Álfheimr

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This article is about the place in Norse mythology. For the historical region, see Álfheimr (region). For other uses, see Alfheim (disambiguation).
Meadow Elves, by Nils Blommér, 1850

Alfheim (Old Norse: Ālfheimr, "elf home") is one of the Nine Worlds and home of the Light Elves in Norse mythology.

In Old Norse texts[edit]

See also: Svartálfaheimr

Álfheim as an abode of the Elves is mentioned only twice in Old Norse texts.

The eddic poem Grímnismál describes twelve divine dwellings beginning in stanza 5 with:

Ýdalir call they     the place where Ull

A hall for himself hath set;
And Álfheim the gods     to Frey once gave

As a tooth-gift in ancient times.

A tooth-gift was a gift given to an infant on the cutting of the first tooth.

In the 12th century eddic prose Gylfaginning, Snorri Sturluson relates it as the first of a series of abodes in heaven:

That which is called Álfheim is one, where dwell the peoples called ljósálfar [Light Elves]; but the dökkálfar [Dark Elves] dwell down in the earth, and they are unlike in appearance, but by far more unlike in nature. The Light-elves are fairer to look upon than the sun, but the Dark-elves are blacker than pitch.

The account later, in speaking of a hall called Gimlé and the southernmost end of heaven that shall survive when heaven and earth have died, explains:

It is said that another heaven is to the southward and upward of this one, and it is called Andlang [Andlangr 'Endlong'] but the third heaven is yet above that, and it is called Vídbláin [Vídbláinn 'Wide-blue'] and in that heaven we think this abode is. But we believe that none but Light-Elves inhabit these mansions now.

It is not indicated whether these heavens are identical to Álfheim or distinct. Some texts read Vindbláin (Vindbláinn 'Wind-blue') instead of Vídbláin.

Modern commentators speculate (or sometimes state as fact) that Álfheim was one of the nine worlds (heima) mentioned in stanza 2 of the eddic poem Völuspá.

Popular culture[edit]

  • J. R. R. Tolkien anglicized Álfheim as Elvenhome, or Eldamar in the speech of the Elves. In his stories, Eldamar lies in a coastal region of the Undying Lands in the Uttermost West. The High King of the Elves in the West was Ingwë, an echo of the name Yngvi often found as a name for Frey, whose abode was in Álfheim according to the Grímnismál.
  • In anime and light novel, Sword Art Online, setting for the second arc is based on Álfheimr, referred to as Alfheim.

References[edit]

  • Wikisource:Prose Edda/Gylfaginning (The Fooling Of Gylfe) by Sturluson, Snorri, 13th century Edda, in English. Accessed Apr. 16, 2007
  • Gylfaginning in Old Norse[1]
  • Robbins, Rossell Hope (1959). The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.
  • Bulfinch, Thomas (1834). Bulfinch's Mythology. New York: Harper & Row, 1970, p. 348. ISBN 0-690-57260-3.
  • Marshall Jones Company (1930). Mythology of All Races Series, Volume 2 Eddic, Great Britain: Marshall Jones Company, 1930, pp. 220–221.

Sources[edit]