Finding Bēowa

Information concerning Bēowa is sparse, even by Anglo-Saxon standards. Modern polytheists and academics alike have to tried to link him to a several different characters , the most predominant of them being John Barleycorn and the Geatish hero, Beowulf.

Most of the proponents of the Bēowa-as-Beowulf theory seem to be wading in dangerously speculative waters. Some early scholars became convinced of the supposed connection, which was based almost entirely on the similarities between the two character’s names. William Witherle Lawrence lead the charge, claiming the scribes who penned Beowulf may have mistaken Beowulf’s identity or been ignorant of it altogether. Lawrence stated, “a god Beowa, whose existence in myth is certain, became confused or blended with Beowulf.”

While we can assume human error may have played some part in the name “Bewowulf” being used in genealogies of Scyld Scefing, it still raises more questions than it provides answers and is not compelling enough evidence for me to accept the connection.

The John Barleycorn connection is, in my mind anyway, more likely. John Barleycorn is a folk song of unknown dating, which records the violent death and resurrection of the titular character. At first glance the song relays a confusing tale about a man named John who is murdered and subsequently consumed by a group of enraged, cannibalistic farmers. Upon further inspection, it becomes fairly obvious John Barleycorn is not really human at all and the events leading up to his eventual consumption correspond quite nicely with the sewing, cultivation and eventual harvesting of cereal grains. So, in reality Mr.Barleycorn is not a young man, but the personification of barley.

There was three men came out of the west,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn should die.
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in,
Throwed clods upon his head,
And these three man made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn was dead.

Then they let him lie for a very long time
Till the rain from heaven did fall,
Then little Sir John sprung up his head,
And soon amazed them all.
They let him stand till midsummer
Till he looked both pale and wan,
And little Sir John he growed a long beard
And so became a man.

They hired men with the scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee,
They rolled him and tied him by the waist,
And served him most barbarously.
They hired men with the sharp pitchforks
Who pricked him to the heart,
And the loader he served him worse than that,
For he bound him to the cart.

They wheeled him round and round the field
Till they came unto a barn,
And there they made a solemn mow
of poor John Barleycorn.
They hired men with the crab-tree sticks
To cut him skin from bone,
And the miller he served him worse than that,
For he ground him between two stones.

Here’s little Sir John in a nut-brown bowl,
And brandy in a glass;
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl
Proved the stronger man at last.
And the huntsman he can’t hunt the fox,
Nor so loudly blow his horn,
And the tinker he can’t mend kettles or pots
Without a little of Barleycorn.

The final verse of the earliest extant version implies John Barleycorn was turned into Barley wine and consumed, thus getting the men drunk so they were unable to complete their tasks.

So, you may be asking yourself at this point, what does a song about barley personified have to do with a possible Anglo-Saxon deity named Bēowa?

In some versions of the genealogies, Bēowa is listed as ‘Bēow’ . The Old English word for barley was also ‘Bēow’, making a fairly compelling case, at least linguistically speaking, for a connection between Bēowa and a ‘John Barleycorn’.

Bēowa may also have had a Norse counterpart in Byggvir, who appears briefly in Lokasenna and is depicted as a miller of grain.

“What little creaturegoes crawling there,Snuffling and snapping about?At Freyr’s ears everwilt thou be found,Or muttering hard at the mill.”

(Bellows trans.)

In ‘The Golden Bough’ James Frazer claimed the events depicted  in John Barleycorn recalled a half-remembered, Pre-Christian ritual where a man was selected from the tribe to temporarily become the ‘Corn god’ and was subsequently sacrificed to provide good harvests the following year. He even went as far as to speculate that this Corn God may have been cannibalised, much in the same way Barleycorn was consumed in the song. While I don’t subscribe wholeheartedly to his theory (especially the bit with the cannibalism), it does find some parallels in modern May Day celebrations. Each May Day a young woman is selected to represent the ‘May Queen’, the personification of Springtime and lead the festivities. Perhaps John Barleycorn DOES recall a similar folk custom related to a barley deity.

In closing, I’m of the belief that Bēowa was an agricultural deity, a barley deity associated with cyclical change and renewal. His life cycle mirrored the growing season and although he laid dormant after harvest, he returned with renewed vigour when the seeds were sown each Spring.

