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Time, and are lords of the heaven, the earth, and the underworld.
0. L. Woff, in his Mythology of Fairies and Elves, treats at large of the classes, kinds, and countries of the northern elves from historical and literary sources. The gods of the north, by Geneday, the writings of Procopius, Jornandes, Stagnelius, Rahbek, Afzelius, Thiele, Nyerup, the Edda, etc. contain the rich materials of ancient Sagas, and the ideas of the people concerning the elves in the northern countries, where still, according to Arndt's assurance, in his “ Travels through Sweden," the Alfar-Alfen-elves, live in the memory of the people of Sweden and Norway. In the Eddas the distinction between the white and the black elves is clearly marked, as may be seen in Nierup's Dictionary of the Scandinavian Mythology, and in Sander's Danish Handbook.
“Our heathen ancestors,” says Thorlacius, in the Scandinavian Museum for 1803, “ believed that the whole world was filled with spirits of different kinds. They ascribed to them in general the same qualities as the Greeks did to their demons and demi-gods. These beings were divided according to their places of abode—heavenly and earthly. The first were well disposed to men, and therefore were called white elves, or light elves; the latter, which were named after their haunts in thick woods, in caves, on mountains and rocks, in the air, or in the sea, etc., were regarded as a species of demons—black elves.”
Against the humours of these spirits, which have much resemblance to the devils of the Middle-ages, the country people of the present day seek protection from the so-called Klokas, a sort of exorcists. It is also believed that the elves have kings and queens. The elf-dance is become a proverb. It is said in Olaus Magnus, that the people call the sport of the nocturnal spirits, elf, or elfin-dance, when such spirits dance, leap, and wildly sport, till their footsteps tread down into the earth so deeply and with such heat, that the sward is totally destroyed, and the grass will never more grow there."
The modern poets of Scandinavia have, on the contrary, very intellectually idealised this Elfin-people, or Huldrapeople, as they are called in Norway.
“Say, know'st the Elfin-people gay?
Wolf divides the fairy-land of the poets into three kinds. 1st.--Avalon, in the ocean, where is the island of the blest. 2nd. Those countries which, like the palace of Pari-Banon in the Eastern and European poetry, are found under the earth. 3. Those which lie in like abodes of the genii, and the possessions of Oberon, in wildernesses, in thick woods, in valleys and the gorges of mountains, and at the bottom of deep and remote meadows, etc.
The Scandinavian elves, or Maids of Diana, whom Saxo, and yet more amply Olaus Magnus, has described, are very celebrated. They are of beautiful and majestic presence, have flowing hair, and show themselves most in thick woods. Their dwellings are splendid, but are adorned by magic, and, according to the wish of the inhabitants, are now visible and now invisible. They appear chiefly in threes in company; they krow the future, and are frequently consulted by the people concerning life and death, and other circumstances. Saxo and Olaus Magnus relate examples of their having done essential services to Swedish kings and queens. Sometimes they present gifts to those who consult them, such as gold-lace, magic weapons, etc.; in that they perfectly remind you of the heathen goddesses sitting on their golden thrones at their residences, or of the Alrunen or the Parses of antiquity. The ideas concerning these fabulous fairies could in the course of time only slowly adapt themselves to the progress of knowledge; the old could not all at once be abandoned, nor the new become suddenly the objects of honour. Thence, therefore, so many traces of a multitude of recollections, one following fast upon another, and constituting the Scandinavian nations the mother of many heathenish traditions.
The dwarfs and Trolls play a great part in the northern popular belief, and, according to Arndt, still maintain their
hold on the minds of the common people. Not only the Scandinavian popular legends and ballads, but the Scotch also describe them as a kind of elementary spirits, and speak of their deeds; and Paracelsus calls them People of the Mines, Gnomens, and Pigmies, a waggish, but contented and not malicious sort of creatures, as Matthisson truly pourtrays them :
“From the deep mine rush wildly out
Sir Walter Scott believes that there is something historical at the bottom of the belief in these beings, and that they refer to the Finns, who were subjected by the Scandinavians on the arrival of Odin. Perhaps they were Laplanders, who were altogether of small stature, and were driven by those strangers towards the high north. The warrior-companions of Odin saw a people who understood how to work the mines better than they; whom they, therefore, connected in their imagination with subterranean spirits, who remained in the rocks and mines, and possessed incalculable riches. In these respects these Scandinavian pigmies accord entirely with the Idaic Dactyls, and they were probably of Oriental origin; which may explain why so many were affected by this belief in little men of the mines, pigmies, etc.
