It’s that time of year again. When elves come out to play. But not only Santa’s elves, who make toys, but warrior elves who fight Orcs. But how did the tales of elves first come into being? To anser that question we must turn to Norse mythology where the universe is divided into three levels and there are “Light Elves” and “Dark Elves.”
The first level is Asgard, realm of Aesir (Warrior god) Also found in this realm, Valhalla, the huge hall that houses the Einherjar (the dead warriors await Ragnarok). On the same level is Vanaheim, where all the Vanir (fertility gods) lived until they eventually united with Aesir. And finally, here is also Alfheim, the land of the light elves.
On the second level is Midgard, the middle world inhabited by men. On this level also lives Giants and dwarfs but in Svartalfheim, which is below Midgard is home to dark elves.
The poetic Edda (one of the old text) often puts together Aesir (gods) and the Alfar (elves) together as if both were equals. “Alfodr orkar, alfarskilja, vanirvita” which means “All father has power, Alfar (elves) have skills, vanir has knowledge.” This would indicate that the elves, while perhaps not the same as the Aesir, were divine in nature and were respected for their skill, though in what is still unclear.
A variety of Norse myths and folklore also tell us that elves closely resembled humans and the two races were capable of cross-breeding. The elves were also said to be semi-divine, and were often associated with fertility and nature spirits. Some stories also claimed that elves were unbound by physical limitations and could pass through walls and doors like ghosts.
To read the whole source go to Amanda Rudd’s Blog, Elves, part one: The origins of Elves
Look for my review of the up coming movie The Hobbit !