Like vampires, the fairies were believed to be originally the souls of the pagan dead. Since the pagans are unbaptized, they are neither considered good enough to go to heaven nor bad enough to go to hell. They are therefore caught in a netherworld, becoming faeries. It should be noticed that there are many common points of belief between ghosts and fairies, such as the fearsome aspect of many solitary fairie, the danger to mortals of eating fairy food, i.e. that they would be prevented from returning to the realm of the living or why both the dead and fairies live underground.
The Irish banshee (Irish Gaelic bean sí or Scottish Gaelic bean shìth, which both mean "fairy woman") is sometimes described as a ghost. The northern English Cauld Lad of Hylton, though described as a murdered boy, is also described as a household sprite like a brownie, much of the time a Barghest or Elf. The tradition of the Wild Hunt is a bizarre cortege of fairies and spirits of the dead.
According to the Eddas (Norse), the elves are the worms that went out from the corpse of the giant Ymir. There are two main races : the elves of night, and the elves of light. The latter became the allies of Odin against the Giants.
Origins of fairies