A third kind of spirits are the Nissen or Kobolds, whom Wolf classes with the Troll family, which may be the case in Scandinavia; but in Germany the Kobolds or Hobgoblin, the flaunting, terrifying, and noisy ghosts, form a particular class, and are of a particular kind, betraying an affinity to the infernal spectres. On the contrary, the Nisses or Necks of Scandinavia are of a thoroughly good disposition, as their names indicate,-that is, in Denmark, Nisse, good son, good youth ; and in Sweden, Tomtegubbe, the old man of the house. In ancient days they sometimes served the office of treasurer or master church-builder, whence they obtained the name of Kirkegrimm. The Scandinavian Necks are not to be confounded with the Scottish familiar spirit, the Brownie, which had the gift of prophesying, and to which, according to Sir Walter Scott, the production of a particular clan in the Highlands or Western Isles was ascribed. Each family also had its own house-spirit. In fact, the Scottish Highlands and Islands are, as it were, the classic ground of the supernatural ; where from the primeval times a national and local spirit-world has prevailed; and where men seemed to stand in especial rapport with the supernatural world. Ossian describes his dogs as howling because they saw the spirits of the slain warriors pass by. Here opened up a world of magic and miracle, which has no parallel. National and family spirits took up their abode under wellknown names on all hands, in mountains and solitudes, and exerted a decided influence on the inhabitants of the land. Besides those household spirits which Sir Walter Scott describes as belonging to each clan, there were others more magical, who came and disappeared, like the witches of Shakspeare, as bubbles of the earth. Other enigmatical beings awaken prophetic dreams, and lift the curtains of the future; play and sing in the expanse of heaven, so that their songs may be learned by rote. In fact, Scotland was, till the period of the Middle Ages, the land of the beings of fancy of all colours and countries-Scandinavian, Norse, Anglo-saxon, and Teutonic ghosts and spectres, mingled themselves with the Caledonial national spirits ; fairies or fays, elves, kobolds, dwarfs, wraiths, reigned nowhere in such a motley crowd as in Scotland and in the Scottish Isles; and amongst no other people did they take such hold on actual life as in this classic spirit-ground, where, as we have seen, all circumstances were of a prominent character. Horst remarks, that amongst no people have pneumatologic representations had such a practical influence on active life as in Scotland. Thus the fairy and the elfin faith, of which the German Hexen-hammer knew nothing, and which, in all the witchprosecutions throughout Europe, in Spain, Italy, and France, never, or very rarely indeed, were noticed, in Scotland were often linked with the witch-superstition, and, as part and parcel of it, were pursued with fire and sword, and made the subject of criminal inquiries, like sorcery. In the Scottish
witch-trials, the green and waggish fairies and elves often played, more or less, a part, which, according to the German Hexen-hammer, the black and repulsive paramours and demon-associates of the witches played in the rest of Europe.
In a pamphlet published by Dr. Fowler in 1696, it is stated that a certain Anna Jefferies took no nourishment for six months, which she did not receive from a small kind of spirits, called Fairies or Elves. Her intercourse with such elves was by no means uncommon. Anna Jefferies once sate, as she was nineteen years of age, in an arbour in the garden and knit, when six little elves clad in green came over the hedge to her, at which she was so terrified that she fell into convulsions, and was obliged to be carried to bed; whither the elves followed her, and after some time disappeared through a window. They generally appeared as green-clad young huntsmen, or as light musicians, and occasionally they came in warlike array. In the Orkney Isles, according to Brand, elves were frequently seen clad from top to toe in armour; they carried off men by secret powers, and accidents were attributed to them. One John Sinclair, in the preceding century, who was extremely sceptical in his ideas, though a clergyman, was one night going home when he was seized by an elf, and borne through the air many miles, “over ethereal fields and fleecy clouds," and finally set down at his own door; whereupon he astonished his congregation by a full account of his adventure from the pulpit.
We see from this the perfect agreement with the history of the witch trials; only here the convulsive paroxysms are by no means so violent, and the elfin spirits are of a softer and better nature, and less adventurous than those devils of the Middle Ages who actuated the possessed. For the rest, both races agree in their operations, and the Scotch witches of the sixteenth century wholly resemble, in the accounts given on the trials, the German ones of the seventeenth century. The very powers of the spirits, as elves, travelling children, etc., appear also amongst the Germans. A Scotch witch, Allison Pearson, was burnt in 1586, because she had bad intercourse with the elves, or Good Neighbours, and with the elfin
queen herself. “ When she was ill, a green man appeared to her, as she