The Naiad Nymphs – Elemental Water Fairies

The Naiad Clan of fairies features prominently in my first novel, The Swamp Fairy. A quick look at Greek mythology shares that the Naiads, who are female spirits, are the nymphs that lived near water.

Nymphs are considered elemental beings or mythic creatures. They correspond to the elements found in antiquity: earth, water, air, and fire.

The Naiad nymphs are the fairies that controlled the waters of fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks and other bodies of fresh water. explains:

“The nymphs were immortal, minor divinities who were invited to attend the assemblies of the gods on Mount Olympus.

The Naiad Nymphs were often classified by their domain:
PEGAIAI were the Naiad nymphs of the springs;
KRENAIAI, the Naiads of fountains;
POTAMEIDES, the Naiads of rivers & streams;
LIMNADES and LIMNATIDES, Naiads of the lakes;
HELEIONOMAI, the Naiad Nymphs of marshes and wetlands.”

A Naiad by John William Waterhouse, 1893; a water nymph approaches the sleeping Hylas. (Source: File:Naiad1.jpg –

Technically, the Naiad nymph clan in my book would be from the classification of “HELEIONOMAI nymphs.” I took some creative liberty to keep things simple by having the Naiad nymphs in charge of the swamp in my novel. Normally, it is the River Gods who lived and ruled the marshes. Since my swamp or slough contained fresh water, I let the Naiad nymphs lead me to their story.

Undine, by John William Waterhouse (Source: File:John William Waterhouse – Undine.JPG –

“Naiades,” from

“The Naiades were the nymphs of fresh water streams rivers and lakes but were not limited to these water courses. Many Naiades could be found prancing around with Artemis, who chose 20 Naiades from Amnisus for companions. They were the daughters of river gods. They had extremely long lifetimes, but they were not considered immortal and were believed to have sat in on the Gods discussions on Olympus. There were 5 types of Naiades:

Pegaiai, the Nymphs of Springs

Krinaia, the Nymphs of Fountains

Potameides, the Nymphs of Rivers and Streams

Limnades or Limnatides, the Nymphs of Lakes

Eleionomai, the Nymphs of Marshes

Above is a detail from John W. Waterhouse’s painting of Hylas and the Nymphs. That particular story is important to the Greeks as Hylas, the beautiful beloved (yes, in the sexual way) of Heracles, was sent to go get water on the island of Mysia, and the naiads there, totally taken in by his beauty, carried him off. Every year, the priests marched to a neighboring mountain and called Hylas’s name three times.”

Naiad Nymph:

The history which surrounds the Naiad nymphs is filled with amazing stories. The Naiads were highly worshiped and many cults sprang up to honor them. Young people, male and female, cut off some of their hair to pay a tribute to the Naiad nymphs each spring in coming of age ceremonies. It was not unusual to find gifts of honey left in areas where the Naiad’s were thought to dwell.

However, the Naiad nymphs did have a dark side. They could be quite jealous and stories were written how they would capture young men who exhibited exceptional beauty. It was not unusual for a Naiad nymph to merge her soul with her human captive. The Naiads often played the part of seducer or simply became the seduced.

The origin of the Naiads changes with literary sources. Steeped in myths and ancients secrets, it is believed the Naiads are the daughters of Zeus, the daughters of the river gods, or part of the Titan world of Oceanus.


The blithe Naiad nymphs –

fairy protectors of swamps,

stay on their good side.

Colleen M. Chesebro

Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed seeing you all!

Silver Threading, Fairy Whisperer


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