Mythological Creatures: Giants & Gnomes

Ever been embarrassed by your height? (Or lack thereof?) Well, today on the mythological creatures channel, we’re going to make you feel a little shorter (or a little taller) by talking giants and gnomes. You thought you had it rough?

Giants

 
giant_by_saryth-d4yoyr1

Credit to SARYTH of DeviantArt (’cause it’s AWESOME!)

In short, if you didn’t know already, giants are humans of enormous strength and size. Giants pop up in sorts of cultures: Hindu, Native American, Greek, Roman, Norse, Bulgarian, Europe, etc. Giant folklore is thought to have originated from Greek mythology and, while they typically had the body of men, they also were said to have serpentine legs.

Many cultures believe that giants were involved in the creation of the earth — some even saying that the world was formed from the the carcass of a dismembered giant (lovely). Other cultures blame it on a war between giants.
Characteristics of giants:
  • Have a wild nature
  • Occasionally eat humans (think Jack and the Beanstalk) — this comes from the Native American giant mythology.
  • In folklore, giants are usually at odds with the gods.
  • Often not very smart.
In Norse mythology, there are different types of giants associated with the elements. Frost giants (hey, Frozen had one of those!), fire giants (balrog? [wink]), and mountain giants (Hobbit movie!) Anyone feeling a story coming on, yet? (I certainly am.)
Every culture has a different name for its giants.
  • Jotun (Norse culture)
  • Daityas (Hindu)
  • Nephilim (Middle East)
  • Titans (Greek)
  • Formorians (Irish)
Giants can have mood swings. They will often go from helping those who are in trouble to then killing trespassers in their territory. (Will someone please write a story about a bipolar giant? Please?)
What’s my favorite giant, you ask? Why the pancake-eating, axe-swinging, blue ox-riding, lumberjack named Paul Bunyan. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go watch the movie Tall Tale and learn how to deliver fantastic insults (“You flaming pile of buffalo-puckey!”) Okay, and Fezzik.
Books with giants in them:
  • Harry Potter (Grawp!)
  • The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis (and other Narnia novels)
  • Jack the Giant Killer
  • Gulliver’s Travels
  • The Bible
  • The Princess Bride
 
Now…for the tiny people:

Gnomes

12007292_10100293756801497_1812128242_nNo, gnomes are not just ceramic mini-Santas that sit in your garden. They originated from Renaissance magic and alchemy and are, in fact, tiny little spirits that look like tiny humanoids. They also prefer living underground (which is possibly why people started decorating their gardens with them.)
Gnomes, like giants, have different names and different characteristics depending on which culture we look at.
  • Erdmanleins or Heinzemannchens (German) — say those two five times fast.
  • Nisse (Norway)
  • Tontti (Finnish)
  • Foddenskkmaend (Icelandic)
  • Dudje (Bulgaria)
  • Skritek (Belgian)
  • Mano (Hungary)
  • Kleinmanneken (Swiss)
  • Domovoi Djedoes (Russian)
Gnomes live in many areas of the earth, not just gardens. The most common in existence [wink] is the Forest Gnome, but they don’t like people very much. Garden gnomes don’t mind us big folk, and they like to tell melancholy tales. Then there are Dune gnomes who dress very poorly and are one of the larger races of gnomes. House gnomes know the most about human, in fact, they usually speak our languages and all gnome kings arise from the house gnome race. Farm gnomes are similar to house gnomes, but more like peasants. They dress a bit shabbier. Siberian gnomes are like the weird cousin of the gnome breeds. They interbreed with trolls, are rather nasty, and they love revenge.
Characteristics of gnomes:
  • They have a lot of animal friends.
  • They grow roughly 15 centimeters high
  • Gnomes are 7-times stronger than a human
  • They can run 35 mph
  • Rosy cheeks (Santa!)
  • They are some of the best gem-cutters in existence
  • They’re vegetarians and usually eat nuts, mushrooms, and potatoes. They drink honey or dew (not Mountain Dew 😛 )

Now that you’re completely enamored by gnomes and want to go write them into a story, let’s take a look at some of the stories they are in. I’m not very knowledgeable, so you’ll have to let me know which main ones I missed in the comments. 🙂

Books with gnomes:
  • Harry Potter
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis (the gnomes were called earthmen.)
  • Shannara Series by Terry Brook
 
 
Who’s your favorite giant?
What book has gnomes in it?

