In Which She Mouths Off to Heathenry About Elves/Alfar

Okay, so look. There is a popular theory that the alfar are not nature spirits, not “elves” in the Tolkienian sense – this in spite of Tolkien’s having built them out of his not inconsiderable knowledge of medieval and ancient European lore – but male human ancestors. Alfar are what men become when they die, and Disir are the female ancestors.

Besides its tidy gender binary, which we will leave aside for the purposes of this discussion, I must ask this.

Why is there Alfheim?

Before you say “that’s where the ancestors go!” let me remind you that the ancestors go everywhere. Half the best warriors go to Freyja; she gives the other half to Odin. Each band has its own hall to live in. Other gods have their own bands of the dead based on who lived or died within their purview, and the general masses not otherwise distinguished go to Helheim.

So who is in Alfheim, and why do we suppose their title also applies to the dead everywhere else?

The human dead go everywhere, according to the tendencies they developed in life. That seems to be the fate of humans in this lore, and it’s a very pleasing one philosophically: the human spirit has a unique pliability that allows it, throughout a lifetime, to comport itself to one of the worlds surrounding Midgard. One of those worlds is Alfheim, the land of the alfar.

The human Alfar, insofar as there are any, are human ancestors whose path was toward the Other Folk, toward the alfar.

Toward the bleeding elves.

It’s really time to get over y’all’s fear of Tolkien. Save your worry about being tarnished by association for the actual literal Nazis that are all up in your business.

One thought on “In Which She Mouths Off to Heathenry About Elves/Alfar”

  1. Yeah, I never got that one either. Like, I know that the human dead can occasionally end up in the sidhe, but the idea that that is the origin of all such Folk is just… what?

    Like

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