For those of us who know, the world of Lamias and Sprites is a strange and marvelous one.
Lamias, it is said, are women who at night come into our homes to empty the barrels, peer into the baskets, pots, and containers, throw infant children out of their cradles, light the lamps and sometimes wake the sleeping inhabitants.
As for sprites, it is generally agreed that they can take human form and often will travel in public places, making a sport of passing among others without being recognized. It is said they have elaborate homes in the depths of lakes and rivers, and that they lure women and children who are bathing in the waters by taking the shapes of things such as gold rings and goblets. And when they try to grab these objects, the sprites seize them and drag them beneath the surface.
This happens most often to women who are suckling as the sprites require them to act as wet-nurses to their children. But strangely after seven years time the sprites release the women they have captured back into our world, well rewarded and apparently no worse for their ordeal. They return with stories of how they have lived in vast palaces in the murky depths and under the banks of rivers as the wives of the sprites.
I have seen for myself a woman who was carried off in this way when she was washing laundry on the banks of a river. Trying to reach what appeared to be a wooden cup which was floating nearby she went in to the deep water and was carried off.
Taken to the home of the sprite who became her captor, she was forced to become a wet nurse to it’s son. But seven years later she returned to our world, though she had great difficulty getting her husband and friends to recognize her.
She told tales of truly extraordinary things beneath the water, of strange creatures and fantastic mansions. She spoke of the great kindness with which she had been treated and how the sprites would transform themselves into human shape in order to make her and the others like her feel more comfortable.
One day her captor gave her a piece of eel pie as part of her meal. She found that after she had accidentally rubbed some of the grease on her cheek and in to her eye that she was able to see clearly through the water and to see the sprites in their true form.
When her time of service as a nurse had ended, and she had returned back to her home, there was a morning that she visited the market square and saw at a distance the sprite which had been her captor and her benefactor for those seven years! She ran to the creature, strangely exhilarated to see it, and she asked after it’s wife and the child which she had raised for seven years.
The sprite was startled at being recognized, since both it and it’s kind had walked among people for centuries and had gone unnoticed. In astonishment the sprite asked of her “What eye did you recognize me with?” She showed it the eye which she had smeared with grease from the eel pie so long ago.
And at that the sprite dug it’s finger into the woman’s eye…. and then left her there knowing that in the future it could be neither seen nor recognized ever again.