The term sprite is a broad term referring to a number of monstrous creatures. The term is generally used in reference to fairies, like the elf or dwarf, and the likes of it; but can also signify various monstrous beings, including ghosts.
The term is chiefly used in regard to elves and fairies in European folklore, and in modern English is rarely used in reference to spirits or other mythical creatures.
The word "sprite" is derived from the Latin "spiritus" (spirit). Variations on the term include "spright" (the origin of the adjective "sprightly", meaning "spirited" or "lively") and the Celtic "spriggan".
In some elemental magics, the sprite is believed to be the Elemental of air.
The belief in diminutive beings such as elves, fairies, pixies, gnomes, Japanese Yoka and various Slavic fairies has been common in many parts of the world, and might to some extent still be found within Neo- spiritual and religious movements such as "Druidry" and Ásatrú. The belief in spiritual beings, particularly ghosts, is almost universal to human culture.
A sprite trap is a magical device used to capture troublesome or harmful spirits and ghosts. These devices refer to a sprite as a preternatural creature.
The sprite trap is created from a blackthorn stave and copper wire that has never carried electricity. During a ritual process, the copper wire is bound to the stave with red thread and the stave is marked with a Dag (or D) rune.
Sprite traps are used at night, when the trap is set at the entrance to a home, church, graveyard, or other location where disturbances are taking place. To attract the troublesome entity, a cleft blackthorn stave with a lighted candle is placed in front of the trap.
After the sprite trap has captured a spirit, it is removed from the location and the red thread is cut with a consecrated knife; the thread is then placed into a prepared witch bottle. If the bottle has been prepared to imprison the spirit, a spell is recited while the thread is placed in it. Finally, the bottle is corked and sealed with red wax before being buried. A thorn bush will be planted on the site.
It is said that if a witch's bottle containing a sprite is opened, a very angry spirit will escape.
Famous fictional sprites include Shakespeare's Ariel and Puck.
Sprites in Popular Culture
- In the Artemis Fowl series of books, Chix Verbil is a sprite that is wounded and rendered unable to fly by that injury, a bullet to the left wing.
- Famous fictional sprites include Shakespeare's Ariel and Puck.
- In Power Rangers Mystic Force, the Pink Ranger turns into the Sprite Titan. This is based upon MagiFairy, the Majin form of MagiPink in Mahō Sentai Magiranger
- In the animated film Fantasia 2000, there is a segment based on Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird, about a Spring Sprite and her elk companion bringing the spring season to life until they wake up the fire bird sprite, whereas he destroys the forest. The forest is soon brought back by the sprite. In this Disney adaptation, the sprite is shown to be more of a goddess of the forest rather than an elf or fairy.
- In Harvest Moon, it is possible to have 7 sprites help around the farm.
- In The Legend of Zelda cartoon series, Sprite is the name of Link's small flying friend
- In Commander Keen IV Sprites are underwater enemies.
- In Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series, sprites are one of the eight fairy families; they are small and green with wings. There are also water sprites. Chix Verbil is a sprite that is wounded by a bullet to the left wing and rendered unable to fly.
- In "Golden Sun" (Game Boy Advance game) a player collect sprites (called Djinni) to increase his or her magical power.
- In R. A. Salvatore's book Sojourn a sprite is an enemy of Drizzt Do'Urden and an ally of a barghest.
- In Riviera: The Promised Land (a game boy advance game) sprites are inhabitants of Riviera.
- In The Heroes of Might and Magic series of computer games, Sprites are the weakest troops available to the Sorceress class.
- The song 'Red Rabbits' by The Shins includes the line 'we've pissed on far too many Sprites and they're all standing up for their rights'.
- The children's television show Johnny and the Sprites, as the name implies, is focused on the lives of several muppet sprites.
- In Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, there are 12 individually named sprites.
- In World of Warcraft sprites are often referred to Wisp.