutive creatures
spread throughout Europe, dwelling in
the mossy cracks of rocks and tree roots.
Finding humans, they ventured into villages.
Hiding away on boats, they made their
way to England. As people began to spot
them, their reputation grew. Ill-mannered,
poorly-behaved, with putrid breath, goblins
began to populate stories and folklore.
Although the nature of goblins varies
from menacing to malevolent, all goblins
love chaos and trouble. A goblin may hide
small objects or alter a signpost to trick
a traveler. They weave nightmares out
of cobwebs, which they insert into human
ears. Some goblins have even stolen human
babies, exchanging them for ugly goblin
infants, called changelings. Even their
laughter sours milk and causes fruit to
fall from trees.
When humans began mining for metals and
minerals, cave-dwelling goblins took their
mischief to new levels. Blowing out the
miners’ dim lanterns and breaking their
tools, these cave-goblins became known
as “knockers” for the mysterious tapping
noises they made to confuse the miners
in the dark underground tunnels. (In other
countries, knockers are known by other
names: In Germany they are called kobolds
and wichtlein, while they are called coblynau
in Wales.) Offended by the miners' whistling
or swearing, knockers showered the miners'
heads with small stones. If it appeared
a miner had lost his wits, heartless knockers
would pop out from the rocks, pulling
their already ugly faces into horrible
grimaces to torment him further. With
time, however, some miners found a way
to calm, and even befriend their underground
foes. By leaving a portion of their pastie—the
miner’s traditional meal—the miners could
win a knocker’s goodwill. In return, a
knocker might lead the miner to a wealthy
As miners tore away and
destroyed the goblins’ cavernous homes,
the goblins returned the favor in like
kind. Following the men into their villages,
goblins took up living in farmhouses,
taking their revenge upon the human households.
It was found that many goblins favored
children—especially naughty children!
At first such children, attracted by the
goblins’ wicked sense of humor, agreed
to their do goblin-friend’s bidding. However,
a goblin is never a loyal friend, as many
children learned when deserted to receive
severe punishments on their own. From
their hiding spots, goblins rejoiced to
watch adults lose their tempers and mete
out severe punishments upon their children.
Like the miners, housewives
soon found a way to chase off goblins
who had taken up residence in their houses.
By always remaining sweet-tempered, the
ladies managed to bore the pests, sending
him to look elsewhere for excitement.
If that failed to work, the housewife
could try spreading flax seed across her
floors over night. Sometimes the goblin
would feel compelled to pick up the seed
by hand. Goblins, like gnomes, cannot
endure the sunlight of day, and if their
task could not be finished by dawn’s light,
the frustrated goblin—unable to cause
any mischief for the night, would move
Goblins are known to mimic
human actions. How they are perceived
in the natural world must give humans
pause to reflect—for the goblin nature
may very well be nothing more than a mirror
held up to mankind, showing us the very
worst aspects of our culture!
About the Author:
This article was written by Robin Daniels.
Robin is a mystic and contributes to Mystical