Old Norse: Álfar, singular: álfr Pronunciation: Alf-far
Other names:Ljosalfar (“Light Elves”), Elves Anglo-Saxon: Ælf,
the Alfar, or Elves, are usually considered to be the height of humans or just above. The Light Elves are supposedly fair to look upon, and they live in Alfheim. The Dark Elves live in the dark, and are slightly more mischievous. They are often associated with Dwarves, which turn to stone in the sun. The Eddas tend to use “Alfar” and “Vanir” interchangeably.
Elves are mythical creatures of Germanic mythology often now pictured in folktales in diminished form as small people with mischievous personalities (see illustration). They are sometimes said to be invisible.
The pre-Christian forest spirits were formerly powerful beings to respect who were popular amongst the ancient folk as is testified by the many Germanic names that bear the cognitive Alf Elf): Alfred – “elf-counsel”, )
Norse Germanic mythology knows of light-elves (Liosálfar) who dwell in the third space in heaven, dark-elves (Döckálfar) and black-elves (Svartalfar), the black-elves being identified with dwarfs though in general elves and dwarfs are distinguished in surviving Norse literature. They are often mentioned along with the gods, apparently as lesser spirits of nature.
Alfs varied widely in size, from the very small to human-sized and taller.
The home of the light-elves is Alfheim “elvenhome”, which is ruled by the god Freyr. The dwarfs lived in Svartalfheim. They could be seen at night dancing over meadows. The circles they left were called älvdanser (elf dances). The Elven folk are often pictured as living in forests and other natural places or underground or in wells and springs. They were imagined to be long-lived or immortal, and magical powers were attributed to them.
Elf-shot was the name use for found neolithic flint arrowheads, imagined as created and used by the elvish folk and sudden paralysis was sometimes attributed to elf-stroke. Álfar (ON)/Ylfe (AS) The Ylfe are the elves of Northern European mythology. Generally divided into different races, the term elf usually refers to the Ljosalfar (ON), the “Light Elves”, beings of great beauty that often associate with the Gods. They are said to be quite powerful and have been known to give aid to men and gods alike. They live in Alfheimr which was given to the god Freyr as a gift for his first tooth and it could be the god is seen as their ruler. They had close associations with the gods and seem to be creatures of light and good. Usually called “alfs” in the Troth to avoid confusion with the elves of Shakespeare or Tolkien. The Elves sometimes appear to be the ghosts of dead ancestors still dwelling in mounds or hills; sometimes they are more similar to land-wights (earth spirits). The Elves are worshipped together with the Disir and often with Frey. Sometimes they are kindly, but when offended, they shoot humans or animals with elf-shot, causing sickness and despair in its victims.
Myrkalfar ( Murky Elf) are the spirits of great men who live in the ancestral howe burial chamber.
Elves of wind and brightness, ruled by Freyr
Old Norse:Svartalfs Pronunciation: Svart-alfs
Other names:Svartalfar (“Black Elves”)
the svartálfar (“black elves”) or dökkálfar (“dark elves”) are supernatural beings that are said to reside in the underground world of Svartálfheim.
No valid distinction though can be drawn between the dark elves, dwarfs and trolls; they appear to have been interchangeable.” Svartálfar have acquired their name because they were seen as the light-avoiding counterparts to the common elf, living in Álfheim. The term black/dark elf might rather be suggestive of their place of residence than of their presumed nature, although they are described as greedy and troublesome for humans, in contrast to the benevolent light elves. Besides their underground lives, svartálfar had many of the same traits attributed to them as the dwarves. These include growing from the maggots of Ymir’s flesh, turning to stone when exposed to daylight, and being human-like, but ugly and misshapen.
Like many mythological elves, regardless of morality (though much closer to the dire varieties in particular), dark elves are often said to be responsible for many of the maladies befalling humanity. In particular, bad dreams are said to be within the domain of the dökkálfar, as indicated by the German word for nightmare, “Albtraum” (Elf Dream). It is said that the dark elves will sit upon the dreamer’s chest and/or whisper the bad dreams into the sleeper’s ears.