Hordeum-barley

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Gift-Giving

One of the key concepts of heathenry that is largely ignored by most heathens, is ‘gift-giving’. On the surface is seems like a simple enough thing, but the distribution or exchange of gifts goes beyond merely trading a wrapped box of chocolates for a bottle of merlot. In elder times, the exchange of gifts was thought to keep the cosmos in check and create balance or evenness. When a ‘gift’ was exchanged, a metaphysical exchange of ‘mægen’ was thought to occur as well.

So what is mægen?

Mægen is such a hard word to pin down because it is used in so many ways within the Old English corpus. Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon dictionary defines ‘mægen’ as “MAIN, might, strength, force, power, vigour, efficacy, virtue, faculty, ability”. While some of these definitions obviously connect mægen to physical strength, others appear more metaphysical in nature. Some modern writers have even glossed the Old English words ‘mægen’ and ‘miht’ with ‘luck’.

In his book, We Are Our Deeds, Eric Wōdening suggests ‘mægen’ was something akin to ‘qi’ or ‘mana’, an invisible life-force or energy present in all things.

” At the very least we know all living things possess it, from bugs to men to gods (the asmegin, which Þunor has in abundance). Mægen could be transferred from person to person; hence we see kings lending their men spēd (another word for mægen) before they went on any important venture. A man could also lose mægen through various circumstances. Finally, mægen could be manipulated through the various metaphysical arts, such as galdor and seiðr.”

It is likely this belief in mægen was the driving force behind the gifting cycle. Kings would distribute wealth among their warriors and in return, his warriors would pledge their service to him. If balance was not maintained and mægen not evenly distributed, the system would inevitably collapse.

When offering is made to deities, a similar exchange occurs.  The deity receives the gift of the offering, while the devotee(s) receives a small portion of that deity’s mægen or ‘luck‘.

It is my opinion that hospitality, another important tenet of elder heathen society, was largely influenced by the exchange of mægen. If a wanderer appeared at a man’s door he would be offered food, drink, conversation and shelter, with the understanding that the same courtesy be afforded the host if their roles were reversed. It was this reciprocal exchange that set the foundation for elder heathen society and interaction among men and the divine.

“Fire he needs | who with frozen knees
Has come from the cold without;
Food and clothes | must the farer have,
The man from the mountains come.”

(Hávamál, Bellows trans.)

Anglo Saxon Feast

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Comparative Mythology: Rudra Meets Wōden

Of all the deities referenced in Rigveda, Rudra, ‘The Roarer’ appears most like Wōden. Rudra (who would later transform into Shiva) is mentioned a total of seventy-five times in Rigveda, with three hymns being dedicated to him in their entirety.

He is an unpredictable deity associated with wildness and fury who wields a weapon called a trishula or ‘three spear’. Rudra is also associated with the hunt, which calls to mind Wōden’s role as leader of the Wild Hunt.

Like Wōden, Rudra was both revered and feared for his chaotic and often violent nature. He is frequently referred to as ‘ghora’ or ‘extremely terrifying’ and as ‘asau devam’that god’.

“Rudra is thus regarded with a kind of cringing fear, as a deity whose wrath is to be deprecated and whose favor curried.”

(Mahadev Chakravarti, The Concept of Rudra-Śiva Through The Ages)

“O Rudra, do not, in Thy wrath, destroy our children and grand−children. Do not destroy our lives; do not destroy our cows or horses; do not destroy our strong servants. For we invoke Thee always, with oblations, for our protection.”

(Shetasvatara Upanishad)

“Slay not our heroes in the fury of thy wrath. Bringing oblations evermore we call to thee. Even as a herdsman I have brought thee hymns of praise: O Father of the Maruts, give us happines”

(Hymn CXV)

While Rudra is often painted as a mighty destroyer, other descriptions appear to be more benevolent in nature.  Rudra was known for his ability to cure ailments, much like Wōden and was often petitioned to employ his knowledge of the healing arts.

“As possessed of a thousand medicines”

(RV 7.46.3)

Where is that gracious hand of thine, O Rudra, the hand that giveth health and bringeth comfort, Remover of the woe that Gods have sent us? O Strong One, look thou on me with compassion.”

(Hymn XXXIV)

“O Rudra, praised, be gracious to the singer. let thy hosts spare us and smite down another. I bend to thee as thou approachest, Rudra, even as a boy before the sire who greets him. I praise thee Bounteous Giver, Lord of heroes: give medicines to us as thou art lauded. Of your pure medicines, O potent Maruts, those that are wholesomest and health-bestowing.”

