The Hidden History of Elves and Dwarfs : Avatars of Invisible Realms
Most people are familiar with the popular image of elves as Santa's helpers and dwarfs as little bearded men wearing red caps, who are mischievous and playful, helpful and sly, industrious and dexterous. But their roots go far deeper than their appearance in fairy tales and popular stories. Elves and dwarfs are survivors of a much older belief system that predates Christianity and was widespread throughout Western Europe.
Sharing his extensive analysis of Germanic and Norse legends, as well as Roman, Celtic, and medieval literature, Claude Lecouteux explores the ancient, intertwined history of dwarfs and elves. He reveals how both were once peoples who lived in wild regions as keepers of the secrets of nature. They were able to change their size at will and had superhuman strength and healing powers. They were excellent smiths, crafting swords that nothing could dull as well as magical jewelry, and often entered into the service of lords or heroes. They were a part of the everyday life of our ancestors before they were transformed by fairy tales and church texts into the mythical creatures we know today. Lecouteux shows how, in earlier folklore, elves and dwarfs were interchangeable, gradually evolving over time to express very different kinds of beings.
Revealing the true roots of these helpful and powerful beings, including an in-depth exploration of one of the most famous dwarf/elf/fairy beings of the Middle Ages, Auberon or Oberon, also known as Alberich, Lecouteux shows how the magic of dwarfs and elves can be rekindled if we recognize their signs and invite them back into our world.
- Hardback | 240 pages
- 152 x 229 x 23mm | 572g
- 29 Nov 2018
- Inner Traditions Bear and Company
- Rochester, United States
- 5 b&w illustrations
Table of contents
The Twists and Turns of Tradition
THE LITERARY TRADITIONS
1 The Medieval Belief in Pygmies and Dwarfs
2 The Dwarf in Western Literature Romance, Celtic, Germanic
3 The Legend of Auberon From the French Huon de Bordeaux
4 The Legends of Alberich From Norse Sagas and Germanic Tales
5 The Relatives of Auberon From the French Bataille Loquifer
A Provisional Conclusion
MYTHOLOGIES AND BELIEFS
6 The Dwarfs Their Origin, Size, Names, Skills, and the Beliefs Surrounding Them
7 The Elves The Philosophy, Cultural Prospects, and Legends Surrounding Them
THE EVOLUTION OF BELIEFS AND SURVIVALS
8 The Demonization of Elves and Dwarfs
9 The Survivors of Pagan Legends Duses, Sprites, Kobolds, and Howlers
Once Upon a Time . . . They Existed Because We Believed
Afterword to the Second Edition
Afterword to the Fourth Edition
Dwarfs are remembered in ancient Scandinavian place-names, and folktales from all over Europe embed the memory of dwarfs in the fabric of storytelling. Emerging from dense forests, mysterious lakes, burial mounds, and hollow mountains, sometimes they aid humans, but often they are unreliable assistants, for they have their own agendas. They exist within a world of fluid boundaries where transformation plays a major role.
Denizens of an otherworld that interpenetrates the human world, dwarfs and elves were demonized by churchmen and conflated with Biblical evil powers. The realm of elves and dwarfs was much wider and far more diverse than that. Claude Lecouteux defines the real difference between sprites, elves, dwarfs, duses, trolls, and various forms of giants that existed in human perception before their demonization. The Hidden History of Elves and Dwarfs is essential reading for everyone who has ever wondered exactly what dwarfs are and where they come from." * Nigel Pennick, author of The Pagan Book of Days * "Modern studies rather tend to emphasize the cultural and psychological over the mythological. Nevertheless, Lecouteux marshals his scholarship and argues rationally, making a plausible case and maintaining interest throughout. The translation makes this an easy read, full of engrossing material and engaging ideas. Also, it is good to hear a continental perspective on these matters." * [MH], Northern Earth Magazine * "I found this book interesting with all the history from various cultures that Mr. Le Couteux was able to use to unravel a web that has been too long in place. I, myself, have always felt that elves were akin to Faery kind. So, I have ever had a place for them in my life and home. I have seen dwarves as energy to work with when doing some creative process, unusual when working with crystals and anything metal. And now, I know I was on the right track in the energy signatures that I was working on within my work." * Dawn Borries, Pagan Pages *
About Claude Lecouteux