Wednesday, March 7, 2012

E is for Elves

On my Witch's Bottle blog I am participating in the Pagan Blog Project 2012 and this week's prompt or letter is E. One of the suggested prompts was Elves and I thought this would be a great post for this blog to try and draw bridges between my two blogs.

ElvesElves are a popular mythical creature who pops up in a variety of Germanic and British myths and legends.  They are said to have human features but with extraordinary magickal abilities and very strong ties to nature making them very protective of Mother Earth.  Some tales talk of them being extremely mischievous while others describe them as demigods.   What are some of your favorite tales of elves?  Have you ever worked with elf energy for healing or magick?

When I was very little I believed elves were the small guys in stripy green and white and red outfits that helped Santa out on Christmas. After I started reading more books (and watched some movies like Lord of the Rings) I learned that there were just as many different types of elves as there were fairies and, in fact, many people use the name elf as another fame for fairy. 

Celtic Lady of CelticAnamcara says "There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the differences between pixies, faeries, elves and other legendary folk." In her post, Pixies Elves, and Other Wee Folk she explains:

"Elves are sometimes described as youthful-seeming men and women of great beauty living in forests and underground places or caves, or in wells and springs. They are portrayed as long-lived or immortal and having magical powers. This would jive with the interpretation of elves as found in "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien.'

"However, in the modern (or at least American world), elves are depicted and described as being diminutive in size, though both have pointed ears (e.g. The Keebler Elves).'

"A sprite is a generic-type term that can cover all sorts of small, elusive supernatural beings, especially faeries, pixies and elves. In the modern world we think of faeries as being diminutive, delicate, female creatures with wings and beautiful gossamer clothing. This type of faerie is so well known I won't go into detail about them here."

She goes on to descibe such creatures as brownies, selkies, sidhe, and more on her blog. 

On a few people have asked the question about the difference between fairies and elves. Some answers I like or found interesting:

Robbie said "Faerie is a broad term used to describe any magical being of Celtic (mostly British Irish Scottish and Welsh) from goblin to leprechaun. Elves are from the Teutonic (German) folklores...Fairies in the original sense were magical creatures that survived off from causing mischief and chaos to mortals. Elves on the other hand were seen as more evil beings that would steal children and cause travelers to get lost in the woods. The actual elf was a creature a lot like our modern depiction of a gnome or goblin. Eventually yes elves made their way into the Celtic society but more often than not they lumped them in with some other evil spirited creature."

Terry says "Books and movies have mixed the faeries and the elves. Originally the Elves were dwarfish beings of Teutonic mythology. They possessed Magickal powers which they used for the benefit or detriment of humankind. The word itself has a beginning in the Teutonic word Guelf."

Other answers said that fairies had wings while elves had pointy ears or that Fairies exist while elves don't or said that the only difference was location (fae from The British Isle while elves are from Germany and surrounding areas). Still others said that fae were tiny (like pixies) and elves were taller. I wasn't a huge fan of these answers so I won't spend much time on them...

Several resources said that elves were elementals while fae were a bit more far-reaching. Many feel that the elves were closer to humans and have human characteristics or are closer to the earthy-fae like dwarves, goblins, etc. Many resources say that elves prefer communal living and are similar to trooping fairies in that aspect. 

In my opinion, I tend to lean to the Tolkein idea of elves as tall, human-like creatures of forests and mountains who rarely deign to make contact with humans. More like court fae and beautiful and tall. 

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