(Hymn XXXIV)

“Soma and Rudra, chase to every quarter the sickness that hath visited our dwelling.
Drive Nirrti away into the distance, and give us excellent and happy glories.
Provide, O Soma-Rudra, for our bodies all needful medicines to heal and cure us.”

(Hymn LXXV)

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Final thoughts regarding Branston’s “The Lost Gods of England”

Well, I finally finished reading ‘The Lost Gods of England’ last week and my feelings are mixed. Some sections of the book were incredibly insightful, while others were far-fetched and dated. The chapter on Wōden and the wælcyrian was particularly well researched and I drew many of my own conclusions regarding the wælcyrian from Branston’s comparisons of them and the Erinye. Unfortunately, Branston makes a habit of treating his loose theories as if they were indisputable facts; as the gospel according to Branston.

Branston’s voracious defence of the ‘Tiw-as-Skyfather’ theory wore incredibly thin as the book progressed . References to the “true” Allfather were strewn throughout every nook and cranny of the book, while his supporting arguments for said theory were highly imaginative, but ultimately weak. While there IS significant linguistic evidence to suggest Tīw’s name descended from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European Skyfather, Branston’s suggestion that Tīw was still worshiped as such during the Roman Iron Age and Migration Period is a stretch. Branston also makes the fatal mistake of basing the majority of his conclusions on Snorri’s work; citing the Prose Edda again and again in support of his argument.

“Snorri identifies Odinn with Allfather, but it is clear that these two gods were never one; though it is obvious why Snorri makes the identification, namely because Odinn had usurped Tiwaz’ place.”

“Here is the confusion indeed, for Allfather is said to be ‘the oldest of the gods’, to have been there ‘from the beginning of time’, to have ‘created heaven and earth and sky and all within them’, to have ‘created man’, to be the ruler of his kingdom ‘with absolute power’; and yet he shares some of these attributes with the god called Odinn. For Odinn (with his two brothers Vili and Ve), is also said to have created heaven, earth and man; and Odinn like Allfather, is called at one time or another by the twelve names used for Allfather. Indeed, in both the Verse Edda and the Prose Edda ‘Allfather’ is used as a synonym of ‘Odinn’. But Odinn did not live from the beginning of time; he was not just there, but was born of the union of the god Bor and the giantess Bestla; nor did Odinn ‘rule his kingdom with absolute power’- he was at the mercy of Fate: both Snorri and the ancient verses are agreed on these points. There can be no doubt but that Allfather and Odinn (no matter how they got mixed up later on) were originally two different personages.”

“One last story of the Sky Father is mentioned rather cryptically by Snorri Sturluson in his Prose Edda: speaking of a mysterious being called Mimir, he relates how one of the three roots of the World Ash Tree twists in the direction of the Frost Giants who live beyond the ocean encircling the world. Under this root is Mimir’s well, called after its guardian Mimir. ‘The Allfather’, says Snorri, ‘came there looking for a draught from the well, but he didn’t get it until he had put one of his eyes in pawn.’ Directly connected with this is the northern depiction of Odinn as one-eyed. But it was not really Odinn who lost an eye, it was the old Sky Father. In these recollections is to be discerned the mythical explanation of the sun’s nightly disappearance from the heavens, for the eye of the Sky Father is an emblem of the sun, while Mimir’s well is a representation of the ocean. In like manner, the swallowing of the sky god by a monster invariably from the Underworld of darkness can be only a mythopoeic way of showing the temporary disappearance from the heavens of the supreme deity each time the sun sets: likewise, the deity comes forth fresh and new from the monster’s jaws every sunrise.”

While the aforementioned passages present interesting ideas, they are ultimately just that, interesting ideas. Branston playing his theories off as infallible truths is the main reason I’d be wary of recommending this book to those who do not already have a firm understanding of the subject matter. When it comes to newcomers, no information is better than bad/misleading information. Still, for those of us who can recognise the tripe, Branston’s book does offer some interesting theories if taken with many a grain of salt.

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Concerning Wælcyrian

The Valkyrie calls to mind images of Amazon-like warrior-women astride great steeds, wearing winged helms. Victorian romanticists have so confused their image that it’s difficult to shake this depiction from our deeper subconscious. So who were the wælcyrian and what role did they play in Anglo-Saxon pre-Christian religion?

