“Elves”…..without Tolkien!


This is an experiment so you may be aware of the impact Tolkien caused on everyone’s mind. This is an idea I got after watching Thor The Dark World. I want you to answer mentally the following question:

What are elves?

You possibly answered this question easily and instantly an image like Legolas popped up in your mind. Ok, but you see…that’s exactlyLegolas-legolas-greenleaf-34396828-1421-1924 where the experiment comes into action. Let’s get back in time and answer this question BEFORE there was any Tolkien involved. Here is what you may need to consider about elves:

An elf (Old Norse álfr, Old Englishælf, Old High German alb, Proto-Germanic *albaz) is a certain kind of demigod-like being in the pre-Christian mythology and religion of the Norse and other Germanic peoples.

The elves are luminous beings, “more beautiful than the sun,” whose exalted status is demonstrated by their constantly being linked with the Aesir and Vanir gods in Old Norse and Old English poetry. The lines between elves and other spiritual beings such as the gods, giantsdwarves, and land spirits are blurry, and it seems unlikely that the heathen Germanic peoples themselves made any cold, systematic distinctions between these various groupings. It’s especially hard to discern the boundary that distinguishes the elves from the Vanir gods and goddesses. The Vanir god Freyr is the lord of the elves’ homeland, Alfheim, and at least one Old Norse poem repeatedly uses the word “elves” to designate the Vanir. Still, other sources do speak of the elves and the Vanir as being distinct categories of beings, such that a simple identification of the two would be misguided.

The elves also have ambivalent relations with humans. Elves commonly cause human illnesses, but they also have the power to heal them, and seem especially willing to do so if sacrifices are offered to them. Humans and elves can interbreed and produce half-human, half-elfin children, who often have the appearance of humans but possess extraordinary intuitive and magical powers. Humans can apparently become elves after death, and there was considerable overlap between the worship of human ancestors and the worship of the elves.

The worship of the elves persisted centuries after the Germanic people’s formal conversion to Christianity, as medieval law codes prohibiting such practices demonstrate. Ultimately, then, their veneration lasted longer than even that of the gods.”

By norse-mythology.org

Yeah…that’s what I meant! As you read the description above, you will notice the HUGE IMPACT Tolkien caused on everyone’s mind. He simply changed it. All the creatures we all hold a common idea these days, they were absolutely molded and changed through ONE single brain, his. That’s a astonishing thought if you stop and consider it a bit. Before him, only whole civilizations were able to do that (mold human mind and ideas) but he changed it all.

Currently, Elves are what we know they are. They’re human like, they live in flesh, in “Earth” and they’re less like a spiritual creature as the old Norse Mythology proposes them to be.





Filed under Elvish, Fantasy, Folklore, Tolkien

6 responses to ““Elves”…..without Tolkien!

  1. Gregory C Trotter

    What Tolkien did with history’s elves is more forgivable than what Jackson did with Tolkien’s elves, not to mention the entirety of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I’m still trying to get Jackson’s liberal interpretations out of my head the only way possible: by reading the books again.

    • Each one has the power to touch and change whatever one puts one’s will into, as well as each one has the will to reject or deny the willful change of another.

      Changes are inevitable though. Follow the ones you want.

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  4. And yet, Tolkien’s elves are much closer to that original idea than the tiny little things of Spencer and other Romantic era writers. In a large way, I think Tolkien shifted the idea of what an elf is back to what it had been before the Victorians.

    Anyway, you are right that what he did there is amazing.

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