The mythology of dwarves and elves in Sweden has evolved over many years.
Dwarves are recognised as having not been short at the beginning, yet through the years they became short. They were reputed to have dark hair with a pale or grey skin. Then the dwarf evolved to appear as a short being with a long beard. As they do not like the sun, they tended to live underground. Their trade as master smiths, with a flair for magic and traits of greed gave them their unique characteristics. The gods are reputed to have their swords, shields and other armoury made by the dwarves.
Elves are reputed to live in the depths of a forest and in meadows. The elves are generally females, to distinguish females from males there are the names of Älva for female elves and Alv for the male elves. The Swedish word ‘alvor’ refers to the insect winged British fairy. An elf has a beautiful and seductive appearance, while being able to do magic and illusions. There are different types of elf that have been described;half transparent spirit, adult women sizes and small fairy sizes. There is a common saying in Sweden, which is ‘the elves are dancing in the mist’, as elves are associated with the mist.
Modern fairy tales that are about impossible or forbidden love;have involved a troll or dwarf falling in love with a seductive elf. Elves are supernatural and they have the magical power to support through kindness or disturb humans, through disease or other matters.
Generally the tales of elves reveal that beautiful and light hearted elves live in a forest. Although elves are beautiful, they may be young and old. These Älva lived long lives and their lives revolved around an elven king. Elves are known to be nasty when provoked and they are appeased by being served treats, such as butter. As there are some evil intending elves, Swedes have used two forms of protection. The protection was in the form of an elf cross. It could be an ordinary cross and also that which was particularly common in bygone years was a pentagram. An elf cross would be painted or carved on doors, buildings or objects. This cross was believed to protect people and their livestock. The ordinary cross was traditionally carved on a round or oblong silver plate. The recommendation was that it had to be made over three evenings from silver of 9 different supplies of inherited silver. Sometimes it also had to be on a Church’s altar over a period of three Sundays in a row. These rituals associated with the elf cross gave it enough magical power.
A ring of small mushrooms is known as an elf ring. The mythology linked to this was that the elves had danced during the night or early misty morning and left a ring. The folklore continues to reveal that if a human had indeed the chance to see such an elf dance, there would be a time consequence. The time of watching may have seemed to be over a few hours yet in the real world many years would have passed by.
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