It would appear that the English wælcyrian or ‘choosers of the slain’,  like many of the beings in Anglo-Saxon lore have been misrepresented throughout the centuries. Much like the elves and dwarfs, the wælcyrge are typically depicted as being of a malevolent disposition.

Some scholars have speculated that the ‘mihtigan wif‘ or ‘mighty women’ mentioned in ‘Wið  færstice’ is a reference to wælcyrian. The fact that these ‘mighty women’ are depicted wielding spears echoes later Norse depictions of Valkyrjur as powerful spear-maidens.

“They were loud, yes, loud,
when they rode over the (burial) mound;
they were fierce when they rode across the land.
Shield yourself now, you can survive this strife.
Out, little spear, if there is one here within.
It stood under/behind lime-wood (i.e. a shield), under a light-coloured/light-weight shield, where those mighty women marshalled their powers, and they send shrieking spears.”

(Hall trans.)

A stanza from the Norse poem ‘Helgakviða Hundingsbana I seems eerily familiar to the first few lines of ‘Wið færstice’.

“Helmeted valkyries came down from the sky
—the noise of spears grew loud—they protected the prince;
then said Sigrun—the wound-giving valkyries flew,
the troll-woman’s mount was feasting on the fodder of ravens:”

(Larrington trans.)

Although the surviving information is sparse, looking at the context where ‘wælcyrge’ is used  creates a clearer picture of how they might have been viewed by the general populace.

The word ‘wælcyrian‘ finds  its way onto Bishop Wulfstan’s list of evil beings alongside witches and harlots.

“Sermo Lupi ad Anglos: …myltestran ] bearnmyrðran ] fule forlegene horingas manage,] …wiccan] wælcyrian…”

“harlots and child-murderers and many foul, perverted whoremongers and…witches and slain choosers.”

(Pollington, Leechcraft)

Clearly during the Christian period, wælcyrian much like other wights were pushed into the realm of devils and demons and reviled by the church.  Although this was common practice with the onset of Christianity, it would seem the wælcyrian were never gentle creatures.  In some Old English texts, the term wælcyrge is used to describe the Roman war goddess Bellona, gorgons and the Greek Erinyes ‘Furies’. While the connection with Bellona is in keeping with later depictions of walcyrian as warrior-women, it’s the ties to the Furies and gorgons that is the most interesting. If the elder English did view the wælcyrian as Furie-like creatures, this would paint them as darker, chthonic beings who inspired awe and fear.

Brian Branston’s description of the Furies in ‘The Lost Gods of England’ seems a much more realistic interpretation of the wælcyrian within the pagan mind.

“In the eighth and tenth centuries we find Old English manuscripts glossing ‘wælcyrge’ for ‘Erinyes’, the ancient Greek Furies. This gloss suggests that the Old English wælcyrge was something quite different from the conventional Valkyrie of the Viking Age; and that, even when we make allowances for the bedevilling of the creature by Christian writers, the original wælcyrge was a much darker and bloodthirstier  being than of ‘Odinn’s maids’. For if wælcyrge is equivalent to Erinyes, then we must remember that the Erinyes were old, older than the gods who came to power with Zeus; their skins were black, their garments grey; they were three in number but could be invoked together as a single being, an Erinyes; their voice was often like the lowing of cattle, but usually their approach was heralded by the babble of barking for they were bitches; their home was below the earth in the Underworld. Such creatures are more akin to the ‘pitch black hounds with staring black eyes’ which bellied their way through the darksome woods between Peterborough and Stamford.”

Several Norse accounts also corroborate this view describing ‘witch-wives’ splattered with blood or astride ferocious wolves; wolves with human carcasses  gripped between their jaws.

As is typical of Germanic paganism, the line between the wælcyrge, the Idesa and the Fates (Wyrdas) and ultimately Frīge is seemingly quite vague. Hilda Ellis Davidson  touches upon this connection in ‘Gods and Myths of Northern Europe’ where she states:

“evidently an elaborate literary picture has been built up by generations of poets and storytellers, in which several conceptions can be discerned. We recognise something akin to Norns, spirits who decide destinies of men; to the seeresses, who could protect men in battle with their spells; to the powerful female guardian spirits attached to certain families, bringing luck to youth under their protection; even to certain women who armed themselves and fought like men, for whom there is some historical evidence from the regions round the Black Sea.”

