It came from a quote, really, and how folklore has helped paint fiction for today’s group of authors, illustrators and scriptors. We all know about elves, fairies, pixies, trolls, dwarves and the like, some in different ways than other people might. This was a fascinating quote I found to describe it all.
“The aspect of folklore which has the greatest relevance for our understanding of beliefs surrounding the British witch’s familiar, however, is that of fairy belief. The close connections between the witch’s familiar and the fairy have consistently been pointed out by scholars over the past century. In 1921 , in a paper for the journal Folklore, J. A. MacCulloch discussed the close links between the Scottish Devil and the fairy men of folklore, and in 1959 Katharine Briggs touched on these links in her comprehensive study of early modern fairy belief ‘The Anatomy of Puck’. In the early 1970s, Jeffrey Russell noted that ‘The small demons that became the witches’ familiars of the later Middle Ages were originally dwarves, trolls, fairies, elves, kobo Ids, or the fertility spirits called Green men, any of whom could be either frightening or funny’ and Keith Thomas claimed that the cunning man’s fairy helper belongs ‘to the same genre as the witch’s familiar or the conjurer’s demons.” ~Emma Wilby ‘Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits-Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic’
It is one of many things that are written discussing the actual folklore that helped develop many of our current superstitions (and, in quite a few cases, our beliefs). One very good example is that of the fairy ring, which was believed to be a sort of gateway between our world and the world of fae. A simple circle of mushrooms or flowers in the grass. And yet, something like that can help current authors to dream up something plausible that’s related to that myth, and yet something so incredibly different.
I guess the main point I’m making is that we’ve got all this inspiration around us to write something incredible (even the recent discover of Higgs Boson) that we shouldn’t squander it at all.
Write, imagine, dream, create.