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--Scandanavian Mythology


In Scandinavian Folklore, which is a later blend of Norse mythology and elements of Christian mythology, an elf is called elver in Danish, alv in Norwegian, and alv or älva in Swedish (the first is masculine, the second feminine). The Norwegian expressions seldom appear in genuine folklore, and when they do, they are always used synonymous to huldrefolk or vetter, a category of earth-dwelling beings generally held to be more related to Norse dwarves than elves which is comparable to the Icelandic huldufólk (hidden people).


In Denmark and Sweden, the elves appear as beings distinct from the vetter, even though the border between them is diffuse. The insect-winged fairies in the folklore of the British Isles are often called "älvor" in modern Swedish or "alfer" in Danish, although the correct translation is "feer." In a similar vein, the alf found in the fairy tale The Elf of the Rose by Danish author H.C. Andersen is so tiny that he can have a rose blossom for home, and has "wings that reached from his shoulders to his feet". Yet, Andersen also wrote about elvere in The Elfin Hill. The elves in this story are more alike those of traditional Danish folklore, who were beautiful females, living in hills and boulders, capable of dancing a man to death. Like the huldra in Norway and Sweden, they are hollow when seen from the back.


The elves of Norse mythology have survived into folklore mainly as females, living in hills and mounds of stones. The Swedish älvor (sing. älva) were stunningly beautiful girls who lived in the forest with an elven king. They were long-lived and light-hearted in nature. The elves are typically pictured as fair-haired, white-clad and, like most creatures in the Scandinavian folklore, can be really nasty when offended. In the stories, they often play the role of disease-spirits. The most common, though also most harmless case was various irritating skin rashes, which were called älvablåst (elven blow) and could be cured by a forceful counter-blow (a handy pair of bellows was most useful for this purpose). Skålgropar, a particular kind of petroglyph found in Scandinavia, were known in older times as älvkvarnar (elven mills), pointing to their believed usage. One could appease the elves by offering them a treat (preferably butter) placed into an elven mill – perhaps a custom with roots in the Old Norse álfablót.


In order to protect themselves against malevolent elves, Scandinavians could use a so-called Elf cross (Alfkors, Älvkors or Ellakors), which was carved into buildings or other objects. It existed in two shapes, one was a pentagram and it was still frequently used in early 20th century Sweden as painted or carved onto doors, walls and household utensils in order to protect against elves. As the name suggests, the elves were perceived as a potential danger against people and livestock. The second form was an ordinary cross carved onto a round or oblong silver plate. This second kind of elf cross one was worn as a pendant in a necklace and in order to have sufficient magic it had to be forged during three evenings with silver from nine different sources of inherited silver.In some locations it also had to be on the altar of a church during three consecutive Sundays.

The elves could be seen dancing over meadows, particularly at night and on misty mornings. They left a kind of circle where they had danced, which were called älvdanser (elf dances) or älvringar (elf circles), and to urinate in one was thought to cause venereal diseases. Typically, it consisted of a ring of small mushrooms, but there was also another kind of elf circle:

On lake shores, where the forest met the lake, you could find elf circles. They were round places where the grass had been flattened like a floor. Elves had danced there. By Lake Tisaren, I have seen one of those. It could be dangerous and one could become ill if one had trodden over such a place or if one destroyed anything there.


If a human watched the dance of the elves, he would discover that even though only a few hours seemed to have passed, many years had passed in the real world. In a song from the late Middle Ages about Olaf Liljekrans, the elven queen invites him to dance. He refuses, he knows what will happen if he joins the dance and he is on his way home to his own wedding. The queen offers him gifts, but he declines. She threatens to kill him if he does not join, but he rides off and dies of the disease she sent upon him, and his young bride dies of a broken heart.

However, the elves were not exclusively young and beautiful. In the Swedish folktale Little Rosa and Long Leda, an elvish woman (älvakvinna) arrives in the end and saves the heroine, Little Rose, on condition that the king's cattle no longer graze on her hill. She is described as an old woman and by her aspect people saw that she belonged to the subterraneans.

These myths and legends of elves that are so popular among Scandinavians, are quite prevalent in their everyday lives. It has been said that to this day, many Scandinavians do still believe in this existence of " hidden people", and will often go out of their way to see that they do not disturb these creatures. For example, just outside of Reykjavik, Iceland, a soccer game was called to a halt when a misled ball rolled off the beaten path, and stopped right next to a sign that marked the home of 3 elves believed to dwell near the stones where the ball was resting. Instead of reclaiming the ball, the soccer player opted to leave it there in order to avoid disturbing the elves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ok that was a great article but... female elves typicaly are not living under a elven kings rule in fact the elven queens are ranked higher and the elven kings rule in second under the queens