Thursday, June 15, 2017

GO BIG OR GO GNOME

Posted by: Dani Harper, AUTHOR

Image from Bigstock.com
Hi, my name is Dani, and I collect gnomes. Which might be somewhat normal except I didn't intend to collect gnomes! I didn't plan to have any gnomes ever. Gnomes were not part of my overall landscape design or my home decor plans. And then my mother gave me a gnome. You know the one, the little guy that promises you'll never have to roam alone? She’d never heard of Travelocity, she just saw him and thought he was cute.

Admittedly, he WAS kind of cute. But he looked so lonely amidst the flowers all by himself. Being a bit of marshmallow heart, I decided to get him a friend. Just one, honest! And then I figured they probably needed some shelter from the sun and rain and so forth, so I got them a big ceramic mushroom. And before I knew it, there were more gnomes. And more mushrooms. And gnomes, gnomes, gnomes! The long and short is that I now have an entire gnomish civilization at the side of my house.

Part of the gnome colony at my house! (Photo by Dani Harper)
At first, I was certain that the grandkids would be delighted by the whimsical community of pointy-hatted citizens. Instead, they walked right by them. No guests have ever acknowledged their presence, no visiting neighbors have ever commented. Not once. And then suddenly I understood what was going on. Nobody can see them! My innocent-looking garden gnomes have cast a S-P-E-L-L. 

Why would I come to such a conclusion? Because historically gnomes have both magical powers AND the tendency to use them.

How else can I explain the large contingent of garden gnomes that crept into one of my faery novels? See STORM WARNED (Book 3 of the Grim Series). No doubt about it, I’m definitely under serious gnomish influence!

GNOMES IN MYTH AND LEGEND:

Gnomes form one of four groups of Elementals, according to the 16th century writings of Paracelsus. A gnome is an earth spirit and immortal, and there are many cultures around the world that have stories of similar mythical creatures such as the tomte of Sweden, the duende of Mexico, and the coblyn of Wales (coblyns appear in my Grim Series novels a lot!). The word gnome comes from the Greek genomos meaning "earth-dweller."

Said to be able to swim through soil and rock like a fish through water, gnomes come in several types such as Garden Gnomes, Farm Gnomes, Forest Gnomes, House Gnomes, and even Cave Gnomes. Gnomes range in size from a few inches tall to two or three feet in height. Some stories claim that gnomes are faster than they look, able to run about 35 mph!  There are also tales of gnomes being seven times stronger than a man.

Some of my favorite gnomes! (Photo by Dani Harper)
Like humans, not all gnomes are friendly or well-intentioned. Fortunately, the majority of them tend to be helpful and benevolent. They take an interest in the wellbeing of their surroundings --- for instance, ensuring that the garden is healthy, that plants and trees grow strong, that dwellings are clean and tools repaired, and that both wildlife and livestock are looked after. Some wineries in France have been rumored to take gnomes very seriously! Traditionally, the little guys look after the vineyard soil.

The magical powers of gnomes are similar to those of all faery tribes. They can protect or punish at will. A farmer who doesn’t take care of his animals could find himself the target of severe pranks! On the other hand, the aid of gnomes might be solicited by leaving food for them on the back porch or in the garden. Bread and milk is a popular choice for faeries, but gnomes have been rumored to favor beer and cheese...

Cave gnomes are said to be particularly sympathetic to miners (like the coblyns of Wales), and there are stories dating back to Roman times of gnomes knocking on the rocks of tin mines to warn the slaves of approaching dangers such as tunnel collapses. (Mind you, other stories tell of gnomes guarding the treasures of the earth and trying to lure miners away from them!)

HISTORY OF GARDEN GNOMES:

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Most of us are familiar with garden gnome figurines – after all, they date all the way back to Roman times! But the modern version became popular in Germany and other European countries in the early 1800s. The Griebel company in Gräfenroda, Germany, created its very first gnome in 1884. Not only does it still make and sell gnomes, it maintains a popular gnome museum!

Victorian England embraced the gnome in the 1840s after Sir Charles Isham brought 21 terra cotta gnomes from Germany to Lamport Hall, his home in Northamptonshire. One of those original gnomes still survives today! “Lampy”, as he is called, is on display in the Hall and is considered the oldest garden gnome in the world. He is valued at $2 million in US currency.

GNOME TRIVIA:

The Gnome Knows... is a wine label from vineyards in the Languedoc region in the south of France.

There is a Royal Gnome! According to an official list published by Buckingham Palace, Princess Anne of the Royal Family received a garden gnome as a gift in 2013.

Image from Bigstock.com
The German word for gnome is Gartenzwerg, which translates to garden dwarf. Currently there are approximately 25 MILLION gnomes in Germany alone, and many people take them indoors for the winter. It's traditional (and often considered lucky) to display the gnome in the home if possible, or at least give them a dry shelf in the garden shed.

Since the 1990s, gnome liberation groups have sprung up across several European countries and in some American states. One of the most famous of these is the Front de LibĂ©ration des Nains de Jardin in France. Garden gnomes are “rescued” and released into the woods (claimed to be their natural habitat). Other groups work towards the ethical treatment of gnomes, claiming that being forced to stand in gardens is involuntary servitude. There are even gnome sanctuaries, such as the ones in Putford, England and Barga, Italy!

International Gnome Day is June 21st. The occasion began in 2002 and is now observed by more than a dozen countries. (Not to be confused with World Gnome Day which appears to be held in May!) There is also a Gnome Festival celebrated in August in Seabrook, Washington, and there's an annual Gnome March every April in Atlanta, Georgia. 

In fact, there's even a category in the Guinness Book of World Records for "Largest Gathering of People Dressed As Garden Gnomes. The current record is 478!   

Created using image from Bigstock.com
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Love Faeries? Check out The Grim Series by Dani Harper

STORM WARRIOR, STORM BOUND, and STORM WARNED
And watch for my upcoming release, STORM CROSSED!

Note: Every book in this series is designed to stand alone. It's more fun to read them in order, but not necessary.
Legend, love, lore, and magic...
See ALL my novels on my Amazon Author Page
or go to my website at http://www.daniharper.com

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