Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beings of Faerie: Elves

Elf: in legend, a race of semi-divine beings endowed with power used for or against humankind {also termed High Elf; for the fairy-like creature, see this post}


Elves & Faith:

What does the Bible have to say on the topic of elvenkind? In short, nothing. However, Christians can still learn about and create elves from the perspective of a Biblical worldview.

Let's begin with the origin of High Elves. Germanic and Norse mythology both include elf-like creatures, usually lordly beings in possession of magical powers. Because of their great beauty and power, High Elves were often viewed as semi-divine. Norse legends divided elvenkind into light elves and dark elves.

Centuries later, J.R.R. Tokien, considered the father of fantasy, crafted elves of this type that occupied a large portion his world of Middle-Earth. Tolkien's elves originated through a special act of creation by Iluvatar, the Creator, and were known as the Firstborn. While similar to the elves of Norse legend, they also possessed vast histories and languages of Tolkien's invention. To this day, Tolkien is held as the unparalleled master of elvish creation.

Here is Tolkien's description of the coming of the Elves to Middle-earth, from The Silmarillion. "In that hour the Children of the Earth awoke, the Firstborn of Iluvatar. By the starlit mere of Cuivienen, Water of Awakening, they rose from the sleep of Iluvatar; and while they dwelt yet silent by Cuivienen their eyes beheld first of all things the stars of heaven. Therefore they have ever loved the starlight."

As Tolkien so masterfully demonstrates, when elves are created with care and artistic craft, they can be God-glorifying and a light in the darkness of this world. So, with care and gentleness, create!

Ted Nasmith, At Lake Cuivienen

Writing Elves:

Now we've established grounds for creating elves within a Biblical framework, how should we go about the intimidating process of actually creating elvenkind? Here are some beginning thoughts to give you a framework to build your creation upon.

1. Origin ~ as discussed above, elves have no one proper origin. So it's up to you, as writer, to create a beginning suitable for their majesty, an origin that will explain their power and beauty. {Be warned, though, that it'll be a tough battle to surpass Tolkien here.}

2. Characteristics ~ here is where the creation of elves really branches out. What are your elves "known for"? How do they differ from other beings in the same realm, and from other elves in other realms? {Included in this might be their technological development, style of clothing, crafts, and so forth.}

3. Powers ~ you will need to carefully define - and limit - the extent of the elves' glory and power.

4. Morality ~ yes, yes, elves are usually viewed as good and noble; "worthy souls," so to speak. But let's get creative here! Unless they're a perfect race - which is definitely a possibility - elves will have some faults. Or perhaps you will create entirely good as well as entirely bad elves. Whatever you decide, keep it consistent and keep it believable, within the framework of your world.

5. Language, history, culture ~ see J.R.R. Tolkien {especially use The Silmarillion as a guide}. However, even though Tolkien created elves brilliantly, don't be shackled to his interpretation. Add your own insights!

With elves, there is much to build upon, yet room still for creativity and imagination. Once again, feel free to use your own unique perspective to add freshness to your particular flavor of elves.

Nils Blommer, Angsalvor


  1. Thank you for such a wonderful article! I have decided to include an Elvish race in my trilogy. This post helped me IMMENSELY! I followed your blog via email... looking forward to... everything else on your blog!


    1. I'm so happy this post helped you! Thanks so much for following my blog, and all the best on your Elvish story!


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