Siegfried Andres Dobat also commented on the connection between Frīge, the Idesa and wælcyrian in ‘Bridging mythology and belief: Viking Age functional culture as a reflection of the belief in divine intervention’.

“in her mythological role as the chooser of half the fallen warriors for her death realm Fólkvangr, the goddess Freyja, however, emerges as the mythological role model for the Valkyrjur and the dísir.”

It is my belief, based on the aforementioned examples that the wælcyrian were primeval, often frightening beings associated with both battle and death. They were psychopomps, guiding the dead to the hereafter. It is in this duty that they are connected to Wōden, the chief psychopomp of the Germanic world. While the crows and wolves fed on the bodies of the slain, the wælcyrian ushered their spirits to the realm of the dead.

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Concerning Wihta

The concept of wights in the heathen religion is one of those tricky things that tends to baffle newcomers. The concept of wights is so vague that many merely slip past them, hoping they’ll never be confronted with the task of trying to figure them out.

Looking at the Old English definition does little to clear up the confusion, considering Bosworth and Toller lists the word as simply meaning ‘a creature, a being or created thing.‘ While in most cases the word ‘wiht‘ is used in reference to supernatural beings, the word can also be used for any living creature. Supernaturally speaking, Dweorg (dwarfs), Ylfe (elves), Ēotenas (Ettins), general spirits and even the gods can fall under the heading of ‘Wihta‘.  So really, the idea of wight-worship is all encompassing thing that has no real or defined characteristics.

Most modern practitioners see wights as beings connected to nature, a concept based mostly on the Norse Landvættir ‘land wights’. The idea that ‘wihta’ could inhabit geographic locations of importance is not a Norse-specific concept, though. It would seem nature-wight worship was so prevalent in Anglo-Saxon England, that specific laws had to be enacted to put an end to it.

The following three compounds appear in the law codes of King Ecgberht of Wessex, showing that pagan practice was still alive and kicking to some degree in the early 9th Century.

Stānweorþung – Worship of stones

Trēowweorþung– Worship of trees

Willweorþung– Worship of springs

I stated in a previous post that I believe elves to be the spirits of the deceased, attached to specific areas. This would be consistent with idea of some wights inhabiting natural landscapes. There are surviving Old English terms for some of these land-bound elves within the Anglo-Saxon corpus.

Wuduælfen/ Feldelfen – Wood elves

Sǣælfen– Sea elves

Bergælfen/ Muntælfen/ Dūnelfen– Mountain elves

Wæterælfen– Water elves

So it would seem as heathens we are all wight worshipers in one way or another. Wight seems to be, at least in the Anglo-Saxon context, a blanket term for all otherworldly beings, used interchangeably with elf, dwarf, god etc. Referring to an elf as a wight is like the equivalent of referring to a Dane as simply ‘European’ or shepherd’s pie as ‘dinner.’

Now I really want shepherd’s pie.

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Concerning Elves

It is immensely difficult to define and differentiate between the magical beings presented in Germanic lore. Giants beget gods, dwarfs become dragons and the dead transform into elves, presenting a complex and oft complicated picture of the beings that they believed inhabited the cosmos.

So what are elves and how do they fit into the belief system of the elder heathen?

In Anglo-Saxon lore, elves are typically depicted as being malevolent creatures, able to cause illness and pain to both humans and livestock. The Old English corpus is well stocked with compound words associated with Elves, that may give us a clearer picture of these otherworldly beings.

Ælfādl–  Elf disease
Ælfsiden– Under the influence of elves or evil spirits, a nightmare
Ælfsogoða– A disease ascribed to the influence of elves, a type of demonic possession

It would seem illness inflicted by elves was a common occurrence. Cures for elf-related illness appear in Bald’s Leechbook, Leechbook II and in the Lacnunga Manuscript. The metrical charm, ‘Wið færstice’ is probably the most famous surviving mention of elves within English lore.

