• Jo-Anne Blanco

Folklore Thursday: The Muryans of Cornwall

The Muryans are a specific type of tiny fairy native to Cornwall in the southwest of England. Known also the Small People, they appear on the surface to be exceptionally beautiful, often dressed in green; the male Muryans clad velvet jackets and black hats while the female Muryans wear ornate dresses with lace embellished with silver bells. Usually thought of as benevolent, they would visit the poor and the sick to provide them with them food and drink, though, like other types of fairies, they could be fearsome if crossed, despite their diminutive size.

Muryans Fairy Procession By Arthur Rackham
Muryans Fairy Procession By Arthur Rackham

According to Cornish fairy faith, they were supernatural spirits: either fallen angels or Christian souls, who were too sinful to enter Heaven but too good to be sent to Hell. Instead, the clue to their punishment is in the name: in Cornish, the word ‘muryan’ means ‘ant’. The Muryans are condemned to exist on the earth but to dwindle and diminish each time they shape-shift into another form until they became the size of ants and eventually disappear completely. What happens to the soul of a Muryan after it disappears is not known.

Because it is believed that ants are the souls of the fairies in a state of decay, in Cornwall to this day it is considered unlucky to kill an ant or to destroy an anthill. If you place a piece of tin in a colony of ants – known as a Muryans’ bank – at the waxing of the moon, the tin will be turned into silver.

Morgan encounters the Muryans and their Queen* in Books I and III of the Fata Morgana Series.

*See upcoming blog on Caelia Fairy Queen

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