Elves, Wights, and Trolls: Studies Towards the Practice of Germanic Heathenry: Vol. I by Kveldulf Gundarsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an excellent little book for those who wish to understand the land and water spirits in Heathen/Norse mythology and of course those who would wish to get into the practice of Asatru. The book is scholarly and the author makes plenty of reference to source material all of which is cited in the back for further reference. The author himself has a PHD in in Old Norse from the Cambridge University.
What follows is an awesome book that makes things rather clear. First off to mention wights are spiritual being that are connected to the land. Going through Norse material it seems the lines are rather blurry when it comes to distinguishing between the various types of wights, whether they be alfs, dwarves, etins or giants. It seems that the main dividing line could be their relation with human beings as to whether they are harmful or helpful. Another key point worthy of mention is the comparison and contrast to the Sidhe or Irish faery folk. The Germanic or Norse spirits are rather by and large well disposed towards manknind where as the Sidhe or Irish faery folk can be somewhat hostile.
Etins or giants are not only large spirits but are ones that are deemed somewhat harmful for mankind.In some of the lore they harm humans on accident and other times on purpose. Jotuns and Trolls are also considered a species of giant. Trolls are rather ambiguous. It seems from some of the lore that Troll could be a form of magic or that trolls are revenants (formerly dead)
Land spirits seems to be the most positively disposed towards humans. They can give humans advise, healing knowledge of herbs and access to the world of the spirits. Once can also eat of their food and of drink of their beverages. It is no problem where as with the Irish Sidhe such an action would be deemed unwise. Some of the troll food and drink is rather dangerous to humans as it is too strong for human consumption. Some land spirits are Dwarves, light and dark alves, wood woses and etins. Offering were left for the land spirits in return for abundant harvests and protection from evil. One did not have to thank a land spirit and one had to accept any gift they gave or it would be an insult to them. They are also more easily offended then the gods.
Water spirits tended to be more harmful to humans, whether on purpose or on accident. Often times they would lure a human to the water and drown them. Some of them would eat humans as well. It would be worthy of mention that skelkies who were women in seal suits were known to marry men and bear offspring. There were times that they would stay and other times they would leave back to their original environment either because of a broken vow or because the skelkie found their seal skin and was able to return. Mermaids were female denizens of the sea who lured men in to drown them., They would sink ships as well. Marbendils are wights of ill omen. Water maids are well disposed towards humans and tend to foretell the future.
Elves or Alves are divided into light alves and dark alves the distinction not being all too clear. Sometimes dwarves are considered to be a dark alf. Light Alves will help humans by giving knowledge of cures. Dark Alves are a bit more menacing. Information about the alves written after conversion to Christianity tends to be rather negative. Alves are compared to demons and are often accused of taking possession of a human being similar to demonic possession. Elf shot caused sickness like possession and maybe meningitis.
Dwarves tend to live under the earth. they are for dwarves strictly and tend to live in small groups or alone. Not much mention is made of female dwarves but they are there. Dwarves are known at times to abduct human women for marriage. They hoard gold but are not attached to it. No less to take their stuff brings on a curse. Odin is connected to dwarves as is Loki. Dwarves tend to be blacksmiths.
A panoply of relations among the different wights is given thorough discussion. Their relations with the gods is both hot and cold. As etins will fight against the Gods yet at the same time will form alliances with them and even marry them. Changeling are discussed and rituals are given in the back for those wishing to work with wights.
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