“Loud were they–oh! loud, When they rode over the hill;
single-minded they were when they rode over the land.
Shield yourself now: this evil, will be able to survive.
Out, little spear, if you are here within,
I stood under a linden-wood shield, under a light shield,
where those mighty women arrayed their forcesand screaming they sent spears.
To another of them I intend to send in turn a flying spear back against them.
Out, little spear, if it is here within.
A smith sat, forged a little saxiron weapon, exceedingly wonderful.
Out, little spear, if you are here within.
Six smiths sat, making deadly spears.
Out, little spear, not in, spear.
If you are here within piece of iron,
or shot in flesh or shot in blood
the work of a witch, it shall melt.
If you were shot in the skin,
or were shot in the body
or were shot in the bone
or were shot in the blood,
or were shot in a limb,
never would your life be harmed;
if it were shot of evil spirits,
or if it were shot of elves,
or if it were shot of a witch,
I will help you now.
This is a remedy to you for a shot of evil spirits,
this is a remedy to you for a shot of elves,
this is a remedy to you for a shot of a witch;
I will help you.
Fly there spear into the mountain top.
You be healthy,
may God help you.
Then take that sax,
put into the liquid.”

The belief in ‘Elf-shot’ was so prevalent in English superstition that it survived well into the modern era. ‘Wuthering Heights’ , published in 1847, makes reference to ‘elf bolts’, depicting them much in the same way ‘Wið færstice’ had over 800 years earlier.

‘Ah! Nelly has played traitor,’ she exclaimed, passionately. ‘Nelly is my hidden enemy. You witch! So you do seek elf-bolts to hurt us! Let me go, and I’ll make her rue! I’ll make her howl a recantation!’

It’s clear elves were seen as powerful creatures, akin to witches or evil spirits, though not all references to them were negative. The word ‘elf’ was used as a first element in a number of Germanic given names including; Ælfric ‘Elf-powerful’, Ælfwine  ‘Elf-Friend’ , Ælfweard ‘Elf-Guardian’ and survives to this day in the name Alfred.

Other Old English words depicted them as being radiant and beautiful. The word Ælfscīene’ or ‘elfen beauty’ seems to challenge the assertion that elves were simply malevolent spirits who caused back spasms and migraines. Perhaps the reason negative connotations were attached to elves was due to rise of Christianity.

Elves appear frequently throughout the Eddas, where they often overlap the gods and dwarfs. The Vanir in particular have strong ties to the elves through Freyr, who is said to rule over Alfheimr, the land of the elves. Simek postulated that the Vanir and Alfar were virtually indistinguishable and could have have been one and the same.

One of the tales in ‘konunga sǫgur’, tells of a Swedish king who is venerated after his death and becomes  an elf or demi-god.

“Olaf had instructed his people to build a howe and lay him to rest inside, forbidding them to worship him after his death seeking propitious boon. But as Olaf suspected, once the next famine arrived, “they resorted to the plan of sacrificing to King Olaf for plenty, and they called him Geirstaðaálfr”.

(Davidson 1943 p.101 : citing Flateyjarbók: Óláfs Saga Helga)

The story of King Olaf is echoed in other Germanic tales, where sacral kings and ancestors of renown were demi-deified within their barrows, becoming something more than they had been in life. These barrows would in turn become cult sites, where those who came to make offering could share in the luck of the barrow-dead. It also appears that Ingui (Freyr) was seen as the deity that had dominion over those deceased ancestors who were bound to Middangeard, the elves.

Freyr is once again attached to barrow-dead in Gísla saga.

‘And now, too, a thing happened which seemed strange and new. No snow lodged on the south side of Thorgrim’s howe, nor did it freeze there. And men guessed it was because Thorgrim had been so dear to Frey for his worship’s sake that the god would not suffer the frost to come between them.’

So, what are elves?

It’s my theory that Elves were essentially demi-deified ancestors, heroic figures who attained divine status after death. These elves were still at least partially tethered to the earth and in turn connected to Ingui, who in Ynglinga Saga 13 was referred to as ‘the god of this world.’ Ingui was seen as the divine ancestor of the Ingaevonic people, the people who would later become the English. It doesn’t seem a massive stretch to assume the elder heathen may have believed Ingui continued to supervise those of his kin who became ancestors themselves.  It is also possible that Alfheimr was not altogether separate from Middangeard (earth), but instead represented the ghostly world of the barrow-dead within Middangeard. A parallel, yet invisible world overlapping our own which was hidden, yet still tangible. A place from which the ancestral dead were able to influence the living in both negative and positive ways.

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