8 Responses to Mythological Creatures: Giants & Gnomes

  1. Josh Smith September 18, 2015 at 7:43 am #

    My D&D character is a gnome named Sheldon Kneecapper. He was abandoned as a baby and raised by a clan of human barbarians. His cheerful nature has been swapped out for an adrenaline fueled rage. Especially when someone insults his adoptive Mother.

  2. Jeremy R. September 19, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    When I think of gnomes, I think of Shannara.

    I had NO IDEA they were 6″ tall and could run 35 mph!

  3. James Hartline October 6, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Why is any of what you are advocating being promoted on a supposed “Christian” publishing website? Greek mythology, the witchcraft of pagan JK Rowlings’ Harry Potter, gnomes, dragon spell, vampires, zombies, demonic creatures? Your information is very misleading and often incorrect as it relates to your understanding of the origins of such things as vampires. The term vampire was first coined by the physician to sexually perverse satanist and writer Lord Byron in the early nineteenth century. Why any entity claiming to be a Christian publishing source would be involved in this kind of lurid and unbiblical ideology is awful on so many levels.

    Don’t use the excuse that C.S. Lewis used some imaginary creatures in his Chronicles of Narnia during World War II as a justification for what you are doing. The young teens today are living in an entirely different culture than the teens of C.S. Lewis’ era. Today’s teens are actively exploring witchcraft, demon worship, drug use, pornography, the occult and murder, things that teens in World War II would have never considered participating in. Young kids today who have very shallow relationships with Christ will be lured into exploring dark things that will cultivate their own destruction because you have encouraged them to explore such things under the guise of Christianized pagan fantasy and myths.

    Ask yourself, “Will my writing lead the young teen to obey Christ and the Bible – or will they be led to explore things the Bible classifies as sinful such as witchcraft and the occult?”

    Here is what the Bible says about what you are doing:

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
    2 Timothy‬ ‭4:3-4‬

    “To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭1:2-4‬

    • L L February 27, 2017 at 12:35 am #

      Amen!! It’s so good to hear, and know Christian people like you have a voice, and can always refer back to what the Word says. The Word of God. Thank you my Brother.

  4. Emileigh Latham October 12, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    I love Paul Bunyan! Tall Tale is a great movie too!

    *wink* Mountain Dew! 😀

    Another wonderful post, Nadine!

  5. Emileigh Latham October 12, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    Oh, another book series that has gnomes in it is Artemis Fowl. Great reads!

  6. Ben Langhinrichs January 15, 2018 at 2:51 pm #

    Gnomes pay a big role in many of the later Oz books. The gnomes in those live underground and are terribly afraid of eggs.

    • Lilly Lightfoot December 30, 2019 at 10:18 pm #

      I’m almost 46 yrs old. When I was about 8 I was playing on a single rope swing. Just a board tied to the rope hanging from a tree. I was leaning back and swaying back and forth trying to touch my hair to the ground. Suddenly a small squirrel jumped into my view and on his back was a little guy with a dark grey beard and a slightly pointed hat. Not the typical straight pointed hat,, but a somewhat slouch hat. He sat upon a small saddle and he had reins just like you would with a horse. I immediately fell from my swing and onto my belly and for a brief moment the little guy and I made eye contact. He and the squirrel took off and scrambled after them. Nearby was a brush pile and the little guy and squirrel disappeared within it. I tore that pile of brush apart only to find a hole in the ground. I’m sure the little man and his squirrel escaped this way. For years I have thought of that day,,and I’ve often gone back to spot hoping to see him again. I believe in God. I also believe there’s a world around us we can’t see. I know what I saw was real and the imagination of a child. I have told this account to many ppl through out my life and yes many laugh it off. Being a Christian, I am not ashamed to say I believe in the otherworldly or whatever you wanna call it. I’m not gonna say this guy was a gnome, not sure what it was,,but he exists.

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