In Heathenry, Intro To Heathenry, The Crows Fjord Blog

Continuing with the topic of wights, are the alfar or elves. They include light elves, dark elves and black, or svart elves.

Light Elves

The light elves, or light alfar, whom some think are ruled by Freyr, are ghosts of air and brightness. They dress in shining colours and according to Snorri are fair to look at. They live in the realm of Alfheim. We know little else about them.

Dark Elves

The dark elves, or mound alfs are thought to be the souls of  the male family line; ghosts of dead men. In The Elder Troth: An Introductory Course of Study, Kveldulfr Gundarsson expresses the importance of the mound alfs (and idises) to historic and modern heathens:

the cult of the ancestors probably survived unbroken and fundamentally unchanged from the Stone Age onward. By offering them food and drink at holy times, and calling on their help in times of need, we reaffirm the bond between the living and the dead, the oneness of the Otherworld and this world, which is at the very heart of the Northern religion.


Burial mounds at Vang Cemetery

Burial mounds at Vang Cemetery

There is another type of mound alf, not directly connected to the male ancestors that more closely resemble the landwights or the Celtic sidhe, whom are also mound dwellers. These mounds are portals to the Otherworld and offerings were made on or near them of food and drink in elf cups, depressions in stone. They are fond of singing and dancing, often in rings which could be the origin of the fairy ring. It is also thought the alfar were able to mate with humans.

Black Elves

The black elves, or svart alfs, are commonly known as the dwarves. They were created from the maggots on Ymir’s rotting body. They live underground and are skilled craftsmen, spending much of their time tending forge fires.

As a group, they are considered all descended from the dwarf Dvalin, who also taught them runes. Four dwarves are said to hold up the sky which is made from Ymir’s skull; Austri, Vestri, Sudri, and Nordri.

They live in the realm of Svartalheim.

I recently came across an animated video put together by Alv the Skald and posted it on my blog. You can find it at this link Animated Talk About Dwarves. It is so comprehensive and relevant to our topic that I have posted it again below.

Sources / Reading:

The Elder Troth by KveldúlfR Hagan Gundarsson, Lesson Three: Wights, The Troth, 1996

Teutonic Religion by Kveldulf Gundarsson, p109-113, Llewellyn, 1993

Our Troth: History and Lore, Vol.1, The Troth, Ch 23, Booksurge, 2006

A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Asatru, Patricia M. Lafayllve, Ch 4 & 5, Llewellyn, 2013

Teutonic Mythology Vol.2, Jacob Grimm translated from the Fourth Edition by James Steven Stallybrass, Ch27 , George Bell and Sons, 1882

Scandinavian Folktales by Jacqueline Simpson, Penguin, 1989

Scandinavian Folk Belief and Legend by Reimund Kvideland and Henninbg K. Sehmsdorf, University of Minnesota Press, 2014

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