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The Secret Life of Elves
The Real Truth behind the Elves
Elves are not fairies!
They are supernatural beings from the frozen lands of the North, wrought from light at the very beginning of the world and certainly not those quaint little creatures found in fairy books for children.
Remember, Elves have little regard for humans so, if by some dire chance, you run into an Elf, doff your cap, apologise profusely, and scramble away as best you can. Never annoy the Elves, not for a minute.
Treat the Elves with Respect
Elves are Elementals, Spirits of Nature.
Norwegian Mythology tells us that the Liosalfar (Light Elves) live in Alfheim, where they owe allegiance to Frey, the God of Light.
You may refer to these Spirits of the Land as Elves, or fae-folk if you really must, as long as you treat them with the greatest of respect.
How to recognise an Elf
Elves are easily recognisable by their great beauty.
At first glance, it's hard to tell if you are seeing a female elf, or male.
All elves have graceful, delicate features with high cheekbones, pointed ears and extraordinarily expressive eyes. Unlike us, the older they get, the wiser and more beautiful they become.
Male elves also don't have any beard growth.
In modern descriptions, elves are either light or dark, the light elves having starlike eyes, faces brighter than the sun, and golden-coloured hair; the dark elves are pitch black, often with fluorescent eyes.
The Dark Elves
Dark or light, the elven race is rarely seen and if so, elves only appear on certain times and on special places in woodlands untouched by humans.
The black or dark elves are beautiful, agile, dexterous creatures, proud and haughty in their bearing. They are the Drow, Elves of the underground.
These Dark Elves live in deep underground caves. In Spring they celebrate the new life by decking themselves with blossoms and in Summer they often frolic lightly with the ondines of the rivers.
To be truthful, apart from these seasonal activities, very little is known about the Drow at all.
The Music of the Elves
The Norwegians call the Elves Huldrafolk, and their music Huldraslaat.
Elven music is often said to be mournful, like a lament, but this is not so. Perhaps because the music is always in a minor key it can strike melancholy in us. Perhaps because we yearn, unconsciously, for whispers of the distant past.
To our human ears, the sweet singing of the Elves brings memories of melodies we seem to recognise, a poignant snatch of half-remembered notes we heard in childhood, passionate yet sentimental, thrilling yet frightening, and always piercing the heart.
The Dance of the Elves
Elves dance in moon-shrouded nights to the wild harps and pipes, the courtly grace of their steps moving faster, ever faster, to the strange lilting lays older than man.
They dance by the cool clear springs of distant woodlands drenched with the rainy sunny earthy tang of berries and along the restless wastes of the cold seashore, with its thousand moods and clean sharp tang of salty depths.
Waterfall at Elves Chasm
Can you see the Elves?
Hounded by humans, there is still one place left for Elves, and even there they are rarely seen, and that place is the remaining dense forests of Norway. In the Norwegian Spring they are found among the new blossoms, chasing butterflies up the windy hills for the sheer joy of it and rolling over in the new, green, long grasses.
Although the Elves only appear visible to certain mortals on certain times in certain wild places, Sunday children (those born on Sunday) can see them at any time of the year.
It is a gift to be able to see otherworld beings, and sometimes an Elf will bestow this gift to deserving humans, but most of us can only hear faintly the distant sweet lilt of their music.
How can we save the Elves?
We are warned that the Elves are on the verge of extinction. Others say that the Elves are leaving us of their own will.
Should an all-out global effort be made to save the Elves?
Next time you are in the Deep Woods
Next time you are in the woods, especially if you are by a stream, sit down gently, close your eyes and stay very still and quiet.
You may hear, faintly at first, the soft silvery strains of Elven song. Far off, but sweetly lucid and unmistakeable.
It is said that all humans will hear the music of the Elves twice in their lives. Our tragedy is that we don't know when that will be.
If you're respectful to these elemental creatures, you may hear their heartrending music.
© 2008 Susanna Duffy