Sunday, December 5, 2010

Magical Elves, Santa's Little Helpers or Something More?

Elves, like Fairies, have now been cleaned-up and made-over to fit sanitized children's fiction. They are often portrayed as miniature, whimsical, busy bees such as "Santa's little helpers." Now let us explore the "real story" behind the myth of Elves. 

Elf, is an Anglo-Saxon word that refers to indigenous spirits of  Teutonic (Norse) lands. Elves are prominently featured in the spells and charms of Anglo-Saxons. Many of these charms were intended as protection from the Elves, so a hostile relationship is presumed. However some believe that in the pre-Christian world spiritual alliances existed between Elves and people. But once this alliance was broken, the embittered Elves, who were previously helpful, turned dangerous. Either this or an alternate hypothesis is that with the influx of Christianity, people were taught to fear the Elves, specifically so they would not continue their pagan devotions. 

Clues that this was the case come up in Norse Mythology devoted to Frey and Hulda (the Elven King and Queen.) 

Originally Elves were perceived as human-sized, sometimes even taller. They were renowned archers, healers and artisans. Author J.R. Tolkien's portrayal of the sacred, but dangerous Elven folk in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, comes closest to the mythological tradition. 

The Elves had their own kingdom paralleling that of humans. Like the Fairies, the Elves could be benevolent and helpful; but they were also feared and respected. There are many stories where the Elves are portrayed as having a tendency to being hostile to humans, sometimes striking them with poison darts know as "elf-shot," which led to illness and malaise. 

Among many theories surrounding the Elves, is that they were originally from North-Western Europe, eventually pushed into deep caves, forests and mountain halls by the Indo-European invaders. 

Brightest of Blessings,
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