The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

Side Note: There have been concerns about my using Wikipedia because it is not a reliable resource. I am well aware of wikipedia's unreliable nature--but that's exactly why I use it. Fantasy creatures are available to all, and everyone should have a chance to add their "discoveries." This website is supposed to be a fun collection of fantastical creature information with fun images to go with. I am not a reliable source--I'm just a collector. Though at this point, I am flattered that people are concerned with the validity of my site. :)

!!!!This is NOT a forum. Comments are to be informative and generally helpful. Clean humor is acceptable, but NOT if it detracts from the entry. This site is to help people find out more about fantastical creatures!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Elf--English Mythology


The word elf came as the Old English word ælf (pl. ælfe, with regional and chronological variants such as ylfe and ælfen.


Although our early English evidence is slight, there are reasons to think that Anglo-Saxon elves (ælfe) were similar to early elves in Norse mythology: human-like, human-sized supernatural beings, predominantly if not exclusively male, capable of helping or harming the people who encountered them. In particular, the pairing of aesire and álfar found in the Poetic Edda is mirrored in the Old English charm Wið færstice and in the distinctive occurrence of the cognate words os and ælf in Anglo-Saxon personal names.


In relation to the beauty of the Norse elves, some further evidence is given by old English words such as ælfsciene ("elf-beautiful"), used of seductively beautiful Biblical women in the Old English poems Judith and Genesis A. Although elves could be considered to be beautiful and potentially helpful beings in some sections of English-speaking society throughout its history, Anglo-Saxon evidence also attests to alignments of elves with demons. On the other hand, oaf is simply a variant of the word elf, presumably originally referring to a changeling or to someone stupefied by elvish enchantment.


Elf-shot (or elf-bolt or elf-arrow) is a word found in Scotland and Northern England, first attested in a manuscript of about the last quarter of the 16th century. Although first attested in the sense 'sharp pain caused by elves', it is later attested denoting Neolithic flin arrowheads, which by the 17th century seem to have been attributed in Scotland to elvish folk, and which were used in healing rituals, and alleged to be used by witches (and perhaps elves) to injure people and cattle. So too a tangle in the hair was called an elf-lock, as being caused by the mischief of the elves, and sudden paralysis was sometimes attributed to elf-stroke.

The elf makes many appearances in ballads of English and Scottish origin, as well as folk tales, many involving trips to Elphame or Elfland (the Álfheim of Norse mythology), a mystical realm which is sometimes an eerie and unpleasant place. The elf is occasionally portrayed in a positive light, such as the Queen of Elphame in the ballad Thomas the Rhymer, but many examples exist of elves of sinister character, frequently bent on rape and murder. Most instances of elves in ballads are male; the only commonly encountered female elf is the Queen of Elfland. In none of these cases is the elf a spritely character with pixie-like qualities.


English folktales typically portray elves as small, elusive people with mischievous personalities. They are not evil but might annoy humans or interfere in their affairs. They are sometimes said to be invisible. In this tradition, elves became more or less synonymous with the fairies that originated from native British Mythology.



The Variances in English Literature
*Significant for the distancing of the concept of elves from its mythological origins was the influence from literature. In Elizabethan England, William Shakespeare imagined elves as little people. He apparently considered elves and fairies to be the same race. In Henry IV, he has Falstaff call Prince Henry, "you starveling, you elfskin!", and in his A Midsummer Night's Dream, his elves are almost as small as insects.
*Edmund Spenser applies elf to full-sized beings in The Faerie Queene
*Michael Drayton made the use of elf and fairy for very small beings the norm. In Victorian literature, elves usually appeared in illustrations as tiny men and women with pointed ears and stocking caps. An example is Andrew Lang's fairy tale Princess Nobody, illustrated by Richard Doyle, where fairies are tiny people with Butterfly wings, whereas elves are tiny people with red stocking caps.
*There were exceptions to this rule however, such as the full-sized elves who appear in Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter.
There is a legend concerning the Buckthorn vows that if one sprinkles Buckthorn in a circle and then dances within it under a full Moon, an elf will appear. The dancer must notice the elf and say, 'Halt and grant my boon!' before the creature flees. The elf will then grant one wish.
A special thanks to Wikipedia
and to Liz for this slightly stolen picture

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